Archive of posts from February 2020

February 29, 2020     Daily Post

Shaking The Status Quo Is The Point

Shaking The Status Quo Is The Point

Your work doesn’t have to be perfect to make a difference, because perfect isn’t the point:

Preventing morally bankrupt subcultures designed by adults from continuing to permeate our youth? Whether you lead a brutalist “let them see where it takes them” movement or a delicate “protect them and nurture a new path” movement isn’t the point. Shaking the status quo is the point.

Challenging big tech privacy erosion to avoid a global police state dystopia? Whether you lead a macro “break the companies up” movement or a micro “use this search engine instead” movement isn’t the point. Shaking the status quo is the point.

Untangling the human trafficking ‘industry’ and its persuasive climb toward biggest crime economy in the world? Whether you lead with offense (“protect the women and punish the men”) or defense (“heal the Johns so they don’t ‘consume’ anymore) isn’t the point. Shaking the status quo is the point.

What does your work stand for?

February 28, 2020     Daily Post

Better Than Amazon

Better Than Amazon

We know Amazon is a lousy place to work for a lot of people. Underpaid drivers and stressed out middle-managers galore.

We know the Amazon machine has eroded competitors because they need to make profit but Amazon doesn’t.

We don’t have to like Amazon to recognize what they got right:

  • Buyers want prompt, free delivery. So they ship fast, usually for free, even if it loses them money.
  • Buyers want great prices. So they eschew profit in exchange for growth.
  • Buyers want good customer service. So they have a near-universal “no questions asked” refund process.

For meaningful work to compete with whatever the cheapest Prime-ready option is, one must be better than Amazon’s best:

  • Ship quickly, or make it worth the wait. The gap between order and arrival is an opportunity to delight, as well as a gap to close. Add delight.
  • Good prices, or make it worth more. So the quality and social contribution becomes more than worth the extra they pay compared to the low-cost Amazon version.
  • Easy refunds, or actually helping people. A refund leaves them where they were to start with, but a great partner takes it upon themselves to refund the solution but keep the problem… so that it can be solved properly.

Amazon has set the criteria for what “best” means to them.

But you get to set your own criteria, for the betterment of those you wish to serve, if you choose.

February 27, 2020     Daily Post

Who Decides the Market Leader?

Who Decides the Market Leader?

Who decided how we should do things and who the market leader is?

Facebook ads are the best way to attract leads? Facebook and Facebook advertising vendors would have you think so. Our Creative team produces advertising (albeit in an aggressively privacy-conscious and no-snooping way) but they wouldn’t try to convince you it’s the only way, the easiest way or the fastest way. It’s a way, not the way.

Google Chrome is the best web browser there is? Google‘s website will peddle it so that you think so. But there are many wonderful browsers out there – like Firefox for instance – that have lots to offer (like respect for your privacy) that you may have never tried before. It’s a browser, not the browser.

The big player in your industry is the big player because they’re best? They would have the market think so. There are many other players in the market who think so too, consequently. But you are the best – for a certain body of people – and it’s your moral responsibility to outthink those who think they can outmuscle your rightful market position in the eyes of those you can serve best.

The market chooses, as much as big players try to influence that choice. Give the market the message they need to hear to make the right choice.

February 26, 2020     Daily Post

Price and Value

Price and Value

It’s never just about price. Or just about value.

Our Creative team’s consulting-only package (called “Execute”) works because the information is valuable and the cost drives action.

  • If the information wasn’t valuable, it wouldn’t be effective (partners would implement the wrong things).
  • If the information was free, it wouldn’t be effective (partners would feel no need to take action on what they heard).

The latest iPhone sells because the product is good at what it does and the cost ensures it’s good at what it does.

  • If it didn’t function well with accompanying social status, people would still need a phone to go with their purchase.
  • If it didn’t cost what it does, it would lose it’s social status and people would be less inclined to buy the device.

We all need to design a price for our work, even if the price of some pieces is $0. If our work matters – if we wish to create change with the fruits of our labour – we must remember: it’s never just about price. Or just about value.

