Archive of posts from January 2020

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 31 2020

Redefining The Way Things Should Be

Your industry has “a way things should be.”

So does the family you grew up in.

So does the way you and your team implement your important work.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Because your industry normally takes payment up front, doesn’t mean you have to. Because your industry requires its own distribution, doesn’t mean you have to. Because your family was okay with excessive drinking, doesn’t mean you have to. Because your team is used to marginal results, doesn’t mean you have to be.

What way should it be? What if you were to bill in an entirely new way, making it easier for people to choose you over anybody else? What if you strategically partnered with others in the industry to outsize your reach and potential rather than seeing everyone as a competitor? What if you carved a new, better path for your family or your company?

**Make it so. **The way things should be aren’t the way things should be because they’re the way they should be. They’re simply the way things have been done in order to confirm to the status quo.

Found a better way? Make it so.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 30 2020

Unstructured Minds And Sustained Focus

One of our most precious business assets is intangible: brains creating value from sustained focus:

It creates solutions to business and social problems that change the world. Such as Gates Foundation’s transformation of poverty with quality healthcare and education. Your work can make a lasting impact too, if you can sustain focus long enough to create that value.

It creates products and services that change the way we live: Such as iPhones, Internet and powered flight so that humans can connect at a greater level than ever previously thought possible. Your work can change lives too, if you can sustain focus long enough to create that value.

It creates disciplines and mindsets that change the way we behave: Such as the act of committing our energy to things greater than ourselves through strategic giving and philanthropy. Your work can change the culture too, if you can sustain focus long enough to create that value.

We live in a world that celebrates unstructured minds but rewards sustained focus.

Which would you prefer to have?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 29 2020

That Advert Might Be Lying To You

Are those you’re listening to walking the talk?

Steve Jobs led the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad into being. Yet Walter Isaacson (his biographer) cites Steve’s home to be relatively tech-free, without a device in sight at the dinner table, for instance. It doesn’t mean the tech is bad, but it does mean he acknowledged the need for self-discipline.

Internet gurus make bold claims in Facebook Ads about their fortunes and secrets they’ll reveal to you for $97. Yet almost all of them disappear from our newsfeeds when their lies don’t cover their costs anymore. It doesn’t mean all advertisers are liars, but it does mean we must look for evidence of walking the talk.

Natural wellness brands advertise their calm, relaxing serums and oils to ensure you operate in a perpetual state of tranquility. Yet many of them lead frenetic, stressed-out, volatile lives behind a facade of peace. It doesn’t mean all businesses fail at that which they claim to solve, but it does mean we must look for evidence of walking the talk.

My team and I know the importance of ethically empathizing with – and articulating – the narrative at play in the marketplace. But we owe it to ourselves as consumers to trade only with honest voices, and we owe it to the market to reward those brave enough to be honest with our trade.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 28 2020

Outlast Them

Are you an Outworker or an Outlaster?

Outworkers: They curse their mistakes, chase ‘the secret’ and fear falling behind. They celebrate burning the midnight oil and completing busywork ‘because hustle’. They burn out and disappear once replaced by the next Outworker.

Outlasters: They curse shortcuts, chase greater discipline and fear distractions. They celebrate healthy lifestyles and focusing on deep work ‘because delegation’. They’re quiet and efficient, not easily displaced by either Outworkers or other Outlasters.

You can’t be both. Choose wisely.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 27 2020

The System, the Focus, and the Execution

Got all three?

**When we lack the system, **we try all sorts of things, in different ways, every time. A consultant tells us of a trick that can’t lose. A blog post reveals a secret we simply must try. No system, no results. Got no system? They’re already available to you, such as the system for communicating effectively with the marketplace.

**When we lack the focus, **we have systems we don’t stick to. The consultant steals our focus with shiny toys. The blog post makes us question what we’ve created. When really all the system needed was the focus to refine it and perfect it into something transformational. Got no focus? Commit to your system.

**When we lack execution, **we focus but don’t move. We research, roadmap and strategize ourselves into a self-gratifying fog of inaction. When all the system and focus needed was the commitment to methodically, consistently, reliably moving things forward, every single day.

So. Got all three?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 26 2020

Ignore What They Say

Important work is easy to dilute.

Create a powerful article, waste time with troll comments. When did wasting time on haters who are tearing you down result in a sale? Why not invest that time on your kind of people, instead?

