Archive of posts from November 2020

November 30, 2020     Daily Post

Show Tomorrow Some Respect

Show Tomorrow Some Respect

Interesting thing about respect:

When you lead a sales or coaching call, you don’t just wander in late with no plan. You’re there on time, with a roadmap for how the session is going to go, in order to ensure it’s a successful session for everybody.

When you begin a project, you can’t work the plan without planning the work, or you’ll just waste time and opportunity without getting anything done.

When you show up tomorrow, are you going to dignify it with a prepared version of yourself, where you know what success looks like, where there’s a plan in place?

Or are you going to disrespect the day by ‘winging it’ and causing suboptimal results for everyone involved?

It’s sort of weird to think of “showing respect to a day”.

Try it anyway.

November 29, 2020     Daily Post

Resilient Like The Internet

Resilient Like The Internet

If you use Google for everything, Google can shut you down.

Email, calendar, advertising, photos, website, analytics, the list goes on.

Perhaps you’ve been building your work in this way, where you’re dependent on one channel (Facebook Ads?) or contact (a critical referral source?) for the success of your work or your ability to reach those you serve.

The Internet is resilient because it doesn’t require Google, or Amazon, or any one entity in order to survive and heal itself. It’s stronger when it’s able to go on regardless.

And so is your body of work.

In what ways could you make your work, team, company and services more resilient, by leaning less on the whims of a few?

November 28, 2020     Daily Post

Anxiety and Solving Problems

Anxiety and Solving Problems

Feel anxious sometimes?

Solving problems while not solving problems is “anxiety”.

When lying in bed at night, or eating your lunch, or trying to get something else done… anxiety emerges when we want to solve a problem while we’re not.

You’re great at solving problems while you’re fully engaged in a particular problem. You’re terrible at doing it at 3am while half-asleep. That’s okay.

Being thankful that we get to solve problems while not solving them is “peace”.

Being mindful that the problem will still be there for us when we come back to it, and being thankful for the fact that we get to solve problems like these, removes that anxiety.

Feeling anxious? Either focus on solving the problem, or be thankful that you get to work on interesting problems.

You may just find that the added creative energy you’ll bring to your work this way will reveal better solutions anyway.

November 27, 2020     Daily Post

2021 Doesn’t Care (And Why That’s Good)

2021 Doesn’t Care (And Why That’s Good)

2021 is coming whether we like it (or are ready for it) or not.

It doesn’t care if sales are down. If people aren’t interested in what’s for sale, we get to change what we offer! Change is what you signed up for when you elected to serve a body of people.

It doesn’t care if products are struggling. If people have different needs, in different quantities or volumes or frequencies, we get to change to be a better steward of the responsibilities we chose when we called our people “clients”.

It doesn’t care if 2020 was difficult and you’d rather an easier year next year. ‘Easy’ is merely an environment where the lazy and careless get fat. 2021 is an environment where people like you get to thrive.

2021 doesn’t care. And so those of us doing meaningful, important work get to flourish thanks to our continued commitment and care for those we serve.

November 26, 2020     Daily Post

Make Ugly Things

Make Ugly Things

Why make ugly things?

If you want to make beautiful things, you have to first make ugly things… until your skills improve enough to create the kind of results that you want.

If you only make beautiful things, you’re not learning and growing… you’re just sticking to skills you’ve already developed, rather than stretching them or creating new ones.

Learning to love making ugly things – to be proud of them just as you are the beautiful things – is to be able to make more beautiful things than you thought possible, thanks to your celebration of growth, rather than just results.

What ugly things have you made lately?

November 25, 2020     Daily Post

Chose Your Own Competitors

Chose Your Own Competitors

Who are your competitors?

Other industry players? They could be, if you decide to paint within the lines and conduct yourself precisely as everyone else does, adding or removing nothing from the formula or the result. Moving the goal posts is allowed, doing things differently changes who you can be compared to.

