• "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena..."

The problem with relying on gameable systems (Google search results, New York Times best seller list, grocery store aisles) for entertainment, information and products is that you aren’t necessarily finding quality information. It’s good enough information at best.

Gameable systems don’t necessarily favor the best, they favor those who have figured out how to game it. They can be the same, but often they are not.

If you base your workflow, contracts or recipes on results you found on Google, there’s a fair chance it’s amateurish. If you buy your gift based on who’s on the bestseller list, there’s a fair chance it won’t be as great as you hoped. It’s OK, maybe good enough is what you need right now, but if not you just need to realize that it’s a starting point.

The professional is the one who’s willing to put in more effort than the others, to dig deeper, study and test longer. Similarly, the best gifts are the ones that have been thought through and personalized.

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Once in a while you need to tear down what is, break the model, rip the process apart and start over.

Some models, when they’ve been running for too long, miss the mark and become beyond repair. The only thing left is to break it and start over.

The process is long, tedious and painful.

The next step of course is to rebuild. Establish priorities, write a map and follow it relentlessly.

Also a long, tedious and painful process. There are countless traps along the way: meetings, committees, set-backs, short cuts, templates, assumptions… Every step hides a chance to step back into the old way.

Is it any wonder most choose to plug along? Is it any wonder that those who stick with it are miles ahead of the competition?

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Traditionally the role of the marketer is to make us believe that what’s new is better than what we have now. A new phone, a new service, an upgrade, an add on, a new car, a new job…

Traditionally, at the other end of the spectrum, the role of customer service is to conserve what we have: “Let me send the repairman,” “try unplugging it and plugging it back,” “that’s a simple issue to fix”…

Of course the tools do matter and sometimes new is necessary, but today the roles are merging. Becoming one. The role of the marketer is increasingly to serve the customer, make sure we don’t need to promote the new because what we have is still the best. The new features are available to you because you’re our client.

True, the tools matter, but the quest to only sell new is a race to the bottom.

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“I’m pretty certain that I can’t do this. There’s no real script to follow. I have to map it put myself and what if I map it out wrong?

Everyone else knows exactly what they’re doing. They have their shit together. But I don’t. I’m a fraud. How I got this far, I don’t know.”

That’s the type of self doubt we’re taught to master.

“But come to think of it, if I did get this far it’s that I must be doing something right.

Fact is I did help increase sales, make the team more efficient, empower my colleagues. And that wasn’t a fluke. And if I’ve done it once, I’ll do it again.

Except this time will be better. I’ve grown, I’m wiser, I’m better, I’ve learned.

Fuck it. Let’s do this.”

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A hammer has no use if there is nothing to nail. Of course it becomes crucial when you do need to nail a plank to a post.

The thing about tools is that we can settle with the ones we use. The ones our boss showed us, the ones our parents used, the ones are friends seek out.

But once in a while a new tool comes along – a nail gun – that no one we know uses. We can be quick to ignore ans dismiss it or we can opt to test it, research it, seek out experts’ advice.

Don’t buy the tool and look for a job, but seek the best tool for the work that you need to do. Because in the end, the fulcrum makes the lever more powerful.

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There’s a common misperception that drip marketing as Seth Godin puts it, means sitting back crafting the product, building quality, crossing t’s and dotting i’s. “There’s no time to sell or market, that would compromise the quality. Besides, the core group of customers will find it because they’re looking for what we’ve built.”

That’s a way to hide. A way to avoid launching or shipping. To continue with Seth Godin’s words – relentless focus on product at the detriment of sales and marketing is giving in to the resistance.

Sure, work on a great product. That’s a must. But then, put in the time to find your tribe, grow that base, encourage sharing and referrals, ship more product, build iterations…

Quality is vital, but growth is how you ship.

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Sure on the surface it’s scary. So many things can go wrong. I’m unprepared, unqualified, not ready. I know where I want to go, but what if I can’t make it? What of they disapprove? What of they get upset and say no?

Maybe it’s just better to stay put. Something better and safer will come along. Maybe Oprah or the local news station will find me, interview me and I’ll be famous. Then things will be easy.

Right, better stay put. Let’s not risk it.

But what of Oprah doesn’t show up? What if I am stuck? What if this is it? What if I do play it safe and they still get upset and say no? What will I do then?

Maybe there is more choice or opportunity than I think. Maybe it is worth a shot. Things might not work out either way.

Might as well go for it.

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I haven’t written in what feels like a lifetime. Actuality that’s not true, I’ve been writing quite a bit, just not something publishable.

Daily practice, whether its for pleasure, work, public or private will yield more than grand, one-off actions.

Whether you’re looking to stay fit, read more, write more often, get more done, deliver better results: small consistent, incremental actions have more chance to yield exponential results than a big act.

Go write, read, do, and do it daily.

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I haven’t been posting Monday Morning Meeting talks recently simply because I haven’t done any. There’s a multitude of reasons for that and I won’t be doing any again today. That being said, I’d like to share a weekly kickoff this morning anyway.

Here are some of Howard Schultz’s thoughts on success and leadership (Howard is the ceo of Starbucks). I took the notes a while back when reading Onward. I don’t remember if they’re direct quotes or paraphrases.

    Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become. The only number that matters is “one.” One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time.
    The core capacity of leadership is the ability to make right decisions while flying blind, basing them on knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to stay wedded to an overriding goal.
    Recipe for successful leadership: an unbridled level of confidence about where their organizations are headed and the ability to bring people along.
    Leadership is about instilling confidence in others

Happy Monday and have a great week!

Go create!

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There’s a commonly held belief that you can make it happen. If you push hard enough, consistently enough, often enough, it will happen regardless of obstacles. That only the truly exceptional can make it happen. It’s a meritocratic system. One that favors persistence over connection.

In a way, it’s a tempting way to think and act. It shelters us from ever trying.

Now, while it is true that pushing through the resistance and barriers is the only way to make your art happen, we are, afterall, in a connection economy. There are different people around you. There are those that weigh and drag you down and there are those that lift you up and thrust you forward.

So to create your art. To live your purpose. Your duty is really to shed, avoid and exclude all those who prevent you from making a difference while seeking out and embracing those that want to see you succeed. They are the ones that will help you fight the resistance.

Success come to those that realize this formula and relentlessly seek to make it happen.

(Photo credit: al (rino) del vecchio)

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