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Acknowledgments

Even though it's usually at the end, the acknowledgments are often the most important part of a book.

This year, thousands of people have helped. They've inspired those they engaged with, built things that mattered, gracefully handled pain and loss, connected with ideas… and they've also spirited me through airports, welcomed me into their lives, shared honest feedback, made a commotion, set an example and showed up precisely when needed. They've written and been read, spoken up when it mattered and extended themselves. They've done their work in public or in private, from nearby or afar, but they've seen and been seen.

The thought of listing them (and alas, leaving out so many) is both exciting and enervating, but here's a very partial list, perhaps 5% of those that I owe so much to. Perhaps you can make a list as well.

Liz Jackson, Bernadette Jiwa, Amy Koppelman, Debbie Millman, Ishita Gupta, Frank Oswald, Sunny Bates, Fiona McKean, Andrea Stewart CousinsJacqueline Novogratz, David Wahl, Fred Wilson, Joel Lueb, By The Way Bakery, David Curhan, Cat Hoke, Nancy Lublin, Roger Gordon, Aria Finger, David Wilf, Marjorie Bryen, Kevin Kelly, Niki Papadopolous, Eric LeinwandChunyan Teng, Paul McGowan, Mark Frauenfelder, Shawn Coyne, Ramon Ray, Emily Epstein, Harley Finkelstein, Phil Hollows, Tina Eisenberg, Sarah Jones, Simon Sinek, Bryan Elliott, Tom Kubik, Travis Wilson, Jesse Dylan, Rodger Beyer, The extraordinary team I work with every day at HQ, Micah Sifry, Steve Dennis, Sheryl Sandberg, Marco Arment, Adam Grant, Sam Saffron, Susan Piver, Michelle Welsch, Tim Ferriss, Brian Koppelman, Alex DiPalma, Willie Jackson, Shawn and Lawren Askinosie, Nicole Walters, Robin Estevez, Chris Meyer, Francoise Hontoy, Louise Karch, Acar AltinselShannon Weber, Michele Kyd Lee, Lodro Rinzler, Sarah Peck, Susan Schuman, Lisa Oswald, Danny Meyer and, of course, you.

Especially you.

Can't do it without you and the ruckus you seek to make every day. Thank you.

Granularity

You can't make an hourglass with a boulder.

But break the boulder into sufficiently small bits of sand, and you can tell time.

You wouldn't want to eat a baked loaf of ice cream, mustard, fish, bread, capers and cheese.

But separate them into their component parts and you can open a restaurant.

It's tempting indeed to build the one, the one perfect thing, here it is, it's for everyone.

But one size rarely fits all.

The alternative is break it into components, to find the grid and to fill it in. Not too small, not too big. Grains that match what we're ready to engage with.

New habits

I bought a CD yesterday.

That didn't used to be news. I used to buy a CD every week, week after week, year after year. It adds up.

Hi-rez streaming changed that habit for me, but it took about a year before the itch (mostly) subsided.

Old habits die hard, and it's entirely possible that your customers are on fumes, buying your old stuff now and then, down from often and on their way to rarely.

You can live on old habits for a while, but the future depends on investing in finding and building some new ones with (and for) your customers. Or your family. Or yourself.

The most powerful insight is that you can do it with intent. You can decide that you want some new habits, and then go get them.

Are you day trading?

The volatility of bitcoin turns the people who own it into addicts. At any given moment, it’s up $100 or down a thousand.

When it’s up, you think you’re brilliant, that you somehow had something to do with it.

And when it’s down, the world is about to implode.

Most people don’t day trade bitcoin, but all of us day trade something. We’re hooked into something volatile, easily measured and emotional. We overdo our response to news, good or bad, and let it distract us from the long-term job of living a useful life.

Your SEO results, your Facebook likes, the look on your boss’s face when she gets back from a meeting–all of these things are rife with opportunities for day trading.

