2019年2月10日 星期日

Seth's Blog : Productive choices (which?)

Productive choices (which?)

When you’re doing scary creative work, or work that requires emotional labor, it’s natural to want to walk away a bit. To distract yourself. To go shave a yak, mindlessly eat or bother someone in the next cube.
This is the main activity online, actually. People avoiding the real work.
One useful practice is to have forced choices that break up the work but that are also productive. Not fun, that would be a mistake, but productive.
Example: For the next hour, we either need to be developing a brand new strategy for your widget rollout or re-filing forty 1099s. One or the other, switch when you want to. If it gets too scary on the brand side, let’s do some mindless filing.
Or perhaps it’s answering HelpScout requests. Or auditing a specific set of financials.
The key is that it be something both important and unfun.
It’s a no-win situation. Unless you want to think of it as a no-lose situation.
It turns every distraction (in either direction) into a contribution.

Seth's Blog : When you're over your head

When you’re over your head

As you gain a reputation for doing projects that work, it’s not unusual for the stakes to go up. For projects to look and feel bigger, with more inputs, more decisions, more pitfalls.
It can be thrilling, but you can also begin to flounder.
Here are two analogies that might help you decode what’s actually going on…
It’s entirely possible that the water is quite deep. The thing is, if you’re used to swimming in water that’s six feet deep, then sixty feet of depth is actually no different. It’s not more dangerous or difficult, it simply feels that way. Giving a speech to 20,000 people isn’t twenty times more difficult than giving one to a thousand.
It’s worth reminding yourself, regularly, that the work hasn’t changed, merely your narrative about the stakes involved.
On the other hand, if you’re used to surfing 6 foot swells and you find yourself on an island of the coast off Indonesia—where the swells are 25 feet—this is a good moment to sit on the beach for awhile.
Surfing bigger waves is not the same as surfing small waves but with more effort. It’s an entirely different interaction, and it’s not all in your head.
Take a lesson. Take five lessons. Give yourself the room to learn. Don’t jump from 6 to 25 in one day. And don’t assume that just because you’ve figured out how to survive at 25 that you’re ready for 50. Big waves are usually right next to big reefs.
Begin with the question: Is this a deep water problem or a big wave problem?
The internet is filled with deep water moments, and we can get our narrative straight and learn to thrive even when we think the water is too deep.
And our careers often offer us big wave moments. When you see one, don’t walk away right away, but get yourself a coach.

Seth's Blog : The job interview approach

The job interview approach

That meeting on your calendar, the one scheduled for tomorrow. What if it were the final interview for a job you care about?
Would you show up on time?
Where would you sit?
What sort of questions would you ask?
What would you wear?
Would you reschedule it at the last minute?
Why is it okay to act any less professionally than that for a meeting with a co-worker, a salesperson or an entrepreneur looking for funding?
It’s entirely possible that we can honor a reflexive property. When we are contributing we can show up with the same enthusiasm we use when we’re asking for something.

Seth's Blog : CNP

CNP

As Close as Necessary to Perfect
The thing is, with limitless focus and energy, just about everything can be improved.
That’s not the question.
The question is: Is this thing you’re working on as close to perfect as it needs to be? As close to perfect as your customer demands? As close to perfect as the budget can allow?
It’s not settling to walk away from something that’s CNP. It’s simply a smart allocation of your resources.
[Please don’t forget the opposite: BGE. Which stands for Barely Good Enough. The thing is, BGE rarely is.]

2019年2月8日 星期五

Seth's Blog : Opportunity costs just went up

Opportunity costs just went up

Every choice has a price.
If you have $100 to invest and you buy this stock instead of that bond, the interest you gave up in making your choice is your opportunity cost.
At the dinner buffet, you can take as much food as you like, but you can only consume so much food. Which means that eating the jambalaya means you won’t have room to eat a dosa. That’s your opportunity cost.
Opportunity cost is the key to making decisions. Once you know the value of the alternatives you’re giving up, you can be smarter about what you’re choosing to do.
Time is finite. We only get the next hour once, and then it’s gone forever. So choices about how we spend or invest our time come with real opportunity costs.
A car with a bumper sticker that says, “I’d rather be surfing,” tells us a lot about the driver (including the inconsistency of his or her actions). But it’s proof that each of us wrestles with opportunity costs every day.
With that in mind, the cost of watching a cat video on YouTube is real indeed.
And the internet has raised the opportunity cost of time spent.
Our access to the world of learning and online resources means that the alternatives are far more valuable than they used to be.
You’re about to spend 11 minutes perfecting an email to a customer. You could do a 90% ideal job in one minute, and the extra 10 minutes spent will increase the ‘quality’ of the email to 92%.
The alternative? Now, you could spend that ten minutes reading a chapter of an important new book. You could learn a few new functions in Javascript. You could dive deep into the underlying economics of your new project…
Or perhaps you’re about to spend an hour manually cleaning a database or tweaking some image files. You do this every day.
Today, though, you could invest an hour in learning to build a macro that will do this recurring job in just a minute a day from now on. Or you could figure out how to hire a trusted freelancer who will do the job on a regular basis for far less than it’s costing you to do it yourself.
Next week, the choices you made at the buffet won’t matter much. But if you learn a new skill, you own it forever.
Human beings don’t like thinking about opportunity costs. As they approach infinity, it’s easy to get paralyzed. As they get harder to compute, it’s difficult to focus and be mindful of the choices already made. That’s a challenge.
But worse, far worse, is to ignore them and fail to learn and connect and level up.

Seth's Blog : Relentlessly lowering expectations

Relentlessly lowering expectations

We always compare performance on a relative basis. “Well, it’s better than it was yesterday…”
Toddlers, for example, seem like geniuses compared to the babies they used to be.
Some people around us have embraced a strategy of always lowering expectations so that their mediocre effort is seen as acceptable. Over time, we embrace the pretty good memo or the decent leadership moment, because it’s so much better than we feared.
And some? Some relentlessly raise expectations, establishing a standard that it’s hard to imagine exceeding. And then they do.
If you’ve been cornered into following, working with or serving someone in the first group, an intervention can be rewarding. For you and for the person trapped in this downward cycle.
Raising our expectations is a fine way to raise performance as well.

Seth's Blog : Are you being manipulated?

Are you being manipulated?

Pundits, politicians, hustlers, unethical marketers, hucksters and grifters seek to manipulate people every day.
Manipulation is pushing for a change that benefits the manipulator, not us. It’s often based on misinformation. Mostly, the test for manipulation is: “if you knew what they know, would you be happy to do what they’re asking?”
It might be something as simple as tricking you into clicking, or as expensive as signing away your house. It might be the daily news cycle or the relentless push to make people feel inadequate or unsafe.
Some simple questions worth asking:
1. How does this announcement/offer/news/pressure make you feel?
2. Is there something about this news that touches a hot button issue or fear? Is the story being told designed to trigger you?
3. Are you surrounded by people who are also engaged with this news? Is it becoming a mob?
4. Is the presenter of the news using external pressure to push you into acting in ways that contradict your self-interest or self-esteem?
5. How would you feel if you discovered that the story you just heard wasn’t actually true?
By the time you’ve asked all five questions, it might be easier to resist what felt irresistible.