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SETH'S BOOKS

Seth Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list

alt.mba

altMBA

An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.

ONLINE:

all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

linchpin

Linchpin

An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

poke.the.box

Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

purple.cow

Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

small.is.the.new.big

Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.moo

The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.red.fez

The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.dip

The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.icarus.deception

The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

tribes

Tribes

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

unleashing.the.ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

v.is.for.vulnerable

V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

whatcha.gonna.do.with.that.duck

Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:


THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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Member since 08/2003

On demand vs. in stock

"You can have any color car you want as long as it's black."

Henry Ford made cars in black because black paint dried four hours faster than any other color. That fast drying meant that the line worked faster, which made them cheaper. Just as important, he didn't have stockouts--with only one color, the color you wanted was the color he had.

Ever since then, there's been a move to on-demand, built to order and custom work. In everything we do. Freelance work, shoes, baked goods, kitchen cabinets, software, travel plans. And it seems like a cost-free progression. The thing is, it's not.

Most of the cost of everything we buy is in the risk, the starting, the stopping, the waste, the breakage, the planning.

A pair of mass produced shoes can be made for $3. A pair of custom shoes might cost $200 once you count all the associated costs.

McDonald's hit a peak moment of productivity by getting to a mythical scale, with a limited menu and little in the way of customization. They could deliver a burger for a fraction of what it might take a diner to do it on demand.

McDonald's now challenges the idea that custom has to cost more, because they've invested in mass customization.

Things that are made on demand by algorithmic systems and robots cost more to set up, but once they do, the magic is that the incremental cost of one more unit is really low. If you're organized to be in the mass customization business, then the wind of custom everything is at your back.

The future clearly belongs to these mass customization opportunities, situations where there is little cost associated with stop and start, little risk of not meeting expectations, where a robot and software are happily shifting gears all day long.

But if you're not set up for this, if you're hustling your coders or your production line or your painters or whomever to go faster and cheaper, you're fighting the wrong side of the productivity curve. It's like the diner that sought to be a friendly, custom-order place but also promised to be as cheap or as profitable as a fast food place.

These traditional businesses, the small ones, the non-automated ones, can sell custom, sure, but not at the price they used to sell the thing they make in bulk. And too often, organizations undercharge for the custom work and find themselves trapped between the productivity of doing things in batches and the challenge of delighting each customer, who carries his or her own dreams of what perfect looks like.

Finding the thread

Unraveling has precisely the same meaning as raveling... when we pull on a thread, pull and pull, as it unweaves what came before.

It's nice to have the next thing clearly laid out, planned and sure to work.

It would make our projects and our art and our plans a lot more secure.

More often, though, we have to ravel for quite a while before we have enough to work with.

Nothing is ready when we need it to be, but that merely means we have to begin earlier.

Choose better

More honest, more caring, more generous.

It's all a choice, isn't it?

We can choose to dream better, connect better and contribute better.

Sometimes, in the rush for more, we get confused about what better means, and how attainable it is.

If you are lucky enough to be with family today, I hope you'll get a chance to use our beloved Thanksgiving Reader around your table. It's a free PDF that you can print out and use for group readings.

All we have is each other

And that's enough. It has to be.

It's all we've ever had.

The challenge is in realizing this and working with it, even when we're secretly hoping for something more, some external force.

You and me, kid, you and me and a few billion other folks.

We can treat each other as if it matters, because it does.

The yeasayer

Opposite of the naysayer, of course.

This is the person who will find ten reasons why you should try something.

The one who will embrace the possibility of better.

The colleague to turn to when a reality check is necessary, because the reality is, it might work.

Are you up for it?

Limited, unique & educational

It snowed last night here, so it must be almost time for the holidays. Some thoughts as you think about holiday gifts for you and the people you care about:

There are fewer than 2,000 copies of my huge new collection left. The book weighs 18 pounds, it's 800 pages long and profusely illustrated. We will not be printing any more, that's all there are. All the copies are currently on container ships and on their way to our fulfillment house... orders taken now should arrive to most locations before the holidays.

My most recent original book, What To Do When It's Your Turn... is now in its fifth printing. It comes in a multi-pack, so you can have one and give one (or more) away.

I have three bestselling courses on Udemy. There is a master course on value creation, one for freelancers and a leadership course that's a fundraiser for Acumen. Learning is a great gift, of course, because it transforms people you care about. And it is sure to be the right size.

You can find a list of all my books here.

And we're getting close to my live event in New York on December 10. I hope you can come and even better, bring a colleague.

Thanks!

The powerful seduction of 'powerless'

Where do conspiracy theories come from?

More than 10% of the population still believes that the moon landings were faked. (Even though we can see the landing modules with a telescope).

People make up inane theories about various cabals that are secretly controlling this or that.

In fact, the more information and leverage we each have, the more inclined the culture seems to embrace stories of puppetry, conspiracy and control.

Because it lets us off the hook.

How can you possibly be responsible if there are powerful shady forces working behind the scenes? If you're powerless, it also means you're not at fault if things don't get better.

[Of course, the world isn't fair, and there are people, powerful people, working against you. The best systems open doors, not close them. The best systems work for us, not against us. But that doesn't mean we're powerless, it only means that we have to work ever harder. Harder on the system and harder around it.]

She's been quoted a million times, but people don't really listen to the essence of Marianne Williamson's quote: "Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

If we're actually powerful, if our voice, our effort and our contribution matter, it's time to get to work.

This is enervating. It would be so much more comforting if it were up to someone else. Whatever system we are living in or with, it would be nice if it were responsible for what happens next.

On the other hand, knowing that we can connect, publish, inspire, lead, build, describe, invent, encourage and (especially) teach, means that there's no one better than us and no time like right now.

And if it helps, go find, organize and connect with others who feel as committed as you do.

Of course it's frightening. But it's important and it's our turn.

Is it possible there was a misunderstanding?

Is it possible that you misunderstood them, or they misunderstood you?

With your client, employee, vendor, partner, or that random passerby?

The thing that just happened, it sounds terrible, and if they did it on purpose, the way it sure seems to you and to me, that would be horrible.

But before we burn down bridges and ruin everyone's day, just a quick moment to wonder, "what if there was something misunderstood?"

