2017年8月19日 星期六

Seth's Blog : On being discovered

On being discovered

Wouldn't that be great?
Great if you could share all your wisdom on a popular podcast, or be featured on Shark Tank? Great if you had a powerful agent or bureau or publisher? Great if you could get admitted to an internship program that would lead to a well-attended gig on the main stage? Great if the CEO figured out just how committed you are and invited you to her office?
The thing about being discovered is that in addition to being fabulous, it's incredibly rare. Because few people have the time or energy to go hunting for something that might not be there.
The alternative?
To be sought out.
Instead of hoping that people will find you, the alternative is to become the sort of person these people will go looking for.
This is difficult, of course, because it means you have to create work that might not work. That you have to lean out of the boat and invest in making something that's remarkable. That you have to be generous when you feel like being selfish.
Difficult because there's no red carpet, no due dates and no manual.
But that's okay, because your work is worth it.

[Upcoming speaking gigs, many in Boston, all different: Philadelphia August 24, Boston September 14 with Zoominfo, then the Business of Software Conference on September 18th, then with Marketo in Boston on October 3rd. Moving on with Marketo to Chicago on October 4 and then with Brandemonium in Cincinnati on October 12. Finishing in NY on November 1.]
PS Adam Price has a new book out this month. He's Not Lazy is the kind of book that can dramatically transform a relationship for the better, changing lives for the long run. If you have teenagers, I hope you'll get a copy. 

Seth's Blog : Sloppy science

Sloppy science

We can measure it.
For decades, every single year, scientists have visited the Galapagos and measured the beaks of a particular species of finch.
And year after year, with each generation, the beaks change, exactly as we'd expect from the weather patterns of the year before. Evolutionary biology works, and rigorous data collection backs it up.
For hundreds of years, though, science has gotten it wrong about gender, race and ethnicity. Eugenics and its brethren sound simple, but often lead to tragic outcomes.
The sloppy scientist says, "on average, across populations, left to its own devices, this group is [not as skilled] [neurotic] [hard to work with] [not as smart] [not as strong] [slower]" etc. They make assumptions without sufficient data, and the rigor is missing.
The first problem is that human beings aren't averages, they're individuals. And the bigger problem is that we're never left to our own devices. We are creatures of culture.
The math that we can do on populations of hedgehogs or pigeons doesn't apply to people, because people build and change and experience culture differently than any other species.
Your DNA is virtually identical to that of the hordes that accompanied Ghengis Khan, as well as most Cro-Magnon cavemen--pass one on the street and you wouldn't be able to tell that he's different from you. The reason you don't act the way they did is completely the result of culture, not genes.
It's culture that pushes us to level up, to dig deeper, to do things that we might not otherwise do. It's culture that finds and encourages and pushes people to become better versions of themselves than anyone else expected to find.
So it was sloppy/lazy/fearful science that said that women couldn't handle being doctors. And it was sloppy science that worked to limit the number of Asian or Jewish students at various institutions. And it's sloppy science that's been used against black people for hundreds of years.
And sloppy science said that a 4 minute mile was impossible and that a woman could never finish a marathon.
Sloppy because it doesn't include all the relevant factors. There's nothing wrong with the scientific method, but everything is wrong with using it poorly (and often intentionally).
What we need are caring human beings who will choose to change the culture for the better.
Not all of it, of course. Merely the culture they can touch. The people they can engage with. The human beings they can look in the eye, offer to help, offer encouragement and offer a hand up.
Once we reset the standard, it becomes the new normal, and suddenly, the sloppy science seems like phrenology. Because culture is up to us.
Sloppy science isn't science at all. It's the lazy or wrongheaded use of the scientific method part of the time, mixing in fear for good measure. Ignoring culture ignores the part that truly matters.
It's tempting to judge people by their DNA. It makes a lot more sense, though, to see people based on what they can contribute instead.

Seth's Blog : "I have fear"

"I have fear"

There's a common mistranslation that causes us trouble.
We say, "I am afraid," as if the fear is us, forever. We don't say, "I am a fever" or "I am a sore foot." No, in those cases, we acknowledge that it's a temporary condition, something we have, at least for now, but won't have forever.
"Right now, I have fear about launching this project," is quite different from, "I'm afraid."

Seth's Blog : Faux intimacy

Faux intimacy

True connection is a frightening prospect.
When you are seen by someone else, really seen, it hurts even more if you're ultimately rejected. When we connect, we make promises, buy into a different future, engage with another, someone who might let us down (or we might let them down).
Far easier, of course, to do something more shallow.
A friend on social media is not like a friend in real life.
And so, we sit at dinner, browsing on our phone instead of connecting with the person across from us. Because the phone promises instant gratification, an exciting dopamine hit, and plenty of faux intimacy.
Which is great as far as it goes, but no, it's not the same.

