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Easy and certain
May 19th, 2011
The lottery is great, because it’s easy. Not certain, but easy. If you win, the belief goes, you’re done.
Medical school is great because it’s certain. Not easy, but certain. If you graduate, the belief goes, you’re done.
Most people are searching for a path to success that is both easy and certain.
Most paths are neither.
The privilege of being wrong
May 18th, 2011
When you are truly living on the edge, walking on the moon, perhaps, or caught in the grip of extreme poverty–there’s no room at all for error. It’s a luxury you can’t afford.
For the rest of us, though, there’s a cushion. Being wrong isn’t fatal, it’s merely something we’d prefer to avoid. We have the privilage of being wrong. Not being wrong on purpose, of course, but wrong as a cost on the way to being right.
As you gain resources, the act of being wrong goes from being fatal to annoying to a precious opportunity, something that you’ve earned. You [...]
The future of the library
May 17th, 2011
What is a public library for?
First, how we got here:
Before Gutenberg, a book cost about as much as a small house. As a result, only kings and bishops could afford to own a book of their own.
This naturally led to the creation of shared books, of libraries where scholars (everyone else was too busy not starving) could come to read books that they didn’t have to own. The library as warehouse for books worth sharing.
Only after that did we invent the librarian.
The librarian isn’t a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a [...]
An end of magic
May 16th, 2011
Arthur C. Clarke told us, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Head back to the 1800s with a Taser or a Prius or an iPad and the townsfolk will no doubt either burn you at the stake or worship you.
So many doors have been opened by technology in the last twenty years that the word “sufficiently” is being stretched. If it happens on a screen (Google automatically guessing what I want next, a social network knowing who my friends are before I tell them) we just assume it’s technology at work. Hard to even imagine magic here.
I remember [...]
What (people) want
May 15th, 2011
What do customers, friends, the socially networked, users, neighbors, classmates, servers, administrators, employees… maybe even brands… want?
notice melike metouch medo what I saymiss me if I’m gone
Cool new tool for finding and perfecting phrases
May 14th, 2011
Can’t remember the end of a cliche or whether to say use or used in a sentence?
Want to know how common a last name is?
Netspeak is a simple free tool I just found. Type in something like:
Winston tastes ?
music soothes the savage [beast breast]
and it searches a bazillion pages and shows you the most common matches for the question mark. Not the right answer, of course, just the most common one.
Who is making you uncomfortable?
May 13th, 2011
Who looks you in the eye and says, “given your skills, you could do better…”
“You have enough leverage to really make a difference.”
“What would happen if you doubled the amount you donated?”
“Could you set aside the fear and go faster?”
“I know you’re holding back…”
It takes love and kindness and confidence to bring the truth to a friend you care about. If you’re insulating yourself from these conversations, who benefits?
Self directed effort is the best kind
May 12th, 2011
How much are you paying for a drill sergeant?
Perhaps you can burn 500 calories on the treadmill before you give up for the day. With a personal coach, though, you could do 700. The trainer gets you to exert more effort.
You wake up on a Monday morning after a long hard weekend of misbehaving. You have a splitting headache. You can easily call in sick, no one will freak out. But then you remember that there’s a $ 500 bonus at stake if you keep your attendance perfect. You make the effort because someone else is bribing you.
On the [...]
Marketing to nobody
May 11th, 2011
Nobody wears a watch any more.
Nobody wears a tie either.
Nobody shops at a bookstore, at least nobody I know.
The market of nobody is big indeed. You can do really well selling to nobody if you do your homework. In fact, most companies selling to nobody outperform those that are trying to sell to everyone.
Selling vs. inviting
May 10th, 2011
Selling is often misunderstood, largely by people who would be a lot more comfortable merely inviting.
If I invite you to a wedding, or a party, or to buy a $ 500,000 TV ad for $ 500, there’s no resistance on your part. Either you jump at the chance and say yes, or you have a conflict and say no. It’s not my job to help you overcome your fear of commitment, to help you see the ultimate value and most of all, to work with you as you persuade yourself and others to do something that might just [...]