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Someone Is Counting On It Being Remarkable October 25, 2005

Posted by theexpert in Business, Personal.
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[Via]:

Whatever you’re making, designing, shipping or selling, it’s a Big Event for the person buying it and using it. It may be just another car/contract/widget to you, but someone is counting on it being remarkable.

I think I’m starting to get a feel for what I’m passionate about. I don’t have a lot of time to write about it at the moment, and I also might be able to articulate it better after letting the idea marinate further. In short, though, I think I like disrupting markets. It explains the presence of many in my blogroll and why I like conversations about being remarkable. Right now, I think customer service is generally so poor that being remarkable is an easy way to differentiate your business and disrupt the status quo. Maybe, some day, most companies will have great customer service. I look forward to that day, first because I want to be treated well when I’m a customer, and second because I would like the challenge of figuring out how to disrupt a market that treats people well. You’ll really have to “WOW!” (as Tom Peters would say) people, then!

Getting Off The Corporate Treadmill October 17, 2005

Posted by theexpert in Business, Personal.
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[I’m currently suffering from information overload, which is why I’m writing about things that are close to a week old. I have so many things I want to read…]

Hugh MacLeod, in “The Global Microbrand Rant,” talks about the follies of staying on the “high-priced corporate, urban treadmill” (i.e. big city, corporate life). He follows that up with:

It seems to me a lot of people of my generation are locked into this high-priced corporate, urban treadmill. Sure, they get paid a lot, but their overheads are also off the scale. The minute they stop tapdancing as fast as they can is the minute they are crushed under the wheels of commerce.

You know what? It’s not sustainable.

However, the Global Microbrand is sustainable. With it you are not beholden to one boss, one company, one customer, one local economy or even one industry. Your brand develops relationships in enough different places to where your permanent address becomes almost irrelavant [sic]

Frankly, it beats the hell out of commuting every morning to the corporate glass box in the big city, something I did for many years. Just so I could make enough money to help me forget that I have to commute every morning to the corporate glass box in the big city.

I can relate to this, except that even the money couldn’t help me forget that I was commuting to the corporate glass box and was unhappy about it. That’s why I got off the treadmill. The question for myself is, “now what?” Maybe I’ll end up back in a glass box; I’m not sure. If so, it would be important that it not feel like the usual corporate soul-drain because I don’t think there’s anything that could allow me to forget what I was doing, what (unsustainable) sacrifice I was making.

Oh, and Hugh, it’s not just folks from your generation that are locked into it. I know countless twenty-somethings that are playing the same game (mostly as consultants). And while they aren’t so happy with it, they do love their money.

A Simple Recipe For Success October 16, 2005

Posted by theexpert in Personal.
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I went through a recent PowerPoint presentation by Tom Peters (an ugly, Google Cache, HTML-ified version is here) and came across this story:

A man approached JP Morgan, held up an envelope, and said, “Sir, in my hand I hold a guaranteed formula for success, which I will gladly sell you for $25,000.?

“Sir,? JP Morgan replied, “I do not know what is in the envelope, however if you show me, and I like it, I give you my word as a gentleman that I will pay you what you ask.?

The man agreed to the terms, and handed over the envelope. JP Morgan opened it, and extracted a single sheet of paper. He gave it one look, a mere glance, then handed the piece of paper back to the gent.

And paid him the agreed-upon $25,000.

[On the paper was written:]

1. Every morning, write a list of the things that need to be done that day.

2. Do them.

I love it, partly because it’s so simple and partly because it screams ‘personal accountability.’ It’s clearly a no-brainer, but I bet a significant amount of failure, both personal and professional, can be attributed to not doing what we know needs to be done. I know that I’m not as productive as I want to be because I don’t always complete those two steps.

There are lots of good quotes in the slides. If you’ve got some time (it’s a hefty 200+ slide deck) and are interested in the subjects of leadership and business, then you might want to look through it.

Life As Cooperation October 15, 2005

Posted by theexpert in Personal.
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What I Learned From Homecoming,” by Dave Rogers [via]

It’s a long piece, and if you’re into the whole “markets are conversations” thing, you should read the whole thing. The reason I’m pointing it out is because it presents an idea that is separate from that debate that articulates something I’ve been feeling for a long time but never really put into words.

The piece includes some of Dave’s reflections on his 30th high school reunion:

Most of us who’ve been through it recall high school as a time of many highs and lows, many changes as we began to come of age. I’m sure most of us recall the various cliques and social groups we arrayed ourselves in. The “jocks” and the “nerds” and the “cool” people and the “losers.” There definitely were faint echoes of that at the reunion, but mostly we associated with one another across those boundaries, almost as if they never existed. One of my classmates, Gordon, mentioned that he thought it was because we had so much more in common now, and I found myself agreeing with this and thinking it a remarkable insight; that 30 years of life experience had made us share a broader, more inclusive, perspective.

Later on, after a few more beers, which often don’t exactly facilitate clarity of thought in me, it occurred to me that there was something else that 30 years gave us. It was something that allowed us, at least, to begin to appreciate what we had shared in common all along. We always share far more in common than we allow ourselves to ever appreciate. And I realized what the important difference was that 30 years made. We were no longer competing with one another. We weren’t trying for the same spot on the team, we weren’t trying to win the same girl’s affections, we didn’t have to put someone else down to feel better about ourselves.

He goes on to say that as he was trying to refute an idea that he disagreed with, he realized that:

[B]y asserting authority I don’t have for a responsibility I cannot assume, in fact, I am competing with you. And in doing so, I’m placing barriers between us…

So I’m going to stop trying to compete with you. If I am right, and I could be wrong, eventually your path will lead you nearer to my position. If I’m wrong, then presumably my path will eventually lead me to yours. Or maybe it’ll be somewhere in between. But I realized I can’t illustrate the corrosive effects of competition by trying to compete with you.

I think this is a perspective I’ve had without, as I said earlier, being able to articulate it. I’m quite happy agreeing to disagree with someone because, I think, I have no interest in competing with them in the way Dave describes. When someone has a differing opinion, I’m usually interested to hear why that’s the case. I, too, will usually present my thoughts about the subject, if allowed. However, it’s more from a position of, “here are my thoughts; maybe some of them will ring true for you” (and vice-versa) rather than “I think you’ll see that my position is clearly right and that yours is clearly wrong.” I guess you could say that I prefer the cooperative approach (i.e. can we help each other come to a better understanding of our lives). Anyway, it’s tiring to approach life in the latter way, and worse, it strikes me as presumptuous. Plus, I have faith that as time goes on, ideas that make sense will rise to the top and ideas that don’t make sense will sink to the bottom. For whatever reason, I’m in no big hurry to make sure that happens. The slow but eventual process of good ideas rising to the top is actually something that I think makes experiencing life neat.

[As an aside, Dave seems to have some other thoughtful pieces, like this bit on parenting. I liked it, and I’m not even a parent. There, Dave also touches on a subject that requires faith (in yourself, in life, in goodness).]