Archive of posts from June 2020

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 30 2020
The Inner World

The Inner World

The inner world of every entrepreneur or member of an innovative team I’ve ever met is (or has been, or will be again) full of doubt and issues of some description…

It’s useful signal.

Like when your body tells you it’s too cold, or it’s hungry.

Treat it like a signal. That’s what it’s there for. It means there’s something to look at.

Take confidence issues for instance. They mean you either don’t know something you think you should, or that your perspective is blocked in some way and needs clearing up… either way, there’s something positive there for you to act upon.

It’s far better to feel those signals – and have the opportunity to act positively toward them – than to have no signal at all.

What signals do you experience in your inner-word? Are you listening to them, or pushing them down because “you’re not supposed to have them”?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 29 2020
So Good, You Keep The Box

So Good, You Keep The Box

I’ve still got the box for the original iPod in the attic.


I loved the experience that had been prepared for me throughout the unboxing.

You probably have some boxes knocking around your house too, for things you enjoyed opening.

Perhaps it’s the one from your Mac. Perhaps it’s the one from your Hermès necklace.

You kept it because the experience was great. Because it drew you closer to a brand you’ve come to value.** It was so good, you kept the box.**

Question time: how can you create an experience so great for those in your care, that they “keep the box”?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 28 2020
Don’t Agree With Everything In The Book

Don’t Agree With Everything In The Book

Read any good books lately?

I hope you didn’t agree with everything in it:

Agreeing with everything might be a sign you didn’t integrate it into your world. You’re not them, their world isn’t yours, everything is not the same. There’s value in seeing what fits and what doesn’t – otherwise we can’t apply what we learn.

Take what you can that fits your world. Read with the intention of finding those pieces. Read with the intention of discarding the sections that don’t apply. Now we’ve a list of pieces that can help us grow in our craft or other pursuits.

Here’s a worthy exercise: find at least one thing in every book you read, that you don’t agree with. That way, you know you’re using your head and are actively integrating what you learn.

What have you disagreed with lately?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 27 2020
Familiarity and Innovation

Familiarity and Innovation

Totally overhauling an industry, all at once, is expensive.

Comfort and familiarity are real things that we all experience.

For example, new computer interface that’s much better than our current ones may be much better, but if we’re slow using it because of the steep learning-curve, it’s unlikely to enter a production environment anytime soon. Smaller improvements that empathize with current understanding, elevating people to achieve more right away, will be far more likely to be embraced.

Take Apple and iPadOS (the operating system that powers iPads), to further the example. macOS (what Macs use) makes the smaller improvements each year that production environments can understand and use quickly.

Apple has the money to create a very different future (iPadOS) in parallel with our current world (macOS) where most businesses would have to pick one path.

If you’ve deep pockets, by all means, build in parallel.

Otherwise, remember the importance familiarity plays in the production of innovative work. It’s not a shackle, but another opportunity to empathize with those you wish to serve.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 26 2020
Ambiguity Anxiety

Ambiguity Anxiety

Ambiguity breeds anxiety:

For your market. If they can’t tell what you do (specifically) and for whom (specifically) then they’ll greet you with the same lukewarm response the rest of the market receives. Specificity changes that.

For your customers. If they can’t tell where you’re going (specifically) just for them (specifically) then they’ll maintain the same “one foot in, one foot out” relationship with you that you’re used to. Specificity changes that.

For your team. If they can’t tell where they should focus either under your leadership or while working alongside you, work will be turbulent and unfocused, leading to dissatisfaction and a seeming lack of purpose. Specificity changes that.

For yourself. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? If you’re trying to be “in many places at once”, what are your odds of success at achieving that goal?

Focus yourself, your peers, your team, your customers and your market. Focus.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 25 2020
Rock One First

Rock One First

“We need more funnels and web pages and email sequences and other marketing stuff” Hold up.

Short answer: you don’t need all those things.

Long answer: you don’t need all those things right now, or possibly ever, depending on your body of work and audience you’ve elected to serve.

The temptation is to throw “more” at a marketing problem in hope it will resolve itself from brute force.

What we’re all slow to learn is this:

One audience + one message = one page.

Audience, we learn, represents something far more specific than we initially think. Psychographics and demographics aside, we need to remember their relationship and appreciation of their problem (and of you), too.

Message, we learn, represents the single most important marketing tool at your disposal. The quality of your success in your endeavor is in direct proportion to the quality (not quantity) of your communication.

