Don't Miss a Thing
Free Updates by Email

Enter your email address


preview  |  powered by FeedBlitz

RSS Feeds

Share |

Facebook: Seth's Facebook
Twitter: @thisissethsblog

Search

Google


WWW SETH'S BLOG


altmba

SETH'S BOOKS

Seth Godin has written 18 bestsellers that have been translated into 35 languages

The complete list of online retailers

Bonus stuff!

or click on a title below to see the list

alt.mba

altMBA

An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by Seth Godin, for you.

ONLINE:

all.marketers.tell.stories

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

free.prize.inside

Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

linchpin

Linchpin

An instant bestseller, the book that brings all of Seth's ideas together.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

meatball.sundae

Meatball Sundae

Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

permission.marketing

Permission Marketing

The classic Named "Best Business Book" by Fortune.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

poke.the.box

Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

purple.cow

Purple Cow

The worldwide bestseller. Essential reading about remarkable products and services.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

small.is.the.new.big

Small is the New Big

A long book filled with short pieces from Fast Company and the blog. Guaranteed to make you think.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.moo

The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.big.red.fez

The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.dip

The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

the.icarus.deception

The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

tribes

Tribes

"Book of the year," a perennial bestseller about leading, connecting and creating movements.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

unleashing.the.ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

v.is.for.vulnerable

V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:

whatcha.gonna.do.with.that.duck

Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

The sequel to Small is the New Big. More than 600 pages of the best of Seth's blog.

ONLINE:

IN STORES:


THE DIP BLOG by Seth Godin




All Marketers Are Liars Blog




Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 08/2003

Breakpoints

A neighbor recently put in some new sidewalk. As usual, the workman interrupted the unbroken swath of perfect concrete with lines every three feet.

What are the lines for?

Well, the ground shifts. When it does, perfect concrete cracks in unpredictable ways, often ruining the entire job. When you put the breakpoints in on purpose, though, the concrete has a chance to absorb the shifts, to degrade effectively.

This is something we often miss in design and in the creation of customer experiences. We're so optimistic we forget to put in the breakpoints.

There's no doubt the ground will shift. The question is: when it does, will you be ready?

More than ten is too many

Human beings suffer from scope insensitivity.

Time and again, we're unable to put more urgency or more value on choices that have more impact. We don't donate ten times as much to a charity that's serving 10 times (or even 100 times) more people. We don't prioritize our interest or our urgency based on scale, we do it based on noise.

And yet, too often, we resort to a narrative about big numbers.

It doesn't matter that there are more than 6,000 posts on this blog. It could be 600 or 60. It won't change what you read next.

It doesn't matter if a library has a million books instead of a hundred thousand.

It doesn't matter how many people live without electricity.

Of course it matters. What I meant to say is that when you're about to make a decision of scale, right here and right now, if the number is more than ten, the scope of the opportunity or problem will almost certainly be underestimated.

Metaphors aren't true

But they're useful.

That's why professionals use them to teach, to learn and to understand.

A metaphor takes what we know and uses it as a lever to understand something else. And the only way we can do that is by starting with the true thing and then twisting it into a new thing, a thing we'll be able to also understand.

(Of course, a metaphor isn't actually a lever, a physical plank of wood that has a fulcrum, which is precisely my point).

The difference between the successful professional and the struggling amateur can often be seen in their respective facility with metaphor. The amateur struggles to accept that metaphor is even acceptable ("are atoms actually building blocks?") or can't find the powerful analogy needed to bring home the concept. Because all metaphors aren't actually true, it takes confidence to use them well.

If you're having trouble understanding a disconnect, or are seeking to explain why something works or doesn't, begin with a metaphor. "Why is this new thing a lot like that understood thing..."

Metaphors aren't true, but they work.

PS more on this in my latest post on Medium.

The other kind of harm

Pop culture is enamored with the Bond villian, the psycho, the truly evil character intent on destruction.

It lets us off the hook, because it makes it easy to see that bad guys are other people.

