Unremarkable

By | Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Dysfunction, Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Marketing for Peace Builders, New Posts, Old Posts, Persuasion, Presentations, Problem Solving, Selling for Peace Builders, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

The problem with many (if not most) people, processes, services, and products is that they are unremarkable.

This is not to say that they are unreliable, undesirable, or unmistakable.

There are people, processes, services, and products that fill niches that are banal, boring, and seemingly unnecessary.

They aren’t worth talking about, thinking about, or even spending a lot of cognitive effort in justifying.

The problem of unremarkability is compounded by the fact that the organizations developing and promoting these products, services, processes, and people, is that the solution to their unremarkability is thought to be a lack of attention and awareness.

That’s not the problem.

Not even close.

Buying more followers, increasing social proof, becoming more likeable; these are long-term processes, that cannot be successfully applied to the banal, the boring, or the seemingly unnecessary.

Here’s a tip, for winning the long game.

Instead of trying to figure out how to scale unremarkability with money, time, or other resources, figure out how to scale the number of activities (i.e. process, services, products, etc.) that are actually remarkable.

Tough Crowds

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Speaking, Strategies, Strategy, Training, Workshop

Tough crowds are tough because they are skeptical, secure in their own assumptions, wedded to their own worldviews, and unwilling to be convinced.

The skill of being able to face that level of social norming—whether from a crowd of 5-year old’s in kindergarten to a crowd of intoxicated adults at your local comedy club—requires a little something more than bravery.

It requires the skill of being willing to die—metaphorically usually, but sometimes, with some crowds, literally—in order to prove a point, make an assertion, or to create a space for other people to advocate for a minority view of the world.

Being able to win crowds over by knowing your audience is another skill. As is knowing your own point of view inside and out. But, beyond that, there are two key elements to focus on when seeking to internally overcome the crushing psychic weight of a tough crowd:

Never lose focus on the point you’re making.

Don’t get your point caught in their weeds.

Tough crowds seek to tame and turn a presenter, or facilitator, for the purpose of serving their own motives and motivations, and for achieving their own desires and outcomes.

But when you realize that time, focus, and the strength of your position are more powerful than that of the crowds’, you will stay in sharp rhetorical shape.

And ready to face any tough crowds, anywhere.

Drivers Aren’t In Charge

By | Emotional Intelligence, Blog, Entrepreneurship, Marketing for Peace Builders, New Posts, Selling for Peace Builders

The same drivers that attracted you to entrepreneurship, to taking a risk, to leaping, to shipping; those same drivers may lead you to failure, loneliness, and perhaps even brokenness.

But you’re in charge of where the drivers go.

The drivers aren’t in charge of where you go.

Sometimes, the process of getting to your goal matters less than what your motivations for attaining the goal are.

Look closely at why you’re doing…

But If The Answer Is…

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

When followers say that they want self-awareness, storytelling, and conflict management as traits in their best leaders, then leaders must ask questions starting with the words “why,” “how,” and “what.”

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “why,”is an ever-descending whirlpool of internal negativity, defensiveness, and fear-based answers in leaders, then followers must ask what the real purpose for pursuing the attaining of self-awareness is.

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “how” is applying, and advocating for, ever-increasing layers of organizational bureaucracy and lethargy in the team, then followers must ask what the real purpose of storytelling is.

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “what,”is endless handwringing about the potential consequences of actions before they are even taken by leaders, then followers must ask what the real purpose of positive conflict will be.

Self-awareness, storytelling, and conflict management are the only traits that matter in the 21st century if we want leaders to lead effectively.

These traits—which are really skills—are also critical to encourage if we want to create more leaders rather than more compliant followers.

The lack of inner curiosity, desire to care, and hiding from decisions are the real skills hobbling the development and growth of the kinds of leadership that followers say they want.

Let’s eliminate those skills first.

The Dip Within the Dip

By | Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Persuasion, Platform Building, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

The act of working to get out of a dip, as it is happening, is a dip in and of itself.