Leading people where they are is a recipe for success all on its own.

Leading similar people who are in different places are all opportunities to serve that you can explore after you’ve created a real difference with the first group.

Clarity let’s you choose specificity and enables you to rock one first.

So focus on Rock One, first. Better to create transformation after transformation, rather than dabble after dabble.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 24 2020
Stop Hiding Your Voice

Stop Hiding Your Voice

You may have a great product or service.

You may have great offer or powerful risk-reversal.

You may have a fair price and reasonable terms of engagement.

But if you have no voice – a unique message, shared clearly and confidently – you can be copied, moved aside or marginalized.

We can buy those things from anywhere that elects to offer them. We can only buy you from you.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 23 2020
Best In The Business

Best In The Business

Everyone thinks they’re the best in the business.

But everyone can’t be the best in the business. Only the best is.

That leaves us with only one question: what does “the best” mean?

Good news: those you wish to serve have already defined what “best” means. Possibly as a product or service, but more likely as a set of criteria that are important to them. Possibly already defined, but more likely as a set of ideas or beliefs they hold about what their world should look like.

Best for them could mean great quality, at a fair price, while sharing their belief system. Those who go for for instance (which I’m happy to recommend) hold their beliefs above ‘free’, citing everything has a price, and the value of privacy exceeds the price of services rendered.

Best for others could mean workable, for free, whatever it believes. Those who prefer may not share that same belief system. That’s fine, it’s not for them. Here’s the point:** “The best in the business” is defined by every individual, one at a time, not as a mass.**

Everyone may not be able to be the best in the business. But you can be the best in the business… for your people.

Who are you the best for?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 22 2020
Psyche Check

Psyche Check

How do you feel about your work today?

Great, or just not in the mood?

When we look at our approach to our work on any given day (or hour), it often comes down to these two options.

“Great” can become “Not in the mood” when something sets us back. We can get stuck in the delta between “where I was” and “where I am”. It’s how athletes lose games. Easily done.

But “Not in the mood” can become “Great” again if we instead choose to forget about “where I was”, accept “where I am”, and play on from there with focus. This is hard. It gets easier, with practice.

Psyche check yourself – are you in the frame of mind you want to be in? You get to choose.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 21 2020
Qualitative Data and Instincts

Qualitative Data and Instincts

Val Geisel, an email strategist, muses on the lack of ability to track users in Basecamp’s new “HEY” email service.

“Email send –> increased sales over the next 12 hours = email contributed to revenue! Yes, we can’t track if someone opened our email 7 days later & decides to buy because of that email but… can we let that go? Can we loosen the reins on data & hold on tight to humans?”

More of the marketing community needs to embrace this ethos.

There are always ways for people to avoid being tracked. As it should be – it’s their right to not get snooped on. Just as it’s everyone’s right to disable JavaScript, or go Incognito, if they choose.

When marketing teams worry less about graphs and more on ways to lavish upon people, the world gets better.

If you give a lame gift at Christmas, you need to watch the face of the recipient to see if you “got away with it” or not.

But if you give an amazing gift, you need not look – you’ll hear the gasp. They’ll let you know it was appreciated.

Email should be this way.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 20 2020
We’ll Eat Your Fingers Off

We’ll Eat Your Fingers Off

Nothing says “we care about you” like ill-prepared messaging.

We routinely discuss the power good communication has in our marketing messaging work.

When I stumbled upon this KFC mishap, I had to share it with you – it’s a great, stark example of this.

“Finger lickin’ good” makes sense to English speaking western markets.

But China, where the message was cheaply transcribed and not fully considered, it manifested as what effectively translates to: “We’ll eat your fingers off.”

Quite a different message.

Now, you may not be translating to another language. You may simply be trying to get one message right, in your mother tongue.

But when you consider your marketing message, you may be blind to the opportunity great messaging presents to your important work.

Could your company’s message be unknowingly eating fingers off instead of being finger lickin’ good?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 19 2020
Show Me Your Home Screen

Show Me Your Home Screen

Show me your apps, I’ll show you your focus.

It may seem like a silly connection to make. We all have many apps on our phones, but we can tell a lot about our focus by what tools we keep close by.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit on your home screen? Unless you’re a social media manager, your focus may be sinking into the wrong places.

Bejeweled, Candy Crush and PlantsVsZombies on your home screen? We can be confident that your downtime isn’t going to be devoted to study and strategy, for instance.

