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Striking a chord

Commonly misunderstood and misspelled as "striking a cord."

A cord is a single strand that connects. You can strike a cord, but not much happens.

A chord, on the other hand, is the resonance of multiple cords, more than one vibrating together.

That's rare, and worth seeking out.

It probably won't happen if you don't do it on purpose.

The problem you can’t talk about

… is now two problems.

On being treated like an adult

It's great to dream like a kid, but no fun to be treated like one. It bristles because we feel that, even if the person involved has best intentions, we've outgrown being treated like a child. Some behaviors to consider if you want to avoid this situation…

Make long-term plans instead of whining

Ask hard questions but accept truthful answers

Don't insist that there's a monster under the bed even after you've seen there isn't

Manage your debt wisely

Go to school, early and often

Don't call people names

Get your own drink of water

Don't hit your siblings

Stop bullying

No tantrums

(On the other hand, all the good stuff about being a kid helps you be happier and endear yourself to others: being filled with optimism and hope, smiling, trusting, finding creative solutions to old problems, hugging for no good reason, giggling and sharing your ice cream cone with a friend.)

Rigor

Doing things with rigor takes effort, but not everything you put effort into is done with rigor.

Rigor is a focus on process. Paying attention to not just how you do things, but why. Rigor requires us to never use an emergency as an excuse. It is a process for the long haul, the work of a professional.

An amateur bread baker leaves the kitchen coated in flour, and sometimes, perhaps, ends up with a great loaf of bread.

A professional baker might not seem to be as flustered, as hassled or even as busy. But the bread, the result of this mindful process, is worth buying, every day.

We know that you're working hard. 

The next step is to do it with rigor.

Calling your finding

Many people are trying to find their calling.

But that doesn't explain Marianne Money, bank manager, or Jim Kardwell, who owns a card company. Or Thomas Duck who started Ugly Duckling rent-a-car and Tito Beveridge who makes vodka. It doesn't explain why people named Dennis are more likely to become dentists…

I'm not sure that anyone has a calling. I think, instead, our culture creates situations where passionate people find a place where they can make an impact. When what you do is something that you make important, it doesn't matter so much what you do.

It's not that important where. It matters a lot how. With passion and care.

Unlimited bowling

When we were kids, my mom, fully exasperated, would survive a day when school was closed by dropping a bunch of us off at Sheridan Lanes for a few hours of bowling.

You only had a certain amount of money to spend, and each game (and the snacks) cost, so we knew that one could only play a few games. Which meant that every single roll mattered. Don't waste one.

Unlimited bowling is a whole different concept. As many games as you want. Roll to your heart's content.

When you're doing unlimited bowling, you can practice various shots. You can work on the risky splits. You can bowl without remorse.

As you've guessed, the fat pipes of the internet bring the idea of unlimited bowling to much of what we do. Interesting is enough. Generous is enough. Learning is enough.

It's a special kind of freedom, we shouldn't waste it.

More on this in my new interview with Chase Jarvis. (YouTube)

The most common b2b objection (and the one we have about most innovations)

You'll never hear it spoken aloud, but it happens all the time, particularly when you're selling something new, something powerful, something that causes a positive change:

"You're right, but we're not ready."

This is what people felt about the internet, about word processors, about yoga pants…

When you think this is going on, the answer isn't to be more 'right'. The answer is to figure out how to help people be more 'ready'.

PS I'm doing an AMAAA (ask me anything about the altMBA) today at 3 pm NY time.

Find out more by subscribing to the altMBA newsletter today and we'll send you all the details about the info session.

“What do I owe you?”

One of the little-remembered innovations of the industrial economy was the price tag.

If it was for sale, you knew how much it cost.

And if you got a job, you knew what you got paid–by the piece, at first, and then by the hour and perhaps by the week.

Both price tags and pre-agreed wages are pretty new ideas, ideas that fundamentally changed our culture.

By putting a price on buying and selling of goods and effort, industrialists permitted commerce to flow. One of the side effects, as Lewis Hyde has pointed out, is that knowing the price depersonalizes the transaction. It's even steven, we're done, goodbye.

