Archive for the ‘Seth Godin’ Category

Links to Links to Links

July 22, 2011

A few minutes ago, I read the latest post from Seth Godin about his Domino Project, which led me to that blog, which had a post toward the bottom of the page that caught my eye. Sometimes that is how I get ideas. I follow a thread to a junction, and then follow one branch after another until I end up in a new place that is interesting.

The post in question offered an Excel spreadsheet that helps self-publishing authors. I haven’t opened it yet, but I like the idea of offering a checklist for others to follow. The breadcrumbs may take them along the same path you followed on your journey, or lead them somewhere even better.

This is a nice fit with a book I started this morning, The Starfish and the Spider. The authors, Ori Brafman (of Sway) and Rod Beckstrom start off describing how some organizations are like spiders: they die when they lose their head (leaders). They suggest organizations that are like spiders will do better in the future, because they have leaders all over the place. Cut the head off a spider, it dies; cut the arm off a starfish, it grows a new leg, and the leg grows the rest of a starfish.

Their idea seems to be headed in the direction of open source┬ástructures, and I have to admit I like their approach. But I’m just one guy without a whole lot of money. I can’t pay for servers and such to support a hundred people, much less a million. If my idea for helping people change takes off, could it be a distributed approach? Does it require everything be hosted on the same server? Could it be constructed to operate in a distributed fashion?

That would require a different architecture and different skills. I think that if I build the idea quickly in FileMaker Pro, it would be easy enough to demonstrate the concept is valid. Then when other people sign up to help, or invest in what I am doing, we could redo things in a platform that was more portable.

But 37signals doesn’t do it that way. They have subscriptions and offer significant value. I intend to do the same.

But wouldn’t my solution be better if I designed it for portability later? It needn’t look as pretty as I have been making it, if the whole point is to make sure the idea works. A simple web interface would do that. People could test the prototype by connecting to my laptop. If it worked, we would have a reason to collaborate or perhaps form a partnership. Partners could buy a server together. Partners could make agreements to work together, doing different parts of the business for the business they created together.

I love following ideas to see where they go. Sometimes, the threads make a wonderful quilt.


Edge-to-Edge Knowledge

July 18, 2011

This morning, I got an email from Seth Godin about expertise. He was talking about how he was able to read all the science fiction in his local library and cover everyone from Azimov to Zelazny. I have no idea who Zelazny is, but I know enough Asimov books to get his point. How many of us actually have an inventory of the sources we use for our personal method.

That got me to thinking what would happen if I did an A to Z survey of the methods I am using. I did a quick check and I have all the letters of the alphabet covered so far as titles are concerned (except X), but I’ve got a few gaps when it comes to authors (no one starting with Q). This information made me wonder how my sources stack up in other ways. For instance, do I have something that addresses different points along the KAI, or speaks to each part of the MBTI? Are my ideas more toward the high end of the 7 Levels of Change? Where do they fit on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

I don’t know, but I think I need to figure these out. If only 3.4% of the population thinks like I do from an MBTI point of view, I’m not helping anyone else by focusing my efforts on other ENTP’s. But maybe I’m not the best person to be translating my ideas into ISFJ-terms. That’s the other end of the innovation spectrum from where I live.

And that was when another email from Simple Truths caught my eye. I get these once or sometimes twice a day, and several of their books really clicked for me. The one that came today was about turning mediocrity into greatness. As they put it, “how you approach the challenges you face…and how you live your life.”

I’m not going to write so much today. I’m going to suggest you check out the book they were promoting today, and do a little inventory of where you stand. Do you have more “middle class” attributes, or do you have more “world class” characteristics? I haven’t done a total for myself, but I think I’m headed in the right direction. What about you?

Watching Yourself

July 9, 2011

Yesterday, Seth Godin had a great suggestion. He said to hire a geek to watch you for an hour and suggest five things you could do to save an hour. The ideas you get should pay for the service within a week.

I guess that is what my tool will do for people once they get into the rhythm of using it. They’ll be tracking the little stuff they are doing and realizing it only takes them five minutes a day. But knowing that, they might decide that time offers very little value, because it doesn’t advance any of the habits they are trying to adopt.

I have a couple of innocent looking habits in my tool that I will start tracking again when I get home. One is to log how much time I spend on deliberate practice of self-discipline. Another is the same log but for self-mastery.

Why would anyone care about those two things?

Well, despite my age, I want the future to be different from the past, and better. After finishing James Altucher’s book, I realize there are several little things I could start doing every day to build a better foundation. So what if it makes my list of “habits in development” longer. Reminding myself that I want to wash my hands more often will have a benefit down the road when cold season comes and I’m out meeting people who aren’t washing their hands.

But Seth makes a good point about having someone else watch you do things to see where you could save time or improve quality. I don’t think that putting an iPod Nano on your desk to record yourself for an hour would have the same benefits, although watching yourself in fast-forward might allow you to catch things you miss in real-time. And if you work alone, or you think your office is messy, it might be hard to accept an outsider being there, especially if there isn’t enough room.

