Thank You

As you know, this is the last blog post of my year-long experiment to blog every day (it turned into two years of blog posts.)

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity I have been given. I am grateful to have a platform to blog on and a reason to blog. I am thankful for those of you who have subscribed and commented. I appreciate those who I know who read regularly and those who I have no idea why you subscribed.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with me. I hope we’ll cross paths again in the next leg of my adventure.

Thank you. And I’ll see you around.

Lean In and Contribute

In these times, especially when we are not face-to-face for most of our meetings, it is more important to lean into your conversations and contribute something.

Contributing isn’t only talking about what you know. Rather the best contribution starts by listening to what the conversation needs. As you listen, you will also start to understand where the conversation is going. Then consider how your knowledge and experience can help the conversation, and others, get to where they are going in a better way than they ever expected.

Sometimes the best way to contribute to a conversation is to keep quiet and let others get to where they need to go. Other times it will be a shame if you don’t give people what you have and know already.

Move the conversation forward, help other people grow, lean in and contribute.

User Problems

Everything you do should be solving a user problem.

Why did you go to that meeting? To make a decision? to create a strategy? You should have been at that meeting to solve a user’s problems.

A strategy helps us create a structure to solve problems that we expect the user will find in the future. So when you are working through your strategy, you should consider the specific user problems you are solving.

If you are making infrastructure or business model decisions, you are also addressing user’s problems. You aren’t replacing an asset (a machine or a server) because it slows down production. You are replacing the server because if you don’t, the customers who try to buy your product will be frustrated by a slow response time. And if there is a slow response time, they might not buy your product to solve their problem.

No matter what it is, your work should be connected to the user’s problems that they are facing. If you can help your users solve their problems, they will be loyal and happy with what you deliver.

Rainy Days

Some days it will rain. You’ll wake up and hear the pouring rain on your windows and roof. Or you’ll be ready to go out and notice that it’s going to be a very wet trip. 

You can’t stop the rain. You can’t even change the time that it starts and stops. But what you can do is plan for it. Weather forecasts have gotten so accurate that meteorologists can predict the weather for each hour. 

When you are delivering projects, you must realize that sometimes it will ‘rain’ on your project work. Things aren’t going to go as planned, or the work you thought could be done will be hampered somehow. But you can prepare for your rainy days. Here are a few ways: 

  1. Have a list of small, maybe simpler, jobs that you can do when you run stuck on a big problem. Often, stepping away from what seems like a roadblock and focusing elsewhere will give you a fresh perspective that solves your original problem quickly when you come back to it. 
  2. Be mentally prepared for an uncomfortable slog. Going into your project with the mindset that everything will work out smoothly makes it very difficult to run into obstacles. If you have equipped yourself to deal with impediments, you will be equipped to deal with them when the inevitable arrives. 
  3. Acknowledge a rainy day, and move forward according to plan. Sometimes it is conquering the rainy days that have the best reward for morale. The 25km hike or canoe trip in the rain seems like a much greater accomplishment on a rainy day than a blue-sky day. If the ‘rain’ won’t destroy your work, some days you should just work through it. 

Some days it will rain. Don’t let the rain stop your forward movement on the good work that you are doing. 

Too Much Information / JIT Processing

You will never know everything that there is to know. In our world, information is being produced at breakneck speeds. To consume all of the information would be impossible. First, you would have to find the time to read, listen to, and watch everything; then you would have to evaluate if it were true and accurate, then you would have to find a way to apply it practically. You simply don’t have enough time or brainpower to consume everything you could. 

As an alternative, we have all moved to just-in-time(JIT) information access. Do you need a recipe for supper tonight? Google it. The same is true for an answer to your coding problems. The pitfall to JIT information access is that you might miss out on opportunities you weren’t aware of. If you search up ‘good hamburger recipes slow cooker,’ you might miss out on a great crockpot fajita recipe because you didn’t think to search for that specific term. There are two ways that we can make sure our just-in-time information access continues to broaden our horizons also. 

