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In defense of RSS

RSS is the best way to consume content online. It always has been, and it still is.

Not gated, not filtered, no ads, just want you want.

If you’re not using it, can I strongly suggest you give it a try? I use Feedly. Not sure the particular readers matters, though.

Here’s a great step by step intro on RSS for you…

Once you are ready to add this blog, just type in https://feeds.feedblitz.com/sethsblog to your Reader, that’s it, done.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. It’s not particularly difficult to keep up with 200 blogs you care about in less than hour using an RSS reader.
  2. RSS provides home delivery. Instead of remembering where to click, or waiting for a post to get all buzzy and hot, the good stuff comes to you. Automatically and free.
  3. Subscribing to a blog is easy. In Newsfire, you can paste the URL of any blog and it automatically finds the RSS feed for you.

RSS is quiet and fast and professional and largely hype-free. Perhaps that’s why it’s not the flavor of the day.

Making meetings more expensive

…might actually make them cost less.

What would happen if your organization hired a meeting fairie?

The fairie's job would be to ensure that meetings were short, efficient and effective. He would focus on:

  • Getting precisely the right people invited, but no others.
  • Making the meeting start right on time.
  • Scheduling meetings so that they don't end when Outlook says they should, but so that they end when they need to.
  • Ensuring that every meeting has a clearly defined purpose, and accomplishes that purpose, then ends.
  • Welcoming guests appropriately. If you are hosting someone, the fairie makes sure the guest has adequate directions, a place to productively wait before the meeting starts, access to the internet, something to drink, biographies of who else will be in the room and a clear understanding of the goals of the meeting.
  • Managing the flow of information, including agendas and Powerpoints. This includes eliminating the last minute running around looking for a VGA cable or a monitor that works. The fairie would make sure that everyone left with a copy of whatever they needed.
  • Issuing a follow up memo to everyone who attended the meeting, clearly delineating who came and what was decided.

If you do all this, every time you call a meeting it's going to cost more to organize. Which means you'll call fewer meetings, those meetings will be shorter and more efficient. And in the long run, you'll waste less time and get more done.

It’s just better ketchup

In a discussion on why Heinz has such high market share for ketchup in the Pittsburgh area, one commenter posts, "It's just better ketchup. Their other products may be closer in quality to the competition, but for Ketchup nobody compares. When you go to a restaurant and they have a different kind, it feels you are eating at some cheap cafeteria."

This is really telling, but probably not the in the way Matt intended.

Heinz doesn't make better ketchup. Heinz makes better Heinz ketchup. There's a huge difference.

If you define ketchup the way most people do, you define it as, "the ketchup I grew up with." Or to be more specific, "the ketchup my mom served me, the one that I was allowed to serve myself when I turned three…"

One thing that marketers do is sell us a feeling, not a set of molecules or bits. When you spend $3 on a bottle of ketchup, that's what you're buying. And Matt and the rest of us are so brainwashed we rationalize it as 'better ketchup.'

That’s not the way we do things around here

Please don't underestimate how powerful this sentence is.

When you say this to a colleague, a new hire, a student or a freelancer, you've established a powerful norm, one that they will be hesitant to challenge.

This might be exactly what you were hoping for, but if your goal is to encourage innovation, you blew it.

Insurgents and incumbents

Incumbents compromise to please the committee and bend over backwards to defend the status quo.

Insurgents have the ability to work without a committee and to destroy the status quo.

The game is stacked in favor of the insurgents, except–

They're under pressure from boards, investors and neighbors to act like incumbents.

It takes guts to be an insurgent, and even though the asymmetrical nature of challenging the status quo is in their favor, often we find we're short on guts. … and then the incumbents prevail.

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