Create a great social post conversation, then get sucked into popularity contests. When did doing what everyone else does help you stand out? Why not do more of your great pieces, instead?

Create a transformational service, then get weaken the offer by being too many things for too many types of people. When did trying to please everyone ever make your work better? Why not focus only on what your people need?

Unless they’re the people you set out to serve – those in your choice of market for whom you can produce a lasting difference – ignore them.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 25 2020

Perfect Isn’t The Point

It’s never perfect.

Your marketing message still needs work. Our Creative team specializes in creating marketing messaging that helps companies stand out, sell better and make more impact… but it’s messaging isn’t perfect yet. The market is forever changing and so, in turn, is the message they extend to the marketplace.

Your business’ strategy still needs work. Our businesses have advisors and mentors at different stages of development because challenges change as businesses grow. No strategy is designed to be perfect forever and so neither, in turn, is the work you deploy in your company.

The impact you seek to create in the world still needs work. Social problems are always emerging and with that comes opportunity to make a difference. If we want to be efficient and effective, our approach to solving problems must be dynamic and divergent. We can’t always solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s playbook.

Perfection isn’t the point. Progress keeps us in the game and if we can make enough of it, we might just create something wonderful.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 24 2020

For Your Protection

“This is for your own protection.”

Does that sentence make you feel safe? Or as though your independence and freedom has been compromised?

Whether it’s Google reading your emails or Facebook controlling your timeline, the things that people do “for your protection” are seldom for reasons beyond their own.

Check your words. Is your business telling the truth in its communications, or are you doing things “for their protection”?

Check the words of those you trust. Are the businesses you deal with telling the truth in their communications? Know that you can reject them if they don’t.

We’re grown men and women. We don’t need organizations with clouded agendas doing things “for our protection”.

Vote for progress with your dollars, and earn the votes of those you wish to serve with your integrity. It means more to them than you think it does.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 23 2020

Why You Don’t Take Charge

We follow people who take charge and make change. Why don’t you do those things?

This is not a burn, but a call to consider how you could take charge, lead the market, and use your position for growth and for good:

Australia is burning and you don’t care; you do, but only to the point of talking about it to your immediate circle. But you’re not in Australia. What if you took charge? How could Australia, your life and your business as a force for good collaborate to create change?

Human trafficking growing like wildfire and you don’t care; you do, but only to the point of loosely knowing about it. But you’re not being trafficked. What if you took charge? How could those lives, your life and your business as a force for good collaborate to create change?

Things are happening in the world. Right now. We need leaders. We follow leaders. You want to be followed so that you can make a difference.

Are you connecting the dots yet?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 22 2020

Being Capable Of Meaningful Work

We know that meaningful work requires showing up.

A lot.

And so, for many, the excuses start kicking in:

“Can I keep this up? Writing a blog post every single day. Surely I’ll run out of things to talk about. Surely there’ll be days I won’t feel like it, or won’t be able to get around to it.”

“Can I commit to this? I feel good about this today, but what about tomorrow? Next week? Ten years from now? Will I be able to keep to this commitment?”

“Am I worthy of this? I want to make this my reality, but is it too big, too much, too ambitious, too risky, for me?”

These questions are not rhetorical. They’re decisions. We get to choose.

First comes the need, then follows the means.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 21 2020

Is The Customer Always Right?

Ever heard this question before?

Turns out, being right doesn’t matter.

Correctness, fairness, blame, justice and perspective are all relative. Some people think one way, others another. There are few absolutes we can rely upon for everyone to get behind.

What we can rely upon, is our ability to understand where people are, then consider it to be our fiduciary responsibility to help them move forward from there.

If we make it our business to help them move forward, then rogue ideas or different perspectives are inconsequential to our goals. They’re variables to be understood and harnessed, rather than roadblocks to be asserted for or against.

Are you in the business of debating who is right, or the business or getting people unstuck?

Your choice.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 20 2020

Anything Vs Everything

You can make a huge impact on the world during the course of your lifetime.

Whether it’s a financial impact for your family, a cultural change in your community or a quality-of-life change in a nation, you have the same power to create change as anyone else.

But you can’t make every impact.

“Any impact” you want to make may be possible to you. But “Any” requires a lot of saying “No” before that potential is unlocked:

“No” to every distraction and competing ‘good idea’.

