Watch Scott's TEDx talk!

A brand, a business and a career. From a nametag.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Make It For Me Now

My friend Lloyd owns a farm.

Having worked in the nursery and landscaping industry for more than three decades, I asked him how buyer behavior has evolved over the years. He summarized it nicely in five words:
Make it for me now.

That’s the expectation. That’s the baseline posture of today’s retail customer. They demand urgency and customization, and if they don’t get it, they’re one step away from finding someone else who will get it for them.

True service is not just about the response, but the speed of the response and the specialization with which we deliver it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Never Forget The Second Customer

Delivery is not enough.

When someone pays you money to perform a service for them, doing great work is the bare minimum. The big win is when you make clients look like heroes to the people who count on them.

My friend Chris does video production with large corporations. The day he starts any project, he sends his contact person a link to a private webpage that maps out every single process and timeline for the job. This embeds expectational clarity into the work, but more importantly, gives the client something tangible to show to her boss. After all, people who work at big companies love nothing more than to walk into their superior’s office, show them that they’re in control, and walk out with a greater sense of accomplishment.

That’s called the second customer. And everyone has one. No matter what your position is in the service industry, always be mindful of the peripheral characters who work downstream of the lead role. Because if you can guaranteed that clients will look like heroes in their eyes, your services will be in demand for a long time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does Your Business Card Bring Your Story To Life?

We can’t sit back and wait for the world to fall in love with us.

The door must be opened from the inside.

Despite our best efforts to attract what we want, magnetize people into our orbit and patiently wait until they respond to our passive invitation, eventually, we have to step up and make some noise.

We have to go happen to things. We have to put ourselves in the way of success. We have to find the people who have what we want, grab them by the lapel and tell them who we are and why they should give it to us.

Otherwise we may never get it.

The world responds to proactivity. And when we’re out in the community, meeting people, sharing the story of our enterprise, it’s essential that we leave something behind that’s memorable and valuable.

Moo is the perfect example.

They print the world’s sexiest business cards. Cards that start conversations. Cards that become social objects. Cards that are kept and acted on. Cards that tell your story and bring your business to life.

And because face-to-face is making a comeback, because talking to people with your mouth will always be fashionable, Moo cards are the analog friend requests that open that door of opportunity.

They love to print, but they love to help your business grow even more.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Take Things Personally, Make Things Productively

Last year I spent four months chasing a potential client who didn’t respond to emails, cancelled multiple meetings, rarely followed up and essentially, left the project hanging without doing me the respect of simply saying no.

I was officially pissed off.

But instead of lashing out, I laced up. Instead of torturing myself waiting around for validation, I channeled my anger into an ambitious, risky and exciting project, one that never would have found legs had I not been fueled by the fire of frustration.

Once again, emotion was the ember of initiative.

I took things personally, and that made things productively.

And I’m not an angry person by any stretch of the imagination. But, if an experience bothers me enough to make something happen, it was worth it. If a person gets under my skin deep enough to disturb me into taking positive action, it was worth it.

We have to respect everything life has to offer. We have to appreciate the rightness of every experience.

Especially the ones that piss us off.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ideas Were Never Meant To Stay That Way

If the idea isn’t executed, we never had it.

Regardless of size, quality, passion, practicality, coolness or marketability, until we physically ship the idea out the door, it doesn’t exist.

That’s why ideas are free and execution is priceless. That’s why finished is the new perfect. That’s why version done is better than version none.

Because ideas were never meant to stay that way.

The true measure of success isn’t the idea itself. It’s how it evolves, where it changes us, how it inspires others, why it matters to us, and most importantly, what the idea eventually grows into.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Not A Cliche, It's An Act Of Compassion

We’re told to avoid clichés like the plague.

Then again, clichés start to matter when personal experiences remind us why people said them in the first place.

Warnings about silk purses and sow’s ears never quite make sense until we spend four years in a toxic relationship desperately trying to morph our partner a clone of ourselves.

