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tribes and respect

Quick or smart?

Your smartphone makes you quick, not smart.

Every time you pick up your quickphone, you stop inventing and begin transacting instead.

The flow of information and style of interaction rewards your quickness. It helps you make decisions in this moment. Which route to drive? Which restaurant to go to? Which email to respond to?

Transactions are important, no doubt. But when you spend your entire doing them, what disappears?

We can’t day trade our way to the future we seek.

       

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I’m not selling anything”

Of course you are. You’re selling connection or forward motion. You’re selling a new way of thinking, a better place to work, a chance to make a difference. Or perhaps you’re selling possibility, generosity or sheer hard work.

It might be that the selling you’re doing costs time and effort, not money, but if you’re trying to make change happen, then you’re selling something.

If you’re not trying to make things better, why are you here?

So sure, you’re selling something.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, "I’m not selling something too aggressively, invading your space, stealing your attention and pushing you to do something that doesn’t match your goals."

That’s probably true. At least I hope it is.

       

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Looking for seekers (who are looking for you)

"Don’t go to the supermarket when you’re hungry."

The reason is obvious–when you’re hungry, you’re likely to buy things. The risk is that you’ll buy something you don’t need, because, of course, all that buying isn’t actually making you less hungry.

The same thing is true for just about anything we seek to sell. Selling water to a thirty person, education to someone seeking enlightenment, goals to someone eager to move forward—this is dramatically easier and more satisfying than first having to persuade someone that they should actually care about the difference you’re trying to make.

Obvious? I think so.

But most marketers make this mistake on the very first day and keep making it for their entire career.

You might be in love with the change you are trying to make in the world. Best to begin with an audience that’s rooting for you to succeed.

       

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Akimbo, my new podcast, launches today

Akimbo is a posture of strength and possibility. The chance to make a difference, to bend the culture.

It’s at the heart of my work. Your work too. The work of making change that we’re proud of.

And so, a new podcast. A different kind of podcast. No guests, no fancy production, it won’t remind you of NPR or sports radio either. 100% organic and handmade.

And yes, I’ll be answering your questions about each episode, submitted at our showpage.

Special thanks to founding sponsor Ziprecruiter.

The first episode launches today. Subscribe and listen on iTunes and on Overcast.

Not a grand opening, but a start. I hope you’ll join in.

       

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Born to paint?

More than a hundred billion people have ever lived. Perhaps 1,000 have been widely heralded as artistic geniuses who painted in oils.

And perhaps there were another thousand genius physicists and just one Nobel-Prize winning folksinger.

We sell ourselves short when we argue that there’s something magical about creative work, something that can only happen if we’re born to do it.

It’s not that different from the thesis that there’s something in the DNA of Spanish-speaking people that makes them good at soccer. I hope we can agree that people from countries that speak Spanish are more likely to be soccer stars because they grow up surrounded by soccer, with the expectation that they too can be good at it.

It’s not too late for you to be a genius. It comes at a price, but it’s not based on your DNA.

       

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The first law of organizational thermodynamics

Energy is either created or destroyed.

Newton was right about physics, but in organizations and cultures, the opposite is true.

You’re either the person who creates energy.

Or you’re the one who destroys it.

You might be the one who initiates projects, who asks, "what if?" or eagerly says, "I’ll do it." The person who finds and amplifies and supports the good work of others. The spark.

Or, it’s possible you’re the passive one, the naysayer, the bystander, the one who manages to eat the donuts at the meeting but not actually add much in the way of energy, kinetic or potential.

You can choose to be the generous one, putting in more than you take out, surprising everyone with a never-ending flow of generosity.

Or, you can find any of one hundred perfectly acceptable explanations/excuses/reasons why you’re merely an absorber of it.

       

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What is extraordinary contribution worth?

I know it’s worth a lot to the recipient, but what is it worth to you?

We all know what normal contribution looks like. It’s what happens when a qualified person does the job, meets spec and keeps a promise.

But extraordinary contribution is rare. It’s when we surprise the system, and perhaps ourselves, by showing up with something unexpected, far beyond the common standard. Extraordinary contribution creates careers. It’s a breakthrough in the status quo, a shift in a previously accepted power dynamic.

Extraordinary contribution changes not just the recipient, but the giver as well.

So yes, it’s worth quite a bit. The chance to do a stage in a professional (and generous) kitchen is priceless. The internship or the summer job where you quite recklessly level up, showing the world and yourself just what you’re capable of–that’s worth far more than the money you spent going into debt with college for.

The hard part isn’t working for free. The hard part is figuring out that this is your chance to do more than you’re asked, to resist being unpaid labor for an organization too cheap to pay you properly. Instead, this is a rare moment to leap.

       

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What do you see?

A better question might be, "what do you choose to see?"

If I take four professionals to the Whitney:

The architect sees the building, the sight lines, the way the people and the light flow.

The framer notices the craftsmanship and taste in the way the paintings are framed and hung.

The lighting designer can’t help but comment on the new LEDs.

And the art dealer sees the names of each artist and marvels over career arcs.

When you read a blog post, or see a successful project or read about an innovation, what do you see?

Do you see the emotions and the fear and the grit of the people behind it?

Do you see the strategy and high-level analysis that went into it?

Or do you see the execution and technique?

Some people are willingly blind to metaphor, viewing each example as a special case. Others manage to connect the dots and find what they need just about anywhere.

You might not need more exposure to the new. Instead, it might pay to re-see what’s already around you.

       

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Reversing Alinsky’s rules

In Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky laid out 13 principles that can be used in zero-sum game political settings to discourage and defeat enemies.

Alas, this approach is often used by both sides in just about any issue, and tears away at civil discourse. When you’re so sure you’re right that you’re willing to burn things down, it turns out that everyone is standing in a burning building sooner or later.

What happens if we reverse the rules?

1. Put people to work. It’s even more effective than money.

2. Challenge your people to explore, to learn and to get comfortable with uncertainty.

3. Find ways to help others on the path find firm footing.

4. Help others write rules that allow them to achieve their goals.

5. Treat the others the way you’d want to be treated.

6. Don’t criticize for fun. Do it when helps educate, even if it’s not entertaining.

7. Stick with your tactics long after everyone else is bored with them. Only stop when they stop working.

8. It’s okay to let the pressure cease now and then. People will pay attention to you and the change you seek when they are unable to consistently ignore it.

9. Don’t make threats. Do or don’t do.

10. Build a team with the capacity and the patience to do the work that needs doing.

11. If you bring your positive ideas to the fore, again and again, you’ll raise the bar for everyone else.

12. Solve your own problems before you spend a lot of time finding problems for the others.

13. Celebrate your people, free them to do even more, make it about the cohort and invite everyone along. Disagree with institutions, not with people.

       

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