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“What should we remember?”

Years from now, after this event is long over, what should we remember about it?

A week from now, when the crisis hits, what should we remember about this meeting?

Tomorrow, when the day gets busy, what would you like me to remember about the discussion we just had?

Begin with the end in mind.

“So far”/”Not yet”

What to do in the face of failure? What happens when you’ve done your best and it still doesn’t get the review, close the sale or win the race?

One approach is to embrace the easy path of “did my best” = “failure” therefore, I should give up or simply accept mediocrity.

The other, the growth mindset, is to realize that while you did your best, it’s not your best forever, it’s just what you’ve done so far. And that while you haven’t created what you set out to create, the key word, the one you have to remind yourself of daily, is yet.

That growth mindset demands advice and collisions with the marketplace. That mindset means that you need to see what those you seek to serve have to say because without that insight, your ‘yet’ might not arrive.

By all means, ignore those that aren’t in on the joke, that haven’t signed up for the journey, that don’t want to go where you want to go.

For everyone else, though, the answer is, “thanks, wait until you see what’s next.”

What does ‘better’ mean?

It’s trickier than it sounds. It’s often conflated with ‘quality’ (which means consistent adherence to spec) and ‘luxury’ (which means it costs more than it needs to).

Here’s the thing: Swedish matches are better. They might be the best in the world. They do everything a match should do–but better. They light more quickly, burn hotter, and give more match satisfaction.

Except you probably don’t have a box in your house.

Because you don’t care that much about matches.

Because for you (and for billions of non-match-loving people around the world), this sort of better isn’t your sort of better. Your sort of better, when it comes to matches, might be: free and handy.

The lesson is simple: better is always in the eye of the beholder.

 

PS Coming back by popular demand is the Story Skills Workshop, led by bestselling author Bernadette Jiwa. We open for registration on March 3rd, and you can register for more information by visiting here.

 

Overwhelmed is a choice

The internet is infinite. For humans, anyway.

In the time you’ve been reading this, more than an hour of video has been uploaded to YouTube. You will never catch up.

The thing is, the world has always been infinite compared to human scale.

Living on a bucolic farm in the 14th century, there was no need to get bored. You could study earthworms, write a sonnet or have a conversation with your neighbor…

We widen or close our lens on the world in order to avoid becoming too bored or feeling too small.

When you first encounter a new web service, go on Slack or get back to your computer after a break, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Too much to sort. We want a foundation to stand on, but firm footing eludes us for a while.

And then we find it again. Because we intentionally make ourselves unaware of the rest of it.

Right now, orbiting a distant star, the folks on Planet 10 are having a conflict about something or other. But we have no idea. And right now, someone who works for you has a question, or the store you’re not in is having a problem, or a co-worker is doing something without your oversight–and it’s all proceeding without you, because total information awareness is a fiction.

Find your footing and do your work. It’s a choice.

What’s a fellowship?

For five hundred years, a fellowship was understood, Tolkien-style, to be a collection of humans engaged in mutual support. [Definition]

It’s hard to imagine something more reassuring, challenging and productive, all at once.

To be part of an organized fellowship is a responsibility and also the chance to leap forward. Join the others, people like you, eager to see and to be seen, and most of all, to be of service. (Worth noting that ‘fellow’ it is not gender-specific and in fact is used in the Old Testament in reference to women).

A few decades ago, our status and selection-based culture shifted a common meaning of the word to describe a sort of prize. You get picked for a fellowship, maybe you even get some money, and you can definitely put it on your resume. Missing, too often, is the original magic, the idea that the others are there with you, side by side, together.

That new sort of fellowship isn’t really helpful to most of us. I’m more interested in the traditional, effective kind. Mutual support and a shared journey.

There are organic fellowships everywhere, which sprouted on their own, seemingly out of nowhere, and if you find yourself in one, that’s a wonder to be cherished. They don’t need a name or a published agenda. Simply being in it is sufficient.

For the rest of us, there’s the chance to go start one. Start a fellowship, invite some people along, and then do the hard work to keep it going. All for one and one for all.

