It doesn’t matter how sure you are that this is a winning ticket, the ticket doesn’t care.
And there are lots of lotteries in our lives.
I was talking to a fifteen-year old the other day. He’s decided to devote the next decade of his life to getting drafted to play in the NBA.
Without a doubt, effort and skill make a huge impact on whether you’ll even make the final 5,000 people who have a shot at making the NBA. But after that, it looks a lot more like a lottery than a meritocracy.
The resilient approach is to bring discipline and effort to the work, but to know, deep down, that you better have a plan B. That’s not a lack of faith. That’s simply smart.
Every small business needs a bookkeeper, but few take appropriate advantage of accounting.
Accounting is a way to turn organized books into insight. Particularly:
- It can help us make decisions. Any data that isn’t going to help you make a decision is worth ignoring. More granularity isn’t better granularity.
- It can help us understand our cash flows. In any given moment, we know very little about a business. But over time, we can see how assets and expenses flow–and that flow is insight about what we own, what it’s worth and what could improve (see #1.)
- It can implement systems that build trust. When we know who is spending what and when and why, it’s easier stop micromanaging and focus on #1 instead.
- We can get better at predicting the future. Budgets based on past experiences are more likely to be accurate than those we simply make up in the moment.
Even with the powerful Ecosia engine, but especially with Google and Amazon, it’s getting rarer and rarer that a search feels as though it finds just the right site or product or information on the very first try. There are a few reasons for this:
- Our expectations are higher. Even a good search doesn’t feel the way it used to. Amaze us a few times and we get hooked on being amazed. It’s tough to top the extraordinary results that we became used to. In the last two years, I’ve done 10,000+ searches on Ecosia, so it’s easy to get jaded.
- The search engines are selling us out. They’ve discovered that selling ads to entities who lose at a given search is pretty profitable, so the non-organic results that are crowding out our searches are of course not as good as the ones we would have found for ‘free’.
- The manufacturers of products and the creators of sites are getting better and better at gaming the search engines. Not just fake books on Amazon that pretend to be what you were after, but entire product lines and industries built with winning at search as their core competency. You see it in any media ecosystem where search is profitable. Organizations built on more, want more.
- Lack of competition. Once a big organization wins at something, they shift their focus and work to profit from it, not improve it. Instead of fighting #3 and walking away from #2, the leaders at search are becoming complacent.
In the Northern Hemisphere, it gets dark in December.
And worldwide, people buy gifts for whatever holidays they celebrate, and a lot of them are around the corner.
For both reasons, books!
The Carbon Almanac was an Amazon Editor’s choice, a Do Lectures top 100 choice, a bestseller in every country it has been released in and ideal for anyone over the age of ten.
Several organizations are buying a copy of the Almanac for their annual gifts, and if enough of us share enough copies, the world will change. It already is.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a magical romp, a heartbreaking love story and a ton of fun.
The Flavor Equation is a terrific cookbook and also a useful inquiry into taste. The audiobook was free with my membership, but I confess that the hardcover is a lot more useful and a better gift too.
Kafka on the Shore is a mind-bending coming-of-age story, and the audiobook is simply perfect.
All the Birds in the Sky is poignant, fun and it will make you think. A lot.
The Very Nice Box is a lovely book with a message that will resonate.
Whether it’s by candlelight or on a beach, I hope you have a lovely end to the year.
The problem with winning all the marbles is that the game is then over. And owning all the marbles is not really worth the effort if it means no one else has a chance going forward.
And quick money? It pales in comparison with money earned over time for a job well done.
Culture shifts. But it’s held in place by norms, and those are driven by status and affiliation.
No one actually needs a car that can accelerate one second faster than most other cars. But having one confers status in some circles. But what happens when a new generation of technology makes that previously fast car not the fastest anymore? Is it still a luxury good?
Mink coats used to confer some sort of prestige in some circles. What happens when a Patagonia jacket is warmer, more durable, cheaper, lighter, less cruel and easier to wear?
A big steak dinner was a way to express generosity and hospitality. What happens when you live in a community where steak isn’t seen as generous any longer?
Perhaps a master of the universe can point out that he can be at the meeting tomorrow simply by hopping on his private jet. Is there more status in being the one who can save time and overhead simply by dropping in via Zoom?
A big office may no longer be more prestigious than a resilient, productive workforce that works where it wants to. A loud factory crammed with workers might not be the sign of power and influence that it used to be. Smokestacks used to show that a city was on the move…
In many cases, luxury goods cease to have status when they make the owner look stupid.
Norms seem normal. Until they’re not.
Hurry, sure. We need to hurry.
Hurry puts it up on our priority list. Hurry gives us urgency and focus.
But rushing is something that leads to errors and then apologies. “I’m sorry, I rushed it,” is not something we want to hear.
Try to fit in every general and conceptual detail when describing a very big concept and it’s likely that we’ll be confused. When you’re intent on explaining all of it, we glaze over.
Consider switching gears and sharing the most specific possible example with impact and humanity instead.
If we’re sold on where you’re going, we’ll probably spend the time to learn how to get there.
Perhaps that super-genius is playing a very well-thought-out long game, anticipating every countermove with plenty of resources and alternatives at hand.
It might be the local business you’re competing with, the publisher you hope to work with or the general of the opposing army.
It’s easy to imagine that they have a view of the competitive landscape that escapes ordinary humans.
But it’s far more likely that they’re simply winging it.
In the early stages of a campaign, winging it is a form of poking the box. A chance to try new approaches to see how the system responds.
But if we confuse a policy of winging it with a long-term strategy of well-planned, strategic 4-D chess, it’s not going to end well. Because winging it doesn’t stay resilient at scale.
If you see a set of rules that don’t make sense, that are overly stern, that seemed designed to be offputting instead of helpful, it’s possible that the poster is leaving part of the memo unsaid:
It could be something like:
THE LAST CUSTOMER WAS UNFAIR AND UNKIND!
And so the list of rules to make sure that this never happens again, even if the next customer isn’t like that at all.
WE’RE STILL REELING FROM THE UNEXPECTED THING THAT IS PROBABLY NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN, BUT ONE WAY TO DEAL WITH THE TRAUMA IS TO ERECT SIGNIFICANT BARRIERS SO WE’RE SURE IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN.
WE GOT INTO THIS BUSINESS BECAUSE WE THOUGHT WE LOVED BOOKS AND THE PEOPLE WHO BUY THEM, BUT THE REAL REASON IS THAT WE MISTAKENLY THOUGHT WE COULD MAKE A GOOD LIVING WITHOUT ANNOYING PEOPLE BOTHERING US! ESPECIALLY CUSTOMERS AND PEOPLE WHO CAN BRING US CUSTOMERS.
THIS IS MUCH HARDER THAN WE THOUGHT, AND WELL, MAYBE IF WE MAKE A LOT OF RULES, PEOPLE WILL LEAVE US ALONE.
You certainly don’t have to put the all caps part in when you publish your rules, but it might be helpful to write it out to be sure it’s what you really want to be implying.