March 31, 2020 Daily Post
You may have heard that email is dying.
The newsletters that blasts customers with offers to buy things – they’re dying.
The automated responder lists that track your every move and hound you to progress – they’re dying.
The over-designed, over-polished, this-wasn’t-made-for-me emails you can’t trust – they’re dying.
Businesses and individuals continue to use email every day, just like they always have. Open rates aren’t going down for no reason, customers have simply learned what ‘spam’ is, and they extend that term to more things than they used to. They don’t want to be bombarded with pervasive, never-ending offers anymore.
Email was always supposed to be a** conversation**, wasn’t it?
Those never go out of style.
March 30, 2020 Daily Post
A lot of virtual working is taking place today.
Many do it out of choice – like our team do – and many have been forced to due to the international pandemic.
Which begs the question: What does a virtual office environment mean to you?
An easier place to hide? This is one option. Have someone wiggle your mouse for you periodically while you go for a run. Tell them you’re working hard while perusing Facebook instead. Nobody’s looking over your shoulder, so you can either prove them right for trying, or prove you can do better…
An easier place to produce meaningful work? This is the other option. Use the newly found headspace previously consumed with watercooler talk for something good. Produce more thoughtfully, intentionally and bravely now that you have the margin and freedom to asynchronously lead your work forward.
A lot of companies have been worried about the idea of working virtually for a long time.
Validate their concerns… or prove them all wrong.
March 29, 2020 Daily Post
While many are being asked to work from home during the global coronavirus pandemic, there is concern that the market will contract and less work will get done.
With no distractions from other workers and an environment entirely of their design, people are expected to produce less important work than usual.
Conversely, it’s said that when Shakespeare was quarantined due to the plague, he wrote King Lear.
What can we learn from this?
Now is yet another opportunity to do great work. We always had this opportunity, but with any change comes the opportunity to ask ourselves if we’ll take that opportunity.
Things are different, you can decide if different means better or worse. It can mean wrestling for toilet paper supplies, or it can mean focusing in on doing work you can be proud of.
What could you achieve while quarantined?
March 28, 2020 Daily Post
An ode to thinking for yourself and leading others well:
“Read this book and make
$$$.” If it were that simple, it’s likely been done. Chasing the easy wins leaves us only with what used to work in our hands. One must think for one’s self and select advisors wisely.
“Don’t panic, the government has the COVID19 virus under control.” Except they don’t. Control is in the hands of individuals and many behave selfishly in times of trouble. One must think for one’s self and select advisors wisely.
“There’s nothing you can do to change this.” Except you can. Influencing positive change in any area of life is in the hands of individuals and many could look to you and your body of work to lead them.
We need you to lead us. We’ll follow if you prove yourself to be wise council.
March 27, 2020 Daily Post
What are you not creating right now that you know you should be?
That skill you’re developing is overwhelming and challenging until you embrace the act of doing it imperfectly at first. When you create more with the new skill, it won’t be new for long.
That content you wanted to make is overwhelming and scary to put out there until you embrace the act of doing it imperfectly first. The sooner you press publish more often, the sooner you get to the content you wanted.
That project you’re strategising, researching, discussing, planning, roadmapping, brainstorming, flowcharting and journaling… is only a project when you actually do something. The sooner you create, the closer you get to your project becoming a reality.
You get better when you do it more.
March 26, 2020 Daily Post
I’ve long thought that business culture should spend less time celebrating “success” (in the way it defines success today) and more time celebrating “the ride”.
Illustrators celebrate illustrating, not “dominating their art style”, as though the destruction of their sector is applaudable. Instead, they enjoy their art style and the many that differ from their own, contributing to thriving artistic communities that make everyone better. And they enjoy every bit of it.
Jewelers celebrate creating beautiful works of art, not “building the next killer ring”, as though ‘killing’ a corner of their craft is a goal they’d ever want. Instead, they enjoy the act of creating, they enjoy the creations of others, and they congregate frequently to appreciate each others work and grow in their skill. And they enjoy every bit of it.
Business, social enterprises and producing meaningful work are all challenging rides. They’re not easy. But it’s a little easier when newcomers and upstarts aren’t peer-pressured into becoming overnight zillionaires.
Enjoy the ride, friends. You’ll create better work if you do.