It's a lot easier to ask than it is to go to all the trouble of breaking things.

The magic wand store is closed

It's fun to imagine what we'd do if we had a magic wand, something that with a wave, could produce us the introduction, the funding, the open door, the technology, the breakthrough, the insight, the inspiration, the shortcut...

They stopped making magic wands several millennia ago.

Now that you know that there are no magic wands, a better question is probably:

What do you care enough about that you're prepared to expose yourself to fear, risk and hard work to get?

Batteries not included

It's easy to dream of a strategy or a set of tactics that will make your forward motion feel less like an uphill slog. A perpetual motion machine of progress.

These are few and far between.

The single most important part of any project is the battery, the source of energy, the optimism and effort that turns the long shot into the sure thing, one day at a time.

Better to hire and train and seek out batteries. They're priceless.

The memories we rehearse are the ones we live with

A million things happened to you today. The second bite of your lunch. The red light on the third block of your commute...

Tomorrow, you'll remember almost none of them.

And the concept that you'd remember something that happened to you when you were twelve is ludicrous.

What actually happened was this: After it (whatever that thing you remember) happened, you started telling yourself a story about that event. You began to develop a narrative about this turning point, about the relationship with your dad or with school or with cars.

Lots of people have had similar experiences, but none of them are telling themselves quite the same story about it as you are.

Over time, the story is rehearsed. Over time, the story becomes completely different from what a videotape would show us, but it doesn't matter, because the rehearsed story is far more vivid than the video ever could be.

And so the story becomes our memory, the story gets rehearsed ever more, and the story becomes the thing we tell ourselves the next time we need to make a choice.

If your story isn't helping you, work to rehearse a new story instead.

Because it's our narrative that determines who we will become.

The confusion about enough

To watch people at work, it seems like we never have enough:

  • We need more social media likes
  • We want more market share
  • We demand more quick wins

And to see them at rest, it seems as though we never have enough:

  • Things to entertain us
  • Shallow friendships
  • Conspicuous displays of success

Which is why people talk about how they're always falling behind and feel like they don't have enough time.

But...

Lots of us walk around thinking we do have enough:

  • Education
  • Exposure to difficult topics
  • Situations where we need to change our mind
  • Silence
  • Deep relationships based on trust and commitment

I'm wondering what happens if we flip them?

It's not the bottom, it's the foundation

Organizations are built on the work of people who don’t get paid very much, don’t receive sufficient respect and are understandably wary of the promises they’ve been hearing for years.

Calling these folks the bottom of the org chart doesn’t help.

Imagine that throughout your career you were paid as little as legally possible, the last to be hired and the first to be laid off. Imagine that the boss gets more vacation days, doesn’t have to clock in and out, and is actually given control over how he spends his time.

Why is it surprising to bosses, then, that some workers respond to this arrangement by doing as little work as possible?

Here’s the thing: people actually want to do a good job. They want to be proud of their work, they appreciate being engaged, they thrive when they have some measure of control over their day.

Too often, though, the optimistic leader meets the pessimistic front line and distrust undermines all the good intent. The boss loses patience and reverts to the test-and-measure, trust-no-one, scientific-management tradition of dehumanizing the very humans who make the whole project work.

And so, back to being mediocre. Back to high turnover, low trust, no care. Back to workers who don’t believe and bosses who are now cynics.

Mostly, back to an ordinary organization that’s like so many others.

There’s an alternative. But it’s a process, not an event.

Step 1: A commitment, from the top, that this place is going to be different. The commitment is open-ended. It involves leading and showing up and keeping promises, for months and years into the future. It’s non-cynical, and it views leadership as an opportunity, the possibility of serving customers at the very same time you inspire and enable employees.

This is going to take a long time, and it’s not going to be the cheapest path. It turns out, though, in industries where people matter (which is more and more of the work we do) that this path pays for itself eventually.

Step 2: Hire for attitude, not for learned skills. You can teach someone to do just about anything. It’s far more difficult to build an instinct to care. When you hire trustworthy people who are willing to trust you, you have an opportunity to build trust, which enables communication, which allows you to teach, which upgrades everything.

If you are in a hurry to assemble a group of people who can ‘do the work’, you will end up with folks who merely needed a job. On the other hand, if you are willing to invest in people who are enrolled in the journey you’re on, you will end up with a team.

[Corollary: Fire for attitude, fix for skills. The attitudes you put up with will become the attitudes of your entire organization. Over time, every organization becomes what is tolerated]

Step 3: Be clear in actions and words about what’s important. It doesn’t do any good to hire for attitude but only reward for short-term results. If you reward a cynic merely because he got something done, you’ve made it clear to everyone else that cynicism is okay. If you overlook the person who is hiding mistakes because his productivity is high, then you are rewarding obfuscation and stealth.

Who gets the employee of the month parking space? Who gets laid off?

People are watching you. They’re not listening to your words as much as they’re seeking to understand where the boundaries and the guard rails lie, because they’ve learned from experience that people who do what gets rewarded, get rewarded.

Hint: if you tell people something is important but fail to give them the tools and the support and the training that they need to do that important thing, you’ve just told them that it’s not actually important.

Step 4: Be clear and consistent about how we do things around here. It’s going to be a long time before people act like they own the place. After all, you own the place and you don’t even act like you do most of the time.

This job is important. It feeds my family. It pays the rent. It’s connected to my self-esteem. I will act in the interest of my family, not your invisible shareholders.

Step 5: Your problem is not their problem. The people who build the foundation of your business have plenty of things to worry about. Your narrative about your day is not one of them.

Over time, it’s reasonable to expect that an engaged and respectful working environment will lead to ever more big-picture thinking. But it’s naïve and self-defeating to expect a 20-year-old who’s been on the job for a week to make a connection between the customer who just walked in, your big wholesale account, the loan that’s due soon and the espresso he just pulled.

Every day, you’re going to be tested on these five principles. Every day, there’s going to be a moment of urgency, a shortcut presented, a confusion. And in that moment, the first principle is going to come into question.

But this is the foundation, it’s not the bottom. This is the source for all your possibility, for the change you seek to make.

Isn’t it worth it?

New: A master class in value creation

I've just created an intensive video course designed to help you think differently about what you make and why.