February 25, 2020     Daily Post

Nothing Worth Doing

Nothing Worth Doing

After completing the ‘big rocks’ of the day’s schedule, do you ever look at your to-do list and think to yourself…

”…Some of this stuff doesn’t seem worth doing”?

You know the tasks… …the adjusting logo size in all your documents. …the meeting that didn’t come with an agenda. …the blind calendar block of ‘email’. …the bland newsletter blast that basically nobody reads.

Some things enter our work world in the name of ‘productivity’, based on the assumption that ‘productivity’ is about filling your schedule with as much to do as possible. To maximize output, regardless of what that output actually is.

What if ‘productivity’ instead embraced the idea that, after your important work, there could be “nothing worth doing” for the rest of the day? What if ‘productivity’ permitted you to create margin for the rest of the day to plan your next piece of important work.

If you do work that matters, you need this type of ‘productivity’. ‘Productivity’ won’t mind if you make the switch.

The normal kind produces robots. This new kind enables good teams to produce great work that makes a difference.

Which would you prefer?

February 24, 2020     Daily Post

How To Own The World

How To Own The World

Here’s how to own the world:

Step 1: Define “the world”. It could be your neighborhood’s vegan delicatessens. It could be your state’s urban homelessness problem. Scope “the world” as tightly as you can, because only specific goals get met.

Step 2: Define “owning”. It could be to barter or partner with those delicatessens, being the best viable source for your work. It could be to be orchestrate the best focused effort toward solving that homelessness problem. Scope “owning” as tightly as you can for the same reasons as Step 1.

Step 3: Define “why”. It could be “to become the preeminent supplier in your market”. It could be to make a meaningful, lasting difference in the world. Know your “why”.

If you do work that matters, if you’re trying to create change, please, own the world.

Just know what it means first.

February 23, 2020     Daily Post

Simple and Simpler

We strive to make things simple.

Why not instead strive to make things…simpler?

“Website you can make yourself” is simple. “Website made for you that is better than your current one or your money back” is simpler.

“Email software that organizes your email” is simple. “Email software that chastises spammers so there’s less to organize” is simpler.

“Choosing a plan for your team head-count or usage” is simple. “Pay one fair rate for everything” is simpler.

Trying to simplify the complex often creates new types of complex. Trying to simplify simple often creates a better experience for those in our care.

Which do you strive for?

February 22, 2020     Daily Post

Digital Privacy & Respect

Parts of the Internet tends to struggle with Privacy and Respect.

We have a right to not be tracked. To not have Facebook stalk your every move online regardless of whether you opt in or out. To have sites respect the “do not track” signals that web browsers send to them, honoring them as rules rather than mere suggestions.

**But we also have a responsibility to be good stewards of that right. **That means treating other netizens with respect (instead of trolling or sending strangers photos of one’s junk). It’s not just big business who needs to change to accommodate privacy, but users too.

Anonymity allows us our dignity and allows others to compromise it, so it’s our moral responsibility to self-police in the name of privacy and respect.

If you do work that matters – if you’re trying to make a difference – remember to speak up in the name of privacy and respect. Our work benefits from a safer digital community, as do those we wish to serve.

February 21, 2020     Daily Post

Changing Sales Culture

‘Sales’ has a terrible culture.

Yet ‘sales’ itself is hugely important.

How do we reconcile the two?

Ridiculous sales targets create compromising conversations and pushy practices. Why not instead just not recruit people who need arbitrary targets in order to do their jobs? What if we nurtured a culture of helping the right people solve their problems, rather than celebrating “closer” ‘bad-assery’?

Bad leadership enables those environments to develop. They turn a blind eye to it “because it works”. Yet our experience shows us that approaching the market with a genuine heart for service outperforms conventional ‘harder’ sales practices. It works too. Why not try that instead?

Salespeople get a bad rap when they’re only doing what they’ve been forced to do.

Look to the leaders.

February 20, 2020     Daily Post

Brave Enough To Really Do Your Job

It doesn’t matter your role…

Operations Managers: Is your job to maintain the system and put out fires, or to create a system so remarkable you can be proud of your design, one that others will spread the word about? Both options are possible, but one requires you to be brave enough to really do your job.

