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Our crystal palace

Thanks to technology, (relative) peace and historic levels of prosperity, we've turned our culture into a crystal palace, a gleaming edifice that needs to be perfected and polished more than it is appreciated.

We waste our days whining over slight imperfections (the nuts in first class aren't warm, the subway isn't cool enough, the vaccine leaves a bump on our arm for two hours) instead of seeing the modern miracles all around us. That last thing that went horribly wrong, that ruined everything, that led to a spat or tears or reciminations–if you put it on a t-shirt and wore it in public, how would it feel? "My iPhone died in the middle of the 8th inning because my wife didn't charge it and I couldn't take a picture of the home run from our box seats!"

Worse, we're losing our ability to engage with situations that might not have outcomes shiny enough or risk-free enough to belong in the palace. By insulating ourselves from perceived risk, from people and places that might not like us, appreciate us or guarantee us a smooth ride, we spend our day in a prison we've built for ourself.

Shiny, but hardly nurturing.

So, we ban things from airplanes not because they are dangerous, but because they frighten us. We avoid writing, or sales calls, or inventing or performing or engaging not because we can't do it, but because it might not work. We don't interact with strange ideas, new cuisines or people who share different values because those interactions might make us uncomfortable…

Funny looking tomatoes, people who don't look like us, interactions where we might not get a yes…

Growth is messy and dangerous. Life is messy and dangerous. When we insist on a guarantee, an ever-increasing standard in everything we measure and a Hollywood ending, we get none of those.

The selfish cynic

Cynics are hard to disappoint. Because they imagine the worst in people and situations, reality rarely lets them down. Cynicism is a way to rehearse the let-downs the world has in store–before they arrive.

And the cynic chooses this attitude at the expense of the group. Because he can't bear to be disappointed, he shares his rehearsed disappointment with the rest of us, slowing down projects, betting on lousy outcomes and dampening enthusiasm.

Someone betting on the worst outcomes is going to be correct now and then, but that doesn't mean we need to have him on our team. I'd rather work with people brave enough to embrace possible futures at the expense of being disappointed now and then.

Don't expect kudos or respect for being a cynic. It's selfish.

Krypton Community College

Krypton Course 003: Gretchen Rubin on Happiness

[Updated on October 21, 2013, 8 pm]

Here's the second course, The Happiness Project.

There are two versions, you can download one or both and share them
with those enrolled in the course you're leading. They are in PDF format, and the files you download have web links throughout, making it easy to click to read the highlighted materials.

Download STUDENT edition

Download ORGANIZER edition

The organizer version is a slightly longer version, it includes notes
throughout that cue the leader on exercises and questions that can be
used during discussions.

This post will be updated if the course is updated, so feel free to check back here for the latest.

If this is the first thing you've read here, please subscribe to this
blog! There's a button up top that says "subscribe". Or you can click here to do so. You might also want to read past posts to catch up with what this is all about.

Both this course and Malcolm Gladwell's course include some material from their bestselling books, books that will add a lot of value to the course and the discussion.

Krypton Community College

Krypton Course 002: Malcolm Gladwell on The Sociology of Success

[Updated on October 21, 2013, 8 pm]

Here's the second course, The Sociology of Success: Culture and choice.

There are two versions, you can download one or both and share them
with those enrolled in the course you're leading. They are in PDF format, and the files you download have web links throughout, making it easy to click to read the highlighted materials.

Download the STUDENT edition

Download the ORGANIZER edition

The organizer version is a slightly longer version, it includes notes
throughout that cue the leader on exercises and questions that can be
used during discussions.

This post will be updated if the course is updated, so feel free to check back here for the latest.

If this is the first thing you've read here, please subscribe to this
blog! There's a button up top that says "subscribe". Or you can click here to do so. You might also want to read past posts to catch up with what this is all about.

Both this course and Gretchen Rubin's course include some material from their bestselling books, books that will add a lot of value to each.

Krypton Community College

Two new courses to choose from for next month (Gladwell and Rubin)

Happy #KryptonTuesday

Here's a look at two more courses, in time to either start a new group or pick which course you want your existing group to go through next month.