But most of the stuff that goes wrong, much of the organizational breakdown, the unfixed problems and the help not given, ends up happening because the system lets it happen. It happens because a boss isn't focusing, or priorities are confused, or people in a meeting somewhere couldn't find the guts to challenge the status quo.

What we choose not to do matters.

Our bias for paid marketing

A few rhetorical questions:

Is a physical therapist with a professional logo better than one with a handmade sign?

Are you more likely to stay at a hotel that you've heard of as opposed to an unknown one, even if 'heard of' refers to the fact that they've run ads?

Do you believe that companies that rank higher in search results are better than the ones a few pages later? And if you don't, then what's the reason we so often stop clicking after one page?

There are more ways than ever to spread the word about your work, but we live in a culture where paid ads still have clout.

"As Seen on TV" was such a powerful phrase that companies brag about it, right on the box. And that connection between paying for attention and quality still remains.

Over time, we've been sufficiently seduced by marketers that spend on the surface stuff that cognitive dissonance has persuaded us that we must be making those choices for a reason.

Find the discipline to build your projects like you won't be able to run ads to make them succeed. A product that sells itself, that's remarkable, that spreads.

Then consider running ads as if you don't need them.

The short run and the long run

It's about scale. Pick a long enough one (or a short enough one) and you can see the edges.

In the short run, there's never enough time.

In the long run, constrained resources become available.

In the short run, you can fool anyone.

In the long run, trust wins.

In the short run, we've got a vacancy, hire the next person you find.

In the long run, we spend most of our time with the people we've chosen in the short run.

In the short run, decisions feel more urgent and less important at the same time.

In the long run, most decisions are obvious and easy to make.

In the short run, it's better to panic and obsess on emergencies and urgencies.

In the long run, spending time with people you love, doing work that matters, is all that counts.

In the short run, trade it all for attention.

In the long run, it's good to own it (the means of production, the copyrights, the process).

In the short run, burn it down, someone else will clean up the problem.

In the long run, the environment in which we live is what we need to live.

In the short run, better to cut class.

In the long run, education pays off.

In the short run, tearing people down is a great way to get ahead.

In the long run, building things of value makes sense.

Add up the short runs, though, and you're left with the long run. It's going to be the long run a lot longer than the short run will last.

Act accordingly.

Identity vs. logic

Before we start laying out the logical argument for a course of action, it's worth considering whether a logical argument is what's needed.

It may be that the person you're engaging with cares more about symbols, about tribal identity, about the status quo. They may be driven by fear or anger or jealousy. It might be that they just don't care that much.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a discussion where the most coherent, actionable, rational argument wins.

Sometimes, but not often.

People like us do things like this.

Using video well

The web was built on words.

And words, of course, are available to anyone who can type. They're cheap, easy to edit and incredibly powerful when used well.

Today's internet, though, is built on video. Much more difficult to create well, far more impactful when it works. 

My friends at Graydin, for example, needed only 140 seconds to make their case about their practice.

Because video costs more, is more difficult to edit and takes a different sort of talent to create, we often avoid it. Or worse, we cut corners and fail to do ourselves justice by posting something mediocre.

When copy exploded across the web, the professional copywriter felt threatened. Anyone could write, and anyone did.

When photography was added to the mix, the professional photographer felt threatened. Everyone had a camera, after all.

And now, the same thing is happening to video.

In each case, the professional has something to add, something significant, but she has to change her posture from scarce bottleneck to extraordinary contributor.

Great video doesn't change the rules. A great video on your site isn't enough. You still need permission, still need to seek remarkability, still need to create something that matters. What video represents is the chance—if you invest in it—to tell your story in a way that sticks. 

Actually, more data might not be what you're hoping for

They got us hooked on data. Advertisers want more data. Direct marketers want more data. Who saw it? Who clicked? What percentage? What's trending? What's yielding?

But there's one group that doesn't need more data...

Anyone who's making a long-term commitment. Anyone who seeks to make art, to make a difference, to challenge the status quo.

Because when you're chasing that sort of change, data is the cudgel your enemies will use to push you to conform.

Data paves the road to the bottom. It is the lazy way to figure out what to do next. It's obsessed with the short-term.