So what we learn is that most clichés do represent genuine empathy. Centuries ago, the first time a cliché was uttered, somebody somewhere felt better. Somebody experienced a greater sense of perspective and comfort while dealing with life’s difficulties.

Back then, it wasn’t a cliché – it was an act of compassion.

Years later, clichés are useful as advanced warnings and memory aids. They’re helpful for making sense of an ambiguous world. And they offer us a handle by which we can lift things.

And even though they’re not the best choice for opening a speech, writing a cover letter or titling a book, sometimes a cliché is as good as gold.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Can You Afford Not To Care?

Some businesspeople are afraid to act like people.

Especially owners who are often terminally certain, unwilling to admit wrongdoing and allergic to apology. And because they’ve been around for thirty years, they never listen to anybody because the company has enough customers where they can afford not to care.

Why personally respond to negative online reviews in a manner that blows people away and creates new customers for life? Why use social media as a listening platform, view complaints as gifts and turn feedback into inspiration? And why admit you’ve outgrown some of your beliefs, upgrade your attitude and rebuild your understanding of yourself?

I’ll tell you why.

Because that would mean changing, and changing means admitting you were wrong.

If we plan to move forward as human beings, we can’t be afraid to be human beings. That means being wrong, imperfect, vulnerable and real. Not authentic or transparent or whatever other bullshit corporate buzzword rules the day.

Human. People. Our native posture. The one that got us into business in the first place.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Building A Business From The Inside Out

Most people have a business they need to build a brand for.

I had brand I needed to build a business for.

This was never my intention. I never made a formal decision to approach my enterprise in this manner. But ten years into it, I’m now starting to realize how much more lucrative it is to work from the inside out, as opposed to the outside in.

When we start with who we are and what we love – then let everything flow from there – the work we do is truer. When we start with the why behind our idea – not the how of who is going to buy it – the work we do is richer.

I was never stopped by not knowing how. I was simply sparked by knowing why, and sustained by knowing who. And although I never had a plan, I always had a process.

Now, I’m just getting paid to be myself.

Now, because it’s impossible to fail at self-expression, because nobody can criticize a life that belongs to me, nobody can tell me that I’m doing it wrong.

Not a bad way to build a business.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Attraction of Working vs. The Arrogance of Waiting

Do a great job and wait for the phone to ring is a broken business model.

It's complacent, passive and largely unsustainable. And unless you're incredibly famous, independently wealthy or impossibly lucky, you need to find a strategy that provides surer footing. Otherwise your name will disappear.

Not knowing any better, I actually tried this broken model for a while. And although I found moderate success, I knew I had to make a change or risk falling off the radar.

So I made a decision.

Instead of sitting in the office, waiting for the phone to ring, I stay in motion. I keep creating art, keep sticking myself out there and keep making a difference, every day. That way, when the phone does ring, it's a surprise. I actually have to reach back to answer it.

That's the greatest feeling in world. When new opportunities find you through the attraction of working, not the arrogance of waiting.

Sure beats sitting in a quiet office all day with my fingers crossed. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another Game of Blame Roulette

The rub about hiring yourself is the absence of blame.

When it’s just us, there’s nobody to point fingers at.

Should we fail to discipline ourselves, fall short on our goals or ship mediocre work when we know we could do better, there’s no assistant to hide behind, no intern to scapegoat and no coworker to blame.

No matter what happens, it’s our fault and ours alone.

This is the best thing that ever happened to us. Instead of playing another game of blame roulette, we enable a daily practice of taking responsibility. We paint ourselves into an accountable corner. And we build the emotional muscle of ownership that is sorely needed to endure the entrepreneurial journey.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just Another Cash Grab

I've left a lot of money on the table.

When I think back to all the projects, pitches, partnerships and potential opportunities I said no to over the years, I’m it sure it adds up to a nice chunk of change.

But why dilute the enterprise? Why create something just for the money? Why say yes to a project just because it’s easy, popular or worst of all, monetizeable?

It’s just another cash grab.

