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Costs before and after

Before you finish your new idea or launch your new project, it's worth taking a few minutes to realize that two costs are dramatically underestimated:

1. The cost of selling. How much will it cost you to sell this to an agency, a nation, a customer? How much will it cost them to sell it to the next user?

2. The cost of maintenance. How much will it cost you to stick this project out until it pays for itself? How much will it cost your users to maintain this idea over its useful life?

Hint: It took a decade to sell most people on the personal computer. And the cost of a PC out of the box is less than 1/6th of what it costs to keep it running and in use over its life…

Go for a walk

The best time is when you don't feel like it.

Going for a walk when you don't feel like it will change your mood, transform your posture and get you moving.

And if you don't feel like talking with someone, bring them with you on the walk.

Get the word out vs. Find the others

If Sylvia makes the math team, there are two ways for the school to find out.

One method is that she alerts people she has a relationship with. Call this a hard network, a direct connection.

The other method is that people tell other people, that the word spreads in unpredictable, uncontrollable ways, from person to person. Call this a soft network.

My thesis is that it's not really hard vs. soft. It's both. The hard network of permission starts and amplifies the soft network of horizontal, unpredictable connection–if the story is worth spreading.

Industrialists, and the marketers who work for them, used to start with spam. Use money and effort to yell at everyone. 

Over time, that has radically evolved into a new way to go to market. To talk to people who want to be talked to. Engaged marketers prefer this direct approach. It’s measurable, repeatable, predictable. It can be owned. Permission marketing lives in this sphere, the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.

Permission is an asset, and it is the heart of what can be built online in the connection economy. But permission is notoriously unresilient. If the message doesn’t get through, nothing happens. If networks shift or systems change, nothing happens. As email gets more crowded, as follower numbers explode, we see again and again that hard networks don't carry enough data.

The soft network, on the other hand, begins with permission but then fills in the cracks. In a soft network, people tell other people, horizontally, relentlessly, as the word spreads. 

When people asked Timothy Leary what they ought to do next, he said, "find the others."

Tribes form horizontally. Change happens from person to person, rarely from the top down. Organizations establish a culture, the way we do things around here, as much from the craftsmen on the shop floor as from what the CEO does in her office. 

I'm seeing the power of this firsthand with the launch of my new book.

I asked some of the people who are already reading it to post on Twitter with the hashtag #YourTurn along with the name of their city. Feel free to add yourself…

Anyone searching on the term will get an instant snapshot of not just where interesting work is being done (and where the status quo is being challenged) but who is doing it as well. New people to follow and learn from. Connections, made. A critical step on the road to making change happen.

The unpredictable, organic nature of soft networks mean that they'll never be assets an organization can bring to the bank. But as we go mobile and immerse ourselves ever deeper in data, this is how ideas move. PS via Ivan, another way to think about this. 

The thing about a clean sheet of paper

…is that it still has edges.

It's tempting to believe that creativity comes from starting fresh. But even when we start fresh, we approach projects and problems with self-created boundaries.

You can't do real work without edges, without something to leverage, but those edges don't have to be the same edges as everyone else uses.

Creative people often excel because they change the shape of the clean sheet.

Obedience

How does it rank on your list?

When you think about your work or your art or the way you vote, where does obedience rank? What about your tribal connections and social choices?

When you measure the worth of someone else, how highly do you count their willingness to obey authority and the status quo?

It's baked in to our culture. Sometimes so completely that we don't even notice.

What’s next?

What does a good day look like? A good week?

Who do you want to work with?

Who are you trying to please?

What sort of feedback brings you down?

What’s your tolerance for being misunderstood? By whom?

Is it about process or projects?

Which part of the project makes you happy?

At the end of the project, what would you like in return?

What diminishes the work?

How high do the stakes need to be?

How close to the edge do you need to dance? Risk? Resources? Failure?

What will you take? What will you give? Who will you connect?