Industry alternative players? They could be, if you decide to fight for the same result as it is perceived in the buyer’s mind, without creating new clarity that could elevate their understanding and change the buying criteria. Again, moving the goal posts is allowed if it brings more meaningful advantage to those you serve.

Industry titans? They could be, if you strive to be just like them, painting you as merely a “not quite as good” version of them. The alternative is to strive to be precisely what is best for those in the market who aren’t perfectly served by the mega corps, making that which makes you different, that which makes you better.

You choose your own competition. Who did you pick?

November 24, 2020     Daily Post

Journaling Improves Focus

Journaling Improves Focus

Do you journal?

You might find it improves your focus:

Reviewing hopes and goals that became reality remind us to celebrate the wins we’ve achieved that we maybe didn’t pause to fully recognise.

Regrets we feel about wasted time are squashed by paper reminders that much of what we’ve done probably exceeds our past goals anyway.

Goals that have shifted over time are good reminders that what’s important to us today may not be quite so important later, just as our older ones aren’t so important today.

Constant goals are good reminders of the things that actually are important to us, that perhaps need more focus than we’ve been giving them (maybe because of the shifting goals above).

It’s not always easy giving the time to the discipline of keeping a journal.

But there’s a magic in looking into the mind of your former self which, if harnessed, can help create more focus and appreciation today.

November 23, 2020     Daily Post

Change Focus, Change Result

Change Focus, Change Result

Let’s say you’re running a project:

If you run it with a focus on making it run smoothly, chances are it’ll run smoothly. If a stakeholder or client gets in the way of the smooth sailing, they’ll be taken care of in the interest of creating the result we’re looking for.

If you run it with a focus on making the client happy, chances are they’ll be happy. If a project needs to be crazy behind the scenes to make it happen, so be it, all in the interest of creating the result we’re looking for.

If you run it where each has someone to focus on it, chances are we’ll achieve both, providing those two play well together. Otherwise we achieve neither.

The same body of work can be influenced massively by what we focus on as we approach that work.

What has your focus?

November 22, 2020     Daily Post

Benefit of Staying The Course

Benefit of Staying The Course

According to Seneca the Younger, the Greek word “euthymia” means to sense your own path and to stay on it without getting distracted by those who intersect it.

I read this evening that this word, when translated into English, means ‘tranquility’. Love that.

The fact that “keeping to your path”, that “staying the course” and “not being distracted by the noise” means ‘tranquility’ is a wonderful reminder of why frenetically dancing from idea to idea or course to course ‘means’ anxiety and chaos.

It reminds us: if we feel unsteady, turbulent, anxious or unsure, a salve to that state is to regain tranquility by staying the course, keeping to your own path.

How would your work benefit from a little more “euthymia”?

November 21, 2020     Daily Post

Inner Battles and Presidential Elections

Inner Battles and Presidential Elections

Trump lost the US Presidential elections.

He’s being a sore loser, and so are his followers. He’s teaching his tribe that failure is to be contended, rather than learned from. And so riots and juvenile tantrums pervade the streets of DC.

Lincoln lost his run for house speaker, nomination for Congress, renomination for Congress, his run for Senate (twice) and nomination for Vice President. Yet he taught perseverance by learning and trying again, rather than by meltdowns. Trying that led the US to Union victory over oppressive world-views bearing the same flags being waved by Trump followers today.

Whether a civil war against confederates or accusations of ballot fraud, the inner war continues: Will we learn from our failures and be better because of them, or will we yield to an inner-child and cry about it?

We each get to decide, regardless of country or creed, which side wins in that battle.

November 20, 2020     Daily Post

The Problem With Making Leaps

The Problem With Making Leaps

The gap between knowing the problem and knowing the solution is uncomfortable.

There could be seemingly endless routes to explore. There are unanswered questions and unclear parameters all standing between where you are and the solution you’re looking for.

