• "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..."

Of course you can cram for the exam,

    Email your list for a hundredth time,
    Cut costs on a small feature,
    Hide the fine print,
    Lengthen the fine print,
    Bulk up the legalese,
    Cut corners,
    Borrow someone’s class notes,
    Say only what we want to hear,
    Appeal to the lowest common denominator…

Or you can take the time to make something that matters. That requires no small print or mass emails. Something to that people want to talk about and share.

Sure it’s harder than clicking send. Sure the results might take longer to happen. But more sustainable and worthy for sure.

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Silent artist is an oxymoron because an artist is precisely the opposite. An artist bothers, takes a stand, creates something new, aims to make a difference. An artist can be armed with a pen, a brush or even a spreadsheet or WordPress account. These are not silent weapons.

A real artist is arrogant about her work and believes change needs to happen and decides to be that change. An artist will strive to make us reconsider an industry, a way of doing, a belief and even what art itself is. She knows she will face criticism. People will disagree, brush it off and bad talk. Heck his art might even go unnoticed, unread, unacknowledged but that’s OK, it just means he will start all over again.

Why? Because the first thing an artist attempts to do is live with the risk of being dismissed, ignored, disliked and ridiculed. She thrives not for acceptance, but to take a stand. A passionate stand.

One thing for sure is, an artist is not silent. She doesn’t quietly wait in the sidelines hoping to just get by, waiting for direction, hoping the status quo remains in place. An artist is loud in his own right. An artist is bold.

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It used to be that if your message was important enough (the President of the United States for example) you could disrupt programming to give your message. You could do the same if you were willing to pay (advertising is precisely that).

Today – an age of abundance – disruption doesn’t work as well. It’s harder and harder to interrupt a mass portion of the population. Now although the audience is smaller there’s an opportunity to make them matter.

So to my small audience that matters greatly to me: my site got hacked over the holidays. That’s in part why there has been so little new content recently. There are still a few kinks to work out but I think we are largely back up and running.

Before ending, I would like to thank Ramy at SellWebHost, my hosting provider for limiting the damage and providing security recommendations. Also, thank you to all those on Facebook and LinkedIn who provided help and advice.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

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A machine cog is a tooth on a gear that engages similar teeth to transmit or receive motion. Each cog makes the machine run. The system only works if all the cogs are inline. Of course one broken cog might not do much damage, maybe some inefficiency… Until the cog is replaced by an identical one that is.

It used to be that only a few would be able to afford these machines, relegating the rest of us to the status of cog. Necessary, but largely unimportant.

Turns out the digital age has gotten rid of most cogs by driving down the price of that proverbial machine. The result? We are all owners. We’ve broken the cogs, we can make a difference.

There are no more prescribed right answers, no more gears. No path to follow. We are no longer simply part of the system, we create it. One post, one project, one picture at a time.

The system no longer needs passive cogs. Realize they have been broken, go make a difference.

(Photo credit: Nick Watson)

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It’s easier to be generous with something you have a lot of – money, time, resources. In that context, giving some of what you have involves little, to no risk. You probably won’t miss what you’ve given away and you remain the giver, the one with the most.

It gets more difficult is when you feel you have something to lose. If you share your class notes, the other person might get a better grade than you. If you give away your secret marketing sauce, the others might get more leads.

There’s risk there, you might go from a have to a have not. You had the class notes, you could have gotten the A, now she has an A too.

So why be generous when it’s difficult? Why run the risk of losing the edge? Then again why hold on when others can do more? Does the edge matter that much?

The one who shares when it’s difficult, when all others would hold on, is the one who’s remembered, talked about and missed when she’s gone…

(Photo credit: JD Hancock)

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The moments that stick. The days we remember. Our stories we tell over and over. They all share something in common: A touch of disbelief, a smidgen of wonder, a moment of magic. Were, sometimes for only a split second, everything we knew and held to be true was thrown away and replaced with something bigger, better and more amazing. All of a sudden something that inspired, something that made us laugh, something that made us aspire to more, became real. And what’s more? It became possible.

We all look for magic. Young or old, tall or small – we look for a more inspiring world. A place where the scripts and limits are quieted.

What if we spent just a little more time creating magic for others…making the impossibly beautiful come true.

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I’m taking some time off for the holidays, to spend some time with the family. This is a Monday Morning talk I gave a little while back but haven’t posted yet.

