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Luck on demand

Alas, not an option.

Luck over time is inevitable, though.

If you show up with good work and generous action, again and again, sooner or later something that appears to others to be luck will appear.

Because luck over time is a symptom of productive contributions. It rarely happens when you need it most, it almost never happens in equal proportion to what feels fair (to you or to others), but it happens.

The trap is hoping that a short-term focus on luck on demand will pay off instead.

Cars, houses and TVs

Compare 1960 to today:

Cars are a bit faster, a bit safer, higher in quality and a lot more expensive.

Houses are much bigger, a bit more efficient and enormously more expensive.

TVs on the other hand, are dramatically bigger, dramatically more efficient, dramatically more powerful, significantly more reliable and way cheaper. For $300, you can buy a 49 inch TV that would have cost a million dollars in 1960.

What happened?

Cars, with the exception of new electric drivetrains, are basically the same thing they were, except designed with computers and assembled by robots.

Houses, with the exception of some prefab edge cases, are still assembled by hand, on location, by skilled workers. And they went up in scale because real estate prices and income inequality went up even more.

But TVs–they made a leap. A leap from analog to digital, a leap from tubes to solid-state. Moore’s Law is at work on your television, but it’s been largely shut out of the two largest purchases most people make.

When you see computers and networks show up in an industry, it’s easy to predict what will happen next.

Awareness vs. experience

We are more aware than ever before. More aware of victims of violence, or a natural disaster. More aware of insane wealth or grinding poverty. It gets beamed to us, regularly.

We’re even more often exposed to social hijinks, sports stars or business moguls.

We’re aware that people run a marathon, or fast for a week. That they start a business or meditate every day. They know how to code, or to take pictures.

But there’s a difference between hearing about it and experiencing it.

There’s no excuse for being uninformed. But when it matters, there’s also no good reason for being inexperienced.

There’s often a piece of glass between us and the world as it’s delivered to us. That glass magnifies awareness, but it doesn’t have the same impact as experience does. It can’t.

Our awareness has been stretched wider than ever in history, but often at the cost of taking away a lifetime of experiences.

Obese dogs

Dogs aren’t supposed to have willpower, that’s what they have us for.

Marketing changes culture and culture changes us. And then we end up changing the world around us. Not just the dogs, but all of it.

It’s probably a mistake for us to wait until profit-driven corporations start to worry about side effects on their own. But the moment we start voting with our attention and our dollars, they’ll begin to respond.

We get what we pay for. And sometimes, we pay for what we get.

The only one who has heard all of it

…is you.

Jerry Garcia performed thousands of times, and he was the only one who heard every performance.

The same is true for the work you’ve created, the writing you’ve done, the noise in your head–you’re the only person who has heard every bit of it.

Tell us what we need to know. Not because you need to hear yourself repeat it, but because you believe we need to hear it.

Take your time and lay it out for us, without worrying about whether or not we’ve heard you say it before. We probably haven’t.

 

CREATORS: I hope you’ll check out the newest Akimbo workshop. I’ve been working on it for nearly a year. It’s built for people with a craft–for artists, writers, musicians and anyone who has something that they’d like to more effectively share with the world. It’s a modern writer’s workshop, for more than writers, and it happens worldwide.

Sign up for more info–we launch in two weeks.

As simple as necessary (but not simpler)

The convenience regime is in full force. You don’t often earn points by being baroque, rococo or byzantine.

Given a choice, people will simply move on to the next thing.

“As simple as necessary” is missed by many professionals who should call themselves designers, but don’t. Consider the 30 digit code that Microsoft wants me to type in… 30 digits? That’s more than a quintillion possible combinations. A lot more. Why?

Or notice the new user interface for the useful Audio Hijack program… It’s a two-dimensional grid with clickable icons. Why isn’t it simpler?

And “but not simpler” is missed, more and more often. Items that are dumbed down to the point where they are too simple to get useful work done. Where the power is hidden from the user, because the user can’t be trusted with it. Apple continues to make things simpler than they need to be, all in the name of short-term convenience.

The balancing act is real. It requires empathy, the empathy to realize that not everyone knows what you know and not everyone wants what you want.

The imprecision of “am”

I am 41 years old

is a very different statement than

I am a vegan.

In the first case, there’s not a lot you can do about your “am”. It is an accurate description of a state of affairs over which you have no control.

In the second, it simply describes a choice. Anyone who wants to eat a certain way instantly becomes a vegan for as long as they make that choice.

The “am” that we think of as permanent identity might actually be a choice, repeated again and again.

And it bends toward justice

Superman could bend steel with his bare hands.

Along the way, we’ve been sold on the idea that difficult tasks ought to be left to heroes, often from somewhere far away or from long ago. That it’s up to them, whoever ‘them’ is.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted Theodore Parker: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

But it’s not bending itself. And it’s not waiting for someone from away to bend it either.

It’s on us. Even when it doesn’t work (yet). Even when it’s difficult. Even when it’s inconvenient.

Our culture is the result of a trillion tiny acts, taken by billions of people, every day. Each of them can seem insignificant, but all of them add up, one way or the other, to the change we each live through.

Sometimes it takes a hero like Dr. King to wake us up and remind us of how much power we actually have.

And now it’s our turn. It always has been.

Everyone is doing their best

What if that’s not actually true? Perhaps it’s more useful to consider that in every moment, on every project, no one is actually doing their best.

Because there’s always a need to hold a little bit in reserve.

Because there are always competing priorities.

Because everyone has a noise in their head.

Because there’s fear, a hundred kinds of fear.

Because no one has actually done the lopsided work of 100% preparation and commitment, not for this precise moment.

I’m not doing my best and neither are you. Because we’re not optimized algorithms, we’re people.

Okay, now that we can see that no one is doing their best, what are our options?

 

PS One way to get closer to doing your best is to join The Marketing Seminar. Tomorrow is the final day for registration, but today’s a fine day to join in.

And don’t miss tomorrow’s deadline for First Priority access to the altMBA. When you’re ready to discover how much you can contribute, the altMBA is here for you.

Better than real

A still life painting was supposed to capture a moment in time, something that we’d photograph if only the camera had been invented.

And a sauna was a nordic way to simulate a warm afternoon at the beach.

But an artistic photograph isn’t supposed to simply be a snapshot. It has to add more than that.

And a veggie burger is not simply a pale imitation of a meat burger. It can be something better.

The problem with faux is that it’s not enough.

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