CEOs: Is your job to keep the company afloat and delegate out the stuff you don’t feel like doing, or to design a culture that designs the world you want to see? To produce leaders? Both scenarios are possible, but one requires you to be brave enough to really do your job.

Junior Designers: Is it your job to mimic industry trends and suck up to peer preferences, or to indoctrinate yourself into the culture enough to see fresh paths forward for your whole unit to benefit from? Both paths are possible, but one requires you to be brave enough to really do your job.

…if your team does work that matters, be brave enough to really do your job, or make room for someone who will. It’s your moral responsibility to make a difference with the opportunities available to you.

What difference will you make this year?

February 19, 2020     Daily Post

Please, Don’t Be The Same

You’ve likely seen them for yourself:

YouTube has enough gurus repeating the same messages in the same styles, who ‘followed the formula’ because they were too afraid to reveal their true selves to us.

Instagram has enough fakers in Maseratis teaching you how to get rich, selling formulas that may have worked once but don’t work again when downstream in the hands of thousands.

The market has enough business consultants who never ran a successful business, selling false promises because they were too afraid to share their growth journey for a fee.

Please, don’t be the same. The marketplace needs you, showing up vulnerably with a heart of service and a boatload of empathy for those you’ve elected to place into your care.

Will we get to see you and engage with you today? Or must we instead try to pick you out from a sea of similarity?

February 18, 2020     Daily Post

“Don’t Worry, It Won’t Take Long”

I spotted this quote while switching internet service providers.

We’re used to making these seemingly throw-away comments while crafting customer experiences designed to delight.

Every word counts, though:

If it won’t take long, I wouldn’t be buying this. If the speed was acceptable, why would I be migrating? Would it not better empathize with an prospective customers abysmal speeds, affirming their decision to switch, instead of blasting them with ill-considered pleasantries?

This page was never about them. Remember, marketing isn’t about you, that includes loading screens. “It won’t take long” doesn’t assure a customer here as much as it panders to sign-up abandon rates. Every word and image we choose should be an act of empathy and service toward those in our care.

Don’t worry, this will take a while… but that’s okay, soon you’ll have connection speeds that would complete this form in 100th the time.

Don’t patronize and pander. Instead, be right there with those you wish to serve.

February 17, 2020     Daily Post

Process Is Marketing

How does our Creative team’s BuiltForImpact system produce award-winning websites at a fraction of the cost of anyone else?

How does an iPhone outperform a device with the same technical specifications by software optimizations alone?

How do our advertising team get targeted attention for 3 cents each when many ad teams get the same for 10x the cost?

Magic is even more impressive when we see how skilled and well-rehearsed the magician’s slight-of-hand is. Showing the process creates a greater appreciation of their craft.

Consider showing your process to the world – we can only appreciate your genius if you let us see.

We may even tell our friends.

February 16, 2020     Daily Post

House Rules

Our teams, like yours I’m sure, meet regularly to discuss how to make the client experience even more accommodating, delightful and memorable.

But those discussions must always remember “house rules”. I’ll paint a picture of this using an airline flight as an example:

When you board the plane, you don’t get to skip the safety briefing. House rules say it’s going to happen, and you’re expected to pay attention. Even if you don’t, you can’t say you didn’t get that briefing, no excuses. The experience is better when passengers feel the trappings if safety all around them, so it is enforced.

When you’re on the flight, you don’t get to eat what’s not on that plane. House rules prepared several options for you, which you can choose from at the appointed time. The options and time were both selected to make you as happy as possible. But the experience is better when the plane doesn’t serve 100 options at any point you like in the flight.

When you’re on the flight, you don’t get to stop by your house on the way to the airport. The flight sets off and lands on the appointed runways at the appointed times. The experience is better when ATC control your flight (and every other flight around yours) because it’s far safer that way.

The web design firm that enforces certain communication channels never misses a beat and crosses every ‘t’. The consultant who always books calls using his scheduling software never misses an appointment and protects its clients time. The SaaS company that enforces 2-factor authentication protects its data and its users.