March 25, 2020 Daily Post
How many catchphrases like these have you seen in your life?
Here are three classics:
“Read at least 5 books per month if you want to be successful.” Tropes like these breed the notion that reading creates progress. Reading simply corrects action. Correct action creates progress.
“Outwork your competitors if you want to be successful.” Overworking and “hustle” breed the notion that hard work creates success. Farmers work harder and longer hours than chartered accountants, yet the former usually earns less than the latter.
“Learn how to sell anybody if you want to be successful.” Becoming an annoying salesperson breeds distrust in everybody, such that we go out of our way to avoid anyone who sounds like they want to “sell anybody”. We buy from those we trust, those who wouldn’t “sell anybody”.
Read to learn, work smart, help people achieve their goals. Or, “do the opposite of the catchphrases”.
March 24, 2020 Daily Post
It can be tricky to spot the important bits sometimes.
During a website project, we’re distracted by a particular font the boss wanted, who is going to take photographs and whether payment is Net30 or Net90. What matters is saying and visualizing the right things to the right people. That’s it.
During a house sale, we’re distracted by the escrow deposit, home inspection period and who the appraiser might be. What matters is having a house that’s worth the price and a buyer prepared to pay. That’s it.
During an advertising project, we’re distracted by the camera angles, caption text and fine-tuning of pixel tracking data. What matters is saying and visualizing the right things to those who will raise their hands if interested. That’s it.
Don’t overcomplicate this. Look for the important bits and for those who do the same.
March 23, 2020 Daily Post
We feel good about ourselves when we get a lot done.
A day full of appointments is a day void of opportunity to produce deep work.
A week full of things to do is a week void of time to think about what really needs doing.
A productive month does not equate to an effective month, so why pursue the former?
Might it be time to start training ourselves to feel good when we get the ‘right things’ done, rather than when we just get ‘things’ done?
March 22, 2020 Daily Post
What’s important right now?
Every priority is like a pebble in a body of still water: the more you drop in, the more ripples emerge.
If your answer depends on the day or the hour, nobody will be able to tell where the ripples are coming from, nor will they have a clear view of the pebble.
If your answer remains constant, the ripples all point to the pebble and visibility is greatly enhanced as the water settles.
Most organizations doing important work don’t seem stressed or frenetic because they’re doing the wrong things. Rather, because they didn’t commit to their priorities.
Do you know what yours are in your pursuit of important work?
March 21, 2020 Daily Post
If you’ve ever asked yourself this question while trying to make a buying decision, you’re likely in one of two places:
#1: You noticed it was the wrong question. No individual purchase will “make us successful”, because success is modular (you need the full picture, not just one piece) and success is relative (to how you define what success means). Anyone who is prepared to answer this question for you is naive or a liar.
#2: You’re about to be burned. Because, as above, anyone who is prepared to answer this question for you is naive or a liar.
Success shouldn’t be the intended outcome of the conversations you’re having or the services you’re buying. Progress should be, instead.
Are you making progress this week?
March 20, 2020 Daily Post
We’ve all heard the term “Gig Economy” before.
It’s where people work autonomously on projects that engage them.
At least, that’s what it was supposed to mean.
Realistically though, it means, “Stuff like Uber where you work for almost nothing, or on sites like UpWork where you race to the bottom”.
We should call that the “Commodity Economy”, instead. It carries none of the promised benefits of the Gig Economy, and all of the drawbacks.
If you’re going to engage in the Gig Economy –as a player or recruiter – pick a side. Are you looking to share a Gig, or find a Commodity? Do you want to do Gigs, or be a Commodity?
I’m still positive about the ideals and potential of the Gig Economy. But to let it grow into a viable part of society, we need to think hard about whether we want to support the Commodity Economy at all, or whether it would benefit our communities to instead dignify our peers with the opportunity to do important work, apply their genius and creativity, while getting paid fairly for it.
The choice should be obvious.
March 19, 2020 Daily Post
It seems to go against all logic. And it totally does:
If you have two software products to choose from, one may be objectively cheaper than the other and meet all of your criteria… but feels inferior. Perhaps the slightly elevated experience your customers could have with the other one is worth the elevated price tag.
If you’ve considered two brands to do business with, but your subculture leans toward one more than the other because of what it stands for, that subjective cultural alignment usually outweighs objective comparison.
