Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin

Working with a designer (four paths)

Most of us want to look good online, need a website, maybe even a logo.

More and more individuals and organizations are discovering that they need to hire a professional.

It comes down to doing your homework.

Be clear with yourself before you spend a nickel or a minute with a designer. This difficult internal conversation will save you endless frustration and heartache later.

Here are four postures to consider in working with a good (or great) designer:

  1. I know what I want. Bring your vision. Bring in your folder of typefaces, images, copy. Be very specific. The more you paste it up and sketch it out, the more likely you’ll get exactly what you were hoping for.
  2. I’m not sure exactly, but I know what it rhymes with. Put together a scrapbook. Find examples from other industries. Do you want your website to look like one from Apple or a direct marketing diet book site? Don’t tell the designer what to do, but be really clear what you want to remind people of. Originality isn’t the primary goal of design. Effectiveness is.
  3. I’m not a designer, but I understand state change. Do you want this work to increase trust? Desire? Confidence? Urgency? Who’s it for? What’s it for? If you can be really clear about what the work is for, then hire someone you trust and give them the freedom to find a way to cause that change to happen.
  4. I’ll know it when I see it. Please don’t do this unless you have a lot of money and a lot of time (and a very patient designer). This demand for telepathy is for amateurs.

Your social thermometer

Would you rather be the smartest person in the room or the least informed?

If you’re the smartest, you can generously teach others. On the other hand, if you’re the least informed and hungry to level up, you couldn’t ask for a better place to be.

When you walk into a room, do you look around to see if you’re the best dressed, the tallest, the most powerful, the richest, the prettiest, the best connected? Or are you hoping that people with some of those attributes are there, ready to share what they know with you?

Some people walk three steps behind the group, no matter how fast the group is walking. Others will tire themselves out, throwing elbows if necessary, to be first in line. Some people interrupt a lot, others are begging to be interrupted.

This changes over time, day by day even, depending on what we’re looking for. And it happens in just about all the social settings in our lives. The challenge is finding a place that creates the change you seek. Too often, we go to conferences or parties or professional events where everyone is looking for someone other than us. Someone they can dominate or brush up against, someone they know or want to pitch…

It’s easy to decide to level up. It takes guts to put yourself into a mix where it’s actually going to happen.

Today’s the last day for early applications for the April session of the altMBA. More than 1,800 people have enrolled in sessions of our small-group workshop so far, and it might be worth considering. After Monday, applicants pay a higher tuition.

Surrounding yourself with people in a hurry to get where you’re going is a great way to get there.

Please don’t kill the blogs

An open note to Google

To the gmail team,

You’ve built a tool for a billion people. Most of my blog readers use it every day, and so do I.

Thanks for creating an effective way for people to connect to the people and ideas they care about.

That comes with responsibility. The same responsibility that the postal service has… to deliver the mail.

I’m aware that you don’t charge the people who use gmail for the privilege. In fact, we’re the product, not the customer.

Your goal is to keep people within the Google ecosystem and to get the writers and marketers who use email as a permission asset to instead shift to paying money (to Google) to inform and reach their audience.

So you invented the ‘promotions’ folder.

It seems like a great idea. That spam-like promo mail, all that stuff I don’t want to read now (and probably ever) will end up there. Discounts on shoes.

The latest urgent note from someone I don’t even remember buying from. The last time I checked, you’ve moved more than 100,000 messages to my promotions folder. Without asking.

Alas, you’ve now become a choke point.

You take the posts from this blog and dump them into my promo folder–and the promo folder of more than a hundred thousand people who never asked you to hide it.

Emails from my favorite charities end up in my promo folder.

The Domino Project blog goes there as well. Emails from Medium, from courses I’ve signed up for, from services I confirmed just a day earlier. Items sent with full permission, emails that by most definitions aren’t “promotions.”

Here’s a simple way to visualize it: Imagine that your mailman takes all the magazines you subscribe to, mixes them in with the junk mail you never asked for, and dumps all of it in a second mailbox, one that you don’t see on your way into the house every day. And when you subscribe to new magazines, they instantly get mixed in as well.

It’s simple: blogs aren’t promotions. Blogs subscribed to shouldn’t be messed with. The flow of information by email is an extraordinary opportunity, and when a choke point messes with that to make a profit, things break.

The irony of having a middleman steal permission is not lost on me. That’s what you’re doing.

You’re not serving your customers because you’re stealing the permission that they’ve given to providers they care about it. And when publishers switch to SMS or Facebook Messenger, that hardly helps your cause.

The solution is simple: Create a white-list.

Include the top 10,000 blogs (you probably still have the list from when you shut down Google Reader). Make the algorithm smarter, and make it easier for your users to let you know about the emails that are important enough to be in their inbox. When an email sender shows up regularly, it’s probably a smart idea to ask before unilaterally shifting it to the promo folder.

Of course, users are free to choose a different email client. Alas, senders aren’t. And as a publisher, it hurts me that I can’t keep the promise I’ve made to my readers.

And, while you’re upgrading the system, what’s up with all the weird sex spam we’ve been getting the last four months? It doesn’t seem that difficult to distinguish it from actual human emails…

Google and Facebook are now the dominant middlemen for more than 85% of all online advertising.

Along the way, Google has also dominated much of the email communication on the planet.  You get all the money but I think you need to up your game in return.

Thanks in advance for fixing this.

My readers want to get the stuff they asked to get. You probably do too.