And so we leap:

Leaps are assumptions made about what a customer might think about a marketing idea, without listening to them.

Leaps are product developments that could help the company and its customers, that are explored without first doing the work of understanding what developments people really want from you.

Leaps are recruiting people for roles that a team needs to fill, without first understanding what the roles are or what success looks like in those roles, so that the right people can be selected.

Each example outlines something that could good, then adds a “without” that makes it no good.

The leap is the “without”. We leap when we’re uncomfortable.

Making peace with discomfort is what creates the results we’re looking for. It’s how problems get solved.

Have you made any leaps lately?

November 19, 2020     Daily Post

Making Future Decisions Today

Making Future Decisions Today

Is it possible to make life or business decisions that only exist in the future, today?

Without a crystal ball or guessing?

Yes:

When we’re inconsistent with ourselves and our work, more decisions need to be made. When choices such as “the simpler option” vs “the more elaborate option”, or “the better value one” vs “the cheaper one” are on the table ready for decision making, who knows which you’ll choose if you’ve not defined what you value?

When we do the work of enforcing consistency with ourselves and our work, less decisions need to be made. The previous examples answer themselves if we know you favour brevity and functional over fancy at a discount, for instance.

We get to choose to see the world through whatever lenses we choose, both individually and collectively as a team.

Defining clearly what you value – for yourself and for those you serve – is almost like having that crystal ball: everyone knows what you stand for, what you’ll promise the market and what you’ll deliver when we buy from you.

November 18, 2020     Daily Post

Culture’s A Deliverable

Culture’s A Deliverable

What does “culture” have to do with producing great work?

If there are great processes but no cultural alignment among those implementing them, seemingly-psychic team collaboration becomes bureaucratic defensive driving.

If there are great team members but no cultural alignment among them, compounding excellence becomes a competition among divas.

If there are great clients but no cultural alignment among those serving them, remarkable referral-worthy experiences become disjointed and forgettable ones.

Culture’s a fancy word for “we believe in doing things this way”.

We all operate within culture.

Are you building – and contributing to – ways of doing things you truly believe in? How could your work, and those you work with, benefit if you did?

November 17, 2020     Daily Post

Tools That Make You Better

Tools That Make You Better

Do your tools inspire you to do better?

Or are they just ways of getting stuff done?

Apple Photos makes organising and accessing my photos easy, encouraging me to take more photos. Adobe Lightroom wraps my shots with photography tutorials and precision tools, which inspires me to take better photos.

Gmail makes keeping tons of emails easy thanks to good search and Big Tech-subsidised pricing, encouraging me to send more emails. Basecamp’s ‘Hey’ email service passionately combats trackers and emails you don’t want to receive, which inspires me to send better emails.

A chewed trade-show ballpoint pen is throw-away, encouraging me to write more words. A fountain pen is more delicate and requires more care, inspiring me to write better words.

What if you chose your tools not just on what solves the problem, but on what helps you elevate yourself beyond what you expected of yourself and your solution?

November 16, 2020     Daily Post

Being A Part Of ‘Better’

Being A Part Of ‘Better’

Hands up if you’ve ever employed the help of a professional services provider, only to be left massively underwhelmed with the level of care and output from the whole encounter.

That’s a lot of hands!

It could mean we expect too much. That the idea of someone being brilliant for us is too much to ask, and that “acceptable” should be acceptable.

It could mean we try too hard. That we see what others do and wrinkle at the thought of how much harder we work for those we serve in the marketplace.

It could mean we can be a part of ‘better’. That delivering excellent work for a fair price is still a pretty radical idea, and that modelling it means others might join in.

I’m going for the third option. How about you?

November 15, 2020     Daily Post

Organised Genius

Organised Genius

Are you great at what you do?

Great!

Do you have organised genius, or disorganised genius?

Disorganised genius is a gamble. It’s when you know how to do great things, but every project is a blank canvas with no structure, checks or reviews to enable you to access consistent greatness. You’ll remember some things and forget others, creating something great but not as great as you’re capable of.