If you’re creating a body of work for those you wish to serve, those people are going to consider the experience you’ve prepared for them. People don’t buy with a value matrix alone, they buy with emotion. A hand-written note with your product could be the differentiator that creates a loyal customer, even when pitched against a multi-million R&D budget.
Now forget everything you know about your work. How does it feel?
March 18, 2020 Daily Post
If you visit Mozilla’s brand guidelines, you’re met with two big boxes that say:
Which begs the question: what do you fight for?
Your work fights for something. It could be fighting for customer goals rather than industry trends, like Firefox (which bends towards user privacy rather than rich data gathering like Chrome does). It could be for contribution rather than mere profit, like a Product(RED) does (which associates with the (RED) brand in order to fund the fight against AIDS). What is it for your work?
Your company fights for something. It could be fighting for open standards and inclusivity like, Mozilla (which invests time supporting open-source projects, web literacy and gender equality in tech). It could be to fund the fight against human trafficking, like my teams do (which spend a lot of time learning about ways to help fight that fight). What is it for your company?
We either fight for something, or we fight against ourselves. What does your body of work – and those you work alongside – fight for?
March 17, 2020 Daily Post
Is feeling overwhelmed good or bad?
The answer is a choice we make. “Bad” is the default choice. If you do work that matters – cause-driven work – here’s a case for how overwhelm could actually be a superpower:
It means you’re past your usual capacity. When we push our muscles, they tear, heal and become stronger as a result. Our minds are no different. Could you simply be…growing?
It means something has to change. If you’re overworking, grow by becoming more effective, not more “productive”. If you’re anxious about doing the wrong things, grow by delegating or dismissing what doesn’t matter, not by cramming more into the day.
It’s something to resent and feel bad about, or something to listen to and act upon.
Overwhelm is a useful signal, like so many others. Listen to it.
March 16, 2020 Daily Post
Having drive can make life full of life, or a race to the death.
Take one look at Instagram’s endless stream of “entrepreneurial” picture quotes to spot the difference:
“Wake up at X every day”: I like routine more than most, but turning life into a drill doesn’t make life more fun. Life isn’t for wasting, but it’s not a drill, either.
“Workout X hours a day”: All good work needs persistence and consistency, but there’s more to a day than a to-do list. Often times, great work benefits just as much from what we do between the things we do.
“Invest at least $X/month”: For some, it’s nothing. For others, it’s putting them on rice and beans. There’s no one path to fulfilling work and life. Those who claim otherwise haven’t yet experienced enough of either.
“Read X books per month”: I read a lot, but I’ve seen many people transform it from an act of learning and applying, into a mere race to keep up with. Learning without application benefits nobody.
“Enjoy life”: After you’re done competing someone else’s list, the best you can hope for is to live in someone else’s shadow.
Do your important work. Nobody else is going to, they’re all busy chasing prefab dreams for reasons they were told were important.
Enjoy the ride, difference maker. No dead man ever benefitted from having achieved “inbox zero”.
March 15, 2020 Daily Post
When you spot a problem, do you offer the obvious solution that everyone else offers, or do you first consider the world of possibilities available to you (and to them)?
When you do, dialogue becomes so much more than just Yes or No. For example:
If someone is recruiting, offer to help fill the gap while they search, or help them fill that gap, or help them train and integrate that hire, there’s so much that can be done there.
If someone has a problem, offer to help solve it, or offer to connect with someone who can, or help them to solve it themselves, there’s so much that can be done there.
When you solve a problem, you can solve it for others, or train others how to solve it for themselves, or license it to others to solve it for others, or modify to new markets, there’s so much that can be done there.
If you do work that matters, you should consider the implications of reaching (or not reaching) as many people who can derive maximum advantage from your work as possible.
That’s far more nuanced than “more ad spend”, it’s about focusing on those you wish to serve, not on your inventory.
The less it’s about you, the more opportunity you’ll have to create your impact.
March 14, 2020 Daily Post
“The impact you have is literally worldwide”.
This is the headline from a recruitment ad ran by the NSA on social media.
#1 Be specific with your work. Making “an impact” isn’t the goal. Blowing yourself up in Times Square makes an impact. Your work should aspire to more.
#2 Not all work is worth doing. Sometimes we embark on projects that seem smart at the time, but later reveal themselves to be a bad idea. Cut ties with those projects.