Besides, just because the path is paved with gold doesn’t mean the destination will make me any happier. In my experience, the less passion it takes to start, the less meaning it creates in the end.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m too picky. Maybe stubbornness is getting expensive.

I guess what’s reassuring is, the more distance I get from the opportunities I rejected, the more thankful I become that I held out. Especially when I see the look of regret in the eyes of someone who got seduced by the power of the quick buck.

That’s the power of a positive no.

We are identified by what we do, but we are defined by what we decline.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Most People Would Rather Hear No Than Nothing

The speed of the response is the response.

In an impatient world where everything matters and everybody's watching, the smartest thing we can do is get back to people promptly, not just when we can.

Even if the answer is no. Even if the answer is I don't know. That we actually responded immediately is rare enough to be remarkable. That we actually showed up and dared to care is enough to make most of us happy.

Most people would rather hear no than hear nothing.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Assume The Volume is Always Up

There’s an inverse relationship between size and surrender.

I learned this from my friend Devon, a veteran of the landscaping industry.

He tells a story about running the marketing department of a large organization. Like many corporate behemoths, his company leadership scrambled to stay in control of what every employee said. Every time they logged on, checked in linked up, there was always some manager looking over their shoulder, screening tweets and monitoring status updates for potential risks.

Which might sound smart from a liability standpoint, but it also sounds like a lot of work, constantly turning the volume up and down like that.

When the reality is, it’s easier to assume the volume is always up.

To go about our days knowing that everything matters, everybody’s watching and everything’s a performance, and that we’re always in danger of becoming known for what we’re about to do.

That way, instead killing ourselves trying to edit every word we publish, we simply act from a place of integrity and class, hoping that our language will follow suit.

Peter Drucker was right.

Trust is always cheaper than control.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Breathe Rarified Air Into People's Lives

Thought leadership is not an accident.

If you want to position yourself as a person worth paying attention to, you have to bring some original magic to the table. Fearlessly giving your gifts to the world, breathing rarified air into people’s lives, through every piece of content you publish.

Start by having a stance on why the world doesn’t make sense. Take time each day to rant about the injustice of the world. Start by doing so privately. Use dissatisfaction as your ember of initiative. Then, make it worth publishing by attaching practical suggestions to pessimistic thoughts. Otherwise you’re just complaining.

Continue by infusing a modern sensibility into a classic context. Show your audience something they might reject instantly, but then tell them to look behind it. Build a beautiful reminder of what could be, still capture the universal human experiences we all share, and you’ll thrill people’s imaginations forever.

Accentuate by making passion palpable and recurrent. When you see something and can’t wait to share it, don’t hold back. Through your online messaging, insist that a whole new world is bursting forth and everyone everywhere can be a part of it. That’s how you equip people to spot the new story with their own eyes.

That’s thought leadership, and it’s not an accident.

Because it’s one thing to have something to say.

It’s another to just have to say something.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Make Peace With The Pile

The pile never gets to zero.

When we choose to go our own way, take the road less traveled and hire ourselves, there will always more to do, all the time, forever, until we die. Or go out of business.

It's an infinite regression. Like two opposing mirrors, Parkinson’s Law proves that the list of stuff to do, things to learn and people to contact will continue to refill itself in perpetuity. And there's nothing we can do to stop it.

Initially, it's overwhelming. We feel like we're never making any progress with our enterprise, or, worse yet, moving in reverse. Not exactly motivating.

But over time, we learn to honor the pile. We make peace with it. We even joust with it. And we give thanks to the small business gods for it because, unlike most of the world, our job is rarely boring. There's always something to be done.

Certainly makes the day go by faster.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Passion Isn't a Search, It's a Checklist

I don’t remember not knowing what my passion was.

Since I was four years old, I always had an honest understanding about what I loved, what I was good at and where I was born to invest meaning. Unlike a lot of the world, passion was never something I had to search for. It was just there. Waiting for me.

But it’s not because I was special, it’s because I was surrounded.