“No” to the temptation to combine that idea with other ideas, for the sake of “scale”.

“No” to the self-talk that it’s not possible for you and any of the seemingly-justified reasons for believing so.

Trying to do “everything” will leave you stuck and void of making a difference. That’s why most bitcoin traders made no money, for instance – a lot of dabblers doing a bit of “everything”.

Try your chosen “anything” and say “No” to the rest, to change the world.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 19 2020

The Impact You Wish You’d Make

You have two missions.

The first is the one you tell people about. The nice, workable, “good job” mission. The one that feels pretty much attainable for you, with what you believe you’re capable of today.

The second is the one you’re afraid to tell people about. The one inside your heart. The one you wish you could make, the big difference, the dent in the universe.

The universe would be a lot more dinged up – for better – if more people like you focused less on the first, and more on the second.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 18 2020

“And Now For Something Completely Different”

Monty Python we’re onto something.

Everyone in your industry making the same sort of offers? Why not try blowing the minds of those you wish to serve with something radically new, something that will spread on its own?

Everyone in your industry running the same promotions? Why not change the game by gifting your market with something more powerful, intimate, engaging or honest than they’ve ever experienced anywhere else?

Everyone in your industry using the same structure, patterns, or value proposition? Why not outsmart you’re competitors with a value matrix that focuses precisely upon what your people really want, instead of merely “doing the done thing”?

When “everyone in your industry” is doing it, you’ll only succeed by out-muscling your competitors. Are your pockets deep enough for that?

Why not simply out-think them, instead?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 17 2020

What’s The Point?

What’s the point…

…In this sentence? Words that don’t create intentional change are better left unsaid.

…In this post? Content that doesn’t create a change for those it was made for are better left unpublished.

…In that product or service? Offers that don’t create real transformation for their target markets are better off discontinued.

…In that company? Teams doing unimportant work that doesn’t create a net-positive impact on the world are better off insolvent.

When it comes to your meaningful work, the value you produce for the marketplace, and the story you tell… what’s the point?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 16 2020

What Is Business Growth, To You?

Is it an obvious question with an obvious answer?

“More money and stuff ‘innit.”

Let’s consider the reality of this, though:

Growth could mean more freedom to choose projects that engage you, or to choose only a tight-knit team you really enjoy working with, or to only work certain days or times. Freedom is an acceptable byproduct of growth.

**Growth could mean making more impact **in the areas you’ve elected to take responsibility for, be they charities, community initiatives, or philanthropic ventures. Making a difference is an acceptable byproduct of growth.

Growth could mean creating jobs for people who may not otherwise have them, or to build a culture that changes the culture. Making great environments for people to do meaningful work is an acceptable byproduct of growth.

Why do you want to grow?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 15 2020

The Things You Don’t Need… But Do

Focus and implication are essential to success. But remember not to cheap out on those in your care:

Your mobile app doesn’t need customizable app icons for the season. Yet when Twitterrific (a great Twitter app) gives a ‘baby yoda’ option during ‘Star Wars season’, you feel how much their team cares about your experience.

Your website doesn’t need to proclaim how it deliberately doesn’t track your user behavior. Yet when Basecamp (a great project management app) makes a rally cry against tracking (with technical proof), you feel how much their team cares about your privacy.

Your marketing doesn’t need to really understand you to get passable results. Yet when BuiltForImpact (a great website system) makes a focus on powerful storytelling website to transform brands, You feel how much the team cares about helping good companies succeed.

What don’t you need… that you actually really need?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 14 2020

The Things You’re “Supposed” To Do

It’s a choice.

Travel to conferences and events: Go to them if they engage you and bring out the best in you for the benefit of your important work. Or stay home with your family if that engages you more, and let someone else go. It’s a choice.

Overwork in the name of ‘hustle’: Do it if it engages you and brings out the best in you for the benefit of your important work. Or pick a pace of sustainable long-term engaging ‘toil’ instead, where you may not out-work them, but will almost certainly out-last them. It’s a choice.

Check your email this many times: Live in your inbox if it engages you and brings out the best in you for the benefit of your important work. Or pick 1-2 times per day you’ll engage email. Or let someone else do it if they’re better at it. It’s a choice.

