Welcome back.

Have you thought about subscribing? It's free.

If you want to learn to do marketing…

then do marketing.

You can learn finance and accounting and media buying from a book. But the best way to truly learn how to do marketing is to market.

You don't have to quit your job and you don't need your boss's permission. There are plenty of ways to get started.

If you see a band you like coming to town, figure out how to promote them and sell some tickets (posters? google ads? PR?). Don't ask, just do it.

If you find a book you truly love, buy 30 and figure out how to sell them all (to strangers).

If you're 12, go door to door selling fresh fruit–and figure out what stories work and which don't.

Set up an online business. Get a candidate you believe in elected to the school board.

The best way to learn marketing is to do it.

[And Chris Guillebeau's new book turns this simple idea into a plan for life–Kindle link for outside the US].

Design with intent


Neat idea, free PDF… will differently (definitely) make you think. HT to Lucas.

Whatever happened to labor?

Not Labor with a capital L, as in organized labor unions. I mean labor as in skilled workers solving interesting problems. I mean craftspeople who use their hands, their backs and their heads to do important work.

Labor was a key part of the manufacturing revolution. Industrialists needed smart, dedicated, trained laborers to solve interesting problems. Putting things together took more than pressing a few buttons, it took initiative and skill and care. Labor improvised.

It took thirteen years to build the Brooklyn Bridge and more than twenty-five laborers died during its construction. There was not a systematic manual to follow. The people who built it largely figured it out as they went.

The Singer sewing machine, one of the most complex devices of its century, had each piece fitted by hand by skilled laborers.

Sometime after this, once Henry Ford ironed out that whole assembly line thing, things changed. Factories got far more complex and there was less room for improvisation as things scaled.

The boss said, "do what I say. Exactly what I say."

Amazingly, labor said something similar. They said to the boss, "tell us exactly what to do." In many cases, work rules were instituted, flexibility went away and labor insisted on doing exactly what they had agreed to do, no more, no less. At the time, this probably felt like power. Now we know what a mistake it was.

In a world where labor does exactly what it's told to do, it will be devalued. Obedience is easily replaced, and thus one worker is as good as another. And devalued labor will be replaced by machines or cheaper alternatives. We say we want insightful and brilliant teachers, but then we insist they do their labor precisely according to a manual invented by a committee…

Companies that race to the bottom in terms of the skill or cost of their labor end up with nothing but low margins. The few companies that are able to race to the top, that can challenge workers to bring their whole selves–their human selves–to work, on the other hand, can earn stability and growth and margins. Improvisation still matters if you set out to solve interesting problems.

The future of labor isn't in less education, less OSHA and more power to the boss. The future of labor belongs to enlightened, passionate people on both sides of the plant, people who want to do work that matters.

That's what Labor Day is about, not the end of a month on the beach.

Your smile didn’t matter

If you worked on the line, we cared about your productivity, not your smile or approach to the work. You could walk in downcast, walk out defeated and get a raise if your productivity was good.

No longer.

Your attitude is now what's on offer, it's what you sell. When you pass by those big office buildings and watch the young junior executives sneaking into work with a grimace on their face, it's tempting to tell them to save everyone time and just go home.

The emotional labor of engaging with the work and increasing the energy in the room is precisely what you sell. So sell it.

Sometimes, price is an attitude

Passed a store the other day. The sign read 99 CENTS! And the subtitle was, "Everything $1 and up".

The 99 cent store was never popular because there's some magical power about the price that is a penny less than a dollar. No, it's because it represents an attitude, that this stuff is CHEAP. Not absolute cheap, just relatively cheap. Not even a good value, just cheap. Cheap compared to its non-cheap competition.

At the other end of the spectrum, the prices at the Hermes store appear to be missing a decimal point or two. The attitude is, "wow, this stuff is expensive." It's not about what you get, it's about how it feels to pay that much.

Check-in, Chicken

One way to start every morning with your team is to have them check in. Go around in a circle and let people update and contribute. It's not a silly exercise, in that it helps people speak up and it communicates forward motion.

Another way, probably a better one, is to have each member of the team announce what they're afraid of. Two kinds of afraid, actually. Things that might fail and things that might work.

What are you, chicken?

Yes, we're chicken. We're afraid. The lizard has us by the claws.

So, tell us. What are you afraid might happen that would destroy, disintegrate, or dissuade–that would take us down? And what are you afraid of that might work, thus changing everything and opening up entirely new areas of scariness?

Better than nothing (is harder than you think)

Most of the time, particulary in b2b and luxury sales, the competition is nothing.

"I will buy this treat or I will buy nothing, because I don't really need anything."

"I will buy your consulting services, or I'll continue doing what I'm doing now on that front, which is nothing."

None of the above.

"I will vote for you or I'll do what I usually do, which is not vote."

"I'll hire you or I'll hire no one."

While you think your competition is that woman across town, it's probably apathy, sitting still, ignoring the problem… nothing.

Stop worrying so much about comparing yourself to every other possible competitor you can imagine and start comparing yourself to nothing. Are you really worth the hassle, the risk, the time, the money? Or can't the prospect just wait until tomorrow?

Free Prize Inside

Updated Road Trip book

Launching the ShipIt Workbook

Six months ago, I put together a workbook that would help Linchpin readers ship.

After testing it out on hundreds of people, it's now ready for retail sale. [Back in stock… hope to be able to keep up now.]

You can find details here, or jump right to the buy page (special page for Canadians). The goal? To make you uncomfortable at the beginning of a project (and successful at the end).

Here's the core idea: it's weird to write in a book. When you do, you're making a commitment. You're combining the open-mindedness that reading brings with the physical action of writing. If you do that at every step in a project–and if your co-workers do too–the seemingly slippery decisions that get made appear a lot more solid.

The ShipIt workbook is designed to be worked on in groups (hence the five pack) and it delivers. If you can confront the mechanics or the fear that's slowing down (or even killing) your project, it's easy to fix it now, before it's too late.

There's no digital version, because without writing things down, it can't work. But there is an mp3 interview that will help you get your arms around how each page works. I'm pricing this first batch at $3.20 each in a pack of five just for the launch. [PS Amazon is having trouble shipping to Canadians right now. It may take a while to figure this out, and all I can do is apologize…]

I hope you'll give it a try.

Responsibility and authority

Many people struggle at work because they want more authority.

It turns out you can get a lot done if you just take more responsibility instead. It's often offered, rarely taken.

(And you can get even more done if you give away credit, relentlessly).