It's for marketers, founders, freelancers, fundraisers, teachers and change agents that understand that nothing works unless it works for your audience.

Intensive? Yes because unlike most video courses, you're supposed to do more than watch it. It contains just over 40 minutes of video broken into short chapters. It also comes with a workbook that's 30 pages long. Print out the workbook, watch the video, fill in the workbook, go over it with others in the Udemy community, print the workbook out again, watch the video again, go over the workbook with your team. Like most things, more input gets you more output.

From a recent review: "... approaches the problem of value creation in such a new way that I've already had many 'aha'-moments. And I'm only partway through the course!"

If you do the work, you'll start to see things differently.

The course is $95, but blog readers doing important work can get it for half price by using this link.

It comes with a money-back guarantee and I hope you will check out a few of the lessons before you enroll.

And if you're a freelancer, I hope you'll check out this course as well. It's one of the most popular courses on Udemy, because it works. 

Empathy is a bridge

"Sorry" doesn't mean you caused the pain. It merely means that you see it, that you've felt pain before in your life as well, that you are open to a connection.

Our ability to bring people along is critical because we're playing a long game, even an infinite one. Back and forth, day by day, with many of the same people. One day, it will be reversed, and a classmate or co-worker or competitor will be the one that can listen and care about the pain. A pain that might feel very similar.

Gloating or silence closes the door. Empathy, on the other hand, and the action of speech, of moderation, of connection, can change everything. And if it hasn't been present before, it can start right now.

"I see you. I'm sorry for what you're feeling. How can I help?"

Education is the answer

It almost doesn't matter what the question is, really.

Everyone is an independent actor, now more than ever, with access to information, to tools, to the leverage to make a difference.

Instead of being a cog merely waiting for instructions, we get to make decisions and take action based on what we know and what we believe.

Change what you know, change what you believe, and you change the actions. Learn to see, to understand, to have patience, and you learn to be the kind of person who can make a difference.

Formal education is a foundation, but lifelong, informal education can transform our lives.

And informal education scales. It spreads more easily than ever before. Educated people create other educated people. The standards go up when education is present, because the cost of being the least educated person in your tribe is high.

Ignorance, on the other hand, can spread as well. When the cultural dynamic in your circle is that ignorance is prized, it will pull others down and lead to more ignorance.

We can learn techniques, sure, but also empathy, curiosity and patience.

Arguing is futile, because arguing presumes that we can use force of will to change minds. And force begets force. Education, on the other hand, involves enrollment, and volunteers in search of answers can learn quickly.

The path forward, it seems, is to connect. To earn enrollment in having others join you in a journey of education. If you can teach something, find someone who will benefit and teach them. And if you can connect and make education accessible, it creates a new standard for the people you care about.

[Heads up: The last day for early-bird discount tickets to my only-time-this-year live seminar in NY is tomorrow. I hope you can join us... we're gathering the tribe for a much needed chance to connect in person. It will be eye-opening, affirming and perhaps game-changing for those who can join us.]

Hang in there

Is there anything more difficult?

Showing up day after day, week after week, sometimes for years, as your movement slowly gains steam, as your organization hits speed bumps, as the news goes from bad to worse...

Showing up, it turns out, is the hardest part of making a difference.

Make a list of the organizations and voices and movements that have made a difference. How old are they? How long have they been at it?

Creating impact, building something of substance, changing the culture... this is the work of a lifetime, not merely a fun project.

It's not easy, but I have a feeling you're up for it. Because it matters.

What do you see?

Fill in the missing number:

π, 1, __, 3, 11, 15, 13, 17

Some people, when confronted with an artificial problem like this, simply throw up their hands. It's a trick, it's a waste of time, there's really no value in it.

Some people look for the quick insight, the fact that there's an irrational number, that the string doesn't go on forever, etc. But they usually get stuck.

Some people are only interested in the answer, and are eager to argue that it should be zero, not four, while others would point out that zero isn't necessarily a natural number, and on and on, merely as a way from hiding from the entire point of the lesson.

The real lesson happens once we realize the metaphor that's available to each of us: Things don't need to be artificial to be puzzles. In fact, if you're willing to be disappointed in your search for the right answer, just about every situation is a puzzle, a place where an insight might be found.

Artificial puzzles like this one generally guarantee a right answer exists. The challenge of the natural puzzle is that you eagerly accept that maybe, there's no good solution.

If you don't like the puzzle you've got, pick a different one. We're never going to run out of puzzles.

Our human interactions, the scarcity around us, the opportunities we all have—they're puzzles. They are invitations to find a new way to do something, a beneficial shortcut, a connection in an economy based on connections.

But first, you have to see.

[PS time to start planning for Thanksgiving.]

Rolling up our sleeves

Sometimes, the wind is at our back, the resources are easily acquired and good karma increases our ability to do great work.

Sometimes. 

Other times, it feels like we're up against it, that the wind has shifted, that there's not a lot of opportunity or momentum.

It's in those times that, "what are you working on?" becomes a vital question, a lifeline to get us from here to there.

Trainwrecks, tantrums, massive shifts in the way things are and are supposed to be--they make it difficult to concentrate, to plan, to leap...

We each have a platform, access to tools, a change we'd like to make in the world around us. We each have a chance to connect, to see, to lead.

And it's not, at least right now, fun or easy. It might not even seem like you've got a shot, or that the wind is too harsh.

Persist. It matters.

Resilience

When we're sure it's not going to work, when we can't figure out where to turn, when we don't know what to do next...

Sometimes, our ability to do the best we can in small ways is enough to start moving forward. And when it doesn't work, we try something else.

Enough small things by enough people coalesce into the next big thing.

If not now, when?

Care a little more.

Show up.

Embrace possibility.

Tell the truth.

Dive deeper.

Seek the truth behind the story.

Ask the difficult question.

Lend a hand.

Dance with fear.

Play the long game.

Say 'no' to hate.

Look for opportunities, especially when it seems like there aren't any left.

Risk a bigger dream.

Take care of the little guy.

Offer a personal insight.

Build something magical.

Keep your promises.

Do work that matters.

Expect more.

Sign your work.

Be generous for no reason.

Give the benefit of the doubt.