Whenever something you’re “supposed” to do comes along… What will you choose?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 13 2020

Build Things to Last

Unless you sell things like chocolate, bread and vegetables, consider the implications of building things that last a very long time.

Tension is wondering where the next gig comes from. Peace is building a system that methodically produces accounts and revenue.

Tension is hoping your star performer sticks around. Peace is building a culture that attracts star performers so genius is always in the room.

Tension is wondering how long you have until your chosen cause goes terminal. Peace is knowing your work and business is making an ongoing impact.

Tension is hoping your tools don’t break down at the wrong time. Peace is doing business with those who make things that last.

Tension is how you think things should be…but aren’t. Peace is embracing how they are… then resolving to do something about them.

When in doubt, build things to last.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 12 2020

Great Marketing Should Be Unfair

Who are you fair to? And who are you unfair to?

We’re fair to people we like. Share half of the cookie. Make an offer that’s enticing enough to get them to opt-in, perhaps with self-liquidating offers on the backend to recover your costs. These people think you’re alright.

We’re unfair to people we like most. Share ‘half’ of the cookie and make sure they get the bigger half. Make an offer that gives them what they need and exceeds even their wants or dreams. These people stand by you.

By this token, good marketing should be fair…

…but great marketing should be unfair.

Are you being unfair to those you wish to serve?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 11 2020

When It Might Not Work & It’s Important

It’s easy to do things that might not work, when it doesn’t matter much.

Trying a different strategy during a board game, for instance.

Or taking another route on your way to somewhere in the car.

If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter. Nobody will judge you, criticize you. You’ll be allowed to play again next time.

What about when it’s really important?

When You need to provide for your family because if you don’t, who will put bread on the table? Turns out, the riskiest thing you can do is play it safe. The middle-of-the-road is eroding, leaving only the menial and the extraordinary. Which would you prefer to reach for?

When You need to make your partner proud because the way they look at you is important to you. Turns out, if you’re the right fit, you’ll have the support of your partner whether it works or not. They’ll be proud of your success, or they’ll be proud that you tried. Or they can watch you stay afraid to try. Which would you prefer to show them?

When You need to make an impact because if you don’t, it doesn’t seem as though anyone else will. Turns out, making a difference is hard. It takes many hands, many tries, many times. Many attempts don’t succeed. We simply get to choose between being a part of the crowd who tries to make change happen, or a part of the crowd who doesn’t. Which would you prefer to belong to?

It might not work. But it’s worth trying. Especially when it’s important.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 10 2020

The Thing About Waiting

Do good things come to those who wait?

Patience while building a meaningful body of work, resisting the temptation to cut corners that will dilute the transformation you can provide those you seek to serve.

Careful, thoughtful movements while creating something special, precious, important, resisting the temptation to sacrifice what makes it great for the sake of speed.

Staying ready so that you don’t have to get ready when the opportunity for you to shine comes along. Being prepared, every day, without rushing or forcing things forward.

The problem with waiting is… it can become habitual.

Continuing to wait when the opportunity to take action comes along.

Never shipping because you’re so used to refining and re-polishing your work.

Staying ready when you were supposed to stand up and be brave.

Let’s amend the adage: “Good things come to those who wait… then take brave action when the time comes.”

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 09 2020

Changing Their Minds

You can’t change their minds by showing them what worked for you, or what you believe.

The doctor wants to see successful studies.

The agnostic wants to see empirical evidence.

The SMB team wants to see safe money.

The enterprise department wants to see safe jobs.

The target market wants to see themselves.

The solopreneur wants to see why it’s going to be OK.

The designer wants to see your process.

The developer wants to see your source code.

Everyone wants to see something. That something may differ from yours.

It’s not about you. Who’s mind are you changing, again?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 08 2020

Cause / Life Balance

What’s your cause/life balance?

Work all hours for your company or cause? Or work all hours toward the priorities you have for your work and your life?

Hustle relentlessly until you reach a certain milestone? Or maintain a pace that will achieve your goals without sacrificing your life?

Burn the midnight oil to beat competition? Or invest a solid day’s work into your work then invest a solid evening’s work into your family?

It’s true, we won’t make a difference in life by dragging our feet. But we also won’t make a life that makes a difference if we don’t prioritize what matters.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 07 2020

The Potential of This Year

The potential of this year is infinite.

That’s scary, for most of us.

When we realize it, it puts us on the hook to produce something magical.

