2017年10月8日 星期日

Seth's Blog : If you can't see it, how can you make it better?

If you can't see it, how can you make it better?

It doesn't pay to say to the CFO: These numbers on the P&L aren't true.
And arguing with Walmart or Target about your market share stats doesn't work either.
You can't make things better if you can't agree on the data.
Real breakthroughs are sometimes accompanied by new data, by new metrics, by new ways of measurement. But unless we agree in advance on what's happening, it's difficult to accomplish much.
If you don't like what's happening, an easy way out appears to be to blame the messenger. After all, if the data (whether it's an event, a result or a law of physics) isn't true, you're off the hook.
The argument is pretty easy to make: if the data has ever been wrong before, if there's ever been bias, or a mistake, or a theory that's been improved, well, then, who's to say that it's right this time?
"Throw it all out." That's the cowardly and selfish thing to do. Don't believe anything that makes you look bad. All video is suspect, as is anything that is reported, journaled or computed.
The problem is becoming more and more clear: once we begin to doubt the messenger, we stop having a clear way to see reality. The conspiracy theories begin to multiply. If everyone is entitled to their own facts and their own narrative, then what exists other than direct emotional experience?
And if all we've got is direct emotional experience, our particular statement of reality, how can we possibly make things better?
If we don't know what's happened, if we don't know what's happening, and worst of all, if we can't figure out what's likely to happen next, how do take action?
No successful organization works this way. It's impossible to imagine a well-functioning team of people where there's a fundamental disagreement about the data.
Demand that those you trust and those you work with accept the ref's calls, the validity of the x-ray and the reality of what's actually happening. Anything less than that is a shortcut to chaos.

Seth's Blog : Technical skills, power and influence

Technical skills, power and influence

When a new technology arrives, it's often the nerds and the neophiliacs who embrace it. People who see themselves as busy and important often dismiss the new medium or tool as a bit of a gimmick and then "go back to work."
It's only a few years later when the people who understand those tools are the ones calling the shots. Because "the work" is now centered on that thing that folks hesitated to learn when they had the chance.
And so, it's the web programmers who hold the keys to the future of the business, or the folks who live in mobile. Or it's the design strategists who thrive in Photoshop and UI thinking who determine what gets built or invested in...
There's never a guarantee that the next technology is going to be the one that moves to the center of the conversation. But it's certain that a new technology will. It always has.

Seth's Blog : Confusing signals

Confusing signals

There are high-end products, like camera lenses, stereo speakers and cars where the conventional wisdom is that heavier is a signifier of better. It's so widely held that in many cases, manufacturers will intentionally make their products heavier merely to send a signal that they expect will be understood as quality.
And yet, in many cases, there are exceptional performers that completely contradict this belief. That the signal, which might have made sense before, doesn't actually hold true.
We do the same signal searching when we choose a book because it's been on a bestseller list, or a college because of its ranking, or a used car because of the way the interior smells and the door slams.
The same thing is true with the way we interview people for jobs. We think that a funny, calm person who looks like we do and interviews well is precisely the person who will perform the best. And, far more often than we'd expect, this is shown to be untrue.
We've all learned this the hard way, with charismatic people and with heavy stuff, too.
Signals are great. They're even better when they're accurate, useful and relevant.

2017年10月5日 星期四

Seth's Blog : The pre-steal panic, and why it doesn't matter

The pre-steal panic, and why it doesn't matter

When I started as a book packager, there were 40,000 books published every year. Every single book I did, every single one, had a substitute.
Every time we had an idea, every time we were about to submit a proposal, we discovered that there was already a book on that topic. Someone else had 'stolen' my idea before I had even had it.
The only topics I invented that had never been published before were books I was unable to sell.
No one expects you to do something so original, so unique, so off the wall that it has never been conceived of before. In fact, if you do that, it's extremely unlikely that you will fail to find the support you need to do much of anything with your idea.
Your ideas have all been stolen already.
So, now you can work to merely make things that are remarkable, delightful and important. You can focus on connection, on making a difference, on building whole solutions that matter.
Isn't that a relief?

