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Godin’s first law of pizza

Pizza quality is inversely proportional to flexibility. At some places, the inflexibility can be appropriately confused with callous indifference or even rudeness.

Saying yes to every prospect and every request isn't the point of most organizations. The point is to do work that people seek out, that changes things for the better, to bring ideas that spread to the world.

Some of the legendary families that serve great pizza in New York aren't in the customer service business. They're in the great pizza business.

Saying yes to every request is one way to do business, but it's not the only way.

On owning it

If you announce what you want, if you are clear about what's on offer, if you set goals…

  • the chances of accomplishing your goal go up, and so does…
  • the chance that you will be disappointed

For many people, apparently, it's better to not get what you want than it is to be disappointed. The resistance is powerful indeed.

Every time you use waffle words, back off from a clear statement of values and priorities and most of all, think about what's likely instead of what's possible, you are selling yourself out. Not just selling yourself out, but doing it too cheaply.

Own your dreams. There is no better way to make them happen.

Room at the top

There’s always a spot for the best in the market.

Not the most expensive, but the one that most ideally suits the needs of those that care.

It's easy to get lost in the chaos of mediocre, of discount, of close and cheap. But if you're the best, among the people who care to find and talk about the best, no market is too crowded.

The hard part is figuring out what 'best' means.

Naming tool of the year

When it's time to name your project, you probably want to find a domain for it. And, alas, all the obvious and most of the silly dot com choices were taken a very long time ago.

Time for wordoid.

Scroll down on the left, put a short word in the 'pattern' box and off you go.

1,000 bands

Brian Eno possibly said that, "the first Velvet Underground record may have only sold 1,000 copies, but every person who bought it started a band." [*]

It certainly wasn't a bestselling album, but without a doubt, it changed things.

The scarcity mindset pushes us to corner the market, to be the only one selling what we sell.

The abundance alternative, though, is to understand that many of us sell ideas, not widgets, and that ideas are best when used, and the more they get used, the more ideas they spawn.

Kevin Kelly has inspired 10,000 companies, and Shepard Fairey, a generation of artists.

How many bands will you inspire today?

* Two footnotes here. The first is that like most revolutionary ideas that start a ruckus, the first album was poorly reviewed. It wasn't the obvious next thing, the idea that's easy to celebrate. And second, Eno's quote has been amended over time: "I was talking
to Lou Reed the other day and he said that the first Velvet Underground
record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years. The sales have picked
up in the past few years, but I mean, that record was such an important
record for so many people. I think everyone who bought one of those
30,000 copies started a band!"

Entrepreneurship => impact

Innovation is something else entirely. Many entrepreneurs use an innovation to make an impact, but the hard part, the part that we're rewarded for, is engaging with the user, the audience, the market. Bringing something to people who didn't think they wanted it, know about it or initially welcome it, and make a difference.

One reason it's so difficult to teach entrepreneurship is that we're not teaching tactics or skills. We're not teaching spreadsheets or finance or even marketing. No, when we encourage entrepreneurship, we're actually trying to get people to the place where they care enough and where they are confident enough to stand up and try to make things change.

Don't tell me what you invented. Tell me about who you changed.

Patrons and assistants wanted

Wouldn't it be great if you had a patron who would pay for you to have the time to be your best creative self?

And assistants to worry about all the details of your messy life?

This is the business school model of success. The industrial age taught executives that patrons (bosses, shareholders, large banks) would pick us and pay us, and that workers (cogs, assistants, functionaries) would do what we told them to do. All you had to do was find the first and you could hire the second.

In an economy based on art and connection and innovation, though, the first is hard to find, and the second is worth less than you might imagine–you still have do all the leaping yourself.

The goal is to be on the hook, not to let someone else do the scary parts.

Two kinds of loyalty

The first kind of loyalty is the loyalty of convenience.

I'm going to look around, sure, but probably won't switch. Switching is risky, it's time consuming. Switching means a new account manager or moving my software or reprinting something. Switching means I might make a mistake or lose my miles or have to defend a new decision.