Data gets us the Kardashians.

HT: Marco

Amplifying social proof

Trust is the biggest hurdle.

And trust largely comes from social proof.

Is everyone doing this?

Is it safe?

Will I be embarrassed/ridiculed/left out/left behind/feel stupid?

Social proof shares a word with social networks, but they're only loosely related.

Social proof is the story we end up believing.

Your job as a marketer, then, is to take the threads of social proof and weave them together into something powerful.

No, you can't fake this (and shouldn't try). But you can amplify it. You can focus the proof on a tiny cohort, so that it has more impact. You can invest in media that acts as a megaphone, multiplying the impact of the proof you already have.

One way to be trusted is to trust the people you seek to serve.

Mostly, you can work to build something that's worth trusting. 

The momentum myth

Roller coasters work because of momentum—the quantity of motion from the downhill allows the car to make it up the next rise. Without momentum, the car would merely stop. But few things in the world of ideas follow the same rules. 

Ideas have no mass, they don't coast.

Authors fall into this trap over and over again. They believe that a big launch, the huge push upfront, the bending of the media in their favor (at any cost) is the way to ensure that weeks two and three and eleven will continue to show solid growth.

A decade ago, I wrote two different posts for friends who were launching books. The ideas still stand.

I'm betting that an analysis of the Billboard charts over the last fifty years would confirm that the speed a song makes it to the top has no correlation with how long it stays at the top.

Here's a look at the cumulative sales for Your Turn, the book I published in November 2014. And you'd find a similar curve for most successful books.

The launch is the launch. What happens after the launch, though, isn't the result of momentum. It's the result of a different kind of showing up, of word of mouth, of the book (or whatever tool you're using to cause change) being part of something else, something bigger.

Fast starts are never as important as a cultural hook, consistently showing up and committing to a process.

The toddler strategy

Most people don't get too upset at anything a two-year-old kid says to them.

That's because we don't believe that toddlers have a particularly good grasp on the nuances of the world, nor do they possess much in the way of empathy. Mostly, though, it turns out that getting mad at a toddler doesn't do any good, because he's not going to change as a result (not for a few years, anyway).

Couldn't the same be said for your uninformed critics? For the people who bring you down without knowing any better, for those that sabotage your best work, or undermine your confidence for selfish reasons?

It's hardly productive to ruin your day and your work trying to teach these folks a lesson.

Better, I think, to treat them like a toddler. Buy them a lollipop, smile and walk away.

Striking a chord

Commonly misunderstood and misspelled as "striking a cord."

A cord is a single strand that connects. You can strike a cord, but not much happens.

A chord, on the other hand, is the resonance of multiple cords, more than one vibrating together.

That's rare, and worth seeking out.

It probably won't happen if you don't do it on purpose.

The problem you can't talk about

... is now two problems.

On being treated like an adult

It's great to dream like a kid, but no fun to be treated like one. It bristles because we feel that, even if the person involved has best intentions, we've outgrown being treated like a child. Some behaviors to consider if you want to avoid this situation...

Make long-term plans instead of whining

Ask hard questions but accept truthful answers

Don't insist that there's a monster under the bed even after you've seen there isn't

Manage your debt wisely

Go to school, early and often

Don't call people names

Get your own drink of water

Don't hit your siblings

Stop bullying

No tantrums

(On the other hand, all the good stuff about being a kid helps you be happier and endear yourself to others: being filled with optimism and hope, smiling, trusting, finding creative solutions to old problems, hugging for no good reason, giggling and sharing your ice cream cone with a friend.)

Rigor

Doing things with rigor takes effort, but not everything you put effort into is done with rigor.

Rigor is a focus on process. Paying attention to not just how you do things, but why. Rigor requires us to never use an emergency as an excuse. It is a process for the long haul, the work of a professional.

An amateur bread baker leaves the kitchen coated in flour, and sometimes, perhaps, ends up with a great loaf of bread.

A professional baker might not seem to be as flustered, as hassled or even as busy. But the bread, the result of this mindful process, is worth buying, every day.

We know that you're working hard. 