Something that could change the world, for better. That we’ll be proud we made.

Or something that could produce windfalls for us, if that’s your thing.

Whatever it is, when we accept the potential of this year, we embrace the huge responsibility we have to make the most of it. To make ‘future you’ proud.

Or, instead, we can ignore that possibility, instead embracing the reactive and frenetic patterns of the year we recently left behind.

We have a choice to make.

Will you make the brave choice?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 06 2020

The Thing About Holidays

How did you spend your holiday season?

**How we do anything is how we do everything. **The holiday season enables us to slob out, or recommit to the things that are important to us.

**Our priorities are clear to everyone around us. **The causes we support and work we’ll do this year will fill our hearts and our conversation, or excuses to forget our lives for a few short days will, instead. Which is it for you?

What matters most? Neither is a right or wrong answer. But those who change the world with their meaningful work can often be identified by the fire in their belly and their maniacal interest in making it so.

How did you spend your holiday season? What can we learn from that about how to align our energy, in order to create the difference we seek to make in the world?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 05 2020

When It Just Works

I hear a lot of discussions about “innovation”.

“Disruptive” ideas.

“Killer” new technologies.

But in this day and age, there remains a radical idea that many businesses continue to overlook.

An idea that every customer and client is sure to really appreciate and tell their friends about.

One so “disruptive” that very few businesses – be they low-ticket product sales or professional service providers – appear to focus much effort on when it comes to their strategic planning.

This radical idea is… when it just works.

When you purchase a product or service… it just works. Every single time.

How certain are you that your work will just work?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 04 2020

Using Failure, Suffering & Adversity

“If you learn to use failure, suffering, adversity right, it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.” – Coach Bennett, University of Virginia Cavaliers

This quote struck me as a wonderful example of leveraging every movement for the benefit of our important work.

Our work progresses from success. We have the luxury of doubling-down on what works, when it works. Of refining our work, perfecting our process and making the experience even more exquisite for those in our care.

Our work progresses from failure. We have the luxury of doubling-down on those we wish to serve, understanding them and their needs more intimately, so that our work can be elevated to what we’ve defined as success.

Either way, progress is a decision, whatever circumstances present themselves to us.

And often, as Coach Bennett said, the struggle and the journey buys us a ticket to a place we couldn’t have gone any other way.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 03 2020

How Important Is It to You?

How meaningful and important is your meaningful, important work?

Important enough to be brave when it’s easier to blend in? Brave conversations with stakeholders, family and peers can be easier to avoid than to lead into being, after all…

Important enough to lead when it’s easier to just follow? Great work (much like great lives) doesn’t happen by accident and following conformity is easier to embrace than leading change…

Important enough to sacrifice for when it’s easier to indulge? Making remarkable things requires more of us than making mediocre things does. It’s easier to enjoy the trappings of normality than to sacrifice what you like for what you love.

Tell me about your important work.

And tell me just how important ‘important’ is.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 02 2020

A Story They’ll Understand

Some stories we’re very familiar with.

Hero meets insurmountable obstacle, then prevails.

They couldn’t be together, but fate saw favor on them.

We’ve been a storytelling kind for many thousands of years, tracing back to Egypt’s sons of Cheops entertained their father with stories.

When telling stories in the marketplace – ones the market is likely already telling themselves – it’s wise to pay attention to the stories they know. To riff upon notions and paradigms that produce narratives they can engage with. A large part of our book, “Marketing Isn’t About You”, covers patterns to do precisely this.

If we want those we wish to serve to remember us, we must tell them a story they’ll understand.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 01 2020

Living In Their Dream

When you joined – or started – your company or campaign, who’s dream were you realizing?

For most, it’s a personal dream. The dream of serving a particular body of people in a particular way. Of making a certain kind of difference.

That’s wonderful. As long as we remember that our dreams are realized by living in the dreams of others:

Those you wish to serve have a dream. They respond and engage us when they see a way to make their dreams come true, not yours. Your body of work must fit into their narrative – their dream – if yours is to come true, too.

Those you currently serve are still dreaming. They still dream of being free from certain problems, or closer to certain ideals; it’d be juvenile for us to suppose we’ve perfected their lives with our first few engagements with them. How else could you fit into their narrative – their dream?

They haven’t stopped dreaming.

Neither should you.

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