Develop empathy.

Make your mom proud.

Take responsibility.

Give credit.

Play by a better set of rules.

Choose your customers.

Choose your reputation.

Choose your future.

Thank the ref.

Reward patience.

Leap.

Breathe.

Because we can.

It really is up to us. Which is great, because we're capable of changing everything if we choose.

All we can do is all we can do, but maybe, all we can do is enough.

The next one or the last one?

This thing you're making...

This day you're spending at work...

This interaction you're having...

Is it merely the next one in a long string of next ones, good enough to get you through?

Or is it special enough to be the last one? The one you're remembered by...

How they talk you out of voting

The easiest way to win an election is to get the people who might vote for your opponent to not vote.

TV has proven an effective engine behind this strategy, and the growth in voter turnout has slowed since campaigns began running significant TV campaigns 50 years ago. [This year's turnout was the lowest since 2000].

It works because it's not that difficult to talk someone out of voting.

The two most common unstated reasons for not voting are:

"I don't want to vote for the person who loses, because I'll feel badly having wasted my vote and being associated with the unpopular outcome." 

"I don't want to vote for the person who wins, because then I'll be partly responsible for whatever happens."

A popular rationale to justify either of these reasons is:

"I don't like either candidate, they're both terrible."

The thing is, there has never been a perfect leader. There has never been a flawless president. There are always weaknesses, foibles and scandals. It takes more than a hundred years before the patina sets in, and even then, most great leaders throughout history had defects that would cause them to wither under today's profit-minded, scandal-focused media.

Same thing for the charities we donate to (or don't), the heroes and mentors we revere, the organizations we're proud to be a part of.

Change is always rough around the edges. It has no right answers, no ideal keys that unlock the future. But risky schemes are always risky.

The media, with our complicity, has created a game where we end up disillusioned and disgusted. But it's only the disillusioned and the disgusted voters who are capable of raising the bar in the long run.

Vote as if you're responsible, because you are, especially if you don't vote.

Vote as if it's not anonymous, knowing that you'll have to explain it to your grandchildren.

Work for justice. Progress is possible. It matters.

The next one in line

When a stranger treats you poorly, tries to rip you off, brings discourtesy instead of respect

...how do you treat the next stranger?

Paying bad behavior forward hurts.

And when it breaks?

Every website your organization puts up is going to reach a moment when it is obsolete, out of date or buggy.

How will you know?

And what will you do about it?

Big organizations have this problem every day. When building a website, the hierarchy pays attention. There are meetings and approvals, and it all fits together in the current strategy.

But a year or a decade later, those folks have moved on, but the website remains. And it's unlikely that there's someone checking it for bad behavior.

So there's the Fedex database that sends customers to a drop box that doesn't accept packages any longer. Or the part of the Brother website that requires users to change their password every single time they visit. I'm sure I have pages out there on the web that are out of date or buggy as well. It's inevitable.

Here are two simple questions that ought to be part of any online launch:

  1. Where can our users report defects on this page?
    If you include a link to a human or perhaps a monitored feedback form, it's a lot more likely you'll hear about the things that aren't working in time to actually fix them before you take a loss.

  2. What's our plan for sunsetting this site?
    If they close down Vine or our strategy changes or we need to take action, who is responsible? 

Stick around long enough and it's going to break. We come out ahead when we treat that event like part of our job, not a random emergency.

What if the curves were going the other way?

Four ways to look at the state of our world.

What sort of story are we telling each other?

Infant mortality

 

Life_Expectancy_at_Birth_by_Region_1950-2050

 

War deaths

 

Jobs_110615_chart1

Plenty of room on the island

Have you noticed that authors often happily recommend books by other authors (even though an MBA might call them competitors)?

Not only that, but books sell best in the bookstore, right next to the other books.

It would be a stunning surprise if Tim Cook wrote a blurb for a Samsung phone. They live in a zero-sum universe, assuming that everyone is likely to only buy one or the other.

But for the rest of us, in most industries, it turns out that the real competition is inaction. Few markets have expanded to include everyone, and most of those markets (like books and music) have offerings where people buy more than one.

This means that if there's more good stuff, more people enter the market, the culture gets better, more good work is produced and enjoyed, more people enter the market, and on and on.

So encouraging and promoting the work of your fellow artists, writers, tweeters, designers, singers, painters, speakers, instigators and leaders isn't just the right thing to do, it's smart as well.

The idea awareness cycle

Ignorance—We're too busy doing our jobs to notice that.

Dismissal—That? It's trivial. Kids.

Nervousness—Let's take a look at what they're up to, benchmark it, buy a research report... Bob, can you handle this?

Poor Copies—See, I told you it was no big deal. Our new model is almost the same.

Admiration—Wow, look at them go. Every once in awhile, someone comes up with something special. Good for them.

Special case—Of course, this won't effect our core business. It's working really well here because that's unique.

Superman—Holy smokes. Who is this guy?

Catastrophe/Doomsday—Run for your lives. It's over. Over forever and ever. 

Repeat

[Today's example of how it plays out: Newspapers.]

A dark chocolate sampler

Bean to bar dark chocolate is a revelation. It's got the terroir and backstory of the finest wines, it's a collision of rural farmers and modern technology and markets similar to coffee, and it also brings along the Proustian nostalgia of childhood.

Too many of us have been stuck in a Nestle/Hershey universe for too long. And if your early collisions with dark chocolate aren't positive, it's easy to decide it's not worth the trouble or expense. 

[I get at least 10 servings out of a $10 bar, though, so it's hard for it to feel like a ridiculously expensive luxury. If you skip an espresso...]

Here, in no real order, are my favorite brands, all good to start with, all great to stick with. Every one is made by a human, who cares, someone you could meet, engage with and root for.

Askinosie
Rogue (entire production already sold out)
Original Beans
Cacao Hunters
Patric
Dick Taylor
Ritual
Marou
Grenada
Soma
Fruition

A few simple understandings and principles:

The percentage matters, in the sense that chocolate that is between 70% and 90% dark is a Platonic ideal of flavor. I avoid flavoring agents like candies, seeds or salt, because what I'm trying to taste is the bean and what the maker has done to bring it to life.