  1. When looking for information, use unexpected terms that can get you to the same results. ‘The queen’s favourite crockpot meal’ might not show you what the queen is having for supper, but it will lead you to many recipes that are ‘fit for a queen.’ A different search term can expose you to answers that you weren’t aware of before. 
  2. Don’t only read the first search result. Select the 3rd or 5th search result and find out what these pages say about your query also. These were still relevant results, they made it to the top 5, but if you only click on the first search result, you may miss diverse ideas or perspectives.

We will continue with just-in-time information access. This is a good thing. We are privileged to have so much information at our fingertips. As you access this information, take steps occasionally to diversify your perspective and the sources of the information. 

Concentration

If you have too much spice in a dish, it can be overpowering. If you don’t add enough water to your orange juice from concentrate, it tastes too strong. If you use a magnifying glass to focus a sunbeam, it can start a fire.

When you have a lot of one thing, the concentration can be potent. Whether it is a positive consolidation of kindness and love or an intentional focusing of divisiveness, having a lot of similar sentiments in a single place will cause the rest of the group to lean one way or another.

The antidote to concentration is dilution. If a group focused on destruction is diluted amongst a group focused on the benefit of humanity, eventually the harmful thinking will have no power or impact. But you have to be careful because the same thing can happen to positive matters also. People who are focused on good may have a diluted impact if they don’t fight to keep up the right levels of concentration.

The concentration of effort, time, energy and belief can be a powerful force. Make sure that you use this force to your benefit.

The Road Ahead

I don’t know what the road ahead holds.

But I am curious to find out.

Do you want to join me?

Stopping, not starting – By Seth Godin

This is the last time in I while I’ll get a chance to post a Seth Godin post (as per our agreement) so here it is.


This post was written by Seth Godin. Reproduced by permission. The original post can be found here.

Helene points out that Google is shutting down Google Answers.

My first response was “oh no!! I love Google Answers… I use it all the time. It’s amazing! I’ll miss it.”

And my second was to think about this as the obvious side effect of being in the fashion business.

If you’re going to launch stuff, and launch it often, then you must clean house. Even though Google Answers is a great idea (hint, someone should recruit all their brilliant researchers), it’s not a great enough idea to hit Google’s numbers. So kill it.

Ignore people like me who scream and yell about how much they love it and how much potential there is. Just kill it. That’s what fashion companies do.

Learn Something New

Sometimes we make the mistake of learning the same thing over and over again. We may have a particularly familiar and comfortable topic, so we stick with that topic’s recurring themes and never explore the outer edges of what we could possibly know.

An example of learning the same thing over and over again could be if you are learning sales. You might read, watch and listen to everything that you can about how to sell your product. You could know everything there is to know about prospecting, qualifying leads and dealing with objections. And if you continue to listen and read, you’ll get more information: this is good. But you might also be learning yourself into a rut. Suppose you stepped outside of the narrow topic of sales and learned about customer service, negotiation, or even strategic thinking. In that case, you might suddenly find that your sales conversations are so much more effective.

Having a key focus isn’t a bad thing. But don’t become so focused that you don’t learn from unexpected areas. Learn something new today.

Announcing the End

Two years ago, I began an experiment: I wondered what it would be like to write a blog post every day for one year. And so I started writing. My blog was the place where I put down the thoughts and concepts that I found interesting from my reading or general life experience. It’s been a great place to keep track of ideas, solidify difficult concepts by articulating them, and to experiment with the discipline of writing.

Just over 700 days later, I’m still writing.

But it’s time for me to spend my energy on other areas for a while. After October 30th, I don’t plan to blog daily anymore. It’s time for me to spend my energy in other places where I can help people.

I don’t know what shape my blogging will take after October 30th. It could be that I blog on very detailed topics or use the blog in more of a newsletter format. I appreciate the feedback, thoughts, and encouragement over the time of this one-year experiment (that turned into two years.) Thank you for reading, enjoy the next week or so of my blog, and I look forward to our next chapter together.

(For those of you who are subscribed to the blog, you will continue to receive blog posts in your inbox; they will be less frequent or even just occasional.)