Is it worth your time to review what you did for an hour once a week, just to see if you pick up on something that didn’t make sense? Wouldn’t there be other ways to get feedback?

I can remember dozens of times when explaining something to someone gave me insights into problems I was trying to solve. The other person didn’t have to know what I was talking about. Saying things out loud somehow gave me a different perspective on them. Would talking to myself work the same way, or does there have to be another person there, looking at me like I’ve suddenly sprouted an extra nose?

I don’t know, yet. I’m going to have to study these options and report back later. But maybe you will be that person that sees me grow an ear in the middle of my face. I need to listen to you more, even if you aren’t watching me. Maybe I could watch you and learn something.

Read James Altucher

July 8, 2011

I found a link to an interesting blogger the other day, while checking stock quotes on my iPhone. The guy is James Altucher ( and among other things, he has written and self-published a book. He also has a blog post about self-publishing. You can buy the book on Amazon, download it on your Kindle, or get a download as a PDF, and load it into iBooks on an iOS device.

I read half of his 200-page PDF the first evening on the couch at my cousin’s house, and finished it the second. Then I went back through the book and gathered 10 pages of ideas for my future. That was an unexpected bonus, and I am using one of the hints this morning: I’m editing my post and deleting about half of it.

Some of the people on James’ blog have suggested that he needs an editor and a proof reader, and I agree. But there are some great ideas there, including his suggestion to exercise muscles I had never thought about as muscles. Here are a few, with page numbers from the PDF:

1. Page 93 – Feel Gratitude. I never thought of this as a “muscle”, but after reading his suggestions, I realize I need to do it several times a day, not just once.

2. Page 96 – Mental Exercises. I think the tool I am building is helping me do these, but his suggestions would work for everyone else. You could probably come up with your own list and do a different one every day of the month.

3. Page 99 – Cleanliness. This may be the best argument for washing hands I have ever read. I need to add it to my list of habits. Then I need to add another habit about not picking my nose, and carry a handkerchief instead.

So go read what this guy is writing. I’m going to add him to my daily rotation along with Seth Godin. He is always insightful and frequently gives me ideas for new topics when I’m writing my own blog post.

And I’m going to start using the self-publishing ideas James suggests. I should just got on with it and stop thinking I need permission from someone. Consider the same for your passions.

Go get the book James published a month ago, any way that works for you. When I get home, I’ll update this page so there is a link directly to his page for getting the book. But do it soon. We want to read YOUR book before the end of the summer. I’m sure you have something to say.

What are you waiting for?

Seth Godin Hits Another Home Run

July 6, 2011

This morning when I woke up, I checked my mail and there was my daily inspiration from Seth Godin. His blog post, which gets distributed via email for convenience, was about the “attention economy.” Reading it, I realized that I was missing out on a number of opportunities because I’m developing the tools my business will offer to people. I’m paying attention to the tool rather than paying attention to potential customers. But the biggest mistake is that I may be paying too much attention to the one customer I don’t have to sell to – myself. I’m going to build these tools for myself regardless of whether I launch my business this year. I am my own research and development laboratory, as well as my own research subject. I figure that if I’m not satisfied with the things I’m building, no one else would like them.

This might be meaningful if everyone I was selling my ideas to was at the same place that I am, or rather that I think I am. I’m an innovative guy who tends to look at new ideas as opportunities to “do things no one else is doing,” which is Level 6 Change, so I can go in the direction of “do things that can’t be done,” which is Level 7 Change. I forget that other people aren’t starting from the same place. They don’t have a history of change going back 40 days, much less 40 years.

I’m not paying attention to their needs. I need to look at this whole enterprise as something that starts back at Level 1, “do the right things.” No one is going to jump in to the river of changes I am offering without a support system that helps them find their own right things to do, so they can define their own right ways to do them, and them make their own improvements, then do away with their own obstacles, and figure out what they can copy from others. That puts them in a place they may have never been before, where they can take advantage of opportunities no one else sees, so they can do things other people think are impossible, but they understand.

That is what I am going to pay attention to so my partners can overcome their status quo addiction. But it doesn’t start with me. It starts with others, which might be you.

I’m listening to you now. I’m paying attention. What do you have to say about this?

Looking for (Meta) Data

June 25, 2011

This morning, Seth Godin inspired me again. His post got me to thinking about all the data I’m collecting and what I’ll be able to do with it at some point in the future. Maybe something will come to me while I’m on vacation, but I’ve already gotten at least one improvement from trying to go back to sleep. Here is what happened.

I got up for my morning biology break and came back to bed. Laid down, pulled the covers over me (it’s 65 and damp here today) and pulled my sleeping hat over my head. Made sure my digital voice recorder was nearby and let my mind wander. Sometimes this results in another half hour of sleep. Today there were two or three very good insights. Less than a minute each, but very insightful.