The kind of bean matters. Forastero beans are cheap, easy to grow and not particularly worth seeking out (with a few exceptions). On the other hand, Criollo (particularly the wonderful rare Porcelana hybrid which you can find from Soma and Original Beans) is a party in your mouth--but, alas, the hardest to grow. It's always that way, isn't it? And Trinitario beans are the backbone of this hobby.

The country matters. Yes, with practice, it's actually easy to tell the difference between Madagascar and Colombia.

And finally, the farmer's relationship with the grower matters a lot. Askinosie imports their own beans, and does amazing work with the farmers who work so hard to grow them.

Enjoy. Halloween doesn't have to mean bad chocolate any more! And don't even get me started on candy corn.

What does the poll say?

It says that people don't understand polls. Even smart marketers get it wrong.

What do people think? There's a lot of confusion, much of it intentional, some spawned by a presumed fear of simple math, all of it worth clearing up. 

A survey is not a poll is not a census. A census is what you get if you ask every single person what they think or who they are. There are only two reasons to have a census. Either you want each person to feel personally involved (hence an election) or you are keeping track of each person's answer. For example, if you're printing up t-shirts for the Frisbee team, you ought to do a census of the team to find out what size each person wants, then deliver each person the size they seek.

You could do a survey, which is merely a collection of answers from whomever cares enough to answer the survey. A survey is a useful tool for brainstorming, but it shouldn't be confused with what the group actually feels. Your lack of rigor in setting it up is repaid in a lack of precision in the data.

And a poll? A poll is a smart shortcut, a statistical method for replacing a census (asking everyone) with a very close approximation achieved by asking the minimum number of people required to get a useful answer. A properly done poll will get you an answer nearly as useful as an accurate census will, without the expense or the time.

It rarely makes sense to ask all of your customers about how they feel. You're wasting their time (and yours) by adding more entries into the database without those entries actually making the database any more accurate—part of the problem is that the only people who answer surveys are annoyed or have nothing better to do, and simply making a poll bigger doesn't make it better.

When big companies ask you to fill out a quick survey after talking to a customer service rep, they're not actually doing a survey. What they're doing is snooping on their customer service people, and your answers are directly connected back to each rep, so that person can be scolded (or worse) if they do a bad job.

A poll doesn't predict the future. The media has completely missed this point, again and again. If, on the day the iPhone was announced, you had done a well-designed poll of adults and asked, "Do you intend to ever buy a smartphone?" the yesses would have certainly been less than 5% of the result.

Of course, a decade later, that's turned out to be completely wrong. Was the poll in error?

No.

An accurate poll is a snapshot of right now, based on what's happening today. That's all. If outcomes end up being different a week or a year later, that's not the poll's fault, it's our mistaken belief that the future can be predicted.

To go one step further, the question that gets asked is as important as the answer. Try this at home: When you ask people a question, they rarely give you the straight up truth in their answer, especially when there are social factors at play. The very best polls combine not only the right math, but more important, the right question structure.

The magic of sample size. Let's say you had a bag of M&Ms. You know they come in six colors and you want to figure out the percentage of each that's in the bag. As long as the candies are distributed within the bag, it turns out that no matter how many are in the bag, whether it's a 2 pound bag or a 2,000 pound bag, all you need to do is randomly pull out 300 to 400 M&Ms. That's plenty. More samples won't dramatically increase the quality of this poll.

The purpose of the sample is to pick a random selection from a coherent group.

The key to this is understanding that sample size is relevant for any sized group that's consistent in its makeup. As soon as you can divide the group into buckets, you benefit by doing multiple samples.

Most of the well-done polls you hear about in public do not have a sample size problem. It's a red herring.

The power of bucketing. But what happens if you realize that there are more than one kind of M&Ms, and that different kinds have different color distributions? (This, it turns out, for mysterious reasons, is true. Almond M&Ms only come in five colors).

Well, you could take this into account and run much bigger sample groups, or you could get smart about sample size.

It turns out, for example, that women who ride Harley Davidson motorcycles want different things from them than men do. It also turns out that (I'm guessing about all the Harley stats here) perhaps 10% of the people who buy a Harley are women.

Given that, you could poll 300 women (the easy minimum) and then 2700 men (so you get the balance right). OR, you could get smart, and poll 300 women and 300 men (because every time you add a new person, it's really expensive). "But wait," you might say, "that's not right, because women are overrepresented."

So far, that's true. But after you figure out how women think, and then figure out how men think, you can weight the men's results in your final tally. If, for example, you discovered that women intend to buy a new Harley every two years, but men intend to buy one every six years, you could then report back that the average customer intends to buy a new Harley every five and a half years or so.  (Said with full knowledge that it's dangerous to average averages, but in this case, it's correct.)

Confusion about polls is easy. And the more we try to make decisions using polls, the more careful we need to be about the structure and motivation of the poll itself. 

But finding an accurate poll is pretty easy as well. Most pollsters (in private and in public work) are transparent about their methods, and the magic of statistics is that the math of how the poll is structured can be checked by others. 

Too often, marketers do surveys, not polls, or bother everyone with a census, poorly done. Worse, they then use these results as an accurate prediction of the future, instead of a reliable snapshot of now.

It's the surveys that are so often wrong, deceptive and confusing. It's surveys ("no one I know believes that") that feel like they're accurate but rarely are.

And if we're going to challenge a poll, far smarter to challenge the questions ("that's designed to get the respondent to lie") or the flaws in sampling ("this requires all polled individuals to have a home phone, but of course, an entire generation of young people don't have one.")

But it makes no sense at all to throw out the results of polls we disagree with. The quality of the cars we drive, the efficacy of the medicines we take are all directly related to the very same statistical techniques that we use to run a poll. Ask the right questions to the right people and your snapshot is going to be helpful.

If you want to, be wary of polls. But be wary for the right reasons.

On your toes

In any given meeting, on any given day, most people are merely showing up.

It's the 50th time he's performed that sonata. The guy in the outfield had a hard day at home before the game. The folks in the meeting are realizing that it's yet another meeting in a long series of meetings, and wondering if it much matters anyway.