The dip, of course, is the place that we all get stuck in when we’ve invested so much that we believe we can’t go backward, and that we are so buried in (emotionally, financially, psychologically) that we can’t see a way out.

And then we quit. In the dip.

When we are in the dip, however, certain acts we engage in create that place of being stuck. The acts of trying to exit the dip, become dips themselves.

Since no one tells us when we’re in the dip, and since no one tells us when our process of getting out of the dip is compromised, the act of knowing what acts are dips in and of themselves, becomes a necessary skill, rather than a “nice to have.”

Knowing what to focus on and when will help you travel through the dip to the goal that we are seeking to achieve. But just working on projects and patterns that will distract us from having to think about the dip’s we’re in, is a form of hiding.

We need to hide less and work more.

Outcomes You’ll Pay For

By | Advice, Blog, Culture, Divorce, Dysfunction, Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Platform Building, Selling for Peace Builders, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

Outcomes of processes are the only things worth paying for.

No matter what your role at work, you are paid for producing outcomes from processes. The people who get paid the most, produce the highest value outcomes. The people who get paid the least, produce the least valuable outcomes.

Producing outcomes is also valued—and thus rewarded—in ways that have nothing to do with money: Prestige, status, attention, awareness, these are all rewards that are tied to specifically produced outcomes that an audience, and organization, or an individual, value.

The most excellent move that a person who is a freelancer, a consultant, or an entrepreneur can make, is to raise the price of an outcome to reflect continued, growing value. Not because it costs them more to generate that outcome—in actuality, the production costs are sunk and meaningless after a certain point—but because the value of that outcome becomes more desirable to the market that individual provider serves.

We attach all kinds of subjective meaning to outcomes and since they are really the only things that we value, failure and success, while remaining subjective, become more and more acute and infinite. But only if the person or organization producing the valuable outcome is willing to let go of their attachment to the success or failure of a particular outcome.

Thomas Edison and Michael Jordan both “got” this distinction. But if you’re still wrapped up in the mindset of a particular granular success or failure outcome, then you’ve missed that larger lesson.

There are three big tips to come out of this line of thinking that will serve anybody well as they move forward:

  • Outcomes are the only things worth paying for, but sometimes an innovator can be too far ahead of the market (thus, the innovator designation) or a crackpot can be too far behind the market (thus, the crackpot designation). Each person has to decide where they want to be in relation to the market and what the process is to get to the outcome that they are seeking to make valuable.
  • Outcomes have nothing to do with comparison, and have everything to do with personal satisfaction. One of the larger problems with the social media landscape is that people display as if the outcome of a process is the only thing that can connect themselves with an audience. But showing the audience the process, slowly revealing why the outcome has occurred, is an outcome in and of itself. And worth rewarding, not with comparison, but with massive differentiation. Each person has to decide their comfort level with the slow burn of a long-desired reveal.
  • Outcomes can be argued and debated, but in the end, when it comes time to render payment, they cannot be denied. This is evident most baldly in the world of sports, where the distance between a process and an outcome is perceived as being immediate (though there is usually years of preparation, sacrifice, humility, and ambition behind any outcome), and is less evident in the world of teaching, or parenting. These are places where twelve to twenty years of a process leads to outcomes that cannot be denied. Each person has to decide their own pace at which they would like to move toward a reward.

Focus on the process, highly value the outcome, and price the outcome against the market accordingly.

Our 1,000th Post

By | Emotional Intelligence, Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Presentations, Reconciliation, Relationships, Resolution, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Speaking, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Twitter, Twitter, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

I thought it would take less time to hit this milestone than it has taken.

But that’s not an unusual expectation. Many people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years.

My expectations with this blog started out high minded and then crashed to earth and then became high-minded again.

But with 1,000 published posts, some of which are guest posts, podcast episodes, and other sundry items, I can say, with some assurance, that I have gone further than I thought I would.