The next step is to do it with rigor.

Calling your finding

Many people are trying to find their calling.

But that doesn't explain Marianne Money, bank manager, or Jim Kardwell, who owns a card company. Or Thomas Duck who started Ugly Duckling rent-a-car and Tito Beveridge who makes vodka. It doesn't explain why people named Dennis are more likely to become dentists...

I'm not sure that anyone has a calling. I think, instead, our culture creates situations where passionate people find a place where they can make an impact. When what you do is something that you make important, it doesn't matter so much what you do.

It's not that important where. It matters a lot how. With passion and care.

Unlimited bowling

When we were kids, my mom, fully exasperated, would survive a day when school was closed by dropping a bunch of us off at Sheridan Lanes for a few hours of bowling.

You only had a certain amount of money to spend, and each game (and the snacks) cost, so we knew that one could only play a few games. Which meant that every single roll mattered. Don't waste one.

Unlimited bowling is a whole different concept. As many games as you want. Roll to your heart's content.

When you're doing unlimited bowling, you can practice various shots. You can work on the risky splits. You can bowl without remorse.

As you've guessed, the fat pipes of the internet bring the idea of unlimited bowling to much of what we do. Interesting is enough. Generous is enough. Learning is enough.

It's a special kind of freedom, we shouldn't waste it.

More on this in my new interview with Chase Jarvis. (YouTube)

The most common b2b objection (and the one we have about most innovations)

You'll never hear it spoken aloud, but it happens all the time, particularly when you're selling something new, something powerful, something that causes a positive change:

"You're right, but we're not ready."

This is what people felt about the internet, about word processors, about yoga pants...

When you think this is going on, the answer isn't to be more 'right'. The answer is to figure out how to help people be more 'ready'.

PS I'm doing an AMAAA (ask me anything about the altMBA) today at 3 pm NY time.

Find out more by subscribing to the altMBA newsletter today and we'll send you all the details about the info session.

"What do I owe you?"

One of the little-remembered innovations of the industrial economy was the price tag.

If it was for sale, you knew how much it cost.

And if you got a job, you knew what you got paid--by the piece, at first, and then by the hour and perhaps by the week.

Both price tags and pre-agreed wages are pretty new ideas, ideas that fundamentally changed our culture.

By putting a price on buying and selling of goods and effort, industrialists permitted commerce to flow. One of the side effects, as Lewis Hyde has pointed out, is that knowing the price depersonalizes the transaction. It's even steven, we're done, goodbye.

Compare this to the craftsperson who won't sell to someone she doesn't respect, or the cook who charges people based on what he thinks someone can afford, or based on what he'll need to keep this project going a little longer... These ad hoc transactions are personal, they bring us closer together. Everything doesn't have to have a price if we don't let it.

Which leads to the eagerly avoided questions like, "What do you owe the editors at Wikipedia?" or "Is it okay to blog if you don't get paid for it?" and "Is there a difference between staying at a friend of a friend's house and staying at an Airbnb?" When people use Kickstarter as a sort of store, they denature the entire point of the exercise.

Seeking out personal transactions might be merely a clever way to save money. But in a post-industrial economy, it's also a way to pay it forward and to build community.

Sometimes, we don't pay because we have to, we pay because we can.

[PS... a new course, on listening]

The third Acumen course is now live... the astonishing Krista Tippett is doing her first online course, and you can find it here at a discount. (Trouble with the link? Please try: http://plusacumen.org/acumen-master-krista-tippett/ )

This joins the course we did with Elizabeth Gilbert (see below for reviews).

Which followed the first, the leadership course I launched the series with.

It's amazing what you can learn in a few hours if you're willing to do the work.