Every once in awhile, though, someone is on their toes. This cocktail party is a big deal, he thinks, because he's going to meet that agent that could change everything. It's the key presentation before launch. This performance in Carnegie Hall is... well... it's Carnegie Hall. 

We can't be on our toes all the time. It's too exhausting, and we can't keep it up.

But what happens if we decide, everyone in this room, right here and right now, at least for a little while, that we'll act as if it's the first time, or the last time, or our best shot?

What would happen if we all got on our toes, together? Just for a little while?

That's when big things happen.

Decoding pro wrestling

Professional wrestling is fake.

The blood is fake, the lack of physics is fake, the arguing with the ref is fake, the rivalries are fake... it might be professional, but it's not real.

This willful disregard for reality is at the heart of pro wrestling. It's a juvenile fantasy, come to life. An opportunity to make up the rules, ignore authority, and exert bullying force on others, merely because you can.

So why is Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins) one of the most successful musicians of our generation, running a pro wrestling organization?

He says it's because it's one of the last transgressive arenas left. That it's a morality play, a microcosm of the human condition, a chance to put on a show that highlights our fears and our avarice. He knows that it's fake, authenticity is a foreign concept in this world.

And what lesson can we learn from politics importing pro wrestling's mindset? Once you see it, you can't unsee the connection. Worth noting that one of the key narratives of pro wrestling is the fake within the fake--someone is always claiming that the outcome is rigged. (In wrestling, of course, it is rigged. And so is the complaining.)

Pro wrestling works as a play and a medium because the people who are part of it realize that it's fake.

It turns out that modern media is a perfect match for the pro-wrestling approach. You can put on a show, with your own media, as often as you like. And that show is, to many, remarkable, and so it spreads.

And there lies the danger, the opportunity for pro-wrestling thinking to corrupt our society: When the fans, or worse, the participants, don't realize that it's fake.

In real life, the laws of physics actually work. In real life, blood feuds rarely end well. In real life, accepting the ref's decisions is the only way to have civilization...

The filter bubble creates an echo chamber, and reality stars are pushed to be more like cartoonish pro wrestlers and less like responsible human beings. If it bleeds, it leads.

You probably work with people who are living in their own pro wrestling universe. These are people who are so in love with their version of reality and their goals that they view the real world as an affront, an intrusion on the way they insist things turn out.

Reality remains our common ground, the best one we have to work with.

Two kinds of filters

There's the filter bubble of the internet, in which we willingly surround ourselves only with information sources with which we agree, soon coming to the conclusion that everyone agrees with us.

The other kind is the filter we can choose to build to avoid falling into a rabbit hole of wasted time, misogyny and dissatisfaction. This is to avoid the endless clicking, the hateful comments, the mind-numbing noise of the net.

Here's a hint: The first kind of filter is easy to build and satisfying in the short run. It's reassuring to believe we're right.

The second kind, the one that builds a foundation for us to do better work, is always under attack from within and without, and it's tempting to stop using it. Tempting to give up, but ultimately worth the effort.

The easier the filter is to build, the less it's worth.

One way to get a raise

...is to get promoted.

And the best way to get promoted is to learn something new and get good at it. Take a course. Learn to sell. Public speaking. Statistics. Become the person that your organization wants in a bigger role. You can accelerate that process with deliberate learning and practice.

Smart companies will pay for it if you ask. After all, it's a high-return investment in the very people who do the work. Organizations have learned that it is significantly cheaper to grow their people than it is to hire pre-grown people from outside.

Consider that the altMBA has been taken by leaders from organizations big and small, including Microsoft, DHL, Intel, and Warby Parker. Inevitably, our alumni become more valuable contributors.

Many companies that offer tuition reimbursement are frustrated that employees rarely ask for it. Bosses realize how useful this investment is, they're just waiting for you to take them up on it.

It might feel awkward to ask your boss if you can take a course (after all, employees are supposed to be perfect, right?) but in fact, one of the biggest insights that growing companies have is that they're only as good as their smartest people.

And their best people realize that getting smarter is the only way to avoid falling behind...

Fear of outsiders

Just in time for Halloween, some thoughts on our fear of the other, the people in the shadows, or merely those that don't look like us.

It's tempting to rile yourself up about the 'other'.

But that's not the real challenge.

The challenge is inside. It's the self-sabotage. The projects not shipped, the hugs not given, the art not made.

The real boogeyman isn't the other. The one we're afraid of is with us all the time.

On being irritated

Irritation is a privilege.

It's the least useful emotion, one that we never seek out.

People in true distress are never irritated. Someone who is hungry or drowning or fleeing doesn't become irritated.

And of course, irritation rarely helps us get what we need.

Irritation clouds our judgment, frustrates our relationships and gets our priorities all wrong.

Irritation tries to persuade us that it's justified, but it merely pushes us away from what we actually need.

In order to be irritated, we need to believe we're not getting something we deserve. But of course, that expectation is the cause of the irritation. We can choose to lose the expectation, embracing the fact that we're lucky enough to feel it, and then get back to work doing something generous instead.

It turns out that irritation is a privilege and irritation is a choice.

Moral hazard and inhumanity

One bit of economic reasoning says, "If there are no consequences, people will make bad choices."

Don't let big banks get bailouts, because if we do, bankers will take bigger risks.

So, make sure that the dentist is expensive (and painful) because that will encourage people to brush their teeth.

And don't make it too easy to collect on fire insurance, or people will be careless with matches.

Insurers call these behaviors 'moral hazards.' (And some call them 'morale hazards' fyi). In specific instances, people will make choices that cause harm to themselves and to society because they don't fear the consequences.

Without a doubt, this makes sense for organizations.

But the instances are more specific than you might guess. For example, awareness of the certainty of lung cancer forty years later doesn't do much to keep teens from smoking. The long-term consequences didn't matter—it was a tax on cigarettes that made the biggest difference.

And telling a mentally ill homeless person that he 'deserves' to live on the street because of bad choices along the way isn't doing anything for him, or to those that might be forced into his situation down the road.

Waiting for an employee to screw up so we can fire her seems a convoluted way to set a standard for the rest of the team.

Too often, we get confused about what people deserve vs. what they get. We use our instinctual, Calvinist understanding of moral hazard as an excuse to teach people a lesson, to callously embrace an efficient market. But of course, the market isn't efficient at all. It unevenly distributes rewards to people based on luck, and allows those with an early head start to amplify that lead with less and less effort.

