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« April 2014 | Main | June 2014 »

"But I might get rejected"

Indeed, you might.

You might get your hopes up only to find them dashed.

You might decide on where you want to go, and then not get there.

You might fall in love with a vision of the future and then discover it doesn't happen.

How much would that hurt? How much would it hurt to have those hopes, those decisions and that love turn out to be all for nothing?

Of course, it's not for nothing. In fact, those hopes, those decisions and that love is the foundation for a path worth pursuing. It's what makes us better.

This post was inspired by my new seminar. Sure, the odds are against you, but I think that's a lousy reason to avoid exploring something. "Will I get in?" is not nearly as good a question as, "Is it worth trying?"

Don't apply (to this or to anything else) just because you can, but yes, apply to something that matters to you, something worth dreaming about.

You might get rejected. So what?

Leap.

[I want to make an essential distinction here:

There's a huge difference between the internal cost of being rejected (you feel bad, you feel like a failure, you feel like a fraud), and the external cost.

The external cost might be the time you wasted working on something that didn't work. It might be that you offended someone by asking the wrong way, or by spamming, or by being selfish. And it might be that you wasted an opportunity by going for the longshot or the shortcut when you would have been better off settling in and succeeding in the long run.

This post is about the internal cost. It's so easy to talk ourselves into failure before it even shows up.]

The tyranny of lowest price

Lowering the price is a one-directional, single-axis choice. Either it's cheaper or it's not.

At first, the process of lowering your price involves smart efficiencies. It forces hard choices that lead to better outcomes.

Over time, though, in a competitive market, the quest for the bottom leads to brutality. The brutality of harming your suppliers, the brutality of compromising your morals and your mission. Someone else is always willing to go a penny lower than you are, and to compete, your choices get ever more limited.

The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win. Even worse, you might come in second.

To cut the price a dollar on that ebook or ten dollars on that plane ticket (discounts that few, in the absence of comparison, would notice very much) you have to slash the way things are edited, or people are trained or safety is ensured. You have to scrimp on the culture, on how people are treated. You have to be willing to be less caring or more draconian than the other guy.

Every great brand (even those with low prices) is known for something other than how cheap they are.

Henry Ford earned his early success by using the ideas of mass production and interchangeable parts in a magnificent race to the most efficient car manufacturing system ever. But then, he and his team learned that people didn't actually want the cheapest car. They wanted a car they could be proud of, they wanted a car that was a bit safer, a bit more stylish, a car built by people who earned a wage that made them contributors to the community.

In the long run, to be the cheapest is a refuge for people who don't have the flair to design something worth paying for, who don't have the guts to point to their product or their service and say, "this isn't the cheapest, but it's worth it."

What got you here...

Without a doubt, your hard work in test prep led to better SAT scores, which got you into college. It's not clear, though, that SAT prep skills are going to help you ever again.

I know that all those years of practicing (8 hours a day!) got you plenty of praise and allowed you to reach a high level on the bassoon. It's not clear, though, that practicing even more is going to be the thing that takes your career where you want it to go.

Of course you needed a very special set of skills to raise all that money for your company. But now, you've raised it. Those same skills aren't what you need to actually build your company into something that matters, though.

Successful people develop a winning strategy. It's the work and focus and tactics that they get rewarded for, the stuff they do that others often don't, and it works. Until it doesn't.

When times get confusing, it's easy to revert to the habits that got you here. More often than not, that's precisely the wrong approach. The very thing that got you here is the thing that everyone who's here is doing, and if that's what it took to get to the next level, no one would be stuck.

What's on your agenda (a summer seminar)

If you're about to leap, working on something important and generous, perhaps it makes sense to come to my office for a week this summer.

I'm hosting a seminar for 15 people in late July. You can find out all the details right here.

It's for people early in their career, people with a proven track record of standing up and picking themselves, of doing work that matters. Tuition is free.

Applications are due right away.

If you know someone who might benefit from this, please let them know.

