We don’t pay surgeons by the hour.
And if the person who cuts the lawn shows up with a very fast riding mower, we don’t insist on paying less because they didn’t have to work as hard.
Often, what we care about is the work done, not how long it took to do it.
And yet, some jobs, from law to programming, charge by the hour.
When you sell your time, you’re giving away your ability to be a thoughtful, productivity-improving professional.
[Today’s one of the last days of 2020 to enroll in The Creative’s Workshop. I hope you can check it out.]
How leveraging the power of small checks can make a big impact to build companies and create generational wealth...[more]
[This probably impacts every person reading this, but few of us get to decide to fix it. I figured it was worth sharing so you can share it…]
Don’t require special characters (like ! or worse, ‘) in the passwords created in your app or on your site. You’re simply training people to either forget them or to write them down in an unsafe location. Instead, require long passwords.
When you set up a wifi password that others have to use, there’s really no reason to use capital letters, special characters or anything that’s a hassle to type on a phone. Try a phone number instead.
Don’t use ‘0’, ‘O’, ‘o’, ‘l’ or ‘1’ in any context where they have to be distinguished–like room numbers, serial numbers or the names of children. This is why zip codes are easier to use than postal codes, and why mixed letters and numbers are worth avoiding.
If you’re requiring 2FA (a good thing), don’t rely on email or texts, use an app instead. And don’t make the text code 7 digits (as my former bank did in an effort to pretend that they cared). 6 is more than enough.
Instead of serial numbers, companies should consider using three words mushed together, like hey-zebra-fun. This is way easier to read and communicate to others. Imagine how easy it would be to deal with your VIN or computer serial number if you could simply say three words. All the company will need is three lists of 300 common words, which, when juxtaposed, give us plenty of combinations.
And a password manager is a worthwhile program to install. If you haven’t, today’s a great day to start.
BONUS: It never hurts to say ‘please’ in your forms and other online communications. It’s free.
PS all of this advice is on the path to obsolete once computers can talk and think and interact just a little better than now. Which is happening. Here’s my recent podcast about it.
Marketing bonus: A fun summary of my work from Brendan.
Things rarely turn out precisely the way we hoped.
Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we can figure out why.
If we find the lesson and learn from it, it might be even more valuable than if we’d simply gotten lucky.
One of the most difficult things to do in skateboarding is to learn to ‘drop in’. This is the commitment at the top of the ramp. One moment, you’re standing still, at the abyss, and the next you’re committed, fully engaged with gravity.
The worse thing you can do is half.
When you sort of commit, you’re likely to fall.
The rule is pretty simple: If you’re going to bother going skateboarding, then you’ve already decided. In this moment, you’re not making a new decision. You’re simply acting on what you said you wanted to do in the first place.
Decide once. It’s fine to opt-out. But once you decide, there’s no upside in re-litigating your decision, particularly when it leads to needless risk and wasted effort.
And of course, you may have realized all the moments in our lives where our hesitation to drop in is precisely at the heart of the challenge.
[Skateboarding details here. Worth noting that “dropping in” while surfing is a very different thing, and the opposite rules apply.]
The noise in your head, your attitude, your personal passions…
But after that, it starts to diverge.
Some own real estate. Some own machines. Some own trademarks, or the permission asset of being able to interact with people who want to be interacted with.
If you want to build a career as a freelancer, or a business as an entrepreneur, it helps to own something. Really valuable public companies are worth so much because of the assets they own and the market position they can defend as they grow. A hard-working but disrespected worker (whether an online freelancer or an actual factory worker) struggles because they’re not seen as owning enough. People have choices, and they often choose to hire and do business with entities that own something that they want to use or leverage.
As you seek to make a difference and to level up, it helps to come back to that key question: what do you own?
We act differently when we know we’re about to be on display.
Aim a camera at someone and they tense up. I guess we call it “taking” a picture for a reason. We feel defensive.
Social media multiplies this by counting “likes” (which doesn’t mean someone actually likes us) or “friends” (which doesn’t mean that someone is actually our friend.)
The irony is that the people we’re most likely to want to trust and engage with are the ones who don’t pose. They’re consistent, committed and clear, but they’re not faking it.
Figure out what you want to say, the change you seek to make, the story you want to tell–and then tell it. Wholeheartedly and with intent.