Please, make the experience of doing business with your company as accommodating, delightful and memorable as you can. But for the benefit of everyone you serve, don’t sacrifice your “house rules”. They’re important for you and for those in your care.

February 15, 2020     Daily Post

Play Your Game

Those doing meaningful work are usually high achievers.

Which often breeds comparison. Comparison weakens your ability to create change.

Someone else made a bigger impact in their chosen field than you? Unless your mission is the same as theirs – unless you’re playing the exact same game – comparison makes no sense. Play your game.

Someone else made more dollars in their industry than you? Unless your mission is measured exclusively by dollars – unless you’re playing by those rules rather than your own – comparison makes no sense. Play your game.

Comparison forces you to abandon your game in favor of playing somebody else’s.

Play your game, make your impact.

February 14, 2020     Daily Post

How Valuable Is One Hour?

One hour isn’t a very long time.

Yet it could be so much longer if we let it.

You don’t need maniacal working hours to make a difference with your meaningful work.

Most of us don’t get one hour of productive time dedicated toward meaningful work all that often. More often, we get:

Half an hour plus distractions and switches. That’s 30mins of work wrapped in 15mins of getting in the right headspace, 15mins of distractions. It’s an hour, but not really.

Fifteen minutes on four different things. That’s a couple of things that could have done with an hour of our time on their own, reduced to a fraction of that because we wanted to “productivity hack” the day. Plus a distractions and frustrations between them. It’s an hour, but not really.

If you’re doing important work – work the world needs – let an hour be an hour by giving your work the distraction-free time it deserves. Then close the laptop.

One hour isn’t a very long time. But if you use an hour wisely, you can do so much more than you think.

February 13, 2020     Daily Post

No More War In Business

Why does the business world – cause-driven or otherwise – have so much war-talk in its vocabulary?

Don’t ‘kill’ competitors or ‘target’ prospects. Our teams simply serve those they can serve best. Never found any benefit in trying to “take over the world” when improving the right lives is so much more effective. No need for war-talk or war-practices.

Serving outperforms conquests. Our teams serve our clients well, happily. Those clients serve us well, happily. Make a difference with the profit. Isn’t that enough? Isn’t that the point?

Our language has a huge effect on our actions. Consider yours: are you at war, or would you be better off simply better serving those you’re best equipped to serve?

February 12, 2020     Daily Post

In Defense of the Empty Boxes in Your Calendar

When you have lots to do, a good idea might be to use a calendar to help visualize your time.

“Great, now I can see all the time I actually have available to do things in!” we might say to ourselves.

The danger then becomes attempting to resist the urge to fill in the empty boxes.

“I’m doing nothing from 2:40 until 2:50, I’ll add another task there.”

This post is in defense of the empty boxes. Consider this:

#1 If it’s not a Priority, it’s a Distraction. Adding things to the day that didn’t need doing distracts you from doing the important work. The margin you could have had to prepare your mind to do your best work was shattered in exchange for what…checking your email again?

#2 What does [this] need from [me] [today]? This, Me and Today are the three things to pay attention to. Anything outside of these parameters does not belong in that calendar day, no matter how many empty boxes you have in the calendar. Why? See #1.

You do better work when you focus on what matters, instead of maximizing and optimizing your way to mediocrity.

February 11, 2020     Daily Post

Don’t Just Show Up

We’ve heard it said that showing up is 80% of the battle.

Why settle for 80%?

First problem: attention is pricier than ever. People are learning the value of their time and attention. It’s worth a lot more than they realize even today. With the whole world moving online, showing up gets you a seat in the busiest room in history.

Second problem: most people in the room are the same. Same marketing-speak. Same VC-funded hustle. Same fear in a suit. Millions of bodies, yet so few personalities.

You’re missing from the room. What if you were to show up as the real you, rather than adding to the above statistic? Most wouldn’t be missed if they were gone. Would you be missed?

Showing up is 80% of the battle. Bring your true voice and your vulnerability to show up 100%.

It’s easy to stand out when so few are brave enough to truly show up.

