If you want employees to go job hunting in order to leverage you into giving them a raise to keep them, then by all means, only give them a raise when they go job hunting.
If you want vendors to nickel and dime you for the last penny, then by all means, stretch out their payments and use them as a free source of cash.
If you want the home seller or the art dealer or the agent to put their goods up for auction to maximize the price you'll have to pay, then definitely punish those that don't have auctions by seeking to pay them as little as possible.
If you want internet companies to auction off your attention to the highest bidder, the best strategy is to only use services that don't charge you a fee.
If you want to be spammed, buy something from a telemarketer or an email pitch.
If you want gotchas, fine print and the hard sell, buy your car from someone who promises you the lowest price and then figures out how to make a profit some other way.
If you want customers to throw tantrums in order to get better service, my best advice is to only give a focused, urgent response to customers who throw tantrums.
Most of all, if you want customers to hear about you, make something worth talking about. And if you want customers who are loyal, act in a way that deserves loyalty.
Everyone has one. That feeling of here we go again, the trap we fall into, the moment of vulnerability.
And your 'uh oh' might not be the same as mine. Not a specific fear, but a soft spot, a situational archetype, a moment that brings it all crashing down.
The feeling is unavoidable in any organization or culture that seeks to do work that matters and create change. And yet we work overtime to create a day or a year or a career where we'll never have to feel that way.
And that's the challenge. All the work we do to avoid the feeling cripples our ability to do our best work. In trying to shield ourselves from a short-term feeling, we build a long-term narrative that pushes us to mediocrity.
We can hide the soft spot, or we can lead with it.
Working to avoid a feeling merely reminds us of the feeling. And undercuts our work as well.
The investor asks, "when do I get paid back?"
The work for hire asks, "what's in it for me?"
The member of the community wonders, "what's in it for us?" Plural.
More than ever, our research, our writing, our art benefits all of us more than it directly benefits just the creator. Feed the commons.
An organization might seek to 'connect to' its customers or constituents. Connection is a form of permission, the ability to deliver value to the people who request it. Vertical connection creates the ability to communicate and delivers a barrier to entry. Most online stores are connected to their customers. Most freelancers seek to connect to their clients. Most teachers work to connect to their students.
That's different, though, than 'connect'. When you connect your customers or your audience or your students, you're the matchmaker, building horizontal relationships, person to person. This is what makes a tribe. People caring about people. Side by side, multiplying exponentially.
Organizations are afraid of connecting. They are afraid of losing control, of handing over power, of walking into a territory where they don't always get to decide what's going to happen next. When your customers like each other more than they like you, things can become challenging.
Of course, connecting is where the real emotions and change and impact happen.
A beautiful pair of shoes, but one size too small, on sale and everything…. Not worth buying, not for you, not at any price. Because shoes that don't fit aren't a bargain.
And at a restaurant, you may have noticed that there's no extra charge for salt. You can have as much salt as you want on your food, for free. (Of course, it's not really free, it's part of the cost of the meal, so we paid for it, so we might as well get our money's worth, might as well use a lot.) Of course, that's silly, because regardless of how much we were billed for the salt, no matter how unlimited our access to it is, using more is merely going to ruin our meal. Too much salt isn't a bargain.
Buffets (like life, organizations, projects, art…) aren't actually, "all you can eat." They're, "all you care to eat." Which is something else entirely. Just because you can have it doesn't mean you want it. Just because we paid for it doesn't mean we should use all of it.
An original audio production* via Sounds True, with 100% of my royalties going to the Acumen Fund.
Find it right here: Leap First.
I just got this great note from Jason Connell. I hope the recording resonates with you as much as it did with him:
Wanted to let you know that I listened to Leap First over the past two days and love it. I am amazed by how you blended business, personal development, and spirituality into one fluid recording.
It did an amazing job of inspiring confidence, vision, and excitement about tackling… not just projects, but life and I plan to listen to it again soon.
Thank you for so generously sharing your insight. You could have charged far, far more for this.
Thanks to everyone who has listened, reviewed it and recommended it. I appreciate your support.