The problem with hit radio

When you only listen to the top 40, you're letting the crowd decide what you hear.

And if you consume nothing but the most liked, the most upvoted, the most viral, the most popular, you've abdicated responsibility for your incoming. Most people only read bestselling books. That's what makes them bestsellers, after all.

The web keeps pushing the top 40 on us. It defaults to 'sort by popular,' surfacing the hits, over and over.

Mass markets and math being what they are, it's likely that many of the ideas and products you consume in your life are in fact, consumed because they're the most popular. It takes a conscious effort to seek out the thing that's a little less obvious, the choice that's a little more risky.

Popular is not the same as important, or often, not the same as good.

Thanks, Jack

Jack Covert is retiring tomorrow. You can see some of his work here and here and here.

Jack Covert is one of the most important people in my little village of book publishing, a single individual outside the normal circles of New York, someone who cares and does something about it.

Jack Covert relentlessly sees possibility when other people are ready to shrug their shoulders and walk away.

Jack Covert is a role model for all the people who care. Not just who do their job, but who actually show up, every single day, eager to make a difference, eager to connect, eager to find something special.

Jack reminds us of what publishing used to be and what it could be again. He's a man of his word, someone with extraordinary vision and drive, and most of all, someone who cares.

We'll miss Jack. Every single day, this industry will be poorer because one of the great ones has retired.

Tribal organizing (right and wrong, slow and fast)

Where do community organizers fall off the rails?

Crisis—They communicate to their audience with invented urgency. Everything is an emergency, a crisis that must be dealt with now, or it's all over. This boosts short-term response, of course, but destroys attention and trust. The boy shouted wolf, but the villagers didn't come.

Cash—They fundraise. All the time. Everything that isn't a crisis is a pitch for money, or sometimes it's both. They justify this by pointing out that without money, the other other side will win.

Cliffs—Most pernicious of all is a focus on today, not tomorrow. One campaign manager said to me, "I don't care a bit about what happens to this list a week from now. If we don't win the election, it doesn't matter. Burn em if you need to, we go out of business on election day." What a selfish, antisocial, cynical way to view the world. 

On the other hand, effective tribes are built around: 

Connection—We are here for the members of the tribe and the change they seek to make. Are people in this for the long haul, the destination as well as the journey? What do we stand for? Are relationships being built, or is this merely an ATM?

Commitment—There's no cliff. This is a mission, a journey, a cultural convenant for the long haul. We'll be here tomorrow and next year and ten years after that.

Conversation—It might feel like a broadcast tool, but it's not. The tribe thrives when it talks to itself, not when it merely listens to you shout.

(More on Tribes can be found here).

Three kinds of advertising

Direct response ads pay for themselves (at least they do when they work). Socially acceptable paid-for interruption leads to response, and the response (a sale, generally) generates revenue and you can run the ad again. Google's business is driven by direct response advertising.

Trust ads are generally unmeasurable. "I've heard of these guys, somewhere." Without consciously realizing it, we often choose to do business with the familiar, and ads increase familiarity. Particularly the right ad that runs in the right place. This is old school advertising, the first kind that appeared on TV. This is advertising that tells a story, advertising about belief, not necessarily action.

Demand enhancement ads remind us that on a hot day, we'd like a cold drink. They are ads designed to tickle and provoke, to increase the number of people in the market for what it is you sell. This is the best kind of billboard, the one that says, "next exit."

Every once in a while, an ad does all three things, but that's a foolish thing to hope for. Budget appropriately, because the very worst thing you can do with an ad is spend too little--it will get you the same results as spending nothing.

Asking or announcing...

When you ask someone if they would use your new product, buy your new widget or participate in your new service once it's ready, you will get a lie in response.

It might be a generous lie ("sure, I love this") or it might be a fearful lie ("here are the six reasons I would never use this"). The fearful lies cause us to scale back, to shave off, to go for mediocre. And the generous lies push us to launch stuff that's just not very good.