February 10, 2020     Daily Post

Fortune Factory

Can you manufacture good fortune?

Rota Fortunae – the capricious symbol of fate – spins as it pleases, doesn’t it?

“That was lucky.” Was it? Or did you just show up fully and regularly enough to tip the scales on your favor?

”Life’s not fair.” Maybe. But doesn’t it often become a little more fair for some who show up fully and regularly enough to tip the scales in their favor?

“They’re to blame for this.” Probably. But don’t many problems get solved not from assigning blame but taking responsibility for making a difference?

Maybe the marketplace is down, your industry is tough and you seem down on your luck at the moment.

But maybe, the solution is to simply show up fully and regularly enough to tip the scales in your favor.

See you tomorrow.

February 09, 2020     Daily Post

Then The Computers Came

When your work is done better by machines, we have three choices:

First, we can complain about it and hold progress back for our benefit, yet to the detriment of the market’s potential to be served. **This is the selfish choice. **Nothing got better, for anyone.

Second, we get to do our work better with machines for the benefit of those we wish to serve. Things become faster, more efficient and cheaper. This is the lazy option. Nothing got better, it merely got more accessible.

Third. We get to elevate the emotional labor and transformation of our work to levels previously unreachable without the leverage of technology. Things become better and more lives are changed. This is the servant-hearted option. Everything got better, for you and for those in the market.

The computers are coming for every corner of the marketplace. Which choice will you make?

If you do work that matters, now’s the time to make that choice.

February 08, 2020     Daily Post

Why You Should Sign Your Work

Signing your work changes things.

The Apple Card has been “signed” by Apple as being the way Apple does things. But it’s controlled by Goldman Sachs. Debtors are treated as GS customers (usually bad), not Apple customers (usually good). Apple signed it, so Apple should make it better.

Google search results have been “signed” by Google as being the way Google does things. But when they launch a travel tool and push TripAdvisor (etc) out of view, Google’s telling us that “the most profitable results” are more important than “the best results”. Google signed them, so Google should make it better.

If they do or they don’t isn’t the point – their decisions tell us what kind of brands they really are.

What kind of brand are you? Sign your work and show us.

February 07, 2020     Daily Post

Leaders, Know Your Lens

We all have a primary lens:

Designer lens: You want to see the system designed right; simple but not too simple. You want the experience to feel right. Careful, let your team design, too.

Developer lens: You want to see the system running efficiently; innovative with a stack you can hack. You want the output to be solid. Careful, let your team develop, too.

Operator lens: You want to see that everything’s okay at the end of the month; safe, but not too safe. You want to see things adding up and in the black. Careful, let your team operate, too.

Sales lens. You want to see the system closing more effectively; fast but not too pushy. You want to hear the cash register ringing. Careful, trust your team’s judgement, too.

There are many lenses to see our work through. Knowing your primary lens will often reveal how you could be accelerating with the handbrake on.

What’s yours?

February 06, 2020     Daily Post

Why We Do It

Why do you do what you do?

If you’re doing meaningful, important work to make a difference in the world:

We don’t do it for comfort. If we wanted comfort, we’d have gone where the comfort is – taken a corporate gig to waste half the day sipping coffee talking to people we (don’t particularly) like.

We don’t do it for time. If we wanted time, we’d have gone where the time is – we wouldn’t have traded a 40 hour gig for one that consumes our hearts and minds.

We don’t do it for money. If we wanted money, we’d go where all the money is – namely anywhere that doesn’t involve giving it away to beneficiaries once you’ve earned it.

We do it for impact. If we want impact, we go where the impact is – today that’s leveraging the marketplace to create a reliable system of funding our fights and making our difference.

Knowing why we do what we do has a profound effect on our actions. Why do you do what you do?

February 05, 2020     Daily Post

Success Holds The Door Open

Do you hold the door open?

Or do you not have enough time to do that?

Unsuccessful, stressed out entrepreneurs ignore their families and pursue what they don’t fully understand. They fear their competitors because they fear a zero-sum game. Greatness doesn’t elude people because they don’t want it, but because they don’t know what greatness looks like.

