Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin

“I think we are an outfit headed for extinction”

(So said Hemingway on seeing fake books in his fancy hotel room.)

(Of course we are: we have been practising extinction and genocide on other minorities and indigenous species…)

And Reviewing a contract

Of course we are. We always are. We’re always headed down for the count. It’s unsustainable.

We corrupt our best stuff, don’t take good enough care of each other, ignore the truth, make short-term decisions and generally screw it up.

But even though we’re headed for extinction, or perhaps precisely because we are, that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best.

It doesn’t mean we can’t set an example, raise the bar and try mightily to do the work that we’re capable of.

It might not work. But at least we tried.

(We never had the guts to try long enough to sustain our survival period)

You can’t ask customers what they want

… not if your goal is to find a breakthrough.

Because your customers have trouble imagining a breakthrough.

You ought to know what their problems are, what they believe, what stories they tell themselves.

But it rarely pays to ask your customers to do your design work for you.

So, if you can’t ask, you can assert. You can look for clues, you can treat different people differently, and you can make a leap.

You can say, “assuming you’re the kind of person I made this for, here’s what I made.”

The risk here is that many times, you’ll be wrong.

But if you’re not okay with that, you’re never going to create a breakthrough.

Chump (Don’t get played)

How did Bernie Madoff do it?  (The financial uncontrolled system let him do it?)

How did he steal twenty billion dollars from people who should have known better? It doesn’t matter if you went to university or not–you can still be played as a chump.

To pull off a significant deception, you generally need two things: A deceiver ( and his team of collaborators)and a crowd of people open to being deceived.

Once those are present, the deceiver brings out the big lie.

For lots of reasons, people are open to looking for shortcuts and a new reality, even if no shortcuts are available. They may have been mistreated, might be struggling, or they may merely be greedy, looking to outdo the other guy.

In the case of Madoff, he was even able to take in charities, with boards that meant well but were in a hurry to scale.

Frustration in the face of the way things are makes us open to the big lie.

Frustration and fear and anger can suspend our ability to ask difficult questions, to listen to thoughtful critics, to do our homework.

And the big lie is always present when we get played. To be a chump (not merely the victim) is to be open to the big lie. Not merely open to it, eager to buy into it.

Numbers make it easy to tell a big lie. People hate numbers, and they seem so real.

Anti-intellectualism, disregard for the scientific method and conspiracy theories also set the stage for a big lie.

And demonizing the other, the one who is already held in low esteem or feared by the chump, this is usually part of the big lie as well.

In retrospect, the warning signs around Madoff were obvious.

Just about any skeptical, thoughtful investor could have seen through the big lie if he wasn’t so busy being a chump.

When a population gets played, the responsibility lies with the liar, with the con man, with the person so craven that they’ll trade trust and productivity and a bit of civilization for some power and authority.

But the chump also has to take responsibility. Responsibility for looking for the shortcut, giving into the fear and for eagerly believing the big lie, ignoring the clues that are all around.

Chumps aren’t restricted by nationality, by education, by income. Chump is an attitude and a choice.

We’re not chumps. Not if we don’t choose to be. (After the lie and the trick are thoroughly explained and disseminated to the wide public?)

Identity vs. logic

Before we start laying out the logical argument for a course of action, it’s worth considering whether a logical argument is what’s needed.

It may be that the person you’re engaging with cares more about symbols, about tribal identity, about the status quo.

They may be driven by fear or anger or jealousy. It might be that they just don’t care that much.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a discussion where the most coherent, actionable, rational argument wins.

Sometimes, but not often.

People like us do things like this.

It’s about scale. Pick a long enough one (or a short enough one) and you can see the edges.

In the short run, there’s never enough time.

In the long run, constrained resources become available.

In the short run, you can fool anyone.

In the long run, trust wins.

In the short run, we’ve got a vacancy, hire the next person you find.

In the long run, we spend most of our time with the people we’ve chosen in the short run.

In the short run, decisions feel more urgent and less important at the same time.

In the long run, most decisions are obvious and easy to make.

In the short run, it’s better to panic and obsess on emergencies and urgencies.

In the long run, spending time with people you love, doing work that matters, is all that counts.

In the short run, trade it all for attention.

In the long run, it’s good to own it (the means of production, the copyrights, the process).

In the short run, burn it down, someone else will clean up the problem.

In the long run, the environment in which we live is what we need to live.

In the short run, better to cut class.

In the long run, education pays off.

In the short run, tearing people down is a great way to get ahead.

In the long run, building things of value makes sense.

Add up the short runs, though, and you’re left with the long run. It’s going to be the long run a lot longer than the short run will last.

Act accordingly.

Actually, more data might not be what you’re hoping for

They got us hooked on data. Advertisers want more data. Direct marketers want more data.

Who saw it? Who clicked? What percentage? What’s trending? What’s yielding?

But there’s one group that doesn’t need more data…

Anyone who’s making a long-term commitment. Anyone who seeks to make art, to make a difference, to challenge the status quo.

Because when you’re chasing that sort of change, data is the cudgel your enemies will use to push you to conform.

Data paves the road to the bottom.

It is the lazy way to figure out what to do next. It’s obsessed with the short-term.

Data gets us the Kardashians.

HT: Marco

 

All the events you weren’t there to control…

Yesterday, thousands of people got married. Just about every one of these weddings went beautifully.

Amazingly, you weren’t there, on-site, making sure everything was perfect.

Last week, a letter to investors went out from the CFO of a hot public company. It was well received. Yes, it’s true, you didn’t review it first, but it still worked.

And just the other day, someone was talking about the product you created, but she didn’t ask you about it first. That’s okay, because the conversation went fine.

When we’re in the room, it’s really difficult to sit back and let other people do their work, because we know we can make it better, we know the stakes are incredibly high, we know that we care more than anyone else.

More often than not, we give in to temptation and wrest away control.

And often, we make things better. In the short run.

Caring matters.

Your contribution makes things better.

But when the need for control starts to get in the way of your people doing their best work, caring about their craft and scaling their efforts,

and when the need for control starts to make you crazy, it might be worth thinking about that wedding in Baton Rouge that went just fine without you.

Depth of field

Focus is a choice.

The runner who is concentrating on how much his left toe hurts will be left in the dust by the runner who is focusing on winning.

Even if the winner’s toe hurts just as much.

Hurt, of course, is a matter of perception. Most of what we think about is.

We have a choice about where to aim the lens of our attention. We can relive past injustices, settle old grudges and nurse festering sores.

We can imagine failure, build up its potential for destruction, calculate its odds.

Or, we can imagine the generous outcomes we’re working on, feel gratitude for those that got us here and revel in the possibilities of what’s next.

The focus that comes automatically, our instinctual or cultural choice, that focus isn’t the only one that’s available.

Of course it’s difficult to change it, which is why so few people manage to do so. But there’s no work that pays off better in the long run.

Your story is your story. But you don’t have to keep reminding yourself of your story, not if it doesn’t help you change it or the work you’re doing.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

February 2017
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