By my family, who kept the door of opportunity open. They created an artistic home life that fortified, fostered and challenged creativity. And they never asked me to edit myself about whatever captured my imagination.

By my teachers, who spotted the trends early. They knew I was motivated by multiple passions, and they always let me keep them in play and in communication with each other. And they never told me that what I was obsessed with was wrong or weird.

By my mentors, who took me under their wings. They saw something in me that someone once saw in them, pulled me aside, pulled me in close and gave me a front row seat to my own brilliance. And they never let me bury my music.

By my friends, who nurtured my insanity. They affirmed and encouraged my most idiosyncratic personality traits, even if it got us into trouble. And they never asked me to be anyone other than me.

That’s why I never had to look far to find my passion.

The people who surrounded me crushed the walls that usually obscured it.

They helped me remember who I was before the world told me who I was supposed to be.

Because of them, passion was never a search, it was just a checklist.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are You Worth Being Tired For?

There are four words we need to hear.

“It was worth it.”

Whether we’re interacting with customers, employees, students, vendors, fans, readers or listeners, the ultimate goal is to be worth it in their eyes.

Worth noticing, worth crossing the street for, worth standing in line for, worth taking a picture of, worth paying extra for, worth showing off, worth socializing around, worth blogging about, worth sharing with others, worth being tired for, worth getting yelled at for, worth being sore for, worth sitting trough traffic for, worth coming back for, and worth saving forever.

Is your brand worth it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Belonging Sessions 014: Brian Lemond from Brooklyn United and Brooklyn Digital Foundry

A division of Brooklyn United, Brooklyn Digital Foundry directs and produces engaging video and visualization pieces to connect brands with online and offline audiences.

I sat down with Brian Lemond and posted three crucial questions on belonging:

1. Good brands are bought, but great brands are joined. Why do you think your employees join yours?

Both of our businesses, Brooklyn United and the Brooklyn Digital Foundry, have grown up as DIY operations. They were founded on simple things: curiosity about the marriage of design and technology; a desire to make something; and a commitment to busting as much ass as it took. The key thing supporting our brands’ growth, both from a client-side and a recruiting/retention side, is we’ve stayed true to those origins, that ethos. That consistency allows us to be very sincere when presenting the companies, and our audiences recognize that sincerity and want to connect with it.

We often say in the studio that today’s marketplace is about showing off your true self, and having faith there’s an audience for that. We’ve translated that into a handy catch-phrase: Be You. Be Loved. 

2. The great workplaces of the world have soul. What do you do to humanize your culture?

The most visible thing on this front is, ironically, a dog named Oscar. A lot of offices in the New York Digital District (NYDD), aka DUMBO, Brooklyn, are pet-friendly, but we wouldn’t trade Oscar for anything.

More officially, we humanize the studio culture by treating people well. We recognize our employees have two agendas: doing a good job for us and realizing their own dreams. We produce better work and have happier employees the more we know about both sides of that equation. So communication is a huge concern for us and we’re always looking for ways to improve our dialogue within the studio. We encourage sharing of information both formally and informally, we make sure periodically the team puts down their mice, laptops, and tablets and chills out, but most importantly, we ask questions and listen to the answers. I think as a result the studio ends up being a reflection of everyone in it; the culture is grown rather than passed down from the top.

3. Belonging is a basic human craving. How do you remind employees that they've found a home?

We want to be a part of something, but we want that something to be going somewhere or accomplishing something. In our studio, the indicators/reminders are the very things that define any community -- shared experience, recognition of individuals, historical awareness, celebration of accomplishment, and so on. That’s the macro view. At a more granular level, that translates into the simple things like actually caring about each other. When you ask people questions, they can tell when you don’t care about the answer. I’ve worked in offices and with people where that sense of community, that interpersonal connection, was not present. Guess what? I’m no longer at those places and I didn’t bring those people with me.

