Welcome back.

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

The marketing we deserve

We say we want sustainable packaging…   

    but end up buying the one in fancy packaging instead.

We say we want handmade, local goods…

    but end up buying the cheap one, because it's 'just as good.'

We say we want the truth…

    but end up buying hype.

We say we want to hire for diversity (of thought, culture and background)…

    but end up hiring people who share our point of view in most things.

We say we want to be treated with respect…

    but end up buying from manipulative, selfish, short-term profit-seekers instead.

We say we don't want to be hustled…

    but we wait for the last-minute, the going-out-of-business rush or the high pressure push.

It actually starts with us. 

Here's the thing. It also starts with anyone with the leverage and power and authority to make something.

    Because even if it's the marketing we deserve, it's also the marketing they create.

Your job vs. your project

Jobs are finite, specified and something we ‘get’. Doing a job makes us defensive, it limits our thinking. The goal is to do just enough, not get in trouble, meet spec. When in doubt, seek deniability.

Projects are open-ended, chosen and ours. Working on a project opens the door to possibility. Projects are about better, about new frontiers, about making change happen. When in doubt, dare.

Jobs demand meetings and the key word is ‘later’. Projects encourage ‘now.’

You can get paid for a job (or a project). Or not. The pay isn’t the point, the approach is.

Some people don’t have a project, only a job. That’s a choice, and it’s a shame. Some people work to turn their project into a job, getting them the worst of both. If all you’ve ever had is jobs (a habit that’s encouraged starting in first grade), it’s difficult to see just how easy it is to transform your work into a project.

Welcome to projectworld.

“Um” and “like” and being heard

You can fix your "um" and you probably should.

Each of us now owns a media channel and a brand, and sooner or later, as your work gains traction, we'll hear your voice. Either in a job interview or on a podcast or in a video.

For a million years, people have been judging each other based on voice. Not just on what we say, but on how we say it.

I heard a Pulitzer-prize winning author interviewed on a local radio show. The tension of the interview caused an "um" eruption—your words and your approach sell your ideas, and at least on this interview, nothing much got sold.

Or consider the recent college grad who uses thirty or forty "likes" a minute. Hard to see through to the real you when it's so hard to hear you.

Alas, you can't remove this verbal tic merely by willing it away.

Here's what you can do: Persuade yourself that the person you're talking to will give you the floor, that he won't jump in the moment you hesitate. You actually don't have to keep making sounds in order to keep your turn as the speaker. The fastest speaker is not the speaker who is heard best or even most.

Next step: First on your own, eventually practicing with friends, replace the "um" with nothing. With silence.

Talk as slowly as you need to. Every time you want to insert a podium-holding stall-for-time word, say nothing instead. Merely pause.

You can do this into a tape recorder, you can try it in a meeting. It works. 

You're not teaching yourself to get rid of "um." You're replacing the um with silence. You're going slow enough that this isn't an issue.

Then you can slowly speed up.

The best part: Our default assumption is that people who choose their words carefully are quite smart. Like you.

Try better

'Try harder' is something we hear a lot. After a while, though, we run out of energy for 'harder.' 

You can harangue people about trying harder all you like, but sooner or later, they come up empty.

Perhaps it's worth trying better instead.

Try the path you've been afraid of.

Spend the time to learn a whole new approach.

Better, not harder.

On knowing it can be done

Can you imagine how difficult the crossword puzzle would be if any given answer might be, "there is no such word"?

The reason puzzles work at all is that we know we should keep working on them until we figure them out. Giving up is not a valid strategy, because none-of-the-above is not a valid answer.

The same thing happened with the 4 minute mile. It was impossible, until it was done. Once Bannister ran his mile, the floodgates opened. 

Knowing it was possible was the hard part.

And that's how software leaps forward as well. Almost no one seriously attempts something, until someone figures out that with a lot of work, it can be done. Then the shortcuts begin to appear, and suddenly, it's easy.

What's possible?

As soon as we stop denying the possible, we're able to focus our effort on making it happen.

[PS Tomorrow is the first priority application deadline for the next session of the altMBA.]

A ten-year plan is absurd

Impossible, not particularly worth wasting time on.

On the other hand, a ten-year commitment is precisely what's required if you want to be sure to make an impact.

Neophilia and ennui

These are two sides of the same coin.

Neophilia pushes us forward with wonder, eager for the next frontier.

And ennui is the exhaustion we feel when we fall too in love with what might (should?) be next and ignore the wonder that's already here and available right now.

Add engines until airborne

That's certainly one way to get through a thorny problem.

The most direct way to get a jet to fly is to add bigger engines. And the easiest way to gain attention is to run more ads, or yell more loudly.

Horsepower is an expensive but often effective solution.

The challenge is that power is expensive. And that power is inelegant. And that power often leaves behind a trail of destruction.

When in doubt, try wings.

Wings use finesse more than sheer force. Wings work with the surrounding environment, not against it. Wings are elegant, not brutal.

All mirrors are broken

It's impossible to see yourself as others do.

Not merely because the medium is imperfect, but, when it comes to ourselves, we process what we see differently than everyone else in the world does. 

We make this mistake with physical mirrors as well as the now ubiquitous mirror of what people are saying about us behind our back on social media. We misunderstand how we look on that video or how we come across in that note.

When we see a group photo, we instantly look at ourselves first. When we pass a mirror on the wall, we check to see if there's parsley stuck on our teeth, yet fail to notice how horrible that camel's hair jacket we love actually looks on us. When someone posts a review of something we've built, or responds/reacts to something we've written online, we dissect it, looking for the germ of truth that will finally help us see ourselves as others do.

No one understands your self-narrative, no one cares that much about you, no one truly gets what it's like to be you. That germ of truth you're seeking isn't there, no matter how hard you look in the mirror.

You're not as bad (or as good) as you think you are. 

Read more blogs

Other than writing a daily blog (a practice that's free, and priceless), reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what's going on. The last great online bargain. 

Good blogs aren't focused on the vapid race for clicks that other forms of social media encourage. Instead, they patiently inform and challenge, using your time with respect.

Here's the thing: Google doesn't want you to read blogs. They shut down their RSS reader and they're dumping many blog subscriptions into the gmail promo folder, where they languish unread.

And Facebook doesn't want you to read blogs either. They have cut back the organic sharing some blogs benefitted from so that those bloggers will pay to 'boost' their traffic to what it used to be.

BUT!

RSS still works. It's still free. It's still unfiltered, uncensored and spam-free.

follow us in feedly

Here's how to get into the RSS game. Go ahead and click the green button above. It will take you to Feedly, where you can add this blog. You can then add blogs on food, life, business and even chocolate. I read more than fifty blogs every day. Worth it.

If you're a desktop user, go ahead and bookmark the Feedly page after you set up an account, add some more blogs (they have more than a million to choose from) and visit the page every day. You can easily keep up to date in less time than it takes you to watch a lousy TV show.

If you're on mobile, go ahead and sign up and then download the Feedly app.

AND!

For those of you that have been engaging with this blog for months or years, please share this post with ten friends you care about. We don't have to sit idly by while powerful choke points push us toward ad-filled noisy media.

Thanks.

This site uses cookies.

Learn more