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Unrequested advice, insufficient data, unexplored objectives

Your ideas and your feedback are worth more than you know.

But you might not be heard if you haven't been invited to chime in.

And you'll waste everyone's time if you base your advice on your assumptions, instead of what's actually happening.

Mostly, it's entirely possible that the person you're eager to help doesn't believe what you believe and doesn't want what you want.

Enrollment is the secret to education and change.

Accessorials cost extra

{not a typo}

In the trucking industry, they usually don't include the extra charges, unforeseen or not.

"Accessorials" not included. Which often leads to surprise down the road for those that don't expect them.

Tonu is another useful lesson. "Truck ordered, not used." Of course, when you ordered the truck, you expected to need it, and the fact that you don't isn't a bad thing. Sure, you have to pay for it, but it was a sunk cost, not an obligation.

All a clever way of pointing out that we often pay for options, for flexibility and the ability to do the appropriate thing at the right time. Even if you're not in the trucking business. 

Mass personalization is a trap

Dear seth ,

Of course I could have sent you a personal letter. A direct 1:1 connection between you and me, thanking you for what you did, or letting you know about my new project, or asking for your attention.

Instead, I'm going to hire someone to hand write the envelope in marker, but of course, I'm too busy to do that myself.

And I'll use the latest in digital handwriting fonts to make you think I actually wrote the note. But I'm not careful or caring enough to actually put good data into the mailmerge, so it'll only take you a second to realize that I faked it.

I know that I'm asking you to spend hours on the favor I'm asking, but no, I couldn't be bothered to spend three minutes to ask you.

There's an uncanny valley here, that uncomfortable feeling we get when we know we're being played, when someone mass customizes and tries to steal the value of actual person-to-person connection.

It's a trap because the more you do it, the more you need to do it. Once you start burning trust, the only way to keep up is to burn more trust… it's a bit like throwing the walls of your house in the fireplace to stay warm.

Don't waste your time and money on this. You're wasting the most valuable thing you own–trust.

Humanity is too valuable to try to steal with a laser printer.

Are you a genius?

In the latest episode of my podcast Akimbo, I riff about what it means to be a genius.

Hint: You are one.



PS more people are subscribing every day. It's short, free and sometimes fascinating. All the cool kids are doing it.

And two other podcasts for you: Reboot, a fine interview with my dear friend Jerry Colonna.

Three Boooks, a new podcast and a far-ranging interview with Neil Pasricha. 

ALSO! Half-price sale on my book Your Turn… when you buy the 5-pack you save 56% on each copy. Thanks.

The difference between time and money

You can't save up time. You can't refuse to spend it. You can't set it aside.

Either you're spending your time.

Or your time is spending you.

The triumph of everyday design

Luxury goods used to be better. Better than the alternatives.

The best-made clothing, the best saddle, the most reliable luggage. The top of the market was the place people who cared needed to go to buy something that had the highest performance.

Today, though, a Toyota is a better car than a Bentley. More efficient, more reliable. The Vertus phone was a joke, and no one needs a $200 mouse when a $9 one is faster and easier to use.

I spent some time at a high-end hotel on a recent gig. The light switches were complicated and didn't work quite right. The door handle was awkward. The fancy faucets sprayed water on whoever was standing in front of the sink. All expensive, none of it very well-designed.

As materials have gotten cheaper and easier to find, it's design that matters. And the market is demanding better design–which is easy to copy and easy to improve.

Expensive is not the relevant metric, utility is. 

“You were right all along”

There's a hierarchy in the adoption of new techniques and approaches, particularly in the b2b setting:

  1. You were right all along: The thing you were waiting for is here.
  2. All of the cool kids are using this now: Take a look at the folks who are already on board. That topic you didn't care about so much–you need to care about it now.
  3. Well, you were wrong, but don't worry about it, here's some cover: I know you said that this would never work, but it's working. The good news is that you can talk about how your open-mindedness lets you leap forward now.

It's almost impossible to get someone to try something new today if they also have to admit that they were wrong yesterday.

The problem with forced rankings

What's the best college in the US?

What about the best car?

Best stereo speakers? Best pizza?

The answer is always the same: It depends.

People hate that. "It depends" puts you on the hook, requires you to have priorities and a point of view. 

A forced ranking is freeing. It tells you exactly what to expect, and if things don't work out, well, blame the system. A forced ranking brings status along with it, because, apparently, if you care enough or are rich enough to have the best, then you must be the best.

When we compress 100 variables into just one linear measure, we add enormous amounts of editorial tweaking and lose a ton of nuance. If you want to study aeronautical engineering, Harvard isn't going to be a good choice. If you're gluten-free or diabetic, that pizza place might not work out so well for you. And if your definition of a good car includes safety, fuel efficiency or the ability to move your family around, that McLaren isn't going to make you happy.

Forced rankings abandon multiple variables, and they magnify differences that aren't statistically significant. "Well, there has to be one winner," they say, but of course, this isn't true. It's not a linear race, and the very concept of a single winner is forced.

When the US News college list started to get traction, plenty of college presidents spoke out in opposition. Over time, though, they discovered that being well ranked was profitable, and in an industry that touches billions of dollars a year, status leads to money and money leads to more status… Today, many colleges are intentionally gaming the system by changing what they originally stood for simply to move up. 

High rankings do more than distort the behavior of those that seek to move up. High rankings attract the sort of people who don't want to discover their own 'best'. Who want to be around others that care about high rankings. Who will run to the next high rank the moment the world changes. And those that are attracted to the winner of a forced ranking change the very tenor of the place they chose. So now, that restaurant that used to be special is merely crowded. Now the company that only keeps its top performers is a horrible place to work.

The biggest problem with a forced ranking is that it's forced.

Tactics without strategy is a scrum

When your timeline is an hour or a day, it's easy to get in the tactical groove.

But repeat that hour after hour, day after day, and all you're making is a mess.

This is bureaucracy run amok. This is busy-ness, not effectiveness.

What's the long-term plan? What builds on what? How do you build assets and leverage instead of merely keeping busy?

And how can you tell if it's working?

Easier said than done

But at least you said it.

It's a mistake to hesitate on the saying part. Because if you don't say it, it's unlikely to get done.

Dreams, goals and projects don't require a likelihood of success merely to be discussed.

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