Corporations are getting ever better at building this sort of loyalty.

Then there's the other kind of loyalty. This is the loyalty of, "I'm not even looking."

This is the loyalty of, "I'm the kind of person that sticks with people who stick with me." This is the loyalty of someone who doesn't even want to know that there's a better deal somewhere else, because, after all, he's in it for the long haul.

The problem with the loyalty of convenience is that the customer is always tempted to look and look some more, and the vendor is always working to build barriers, barriers that don't necessarily increase satisfaction, but merely build a wall of hassle around the (now) trapped customer.

We don't have a common marketing term for this sort of feeling, but 'stuck' comes to mind.

The beauty of the second kind of loyalty, the loyalty of identity and satisfaction, is that the person who isn't even looking is committed, as committed to the relationship as the vendor is. You earn this sort of loyalty, you don't architect it.

You can only focus on creating one sort of loyalty at a time, true?

When free collides with powerful

One of the lessons that Microsoft taught Apple and Google is that ubiquity can be incredibly profitable.

By changing file formats, Microsoft forces every person in an organization to upgrade Word to the current state, because one of the reasons to use Word is that everyone else uses it. This isn't often true for products in the real world–cars and whiskey and apartment buildings inevitably gain variation, whereas software tools are pushed toward a common standard–a new form of monopoly.

The strategy at Microsoft was always to put in power user enhancements, though, so that the power user (the weird one, the one on the edge, the one choosing to care) would hear about the upgrade and insist that everyone else on her team would upgrade as well.

Free, though, turbocharges the movement toward ubiquity at the same time it sabotages the power user. When the 'upgrade' is free, when the new version requires everyone to upgrade and is free as well, that's sort of irresistible. The problem is that free destroys markets even faster than monopoly does, because it's incredibly difficult for competitors without the other income streams to find a reason to compete.

And so, the new version of Pages from Apple is widely reviled by those that want a powerful tool. And the new version of Keynote, a program I use eight hours a day, is on the same path. It has the same one-way path for data structure (the new version forces all old users to upgrade if they want to collaborate) but it abandons a focus on professionals. Features and the goal of building for a craftsman are exchanged for the cross-platform ease and gimcracks that will please a crowd happy enough with free.

There are few deadends in the software business. When a platform gets dumb, the power users push for someone else to come along and make a better one. And when the monopolist gets greedy (as every dominant word processor vendor has) then the people who care take a leap and move to another tool.

In the meantime, the users who made the platform work in the first place spend a lot of time cursing the darkness that used to be light. Too often, power tools in software turn into entertainment platforms instead. There's more money in it.

Does anger follow the laws of thermodynamics?

I have no idea what caused the guy in front of me in traffic to be having a bad day.

Maybe he has a stressful meeting coming up, or his butler burned his bacon at breakfast. Maybe he's having trouble paying his rent, or his industry is under seige. All I know is that he's weaving in and out, giving people the finger and yelling at other cars, all at the same time.

Unlike cupcakes, anger isn't conserved.

If I have a cupcake and I give it to you, I don't have a cupcake any more. But if someone who is angry gives you their anger, now you both might have it.

You've seen it too many times before. Someone is afraid, untethered or just upset about something that happened long before you walked into the room. Unbridled agita is dumped on you, spittle flying, eyes wide, personal invective unfiltered. Just feet away, the angry person is saying, "here," and dumping vitriol in your direction.

All connection gets severed, any chance for positive engagement seems long gone. The opportunity, it seems, is to pick up some of that anger and throw it right back, where it came from.

And now, of course, both of you are having a bad day.

Shared anger destroys trust. It eliminates dialogue. It activates the lizard brain of everyone within earshot, and produces nothing of value.

No credit goes to the person who vents, who opens his spleen and shares his anger. No points for bravery or honesty or getting in touch with his feelings. Anger shared is not anger ameliorated.

Talk about it, don't talk with it. Point it out, and then leave it there, on the floor, where, unengaged, the anger can't help but wither and die.

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