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After your first job

It's easy to remember our first job, or even our first 7 jobs. Cleaning the grease off the hot dog wheel at the fast food place. Caddying. Mowing lawns. Shlepping.

But how common is it to ask people about the first time they got a computer to do what they needed it to? Our first successful computer program, our first Excel macro, our first Zapier procedure?

Or, how widespread is it to compare our first sales experiences? The first time you sold something on your own? The first doorbell you rang, or the first time you persuaded someone to invest in an asset you were building?

There are millions of years of tradition involved in cleaning the grease off something. Programming and selling, on the other hand, are building blocks for a new kind of future.

When your phone uses you

Your smartphone has two jobs.

On one hand, it was hired by you to accomplish certain tasks. In the scheme of things, it's a screaming bargain and a miracle.

But most of the time, your phone works for corporations, assorted acquaintances and large social networks. They've hired it to put you to work for them. You're not the customer, you're the product. Your attention and your anxiety is getting sold, cheap.

When your phone grabs your attention, when it makes you feel inadequate, when it pushes you to catch up, to consume and to fret, it's not working for you, is it?

On demand doesn't mean you do things when the device demands.

Moving a conversation forward

That next thing you're going to say, what's it for?

Is it to advance the conversation, to get a client, to make them go away, to find intimacy, to share a truth, to ask for help, to offer help, to pass the time, to learn something, to teach something, to build trust…

Talking about the weather is a stall. Stalling has a function, but it's not the best we can do.

Intention opens the door to forward motion.

Shared reality, shared goals

The best way to persuade someone of your new approach is to begin with three agreements:

We agree on the goals. We both want the same outcomes, we're just trying different ways to get there.

We agree on reality. The world is not flat. Facts are actually in evidence. Statistics, repeatable experiments and clear evidence of causation are worth using as tools.

We agree on measurement. Because we've agreed on goals and reality, we agree on what success looks like as well.

All three allow us to enroll on the same journey, and to hold each other accountable for our work. Any other approach disrespects your partners and leaves you in a corner, without allies.

Today’s a great day to dig in for next year

The week between Christmas and New Years is notoriously quiet. Your phone buzzes less often, there are no client meetings, no deadlines.

If you work for yourself, this might be the perfect week to take my freelancer course. Not merely watch it, but work through it. If you're willing to focus and challenge yourself, it could transform your business and the time you spend in it.

On sale only this week, until the end of the year. $29. Details are here.

Your mileage may vary

That's not true.

Your mileage will vary.

Of course it will. Of course everything won't be precisely as you imagined it, as it was described, as you deserve.

Sure, then what?

Will you react or respond? You could react in anger and fear. You could find people to blame, you could easily amplify your anger, you could dig deep for vitriol and snark and use your words and actions to drive a wedge between you and whoever didn't meet your imagined spec.

Or, perhaps you will respond by focusing on the opportunities the divergence presents. What a chance to celebrate what you've got and even better, find a way to build something even better.

The wrong side of history

Racist and sexist verbal attacks ('remarks' is too mild) never make sense.

Over time, people who judge others by their origin or chromosomes are always proved wrong, always shown to be afraid, not wise.

The fear that provokes these attacks takes many forms, it doesn't discriminate based on the bigot's age or income or even race or gender. But the fear is real, and when the fear pushes people to demean others, it's revealing itself.

Even though the fear is real, it's not an excuse. When we speak with respect and offer dignity and empathy, we're describing our future. 'Politically correct' is a cheap way of dismissing maturity, confidence and kindness. Calling angry words a joke, or a momentary slip can't hide them.

History shows us that attacking those that would bring hard work, generosity and insight to our lives is always a mistake. 

Is it a note worth playing?

Just published, a three-minute TED talk from 2014:

 

It follows on the ideas in this TEDx talk from a few years before:

Have a happy holiday and a peaceful (and worthwhile) New Year.

When everyone is in favor…

It's almost certain that there's confusion about what's being decided.

No one knows anything

About twenty years ago, Permission Marketing was getting ready to go to the publisher. We sent a copy to Jack Trout, co-author of the classic book, Positioning.

Surprisingly, Jack replied with a long letter, letting us know that my book was based on a fundamentally flawed idea, that it would never work and we’d be better off not even publishing it. Not something most authors want to hear.

The good news was that the book went on to become a bestseller and, even better, it transformed the way many organizations engaged with email and with consumers. It led to a market that’s now worth billions of dollars a year.

The lesson from Jack’s note was simple: Since no one is sure, since no one can guarantee that it’s going to work (or not), all we can do is our best work. All we can do is share our ideas with generosity, speak up and shine a light.

Critics can share their experience and they can point out what doesn’t match their expectations.

But it’s up to you, the person on the hook, to choose to care enough to share your project and your vision of possibility, regardless.

Everyone has an opinion, but no one has a guarantee.

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