 * * *

Elizabeth is awesome on camera. I feel like it's just the two of us. Normally, I hate online courses. This is different! Loving this! - Denise

Who doesn't love Liz Gilbert? The content was refreshing and inspirational. The assignments were thought-provoking. For the price I paid, I thought this was a great workshop. - Bernadette Xiong

This is amazing. I have needed this kind of talking to for a very long time. Thank you, Elizabeth. - James Hoag

I love it! Her voice is soothing and what she is saying is so appealing. I can't wait to go on! - Susan Archibald

I enjoyed it very much. Many good nuggets of wisdom to help me on my path. - Linda Joyner

Elizabeth has that rare ability to invite you into an intimate conversation on a very weighty subject, with a touch as light as a sparrow's ripple of air on a spring day. The introduction has already laid out some actions to take that I can tell will wake up my sense of being alive and in the world. - Jim Caroompas

Being at the age where you start questioning everything around you, I feel so far that this workshop is directed to me. I feel as thought Liz has invited me over to discuss a few things to help me get back on track. – Maria Pezzano

Liz's response to the fatigued teacher really resonated with me. The fact that the reason and season for our existence and the various roles we play change with time. I love the takeaways - going from grandiose to granular, learning with humility and serving with joy. These are lessons for life. – Smita Kumar

This course was just what I needed, delivered by a wise, empathetic, funny, fun Elizabeth Gilbert. It didn't chew up vast amounts of time or make me feel like I had "work" to do. I enjoyed it so much I'll probably go back and do the entire thing over again. Don't feel like you need to do all the workbooks right away, either. I percolated them for a while and it still worked out fine. More Elizabeth Gilbert, please! – Vanessa Kelly

Learning from the rejection

When someone doesn't say yes, they'll often give you a reason.

A common trap: Believe the reason.

If you start rebuilding your product, your pitch and your PR based on the stated reason, you're driving by looking in the rear view mirror.

The people who turn you down have a reason, but they're almost certainly not telling you why.

Fake reasons: I don't like the color, it's too expensive, you don't have enough references, there was a typo in your resume.

Real reasons: My boss won't let me, I don't trust you, I'm afraid of change.

By all means, make your stuff better. More important, focus on the unstated reasons that drive most rejections. And most important: Shun the non-believers and sell to people who want to go on a journey with you.

Duck!

Perhaps you can't see it, but we can. That 2 x 4, the board set right across that doorway, about 5 feet off the ground.

You're running it at it full speed, and in a moment, you're going to slam into it, which is going to hurt, a lot.

This happens to most of us, metaphorically anyway, at one time or another. But when it happens repeatedly, you probably have a hygiene problem.

Emotional hygiene, personal hygiene, moral hygiene, organizational hygiene--useful terms for the act of deliberately making hard decisions, early and often, to prevent a 2 x 4 to the face later.

Worth a pause to highlight that: hygiene never pays off in the short run. It is always the work of a mature person (or  an organization) who cares enough about the later to do something important in the now.

When the doctor scrubs with soap before a procedure, it's not because it's fun. It's because she's investing a few minutes now to prevent sepsis later.

Way better than getting hit in the face with a 2 x 4.

How to use a microphone

More than 10,000 people attended the Lincoln Douglas debates, and yet they debated without amplification.

It's only quite recently that we began to disassociate talking-to-many from talking loudly. Having a large and varied audience used to mean yelling, it used to be physically taxing, it would put our entire body on alert.

Now, of course, all of us have a microphone.

The instinct remains, though. When we know that hundreds or thousands of people will read our words online, we tense up. When we get on stage, we follow that pattern and tense our vocal cords.

We shout.

The problem with shouting is that it pushes people away. WHEN YOU SHOUT IN EMAIL, IT SEEMS ANGRY. Shouting creates a wall between us and the person at the other end (even though it seems like many people, sooner or later, there's one person at the other end). 

Shouting destroys intimacy, and it hurts our impact, the impact that comes from authenticity.

We feel speech and words long before we hear the words, and we hear the words long before we understand them.

The solution is simple: whisper.

Practice whispering.

Whisper when you type, whisper when you address a meeting.

Lower your voice, slow your pace, and talk more quietly.

The microphone will amplify your words. And we'll hear them. 

Errors in scale

A restaurant that's too small for its following creates pent-up demand and can thrive as it lays plans to expand.

A restaurant that's too big merely fails.

There are occasional counterexamples of ventures that fail because they were too small when they gained customer traction. But not many.