#3 Do work you’re proud of. Everything we produce should be something we’re proud of. Could you really be proud of “making an impact” through overzealous surveilling and pervasive breaches of rights?
Please, make an impact. But make it a positive one, worthy of your time, that the world needs, that you can be proud of.
March 13, 2020 Daily Post
Anyone who’s built a business knows how important worst-case-scenario tasks are.
We like working on best-case-scenario tasks needed to push our work forward. There’s a lot of worst-case-scenario tasks that tend to get put off until later, such as getting policies and processes in place. Because, y’know, Instagram Story Ads are perceived to be more exciting.
Then you wish you’d done the worst-case-scenario tasks too. When a project or company starts to grow, the lack of processes mean nobody really knows what they’re doing and balls start being dropped. The lack of proper policies mean that legal issues could sink your operation overnight.
If you do work that matters, you need to do both. You need great offers, great value, fair pricing and a story worth sharing. Just don’t forget to back those offers up with policy and strengthen the value with process so you can continue to tell that story for many years to come.
March 12, 2020 Daily Post
The market loves a “killer tool”, doesn’t it?
For creators and builders, one of today’s is the #NoCode movement.
The #NoCode movement is for people who can’t code but want to develop things, and for developers who can code but don’t want to.
Conversely, Apple’s “Everyone Can Code” campaign takes the opposite approach, encouraging everyone in their ability to create things beyond what they thought was possible for them.
It’s exciting to think we could skip the difficult work of learning a scary skill, or having to find someone to collaborate with who can.
But how might our meaningful work benefit if we were to be brave enough to embrace the hard, scary act of perseverance, rather than merely looking for shortcuts?
Shortcuts and “killer tools” keep coming. If you do work that matters, ask yourself: will this benefit my work, or do I just fear the tools?
March 11, 2020 Daily Post
Making hard things easy is a big part of what we do in business.
But some things are meant to be hard:
Scheduling a meeting shouldn’t be one-click easy. Your time is your most valuable asset, why automate giving it away for free with software?
Strategic partnerships and JVs shouldn’t be easy to create. They rely upon you extending your trust and reputation to another, and vice-versa. The hard work of building a real relationship should come first.
Referrals can be simplified, but are never “easy”. You must do the work to demonstrate that you can be trusted to protect those in the care of others. They’re important, but they should be hard, for you.
Make things easy for those you wish to serve.
But let some things that should be hard, be hard.
Accept it. Now you can focus on doing the hard work, instead of worrying about why it isn’t easier.
March 10, 2020 Daily Post
They say time is money.
It isn’t though, is it.
Time is life.
Money, we can get back. When we say “time is money”, we focus our energy on doing things that create more money.
But how we spend our time is how we spend our lives.
Those of us in pursuit of meaningful work that makes a difference shouldn’t be asking, “Is this making me enough money?” but rather, “Is this worthy of my life?”
March 09, 2020 Daily Post
Uber innovated on what it means to hire a cab.
Now an Uber driver can’t innovate at all; they drive when told, in a prescribed system, with fixed prices, at unsustainable rates.
Want to turn a ride into a unique education experience or design a counseling or admin add-on? Doesn’t matter, won’t appear in the app.
The industry didn’t innovate, and now they don’t get to.
AirBNB innovated on what it means to find and rent a holiday let.
Now holiday let’s struggle to innovate; they must list on a platform that sets the buying criteria and enforces the terms and process.
Want to add a limo ride to/from the place, or negotiate preferential rates with local restaurants? Doesn’t matter, won’t appear in the search.
Your industry is innovating too. If you’re doing work that matters, you owe it to those you can best serve to innovate while the market is receptive to it.
Don’t be like the cab companies who thought it would all be okay ‘next year’.
March 08, 2020 Daily Post
I never quite understood GTD aficionados.
Getting things done faster is what buying new computers is for.
Computers compute. Humans ask questions.
GTD: Get Things Done, period. Repeat until dead, I guess? Where else does it end?
GTDST: Get Things Done So That… Answer the question, live life intentionally. Maybe not everything on that list needed doing after all?
The quality of our lives is in proportion to the quality of the questions we ask.
Why get that done? Have a good answer before you proceed.