It turns out that building homes for homeless people is a great way to cut homelessness overall. Poverty doesn't usually respond to moral hazard approaches.

Life's risky and it's played for keeps. We all benefit from a safety net.

Hardware is sexy, but it's software that matters

You can make software if you choose to.

Not just the expected version of software that runs on a computer, but the metaphorical idea of rules and algorithms designed to solve problems and connect people...

Apple started as a hardware company with the Apple II. Soon in, they realized that while hardware is required, it's software that changes the world.

For years, the Mac was merely a container for Mac software. It was the software that enabled the work we created, it was software that shifted our relationship with computers and ultimately each other.

Over the last five years, Apple has lost the thread and chosen to become a hardware company again. Despite their huge profits and large staff, we're confronted with (a partial list):

  • Automator, a buggy piece of software with no support, and because it's free, no competitors.
  • Keynote, a presentation program that hasn't been improved in years.
  • IOS 10, which replaces useful with pretty.
  • iTunes, which is now years behind useful tools like Roon.
  • No significant steps forward in word processing, spreadsheets, video editing, file sharing, internet tools, conferencing, etc. Apple contributed mightily to a software revolution a decade ago, but they've stopped. Think about how many leaps forward Slack, Dropbox, Zapier and others have made in popular software over the last few decades. But it requires a significant commitment to keep it moving forward. It means upending the status quo and creating something new. 

Some simple principles:

  • Software can change faster than hardware, which means that in changing markets, bet on software.
  • It's tempting to treat the user interface as a piece of fashion, some bling, a sort of jewelry. It's not. It's the way your user controls the tool you build. Change it when it stops working, not when you're bored with it. Every time you change the interface, you better have a really good reason.
  • Hardware always gets cheaper. If you can't win that race, don't run it.
  • Getting users is far more expensive than keeping users, which means that investing in keeping users is the smartest way to maintain your position and then grow.
  • Software can create connection, and connection is the engine of our future economy. 

This is more than a rant about Apple. Any company that makes or uses software has a wide-open opportunity to dramatically change the way we engage. Hardware, on the other hand, often closes more doors than it opens.

If you can, make software. And bring enough value (through efficiency, power and connection) to the marketplace of your choosing that it will have trouble being productive or happy without you.

Beating yourself up

This odd behavior mostly shows up when others are criticizing us, disappointed or angry about something we did. Odd because it's so useless.

In those moments, there are already plenty of other people beating you up. Save yourself the trouble.

The rest of the time, when things are going well, it's foolish to stop and engage in self-criticism. It makes more sense to encourage yourself, to bootstrap your way to even more of a ruckus.

So, the moments left to beat yourself up = zero.

Onward.

Pet peeves

Peeves make lousy pets.

They're difficult to care for, they eat a lot, and they don't clean up after themselves.

Making a new decision based on new information

This is more difficult than it sounds.

To some people, it means admitting you were wrong.

(But of course, you weren't wrong. You made a decision based on one set of facts, but now you're aware of something new.)

To some people, sunk costs are a real emotional hot button, and walking away from investments of time, of money, and mostly, of commitment, is difficult.

(But of course, ignoring sunk costs is a key to smart decision making).

And, to some people, the peer pressure of sticking with the group that you joined when you first made a decision is enough to overwhelm your desire to make a better decision. "What will I tell my friends?"

A useful riff you can try:

Sure, I decided that then, when I knew what I knew then. And if the facts were still the same, my decision would be too. But the facts have changed. We've all heard them. New facts mean it's time for me to make a new decision, without regard for what I was busy doing yesterday, without concern for the people who might disagree with me. My guess is that once they realize these new facts, they're likely to make the same new decision I just did.

This decision is more important than my pride.

PS Today might be a good day to consider the altMBA. Our next session of this intense workshop is in January, and we're accepting applications right now. Every previous session has been completely full, and this one will be no exception... 

Differences

If you're sharing a cab to the airport with a stranger, what happens if he's two inches taller than you? Probably nothing. There's nothing to distract, or to cause discomfort. You make small talk.

What if he's a little shorter than you? Or left handed?

Perhaps he's not from your town, but from Depew, about twenty miles away. Probably nothing to consider...

What if he has shoulder-length red hair?

At some point, most people reach a moment of discomfort. What if he's 7 feet tall? Will you mention it? Or if he's under four feet? What if he's from a different country? Or a different race or speaking with a significant accent (or, more accurately, an accent that's different from yours)? 

For as long as we've been keeping records, human beings have been on alert for the differences that divide us. Then we fixate on those differences, amplifying them, ascribing all sorts of irrelevant behaviors to them. Until, the next thing you know, we start referring to, "those people."

It seems as though it's a lot more productive to look for something in common. Attitudes and expectations. Beliefs in the common good and forward motion. A desire to make something that matters...

Because there's always more in common than different.

[and just out, here's a bonus interview with Marie.]

You're invited to an all-day Q&A in New York in December

We've been planning this one for months...

On Saturday, December 10, I'll be running an all-day session in New York. You can find all the details and tickets by visiting this site.

I want to connect you to other people making a ruckus.

I want to create an environment where you can learn more and dream bigger.

And I'd like to do it in a way that lasts.

Forgive me for going so long without holding one of these remarkable sessions. On December 10, we're going to try to make up for lost time.

It's designed for leaders, connectors and makers. While we will talk a bit about marketing, it's mostly about making a difference, seeing opportunities and changing things around you for the better. In the past, we've had CEOs of fast-growing companies, younger contributors just starting out in their careers, and solo freelancers as well. People come from all over the world, from non-profits and from the Fortune 100 as well.

Alert readers of this blog qualify for a $45 discount using the code LeapFirst.

There are fewer than six hundred seats, and many of them are reserved for groups of two or five, so if you're interested, I hope you'll check it out soon.

Hope to see you there.

Ketchup and the third-party problem

Sir Kensington's Ketchup is better ketchup. Most adults who try it agree that it's more delicious, a better choice. Alas, Heinz has a host of significant advantages, including dominant shelf space, a Proustian relationship with our childhood and unlimited money to spend on advertising.