It pays to have big dreams but low overhead.

Your money and your future

Your money: Almost no one knows how to think about money and investing. Squadrons of people will try to confuse you and rip you off. Many will bore you. But Andrew Tobias has written a book that might just change your net worth.

His advice is simple: spending less is even more valuable than earning more. He is also a gifted writer, funny and dead on correct in his analysis. Highly recommended.

The brand new edition is right here.

Back story: 32 years ago this month, I had lunch with Andy Tobias. I was pitching him on a partnership, and the meeting had been difficult to get. I was intimidated and soaking wet from running fifty blocks through Manhattan (no Uber!). As I sat in the New York Athletic Club, my cheap suit dripping wet (you can't take off your jacket at the New York Athletic Club), I tried to break the ice by telling the moose joke.

I told it pretty well, but Andy didn't crack a smile. Even then, he was a canny negotiator. We never ended up working together, but his book probably did me more good than the project would have. And the story was priceless.

Your future: Kevin Kelly is the most erudite, original and prophetic futurist of our time. If you've ever picked up a copy of Wired, he's had an impact on your life.

If you hope to be working, producing value or merely alive in ten years, his new book (out in June) is essential. It might take you an hour or two to read certain pages—if you're smart enough to take notes and brainstorm as you go.

The people who read his previous book about the future (New Rules) in 1998 are truly grateful for the decade-long head start it gave them.

I've never had the nerve to tell Kevin a joke, but I did offer to do a magic trick for him.

It's rare that you can spend $33 on two books and have your life so profoundly altered.

PS new Creative Mornings podcast just up with my talk from a few years ago.

Backwards: Great designers don't get great clients, it's the other way around.

Patience is for the impatient.

Leading up is more powerful than the alternative.

...And a few more provocations. I only gave this talk once, I hope you enjoy it.

Closing the gate

Sooner or later, tribes begin to exclude interested but unaffiliated newcomers.

It happens to religious sects, to surfers and to online communities as well. Nascent groups with open arms become mature groups too set in their ways to evangelize and grow their membership, too stuck to engage, change and thrive.

So much easier to turn someone away than it is to patiently engage with them, the way you were welcomed when you were in their shoes.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. It's tiresome and boring to keep breaking in newbies. Eternal September, the never-ending stream of repetitive questions and mistakes can wear out even the most committed host. Your IT person wasn't born grouchy--it just happens.
  2. It's threatening to the existing power structure. New voices want new procedures and fresh leadership.

And so, Wikipedia has transformed itself into a club that's not particularly interested in welcoming new editors.

And the social club down the street has a membership with an average age of 77.

And companies that used to grow by absorbing talent via acquisitions, cease to do so.

This cycle isn't inevitable, but it takes ever more effort to overcome our inertia.

Even if it happens gradually, the choice to not fight this inertia is still a choice. And while closing the gate can ensure stability and the status quo (for now), it rarely leads to growth, and ultimately leads to decline.

[Some questions to ponder...]

Do outsiders get the benefit of the doubt?

Do we make it easy for outsiders to become insiders?

Is there a clear and well-lit path to do so?

When we tell someone new, "that not how we do things around here," do we also encourage them to learn the other way and to try again?

Are we even capable of explaining the status quo, or is the way we do things set merely because we forgot that we could do it better?

Is a day without emotional or organizational growth a good day?

Transformation tourism

"I bought the diet book, but ate my usual foods."

"I filled the prescription, but didn't take the meds."

"I took the course... well, I watched the videos... but I didn't do the exercises in writing."

Merely looking at something almost never causes change. Tourism is fun, but rarely transformative.

If it was easy, you would have already achieved the change you seek.

Change comes from new habits, from acting as if, from experiencing the inevitable discomfort of becoming.

Just a little more

It's often about asking, not about what's needed.

Years ago, when I lived in California, I'd go to the grocery store nearly every day. I usually paid by check. Each time, the clerk would ask me for my phone number and then write it on the check.

When I ran out of checks, I decided to be clever and had my phone number printed on them. You guessed it, without missing a beat, that same clerk started asking me for my driver's license number (and yes, I did it one more time, and we moved on to my social security number).

