How to be Rare

A box of free-range eggs only costs a few dollars. A Fabergé egg costs millions.

Their rarity, intricacy, and mystique make all the difference. And you can’t even eat them.

In a race to become an overnight success, we frequently observe the rapid commoditization of products, services, and brands. Many appear to prefer being a free-range business, rather than a Fabergé business.

How can you be the latter?

1. Be Different, because ‘rare’ isn’t the same.

  • Do unexpected things. Fabergé makes precious few eggs, surely they’d want to sell more? Free-range thinking: ‘more’ doesn’t always mean ‘better’.
  • Learn other markets. Most markets use the ‘rules’ of that market, doing things the way everyone else does them “because that’s how it’s done”.

2. Be Specific, because ‘rare’ isn’t wishy-washy.

  • Get clear. How clear are people on the distinctive value of your offer before you present that offer to them?
  • Choose your own market. And bake it into your marketing. Fabergé isn’t sold in supermarkets because that’s not where their target audience is.

3. Be a Leader, because ‘rare’ isn’t where everyone else is going.

  • Write the rules. If a map exists, someone’s already been there, in the exact same way. Find a better way, and draw a new map.
  • Forget all you know. And do it better, by instead questioning everything in your market, industry, and process.

4. Be Better, because ‘rare’ becomes more exquisite with time.

  • Give back. Benefit a community, market or industry and make your venture bigger than yourself.
  • Train, grow, let it show. The best are comfortable revealing their journey of growth. Others get a look at the precision of your work.

What would it to do your work if you accepted it’s not for everyone, and instead became a precious rarity for those you serve?

Arguing with yourself

Why did you put that there?
Do you need that?
What’s it for?
What’s a better way of doing that?
How could that be easier to understand?
Does that fit in?
Could you remove that?
What’s missing?
If you threw this in the trash, what would you do instead?
Am I doing my best work?
Can I ship it yet?

The more time you spend arguing with yourself, the better your work will become. Without these arguments, you’ll do standard work. You’ll ship later (or never). You’ll deny yourself opportunities to grow in your craft. And you’ll deny your work the opportunity to be great.

Become your own worst enemy and start doing your best work.

A Players and Leadership

“A Players play with A Players. B Players play with C Players” – elitist chant

You’ve likely heard this quote before. It may even have inspired you to do better work. But it’s wrong.

It supposes you’re destined for a downward trajectory unless you’re already the best. And the best don’t get that way by accident. Let’s rewrite the quote:

B Players play with B players.
C Players play with nobody.
A Players turn B Players into A Players.

Because the best don’t sit in ivory towers. They lead.

Need, Must, and Should

Needs: We do these because we were asked to. We drink water because our body needs it. We deliver great service because we promise it to our customers and clients. We do these things because we Need to.

Musts: We do these things, not from need, but because we decided they’re important enough. They Must get done because they create a change we want to see in the world. We refuse to let these things remain undone.

Shoulds: We don’t do these. We didn’t Need to, and we didn’t make it a Must. Here lives bucket lists and promises we won’t keep.

Everything we do belongs to one of these three buckets. Choose wisely.

Redefining Perfection

Perfection, in its usual sense, suggests the ultimate unattainable pedestal commonly used to excuse ourselves from starting something that matters. Or a romanticized ideal looked upon through rose-tinted glasses.

What if perfection meant something different? What if perfection simply meant that something does exactly what its supposed to do?

Rolls-Royce is often considered to create automotive perfection – the ultimate driving experience.

They perfected making you feel ‘special’.

They did not perfect making you feel ‘eco-friendly’. By that standard, a Toyota Prius is far more perfect than the Rolls. Should that mean the Rolls is lesser?

What if perfection were a journey rather than a destination? The pursuit of making your product do exactly what its supposed to do?

With that meaning, achieving perfection becomes a pursuit focused on our goals. When defined in that way, please, be a perfectionist.

Growing businesses and trapeze acts

“What got you here won’t get you there” – Marshall Goldsmith

The trouble with performing the trapeze act is, if you don’t let go of one swing in order to grab the next, you lose momentum and wind up going backward, quickly.

The other issue is, the second swing is the scarier one–it’s the one you’ve not got a grip on yet. Worse, not grabbing it will send you quickly downward. And you can’t hold on to them both at the same time, or you’ll go nowhere.

In a growing business, we often know what the next swing is in front of us. We see it as we hurtle toward it if our eyes are open. It may be a new skill, a new challenge, or a new opportunity within the business. But reaching it is a bit of a leap.

“I had no idea you could code” – a team member

How often do you hear phrases like this? If ‘never’, it might mean you’ve never let go–perhaps you’re happily swinging backward and forwards on your first swing.

What are you afraid to let go of? What will you need to let go of, to make the leap and maintain your forward momentum?

Net Neutrality & Participation

Last week, the FCC ruled against Net Neutrality, America’s fight for freedom of information. ‘The land of the free’ now lacks freedom of information.

Fascism aside, netizens (that’s us) are partly to blame for this centralized control of information.

We collectively voted to give our data and attention to a select few sites and services. The majority vote went to consuming rather than creating, following instead of leading, and reducing our thinking to 140 characters or less.