Posing is unnecessary.
If it doesn’t ship, it doesn’t count. If it’s not creatively productive, it’s not helpful. And if we’re lucky, this is the heart of our work. The work of creation in our chosen medium, putting ourselves on the hook, being asked to do something that’s never been done quite this way before.
Call this the work of a Creative, with a capital C. Someone who commits to making things better by leading through their work, and bringing insight and magic and utility to interesting problems.
It requires us to trust ourselves. To find a voice. To understand systems and genre and craft.
After a year of work, we launched the Creative’s Workshop last year. It quickly became the most engaging at-your-own-pace workshop at Akimbo. The people in the workshop gave and received more feedback each day than most people get in six months. And streaks of a hundred days of productive work in a row were the norm.
We only do this twice a year, and the new session is open for registration today. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the details and check out what previous participants have said about it. The last session was powerful enough that it became the basis for my new book, which comes out in November.
If you look for the purple circle on this page, you’ll find our secret discount, which is at maximum value today, but it eventually disappears.
Our future depends on the ability of each of us to find a way to make things better. To seek connection, to enable possibility and to open doors for others. I hope this workshop can help.
The coronavirus pandemic is going to drive people to small businesses and keep them there.
"There's going to be a focus and shift onto our products," says handbag manufacturer Thobekile Mkhize.
She's the owner and creative director of Mabotho, a leather handbag brand for women, based in Durban. The name of the business is a mash up of her name and her late father Sibongiseni Mkhize's, nickname Mabo.
"I wanted to honour my father's entrepreneurial spirit. Though he was a teacher by profession he was really great at consulting for his friends businesses and before he passed, he was just really getting into it."...[more]
HARD ONES because you know that whatever you choose is possibly the wrong path. Hard decisions are hard because you have competing priorities. Hard decisions that happen often are probably a sign that the system you’re relying on isn’t stable, which means that the thing you did last time might not be the thing you want to do this time.
EASY ONES because it probably means that you’ve got a habit going. And an unexamined habit can easily become a rut, a trap that leads to digging yourself deeper over time.
PS The Early decision deadline for the October session of the altMBA is tomorrow, August 4th. If you apply by then, you’re still at the front of the line for admission… Apply here.
Last Friday, the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) visited one of Sierra Leone’s newest farm produce exporting companies – Fresh Salone (SL) Ltd in Kobbaya, Kaffu Bollum Chiefdom, in the Port Loko district, as the business prepares and get ready to start vegetable exporting to the European Union Market.
Mr. Jonathan Rosenfeld – Managing Director (MD) of Fresh Salone, said his farm is certified to produce vegetables for export, and that he is aiming to export about 10 tons of fresh vegetables and frozen leaves every week to the European Union market through clients in Belgium, who will subsequently distribute the produce to other European countries...[more]
Everyone gets the same 24 hours. Reset every day, a fresh start.
Some of us are privileged enough to have the choice on how to spend some of that time. We can feel busy, but the busy-ness is largely a choice, a series of decisions we’ve made over the years about the things we choose to do, but have come to believe we have to do.
These habits are now comfortable. Walking away from spending that time will cost us comfort. In the short run. But if we don’t walk away from how we spent time yesterday, it’s hard to imagine that tomorrow will be much better than today.
HT: This riff from Derek Sivers is still resonating with me.
The problem: how can we get people what they want and need?
It turns out that the simple short-term answer is the market.
The marketplace makes it possible to buy a nail clipper made of hardened steel for just four dollars, but only when you’re ready. The marketplace offers some people a solid brass set of the cups and balls magic trick and other people a hand-blown glass vase.
The marketplace is hyper-alert and never tires of finding overlooked corners of desire.
But the marketplace is not wise.
It’s blind, short-term and fairly stupid. Because it has no overarching goal. The market is nothing but billions of selfish people, trading this for that, without regard for what’s next.
Left alone, capitalism will devolve into corruption, bribery and predatory pricing leading to monopoly. Left alone, capitalism will pollute rivers, damage our health and create ever greater divides.
Capitalism gets us an opioid epidemic, the dark patterns of social media and doom scrolling.
Because the market isn’t wise. It has no sense of time or proportion.