 

TODAY we posted the first lesson for our Podcasting workshop. It’s the perfect day to join, to connect and to start being heard. Check out what our graduates have said… Hope to see you there.

Wasting it

When you bought your first smartphone, did you know you would spend more than 1,000 hours a year looking at it?

Months later, can you remember how you spent those hours?

When you upgraded to a new smartphone, so you could spend more hours on it, did you think about how you had spent so much of your ‘free’ time the year before?

If we wasted money the way we waste time, we’d all be bankrupt.

Time shifting

If the people you seek to engage with have a choice, they’re likely to make a choice that’s in their self-interest.

The question is: When?

Is it in a high school student’s self-interest to light up a cigarette on a Friday night? In the short run, the answer might be yes. Ask that person in forty years if it was a good idea to be tricked by advertising and peer pressure into a lifetime of expense and illness, and the answer is probably ‘no’.

When we try to change behavior to make culture better, what we’re actually doing is trying to get people to change their timeframe. The more sophisticated an audience believes it is, the easier it is to help them see that there’s more than the next ten seconds in front of them. Mobs, on the other hand, only care about what feels good in this very moment.

The insight is in understanding that perception of time–not just money, not just features, not just narrative–is actually the driving force of much of what is happening when we try to change minds.

Not, “is this a good idea?” but “when?”

Action figures

Those little plastic figurines don’t actually move. If we’re being honest, they’re not action figures, they’re remind-us-of-action figures.

Many of the totems in our lives don’t actually do anything all on their own. Books don’t read themselves, and flowers don’t love us.

But they can represent something. They can remind us of what’s possible. They can trigger us to be in the right state of mind.

Consider surrounding yourself with totems that invite generous action. They’re souvenirs of your best self.

Just getting through the day

To what end?

Is tomorrow another day to get through?

After you get through all the days, then what happens?

What if we saw opportunities instead of tasks? Chances instead of risks?

The free market is elusive

Free markets aren’t particularly common.

At the baseball game, the snack vendors sell what the person with the concession tells them to sell. It’s a choice, but Hobson’s choice: take it or leave it.

Geography makes the idea of a free market difficult, because only one business can exist in any given spot. Fifth Avenue in New York seems like an epicenter of commerce, but long-term leases and the need for millions and millions of dollars in free cash flow mean that there are actually very few degrees of freedom and not much choice.

Free markets are a powerful engine to solve people’s problems, but free markets are difficult to ensure for the long haul.

The web cuts through the geography problem. Shopify is fine with a million or even a billion stores–they don’t take up any space.

And when the web was young, the free market in ideas was open to anyone with access to a library’s internet connection.

But the web rewards network effects and network effects have led to monopolies. Google doesn’t really want a free market in ideas (they hate blogs), instead, they want a market in which they’re the landlord. Facebook enabled a huge outpouring of voices from people who didn’t previously have a microphone, but their algorithms and focus on clicks led toward incentives for outrage as the voices corroded so many elements of our culture. This reinforces the idea that the public doesn’t always want a free market—they’d rather have a convenient one, a predictable one and a safe one instead.

And so we have Lyft, a ‘market’ in name only, because drivers can’t name their fares or produce any innovations.

Our culture has generally moved, in bits and pieces, from a totally free market (the open cry bazaar on the steppes of Mongolia) to one in which more and more interactions are fenced in due to market power and regulation.

We’ve gained a lot in terms of reliability and the management of side effects. But we’ve lost flexibility and speed as well.

Most people who bemoan the loss of the free market don’t actually want to live in a world where that’s all there is. At the same time, fighting market power in our quest for better solutions is a worthy effort.

 

TODAY is the first day for signups for The Podcast Fellowship. This is one of Akimbo’s most popular workshops, and for good reason. If you have something to say and need to be heard, I think you’ll find that a podcast is a great way to share your ideas. Look for the purple circle on the site for a significant discount (but it decreases each day). Hope to see you there.

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