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Problems and constraints

Gravity is a constraint. If you're a designing an airplane, it would be a lot easier without gravity as a concern, but hey, it's not going away.

A problem is solvable. A constraint must be lived with.

For years, Apple viewed retail distribution as a constraint. They had to live with cranky independent computer stores, or big box mass merchants that didn't display or sell their products well.

Using the internet and then their own stores, they eventually realized that this was actually a problem that could be solved, and it changed everything for them.

On the other hand, there are countless entrepreneurs who believe they can solve problems relating to funding or technology that are out of reach given their scale or background. They'd be better off if they accepted them as constraints and designed around them.

The art is in telling them apart.

Do more vs. do better

The easiest form of management is to encourage or demand that people do more. The other translation of this phrase is to go faster.

The most important and difficult form of management (verging on leadership) is to encourage people to do better.

Better is trickier than more because people have trouble visualizing themselves doing better. It requires education and coaching and patience to create a team of people who are better.

Alienating the 2%

When a popular rock group comes to town, some of their fans won't get great tickets. Not enough room in the front row. Now they're annoyed. 2% of them are angry enough to speak up or badmouth or write an angry letter.

When Disney changes a policy and offers a great new feature or benefit to the most dedicated fans, 2% of them won't be able to use it… timing or transport or resources or whatever. They're angry and they let the brand know it.

Do the math. Every time Apple delights 10,000 people, they hear from 200 angry customers, people who don't like the change or the opportunity or the risk it represents.

If you have fans or followers or customers, no matter what you do, you'll annoy or disappoint two percent of them. And you'll probably hear a lot more from the unhappy 2% than from the delighted 98.

It seems as though there are only two ways to deal with this: Stop innovating, just stagnate. Or go ahead and delight the vast majority.

Sure, you can try to minimize the cost of change, and you might even get the number to 1%. But if you try to delight everyone, all the time, you'll just make yourself crazy. Or become boring.

Childish vs. childlike

Childlike makes a great scientist.

Childish produces tantrums.

Childlike brings fresh eyes to marketing opportunities.

Childish rarely shows up as promised.

Childlike is fearless and powerful and willing to fail.

Childish is annoying.

Childlike inquires with a pure heart.

Childish is merely ignored.

Laziness

I think laziness has changed.

It used to be about avoiding physical labor. The lazy person could nap or have a cup of tea while others got hot and sweaty and exhausted. Part of the reason society frowns on the lazy is that this behavior means more work for the rest of us.

When it came time to carry the canoe over the portage, I was always hard to find. The effort and the pain gave me two good reasons to be lazy.

But the new laziness has nothing to do with physical labor and everything to do with fear. If you're not going to make those sales calls or invent that innovation or push that insight, you're not avoiding it because you need physical rest. You're hiding out because you're afraid of expending emotional labor.

This is great news, because it's much easier to become brave about extending yourself than it is to become strong enough to haul an eighty pound canoe.

Helping the rejection committee

Liz quotes a friend who sold expensive business to business products in Texas, "It's not a no until they call security!" This salesperson has no intention whatsoever of helping the folks who reject her do the rejecting.

I'm not sure you have to go that far, but I know that many marketers work hard on behalf of the rejection committee. We sabotage our college applications or email pitches or websites, predicting in advance that we're not going to make it, not good enough, not worthy. So we set out to save them the trouble of having to think hard about the no.

If someone wants to say no, let them. But no need to help them get to no before they get the chance. Let them do their job.

 

How can you do it?!

JK asks,

"It's like, how does anyone start their own business? How is it even possible? How do they deal with the crippling fear and harsh economic realities?"

Some people believe that if you have a good job, you shouldn't start your own gig, because it's foolish to give up a job you can't easily replace.

And some people believe that if you don't have a great job, it's foolish to waste time (and the money you can ill afford to lose) starting something when you'd be a lot better off getting a great job or going to school until you do.

And both groups are missing the point.

The people who successfully start independent businesses (franchises, I think are a different thing) do it because we have no real choice in the matter. The voice in our heads won't shut up until we discover if we're right, if we can do it, if we can make something happen. This is an art, our art, and to leave it bottled up is a crime.

I guess the real question, JK, is, "How can you not do it?"

Invitation to join the triiibe

[update: this invite is now closed. Check back in a few months and we might be able to reopen it. Sorry if you missed it…]

Voting, misunderstood

This year, fewer than 40% of voting age Americans will actually vote.

A serious glitch in self-marketing, I think.

If you don't vote because you're trying to teach politicians a lesson, you're tragically misguided in your strategy. The very politicians you're trying to send a message to don't want you to vote. Since 1960, voting turnouts in mid-term elections are down significantly, and there's one reason: because of TV advertising.

Political TV advertising is designed to do only one thing: suppress the turnout of the opponent's supporters. If the TV ads can turn you off enough not to vote ("they're all bums") then their strategy has succeeded.

The astonishing thing is that voters haven't figured this out. As the scumminess and nastiness of campaigning and governing has escalated and the flakiness of candidates appears to have escalated as well, we've largely abdicated the high ground and permitted selfish partisans on both sides to hijack the system.

Voting is free. It's fairly fast. It doesn't make you responsible for the outcome, but it sure has an impact on what we have to live with going forward. The only thing that would make it better is free snacks.

Even if you're disgusted, vote. Vote for your least unfavorite choice. But go vote.

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