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The stolen address book

I used to ask, “If you stole Steven Spielberg’s address book, would it help you get a movie made?”

The point was that even if you had the phone numbers and names, calling them up and saying you’d stolen them wasn’t worth very much. The data has no value without trust and connection.

Now, twenty years later, all the address books have been stolen. Everyone has all the data. Identifying the right people (or spamming everyone) is easy and cheap.

Which makes the point even more urgent than ever: Without trust and connection, access to data is worthless.

Useful explanations of reality

If we want to understand what’s going on around us, it’s helpful to be able to formulate a resilient story, one that holds up to scrutiny and allows us to make an impact.

That story shouldn’t change based on who’s in charge.

Which means that we don’t have to ask the head of the chemistry department why a reaction occurred. The theory works fine even if they’re not around.

Everybody else

It’s natural to believe that everyone else is as confident, assured, long-term thinking and generous as you are on your very best day.

But that’s unlikely. Because everyone else is probably not having their best day at the same time.

Once we realize that the world around us is filled with people who are each wrestling with what we’re wrestling with (and more), compassion is a lot easier to find.

Should schools reward skills or talent?

Talent is something you’re born with.

Skill is something you earn.

Skill comes from commitment and practice and self-discipline. The skill of earning skills is a lifelong advantage.

Without a doubt, encouraging kids to leverage their talents is a skill. And yet…

Who gets to be the center of the kids’ volleyball team–the tall kid or the one who practices the most diligently and brings the most teamwork to the game?

Who gets an ‘A’ in math–the one who can breeze through the tests or the student who asks intelligent questions and challenges the assumptions?

Who gets into a fancy college…

You get the idea.

Leaders talk about developing real skills and encouraging people to develop into their full potential, but too often, we take the short-term path of betting on raw talent instead. And of course, what looks like raw talent might not be. It could simply be our confusion about first impressions compared to the power of commitment, enrollment and persistence.

Voices vs. noise

If it’s not relevant, it’s noise. If it’s untrusted, unwelcome or selfish, it’s noise.

But your contribution isn’t noise. Not for the right people, at the right time.

The internet isn’t a mass medium. The voices online are not for everyone, it’s not the Super Bowl or M*A*S*H or even the nightly news. Nobody reaches much more than 1% of the audience on any given day.


That tiny slice that does want to hear from you, that needs to hear from you, that would miss you if you don’t speak up–for that audience, you’re not noise. You’re essential.

That’s why we built the Podcasting Workshop with Alex DiPalma. Enrollment launches today.

Not because we need more podcasts. We don’t.

Because we need your podcast.

What’s at the front of the line?

A study of behavior at breakfast buffets showed that the first item in the buffet was taken by 75% of the diners (even when the order of the items was reversed) and that two-thirds of all the food taken came from the first three items, regardless of how long the buffet is.

This means that optimizing marketers usually put the things they most want to sell first.

And that smart consumers benefit from adopting patience as they consider what’s on offer.

Of course, this game theory applies to a lot more than food.

Picky vs difficult

Picky people have consistent preferences and standards.

Difficult people change their preferences frequently, and often in response to who is presenting to them or the mood they’re in.

It’s pretty easy to figure out which makes for a better client or colleague.

“That’s a good idea”

“And then what happens?”

Repeat the second question 100 times. Because after every good idea, there are at least 100 steps of iteration, learning, adjustment, innovation and effort.

Starting with the wrong idea is a waste of energy and time.

But not committing to the 100 steps is a waste of a good idea.

We put a lot of pressure on the idea to be perfect because it distracts us from the reality that the hundred steps after the idea are going to make all the difference. Nearly every organization you can point to is built around an idea that wasn’t original or perfect.

The effort and investment and evolution made the difference.

Too long delayed

Today is Juneteenth, a holiday that should be more widely observed.

It doesn’t mark the date of Lincoln’s proclamation that freed enslaved people, nor does it occur on the day that the 13th amendment was passed. Both were overdue and urgent and important steps forward. Instead, it commemorates the day that a last group of enslaved people (outside of Galveston, TX) heard that they had been freed years earlier.

Holidays are symbols. They can cause us to pause for celebration or grief, for togetherness or simply to smile. Holidays are worth recalling because they give us a chance to connect and recommit to an idea that matters to us. This is a holiday about freedom delayed.

Change is hard, but delaying what’s right is toxic. Today we can remember just how much we have to do and realize the ability each of us has to see and alter the systems around us.

Not simply today, but every single day. A chance to make things better.

A simple fork in the road

Some marketers want you to solve their problem.

And some marketers want to solve your problem.

Eagerly sending prospects to competitors who can help them better than you can is a fine symptom of where you stand on this choice.

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