People don't mean to mess you up, but you've made the error of asking them to imagine a future they have trouble imagining. It's incredibly different than asking them to justify what they already do. "Why did you buy that particular car?" queries a completely different part of the brain than, "would you buy this new kind of car?"

Imagine the early focus groups for an early modern car. "Why does the transmission say 'd' instead of 'f'? F means forward!" "Why doesn't the window work the way the windows in my house work?" "There should be a lot of warnings on this thing, it could kill someone." "There's a radio? Why don't you make the car good at just one thing..."

It's one thing for someone to explain why they read and liked a particular book. It's another to ask them if they would read it, or even publish it. Almost everyone is horribly bad at this sort of explanation.

Steve Krug has written a really useful book about this. The takeaway is to never again run an amateur focus group, never ask an investor to help you think about what the market wants. Instead, we have to show, not tell, must create environments where people choose, then ask them why.

To be seen

A recent article outlines how NFL cheerleaders are paid less than minimum wage, disrespected and treated quite poorly. So why do they put up with this lousy behavior?

In many ways, the appeal is an extension of what we were taught in high school. To be seen, to be noticed, to be picked. Even more than that, it's part of the human condition: To be part of something, in a small way, to matter.

Despite the obvious inequity of working for free for billionaires to celebrate players paid millions on behalf of advertisers earning even more, despite the conditions and the insults, people keep trying out to be picked by the team. For now.

The shift that's happening due to the long-tail open nature of new media, though, is that it's easier than ever to pick yourself and to be seen (even if it's not on national TV). It's easier than ever to start your own dance troupe, to build a group that will travel to cheer enthusiastically, for hire. It's easier than ever for anyone to be seen in videos or heard in podcasts or read online.

The fascinating lesson about human nature is that people aren't always driven by a rational analysis of work as an exchange of labor for cash. We want to be seen and we seek to belong. It's a shame when an organization takes advantage of that and treats people unfairly.

When we offer people a chance to matter and to be seen, we have the chance to offer them something magical. 

Conventions and expectations

When you launch something new, you're almost certainly placing it into a section of the world that already has expectations about how things like this are supposed to work. A university gives diplomas. Restaurant waiters take tips. Software ought to have a 'save as' button.

It can be far more subtle than that. An emergency room waiting area looks very different from the waiting area at the chiropractor's office, even though both have the same function (waiting). The sound quality and background noise on a personal phone call sounds subtly different from one that's coming from a call center. A well-published book has chapters that start on the right-hand page.

Challenging conventions is precisely what makes your thing new. Hence unconventional. The difficulty comes when you challenge conventions and defy expectations that you weren't planning on upsetting. The inadvertent skipping of what we expect causes you to frustrate us, or to appear as an uncaring, unprepared amateur, or both.

Polish comes from domain knowledge, from having an intimate understanding of what people like your customers expect when they encounter something like the thing you just built. Sure, violate those expectations when they serve your needs. The rest of the time, though, it's smart to play along.

Your choice

Habits are a choice

Giving is a choice

Reactions are a choice

Ideas are a choice

Connections are a choice

Reputation is a choice

The work is a choice

Words are a choice

Leading is a choice

No one can be responsible for where or how we each begin. No one has the freedom to do anything or everything, and all choices bring consequences. What we choose to do next, though, how to spend our resources or attention or effort, this is what defines us.

Where's your umbrella?

Maria just published an interview I did on stage with Debbie Millman. Her post is nicely illustrated with excerpts of Hugh's work as well.

I honestly didn't remember how the whole thing went down (Debbie's fabulous at this, and it's easy to get into a zone). I'm thrilled that it's resonating with so many people.

She surprised me and decided to talk about V is for Vulnerable. (A picture book for adults). Check it out.

One hit wonders

These are artists who gave up too soon, or lost their nerve when it came to making another leap.

A one-hit wonder is a legend who stopped early.

Small differences, looming large

As we get more technologically advanced, more civilized and more refined, differences get smaller.

