Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin

What posterity has done for us

Sir Boyle Roche famously said, “Why we should put ourselves out of our way to do anything for posterity, for what has posterity ever done for us?”

Quite a lot, actually.

We were born into a culture that took generations to create.

The people who came before us built a civil society, invented a language, created a surplus, enabling us to each grow up without contributing much at all for the first 15 years of our life.

Posterity, as created by the folks that came before, solved countless problems so we could work on the problems that lie ahead.

Posterity gave us jazz, the scientific method and medicine. It gave us a stable platform to connect, to invent and to produce.

We are someone else’s posterity. Each of us is here, and is able to do what we do, because others did something for posterity.

In many ways, our contributions to each other and our culture are a tiny repayment of our huge debt to people we’ll never get to meet. People who sacrificed and stood up for posterity. Otherwise known as us.

I’ve never met anyone who honestly felt that they would have been better off living at the beginning of any century other than this one.

And our job is to build the foundations necessary for our great grandchildren to feel the same way about the world they’re born in.

It’s only fair, isn’t it?

 

Working for free (but working for yourself)

Freelancers, writers, designers, photographers–there’s always an opportunity to work for free.

There are countless websites and causes and clients that will happily take your work in exchange for exposure.

And in some settings, this makes perfect sense. You might be making a contribution to a cause you care about, or, more likely, honing your craft at the same time that you get credibility and attention for your work.

But just because you’re working for free doesn’t mean you should give away all your upsides.

Consider the major publishing platforms that are happy to host your work, but you need to sign away your copyright.

Or get no credit.

Or give the publisher the right to change your work in any way they see fit, or to use your image (in perpetuity) and your reputation for commercial gain without your oversight or participation…

Now, more than ever, you have the power to say “no” to that.

Because they can’t publish you better than you can publish yourself.

It doesn’t matter if these are their standard clauses.

They might be standard for them, but they don’t have to be standard for you and for your career.

Here’s the thing: you’re going to be doing this for a long time.

The clients you get in the future will be the direct result of the clients you take today. The legacy of your work down the road will be related to the quality of the work you do today.

It’s your destiny and you should own it.

Freelancers of all kinds need to be in a hurry. Not a hurry to give in to one-sided deals and lousy clients.

Instead, we need to be in a hurry to share our bravest work, in a hurry to lean into the opportunity, in a hurry to make work that people would miss if it were gone.

 

What does the poll say?

Not initially targeting the latest US Presidency surprise

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.

Skills vs. talents

If you can learn it, it’s a skill.

The thing is, almost everything that matters is a skill.

If even one person is able to learn it, if even one person is able to use effort and training to get good at something, it’s a skill.

It’s entirely possible that some skills are easier for talented people to learn.

It’s entirely possible you don’t want to expend the energy and dedicate the effort to learn that next skill.

But realizing that it’s a skill is incredibly empowering and opens the door of possibility.

What are you going to learn next?

Note: Talent? A skill learned quicker than average dedicated person?

The ripples

Every decision we make changes things. The people we befriend, the examples we set, the problems we solve…

Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we get to glimpse those ripples as we stand at the crossroads.

Instead of merely addressing the urgency of now, we can take a moment to focus on how a quiet insight, overlooked volunteer work or a particularly welcome helping hand moves so many people forward. For generations.

How did you get to where you are?

Who is going to go even further because of you?

Posted by Seth Godin on September 28, 2016

Pass on the baton

 

 

Abstaining

Not voting leads to an outcome as much as voting does.

You’re still responsible, even if you didn’t actively participate.

In any situation, not stating your opinion allows things to move forward. Silence is not nothing, it is still an action. (The action of an apathetic entity?)

No sense hiding, from yourself or anyone else.

(Vote: at least you have this legitimacy of accounting for the victor’s failures and opacity)

Work on your hierarchy of value: After your life is well oiled? 

A hierarchy of value when everything functions

Bottom up structure

Hierarchy of value

When two things offer the same appropriate level of function, we’ll choose the cheap one. (Even made in China?)

But if one offers more connection than the other, it is worth more.

Where is the tribe, do people like me do things like this, who’s there, will they miss me, do I trust them, have I been here before…

If two items offer (same level) of connection, but one offers the approval and sexiness that style brings, some of us will pay extra for that. After all, style promises ever more connection. (Looks and feels more natural?)

And at the top of the hierarchy is our quest for scarcity, desire and the hotness of now.

In a market like smartphones, it’s pretty clear that it’s really difficult to offer more function than the other guy. And the quality of connection, the very attribute that fuels the smartphone, was surrendered to the app makers a long time ago. Which leaves the sexiness of a drop-dead case and the urgency of the latest model.

What do you and your team offer? Where are you in the hierarchy?

Most freelancers have been so beaten down in the quest to make a go of it, they stop at function and take what they can get. Some businesses (small and large) find the patience and guts to offer connection or even style. And every once in awhile, an idea and an organization come along that promise to share the elusive hot that sits atop the pyramid.

So, buy a Harley, not because it can move you from here to there cheaper, but because it comes with a tribe. And buy that Nars lipstick because of the way it makes you feel. And get on line for that new gadget, because, hey, there’s a line.

And then, someone finds the audacity to redefine ‘function’ and the whole thing begins again.

Posted by Seth Godin on September 07, 2016

You’re not as bad (or as good) as you think you are

All mirrors are broken

It’s impossible to see yourself as others do.

Not merely because the medium is imperfect, but, when it comes to ourselves, we process what we see differently than everyone else in the world does.

We make this mistake with physical mirrors as well as the now ubiquitous mirror of what people are saying about us behind our back on social media. (The other observers hold a great deal of the picture)

We misunderstand how we look on that video or how we come across in that note.

When we see a group photo, we instantly look at ourselves first.

When we pass a mirror on the wall, we check to see if there’s parsley stuck on our teeth, yet fail to notice how horrible that camel’s hair jacket we love actually looks on us.

When someone posts a review of something we’ve built, or responds/reacts to something we’ve written online, we dissect it, looking for the germ of truth that will finally help us see ourselves as others do.

No one understands your self-narrative, no one cares that much about you, no one truly gets what it’s like to be you. That germ of truth you’re seeking isn’t there, no matter how hard you look in the mirror.

You’re not as bad (or as good) as you think you are

Posted by Seth Godin on June 02, 2016

Read more blogs:

RSS still works. It’s still free. It’s still unfiltered, uncensored and spam-free.

Other than writing a daily blog (a practice that’s free, and priceless), reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. (The hardest part in communicating online is reading lengthy articles?)

The last great online bargain. (I edit links that I receive: A great way to read and practice my style of writing and inserting my comments)

Good blogs aren’t focused on the vapid race for clicks that other forms of social media encourage.

Instead, they patiently inform and challenge, using your time with respect.

Here’s the thing:

Google doesn’t want you to read blogs. They shut down their RSS reader and they’re dumping many blog subscriptions into the gmail promo folder, where they languish unread.

And Facebook doesn’t want you to read blogs either. They have cut back the organic sharing some blogs benefitted from so that those bloggers will pay to ‘boost’ their traffic to what it used to be.

BUT!

RSS still works. It’s still free. It’s still unfiltered, uncensored and spam-free.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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