Today, I would like to talk to you about where there’s a will, there’s a way.

It’s tempting to find excuses and blame:

for encountering problems that are always the same,

– for not getting things done,
– for staying on the proverbial hamster wheel.

And don’t get me wrong, most of us feel have a full plate. There is a lot to do and a lot of pressure for getting it done.

I get that.

But the truth is:

not getting something done, not finding a new way, staying on the hamster wheel is not a time thing.

It’s a matter of will.

The fact of the matter is we choose not to do, we choose to head down a same path, we choose to complain, we choose to give in and we choose not to fight.

So when you are up against a big wall, a whole pile of stuff to do, it’s really easy to sit and tell yourself,

“OK, I’ll do this, then I’ll find a new way.”

But you know the song – another project comes along; another file, another exam… Until you think to yourself

“I can’t believe I’m doing this this way again, as soon as I get it done I’ll find a new way.”

It’s safe and reassuring to think that way. You hand over responsibility, but you know when you have a will, you do find a way. You look at that mountain and

…yes…

maybe you get discouraged at first, but you have this need to make things a lot better and bigger. So you find a way for making it happen…drip by drip, you  move on

straight

forward.

You don’t need permission, you don’t need to wait until someone says “go.”
And, truth is, the harder it is to get there, the more chances that it’s worth it to go.

It’s never a time thing, it’s always a will thing.

Have a great week!

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Our world increasingly favors who you are. But more than that, it values what you do, what you ship and what you stand for.

The rise of personal branding is a direct result of this. The idea that you should and need to stand for something is not new. Not long ago you were the shoemaker, the blacksmith, the general store owner. Then industrialists tried hard to erase you, to make you a cog and convince you that you didn’t matter. “We’ll give you a salary, we’ll give you benefits, we’ll give you vacation, we’ll give you a pension. All we need in return is your individuality, your creativity and your vulnerability.”

The connection economy requires us to be us again. It begs us to create a ruckus as Seth Godin puts it. We need to take a stand. That’s why, I think, my friend Frédéric Harper published his book: Success in Programming, How to Gain Recognition, Power, and Influence Through Personal Branding.

It came out today so I haven’t read it yet (What? No advanced copy?), but I know Fred well enough to know this is a book not only for programmers, but anyone who works behind the scenes and anyone who wants to do work that matters. I look forward to reading it and I encourage you to do the same.

On a more personal note, I’m incredibility proud of what Fred has accomplished – writing an important book in a language that isn’t his mother tongue. Fred is a great example of someone who has chosen himself.

Go, choose yourself, read the book.

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The hard part isn’t writing. It isn’t coming up with the plan or lacing your runners. Actually, it isn’t even presenting the plan or heading out for a run.

The hard part is clicking publish. The really difficult thing is implementing the plan, dealing with the bumps and roadblocks, the naysayers and the critics. The truly difficult part is running consistently enough – building strength, endurance and stamina – to run the race.

Publishing, implementing, racing are difficult because they demand openness and vulnerability. We might fail. The post might not be read or shared. The plan might flop. You might lose the race. And what’s even harder is that although there are very few thrusters and lifters, there are more than enough drags and weights – critics that will jump on any mishap to tell you they were right: “I told you you would fail.”

That’s why there are so few remarkable projects. It’s too hard.

Implement. Race. Click publish.

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Fred Pellerin is a story teller. He tells tales that take us back, make us dream and entertain.

They might not be as polished or practiced, but we all tell stories. “I’m too fat,” “I’m to old,” “people like me don’t do stuff like that,” “I can jump that high,” “I try things,” “I’m adventurous.”

Stories have more power than we acknowledge. They give us permission, they give us excuses. They help us and stop us, inspire and frighten. The strongest stories, I think, are those told by one person. The ones that are raw, honest and open. Sure, a good editor can help tell the story, but the essence is there – it’s vulnerable and will make us care.

And that’s precisely where the problem with corporate stories lies. The ones written on plaques at the door or in taglines on sites. The ones with phrases like “commit to quality,” “invest in our people” and “excellence driven.” They were written by committees. They’ve been asepticized, cleaned and Cloroxed. There’s no emotion left, they lost their ability to inspire, educate and make us care.

(Photo credit: Rick Hanzelin)

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