None of these things are “bad”.

But they do indicate where our attention goes each time we unlock our devices.

If you’re invested into meaningful work, it pays to pay attention to what you pay attention to.

A really simple way to make a small tweak to that is to simply change up that home screen.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 18 2020
Specificity Opens New Worlds

Specificity Opens New Worlds

“We serve everybody.”

The above statement shows how little one knows about “everybody.”

Many businesses discover that, upon selecting “somebody”, their problems run deeper than they could previous see or appreciate.

Upon selecting a portion of those somebodies, yet more layers of discovery unfold. Deeper and deeper we go.

The more you care to pay attention to your chosen few, the more you’ll see new colors in their world. Speaking to them reveals your ability to care beyond mere lip service.

New worlds open when you care enough.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 17 2020
Don’t “Revamp” Your Website

Don’t “Revamp” Your Website

Thinking of “revamping” your website?

I wouldn’t, if I were you.

What’s a “revamp” mean?

If you want results, what it should mean is:_ “I’m going to rethink our website. I’m going to reprioritise what our website is doing for us by recommitting it with those it exists to serve.”_

But “revamp” usually means something quite different. Usually, it means a cosmetic tweak where the fundamentals don’t change, and you don’t move closer to those you wish to serve.

The language we use is important. “Revamps” keep us stuck, whereas “Recommitting” moves us closer.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 16 2020
Be Specific

Be Specific

Is your product for me?

Can I tell that it’s for me just by looking at your messaging?

Your website? Your ads, your videos on social media?

Or do I need to figure that out for myself, or as part of a screening call with your sales department?

You may want to serve the world, change the world. Make that happen. But not by speaking to everyone at once. Instead, speak to your people one at a time as they gather.

Be specific. We won’t hear you otherwise.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 15 2020
Don’t Work On Your Ideas

Don’t Work On Your Ideas

“Can I talk to you about my idea?” Sorry, never.

“I’m working on my idea!” This is a lie we tell ourselves.

Ideas are for having, not for working on.

If your idea is a new product or service that may or may not be worth pursuing, work on a feasibility study, or call a potential prospect. Pursue or dismiss the product or service based on your findings. The idea is complete and won’t benefit from more “work”.

If your idea is to make a great video or blog post, that may or may not be any good, work on an outline for the content, or shoot a test piece. Pursue or dismiss from the outline or test. The idea is complete and won’t benefit from more “work”.

Whatever your idea is, you had it already. You can’t work on it. You can only choose to turn it into a piece of work to complete, or to let it die.

Got an idea? You’ve a choice to make.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 14 2020
Learning To Learn

Learning To Learn

If your cause-driven work is to develop and thrive, we must learn how to learn:

If you’re told you’re gifted, failing could mean (to you) that your gift is fading – the mystical “gift” giveth and taketh away.

If you’re told you worked hard for a win, failing simply means more work leads to success.

If you’re told you should succeed, failure at a task can represent a failure as a person – you had the ability then somehow regressed.

If you’re told you can succeed, failure at a task represents an opportunity to try again.

One of these types of learning results in fear of progress. Comfort found in being a big fish in a small pond.

The other type of learning results in an excitement around progress. Comfort found in fresh challenges to grow in your craft.

Which sounds more like you?

Which sounds better, to you?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 13 2020
When To Wait

When To Wait

There are many times in our pursuit of meaningful work that we choose to wait.

Most of those times are times we should have taken action. Most people wait too often, too long.

So it’s easier to have a “when to wait” list, then a “when to take action” list:

A response to an important question should be a response, not a reaction. Slow it down to do it justice.

An emotional topic that gets us fired up taunts us to respond reactively rather than thoughtfully. Slow it down to bring your best self.

A decision that affects us all needs to be made well, as best as it can be with the information we have available to us at the time of making that decision. Slow it down to make sure you’ve reviewed that information, to make your best decision.

What are you waiting for?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 12 2020
Quantify “Better”

Quantify “Better”

What’s “better”, and what’s “better” worth?

“Disband the riots” is a quantifiable task. One solvable with tear gas and rubber bullets, it seems. Mission complete.

What does “better” look like there? It could be the emotional labor of building bridges with a community you exist to protect. Harder to quantify, but worth quantifying for the betterment of a public service (not to mention fewer riots)

“Deliver the food to their door” is a quantifiable task. One solvable by getting there, dropping it off, then driving away. Mission complete.