Successful, happy entrepreneurs hold the door open. They hold it open for their partners and their mothers because they create time. They hold it open for competitors and market players to participate because the world is both small enough and big enough for them to grow ventures and make the date on time.

So, tell me again… do you have enough time for that?

February 04, 2020     Daily Post

Who You’re Building For

This one’s for the armchair marketing critics:

Apple makes iPhones simpler because people who buy iPhones want simple. It’s not “dumbing down”, it’s “doing what those in their care want”. The things Android can do that iOS can’t is precisely the point. They know who they’re building for.

Affinity designs complex design software that doesn’t require a subscription because that’s what their tribe wants. It’s not “dumbed down Photoshop”, it’s “doing what those in their care want”. The things Photoshop can do (and how Adobe charges for it) that Affinity can’t (or won’t) is precisely the point. They know who they’re building for.

(RED) sells red versions of expensive things that contribute to the fight against AIDS because that’s what their tribe wants. It’s not “Bono profiting from other people’s stuff”, it’s “doing what those in their care want”. The fact they leverage influence to create reach for their cause is precisely the point. They know who they’re building for.

As you produce meaningful work for those you serve, remember who you’re building for. There will always be critics, but they don’t know what you know. Serve your tribe.

February 03, 2020     Daily Post

Stop Blaming Your Smartphone

People either love them or hate them.

The lovers consider smartphones to be a great connector. The haters consider them to be a brain-rotting distraction from meaningful work.

They are neither.

We are distracted by phones because we are easily distracted. Important work that the world desperately needs benefits from the world being more connected – including the millions who previously would never have been able to afford to connect with the world. The goal is not to hide from phones, but to learn how to control yourself, embracing the good.

We blame phones and their location tracking abilities because we have bad leaders. The ability to anticipate movements and personalize experiences for the benefit of those we serve is massively powerful, when in the right hands. It’s not the phone that is to blame, but the companies who misuse the power, and the governing bodies that refuse to govern it.

In so many areas of our industries and the world, we misallocate blame. Smartphones are today’s scapegoat, just like the TV was before it.

How would our meaningful work benefit if we looked beyond the scapegoats and improved ourselves and influenced change, instead of wasting time blaming our smartphones for things?

February 02, 2020     Daily Post

Doing The Right Work

We have more access, connection and distribution than the president of the United States had 20 years ago.

Which begs the question: are you doing the right work?

Write the report if you’re the right person to write it. The one who will make turn heads and create change as a result of that report. Unless of course, there’s someone better equipped to do it than you.

Design the page if you’re the right person to design it. The one who can capture hearts and change minds as a result of the story you’ll tell. Unless of course, there’s someone better equipped to do it than you.

Lead the way if you’re the right person to lead that project. The one who knows what success looks like in that field, has been there before and can take people there again. Unless of course, there’s someone better equipped to do it than you.

The world is too small now for any of us to be doing the wrong work. The meaningful change you wish to bring to the marketplace only occurs to the fullness of its potential if you instead turn your attention to doing the right work, while equipping others to do the same.

February 01, 2020     Daily Post

Why You Shouldn’t Try Your Best

“Just try your best.” – Every parent and manager ever.

If your business matters, if your product and service matters, if your clients matter, you’re invariably pursuing being “the best”. Each consequent action you take in your pursuit of that body of work will be an attempt to “just try your best”.

Trying your best has problems. Trying your best suggests “your best” is what everyone expects of you, all of the time. It’s the benchmark for every effort. We’re humans, not machines. We can’t give our best at everything, all of the time. When our best becomes the expectation for everything we do, we don’t do our best.

A better piece of advice could be, “Focus on what matters”. When we scope our attention to only that which matters, we inherently start to excel in direct proportion to our priorities. The parts of our important work and our lives on the whole that matter most, receive a much higher density of our emotional, mental and physical energy than the things we never should have “tried our best at”at all.

Great bodies of work require focus. Make that happen for your work by abandoning the pursuit of “Just trying your best” at everything, and instead pursuing the ability to “Focus on what matters”.