The Nikon SLR was in a different universe than the Instamatic. Just about anyone could instantly see the differences between pictures taken with these cameras. Taking pictures for online use with the Sony RX1 and the 80% less Canon pocket camera--not so much.

The rough peasant wine available on your table at a local restaurant was a totally different experience than a vintage Burgundy. Thirty years after that vacation, it's pretty tough (in a blind tasting) to tell the difference between a bottle that costs ten dollars at the local store and one that costs $200...

The speed difference between a Mac IIfx and a Commodore 64 was no contest. One was for professionals, one was a game for kids. Today, there's no dramatic functional difference for most users between the speed of the cheap Android tablet and the Mac Pro.

But of course, for those that care, the difference matters more than ever. For those that care, the premium available to be paid for a better camera, wine or computer is actually far greater than it ever was before.

As the differences get smaller, the purely functional reasons for premium goods fade away, and instead they are purchased for the reason we've always purchased luxury goods: because of how they make us feel, not because of what they actually do. The fur coat is not warmer than the down jacket, it's merely harder to acquire.

(Premium vs. luxury has more on this.)

Who says go?

You can pretty easily find people who will work with you or for you or advise you if you tell them what you want to do, if you are the person who says, "let's go."

It turns out that finding the employee/partner/consultant who says, "this is what we should do, follow me," is rare and precious. More valuable than just about anything that's printed on a resume.

The benefit of the doubt

Wouldn't it be nice if your work stood on its own?

That design, that bit of writing, that piece of craft--what if what you did was judged solely on the merits, if the people engaging with your work saw it for precisely what it was...

Or consider the doctor, able to heal people merely by providing precisely the right treatment on just the right day.

Or the lawyer, winning the case because she presented the most cogent, rational argument.

Doesn't work that way.

The crowd likes the songs from the singer they came to hear, not the unknown opening act. The patient responds to medicine when he believes in the doctor who prescribes it. The client is far more likely to applaud your work if he's already put down a big, non-refundable deposit.

A huge part of making our work more effective is creating the environment where we will be given the benefit of the doubt. Often, creating this environment is at least as important as the work itself.

The benefit to both sides is huge. Doubt is the project killer, and investing in diminishing that doubt is time well spent.

The proven way to add value

Do extremely difficult work.

That seems obvious, right? If you do something that's valued but scarce because it's difficult, you're more likely to be in demand and to be compensated fairly for what you do.

The implication is stunning, though: When designing a project or developing a skill, seek out the most difficult parts to master and contribute. If it's easy, it's not for you.

"You look ridiculous in that outfit"

This is always the case.

Something new is always used first by people who are willing to look ridiculous, at least for a few minutes.

Every once in a while, we adopt something because it's truly a better technology, a new taste sensation, a productivity shortcut that pays for itself regardless of what people think of it.

But most of the time, culture moves forward on the basis of a simple question:

"Do people like me do something like this?"

If the answer is 'no', most of us wait.

And so, new fashions (of all sorts) come from unexpected places, not from the arbiters of what's correct. Cameron Diaz and George Clooney aren't showing us new ways to dress, and Thomas Keller isn't inventing brand new cuisine. The people who go first have a different agenda than the standard-setters.

That's why it usually takes years for something to become an overnight success. The culture changes from the edges, and gradually, we come to answer the question about a hat or a software network or a car with, yes, in fact, people like me actually do use something like this.

This explains why Kickstarter campaigns do so well after they hit their minimum... social proof.

This week on HugDug, we saw generous and insightful reviews from:

Scott Harrison, founder of charity: water (on a solar backpack),

bestselling author and snowboarder Amy Jo Martin on what happens when men act more like women,

actress Jessica Stroup on her favorite perfume, Jackie Huba on sweetness,

and NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on a secret muscle conditioning device that might even work on someone like me.

Not everyone, not yet. 

People who care go first.