A reminder! You don't have to do the classes on Tuesdays, and you don't have to start at the beginning of a month. And of course, if you're just getting started, feel free to read the other posts in this series and even take (or retake) the first course, from your host, Seth Godin, if you like. The courses are posted here and you can do them when you like, not when they get posted. You can do one, then the next month, take on the other…

Don't forget, the courses are free, and are designed to be done in person, by a group, face to face. We've heard of groups as small as three and as big as fifteen working beautifully–there are more than 14,000 people signed up to lead Krypton courses so far.

For our next two, a choice. The course based on Malcolm's work heads into the ideas of habitus and sociology, covering things as diverse as heroism, poverty and, naturally, the tipping point.

The course based on Gretchen's work is a hands-on exploration of what makes you (and other people) happy.

Go ahead, vote, choose, and get started when it's good for you and your group. And if you're new to this, please, give it a try, start a group. Learn together.

Malcolm Gladwell on the Sociology of Success

Gretchen Rubin on Happiness

The problem with “just”

A few people have dropped me notes referring to the notion that I encourage people to just ship it.

Ship it, certainly. If you don't meet the market, if you don't open yourself to the input and reaction of those you seek to serve and influence, you've done nothing much.

But, "just"?

Not going to let you off the hook with that. The just implies a throwaway. The just has a, "what the hell," element to it. With "just" in the mix, the alternatives seem to be: polish, improve, focus on quality OR just throw it out there.

Nope.

You ship. You ship your best work, when it's ready. Not after it's ready, not when it's too late to make a difference, and yes, of course, not when it's sloppy or unformed.

But you ship. You're on the hook, you made this, it's ready. Ship. Without excuses.

The complaining customer doesn’t want a refund

He wants a connection, an apology and some understanding. He wants to know why you made him feel stupid or ripped off or disrespected, and why it's not going to happen again.

If you have a department that sends out form letters and refund coupons, what you've done is built the ability, at scale, to get rid of people who are giving you a second chance.

When the refund for the broken M&M's or the artificially flavored nuts that should have been delicious, or the $20 inconvenience fee in exchange for the torture you put a frequent flyer through arrives, you've basically sent a form letter that says, "goodbye."

Which is your choice, of course, but if you think that this expression of goodwill is going to be seen as goodwill, you're wrong.

Try candor or inviting them to an online focus group. Perhaps try being human. Try giving them a chance to be a voice of the concerned, energetic customer, a voice that needs to be heard by people who actually make decisions.

Ambassadors and treaties

A great ambassador doesn't show up in a foreign land and start complaining about how everything here is so different. She doesn't insist that people start acting the way they act back home. And most of all, she welcomes the idea that people might have different goals and desires than the people she grew up with–in fact, different than she has.

And every great treaty causes both signatories to change something substantial, something important, in exchange for accomplishing a bigger goal via cooperation.

Your customers need an ambassador. Someone who is open to hearing what they have, need and want, not merely a marketer intent on selling them a particular point of view. Once you understand someone, it's much easier to bring them something that benefits everyone.

And your partners need you to honor the spirit and intent of the deals you do with them. The goal of a long-term relationship isn't to find the loophole that lets you do what you want. Instead, figure out what you're giving up and what you're getting in return.

Companies (and countries) often under-invest in ambassadors and under-value the promises they make in treaties. In the connection economy, it now makes sense to over-invest instead.

Marketing good…

or good good?

Marketing good is the McMansion that looks good at an open house but isn't particularly well built or designed for actual living.

Marketing good is the catalog of gimcracks and doodads that entices the casual shopper but sells stuff that ends up in a closet.

Marketing good is the cover of a magazine decreed by the number crunchers in the newsstand sales group, not the editors and the readers they care about.

Marketing good is sensational or edgy or somehow catchy, but is a service that never gets renewed.

As you've guessed, marketing good isn't actually marketing good, not any more. It's just junk.

Second and third order recommendations and word of mouth and the way we talk about the things that are "good good" is the new marketing.

Your initial response rate, newsstand sales or first episode ratings are a measure of old-fashioned marketing prowess. Now, we care an awful lot more about just plain good. Or perhaps, if you really want to make an impact, great.

Post…

Post industrial

Post Top 40

Post newspaper

Post privacy

Post career

Post temperate

Post curation

Post postal

Post cushy

Post gatekeeper

Post sectarian

Post meat

Post picked

Post middle class

If you were hoping for a future that wasn't like the past, where you had no real choice but to carve your own path and make a mark, here it is.

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