March 25, 2020
Join their team before they ask you to.
I’ll tell you about a simple trick that you can use for building your network and community.
I think it’s relevant now as people start to ask questions like…
“Is now a good time to apply for new jobs?” or “How do I build a network online, I’ve only really done it in person?”
Networking and community building isn’t so much a skill as it is a habit. Meaning; it’s not about saying or doing the right specific thing so much as it is being in the habit of acting from a certain place.
For years I’ve been a network almost wholly online. Many of whom turn into IRL friends but almost all who started digitally.
I think this approach works regardless if you’re trying to connect with a mentor, a new friend, or a company to be hired by.
See, most people have a vision for what they want their life to be. Or maybe a vision for their business, or who they could be at work.
The simplest way to connect with someone online… the best form of “networking”…
Is simply to become an advocate of that cause or vision.
You “ join their team.”
This is different than being a fan. Fans admire and often lower their own status in relation to the star of the show.
Joining someone’s team is about saying “I see where you’re trying to go, let me help you get there.”
And, “I see where you’re trying to go, I’m really interested in that, I wonder if my skills would be useful to you in that journey?”
A fan is in the crowd.
A team member is helping out backstage.
So to join their team you can buy their product. You can get involved with their mission. You can join, or even better, start, an advocacy group that helps their cause.
You can offer your services and describe how they align with the outcomes they seek.
You can provide helpful feedback. “Hey, do you have any early readers giving you feedback on your new book?”
“Hey, I really love what you’re working on, and I just bought your product and think it’s phenomenal. I’m curious, why don’t you have a Forum for your customers? Maybe I could start one.”
“Hey, I see you’re trying to grow this Youtube channel, but it looks like no one is editing your videos… I’m sure that’s a pain. Have you ever thought about having someone cut edits for you?”
I think mentally you can sort of “join someone’s team” before they even ask you to. At least that’s how I approach it.
When I love a brand or someone’s work, I feel like I’m rooting for them.
When I speak with someone new, I like to listen and hear what their vision is for the world, and then orient our conversation towards how we can both make that a reality.
When I email all of you, I feel as if I’m in your corner, nudging you to achieve what you believe you are able to.
And here’s the thing about “networking” and community building.
If I feel like I’m on someone else’s team, and they feel that way too.
It’s not so long after that they feel like they’re on my team, too…
March 17, 2020
Take care of yourself first.
You can’t help others if you are not safe and healthy. We need you and your community needs you. It’s selfish not to.
Here’s what I’m doing:
- Letting myself sleep in
- Keeping to my meditation practice
- Organizing finances
- Supplimenting w/vitamins etc.
- Taking breaks from the news/social.
Take care of your network.
When everyone is glued to the news, we can be glued to each other.
Now is the time to reach out and support each other. It’s simple, just reach out. Just send a text saying "how are you?"
Not to ask for anything in return but to see where you can help fill any gaps, both for your neighbors and your business associates.
Now is a time to strengthen the web of relationships. Be the one to instigate the phone call.
Here’s what I’m doing:
- Paying yearly when I can.
- Paying contractors ahead of time
- Ordering takeout
- Reaching out to those in my network to see where I can support
- Doubling down on investing in my mission.
Use the change to change.
This break in schedule and routine is an opportunity for something new. This is forced change, so rather than push against it, lean into the change to find something new in yourself.
If you’re home now for extended periods of time, it’s time to learn a new skill or begin new habits.
For those who’s forced change is more difficult, such as longer hours at work or you work in medicine, this is where we’re tested on what we’re capable of.
This is where you've give it all you've got. This will be your finest hour.
Invest now, because things will change again.
In times like these, our society is going through a forced restructure.
Industries are changing, market dynamics are changing, our preferences are changing. This is a time to invest, however that looks like you to, into where we are heading. That could be learning new skills, launching your side project, starting to write, whatever it may be.
Right now things feel frozen, like we're in free fall.
But we will land and grow from here.
Remember that this storm will abate. It always does.
Hold on to empathy and availability for people.
For any of those affected, by health or by families health, I truly wish you well and I hope that you know that both myself and this community are here in solidarity, human to human.
For those of us who can, if we can spend a bit of time each day thinking of others, and doing what we can to support, we will all get through this better off.
As always, my inbox is open, so feel free to hit reply if you'd like to share what you're thinking, doing, or feeling.
March 17, 2020
Perspective for Brands in a Down Market
When markets shift, and things get tight, as business owners we don't need to panic.
Instead, we need to take the necessary precautions to plan out a few to a dozen months that are lean so that we come out the other side even better.
In short, we can focus on three areas...