Good advice...

is priceless. Not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. Not imaginary, but practical. Not based on fear, but on possibility. Not designed to make you feel better, designed to make you better.

Seek it out and embrace the true friends that care enough to risk sharing it.

I'm not sure what takes more guts—giving it or getting it.

Emotional handwashing

Emotions are far more contagious than any disease. A smile or a panic will spread through a group of people far faster than any virus ever could.

When you walk into the office or a negotiation, then, wash your bad mood away before you see us. Don't cough on us, don't sneeze on us, sure, but don't bring your grouchiness, your skepticism or your fear in here either. It might spread.

No is essential

If you believe that you must keep your promises, overdeliver and treat every commitment as though it's an opportunity for a transformation, the only way you can do this is to turn down most opportunities.

No I can't meet with you, no I can't sell it to you at this price, no I can't do this job justice, no I can't come to your party, no I can't help you. I'm sorry, but no, I can't. Not if I want to do the very things that people value my work for.

No is the foundation that we can build our yes on.

"Don't do what I said, do what I meant."

That's what most leaders and owners and bosses and customers want, isn't it?

We want employees who know the why, not just the details of the how. We want customer service people and partners and vendors who understand.

Which is what we get, at least until we encounter the first time that we're unpleasantly surprised. It's in that moment, when we demand a refund, or fire someone, or insist on rules being followed to the letter—that's when it all falls apart and stops being a relationship based on understanding and turns into one that's built on compliance to the rules.

If you want the people you work with to act with understanding, then you must trust them to use their best judgment, even when that means you didn't get exactly what you said you wanted. The failure is yours, because you didn't help people understand the reasoning. When you accept responsibility for that failure, when you educate instead of demand, you can gain the benefits of working with people who understand, instead of merely comply.

Set a date

If you haven't announced a date, you're not serious.

Pick a date. It can be far in the future. Too far, and we'll all know that you're merely stalling. A real date, a date we can live with and a date you can deliver on.

If your project can't pass this incredibly simple test, it's not a project.

Deliver whatever it is you say you're working on on the date you said you would, regardless of what external factors interfere. Deliver it even if you don't think it's perfect. You picked the date.

And as a professional, the career-making habit is this: once you set a date, never miss a date.

Power, policy and public perception

Car dealers working together to stop Tesla.

The NFL refusing to pay sales tax.

Amazon trading customer satisfaction for concessions.

Power utilities working to stop net metering by solar panel homeowners.

Telecom companies working behind the scenes to get the FCC to abandon net neutrality.

Just because an organization has the power to do something doesn't mean it should.

Cognitive load

While reading this sentence, hum your favorite pop tune while writing down the first 15 prime numbers, in order.

Those are three tasks, easy to do separately, basically impossible to do at the same time. If you try, you'll just end up slicing each one into little bits and alternating, almost certainly decreasing the speed and quality of work of each.

Cognitive load slows us down, distracts us and diminishes the quality of the work we do.

We can certainly handle some distraction, in fact, in many cases, a little distraction actually makes things better. Going for a walk, for example, can prompt better ideation than sitting in a dark, silent room might.

The key question for anyone designing software, highways or educational settings is whether or not they are choosing to add productive distraction to our cognitive load.

And for those that seek to be productive, realize that you have a choice about what tools and inputs you're willing to adopt or be distracted by. It's up to you.

Speedometer confusion

The number on the speedometer isn't always an indication of how fast you're getting to where you're going.

You might, after all, be driving in circles, really quickly.

Campbell's Law tells us that as soon as a number is used as the measurement for something, someone will get confused and start gaming the number, believing that they're also improving the underlying metric, when, in actuallity, they're merely making the number go up.

Here are a few measurements that are often the result of speedometer confusion:

Book sales vs. Impact

Money vs. Happiness

Twitter followers vs. Anything

Money raised vs. Votes earned

Weight vs. Health

Income vs. Skill

Facebook likes vs. Liked

Tenure vs. Competence

Length vs. Quality

Faster? How about better?