How much freedom will you sacrifice to get what you want? How much commitment will you promise?

What are you measuring? Smiles, comments, traffic, cash, media response, friends, peers, insiders, outsiders?

Will they miss you when you're done with this?

[PS just posted some new reviews of my new book]

The stories we tell ourselves

Here's one: "I'm too old to make a difference, take a leap, change the game…" (Sometimes, I hear this from people who are 27 years old).

This is a seductive story, because it lets us off the hook. Obviously, the thinking goes, the deck (whichever deck you want to pick) is stacked against me, so no need to even imagine the failure that effort will bring. Better to just move along and lower my expectations.

Hannes Schwandt has published some interesting research on this. Regret seems to peak at 50, and then, as people start rationalizing that they're not expected to make much of a difference going forward, life satisfaction starts to increase. Of course, this is doubly backwards… we can (and must) contribute as we get older, and freedom is nothing to fear.

Doctor, scientist and speaker Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein wakes us up with this powerful new TEDx talk:

Goals, strategy and tactics for change

The Goal: Who are you trying to change? What observable actions will let you know you've succeeded?

The Strategy: What are the emotions you can amplify, the connections you can make that will cause someone to do something they've hesitated to do in the past (change)? The strategy isn't the point, it's the lever that helps you cause the change you seek.

The Tactics: What are the actions you take that cause the strategy to work? What are the events and interactions that, when taken together, comprise your strategy?

An example: Our goal is to change good donors to our cause into really generous donors. Our strategy is to establish a standard for big gifts, to make it something that our good donors aspire to because it feels normal for someone like them. And today's tactic is hosting an industry dinner that will pair some of our best donors with those that might be open to moving up.

If you merely ask someone to help you with a tactic in isolation, it's likely you won't get the support you need. But if you can find out if you share a goal with someone, then can explain how your strategy can make it likely that you'll achieve that goal, working together on a tactic that supports that strategy is an obvious thing to do.

And it certainly opens the door to a useful conversation about whether your goal is useful, your strategy is appropriate and your tactic is coherent and likely to cause the change you seek.

A tactic might feel fun, or the next thing to do, or a lot like what your competition is doing. But a tactic by itself is nothing much worth doing. If it supports a strategy, a longer-term plan that builds on itself and generates leverage, that's far more powerful. But a strategy without a goal is wasted.

Backing into your future

If you hesitate to map out your future, to make a big plan or to set a goal, you've just gone ahead and mapped your future anyway.

[PS Krista's online interview with me is back on the radio this weekend. Her show is one that will stick with you.]

A one day design sprint (and a developer directory)

In about a week, I'm hosting a design sprint, and I thought it would be worth sharing the details widely because perhaps you should have one too.

I'm poking around in the early stages of developing some new projects, and one of them tries to solve a widespread problem with a new approach on mobile devices.

To take it to the next level, I'm hosting a 6-hour design sprint in my office (outside of New York City) for a few people. The notion (which I have found useful for many projects) is to get some motivated, talented people together to whiteboard possibilities and challenges and to open doors to new ways of thinking. The participants get paid of course, but even better, they get the energy that comes from a collision with other creative people.

For this sprint, I'm really focused on finding people with significant experience and a point of view about some combination of: mobile app development, back end data manipulation and user interaction and design. Background in one of these areas is enough… if you're at the top of your field, I'd love to hear from you.

If this is interesting to you, please click here to see details.

And if this one isn't for you, I hope you'll consider hosting one for your project, your career, your next thing… It's sort of thrilling.

Also! While I was beginning my search for rock star developers I might want to work with, I was surprised to find it was difficult to even get started in the search. I thought it might be useful to put together and share a lightweight, simple directory of self-selected developers in search of interesting projects. If you're that sort of developer (either an individual or a firm) consider entering your info on this form. If I get a good response, we'll turn it into a web page and I'll link to it in a future blog post. Thanks.