It’ll be volatile with or without your help. Better to set it aside and get back to the real work of making a difference instead.

The power of the possible

Next year is almost here.

And doing what you did this year probably isn’t going to be sufficient.

That’s because you have more to contribute than you did this year. You have important work worth sharing.

To reach your goals, you’ll probably need more effective and powerful ways to tell your story, get clients, gain market share and serve your audience.

I'm excited that we'll be offering the The Marketing Seminar again, beginning in just about a week. It teaches you how to push beyond your current constraints and truly see what’s possible. In 2017, more than 4,000 people took the Seminar. 

Many of them came hoping that they'd learn some new techniques from me in the fifty videos that are included.

Most of them were surprised.

They were surprised to discover that while there are tons of useful tactics and approaches in the videos, the real power of the Seminar is helping people see what's possible. The peer-to-peer connection that's built deep into the Seminar means that you'll spend far more time giving and getting feedback than you will watching videos.

It's this powerful interaction that changes the game. This is a future of education—community plus content.

We each carry around a frying pan, looking for just the right size fish to fry. We each have an expectation of what we've got, what we might get and what we deserve. And most of all, we each carry around limits, beliefs about what we're able to contribute.

The Seminar takes your impact at the edges and multiplies it by ten.

We’re announcing the next session next week, and giving people who subscribe to our updates a first look and a special discount in advance.

If you’re ready to do your most important work, we’d very much like to help you get there.

How much is ‘smarter’ worth?

No new costs, no new machines, no new resources.

Just smarter.

Smarter about the process, about the effects, about planning. Smarter about leadership, about management, about measurement.

How much is smarter worth?

In my experience, smarter is almost always a bargain, something you can buy for a lot less than it's worth.

Kindness scales

It scales better than competitiveness, frustration, pettiness, regret, revenge, merit (whatever that means) or apathy.

Kindness ratchets up. It leads to more kindness. It can create trust and openness and truth and enthusiasm and patience and possibility.

Kindness, in one word, is a business model, an approach to strangers and a platform for growth.

It might take more effort than you were hoping it would, but it's worth it.

Waste and the new luxury

Luxury goods are built on a foundation of waste. Using the center cut. Extra effort, often unseen. More space, more resources, more energy than is needed.

The front lawn is a luxury good, a sign that you don't need to graze your cows on every square inch, and that you're willing to waste the lawn. And the few bits of leather good enough to go into that luxury handbag sends a message about your ability to walk away from all the other parts of the hide.

There's a new luxury that's occurring, though, one that's based on efficiency. Saving you time, sure, but also the time and resources of the creator. A luxury that's based on investing in renewables, in resources that might be seen as endless, in smart design, in the satisfaction of knowing that others are benefitting, not paying, for the experience or the object you're buying.

Start small, start now

This is much better than, “start big, start later.”

One advantage is that you don’t have to start perfect.

You can merely start.

Choosing without deciding

This or that, one or the other, it doesn't matter.

It's actually possible that it just doesn't matter. A choice, but not a decision.

We have to make choices like this every single day. What color, among three colors which are just fine. Which route, between two routes within a rounding error in time taken. Which flight, which table, which person…

Choices don't have to be decisions.

Decisions come with all sorts of overhead. We put a lot of weight on our ability to make good decisions. We switch frames, put in hard work and even involve emotional wishes about future outcomes. Decisions are fraught. That weight can pay off with a more serious approach, with more diligence, but mostly it weighs us down.

We can save a lot of time and effort by making our meaningless choices effortless. Pick the first one, or the one in alphabetical order or flip a coin. Merely have a rule and make the choice.

I'm serious. Considering ten colleges? Put your favorite five in a hat and randomly pick one. Done. Can't decide among three candidates for a job and you can't find a way to choose? Pick the one with the shortest first name. Why not? If you don't have enough information to make a statistically defensible decision, merely choose. 

At the end of the day, you'll have more resources remaining for the decisions that matter.

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