What does “better” look like there? It could be as simple as smiling and hanging around for five minutes in case there are any questions or produce that’s not up to the customer’s liking, so they can be taken away right away. Harder to quantify, but worth quantifying for the betterment of a service rendered (not to mention higher customer satisfaction).

What’s “better” look like for your important work?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 11 2020
Film the Cops (and what your business can learn from the riots)

Film the Cops (and what your business can learn from the riots)

America is on fire.

Twitter is ablaze with videos of police brutality and racial injustice.

What can we learn from this as members of cause-driven companies?

There have always been countless bully-cops, and we should have been filming them all along. They’d have been discharged many moons sooner, and we’d have felt a little safer in our homes and on our streets.

Not all cops are bad, but it only takes one event to start national protests. One video started this. One horrible act, now exposed, started a national conversation that’s been waiting to happen for years.

The police should represent “serve and protect”, not “better weapons”.

This could have been avoided if they had embraced and reflected their calling of “serve and protect” throughout the ranks, allowing no badge-wearing individual to diverge from that ideal.

Our companies have a choice to make. We too have the power to engage our market with respect, honour, and prolonged efforts to maximise service and support, just like the police should. We have the opportunity to “serve and protect” our choice of market, just like the police should. Alternatively, we can elect to mistreat those in our care by failing to deliver on our promises and permitting misconduct, just like the police have.

As we see these protests unfold, consider looking inward – how can we do better?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 10 2020
Your Unique Overlap

Your Unique Overlap

Perhaps the fact you don’t fit into a box is precisely why people should take notice.

If Tesla just marketed “cars”, they’d be entering a bloodbath. Tesla’s focus on electric energy WITH cars is what sets them apart. Controversy was always going to be a part of their founder’s persona – he’s blending worlds in an industry that doesn’t traditionally appreciate change.

If our Creative studio just marketed “websites”, they’d miss a world of what makes them so effective. The team’s marriage of powerful messaging WITH the ability to express that on a web page is what sets them apart. It’s no wonder they spend so much time talking about online communication – it’s the problem so many have yet so many are equipped to solve.

If Apple originally pitched the iPad as just a “tablet”, they’d have left it in a sea of failed projects that only nerds even knew about. It was fascinating to observe how they faced the challenge, crafting messages that avoided the term while carving out a clear use-case for the device that normal people would have a desire for.

The market has pre-defined lines that many proprietors never cross, defined over the years by those who came before them with the same fear.

You may bring significant competitive advantage with a Unique Overlap. The world belongs to those who can communicate transformational bodies of work in ways those who would most benefit from it can clearly understand.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 09 2020
State Of Emergency

State Of Emergency

At post number 911, I thought it only made sense to address a state of emergency.

The world, at the time of writing, is in massive flux. There are big problems which seem insurmountable.

Things can feel that way within our organizations, too. A problem that requires a significant change in direction to solve. Where many variables are unknown, or skills lacking.

Break it down.

Street riots calm when the public doesn’t demonize all policemen because of the acts of a few. The police don’t demonize the entire general public because of a few (regardless of colour).

Business problems calm when the problem isn’t seen as one big insurmountable mass. When broken down into smaller pieces – problems to address one at a time – we’re able to see our next steps, instead of viewing the whole journey as a single step.

Take a calm step forward.

(In case of emergency, dial blog post 911.)

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 08 2020
Why Won’t They Buy From Us?

Why Won’t They Buy From Us?

It’s the wrong question.

It makes the world about you, your problems, and your inventory.

Compare that to when people do buy:

When you make the world about them, their problems, and their journey.

We all want to move forward in our lives and businesses. We buy when people can make that happen in ways we can see and understand.

Coronavirus or no coronavirus, we’ll buy from you if you communicate properly with us and ask the right question.

It’s not, “Why won’t they buy from us?” but rather, “How can we be sold on them?”

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 07 2020
Everything But the Thing You’re Supposed To Do

Everything But the Thing You’re Supposed To Do

Oftentimes while doing important work, we’re faced with tasks we know we’re supposed to do, but we don’t want to do.

So what often gets done consequently?

Everything but the thing you’re supposed to do.

Your intuition may have revealed the important tasks to you. Or maybe you need counsel to identify them. Either way:

Doing other things still feels like progress, even though it may be marginalizing your potential and wasting opportunity.