- Return to fundamentals. Bubble’s bursting is a great reality check, and business is all about reality.
- Talk with customers as much as possible. Give them new options, open up new lines of communication.
- Look for operational efficiency anywhere we can. Develop clarity on your business with more laser focus than ever before.
Priorities shift, and the plans you made can be recouped later. For now, focus on the above, putting your mask on first until...
Shift to serving others.
The best brands utilize adversity to clarify and rally around their mission and purpose.
This is not a time to back down and be quiet. Instead it’s time to return to your core purpose. And do so with an abundant mentality that shows you’re there for your customers and you’re there for your employees.
Savvy Brands know how to thread the needle.
Between honoring people’s pain and boldly pushing forward, with empathy.
I highlight this statement, because not only is it always, true, but it's true more than ever.
Do not be opportunistic.
People will see through it.
Supportive brands makes themselves available.
Spending extra hours, extra time, and extra awareness being on call for your people’s needs. You are alert and ready to support the community.
People are looking for help.
When things collapse, people are looking for spaces that can support them. You can be that support system. Can you afford to pay people earlier than normal? Can you give your customer a deal?
Talk with your people. Do it over voice or video when possible.
Protect your network!
We need Vision and we need Truth.
Some brands are writing stuff about tips for Remote Work …. blah blah.
Skip that unless it genuinely is related to your company, and even then ask yourself if you really have anything meaningful to say on the subject.
Now is the time to redefine who you are, what you stand for.
Remembering why you got into this in the first place. The people, the delight, the product, and the mission.
When things fall apart, return to purpose.
Chamath Palihapitiya gets it.
Here is his how he ends his annual shareholders letter.
"Living a life of purpose and forgiveness
As we enter the final years of the Gilded Age and usher in the Progressive Era, a more civilized culture will hopefully abound. Today, it’s not just the stock market but also the fragmentation, polarization and judgement that are at all time highs.
Is this really the hallmark of a society that is progressive? No. It's the remnants of unhappiness, resentment and anger that personify the Gilded Age. That said, it's so much easier to be happy and see the bigger picture when you focus on what matters. So how does one focus on what matters? I’ve found it possible by asking questions like “what matters to me?” and “what is important to me?” These may sound like the most basic questions but they are also the most critical. And especially now, these are the questions that need lucid, non-judgemental answers from each of us.
For me, I have learned that my family, my health and what I know (knowledge) are the most important things that matter to me. Work, money and friendships are important but come strictly after the first three. What doesn’t matter? Everything else, particularly, what others think about me and my decisions."
Rusty Guinn and Ben Hunt get it, thank you Epsilon Theory.
"There will be families who rely on schools during the day to permit them to work, who also work in service jobs in public places which expose them unduly to the risk of infection, who also have poor health insurance options. These are families who would struggle financially to grapple with any one of these problems….
What can full-hearted Americans do?
- Take care of service vendors: If we own or run a business where we can do so ethically, we can find a way to keep paying the people and businesses we have worked with and may not be able to soon because of social distancing. Do we cater a weekly lunch from a local restaurant for the team? ….
- Let friends and neighbors know NOW how you’re ready to serve: We have elderly neighbors who in some regions will soon be discouraged from – or may just be personally frightened about – going out, even just to the store.
- Give to local organizations who support these needs: Coronavirus the Disease doesn’t care who we are. Coronavirus the Economic Event, on the other hand, does. Its burdens will fall unevenly on the millions of families with children who rely on retail and hospitality sources of income. Some will very likely have basic material needs – food and shelter. Find the organizations who provide these things. Support them generously….. "
It takes guts and empathy and work to understand what role your brand can play in all of this to serve your customers.
But I promise you if focus on truly being there to support, and if it leads your team to reassess why you’re here and what you’re here to do, you can be a stronger beacon for those right when they need it…
Right when people are looking for someone to be there to lean on.
Right when people looking for packs to join and be a part of.
Right when people hoping that they can trust in their relationships not to let them down…
Great things are built in down markets, because great companies double down on their mission now, reaping the rewards as things rebound.
As always, I’m here, so reach out if I can help.
March 17, 2020
Sometimes things come along and drastically alter your path. This is one of those times.
They happen at the end of a cycle – personal or global – and they shuffle the deck right before you played your cards.
At least it feels that way.
And of course, we’re all affected differently. As life events occur, some are devastating. Some, annoying. And others simply throw us off kilter such that we begin to forget who we were just weeks prior.
And everyone interprets these changes their own way.
Some downplay them. Others overdramatize them. Some seek ignorance.
In any event, we are here to learn and grow. And it’s in these moments when structures collapse that new ideas are born.
It’s in the gaps created by this vacuum that new leaders stand up.