We spend a great deal of time and energy, much of it just being extremely patient, looking for the right people to join our team. When we find them, we do our level best to let them know we don’t take them for granted. My hope is if we’re clear and open enough about how much we value them -- their ideas, their time, their contribution -- they’ll feel they’ve found something like a home.

Thanks Brian!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Start Together, End Together

When I was twelve years old, my dad taught me how to play music.

One of the first lessons he taught me was, it doesn’t matter how good the song sounds, as long as you start together and end together, you’re still a rockstar.

And whether you’re playing music, pitching a customer, telling a story, professing your love, giving a speech, firing an employee or giving any kind of performance, this approach works for a few reasons.

First, the bookend keeps you safe. By knowing exactly what you’re going to say at the start and finish, you never have to worry about weak openings or flat endings. Most people only remember the first and last words out of your mouth anyway. May as well make them memorable.

Second, the bookend gives you permission. By setting parameters on the performance, you create space for the material to breathe. This creates room for spontaneity, leaves the door open for lightning to strike and allows you to respond to the immediate experience. That way, the audience isn’t just another stop on your route of rote.

Third, the bookend keeps you focused. By owning the frame, you keep yourself within the allotted time. This helps you manage the clock, add material when needed and cut material when necessary. That way, when it’s time to wrap things up, you can move right into your close.

Start together, end together.

Let the middle take care of itself.

That’s how you become a rockstar.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Power of Acute Sales Pressure

I started my business the day I graduated college.

And unlike many of my counterparts, I had no debt to cover, no spouse to support, no kids to feed, no employees to motivate, no coworkers to support, no community responsibilities to fulfill and no social obligations to juggle.

Sound liberating? It was. And I’m eternally grateful that I was in that position for so long. Certainly sustained my productivity.

The only drawback was, it made me less hungry. It made it too easy not to care. If I didn’t make a sale, nobody’s life suffered except my own. If I didn’t bring in new business, the repercussions were nominal.

Meanwhile, my older colleagues with looming mortgage payments and recurring pediatrician bills were scrambling to close deals, lest their families lose faith in their breadwinning abilities.

That’s why I didn’t make any money for three years – I didn’t have to. There was never a deep-seeded motivation to develop that muscle.

If I had to do it again, I think I would have installed more acute sales pressure early on.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You Are What You Charge

Saying yes to uncompensated work can be a smart move.

I’ve done a handful of pro bono gigs over the years that changed my career forever.

But when we donate our services, our job as independent professionals is to set a precedent of value. To always remind buyers what the market pays us, even if they don’t. And to always alert buyers that our time isn’t just valuable – it’s billable.

Without that declaration, without taking a stand for our own professional worth, we not only cheapen our instrument, but we also earn a reputation as a doormat. And that makes it increasingly hard to get fully compensated work in the future.

We are what we charge, but only if the market knows what we charge.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Belonging Sessions 013: Chung Ng from ROKKAN

ROKKAN is an independently owned digital agency reinventing the way brands interact and engage with their consumers. 

I sat down with co-founder Chung Ng, and posed three crucial questions about belonging:

a) Good brands are bought, but great brands are joined. Why do you think your employees join yours?

Time and time again, when a new hire joins our team, they talk about how it was the work and the culture that drew them to ROKKAN. We look for young, fresh talent to work on top-tier, adventurous brands. We hire very carefully and intentionally, since every new person is a new link in the ROKKAN chain; we like our small size, and keep it that way. The opportunity to roll up your sleeves and work on killer brands right off the bat is a pretty huge draw that we hear about from our ROKKANites, almost as much as the communal, open vibe around the office and in our approach/process to client work. When an office runs on creative energy and mutual respect, amazing things are bound to happen.

b) The great workplaces of the world have soul. What do you do to humanize your culture?
When a new person joins ROKKAN, it's not about joining another company—it's about joining a family. We have a very close-knit community here, often, fellow ROKKANites are friends as much as co-workers. Since we're a small company, we're able to really put culture first and do a lot of events that a larger agency just couldn’t sustain.CWe have the annual Pool Party + BBQ, where we hold our own hot dog eating contest and a Dim Sum Day where new employees have to try the weird stuff on the menu a la Fear Factor. 

