Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘popovers

Paradox: Attention, Span, Decision, Life, Clean bathroom, Seth…

1. The attention paradox: Online, mass marketers

You can’t buy attention Online as easily as you can with traditional advertising.  Most commercial media has this imperative of being interesting built in.

The assignment is to make it viral, make it something people will watch or click on or even better, share.

This is hard for mass marketers, marketers who are used to making average stuff for average people and promoting heavily in media where they can buy guaranteed attention.

And so, we see organizations buying likes and pageviews, pushing for popovers and popunders and all sorts of new ways to interrupt online.

Smart advertisers are realizing that they have to make content worth watching to decide. A few are making media so entertaining that we not only want to watch it, but spread it.

The challenge is that all those hoops you need to jump through to attract attention might be precisely the opposite of what you need to do to cause action, to get someone to change her mind or to connect.

A squadron of singing ferrets might make your video spread, but that approach isn’t going to cause the action you seek.

And, alas, you have to do both.

2. Paradox on Decisions: Make more not less

You don’t run a punch press or haul iron ore. Your job is to make decisions.

The thing is, the farmer who grows corn has no illusions about what his job is. He doesn’t avoid planting corn or dissemble or procrastinate about harvesting corn.

And the farmer certainly doesn’t try to get his neighbor to grow his corn for him.

Make more decisions. That’s the only way to get better at it.

3. Paradox of This might not work” (working on something new)

Since June, I’ve been working flat out on creating the four books that were part of the Kickstarter and the big launch that climaxed with an event here in New York.

Along the way, I experienced what many people feel as they work on something new–I was  spending part of my time (against my better judgment) exhausting myself trying to predict and then control what people would think about my work.

Will they get it? Will this chapter hit home? Am I too far out on a limb?

This might not work.

At some level, “this might not work” is at the heart of all important projects, of everything new and worth doing.

And it can paralyze us into inaction, into watering down our art and into failing to ship.

I do my best work when I practice what I write about, and this time, I decided it was important to go as far out on a limb as I could.

The Icarus Deception argues that we’re playing it too safe, hence my need to go outside my comfort zone.

Changing the format, changing the way I interacted with some of my readers (using Kickstarter) and changing the timeframe of my work all combined to make this project the most complex one I’ve ever done.

Lots of moving parts, of course, but more scary, lots of places to fail. All very self-referential in a series of books about failure and guts and flying closer to the sun, of course. That’s the entire point, right?

Of course, trying to control what other people think is a trap. At the same time that we can be thrilled by the possibility of flying without a net and of blazing a new trail, we have to avoid the temptation to become the audience, to will them into following us.

Not only is it exhausting, it’s counterproductive. Sales (of concepts, of services, of goods) don’t get made because you’ve spent a sleepless night working on your telekinesis. They happen because you’ve made something worth buying, because you’ve outlined something worth believing in.

“This might not work” is either a curse, something that you labor under, or it’s a blessing, a chance to fly and do work you never thought possible.

As I slumped into my car, I turned on the radio. Stuck in the CD player, forgotten in the rush to get to the event, was the audio copy of Icarus.

(Download Audio Excerpt)

I don’t usually listen to my books after I’ve made them, but the recording sessions had been so arduous that I didn’t even remember making the recording. So there it was in my car, left behind as a quick refresher before I went onstage to give my first public talk about the book.

It turns out that I don’t just write for you. I also write to remind myself of what I’m hoping to become as well. Hearing myself, months later, reading something I didn’t remember writing or reading, I shed a few tears. Yes, this is work worth doing. Yes, being out on a limb is exactly where I want to be.

That’s where we’re needed… out on a limb.

Clean bathrooms

The facilities at DisneyWorld are clean. It’s not a profit center, of course. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.

Paradox: It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms.

The facilities at Disney World are clean. It’s not a profit center, of course. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.

Paradox: When you are trusted because you care, it’s quite likely the revenue will take care of itself.

Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. If you take a lot of time to ask, “how will this pay off,” you’re probably asking the wrong question. When you are trusted because you care, it’s quite likely the revenue will take care of itself.

Paradox: You know something is important when you’re willing to let someone else take the credit if that’s what it takes to get it done.

When a conference works (and doesn’t)

When we get together with others, even at a weekly meeting, it either works, or it doesn’t. For me, it works:

…If everything is on the line, if in any given moment, someone is going to say or do something that might just change everything. Something that happens in the moment and can’t possibly be the same if you hear about it later. It might even be you who speaks up, stands up and makes a difference.

(At most events, you can predict precisely what’s going to be said, and by whom). In the digital age, if I can get the notes or the video later, I will.

…If there’s vulnerability and openness and connection. If it’s likely you’ll meet someone (or many someones) that will stick with you for years to come, who will share their dreams and their fears while they listen to and understand yours. (At most events, people are on high alert, clenched and protective. Like a cocktail party where no one is drinking.)

…If there’s support. If the people you meet have high expectations for you and your work and your mission, but even better, if they give you a foundation and support to go even further. (At most events, competitiveness born from insecurity trumps mutual support.)

…If it’s part of a movement. If every day is a building block on the way to something important, and if the attendees are part of a tribe that goes beyond demographics or professional affiliation. (At most events, it’s just the next event).

The first law of screenwriting is that the hero of a great movie is transformed during the arc of the story. That’s the goal of a great conference, as well. But it’s difficult indeed, because there are so many heroes, all thinking they have too much to lose.

Two people you might need in your professional life

An agonist. While an antagonist blocks an action, the agonist causes it to happen. Even more than a muse, a professional agonist might be exactly what you need to provoke your best work.

And of course, a procrastinatrix. Someone who’s only job is to hold you accountable for getting it done, now, not later.

In a world with fewer bosses than ever, when we are our own boss, these two functions are more important than ever. If you can’t find a way to do it for yourself, spend the time and the money to find someone to do it for you.

Neither job is particularly difficult to do, but it’s hard to do to yourself. Two more job titles for the future…


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2020
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