The thing is, you can buy Sir Kensington's any time you want to. And when you buy it, that's what you get.

You're not buying it to teach Heinz a lesson. You're buying it because that's the ketchup you want.

The marketing of Sir Kensington is simple: If you want better ketchup, buy this, you'll get it.

Elections in the US don't work this way.

I'm calling it a third-party problem because the outcome of third-party efforts don't align with the marketing (and work) that goes into them.

Ross Perot, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Clinton, cost Bush that election. The people who voted for Perot got Clinton, and it's pretty clear that the Republicans learned nothing from this, as the next winning candidate they nominated was... George Bush.

Ralph Nader, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Gore, cost Gore that election. The people who voted for Nader got Bush, and it's pretty clear that the Democrats learned nothing from this, as the next person they nominated was... John Kerry.

[Irrelevant aside: John Kerry was married to the heir of the Heinz Ketchup fortune.]

[I'm calling it a 'problem' because I have such huge respect for people who care enough and are passionate enough to support change. The problem is that since Gus Hall, and then John Anderson and then the more recent candidates, just about all the changes that third parties have tried to bring to national politics have foundered. It just isn't a useful way to market change in this country.]

If enough people spent enough time, day after day, dollar after dollar, we could fundamentally alter the historic two-party system we have in the US. But it's been shown, again and again, that the easy act of letting oneself off the hook by simply voting for a third-party candidate accomplishes nothing.

The marketing of the third-party candidate is: Teach those folks a lesson, plus, you're not on the hook for what happens. But...

No one in government is learning a lesson.

And you don't even get who you voted for.

The irony is not lost on me. A small group of voters who care a great deal are spending psychic energy on a vote that undermines the very change they seek to make. 

It's a self-defeating way of letting yourself off the hook, but of course, you're actually putting yourself on the hook, just as you do if you don't vote at all.

No candidate has earned a majority of all potential (regardless of registration) voters, not once in my lifetime. Which means that the people who don't vote, or who vote for a third-party candidate, have an enormous amount of power. Which they waste.

Yes, it's on you. Your responsibility to vote for one of two people, and to be unhappy with that conundrum if you choose. And then work to change the system, and keep working at it... 

But it's not like ketchup. With ketchup, you get what you choose. With voting, we merely get the chance to do the best we can on one particular day, and then spend years working for what we might want.

It turns out that democracy involves a lot more than voting.

Corrosion

The things that break all at once aren’t really a problem. You note that they’ve broken, and then you fix them.

The challenge is corrosion. Things that slowly fade, that eventually become a hassle--it takes effort and judgment to decide when it’s time to refurbish them.

And yes, the same thing is true for relationships, customer service and all the 'soft' stuff that matters so much.

Your discomfort zone

Most of us need an external stimulus to do our best work.

It helps to have an alarm clock if you want to get out of bed before dawn.

A presentation. A deadline. A live performance. The threat of foreclosure, an upcoming review or some sort of crisis.

We can use these pressures to dig deeper, find new resources and overcome our self doubt.

The challenge is that sometimes, we pick the wrong stimulus. We choose a prompt to serve us, but we end up serving it, in a situation that hurts us (and others) instead of fueling the work.

It's essential to realize that our discomfort zone is a choice, there isn't a pre-ordained roster. If you need a deadline, for example, but have discovered that those deadlines are costing you money (because shortcuts are expensive), then it's worth doing the hard work to find a new form of discomfort.

The problem with a drop-dead deadline is that if you miss it, you're dead.

If you need to make huge promises and add all sorts of hype, but that hype is hurting your reputation, again, it's worth investing in a new way to poke yourself to dig deeper.

When we hear about divas, or dysfunctional managers, more often than not we see a situation where someone who should know better has chosen the wrong form of discomfort.

The argument can be made that the biggest difference between a professional, an amateur and someone who's not even participating is their choice of discomfort.

Give it a name, call it out. Your discomfort zone is a choice, and if it's not serving you, fix it.

Like all tools, the right one serves the professional.

Cutting through the clutter

You're trying to get through all the noise and the distraction and the clutter with your message.

Here's the thing: You are the noise and the distraction and the clutter.

Just because it's important to you doesn't mean it's important to us.

It is, of course, in the eye of the beholder.

Instead of creating an ad campaign that somehow cuts and invades, consider creating a product, a service and a story that we'd miss if we couldn't find it.

What would happen...

if we chose to:

Get better at setting and honoring deadlines

Help one more person, each day

Sit in the front row

Ask a hard question every time we go to a meeting

Give more and take less

Learn to master a new tool 

Ask why

All of these are choices, choices that require no one to choose us or give us permission.

Every time I find myself wishing for an external event, I realize that I'm way better off focusing on something I can control instead.

Cable news

What if the fear and malaise and anger isn't merely being reported by cable news...

What if it's being caused by cable news?

What if ubiquitous video accompanied by frightening and freaked out talking heads is actually, finally, changing our culture?

Which came first, the news or the news cycle?

We seem to accept the hegemony of bottom-feeding media as some natural outgrowth of the world we live in. In fact, it's more likely an artifact of the post-spectrum cable news complex in which bleeding and leading became business goals.

There's always front page news because there's always a front page.

The world is safer (per capita) than ever before in recorded history. And people are more frightened. The rise of the media matches the rise of our fear.

Cable news isn't shy about stating their goals. The real question is: what's our goal? Every time we hook ourselves up to a device that shocks us into a fear-based posture on a regular basis, we're making a choice about the world and how we experience it.

They want urgency more than importance. What do we want?

[I wrote this months ago, and every time I'm about to post it, I hesitate because recent events make it look like I'm writing it for that reason. Finally, I realized that it's never a quiet moment in the media cycle any more, is it?]

Now is never (but here comes tomorrow)

Everything you're working on is an investment in tomorrow.

While we can choose to enjoy the process, the end result is always at the end of an arc, always the result of many steps, of earning trust, of building a connection.

If you view any particular day without context, it is almost certain to be a failure. Because now never happens. The results always happen later.

Since later is just around the corner, today, right now, is the perfect time to begin.

Now is the moment we get to plant the seeds for later.