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What is and what might be

They have much less in common than you might expect.

The key step in creating a better future is insisting that it not be based on the assumptions, grievances and dead ends of the past.

The future won't be perfect. We won't be perfect. But we can be kind. We can listen. We can give opportunity the benefit of the doubt.

The future won't always work. We won't always succeed. But we can be alert and seek out the possible instead of the predicted.

The future won't always be fair. But we can try. We can care. We can choose to connect.

It can be better if we let it.


[Have you read about The Marketing Seminar? This is our last session before the fall.]

The Podcast Fellowship (a summer program)

[If you know a full-time student in need of a worthy summer project, please share with them…]

Summer internships are a problem. Too often, you’re working for free, doing very little of value and learning less. Two out of three might be okay, but that’s a lousy combination.

Too often, careers are shaped based on too little input from a busy office. And far too often, privilege and existing relationships play a role in who gets to do something productive.

In real life, after college, you’re less likely than ever to have a real job in a real office. You’re also hoping to be doing a job you actually like, where people aren’t telling you what to do all day. Why train for the worst outcome all summer in a dead-end internship?

Alex DiPalma and I are pleased to invite you to consider an experiment, open to a hand-picked group of students this summer. A virtual program, available wherever there’s a laptop and an internet connection. Alex is a successful podcast producer, who has worked on Akimbo, with Minnesota Public Radio, with Cal Fussman, with Food4Thot, among other shows. She knows what’s up.

The idea: You should build a podcast. A thirty-episode series, a podcast that captures insights and experiences in an area you care about.

Are you hoping for a career in urban planning? Make your podcast about that. Over the course of the thirty episodes, you can interview leaders in your field. You can capture your thoughts on the big (and small) issues of the day. You can lead and you can teach. And no one can stop you.

It doesn’t matter how many people listen to it. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t have a sponsor. It matters that you made it.

By the end of the summer, you’ll have published your work to anyone who cares to subscribe. You’ll have developed assertions, made connections and most of all, shared with generosity. You won’t be a technical wizard, you’ll have something better than that–the confidence that comes from having built and shipped generous work.

The (updated) program itself can be found right here.

Throughout the program, we’ll be teaching you useful techniques, challenging you to invent new ones, and most of all, connecting you with other students who are going where you’re going. This online mastermind group will take a real commitment, a few hours a day at minimum. But if you put in the time, you’ll earn the body of work you’ll end up creating.

The program costs about $10 a day, because we want people to have skin in the game.

Video/podcast roundup

Some interviews and talks you might enjoy:



Podcast: Project Management with Rocketship.fm

Podcast: Talking with Anthony Iannorino

Podcast: With Lisa DeLay.

Daily Grind podcast.

Don't Quit Your Day Job with Cathy Heller.

Podcast with Heneka Watkis Porter

Podcast with Joe Ferraro.



Tropical MBA podcast.

Podcast: Design Matters with Debbie Millman (a backlist classic).


When your ideas get stolen

A few meditations:

Good for you. Isn't it better that your ideas are worth stealing? What would happen if you worked all that time, created that book or that movie or that concept and no one wanted to riff on it, expand it or run with it? Would that be better?

You're not going to run out of ideas. In fact, the more people grab your ideas and make magic with them, the more of a vacuum is sitting in your outbox, which means you will prompted to come up with even more ideas, right? 

Ideas that spread win. They enrich our culture, create connection and improve our lives. Isn't that why you created your idea in the first place?

The goal isn't credit. The goal is change.


[A new episode of Akimbo is out today, with riffs about infinite and finite games. Feel free to subscribe, and please steal these ideas. Ready to spread your ideas? Check out The Marketing Seminar… don't forget the purple circle.]


It’s time

Time to get off the social media marketing merry-go-round that goes faster and faster but never actually goes anywhere.

Time to stop hustling and interrupting.

Time to stop spamming and pretending you're welcome.

Time to stop making average stuff for average people but hoping you can charge more than a commodity price.

Time to stop begging people to become your clients, and time to stop feeling badly about charging for your work.

Time to stop looking for shortcuts and time to start insisting on a long, viable path instead. 

Time to start contributing.

There are lots of ways to embrace modern marketing, but the there's no doubt that you'll be better off once you do.

Modern marketing is the practice of making something worth talking about, developing empathy for those you seek to serve and being in the market in a way that people would miss you if you were gone.

Today's the first day for signups for the proven, effective Marketing Seminar. We've worked with more than 5,000 students so far and they've made a substantial impact with their work. The Seminar is not just videos–it's an ongoing cohort, months of working directly with your peers, engaging, challenging and learning what works (and what doesn't.)