(*Producing this audio inspired my new book, Your Turn).
Celebrated all over the world, for the first time, tomorrow is annual Ruckusmaker Day.
Tomorrow would have been Steve Jobs' 60th birthday. Steve's contribution wasn't invention. Technology breakthroughs didn't come out of his basement the way they did from Land or Tesla. Instead, his contribution was to have a point of view. To see something and say 'yes' or 'no'. To not only have a point of view, but to change it when the times demanded.
Most of all, to express that point of view, to act on it, to live with it.
There's a lot to admire about the common-sense advice, "If you don't have anything worth saying, don't say anything."
On the other hand, one reason we often find ourselves with nothing much to say is that we've already decided that it's safer and easier to say nothing.
If you've fallen into that trap, then committing to having a point of view and scheduling a time and place to say something is almost certainly going to improve your thinking, your attitude and your trajectory.
A daily blog is one way to achieve this. Not spouting an opinion or retweeting the click of the day. Instead, outlining what you believe and explaining why.
Commit to articulating your point of view on one relevant issue, one news story, one personnel issue. Every day. Online or off, doesn't matter. Share your taste and your perspective with someone who needs to hear it.
Speak up. Not just tomorrow, but every day.
A worthwhile habit.
The worst troll is in your head.
Internet trolls are the commenters begging for a fight, the anonymous critics eager to tear you down, the hateful packs of roving evil dwarves, out for amusement.
But the one in your head, that voice of insecurity and self-criticism, that's the one you need to be the most vigilant about.
Do not feed the troll.
Do not reason with the troll.
Do not argue with the troll.
Most of all, don't litigate. Don't make your case, call your witnesses, prove you are right. Because the troll knows how to sway a jury even better than you do.
Get off the troll train. Turn your back, walk away, ship the work.
We invented televisions so marketers would have a way to run TV ads. We have magazines so marketers can run magazine ads.
Make no mistake: mass media exists because it permits mass marketers to do their job.
Mass production, the ability to make things cheaply, in volume, demanded that we invent mass marketing–it was the only way to sell what was being made in the quantity it was produced.
The internet, though, was not invented so marketers could run internet ads.
And, at the same time, mass production is being replaced by micro production, by the short run, by customization, by the long tail.
Just in time, mass media is going away too.
Mass marketers don't like this and they often don't even see it. They're struggling to turn Snapchat and Twitter and other sites into substitutes for TV, but it's not working, because it's an astonishing waste of attention.
The Ed Sullivan Show existed to sell Jello to everyone. Today, there's no everyone, and certainly no media channel that can sell everyone, cheap, to the folks who market Jello.
This is an ongoing challenge for mass marketers, and the opportunity of a generation for everyone else.
For fifty years, TV and TV-thinking was the shortcut. Make average stuff for average people (by definition = mass) and promote to every stranger within reach. It worked.
But mass is fading, fading faster than our desire to be mass marketers is fading. The shortcut doesn't work every time now, and the expectation that success is the same as popularity is still with us.
Fifty years ago, producers and marketers got smart. They saw the miracle of mass marketing and they adopted it as their own. They amped up mass production and bet on the masses.
The smart creators today are seeing the shift and doing precisely the opposite:
Produce for a micro market.
Market to a micro market.
When someone wants to know how big you can make (your audience, your market share, your volume), it might be worth pointing out that it's better to be important, to be in sync, to be the one that's hard to be replaced. And the only way to be important is to be relevant, focused and specific.
Hitters don't have much of an agenda other than, "swing at the good balls." No one blames the hitters when the pitcher has a hot hand and throws a no hitter.
Pitchers, on the other hand, decide what's going to happen next. Pitchers get to set the pace, outline the strategy, initiate instead of react.
When your job is in reaction mode, you're allowing the outside world to decide what happens next. You are freed from the hard work of setting an agenda, but in exchange, you dance when the market says dance. "I did the best I could with what was thrown at me…"
Finding the guts to move up the ladder is hard. When you decide to set the agenda and when you take control over your time and your effort, the responsibility for what happens next belongs to you.