The information wasn't the point. It was the asking, the time taken to look closely at the document.

It's tempting to listen to our customers ("why aren't there warm nuts in first class?") and then add the features they request. But often, you'll find that these very same customers are asking for something else. Maybe they don't actually want a discount, just the knowledge that they tried to get one.

What's really happening here is that people are seeking the edges, trying to find something that gets a reaction, a point of failure, proof that your patience, your largesse or your menu isn't infinite. Get patient with your toddler, and you might discover your toddler starts to seek a new way to get your attention. Give that investigating committee what they're asking, and they'll ask for something else.

They're not looking for one more thing, they're looking for a 'no', for acknowledgment that they reached the edge. That's precisely what they're seeking, and you're quite able to offer them that edge of finiteness.

Sometimes, "no, I'm sorry, we can't do that," is a feature.

Perfect; could be better

When we run a new session of the altMBA, we ask each student to write a short bio and submit a picture.

A week later, we share the nicely laid out PDF with the extraordinary class that has been assembled and then give people a week to update their bio for mistakes, etc.

Inevitably, the bios (and the photos) get better. A lot better.

It's not because people didn't try the first time. It's because being surrounded by people on the same journey as you causes you to level up.

Your path forward is pretty simple: Decide on your journey and find some people who will cause you to level up.

There are only two sessions left in 2016 for the altMBA, then we're done for the year. Check out the new application here.

 

If you're curious as to what we teach, here is some feedback from our alumni:

altMBA helped remind me that you are never too busy to do work that truly matters.  Clarissa Finks, altMBA3, Burton Snowboards

The altMBA taught me that there is no limit on empathy, or its positive and powerful application in business.  Matt Hill, altMBA3, National Parks at Night

Before the altMBA, I thought I was alone and that I needed other people’s help to succeed. After the altMBA, I know that I am not alone and that the right people will succeed with me.  Thejus Chakravarthy, altMBA4, Korin

The altMBA taught me that it is my turn to speak up about things that matter, that changing the world can start with me. Heatherlee Nguyen, altMBA3, Optum (UnitedHealth Group)

The altMBA taught me that fear is not an excuse, and helped me learn how to silence my lizard brain. I am more confident, lighter, and confident in my ability to create the change in the world that I want to see. I was a dreamer, now I am a doer.  Alexa Rohn, AltMBA4, alexarohn.com

altMBA taught me that every decision, be it to ship, to sell, to connect or to understand another is rooted in emotion. The more you understand those emotions the better your product, pitch, friendship and leadership will resonate.   Alicia Johnson, altMBA4, City of San Francisco Emergency Management

The altMBA taught me that opportunity is a decision and it’s mine to make.  Derek W. Martin, altMBA1, tuba

altMBA taught me the value of real and thought-out feedback.  Cory Boehs, altMBA1, Kool Foam

(Links for affiliation only).

The tidal wave is overrated

Yes, it can lead to wholesale destruction, but it's the incessant (but much smaller) daily tidal force that moves all boats, worldwide.

And far more powerful than either is the incredible impact of seepage, of moisture, of the liquid that makes things grow.

Facebook and other legendary companies didn't get that way all at once, and neither will you.

We can definitely spend time worrying about/building the tsunami, but it's the drip, drip, drip that will change everything in the long run.

The other kind of power move

In the common vernacular, a power move is something that gets done to you. 

The person with power demands an accommodation, or switches the venue, or has an admin call you instead of calling you himself. Someone with a resource who makes you jump a little higher before he shares it...

Little diva-like gestures to reinforce who has the upper hand.

But what about moves that are based on connection, or generosity, or kindness?

Those take real power.

Supply and demand

Just because you have a supply (a skill, an inventory, a location) that doesn't necessarily mean you are entitled to demand.

The market decides what it wants. You can do your best to influence that choice, but it's never (alas) based on what you happen to already have.

There's a reason that garage sale prices tend to be pretty low.

We can get pretty self-involved on supply, forgetting that nothing works without demand.