Seth's Blog : The problem with direct experience

The problem with direct experience

"I'll know it when I see it," or perhaps, "I'll see it when I know it..."
We're hardwired to believe and understand the things we can actually experience. That's why no one argues about Newton's laws, but most people panic or shrug when confronted with dark matter, Heisenberg or quarks.
We're often good at accepting what's in front of us, but bad at things that are very far away or very very close. We have trouble with things that are too big and too small, with numbers with lots of zeroes or too many decimal places. And most of all, we fail when trying to predict things that are too far in the future.
Almost nothing in our civilization is merely the result of direct experience. We rely on scouts and technologists and journalists to tell us what it's like over there, to give us a hint about what to expect next, and most of all, to bring the insights and experiences of the larger world to bear on our particular situation.
The peril of roll-your-own science, in which you pick and choose which outcomes of the scientific method to believe is that you're almost certainly going to endanger yourself and others. Anecdotal evidence about placebos, vaccines and the weather outside is fun to talk about, but it's not relevant to what's actually going to pay off in the long run.
78.45% of humans tend to hate statistics because we have no direct experience with the larger picture. It's easier to make things up based on direct experience instead.
The solar eclipse is going to happen whether or not you believe it will, whether or not you have direct experience with previous eclipses.
When we reserve direct experience for the places where it matters—how we feel about the people in our lives, or the music we're listening to or the painting we're seeing, we have the priceless opportunity to become a better version of ourselves.
The rest of the time, standing on a higher ladder and seeing a bit farther is precisely what we ought to seek out.

2017年8月14日 星期一

Seth's Blog : On beating yourself up

On beating yourself up

Almost everyone does it. I'm not sure why.
After the fact (or even during it) all the blame, second-guessing and paralysis. We say things to ourselves that we'd never permit anyone else to say. Why?
  1. It leaves us bruised and battered, unlikely to do our best work while you're recovering.
  2. It hurts our knuckles.
  3. It distracts us from the work at hand.
Perhaps there's a more humane and productive way to instill positive forward motion. I'm sure there is.
At the very least, this is a dumb hobby.

Seth's Blog : Bought

Bought

How much does it cost you in tolls to drive across town? In most cities, the answer is nothing.
How much does it cost you to take a bus or subway across town? In most cities, if it's available at all, quite a bit.
How did that come to be?
Mass transit is safer, cleaner and more efficient. It gives more people more access to work and amenities. A city with great mass transit works better for more people. Even those that don't use it. It's at least a useful public good as the streets are.
It's technically easy to put tolls all over a city, wastes no time, and it's economically efficient to make it incrementally free to hop on a bus and expensive to drive a car.
So why haven't we? Why, in fact, are we going the other direction?
Because left to our own devices, we go for the short-term cost savings at the expense of the long-term investment.
Because we like the status quo.
Because there's familiar profit in the car-industrial complex. The extraction industries, the manufacturers, the dealers, etc. It's an ongoing, widespread income stream. This generates cash to pay lobbyists and others to create a cultural dynamic in favor of the status quo.
It turns out that it's pretty cheap to buy outcomes that benefit a minority. And business loves a bargain.

Seth's Blog : Appearing to care

Appearing to care

We know that your customers will put up with imperfect, but one thing that they'd like in return is for you to care.
Marketers keep making big promises, and organizations struggle to keep those promises. Sooner or later, it leads to a situation where the broken promise arrives on the customer's lap.
In that moment, what the customer wants most is someone to care.
Almost as good: an organization that consistently acts like it cares.
It's a mistake to believe that you actually have to care the way the customer cares, and that anything less means you shouldn't even try. In fact, professionals do emotional labor all the time. They present the best version of their professional self they are capable of.
When Bette Midler shows up on stage in Hello Dolly, the audience would like to believe that she's as engaged and excited as she was on opening night. And she might be. Or not. What matters is that we can't tell.
If you care, that's great. If you don't, at least right now, well, it's your job. That's the hard part.
Acting as if, doing it with effort and consistency, is what your customers need from you.

Seth's Blog : Seeing and believing

Seeing and believing

It turns out that the more you watch TV, the more you believe that the world is dangerous. It turns out TV watchers believe that an astonishing 5% (!) of the population works in law enforcement. And it turns out that the more you watch TV the less optimistic you become. Cultivation theory helps us understand the enormous power that TV immersion has.
Given the overwhelming power of interaction, I'm confident that we'll discover that internet exposure, particularly to linkbait headlines, comments and invective, will also change what people believe about the world around them.
It's hopeful to imagine that we can change these outcomes by changing the inputs. Of course, the hard part is choosing to do so.
Every time I see a toddler in a stroller with an internet device in hand, I shudder.
If we want a better future, it helps to be able to see the world as it is.

Seth's Blog : An audience of one

An audience of one

More than ever, people, lots of people, hordes of anonymous people, can watch what you do.
They can see your photos, like your posts, friend your digital avatar.
An essentially infinite collection of strangers are in the audience, scoring you, ranking you, deciding whether or not you're succeeding.
If you let them.
The alternative is to focus on the audience you care about, interacting with the person who matters to you. Your audience, your choice. One person, ten people, the people who need you.
Everyone else is merely a bystander.