Doing other things may look like progress to others, even though when you look in the mirror you know you acted from fear or comfort instead of from bravery and greatness.

When faced with the temptation of doing everything but the thing you’re supposed to do, consider the real question you’re faced with: “Am I going to be brave or afraid today?”

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 06 2020
Marketing Got Lazy

Marketing Got Lazy

I enjoy being marketed to. I enjoy the leadership of those who genuinely care about my causes and my works. And I enjoy pulling back the curtain for those who were lulled into the false belief that selfish ends can be masked with a guise of service.

For example:

“Get my free book, just pay the shipping… plus my one-time offer for buying my $97 shovel-ware. Video on the left, payment form on the right. Sensational copy below covering how your life is about to be changed forever.”

Anything here sound worthy of your attention and affection? Anything worth telling your friends about?

Here’s another:

“Here, have six automated emails a day from me so I can wear you down and earn an appointment with you. Each full of pictures of smiling pseudo-rich in Submariners eager to reveal how you too can live as we do.”

Anything here sounds worthy of your attention and affection? Anything worth telling your friends about?

There are a near-infinite number of ways to share valuable products or services to those who would most benefit from them. Each as unique as the product, service, and recipient.

Templates are easier.

But nothing beats a genuine heart of service for a particular body of people.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 05 2020
Where Are the Leaders?

Where Are the Leaders?

Where are the leaders?

Everyone seems to have a book that will “change your life”. Or that will “transform your business”. It probably won’t achieve that which it described, in most cases, especially when left as words on a page for others to decide and implement alone. Are these leaders, or just liars?

Everyone’s got an opinion. About the government’s decisions. About the way their boss should have handled the company. It probably won’t become action, though, beyond dinnertime rambling. Are these leaders, or just disgruntled followers?

Everyone’s got greatness inside of them. To use to change their culture, sabotage, or simply gratify themselves. It rarely manifests as true greatness without an example of what greatness looks like, though. Where are the leaders?

Could you be one of those we’re looking for?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 04 2020
Contagious Faith

Contagious Faith

I’m not a religious man.

But I’m religious about the contagion of faith:

In teams, faith is contagious. Faith in your ability to become the best at what you do. Faith that each individual contains the genius and greatness needed to make it so. It’s felt, and adopted as one’s own.

In sales, faith is contagious. Faith in your ability to produce ethical forward-motion for those in your care. Faith that your prescription will be the best prescription for their ailment. Faith that the prescription will be received gracefully. It’s felt, and adopted as one’s own.

In client nurturing, faith is contagious. Faith in your ability to continue to produce results, and faith in their ability to elevate to the next level with your support. It’s felt, adopted as one’s own.

Do you have faith?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 03 2020
A More Consistent You

A More Consistent You

Do some tasks worry you?

Why is that?

If you’re inconsistent in your approach to your work, you never know which “you” will show up to do the job. That’s reason enough to worry, like driving an unreliable car through a storm.

If you’re consistent in your approach to your work, you have a trailing indicator of what results to expect. That’s reason enough to not worry, like driving a reliable car through any weather.

The more we grow as (consistent) practitioners of important work, the less we can justify allowing “worry” to enter our minds.

Does worry make an appearance in your week? How could a more consistent you remove that worry? What could a more worry-free week do for your body of work?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 02 2020
Calmly & Creatively

Calmly & Creatively

How do you approach important work?

With haste or fear? Rushing it through because the result is important will only dilute the result and spoil the fun. So too will fear.

How about calmly & creatively? Pausing for thought, we can elevate our work by slowing it just slightly, wielding creative, divergent ideas as an artist wields his favorite paintbrush.

It doesn’t slow the result or the process. Calm and creativity accelerate you toward even better bodies of work, in the same or even less time than the hasty fear-fueled route would.

Which will you use for today’s work?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
June 01 2020
Motive Matters

Motive Matters

The motive is clear, whether you think it is or not.

If you call a prospect with a product, the motive is clear: “This person wants to sell me something, therefore I am not interested.”

If you call a prospect with an answer to a question they’ve been wrestling with, the motive is clear: “This person has what I need.”

If you make an offer that adds them to your “funnel”, the motive is clear: “This person is probably going to hound and cajole me with sensational half-truths.”

If you make an offer that solves a problem for someone, the motive is clear: “This made my life better. I want to do that again.”

In every communication, every message, every ad, and every call, the motive is clear, and it matters.

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