Organised genius you can bet on. It’s when you know how to do great things, and you wrote down precisely how to do them. Every project benefits from both you and your tried-and-true processes and blueprints that enable you to guarantee a result. You don’t need to remember everything, because you didn’t go it alone. Creating something great is easy because the height of your capability isn’t the piece, but the process you made to make the piece.

One’s a gamble, the other you can bet on.

Which would you prefer to go all-in on?

November 14, 2020     Daily Post

Diluting Your Capability

Diluting Your Capability

Adding certain things to our work takes away our power to do it well:

Testing and optimisations work best if done calmly and methodically. Adding hustle or urgency takes away our powers, as tests are cut short and optimisations become based on reactions and guesswork rather than empirical evidence.

Sales-related conversations work best if done calmly and methodically, keeping the needs of others above our own. Adding sensationalism and pressure takes away our power, as consumers tire of hype and pressure reveals a desperate rep.

Solving interesting problems happens best if done calmly and methodically, bending a process of divergent (and convergent) thinking with an empathy for those the solution exists to serve. Adding speed takes away your power, as rushing for extra dollars or to get past the uncomfortable parts of the process always leads to diluted thought and fractional output.

What are you adding to your work that could be taking away your power? What if you changed that?

November 13, 2020     Daily Post

Outbound Mail Formula

Outbound Mail Formula

You probably know the formula:

“Unsolicited + Mass-message = Spam”

Questions like “why are my marketing messages going to spam” are easily answerable by remembering the formula. You used it precisely as above, and got the correct output.

Similarly, questions like “how do I do outbound marketing that isn’t spam?” are also easily answerable by remembering the formula. To change the output, change one of the inputs, either from ‘unsolicited’ to ‘solicited’, or ‘mass-message’ to ‘personal’.

Bonus points for changing both of them.

Want to change your results? Remember the formula.

November 12, 2020     Daily Post

What Is “Great Work”?

What Is “Great Work”?

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.” —Steve Jobs

When you hear “great work”, what do you think of?

We say it quite a lot:

When an employee or peer completes a task with no obvious flaws, we often say “great work”.

When our peers or parents acknowledge a new skill we’ve learned or a certificate we’ve earned, we often hear “great work”.

We also hear “great work” when we consider massive feats of achievement, such as privatised space travel or creating a trillion dollar enterprise.

So what is it, changing the world, or meeting spec?

I’d argue that it’s personal: Work that represents the best of your thinking, and the thinking of those around you. Work that wasn’t just thrown together, but stretched you; even if it was a routine activity, you made it better and it made you better.

That makes “great work” an opportunity for everybody and anybody who chooses to engage in the act of creating from greatness. A deliberate decision made with every brush stroke, phone call or line of code.

Are you producing “great work”, or is meeting spec (or dismissing it as an opportunity for only a chosen few) okay with you?

November 11, 2020     Daily Post

How Not To Burn Out

How Not To Burn Out

Ever burned out?

Stinks, doesn’t it.

Here’s why I think it happens:

Step 1: You perceive a situation to be both incorrect (something isn’t right) and internal (it affects your freedoms or emotional safety) in some way.

Step 2: You don’t (or can’t) make peace with that situation (internally).

Step 3: You carry that dissonance until you burn out.

Here’s how to avoid it:

Step 1: You perceive a situation to be both incorrect (something isn’t right) and internal (it affects your freedoms or emotional safety) in some way.

Step 2: You focus on how the situation doesn’t actually affect your freedoms and emotional safety, so that you can make peace with its presence.

Step 3: There’s no dissonance to carry and no burn out.

Both emperor and slave can be be internally free (Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus are proof of this) and so can we.

Next time you have a rough week that could lead to burn out, remember your freedoms.

November 10, 2020     Daily Post

He Did It His Way

He Did It His Way

The problem with copying products and services is that you start off superfluous.