Seth's Blog : Defining authenticity

Defining authenticity

For me, it's not "do what you feel like doing," because that's unlikely to be useful. 
You might feel like hanging out on the beach, telling off your boss or generally making nothing much of value. Authenticity as an impulse is hardly something to aspire to.
It's not, "say whatever is on your mind," either.
Instead, I define it as, "consistent emotional labor."
We call a brand or a person authentic when they're consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.
Showing up as a pro.
Keeping promises.
Even when you don't feel like it.
Especially when you don't.

2017年10月3日 星期二

Seth's Blog : Looking for a friend (or a fight)

Looking for a friend (or a fight)

If you gear up, put yourself on high alert and draw a line in the sand, it's likely you'll find the enemy you seek.
On the other hand, expecting that the next person you meet will be as open to possibility as you are might just make it happen.

Seth's Blog : The pleasure/happiness gap

The pleasure/happiness gap

Pleasure is short-term, addictive and selfish. It's taken, not given. It works on dopamine.
Happiness is long-term, additive and generous. It's giving, not taking. It works on serotonin.
This is not merely simple semantics. It's a fundamental difference in our brain wiring. Pleasure and happiness feel like they are substitutes for each other, different ways of getting the same thing. But they're not. Instead, they are things that are possible to get confused about in the short run, but in the long run, they couldn't be more different.
Both are cultural constructs. Both respond not only to direct, physical inputs (chemicals, illness) but more and more, to cultural ones, to the noise of comparisons and narratives.
Marketers usually sell pleasure. That's a shortcut to easy, repeated revenue. Getting someone hooked on the hit that comes from caffeine, tobacco, video or sugar is a business model. Lately, social media is using dopamine hits around fear and anger and short-term connection to build a new sort of addiction.
On the other hand, happiness is something that's difficult to purchase. It requires more patience, more planning and more confidence. It's possible to find happiness in the unhurried child's view of the world, but we're more likely to find it with a mature, mindful series of choices, most of which have to do with seeking out connection and generosity and avoiding the short-term dopamine hits of marketed pleasure.
More than ever before, we control our brains by controlling what we put into them. Choosing the media, the interactions, the stories and the substances we ingest changes what we experience. These inputs lead us to have a narrative, one that's supported by our craving for dopamine and the stories we tell ourselves. How could it be any other way?
Scratching an itch is a route to pleasure. Learning to productively live with an itch is part of happiness.
Perhaps we can do some hard work and choose happiness.
[HT to the first few minutes of this interview.]

Seth's Blog : "You're doing it wrong"

"You're doing it wrong"

But at least you're doing it.
Once you're doing it, you have a chance to do it better.
Waiting for perfect means not starting.

Seth's Blog : Change is a word...

Change is a word...

for a journey with stress.
You get the journey and you get the stress. At the end, you're a different person. But both elements are part of the deal.
There are plenty of journeys that are stress-free. They take you where you expect, with little in the way of surprise or disappointment. You can call that a commute or even a familiar TV show in reruns.
And there's plenty of stress that's journey-free. What a waste.
We can grow beyond that, achieve more than that and contribute along the way. But to do so, we might need to welcome the stress and the journey too.

2017年9月30日 星期六

Seth's Blog : The under (and the over) achiever

The under (and the over) achiever

It doesn't matter what the speed limit is. He's going to drive five miles slower.
And it doesn't matter to the guy in the next car either... he's going to drive seven miles faster.
It's not absolute, it's relative.
The person wearing the underachiever hat (it's temporary and he's a volunteer) will get a C+ no matter how difficult the course is. And the person who measures himself against the prevailing standard will find a way to get an A+, even if he has to wheedle or cut corners to get it.
When leading a team, it's tempting to slow things down for the people near the back of the pack. It doesn't matter, though. They'll just slow down more. They like it back there. In fact, if your goal is to get the tribe somewhere, it pays to speed up, not slow down. They'll catch up.