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SUSDAT

Abbey Ryan has painted a new painting every day for 8 years.

Isaac Asimov published 400 books, by typing every day.

This is post #6000 on this blog.

Writer's block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady.

More important than the output, though, is the act itself. The act of doing it every day. When you commit to a practice, you will certainly have days when you don't feel like it, when you believe it's not your best work, when the muse deserts you. But, when you keep your commitment, the muse returns. When you keep your commitment, the work happens.

It doesn't matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up.

Show up, sit down and type. (Or paint). 

For less than it’s worth

The only things we spend time and money on are things that we believe are worth more than they cost.

The key words of this obvious sentence are often miscalculated:

Believe, worth and cost.

Believe as in the story we tell ourselves. Believe as in the eye of the beholder. Believe as in emotion.

Worth as in what we'll trade. Worth as in our perception of its worth right now, not later. Worth as in how we remember this decision tomorrow or next year.

and Cost, as in our expectation of how much it will hurt to get it, not merely the price tag.

If people aren't buying your product, it's not because the price is too high. It's because we don't believe you enough, don't love it enough, don't care enough.

Thanks, let’s write that down

One way to deal with clients, with criticism, and with feedback is to not insist on resolving it in the moment.

Taking feedback doesn't have to be the same thing as resolving feedback. 

It's tempting to challenge each bit of criticism, to explain your thinking, to justify the choices. This back and forth feels efficient, but it fails to deliver on a few fronts.

First, it makes it more difficult for the client to share her truth, to feel heard.

Second, it escalates the tension, because it's almost impossible to successfully resolve each item in real time.

If you write it down, you can accept the feedback without judgment.

And then, after it's all written down, after the feedback is received, people can change roles. You can sit on the same side of the table, colleagues in search of the best path forward.  You can rank by expense, by urgency, by importance. You can agree on timelines and mostly, say, "what do we do now?"

The 2% who misunderstand you

Sometimes, it's essential that you be completely understood. That every passenger knows where the emergency exit is, or that every employee knows how it is we do things around here.

But most of the time, if 2% of your audience doesn't get the joke, doesn't learn what you seek to teach them, doesn't understand the essence of your argument, it's not the problem you think it is.

Sure, the 2% who are underinformed can write reviews, tweet indignantly and speak up. You know what? It doesn't matter that much.

If you insist on telling everyone on the airplane precisely how to buckle their seatbelt (!), then yes, of course you're going to not only waste the time of virtually everyone, but you're going to train them not to listen to the rest of what you have to say.

If you insist on getting every single person in the room to understand every nuance of your presentation, you've just signed up to bore and alienate the very people you needed most.

When you find yourself overwriting, embracing redundancy and overwhelming people with fine print, you're probably protecting yourself against the 2%, at the expense of everyone else. (And yes, it might be 10% or even 90%…. that's okay). 

When we hold back and dumb down, we are hurting the people who need to hear from us, often in a vain attempt to satisfy a few people who might never choose to actually listen.

It's quite okay to say, "it's not for you."

More of a realist

When did being called a 'realist' start to mean that one is a pessimist?

Sometimes, people with small goals call themselves realists, and dismiss those around them as merely dreamers. I think this is backwards.

"I guess I'm more of a realist than you," actually means, "I guess I've discovered that a positive attitude, a generous posture and a bit of persistence makes things better than most people expect."

Hope isn't a strategy, but it is an awfully good tactic.

Attitude is a skill

You can learn math. French. Bowling.

You can learn Javascript, too.

But you can also learn to be more empathetic, passionate, focused, consistent, persistent and twenty-seven other attitudes. 

If you can learn to be better at something, it's a skill.

And if it's a skill, it's yours if you want it.

Which is great news, isn't it?

[PS Starting today, we’re running a seven-day email sequence to teach you about the upcoming altMBA workshop.  Find out more here.]

Industrializing, professionalizing, scaling…

You could make it into a cookie cutter, a scalable, depersonalized, committee-approved ticket to endless growth.

Or you could make it more real, more human and more personal.

What is "it"?

It is the interaction you have with your best customer. It is the way you talk to your employees. It is your safety policy, your go to market strategy, your approach to the board meeting.

If you can't figure out how to talk to one person, it doesn't really pay to scale up your efforts to talk to a thousand.

The banality of the magazine rack

Stop for a minute to consider those magazines that stack up like firewood at the doctor's office, or that beckon you from the high-priced newsstand before you get on the airplane. The celebrity/gossip/self-improvement category.

All the airbrushed pretty people, the replaceable celebrities and near celebrities. The mass-market fad diets, the conventional stories, the sameness tailored for a mass audience.

It's pretty seductive. If you can just fit in the way all these magazines are pushing you to fit in, then you'll be okay, alright, and beyond criticism. Boys and girls should act like this, dress like this, talk like this. Even the outliers are outliers in tried and true, conventional ways.

The headlines are interchangeable. So are the photos and the celebrities, the stories and the escapades and the promises.

Magazines believe they have to produce this cultural lighthouse in order to sell ads–there are advertisers that want average readers in order to sell them their average products. But this doesn't have to be you. These aren't cultural norms, they're merely a odd sub-universe, a costume party for people unwilling to find their own voice.

#WeAreAllWeird (3 contest updates)

1. You can win four books, signed by the authors, with a tweet. Rules are here. Tell us why you are not part of the lockstep masses.

2. I recently blogged about long odds (one in a quadrillion) and how hard it is to predict the future. It turns out that of the 897 people who entered my presidential bracket game, there’s only ONE contender left. Even though only two candidates have dropped out, there's already more than a 99% failure rate in predicting this future. And I think the prize is safe, because the only remaining contender has picked Christie and Bush as the next two to go.

3. Within 24 hours of recent events virtually determining the first question I surveyed, we also have an answer to the second one. Today’s the day my blog hit 500k followers on Twitter. As you can see, the crowd was off a bit on this as well. I’ve emailed the seven top entries to send them a prize.

Thanks for giving it a whirl.

Dreams and fears

Sooner or later, important action taken comes down to this.

Fear: Of being ashamed, feeling stupid, being rejected, being left out, getting hurt, being embarrassed, left alone, dying.

Dreams: Of being seen, being needed, becoming independent, relieving anxiety, becoming powerful, making someone proud, fitting in, seen as special, mattering, taken care of, loved.

Marketers put many layers atop these basic needs (horsepower, processor speed, features, pricing, testimonials, guarantees, and more) but it all comes down to dreams and fears.

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