But, we’re about education as much as we’re about fun. “Recess” happens once a month—a company-wide gathering where any ROKKANite who wants to may have the floor to teach anything they want for an afternoon, whether it’s how to maximize frequent flyer points, how to play bar chords, how to make an app, or analyze Shakespearean sonnets. It’s a great way to feature “the other side” of our ROKKANites, and let everyone glean from shared expertise as well as learning about each other’s side projects and interests.

c) Belonging is a basic human craving. How do you remind employees that they've found a home?   

At ROKKAN’s SoHo loft, we don't have any cubes--it's an open plan. Even our conference rooms are clear glass.  We have several lounge areas where people can just plop down on the couch, work, and have spontaneous conversations and collaborations—almost like home.  We also are extremely pet and bike friendly, so it’s quite often that we have ROKKANites commuting in together, or bringing their puppies to work with them. Snacks and a kegerator are always in the kitchen, along with a never-ending supply of coffee. Tunes are crowd-sourced and different people “guest-DJ” the workday.

Bottom line: being at the office is inviting and comfortable, allowing for maximum creativity and a very healthy, positive work environment. At times, the only difference between working at the ROKKAN office, and working from home, is that you probably couldn’t get away with those footie pajamas in a client meeting.

Thanks Chung! Learn more about ROKKAN here.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Nine Words Worth Repeating

“Thank you for allowing me to learn something today.”

That was the exit line from the customer service agent of Bank of America.

Not, thank you for calling. Not, is there anything else I can do for you? Not, are you satisfied with your level of service today? Not, would you be willing to take a minute to answer our online survey about your customer experience for the chance to win a thousand dollars?

Just thank you. Thank you for teaching me something.

In his gratitude, he demonstrated respect.
In his ignorance, he projected vulnerability.
In his unexpectedness, he created memorability.

I wonder if your service department can do all that in nine words.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Truth Vs. History

As much as we seek consistency, there are parts of us that are always changing.

What we thought was a cherished value was just a preference that was too convenient to be killed. What we thought was a limitation was just an illusion about what we can and can’t do. What we thought was a perfect future was just an outdated plan that had no relationship with reality. And what we thought was an essential part of our identity was just some idea we made up a long time ago.
We are one constant re-beginning. And as human beings, it’s our responsibility to keep that margin open. Otherwise, in the name of sticking to our guns, we shoot ourselves in the foot. We live a lie in perpetuity instead of appearing wrong once and moving on.

In a way, the consistency is still there. It’s just a matter of what we’re consistent with.

The truth, or our history?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

You Want It Now?

I met a guy who runs a nursery.

He told me that when customers walk in to buy mulch, his favorite service moment is when he gets to ask them, "You want it now?"

Jaws. Drop.

Now? Really? You mean I don't have to wait all afternoon?

Nope. Thirty minutes. You can get your mulch before you get your pizza. Chip will even follow you home from the store if he has to.

That's service. And our job, no matter what we sell, is to explode the gap between what people expect and what they experience.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Creating a Holy Shit Moment

The goal is to create a holy shit moment.

An interaction so soaked in wow, that people can’t help but tell the world.

Try making an intentional point of over delivery. When customers ask you for an arm and a leg, hand them a hacksaw.

Try responding promptly, not just when you can. When customers send you a message, get back to them instantly and watch what happens.

Try stalking just enough to learn what they love. When customers show up, give them a personalized gift you couldn’t possibly have known about.

Try invoking something obscure. When customers come back, mention something from their last visit they barely remember.

Trying memorializing their brand. When customers get your email, demonstrate a valid reason for your persistence with a value forward attachment.

The more holy shit moments we create, the more money we make.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Simplicity Isn't Just Elegance, It's Eloquence

Apple users don’t need instructions.