It might be just what you need to transform your work. If you click the purple circle on the bottom of the page, you'll save a bunch of money, but hurry, as the discount gets a little less valuable each day.

And, if you're the sort of student who would prefer to skip the discussion board and binge watch, we've just made the Seminar available in an all-video highlights format as well.

It's time to change the way you engage with the market. I'm hoping we can help.

Secure and respected and engaged and risky

Some people want their workplace to be like an artist's studio. A lab. A dance with the possible. Engaging. Thrilling. The chance to take flight, to be engaged, to risk defeat and to find a new solution to an important problem. 

And some people want a job that's secure, where they are respected by those around them.

The essential lesson: These are not necessarily different people, but they are very different attitudes. 

It's a choice, a choice made once a lifetime, or every year, or perhaps day by day…

When you sit with an employee who seeks security and talk to them about "failing fast," and "understanding the guardrails," and "speaking up," it's not likely to resonate. 

It's worth finding the right state of mind for the job that needs to be done.

Don’t split the pot (at least not at this table)

I got kicked out of the only regular poker game I was ever a part of.

The first week I won a few bucks.

The second week, I broke even.

The third week, the betting got serious and there was a lot on the table–maybe as much as $30(!). Realizing that this sort of risk didn't work for me, I turned to the last two people left in a hand and said, "why don't we split the pot three ways?"

In the long run, that might be a good way to go home flush. In real life, it's a totally sensible way to deal with risk.

But at a poker game?

When you sit down at a poker table, you're acting as if. As if you're gambling. And if you don't want to gamble, don't play. That's what they told me and they were right.

The same thing is true when you go to a brainstorming session, or to therapy or even an Ethiopian restaurant.

If you don't want to want to engage with what's on the table, don't sit down.

You will not be surprised by artificial intelligence

That's because it's incremental. Every time a computer takes over a job we never imagined a computer can do, it happens so gradually that by the time it's complete, we're not the slightest bit amazed.

We now have computers that can play chess, read x-rays, drive down the highway at 55 miles an hour, understand our voice, scan documents for errors, do all traditional banking chores, correct our spelling, plot a route on foot or by plane, find the cheapest airfares and pick a face out of a crowd.

At any time since 1970, if you went to live on a desert island for a decade, you would have been blown away by what happened when you got back.  Day by day, though, human-only tasks quietly disappear.

After the replacement, computers do some of these jobs better than we ever could, but, as they're evolving, we take each of these perfections and advancements for granted. It's too gradual to be awe-inspiring.

Our job now, isn't to do our job. It's to find new tasks, human tasks, faster than the computer takes the old ones away. Too often, people are displaced and then give up.

We can still add value, but we need to do it differently, more bravely, and with ever more insight.

[IBM recently asked me to do a talk about the future of AI in customer service.]

How many hops?

Some things, like your next job, might happen as the direct result of one meeting. Here I am, here's my resume, okay, you're hired.

But most of the time, that's not the way it works.

You meet someone. You do a small project. You write an article. It leads to another meeting. You do a slightly bigger project for someone else. You make a short film. That leads to a speaking gig. Which leads to an consulting contract. And then you get the gig.

How many hops does the ball take before it lands where you're hoping it will?

If you're walking around with a quid pro quo mindset, giving only enough to get what you need right now, and walking away from anyone or anything that isn't the destination—not only are you eliminating all the possible multi-hop options, you're probably not having as much as fun or contributing as much as you could either.

Overpinnings when the underpinnings go away

Years ago, most middle class people had a huge, expensive piece of furniture in their living room. It played music and captured radio broadcasts.

The high-end stereo business was the overpinning built on this underpinning. "If you're already going to the expense and trouble of making music at home, why not spend a bit more time and money and have it sound fantastic?"

Of course, most people have solved their music problem, and they didn't need a piece of furniture to do it. The underpinnings that the industry was built on have disappeared.

The same is true for the typical bookstore. "If you're already spending a little bit of time and money reading books to stay informed, why not spend a bit more time and money and be really smart?"

The typical adult isn't relying on books for this sort of information any more, so the upgradeable base is much smaller.

Or consider the fountain pen (overpinning the ballpoint), the fancy vacation house (overpinning the motel replaced by vrbo and airbnb), or the fancy suit (overpinning the cheap suit). It's even true for laser printers and cigarettes.

These luxury categories don't go away as fast as the thing they depended on, because they were never mass items, so it's possible to survive on much less demand. But in order to thrive, the creators of these products need to shift their story, their posture and the value they deliver to their audience.