The only way for the simple answer to solve our complicated problems is for it to have guardrails, boundaries that enable it to function for the long haul.
That’s something we need leadership to get done. And it’s more likely to get done if we acknowledge that we need to do it.
One way to make a decision with a team or a partner is to clearly make a decision. Have a budget, do the math, lay out the risks and the options and decide with intent.
The other method is to weasel your way forward.
Act as if.
Hide relevant facts or conceal your fears.
Avoid talking about the real issues, figuring that you’ll figure it all out as you go.
When you are uncomfortable with here, and it’s really tempting to want to be there, it’s easy to weasel your way forward. It feels urgent and appropriate. It rarely is.
Ordering in instead of cooking.
Working from home instead of commuting.
Using a dishwasher instead of the sink…
All that time saved. Now that you’ve got the time back, you get to choose what’s truly important to you.
How will you spend it?
[Time spent on TV and social media has gone up every year of my lifetime].
Here’s a rusty knife.
Here’s a video I saw on YouTube once.
Here are some instructions I read on Quora…
Okay, how hard can it be?
Actually, it might be very hard. Actually, expertise has value. Actually, just because someone said it on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. Or useful.
Experts aren’t always right. But I’d rather live in a building built by an expert, fly in a plane designed by an expert and yes, have surgery done by an expert.
Even barbers get trained.
According to the Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2019, a research conducted by Oxford Insights and the International Development Research Centre, lack of systemic study on artificial intelligence (AI) and associated dearth of contextual data on Africa are significant challenges to the progress of AI applications in Africa.
“This means that applications of AI developed in other regions will likely lack contextual relevance, particularly in regards to cultural and infrastructural factors, and will not be fit for purpose in Africa. For example, a lorry in the United States or Europe encounters substantially different challenges to a lorry in most of Africa. A self-driving lorry developed for the roads of developed countries is unlikely to be successful on the roads of developing countries without substantial adaptation,” the report says in its synopsis on Africa.
To address this challenge, Kenya-based Fastagger, a startup offering artificial intelligence as a service (AlaaS), has set out to accelerate the adoption of AI applications in Africa by providing contextual data on the continent and helping entities develop bespoke AI application use cases...[more]
Start.coop accelerates the growth and development of the next generation of co-operative entrepreneurs with the knowledge, tools, and financing necessary to build businesses that share prosperity among the many, not just the few.
Not a retreat, but a chance to advance.
Set up a zoom room. By yourself, perhaps. Weird but do-able. Or possibly, bring a coach or a colleague. But only one person.
No phones. No internet besides Zoom.
Spend four hours in isolation, with nothing to do but figuring out what’s scaring you and what you’ve been avoiding.
Spend half a day figuring out the difference between urgent and important.
If you’re too busy to do that, it’s probably because you are spending too much time on the urgent.
The resolution of communication has been on a downward slide for more than a decade.
Careful hand-tuned typography shifts to endless Helvetica, poorly kerned.
Face to face goes to landline phone call goes to cell phone call, goes to yelling into a speakerphone goes to lazy Zoom etiquette.
Music goes from live to vinyl to mp3.
Much of this is driven by the need to squeeze more and more stuff into a narrow pipe combined with a cultural desire for more instead of better.
It will flip.
It always does.
Because better is better.
The quick comeback. The clever repartee. The ability to, in the moment, say precisely what needs to be said.
As the world gets faster, more of us feel the regret of the staircase. The perfect remark, often cutting, comes to us just a little too late.
Don’t worry about it.
Because as the world keeps getting faster, there’s actually a shortage of thoughtful, timeless ideas that are worth sharing an hour or a week later.
The end of Roman rule in Britain
Random House isn’t in the bookstore business, they’re in the business of publishing ideas that matter.
Audi isn’t in the gasoline business. They sell personal transportation.
You’re not in the business of having a job with an office. You are willing to trade time and effort in exchange for money and a chance to do work you’re proud of.
When the world changes, it’s tempting to fight hard to maintain the status quo that feels safe.
And so, utility companies lobby to ease emission standards, when they would be just fine if the standards were tightened. And so tech companies fight against new formats and new forms of exchange instead of leading with them. And of course, powerful cultural forces fight to preserve their hierarchies instead of figuring out how to thrive with new ones.
What we want and how we believe we get it are often two different things.