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” It’s easier to focus on one number than it is to focus on a life.” ~Seth Godin

Here is the context.

Measuring without measuring

 

As an organization grows and industrializes, it’s tempting to simplify things for the troops. Find a goal, make it a number and measure it until it gets better. In most organizations, the thing you measure is the thing that will improve.

Colleges decided that the SAT were a useful shortcut, a way to measure future performance in college. And nervous parents and competitive kids everywhere embraced the metric, and stick with it, even after seeing (again and again) that all the SAT measures is how well you do on the SAT. It’s easier to focus on one number than it is to focus on a life.

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Categories: Strategy Tags: , ,

Why was Readers Digest bound to fail?

March 30, 2013 1 comment

This blog by Seth Godin is worth reading in it’s entirety. What is your Readers digest idea?

Rdrejected Heartfelt criticism of your idea or your art is usually right (except when it isn’t…)

Check out this letter from the publisher of a magazine you’ve never heard of to the founder of a little magazine called Readers Digest:

But, personally, I don’t see how you will be able to get enough subscribers to support it. It is expensive for its size. It isn’t illustrated… I have my doubts about the undertaking as a publishing venture.

Of course, he was right–given his assumptions. And that’s the except part.

Criticism of your idea is usually based on assumptions about the world as it is. Jackson Pollock could never have made it as an painter in the world as it was. And Harry Potter was rejected by just about everyone because for it to succeed the way kids read would have to change.

The useful element of this sort of criticism isn’t that the fact that people in the status quo don’t like your idea. Of course they don’t. The interesting question is: what about the world as it is would have to change for your idea to be important?

In the case of Readers Digest, the key thing that changed was the makeup of who was reading magazines. Most of the people (and it was a lot of people) who subscribed to the Digest didn’t read other magazines. And so comparing to other magazines made no sense, except to say, “this is so different from other magazines, the only way you’re going to succeed is by selling it to millions of people who don’t read those magazines.” And Starbucks had no chance if they were going to focus on the sort of person who bought coffee at Dunkin Donuts or a diner, and the iPad couldn’t possibly succeed if people were content to use computers the way they were already using them.

Keep that in mind the next time a gatekeeper or successful tastemaker explains why you’re going to fail.

Seth’s Blog: Interpreting criticism

How am I doing compared to a magical unicorn?

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment

 

How am I doing compared to a magical unicorn?

We love to compare ourselves to those we know we are better than. It really makes us feel good. Seth Godin suggests there is a better standard. One the will make us feel uncomfortable.

Seth Godin

Will we take up the challenge?

The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out–this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity.

The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn.

Compared to that, how are you doing?

via Seth’s Blog: Compared to magical.

Categories: Strategy Tags: , ,

Best of Tom Peters Cool Friends — Sally Helgesen

February 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Tom Peters has some very cool friends. He is also very kind to introduce us to them. I haven’t read much from Sally Helgesen yet but she is going on my list. I am particularly intrigued by “The Web of Inclusion“.

With three interviews to her credit, Sally Helgesen is not only one of our favorite Cool Friends, she’s tied for first place in frequency of Cool Friends solo interviews (with the prolific Seth Godin!). She also has a section of Tom’s Mother of All Presentations devoted to her work. Best known for her 1990 classic, The Female Advantage, Sally has a focus on women’s work issues, but her insights are universal—perhaps essential for all who would succeed at work in the 21st Century.

Interview No.1, posted 2000. Book under discussion: The Web of Inclusion: A New Architecture for Building Great Organizations.

Interview No.2, posted 2002, and the book: Thriving in 24/7: Six Strategies for Taming the New World of Work.

Interview No.3, posted 2010, and the book featured (coauthored with Julie Johnson): The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work.

We’d suggest you read all three interviews and maybe pick up a couple of Sally’s books, too!

via Best of the Cool FriendsSally Helgesen | tompeters!.

Where does trust come from?

February 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Here is a great question. Where does trust come from? We all want it. It isn’t always easy to get or build.

Hint: it never comes from the good times and from the easy projects.

We trust people because they showed up when it wasn’t convenient, because they told the truth when it was easier to lie and because they kept a promise when they could have gotten away with breaking it.

Every tough time and every pressured project is another opportunity to earn the trust of someone you care about.

via Seth’s Blog: Where does trust come from?.

Categories: Strategy Tags: , ,

Why wait? Speed makes a difference

February 4, 2013 Leave a comment

This is such a great question. Why wait? Seriously. Why wait? Seth Godin says it well. Speed can make a difference.

If you’re on the critical path, if someone is waiting for your contribution, ship now.

We have deadlines for a reason, but the key word is ‘dead’. In fact, you don’t have to wait for the deadline or get anywhere near it, especially if you want to speed things up.

Seth’s Blog: Why wait?

Categories: Strategy Tags: , ,

Powerful stories have impact. What are we telling our self?

January 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Seth Godin has some great thoughts on the stories we tell. The ones we tell ourselves are so very important. What is our story? How frequently do we tell it to our self?

I know that marketers tell stories. We tell them to clients, prospects, bosses, suppliers, partners and voters. If the stories resonate and spread and seduce, then we succeed.

But what about the story you tell yourself?

Do you have an elevator pitch that reminds you that you’re a struggling fraud, certain to be caught and destined to fail? Are you marketing a perspective and an attitude of generosity? When you talk to yourself, what do you say? Is anyone listening?

You’ve learned through experience that frequency works. That minds can be changed. That powerful stories have impact.

I guess, then, the challenge is to use those very same tools on yourself.

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