Compare this to the craftsperson who won't sell to someone she doesn't respect, or the cook who charges people based on what he thinks someone can afford, or based on what he'll need to keep this project going a little longer… These ad hoc transactions are personal, they bring us closer together. Everything doesn't have to have a price if we don't let it.

Which leads to the eagerly avoided questions like, "What do you owe the editors at Wikipedia?" or "Is it okay to blog if you don't get paid for it?" and "Is there a difference between staying at a friend of a friend's house and staying at an Airbnb?" When people use Kickstarter as a sort of store, they denature the entire point of the exercise.

Seeking out personal transactions might be merely a clever way to save money. But in a post-industrial economy, it's also a way to pay it forward and to build community.

Sometimes, we don't pay because we have to, we pay because we can.

[PS… a new course, on listening]

The third Acumen course is now live… the astonishing Krista Tippett is doing her first online course, and you can find it here at a discount. (Trouble with the link? Please try: http://plusacumen.org/acumen-master-krista-tippett/ )

This joins the course we did with Elizabeth Gilbert (see below for reviews).

Which followed the first, the leadership course I launched the series with.

It's amazing what you can learn in a few hours if you're willing to do the work.

 * * *

Elizabeth is awesome on camera. I feel like it's just the two of us. Normally, I hate online courses. This is different! Loving this! – Denise

Who doesn't love Liz Gilbert? The content was refreshing and inspirational. The assignments were thought-provoking. For the price I paid, I thought this was a great workshop. – Bernadette Xiong

This is amazing. I have needed this kind of talking to for a very long time. Thank you, Elizabeth. – James Hoag

I love it! Her voice is soothing and what she is saying is so appealing. I can't wait to go on! – Susan Archibald

I enjoyed it very much. Many good nuggets of wisdom to help me on my path. – Linda Joyner

Elizabeth has that rare ability to invite you into an intimate conversation on a very weighty subject, with a touch as light as a sparrow's ripple of air on a spring day. The introduction has already laid out some actions to take that I can tell will wake up my sense of being alive and in the world. – Jim Caroompas

Being at the age where you start questioning everything around you, I feel so far that this workshop is directed to me. I feel as thought Liz has invited me over to discuss a few things to help me get back on track. – Maria Pezzano

Liz's response to the fatigued teacher really resonated with me. The fact that the reason and season for our existence and the various roles we play change with time. I love the takeaways – going from grandiose to granular, learning with humility and serving with joy. These are lessons for life. – Smita Kumar

This course was just what I needed, delivered by a wise, empathetic, funny, fun Elizabeth Gilbert. It didn't chew up vast amounts of time or make me feel like I had "work" to do. I enjoyed it so much I'll probably go back and do the entire thing over again. Don't feel like you need to do all the workbooks right away, either. I percolated them for a while and it still worked out fine. More Elizabeth Gilbert, please! – Vanessa Kelly

Learning from the rejection

When someone doesn't say yes, they'll often give you a reason.

A common trap: Believe the reason.

If you start rebuilding your product, your pitch and your PR based on the stated reason, you're driving by looking in the rear view mirror.

The people who turn you down have a reason, but they're almost certainly not telling you why.

Fake reasons: I don't like the color, it's too expensive, you don't have enough references, there was a typo in your resume.

Real reasons: My boss won't let me, I don't trust you, I'm afraid of change.

By all means, make your stuff better. More important, focus on the unstated reasons that drive most rejections. And most important: Shun the non-believers and sell to people who want to go on a journey with you.

Duck!

Perhaps you can't see it, but we can. That 2 x 4, the board set right across that doorway, about 5 feet off the ground.

You're running it at it full speed, and in a moment, you're going to slam into it, which is going to hurt, a lot.

This happens to most of us, metaphorically anyway, at one time or another. But when it happens repeatedly, you probably have a hygiene problem.

Emotional hygiene, personal hygiene, moral hygiene, organizational hygiene–useful terms for the act of deliberately making hard decisions, early and often, to prevent a 2 x 4 to the face later.

Worth a pause to highlight that: hygiene never pays off in the short run. It is always the work of a mature person (or  an organization) who cares enough about the later to do something important in the now.

When the doctor scrubs with soap before a procedure, it's not because it's fun. It's because she's investing a few minutes now to prevent sepsis later.

Way better than getting hit in the face with a 2 x 4.