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Emotional handwashing

Emotions are far more contagious than any disease. A smile or a panic will spread through a group of people far faster than any virus ever could.

When you walk into the office or a negotiation, then, wash your bad mood away before you see us. Don't cough on us, don't sneeze on us, sure, but don't bring your grouchiness, your skepticism or your fear in here either. It might spread.

No is essential

If you believe that you must keep your promises, overdeliver and treat every commitment as though it's an opportunity for a transformation, the only way you can do this is to turn down most opportunities.

No I can't meet with you, no I can't sell it to you at this price, no I can't do this job justice, no I can't come to your party, no I can't help you. I'm sorry, but no, I can't. Not if I want to do the very things that people value my work for.

No is the foundation that we can build our yes on.

“Don’t do what I said, do what I meant.”

That's what most leaders and owners and bosses and customers want, isn't it?

We want employees who know the why, not just the details of the how. We want customer service people and partners and vendors who understand.

Which is what we get, at least until we encounter the first time that we're unpleasantly surprised. It's in that moment, when we demand a refund, or fire someone, or insist on rules being followed to the letter—that's when it all falls apart and stops being a relationship based on understanding and turns into one that's built on compliance to the rules.

If you want the people you work with to act with understanding, then you must trust them to use their best judgment, even when that means you didn't get exactly what you said you wanted. The failure is yours, because you didn't help people understand the reasoning. When you accept responsibility for that failure, when you educate instead of demand, you can gain the benefits of working with people who understand, instead of merely comply.

Set a date

If you haven't announced a date, you're not serious.

Pick a date. It can be far in the future. Too far, and we'll all know that you're merely stalling. A real date, a date we can live with and a date you can deliver on.

If your project can't pass this incredibly simple test, it's not a project.

Deliver whatever it is you say you're working on on the date you said you would, regardless of what external factors interfere. Deliver it even if you don't think it's perfect. You picked the date.

And as a professional, the career-making habit is this: once you set a date, never miss a date.

Power, policy and public perception

Car dealers working together to stop Tesla.

The NFL refusing to pay sales tax.

Amazon trading customer satisfaction for concessions.

Power utilities working to stop net metering by solar panel homeowners.

Telecom companies working behind the scenes to get the FCC to abandon net neutrality.

Just because an organization has the power to do something doesn't mean it should.

Cognitive load

While reading this sentence, hum your favorite pop tune while writing down the first 15 prime numbers, in order.

Those are three tasks, easy to do separately, basically impossible to do at the same time. If you try, you'll just end up slicing each one into little bits and alternating, almost certainly decreasing the speed and quality of work of each.

Cognitive load slows us down, distracts us and diminishes the quality of the work we do.

We can certainly handle some distraction, in fact, in many cases, a little distraction actually makes things better. Going for a walk, for example, can prompt better ideation than sitting in a dark, silent room might.

The key question for anyone designing software, highways or educational settings is whether or not they are choosing to add productive distraction to our cognitive load.

And for those that seek to be productive, realize that you have a choice about what tools and inputs you're willing to adopt or be distracted by. It's up to you.

Speedometer confusion

The number on the speedometer isn't always an indication of how fast you're getting to where you're going.

You might, after all, be driving in circles, really quickly.

Campbell's Law tells us that as soon as a number is used as the measurement for something, someone will get confused and start gaming the number, believing that they're also improving the underlying metric, when, in actuallity, they're merely making the number go up.

Here are a few measurements that are often the result of speedometer confusion:

Book sales vs. Impact

Money vs. Happiness

Twitter followers vs. Anything

Money raised vs. Votes earned

Weight vs. Health

Income vs. Skill

Facebook likes vs. Liked

Tenure vs. Competence

Length vs. Quality

Faster? How about better?

Good at the beginning

…is another word for lucky. Someone needs to get lucky, and it might even be you, but luck is not a strategy.

Becoming good in the long run, that’s the result of effort and tenacity and smart practice.

Not just the individual, the kid who doesn’t learn to walk the first day, or the violinist who doesn’t win a competition at the age of eight, but organizations and their projects as well.

The people who are good in the long run fail a lot, especially at the beginning. So, when you fail early, it might be worth realizing that this is part of the deal, the price you pay for being good in the long run.

Every rejection is a gift. A chance to learn and to do it better next time. An opportunity to figure out how to bounce, not break. Don’t waste them.

Sometimes, getting lucky at the start means that you fail to learn resilience and tenacity, and you lack the tools to get better. The long run is a lot longer than the start is.

What’s your job?

Not your job title, but your job. What do you do when you're doing your work? What's difficult and important about what you do, what change do you make, what do you do that's hard to live without and worth paying for?

"I change the people who stop at my desk, from visitors to guests."

"I give my boss confidence."

"I close sales."

If your only job is "showing up," time to raise the stakes.

Thoughts on HugDug

We've spent the last few months working on a new project, and I wanted to share an executive summary with you…

It's called hugdug.

The backstory: So far, hundreds of thousands of people have posted millions of reviews on Amazon.

If you're aggrieved, the negative review makes sense to me. Someone is on Amazon, about to buy something that you don't like, and here's your chance to make a stand, to say your piece…

On the other hand, the positive review, particularly the long, well-written, impassioned review, feels a bit out of place to me. After all, the shopper is already here, finger poised on the Buy It Now button, and has already found the item in question. A simple, "I love it," ought to be sufficient.

But what if there were a third-party site, a place just for rave recommendations, a place where you could help people discover stuff they didn't even know they were looking for? Not just books, but anything sold on Amazon?

What if we can elevate the art of the review, what if we can make what you review a way to tell the world what you care about?

Since we started Squidoo, we've paid our users and their designated charities more than $18,000,000. That's far more than sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which of course pay those that create content nothing at all.

Hugdug is our new project aimed at spreading positive reviews about great products. And we're earmarking half our profits to good causes.

The design goals for HugDug were to make it mobile, generous and beautiful. We wanted to create a platform that makes it easy to speak up and speak out about products you love, and we wanted to make it easy to connect with people who respect your opinion.

Why charities? Because it's the right thing to do and because it feels good. The Amazon products reviewed don't cost anything more on our site (we get paid an affiliate fee by them) and the idea of giving away half our profit is really powerful. What if every site that used user-generated content did this? By all means, I hope you'll donate as much as you can afford to the causes that you care about. Along the way, though, a commerce and recommendation engine that also generates good feelings and worthy donations is a step in the right direction, no?

The best way to understand HugDug is to give it a try. Perhaps you're interested in:

Wrinkle-free packing,

an executive shaving secret,

a future of work, or even,

the best dog toy ever.

(Here are all of my reviews).

And, if you want to try writing a review about something, here is a list of movies to choose from, or even some of my favorite books

Thanks for giving it a try and for sharing it. I'll be posting some great reviews by my readers next week, would love to see what you care about.

PS by request, there's a bonus link about presentations added to yesterday's post.