When someone brings their unique approach to the market, uniquely addressing the needs of those they wish to serve, the only way to beat them at their game is to be better or cheaper.

And being a copy means you seldom achieve “better”, leaving you in a race to the bottom that you may run the risk of winning.

But when you bring your unique approach to the market, uniquely addressing the needs of those you wish to serve, it may not work at first…

…But with every ounce of care you commit to your market, you creep closer to an advantage others can only copy with the same limitations you’d have were you to have been the copy.

We need less cheap knock-offs and more folks willing to do the generous, brave work of creating us new paths forward.

He did it his way. You do it yours.

November 09, 2020     Daily Post

Pragmatic Generosity

Pragmatic Generosity

Can generosity be pragmatic?

Let’s see:

When you’re not generous, the right people may or may not move forward with you, and you may or may not get to help them. The wrong people may or may not move forward too, but they’re besides the point.

When you’re generous, the right people don’t take advantage, they simply move closer to you and you get the opportunity to serve them. The wrong people may take advantage, but they were the wrong people anyway, they’re besides the point.

In both scenarios, the wrong people aren’t the point.

But in one scenario, the right people move closer to you. You get to serve them better, to make more change happen.

Seems like generosity is actually pretty pragmatic. No reason not to be generous then, right?

November 08, 2020     Daily Post

Two Kinds of Free Media

Two Kinds of Free Media

There are two kinds of free media.

They mean entirely different things.

Free media #1: Facebook is free to signup and use. You’re not charged for signing up, uploading your photos and interests, or sharing things with your friends, because advertisers are charged because you signed up, uploaded your photos and interests, and share things with your friends.

The information isn’t yours. It’s theirs. That’s the trade. A trade isn’t free. It’s a trade.

Free media #2: Open mediums such as email newsletters and podcasts can be created using any software (or sent directly), circulated in any directories (or directly), and everyone gets to choose their own (different) ways of interacting with it.

The information is yours, but creators often need monetary support to create. That’s the trade. A trade isn’t free. It’s a trade.

The post title said there are two types of free media. There’s actually none, on closer inspection.

But we get to choose what kind of trade we want to make.

November 07, 2020     Daily Post

When Prospects Ask But You Don’t Have It

When Prospects Ask But You Don’t Have It

You’ve got two choices.

Which do you choose, when a prospect asks you for something you don’t have?

Offering things you don’t have or can’t confidently solve weakens your promise, dilutes your brand, tarnishes your reputation and damages your relationships.

If those things sound appealing, expand your offerings to accommodate every need and never tell anyone “No”. Many sales will occur on the path to failure.

If those things don’t sound appealing, then committing to your area of genius while connecting with others who committed to doing the same thing could be a better route.

Everyone benefits when you’re confident enough to focus and refer out, others are confident enough to focus and refer in, and prospects connected to the best every time.

Do you know your focus? Do others?

November 06, 2020     Daily Post

Your Relationship With Not Knowing

Your Relationship With Not Knowing

Are you an expert in your field?

The answer is interesting.

We want to hear “Yes!” because it makes us feel looked after, comforted by the thought that you have a subject covered entirely. “You got this.”

But hearing “No!” is more often the relationship true experts have with their craft. The more they know, the more they know they don’t know, and the more humbled they feel by their areas of practice.

A library of books you’ve not yet read reminds us that our knowledge is finite, we have yet more to learn.

A discipline of perpetually learning from our customers – instead of assuming we have all the answers – ensures we stay close to their reality rather than an inner delusion where ‘we know everything’.

Needing to know it all and be the guru makes us dumb, and limits the results of our work.

Improving our relationships with ‘not knowing’ takes us further, beyond our competitors, beyond so many who’s ego requires them to be seen as “the expert”.

We, our work, and those we serve all benefit from it.

November 05, 2020     Daily Post

“I don’t need a blog”

“I don’t need a blog”

Sure, you don’t.