Turns out shooting fish in an ocean is much more difficult than shooting fish in a barrel.

The beauty of the Internet is everybody has a voice. Everyone can publish to their own corner of the Internet–and lead change–if they choose to. By simply getting out of the barrel, change is not so easily blocked.

You have a voice and you have the tools, Net Neutrality or not. Will you use yours?

Happy 2017S

‘New Years’ is dangerous. Everyone starts thinking about new things to try or to stop doing by way of a ‘resolution’. Baseless ideals that last for 28 days.

Perhaps what we need isn’t a new year. Maybe what we need is just a better, refined version of last year. Maybe what we did last year isn’t so bad, we just needed to be more consistent, or disciplined. Maybe there’s absolutely nothing new we need to ‘start’ at all.

  1. What should have done more consistently? If you did something that worked, intermittently–for whatever reason–perhaps all you need to do is be more consistent with that activity.
  2. What should we have been more disciplined with? For instance, if you wasted less time on social media, but still found yourself distracted from deeper thinking from time to time, perhaps all you need to do is be stricter with yourself by setting some disciplines.

This ‘New Years’ season, consider not doing anything new at all.

When Apple was done making the iPhone 6, what we needed wasn’t an iPhone 7. What we needed was an iPhone 6S – the 6, but faster.

Never mind 2018. Happy 2017S, everyone: like 2017, but better.

The 2 types of sales person (and the 3 stages of sales)

“Sales is about turning “I’ve never heard of it” into “no” and then into “yes”. – Seth Godin

Sales is a game that belongs to two types of people:

  1. Passionate servant-hearted coaches,
  2. Scoundrels for hire.

The latter’s the one with the reputation. Coaches will try to serve you if you’re a fit. They’ll push for maximum value and service for the lowest possible risk, as an act of service.

They’ll get you to–and through–the “no” because they empathize with you, and understand it’s their job to advocate change for you.

These are people you want to know. You want to buy what they’re selling because if they’re calling, your life is about to get much better.

The scoundrels, on the other hand, will sell anything to anyone to make a buck. They call when you know (as do they) that it’s not a good fit for you. They’ll pressure and coerce you rather than trying to help and serve you. They aren’t on your side.

These are who call our phones multiple times a day from different numbers, trying to peddle unrelated wares that we’re never going to be interested in.

If you want to know more servant-hearted coaches eager to help you forward at no cost to you, read on.

Stage 1: Never heard of it

This is most people, most of the time. This is part of why these 3 stages exist: to make you aware if you’re a good fit.

And you’ll never know if you’re a good fit until you engage with either 2 or 3 of these stages, right?

When you receive an email, ad or call from somebody in sales, you’ll be able to tell within seconds which type of person you’ve got on the other side of the interaction.

If you feel like you’re being interviewed… coach. These are rare. If you feel like you’re being ‘sold’… hang up. These are very common.

A servant-hearted coach wants to make you aware because it might be a way to level you up. And if it isn’t, they won’t let you past Stage 2.

Stage 2: No

Everyone has to go through this stage. Because it’s the second stage of sales, and because everybody’s so afraid of it, no wonder people think sales is so difficult.

Except for the servant-hearted coaches, and the scoundrels for hire.

The coach understands you need to go through ‘no’. But they go further:

They’re “no” about you, too. They’re going through the 3 stages with you.

Until they see a clear path to growth for you, and that the path includes what you’re talking about, they won’t let you past Stage 2.

The scoundrels will either blast right through ‘no’ with scripted rebuttals, or they’ll hang up so their automatic dialer can issue them some fresh meat.

Stage 3: Yes

This is where magic happens. Or when time, money, and opportunity is wasted.

The coach will have equipped you with something to help you grow. And they’ll make sure you get maximum results.

The scoundrel will collect your credit card details and run.

If you’re going to move to Stage 3, you need to be certain you’re not talking to the scoundrel. If in doubt, don’t proceed. The coach will help you move forward in your timing.

But when you’re sure, don’t just say ‘yes’ to the product or service available to you. Say ‘yes’ to the servant-hearted coach: this is somebody you should have on speed-dial.

How many times do you encounter somebody who will genuinely accelerate you toward your goals?

Sales can be a great experience for both parties. It can feel scary–like rescuing somebody from a burning building–but it makes lives better…like rescuing somebody from a burning building.

Know a good salesperson? Call them–see how they can make your life better next.

Write like you email

When you receive an email, you don’t wonder whether or not the words will come. Do you? I don’t. I tend to just start writing.

The question isn’t, “Can I write this?” or “Should I write this?” or even, ”What will they think of this?”

It’s simply, “I’m going to reply to this in a way that answers the question, is helpful, useful, easy to read, and only long enough to provide the value I want to provide.”

As it happens, this is the model I used to write this blog post. It’s long enough to communicate what I want to say, long enough to plant an idea that can be used and taken forward. Which is basically the same as with email, right?

We can write emails all day… each time answering a question, planting a seed, helping someone move forward in some way.

  • What if we published how we emailed?
  • What if it were as easy as writing an email?
  • What if it were that easy for you, right now, from now on?
  • What’s stopping you?