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All deals are handshake deals

The only variable is how specific you're willing to be about who is promising what.

Specific contracts don't completely protect you from dishonorable people. What they do is make it really clear about what it takes to do what you said you were going to do.

Start with a good agreement. But your future depends on doing agreements with good people.

Upcoming speaking and teaching schedule

Today at 1:15 NY time, I'll be doing a Facebook Live, answering your questions about marketing. You can join us here. (Facebook archives these, so it's okay if you don't see it live… but if you're there when it happens, you can post your question). I've done a few of these over the last month or two, and it's becoming a fascinating new medium for sharing ideas.

This Q&A is part of the final rollout of the summer session of The Marketing Seminar, which begins on Monday, so today's your last best chance to sign up.

And then we'll turn this into a doubleheader, at 2 pm segueing the Facebook Live into a conversation about thriving as a change agent in a big company, part of what people learn in the altMBA.

Upcoming events: Boston for the Business of Software conference on September 18. Also, the Smart Hustle Small Business Conference – on November 1 in New York City, and in Raleigh, NC for Internet Summit on November 16.

How much does a ton weigh?

It's not unusual to describe a heavy object in tonnage.

But no one has any idea how much a ton is, really. Is 250 tons a lot? How much?

250 tons is 500,000 pounds. About the weight of 8 houses. Or the weight of 100,000 bricks.

Which is a solid stack of bricks 10 x 10 by 1,000 bricks high. 

It would take you more than 2 months, working 24 hours a day, a brick a minute, to unload that many bricks.

Facts are facts, but images resonate.

Toward dumber

If you want to reach more people, if you're measuring audience size, then the mantra of the last twenty years has been simple: make it dumber.

Use clickbait headlines. Short sentences. Obvious ideas. Little nuance. Don't make people uncomfortable or ask them to stretch. Remind them that they were right all along. Generate a smile or a bit of indignation. Most of all, dumb it down.

And it works.

For a while.

And then someone comes along who figures out how to take your version of dumbness and go further than you were willing to go. Until everything becomes the National Enquirer.

While this downward cycle of dumb continues to be passed from hand to hand, a few people headed in the other direction. Measuring not the size of the audience, but their engagement, their commitment and the change that was possible.

This is an upward cycle, a slow one, a journey worth going on.

Dumber is an intentional act, a selfish trade for mass. It requires us to hold something back, to avoid creating any discomfort, to fail to teach. Dumber always works in the short run, but not in the long run.

Don't confuse dumber with simpler. Simpler removes the unnecessary and creates a better outcome as a result. But dumber does little but create noise.

Everyone owns a media company now. Even media companies. And with that ownership comes a choice, a choice about the people we serve, the words we use and the change we seek to make.

It's only a race to the bottom if we let it be one.

The express and the local

Express trains run less often, make fewer stops, and if they're going where you're going, get you there faster.

The local train is, of course, the opposite.

Some people hop on the first train that comes. A local in the hand is worth the extra time, they say, because you're never quite sure when the express is going to get there.

On the other hand, there's a cost to investing in the thing that pays off in the long run.

Now that you see that, you're probably going to notice it in 100 areas of your life.

The local requires less commitment, feels less risky, doesn't demand a point of view. The express, on the other hand, always looks like a better idea after you've embraced it and gotten to where you meant to go.

Express or local?

Gaztelugatxe

There's an island off the coast of Spain that houses a church. The church has 230 steps to the top, and it's said that it's worth the climb.

What a great expression. Gaztelugatxe can now mean, "it's a lot of effort, but worth it."

The opposite of fast and easy but worthless.

(Click for the pronunciation of this Basque word…)

The ethics of FTD

When you order flowers online, they're usually delivered by a local florist.

Which means the florist has a dilemma:

He can deliver his very best effort and the most beautiful flowers he has in stock, even though the sender will never know his identity or buy from him again.

Or he can use up the damaged stock and the fading flowers, confident that the sender will never know his identity or buy from him again.

You can average up or average down.

You can hide or you can show pride.

It turns out that the florist who doesn't use up the damaged stock and the fading flowers never seems to have trouble affording better stuff.

In search of enrollment

Back in the day, hitchhikers held cardboard signs with their desired destination city clearly written out. After all, if you're headed to New York, it doesn't make sense to pick up someone headed for Denver (it's a bad idea for the driver and the passenger).

If you've got people on your bus who are headed somewhere you have no intention of going, today might be a good day for them to get off the bus.

Strength through peace

Anticipating doom is brutal. And anticipating brutality is even worse.

It creates an enormous amount of emotional overhead. It makes it difficult to invest, hard to make long-term plans. And it fills us with dread, short circuiting our creativity.

Peace has a dividend. Economic peace, political peace, interpersonal peace. It gives us room to dream, to get restless and to make things even better.

We don't need other people to lose in order for us to win. And keeping score is overrated.

Most of all, it's worth investing in peace of mind. The dividends are huge, and the journey (the way each of us spend our days) matters. 

That's one of the primary benefits of enlightened leadership. It creates a safe space to do important work.

Permission abused is permission lost

It doesn't matter what your privacy policy says, it doesn't matter when your quarterly results are due and it doesn't matter what the database is telling you…

If someone doesn't want to hear from you anymore, you've lost the ability to reach them.

Yes, you can go back to trying to interrupt them, but of course, that's getting more and more expensive.

Permission is valuable and permission is fragile.

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