Unless you have something important to share that will help people move forward. If your product or service creates meaningful, ethical advantage for others, why not share the thinking that goes behind it so that we can learn what makes it so great?

Unless you want to nurture your responsibility as a leader for those you serve. If you recognise that fiduciary responsibility, why not act upon it in using an evergreen medium that everyone can use and understand?

Unless you want to show us all a better way of achieving what we want from your space. If you have an opinion that could – or has – formed a movement, why not enrol others in that movement so we can all benefit, together?

Maybe a blog could be a good idea after all.

(P.S. To those who are unsure of whether or not they’ll run out of things to say, this post is day 1,060 of this daily blog. They’re there, if you’re prepared to do the work.)

November 04, 2020     Daily Post

The Process Of Learning

The Process Of Learning

We can all probably agree that learning is good.

But most of us don’t have a process for learning.

In our teams I often advocate for “Process + Work + Humility” as a formula for creating results in our respective areas of practice.

The ‘Work’ and ‘Humility’ parts are fairly easy to grasp. But ‘Process’?

Everything we do is subject to a process, it may just not be a particularly great or repeatable one. The way we make a cup of tea may have more process to it than our pursuits of advanced understanding.

Making tea is easy because we’ve done it the same way many times. Learning can be just as straightforward, with the right process.

When we aren’t creating the results we want in almost any area of life, providing we can bring ‘work’ and ‘humility’ to the table, we need simply install a better ‘process’ to learning so that we can approach the challenges in work and life with more favourable, predictable outcomes.

November 03, 2020     Daily Post

Opinions & Movements

Opinions & Movements

What’s the difference between having opinions and being a part of a movement?

Consider if your opinions do these things:

  1. They advocate for a legitimately better way of working or behaving.
  2. They lead to the highlighting of tools and pathways that represent that same line of thinking, for the benefit of all interested in walking the same path.
  3. They represent a real pursuit of thoughtful alternate direction for people also tired of the status quo.

Then it’s not just an opinion. It’s part of a movement. It’s something we might just buy into with you, buying you along the way.

Opinions don’t usually matter. Until they shine a light upon a better future… and defend it.

November 02, 2020     Daily Post

Questions You’re Afraid Of

Questions You’re Afraid Of

Most of us have them.

Our businesses and projects are held back by them.

What’s yours?

Let’s look at some examples:

“Who’s your target audience / what message do you deploy methodically for that particular target audience?” More businesses are afraid of this one than you can imagine. Our Creative team witnesses this on a near-daily basis.

“How many referral systems do you have in place and methodically use?” Answering this without bending the concept of a referral ‘system’ and the use of the term ‘methodical’ doesn’t count.

“Where are your standard operating procedures located?” This assumes they exist, are up-to-date, and are a good representation of your body of work.

What questions are you afraid to be asked? How could addressing those questions yourself help your work move forward?

November 01, 2020     Daily Post

The Business of Busyness

The Business of Busyness

A ‘busy’ day doesn’t mean an ‘effective’ day, or a ‘better’ day.

After all, if we spend all day working on things that don’t move the needle, we earn the redundant badge of “productive”.

Similarly, an ‘effective’ day doesn’t mean a ‘busy’ day either. If we spend just enough time to drive things forward, without the rest, we create compounding mental margin for an even more ‘effective’ day tomorrow.

‘Hustle’ tries to draw parallels between two things that have no parallels at all. ‘Busy’ merely leads you to wasted time, whereas ‘effective’ leads you to both time and progress. More of one does not create more of the other.

‘Focus’ tries to separate the two poles of ‘busy’ and ‘effective’. It’s the opposite of ‘hustle’ and one that has become quite unpopular in recent years.

If you’ve fallen victim to ‘hustle’, you may want to revisit ‘focus’ to ditch the ‘busy’ and gift yourself and those you work alongside with real ‘effectiveness’.