And you have responded.

You have retweeted, e-mailed, reposted, commented, Facebook “liked” and “shared” posts, and have even gone as far as to reach out to me offline to give me feedback.

That’s how this blog grows.

It’s not like kudzu, where you plant a vine and then come back a year later and there’s growth without investment.

It’s more like planting corn: Some years it’s good. Other years it’s not so good. But the farmer still tills the soil, plants the seed, prays on the knees, and then brings in whatever harvest there may be.

Year after year. Bumper crops and thin ones.

What comes next? What does post 1,001 to 2,000 look like?

Well, there’s another book coming this year, a collection of my best posts about work, disrupting your workplace, and how to accomplish all of that while also disrupting your boss. And it’s about why external training and development doesn’t work for the creation of change.

Look for that in the Fall of 2018.

There will also be a shift as parts of this blog go elsewhere on the web to serve other functions.

In 2018, as I advance and grow my personal brand, the writing will separate, and my blog posts covering conflict management, self-awareness, storytelling, and other contemporary leadership and people management skills and best practices will be featured in this space more prominently

Articles about personal leadership, business development, branding, entrepreneurship, bootstrapping, risk-taking, marketing, social media, the future of human communication on the Internet, and other more personal brand based content will migrate to a new site, focused on building my personal brand with an eye towards keynotes and speaking opportunities.

Look for this split to happen gradually, and then all at once by the Fall of 2018.

But no matter how it plays out, I want to thank you for joining me on the journey so far.

I write this blog because it’s good for my mental and physical health.

I write this blog because it’s good for my writing muscle and it further establishes my own “voice” in my own head.

I write this blog, because it connects me to you, whether that connection happens now, or one, two, five, ten, or twenty years from now.

I write this blog, whether anybody will read this blog or blogs in the future that I may launch, or not.

I write this blog, because the acts of thinking, writing, and then publishing to the world, is still an amazing thing—even in a world of Internet thinness.

So, the real question is where would you and I like to go next?

Internet Thinness

By | Advice, Blog, Culture, Education, Facebook, Google, Media, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Platform Building, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Website

There is a species of thinness at the center of most of what you are reading, absorbing, and choosing to be activated by, on the Internet.

Social media (from YouTube to Soundcloud) drives a lot of this thinness by providing distractions, by watering down complicated subjects, and by blasting your attention and awareness repeatedly.

There were many people who believed that the rise of the Internet would herald deeper, more intimate connections between people.

They believed that the mechanism of combining television, radio, computer technology, and phone and cable lines, would herald a newer, fresher, more meaningful communication experience for humanity.

They believed that the Internets’ ability to scale empathy, connection, and action, would overcome the human tendencies toward tribalism, passivity, and disconnection.

And to a certain degree, they were right.

At scale, however, it only took a little while, for the forces of the big to take over and dominate the center of the Internet communication schema, and to use it for their own ends.

Which typically means to sell you more stuff at a faster rate, than ever dreamed of before…

…and as the long tail has gotten even longer, and as the “get rich quick” artists have fallen away;

…and as the large communication conglomerates have dominated more and more of the center;

…and as the average person has decided that active publishing and shipping is too hard, and that passive consumption is easier;

…and as the metrics of engagement have proven to be more and more inflated;

…the thinness of the big dominating the center, has become more and more apparent.

In the face of these realities, the hard thing now is to stick to the outer edges of the Internet universe; to do the work of publishing hard, thick, crusty ideas; to be committed to the building of communities of like-minded people over years (and in some cases decades); and to do, say, show, and commit to the hard thing without hope of payoff.

Instant, or otherwise.

It will take a long time for the thinness to thicken up in most of what you read, absorb, and choose to be activated by, on the Internet.

At this rate, it may take another twenty years.

But if you choose not to ship, choose not to participate, choose only to observe, it may be impossible for you to act when you’re ready.

Start this year.