And it’s in the silence that new voices emerge.
Whatever cards you were about to play, recognize that the game has shifted. Suddenly it’s time to make sense again. If you were unhappy about your cards, use this as a time to scrap them and plan your reinvention. And if you were well on your way, use this as a reset to double down but in a new way.
It’s on each and every one of us to adjust the meaning we perceive about the world and our lives in it, in moments like these. Even if that is a refocusing of your original plans.
Because the world isn’t static.
And because change breeds dynamism.
And nature hates complacency.
And order is often followed by collapse and then rebirth.
This is one of those times.
March 17, 2020
The Meta Skill of the Artist and Entrepreneur
There are two ways to look at every situation.
With fear or with curiosity and learning.
The fear part of our brains is the ancient part, the one that has been there to keep us safe. It interprets shadows as wild animals, and phone calls from our boss as our job on the line.
This part is useful, but not constructive for growth. If it overrides our other way of perceiving the world, we will shrink back and miss our full potential.
The other part of our mind deals in learning, curiosity, growth, fun and flow.
This part does not feel obligation, or reaction, rather it is a forward thinking part of ourselves. It deals in vision, understanding, truth and discovery.
It is the drive part of our minds. It desires (double edged sword) but it also has a positive outlook on experience.
In any situation we can be living, being, in fear or curiosity.
This is a matter of perception, rather than hard truth. Of course, there are times to lean into our fear based minds to get us out of trouble.
But it is often the case that we overuse this area. This is difficult, because, like insurance, it is often profitable to have a touch of worry.
So really what I am sharing is to understand the difference, when it is warranted to listen to this fear based mind and when it is not.
And the truth is in most instances we rely too heavily on fear and not enough of curiosity and drive.
Fear will keep us small. It will react to situations to avoid them. Or sometimes, we will puff ourselves up to fight them. Fight or Flight are both fear responses. And they narrow the scope of possibility.
Curiosity, joy, passion, drive will open our world up to make things better. This creates forward progress, and it does so because our minds are wide open to possibility when we are in this space. We see not only a few options (fight/flight) but we see thousands of colors and options available to us.
This is the root of creativity. And creativity is the best way us humans can *be* such that we solve our problems.
I believe we are entering an even deeper point of creativity in the world, right at this moment.
While many are in fear, and many should listen to this fear, there is also great room for creativity.
This balance is one that the artist deals with each and every day.
And the meta skill of the artist is balancing these two ways of living and creating.
The meta skill of the entrepreneur is learning how to modulate between these modes.
By building strength in your ability to shift into a mode of learning that is based in drive, passion and curiosity instead of reaction will be the single biggest shift in your career.
It is the skill that’s not spoken about but underlies every action.
And it’s the skill that as you continue to master, every action beyond that improves.
Right now, just be aware.
It may be too early to have full control and that’s ok.
Right now, notice how you are as you perceive certain situations.
Is there a shrinking back? Is there a stepping forward with open space?
Are you reacting or acting?
Our work as artists and founders is to sharpen this skill and muscle.
To activate creativity despite circumstances.
To allow fear only when it is truthfully necessary.
And to know the difference between the two.
March 2, 2020
No Agenda Brands
The market is today is crowded by brands using competition as a strategy.
Did you see the two cans of sparkling water with the same brand design? Or Hims and Roman (which one’s which again?) Or the commercials at the Super Bowl…
Being different isn’t about strategy.
It’s about courage.
And it’s about authenticity.
Each one of us has a burning question that we carry buried beneath the surface.
Each one of us has an idea that we believe in at our core.
It’s our insight, our lens for how we see the world. It’s something you think about all of the time, it’s constantly on your mind.
It could be your belief system, or just a topic that fascinates you (permaculture, or collecting leather books).
It could be… something obscure, something that you feel no one would fully understand. But you do, or at least you're starting to.
It's like you've found this thread, and the more you pull on it the more you find is there. It fascinates you and it's always present in your mind and interactions.
But no one has ever asked you about it for…
No Agenda is about asking the obvious question that everyone else has missed because they didn’t see it or didn’t give you the space.
No Agenda is a way of being as a person or a brand, where we let down our guard and…
Lean into that thread of an idea.
I’ll tell you the secret of brand building today.
The secret that will sound simple but is incredibly difficult to achieve.
First because we’ve been trained to do the exact opposite.
Second because you will have to have a lot of trust in yourself.
The secret is this:
What you think to be practical is wholly unpractical.
What *feels* intuitively right, but logically wrong...
Is wholly practical.
We have been stuck in a bind.
In my work with founders, creators, and coaches all over the world I’ve noticed a pattern.