Freedom, fairness and equality

Freedom doesn’t mean no responsibility. In fact, it requires extra responsibility. Freedom is the ability to make a choice, and responsibility is required once you make that choice.

Fairness isn’t a handout. Fairness is the willingness to offer dignity to others. The dignity of being seen and heard, and having a chance to make a contribution.

And equality doesn’t mean equal. Equality doesn’t guarantee me a starting position on the Knicks. Equality means equality of access, the opportunity to do my best without being disqualified for irrelevant reasons.


The four elements of entrepreneurship

Are successful entrepreneurs made or born?

Entrepreneurial behavior isn’t about scale, it’s about a desire for a certain kind of journey

We’d need to start with an understanding of what an entrepreneur is. They’re all over the map, which makes the question particularly difficult to navigate.

There’s the 14-year-old girl who hitches a ride to Costco, buys 100 bottles of water for thirty cents each, then sells them at the beach for a dollar a pop. Scale that that every day for a summer and you can pay for college.

Or the 7-time venture-backed software geek who finds a niche, gets some funding, builds it out with a trusted team, sells it for $100 million in stock and then starts again.

Perhaps we’re talking about a non-profit entrepreneur, a woman who builds a useful asset, finds a scalable source of funding and changes the world as she does.

The mistake that’s easy to make is based in language. We say, “she’s an entrepreneur,” when we should be saying, “she’s acting like an entrepreneur.

Since entrepreneurship is a verb, an action, a posture… then of course, it’s a choice. You might not want to act like one, but if you can model behavior, you can act like one.

And what do people do when they’re acting like entrepreneurs?

1. They make decisions.

2. They invest in activities and assets that aren’t a sure thing.

3. They persuade others to support a mission with a non-guaranteed outcome.

4. This one is the most amorphous, the most difficult to pin down and thus the juiciest: They embrace (instead of run from) the work of doing things that might not work.

As far as I can tell, that’s it. Everything else you can hire.

Buying into an existing business by buying a franchise, to pick one example–there’s very little of any of the four elements of entrepreneurial behavior.

Yes, you’re swinging for a bigger win, you’re investing risk capital, you’re going outside the traditional mainstream. But what you’re doing is buying a proven business, not acting like an entrepreneur. The four elements aren’t really there. It’s a process instead. Nothing wrong with that.

All four of these elements are unnatural to most folks. Particularly if you were good at school, you’re not good at this. No right answers, no multiple choice, no findable bounds.

It’s easy to get hung up on the “risk taking” part of it, but if you’re acting like an entrepreneur, you don’t feel like you’re taking a huge risk.

Risks are what happens at a casino, where you have little control over the outcome.

People acting like entrepreneurs, however, feel as though the four most important elements of their work (see above) are well within their control.

If you’re hoping someone can hand you a Dummies guide, giving you the quick steps, the guaranteed method, the way to turn this process into a job–well, you’ve just announced that you don’t feel like acting like an entrepreneur.

But before you walk away from it, give it a try.

Entrepreneurial behavior isn’t about scale, it’s about a desire for a certain kind of journey.


Facing the inner critic

Part of his power comes from the shadows.

We hear his voice, we know it by heart. He announces his presence with a rumble and he runs away with a wisp of smoke.

But again and again, we resist looking him in the eye, fearful of how powerful he is.

We’re afraid that like the gorgon, he will turn us to stone. (I’m using the male pronoun, but the critic is a she just as often).

He’s living right next to our soft spot, the (very) sore place where we store our shame, our insufficiency, our fraudulent nature. And he knows all about it, and pokes us there again and again.

As Steve Chapman points out in his generous TEDx talk, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can use the critic as a compass, as a way to know if we’re headed in the right direction.

Pema Chödrön tells the story of inviting the critic to sit for tea. To welcome him instead of running.

It’s not comfortable, but is there any other way?

The sore spot is unprotectable. The critic only disappears when we cease to matter. They go together.

We can dance with him, talk with him, welcome him along for a long, boring car ride. Suddenly, he’s not so dangerous. Sort of banal, actually.

There is no battle to win, because there is no battle.

The critic isn’t nearly as powerful as you are, not if you are willing to look him in the eye.


The care and feeding (and shunning) of vampires

Seth Godin posted this Dec. 16, 2013

You have metaphorical vampires in your life.

Vampires, of course, feed on something that we desperately need but also can’t imagine being a source of food.

These are people that feed on negativity, on shooting down ideas and most of all, on extinguishing your desire to make things better.

Why would someone do that? Why would they rush to respond to a heartfelt and generous blog post with a snide comment about a typo in the third line?

Why would they go out of their way to fold their arms, make a grimace and destroy any hope you had for changing the status quo?

Vampires cannot be cured.

They cannot be taught, they cannot learn the error of their ways. Most of all, vampires will never understand how much damage they’re doing to you and your work. Pity the vampires, they are doomed to this life.

Your garlic is simple: shun them.

Delete their email, turn off comments, don’t read your one-star reviews. Don’t attend meetings where they show up. Don’t buy into the false expectation that in an organizational democracy, every voice matters.

Every voice doesn’t matter–only the voices that move your idea forward, that make it better, that make you better, that make it more likely you will ship work that benefits your tribe.

It’s so tempting to evangelize to the vampires, to prove them wrong, to help them see how destructive they are. This is food for them, merely encouragement.

Shun the ones who feed on your failures.





March 2018
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