In a pinch, they can always hop online to find product information sheets, troubleshooting pages, installation handbooks, online tutorials, user guides and owners manuals.

But why search for instructions when you already have permission?

Steve Jobs democratized technology. He created products that don’t require anything but curiosity. You just open the box, press the button and let your imagination carry you away. Meanwhile, his competitors at Blackberry, whose 329-page instruction manual could pass for a university textbook, are seeing an eighty percent decline in stock price.

Simplicity is isn’t just elegance – it’s eloquence.

Make it beyond easy for customers to use your products. Invest the majority of your time, money and energy creating beautiful things that don’t require a degree to operate.

And people won’t think twice about taking a bite out of your apple.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Open to the Complete Possibility of What Could Be

Innovation is impossible without imagination.

Only when our curiosity overwhelms our certainty, only when we’re more open to the complete possibility of what could be, does everything change.

Kodak failed to innovate. Instead of reading the writing on the wall and adapting to the digital world, they clung to their analog past and went bankrupt. And the irony is, they were actually the first film company to develop digital cameras, and the first to acquire an online photo-sharing site.

And yet, Kodak died with over a thousand digital imaging patents under their belt.

Because they never outgrew the belief that they were in the business of printing pictures.

Had they used their imaginations, had they been more open to the complete possibility of what could be, maybe they still would be.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Inhaing Our Own Fumes

Entrepreneurs are notorious for being too close to themselves.

Too close to the business, too close to the product and too close to their own perspective. And the problem is, when they’re in too deep, inhaling their own fumes, they start seeing things that aren’t really there. Like a mental magic trick, they create optical illusions that obscure the truth and delay the execution process.

I remember writing a book a few years ago that drove me up the wall. Since the layout architecture was more complex than usual, by the time the document was print ready, I literally starting reading words that weren’t there.

My designer was convinced I was hallucinating. So we met for coffee. And Jeff patiently cleared my eyes and helped me see what I needed to see. Then he told me to let it be. Eventually, we shipped the books in time for my overseas seminar and nobody got hurt.

But could have been much worse. As a freelancer, I don’t have a big furnace to feed.

Other entrepreneurs, ones with employees, vendors and multiple stakeholders, have a much broader constituency to cope with. And the minute they get to close to themselves, things start to get broken.

Smart organizations build external networks. Community platforms, social media outlets and other online listening posts to help them scan the horizon better.

Otherwise, they never get out of their own head.

And the mind can be a dangerous neighborhood.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

We're Never Going Back in Our Cages

Hiring ourselves has never been easier.

Thanks to accessibility, democratization and instantaneity of the web, artists and entrepreneurs now have the ability circumvent many of the power structures that used to prohibit us from executing, sharing, promoting and selling our work.

If we want to write a manual, start a podcast, create a blog, host a television show, curate a collaborative novel, open an online art gallery or launch a digital publishing platform, we can (finally) just do it. Art has turned into one big Nike commercial.

The gatekeepers have lost the key, and we’re never going back in our cages.

Which means starting is easier than ever. We can achieve digital immortality with fewer barriers, zero permission and a whole lot of hard work.

But that also means that execution is more important than ever.

And most of us are awful at taking action on what matters.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Attract an Outpouring of Affirmation from All Angles

The decision to play a bigger game changes us.

First, it modifies what matters. We let go of what kept us small. We surrender what kept us comfortable. We walk away from what we assumed was important. And we blow up what would otherwise box us in.

Next, it shifts our posture. We start to operate from a possiblitarian mentality. We engage the muscle of yes. We give ourselves permission to pursue broader venues. And we widen the horizon of what’s attainable.

Then, it opens new artistic vistas. We start to live larger than our labels. We aren’t afraid to have an imagination. We get in touch with the purest part of our creative selves. And we expand our role repertoire.

Later, it invites support. We somehow gain the resources we need. We notice opportunities previously overlooked. We align with new people who are playing a similar game. And we attract an outpouring of affirmation from all angles. 

And all we did was decide.