In my process, the cycle is the same. And so is the solution.
Founders feel stuck, torn between two ideas.
They have the inspiration and aspiration to be something great. They can picture it. They have the vision, it feels just within reach.
But here, now, in reality-today… there are many things that do not align with that vision. And so there is this tension between who we feel we are today and who we know we can be.
We feel a vision and we feel we fall short.
We fear missing out on what we’re capable of.
To reach the capable is to follow a feeling.
To reach the known is to follow practicality.
The known will keep you stuck and the practical will increase your tension.
If you follow the feeling…You will open up and growth will rush in.
If you allow yourself to listen to yourself at your core…
If you do not care for convention, but instead invention...
If you nurture this hidden idea, growing it, and then expressing it….
You will break the struggle of being torn between two worlds.
You will flip this equation inside out.
You will follow the feeling, and it will practically work for you.
You will neglect the thought of what is conventionally practical, knowing that it will be wholly unpractical for you to follow.
And you will find your voice.
You will find something that is so expansive that you will wonder why you would have chosen to play in such a small sandbox.
The Best Brands Are.
They exist because they rest upon an incredible mountain, sky, river and landscape, designed by its founders over years of discovery, curiosity, inquiry, and eventually…
That landscape is so rich, so robust, so worked through that it will not bend when the wind blows it.
If you find this spaciousness within yourself (which we all have).
If you get accustomed to living there.
If you speak out loud, express ideas from that space at your core, opening yourself up…
No Agenda Brands take action without expectation.
No Agenda Brands sell without selling.
They open this space for the public to view, and those who see what is to offer rush in on their own right.
No Agenda Brands play.
They skip the competition by speaking layers beneath the surface.
No Agenda Brands invite others in, simply by going first.
And No Agenda Brands have courage to flip the equation.
To let go of the dilemma they have been holding onto, of thinking about who they are not.
Instead of feeling who they are.
February 4, 2020
Community is About Going Somewhere Together
When communities form online, it has little to do with their physical location, race, background or education.
Instead communities gather based on a shared vision for who they want to be.
The creator: artist, group or brand are leading and unifying this shared vision through content.
It happens in politics and it happens in punk rock.
So a community is about going somewhere, together.
And to build community means to stand up first with a new vision. You’re raising the bar for what’s possible, and you’re giving people the space to grow.
By putting up a flag you attract people to your beacon.
By creating a space you’re connecting the disconnected.
Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, The Dalio Lama, Nelson Mandela all raised the bar for what we can expect of ourselves.
They set a new standard, shared a new vision, sparked change in others by first sparking change in themselves.
Next time you think about your project, product, album... ask yourself what the vision is for who we will all be in the end.
Followings occur when you’re taking us somewhere we aspire to go.
February 3, 2020
When in Doubt, Tell a Useful Story
I get it, it feels complex.
There is so much nuance to human nature, that it can't help but be the case that every interaction and campaign you create to market to your audience can feel like there are a thousand things to consider...
So, let's keep things really simple, and create a heuristic to return to when things feel complex or when we don't know what to do next.
This idea gets to the essence of marketing.
Use it like a grounding matt from which to stand on any time you feel you've lost balance.
Here it is:
When in doubt, tell a useful story.
A customer is calling to complain... ? Tell a useful story.
Looking to close a deal? Tell a useful story.
Launching a new product? Tell a useful story.
Speaking at a conference... on a podcast... in a job interview... ?
Tell a useful story.
Useful to whom?
To the person you're interacting with.
This means meeting them where they are, not where you are.
This means imaging how they see the world, and telling them a story which fits within that worldview but leads them to see something new.
Useful in helping them with a problem or a desire they currently have.
Each day we walk around with problems and desires in our heads. These are the things we're paying attention to.
If you're desiring to go to Hawaii, you're more likely to notice the new deal on Southwest from LA to Hawaii.
If your problem is that you need a new type of workout because you're burned out on your current one, you're more likely to be open to hearing from the local run club.
These problems and desires are the fuel behind what we focus on.
So speak to people based on these problems and desires, not based on YOURS.
If someone's desire is to go to Hawaii, they're imaging jungle, beach and sun. Don't try and sell them on your 5 day excursion across the glacier in Alaska.
A story, why?
Because humans aren't rational, we're mimetic. We're visual. We function on emotion. A story helps create context around the stories we have in our heads related to our problems and desires.
A story is a way for the person you're speaking with and trying to change to put themselves in an imaginary new place where you simultaneously get the outcome your'e looking for and the outcome you're looking for.
A useful story has the purpose of helping the person you're telling it to.
And if you do that enough... Just maybe you might both get what you want.