Good at the beginning

...is another word for lucky. Someone needs to get lucky, and it might even be you, but luck is not a strategy.

Becoming good in the long run, that's the result of effort and tenacity and smart practice.

Not just the individual, the kid who doesn't learn to walk the first day, or the violinist who doesn't win a competition at the age of eight, but organizations and their projects as well.

The people who are good in the long run fail a lot, especially at the beginning. So, when you fail early, it might be worth realizing that this is part of the deal, the price you pay for being good in the long run.

Every rejection is a gift. A chance to learn and to do it better next time. An opportunity to figure out how to bounce, not break. Don't waste them.

Sometimes, getting lucky at the start means that you fail to learn resilience and tenacity, and you lack the tools to get better. The long run is a lot longer than the start is.

What's your job?

Not your job title, but your job. What do you do when you're doing your work? What's difficult and important about what you do, what change do you make, what do you do that's hard to live without and worth paying for?

"I change the people who stop at my desk, from visitors to guests."

"I give my boss confidence."

"I close sales."

If your only job is "showing up," time to raise the stakes.

Thoughts on HugDug

We've spent the last few months working on a new project, and I wanted to share an executive summary with you...

It's called hugdug.

The backstory: So far, hundreds of thousands of people have posted millions of reviews on Amazon.

If you're aggrieved, the negative review makes sense to me. Someone is on Amazon, about to buy something that you don't like, and here's your chance to make a stand, to say your piece...

On the other hand, the positive review, particularly the long, well-written, impassioned review, feels a bit out of place to me. After all, the shopper is already here, finger poised on the Buy It Now button, and has already found the item in question. A simple, "I love it," ought to be sufficient.

But what if there were a third-party site, a place just for rave recommendations, a place where you could help people discover stuff they didn't even know they were looking for? Not just books, but anything sold on Amazon?

What if we can elevate the art of the review, what if we can make what you review a way to tell the world what you care about?

Since we started Squidoo, we've paid our users and their designated charities more than $18,000,000. That's far more than sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which of course pay those that create content nothing at all.

Hugdug is our new project aimed at spreading positive reviews about great products. And we're earmarking half our profits to good causes.

The design goals for HugDug were to make it mobile, generous and beautiful. We wanted to create a platform that makes it easy to speak up and speak out about products you love, and we wanted to make it easy to connect with people who respect your opinion.

Why charities? Because it's the right thing to do and because it feels good. The Amazon products reviewed don't cost anything more on our site (we get paid an affiliate fee by them) and the idea of giving away half our profit is really powerful. What if every site that used user-generated content did this? By all means, I hope you'll donate as much as you can afford to the causes that you care about. Along the way, though, a commerce and recommendation engine that also generates good feelings and worthy donations is a step in the right direction, no?

The best way to understand HugDug is to give it a try. Perhaps you're interested in:

Wrinkle-free packing,

an executive shaving secret,

a future of work, or even,

the best dog toy ever.

(Here are all of my reviews).

And, if you want to try writing a review about something, here is a list of movies to choose from, or even some of my favorite books...

Thanks for giving it a try and for sharing it. I'll be posting some great reviews by my readers next week, would love to see what you care about.

PS by request, there's a bonus link about presentations added to yesterday's post.

Most presentations aren't bullet proof

  • Bullets do not save time. Memos save time. Presentations aren't about the most concise exposition of facts, they are about changing minds.
  • Bullets are actually aggressive, they're gotchas lying in wait to be brought up later, either by an observer calling you out or a presenter reminding us he told us so.
  • Bullets do not make it easier to remember what's being said.
  • Bullets create tension about what the next bullet is going to say, instead of actually communicating your idea. When we see a bullet, we check it off and stop paying attention until the next one appears.
  • Bullets are almost always misused. If you have a finite number of points, each of which supports the other, one can imagine that they help us fit the puzzle together. But that's not how they're used, are they? Most people use them the way I'm using them now, as a disorderly almost random list.
  • You've already forgotten the second bullet, haven't you? That's because bullets don't naturally map to the way we process and remember ideas.
  • If bullets are the official style of your organization, using them is a form of being invisible.
  • Without a doubt, bullets make it far easier to read your presentation to people in the room. For those with no time to practice or unable to say what's in their heart, bullets are perfect.

