I was never any good at math.
But I do remember the difference between a statistic and a factor:
Statistics are anonymous integers; factors are influential amplifiers. Statistics are players of the game; factors are permanent imprints on the game. Statistics are expired pieces of the past; factors are essential elements of the future.
Which one describes you?
Today we’re going to explore a collection of ideas to help you be a factor.
1. Telling the story isn’t enough. Storytelling is a pull strategy, but only if you understand the larger picture. In the book The Story Factor, Annette Simmons says it best, “You are a story to everyone you meet; but don’t just tell it, demonstrate it.”
The secret is, you have to do so both online and off. Otherwise you’re just winking in the dark.
One way I help my clients extend the influence of their story into the marketplace is by creating customized identity collages, or Brandtags. These limited edition artifacts memorialize their story in striking way that invites the customers, employees and partners to join the brand – not just buy it.
What’s more, the brandtags are given as unique, memorable and spreadable gifts that create an emotional connection that deepens over time. That way, once the art piece is hung, it functions as a social object. And this combination of marketing, art and leadership immediately increases the level of organic, human and authentic conversations about the brand.
Remember: Your story can’t be a factor if nobody retells it. What artifact are you using to make yours hang on the wall forever?
2. Unmute yourself. If you don’t have a voice, you can’t create value. Period. Here’s a collection of ways to amplify it. First, learn think on paper. Spend time each day puking, clarifying and classifying your thoughts. You don’t have to be good – you just have to be willing. And all you need is a blank page and an open mind.
Second, think of yourself as a translator. Forget about finding information, focus on interpretation. Because if you can translate better than anyone, your voice will be heard.
Third, occupy multiple outlets. Use digital tools to give your voice widening access. At the same time, focus less on the tools you’re using to get the word out and more on the word you’re trying to get out.
Fourth, place yourself in opposition to conventional wisdom. If there’s an opinion you’re afraid to have, share it anyway. After all, the voice without venturesomeness is never heard. And if you keep saying, “I can’t say this,” you’re never going to say anything worth repeating.
Lastly, get people to follow your thinking, not just your profile. Create a listening platform that enables an ongoing conversation to engage the people who matter most.
Remember: Volume is the vehicle of being heard. Be prodigious or be ignored. What did you publish this week?
3. Envision the end frame. Walt Disney saw everything as a cartoon. And with every new project he started, he’d always ask the question, “What’s the end frame?” This enabled him to envision the future, which inspired him to execute the present.
If you want to inject the same magic into your own endeavors, here’s my suggestion: Don’t waste your time making another bloated list of unachievable goals and a strategic plans that have no relationship with reality. Instead, ask questions that take you back to the future.
Try a few from my master list:
*If everybody did exactly what you said, what would the world look like?
*What would real fulfillment look like if you were truly living your life purpose?
*If a miracle occurred overnight, and you woke up tomorrow morning with all of your dreams realized, what would be the first thing you would notice?
These questions help you imagine what you need to become in order for your vision to manifest. And they inspire you to paint a compelling, detailed picture of the desired future – then make meaningful strides toward it. Sure beats trying to map out your entire career on a flip chart.
Remember: It’s easier to get out of bed when you have a horizon to point to. What’s your end frame?
4. Usefulness trumps innovation. Creating something that nobody’s ever seen before makes you fresh. But creating something that simplifies people’s lives makes you a factor. In the words of software entrepreneur Jason Fried, “If all you bring to the marketplace is cool, your product will never last. Useful, on the other hand, never wears off.”
The secret is to make sure that usefulness has a palpable presence in your work. Consider asking yourself these questions:
*Are you solving a problem that nobody cares about?
*Are you making something useful, or just making something?
*If your brand vanished tomorrow, how many people would experience withdrawal symptoms?
*Are you giving people what they need, or superimposing onto people what you think they should want?
If all else fails, just ask people. They’ll tell you exactly how you can become more useful to them. And all you have to do is listen.
Remember: If your work doesn’t solve a real problem for the world, you’re just doing something cool. Have you hit your quota of usefulness this month?
5. Find work that represents human courage. Not everyone is brave enough to go after what they want. They’re afraid of failing, or, worse yet, afraid of succeeding. So they never stick themselves out there. They never push their chips to the middle of the table.
And at the end of their lives, they have nothing to show for themselves but a dusty ghost of a departed dream.
If you truly want to be a factor, try this: Use fear as a compass. That’s what I do. Whatever scares me the most, whatever invites highest level and self-doubt, I do that. Because I know it’s the work that matters. I know it’s the work that belongs to me. And I know I’m guaranteed to dip into the deepest parts of my heart.
The point is: You can’t live your life on the balcony. Eventually you have to get your ass on the dance floor, let the music own you and spin yourself like a crazy person. Otherwise you’ll melt into the multitude with the rest of the statistic.
Err or the side of heart. People will notice. Are you willing to keep taking risks until it hurts or works?
REMEMBER: Statistics make headlines; but factors make history.
Decide which one you want to be remembered as.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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Never the same speech twice.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I was never any good at math.