March 07, 2020 Daily Post
“We have all we need from a marketing standpoint.” – Many business owners
Our creative team hears these words from time to time. They’re quick to spot the ‘kiss of death’ behind these words, and mourn the loss of that company’s potential.
When every single person in your market knows who you are, your work is still not done. Not if you care enough to create change in their lives.
When every single person in your market has been served by you, your work is still not done. Not if you care enough to honor your moral responsibility to ensure greater enhancement, transformation and elevation for life.
When every single person in your market has derived maximum advantage from your work, your work is still not done. Not if you care enough to notice those in your care still have problems, fears and pains that could be alleviated by your ability to introduce them to new internal or endorsed products and services to create yet more change.
Your job’s not done yet.
March 06, 2020 Daily Post
Is stress an optional ingredient to the pursuit of making a difference?
Let’s take a look:
‘Important’ stand-up meetings to figure out who’s falling behind, or thoughtful when-you-get-a-minute write-ups from everyone involved?
Tightly scheduled hustle to make sure everything gets done, or planned breathing space between methodical tasks to make sure everything gets done well?
Arbitrary financial targets to keep everyone focused on ensuring the P&L stays in the black, or lean operations to keep the team focused on doing important work?
Usually, the stress is an optional ingredient. Add it if you want to, or not. Your choice.
March 05, 2020 Daily Post
Is your organization fully GDPR compliant?
To many, things like this sound like a nuisance.
To others, things like this are an opportunity.
Opportunity to stand out. You care enough to show others how you treat their privacy with respect, whereas others provide cryptic policy pages that make you feel like they have something to hide.
Opportunity to connect. Because you went the extra mile and showed how transparent you are, others are perhaps more likely to explore what you have to offer from a place of confidence.
Opportunity to strengthen your company. In my experience, most businesses are woefully ill-equipped to deal with anyone who may exercise their right to be forgotten. You can do better by dignifying those in your care while also protecting yourself from harm.
This all sounds like opportunity to me, rather than a problem.
Over to you: do you see opportunity, or problems?
March 04, 2020 Daily Post
Either way, you win:
‘Sale’ means you have the opportunity to serve someone, to put them under your protection, to make change happen.
‘No sale’ means you learn about a need you weren’t yet able to fill, then choose whether or not to fill it, making change happen there too.
Both outcomes sound great to me.
The only caveat: being afraid to represent your work and prescribe the right solution to people who need it always results in ‘No sale’, not because the work was wrong, but because you didn’t deserve it.
Stand by your work and you win. Every time.
March 03, 2020 Daily Post
“Use this landing page template for RESULTS.”
“A/B this for .5% conversion lift.”
“Use these power words to get more opt-ins.”
What do all these statements have in common?
#1 They make you the same. We don’t remember things that are the same. Don’t you want to be remembered?
#2 They lack creativity and ingenuity. We don’t engage with things that are boring or uninspired. Don’t you want to be interesting?
#3 They cause you anxiety. We don’t see you move because you’re stuck on where to go. Don’t you want to create something the market will thank you for today?
If you’re doing work that matters, don’t treat it like everything else in the market. Dignify it with the opportunity to stand apart.
March 02, 2020 Daily Post
This is a tricky one to touch on because it can be hard enough to shake people into producing before consuming at the best of time.
But for those brave enough to create, consider this: Why are you creating that?
Is that website for the client who bought it, or for the client’s clients who will use it? Does the way that site is being made reflect that?
Is that email campaign for your company (who wants sales), or for your recipient (who wants to be helped or left alone)? Does that reflect the way that email is being made (if it’s to be made at all)?
Does profit exist to satisfy the status quo (to do what we always do), or does it exist to create change (because that’s who we believe we are)? Does the way its invested reflect the way you create with the fruits of your labor?
I applaud your bravery to create.
Now create something that matters.
March 01, 2020 Daily Post
This is particularly important if you do work that matters (you do, right?)
We’re known for one of two things:
Known for what you consume: Here, one’s social feeds are full of pictures of what someone owns or places they’ve been. The right phone, bag, wheels and coast. This is what most “influencers” are known for.
Known for what you produce: Here, ones social feeds are full of what they’ve created. The latest post, book, product and impact. This is what (I call) “difference makers” are known for.
Neither is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. The world is more three-dimensional than that. But it’s important to make a choice consciously.
Which do you want to be known for?