PS several people asked for my bulletless alternative. Here it is, from seven years ago.

When is Mother's Day?

It's sort of a silly question. After all, you and your mom can celebrate it whenever you want, not when everyone else tells you to.

My mom never liked it very much. She told us it was a silly commercial exercise. On the other hand, any excuse to express gratitude is a good one.

I published Sarah's book in memory of my mom. I figured today was a good day to remind you of it.

Origin stories

The Grateful Dead had their breakthrough at Ken Kesey's acid test parties.

Superman was raised by George and Martha Kent.

Hewlett Packard started in a garage.

We hear origin stories all the time. They're magnetic enough that we write books and make movies about them.

Here's the thing: The only thing they have in common is that they are all different.

You can't reverse engineer success by researching origin stories. You can't follow the same path as those you admire and expect you'll end up in the same place.

Everything worthwhile has an origin, but those origins aren't the reason that they are worthwhile.

Embracing the power user

Zipf's law applies to more than just the letters in the alphabet. In just about every system and every market, a power law is in force.

Heavy users make markets work. There are a few people who eat out every night, or go to 30 Broadway shows a year, or send 200 greeting cards annually or buy $100,000 worth of jewelry at a shot. There are people who tweet every three minutes, individuals who work to have tens of thousands of Facebook fans or work overtime to be the top of the heap at door-to-door selling.

This is a given. Your power users will account for a disproportionate amount of your usage and attention.

The question is this: Is your project organized so that it benefits from the power users? (And so it benefits them in return?)

In the case of Broadway shows, not at all. Frequent ticket buyers do nothing at all to help the marketing or impact of a typical show. On the other hand, Twitter is designed from the ground up to grow as their power users push it forward. Wikipedia thrives on the work of just 5,000 power editors. eBay grew because just a few thousand home businesses used it as a platform to bring in millions of buyers.

Power users can pay you more or they can build infrastructure, or they can do outreach for you. The challenge is in finding them, embracing them and giving them tools to accomplish their goals as you reach yours.

The short game, the long game and the infinite game

How long is your long run? I know people who measure the world in ten second flashes, and they're happy to do something they call generous for six seconds, as long as they get a payback before the ten seconds are up.

More common and more celebrated are people who play a longer game. They build an asset, earn trust, give before getting, and then, after paying their dues, win.

There's something else available, though, something James Carse calls an infinite game. 

In finite games (short and long) there are players, there are rules and there are winners. The game is designed to end, and it's based on scarcity.

In the infinite game, though, something completely different is going on. In the infinite game, the point is to keep playing, not to win. In the infinite game, the journey is all there is. And so, players in an infinite game never stop giving so they can take. Players in this game throw a slower pitch so the batter can hit it, because a no-hitter shutout has no real upside.

A good mom, of course, always plays the infinite game. But it turns out that it's possible to build an organization or even a country that does this as well. Build hospitals and schools instead of forts and barricades...

You certainly know people who play this game, you may well have been touched by them, inspired by them and taught by them. The wrong question to ask is, "but how do they win?" The right way to understand it is, "but is it worth playing?"

Get rich (quick)

Enrich your world by creating value for others.

Enrich your health by walking twenty minutes a day.

Enrich your community by contributing to someone, without keeping score.

Enrich your relationships by saying what needs to be said.

Enrich your standing by trusting someone else.

Enrich your organization by doing more than you're asked.

Enrich your skills by learning something new, something scary.

Enrich your productivity by rejecting false shortcuts.

Enrich your peace of mind by being trusted.

The connection economy pays dividends in ways that the industrial one rarely did. 

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