Welcome back.

Have you thought about subscribing? It's free.
seths.blog/subscribe

We can’t talk about it

We can't talk about how we could do things better around here

We can't talk about what isn't working

We can't talk about the countless opportunties we ignore

We can't talk about what hurts

We can't talk about dignity

We can't talk about how to make magic happen

We can't talk to our boss, our employees, our board, our investors

We can't talk about the things we can't talk about

That's a shame.

Stumbling your way to greatness

One reason people who spend a lot of time thinking about and working on a problem or a craft seem to find breakthroughs more often than everyone else is that they've failed more often than everyone else.

The fear of freedom

[Inspired by my new book]

What will you do next?

What can you learn tomorrow?

Where will you live, who will you connect with, who will you trust?

Are questions better than answers? Maybe it's easier to get a dummies book, a tweet or a checklist than it is to think hard about what's next…

It's certainly easier to go shopping. And easier still to buy what everyone else is buying.

We live in an extraordinary moment, with countless degrees of freedom. The instant and effortless connection to a billion people changes everything, but instead, we're paralyzed with fear, a fear so widespread that you might not even notice it.

We have more choices, more options and more resources than any generation, ever. 

The problem with problems

We have limits. There are challenges, limited resources, people or organizations working against you. Your knee hurts, the boss is a jerk, the systems are down.

We have opportunities. There are opportunities, new sources of leverage and ideas just waiting to be embraced. You can share something, give something, make something better.

There are always limits, and there are always opportunities. The ones we rehearse and focus on are the ones that shape our attitude and our actions. How many times a day do you think about or announce the limits you face, the people who cannot be trusted, the problems that are weighing you down?

The problem with problems is that they always keep us from focusing on opportunities, on a chance to contribute and to make something better. Focus on our opportunities doesn't mean the problems don't exist, it merely means that we are far more likely to do something that matters.

Gratitude and opportunity create more of the same.

The last minute glitch

I got a note from Joni Mitchell yesterday. 

Well, not just me. Everyone who got her new boxed set got the note.

The note takes responsibility for some of the tracks on the CD not matching the order of the liner notes. Apparently, the brilliant artist needed more time, and cared enough about her work to re-arrange it until the last minute, and was brave enough to speak up and take responsibility.

So, it's not just you. The last minute looms large.

The glitch is in how we define the last minute. We can't make the feeling go away, but we can be clear about when the last minute occurs. And for professionals, it must occur before the deadline. Because they call it a deadline for a reason.

Now, long before your next last minute, do an honest assessment of the cost of going beyond the time that's been allotted for your work. In almost every case, you'll see that the benefit of having the last minute not coincide with the deadline is huge.

The last minute is a feeling. The deadline is an event. When professionals are involved, they shouldn't happen at the same time.

A three-step marketing ladder

Probably worth reviewing at your next marketing meeting (or every marketing meeting)… There's a three-step ladder:

Awareness

Education

Action

Awareness is when someone knows you exist. The knock-knock part of the knock-knock joke, the person who has another interest and trust to want to know more. 

  • Awareness is sexy
  • You don't need to be known by everyone (or even most people) merely the right ones
  • Awareness probably isn't as much of your problem as you think it is
  • Awareness-seeking is addictive (and easy to measure)

Education is the story we tell, the transfer of information and emotion from us to the aware consumer. 

  • Most marketers are too self-absorbed to educate well
  • Education takes time
  • Education takes many forms, but without a doubt, experience is the most trusted and high-impact way to educate

Action is the last step, but the only one that the CFO is measuring. If you sacrifice the first two steps to boost this one, you'll regret it.

  • Natural actions happen more often than ones that require a leap
  • Anticipated action generates fear
  • "Later" is a much more likely response than "no"
  • Most people aren't going to act, but if you treat them well, they might just tell their friends (see awareness & education) 

Sign your work

We expect authors, painters and singers to identify themselves, to sign the work they do.

And surgeons and lawyers as well.

What about managers, committee members, engineers and everyone else who makes something? Who made this policy? Who designed this menu? Who approved this project?

If you're not proud of it, don't ship it. If you are, sign your work and own the results. We'll know who to thank. If you work for a place where work goes unsigned (internally, in particular) it's worth asking why.

The jobs only you can do

One of the milestones every entrepreneur passes is when she stops thinking of people she hires as expensive ("I could do that job for free") and starts thinking of them as cheap ("This frees me up to do something more profitable.")

When you get rid of every job you do that could be done by someone else, something needs to fill your time. And what you discover is that you're imagining growth, building partnerships, rethinking the enterprise (working on your business instead of in it, as the emyth guys would say). Right now, you don't even see those jobs, because you're busy doing things that feel efficient instead.

A little more than a bushel, a little bit less

Marketing works best when the effort you put into it is a little more than you think you need and a lot more than the market expects from your project.

And projects work best when the amount you need to get done is a little less than the resources you have available.

Marketing rewards a taut system, a show of confidence, the ability to be where you need to be with a true story that works.

Projects reward slack, the ability to keep your schedule and your quality, to watch the critical path and to make smart decisions.

The common errors, then: Pick too big an arena for your marketing, and seem underwhelming. And pick too big an agenda for your project, and run out of slack.

You have a bushel basket. The generosity of overflowing it makes it much more appealing when it's on the shelf. But when your job is to transport those apples, overfilling it even a little makes it likely you won't get to where you're going.

Make unexpectedly big promises. Keep them. Show up with enough resources to do both.

The tragedy of the last 10%

In a competitive market, if you do the work to lower your price by 10%, your market share grows.

If you dig in deep, analyze, reengineer and make thoughtful changes, you can lower your price another 10%. This leads to an even bigger jump in market share.

The third time (or maybe the fourth, or even before then), you only achieve a 10% savings by cutting safety, or quality, or reliability. You cut corners, certainly.

The last 10% costs your workers the chance to make a decent living, it costs your suppliers the opportunity to treat their people with dignity, and it costs you your reputation.

The last 10% isn't worth it. 

We're not going to remember how cheap you were. We're going to remember that you let us down.

This site uses cookies.

Learn more