An hour later, I’m wide awake and there is no reason to avoid the inevitable. I get up, get dressed and come into the office to do my morning routine. Only I discover I didn’t finish things last night. I go through closing out all that stuff and start planning today. Added 116 things to my agenda. Five more are habits that carried over from yesterday. After building the desired agenda, I realize I am missing something HUGE that I haven’t seen in the past five weeks of using this new tool.

I don’t look back at the end of the day and evaluate how it went in general. I have several tasks to summarize some data, but there is no habit for just looking at what happened. Maybe this one finally emerged from the ooze because one of the ideas Seth inspired was a new field I think I want to add. This one is the Deming-ness of each Habit. Is it Planning, Doing, Checking or Acting? The opportunity to understand the data is there because the Habits are there, but I never thought of habits as having a Deming-ness to them. I added a Pareto-ness a few weeks ago, and an Ugliness a few days ago, and a Six Hat Thinking-ness in the beginning. But it never occurred to me to quantify the Deming-ness of what I was trying to habituate.

How much do you look at the data you collect about your day? Do you collect any data? None at all? Your calendar doesn’t have things you planned to do? Or do you have checkmarks next to the things you completed? That’s data, though it isn’t very useful. But it is a start.

Try this idea for a week.

  1. When you plan your day, count how many things there are
  2. When you get to the end of the day, count how many things you got done
  3. If you carry things over to the next day, count those as well
  4. If a thing gets carried over a second or third time, keep that count with the thing you aren’t getting around to doing
  5. At the end of the week, look at your data

Covey and Allen have great ideas about this stuff. I’ve read parts of both their books and my daily reflections come from Covey. But none of those make any difference if I don’t look at the data at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month, and so forth. My behavior isn’t going to change if I don’t look at my own data and understand how that reflects the way I do things now. If I want the future to be different, I need to use MY data to help me change MY behaviors so that something changes. I track lots of things. How many of them are actually changing over time.

Okay, I only have five weeks of data thus far. But in that time, I’ve added an average of 90 agenda items to my “calendar” each day. Today was the biggest number yet, but I’m discounting that because I give up using my tool tomorrow night. But I’ll be carrying on the discipline I’ve accumulated in an analog version of my tool. The behaviors are what I’m trying to change. The data is what will help me fix that.

So why would someone who has innovative characteristics (high KAI, innovative MBTI) be so obsessed with data? Don’t low KAI and adaptive MBTI people usually get dragged into the ditch by data? I think the difference is that I want to use my data to understand where I am so that I can change the destination I reach. I don’t want to get to 90 and realize there were so many things I could have done if I had just (fill in the blank). If I don’t know where I am, how will I get to the place I want to go.

In one of Watts Humphreys books, he has a couple of sayings, with a Zen flavor to them:

  • If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do
    Chinese Proverb
  • If you don’t know where you are, a map won’t help
    Watts S. Humphrey

How many of us pay any attention to where we are? What good is a significant dream if we don’t have a map for getting there?

That is what is so wonderful about retirement. I’ve been at it nearly four years and it gets better every day, because now I’m looking at my data about the previous day, week, and shortly month. I can see where I am and change where I’m going to be going.

Is there a plan? You bet there is. The tool I’ve built for myself is something other people might want to use if they have a significant dream of their own. But it won’t come cheap. I see no point in giving people something that only does 10% of the solution they need, especially when they only know 1% of the problem. That’s why I’m making myself the first lab rat. If this idea doesn’t work for me, why would I think anyone else could use it.

Whoops, I’ve gone over 1000 words. Better stop or the blog police will come after me.

Go look for your own data. See what it tells you. Figure out where you are, so you can build your own map to your significant dream.

Momentum Versus Inertia

June 23, 2011

Momentum is force or speed of movement. Inertia is a state of inertness, which could be sitting still or being in motion, without changing direction.

We had a thunderstorm last night at 430am, and since I was already awake, I thought I would get an early start on the day. Though I’ve gotten a lot of things done, and generated several good ideas, I’m starting to feel a little stupid. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing my blog post right now but it’s too late. I’ve started and I want to see where this goes.

I’m noticing a number of coincidences this morning. I have a 1994 edition of a little book that is “Daily Reflections For Highly Effective People.” The reflection for today is about synergy, and how combining two things makes both of them stronger. That’s what I’m starting to notice about my tool. It isn’t just a daily planner, its also a journal and a reminder and idea collector. And being an ENTP with a high KAI, ideas are floating up to the surface all the time. So it has a way to capture those ideas and find them again.

Then there was the blog post from Seth Godin, which I get as an email every day, and sometimes multiple times a day. He was asking “how do you know when it’s done?” I’m going on vacation in a few days, so I have a deadline. I don’t want to take my laptop, so I would love to make my new application fully functional on my iPad. But I am going to run out of time. So as a backup, I’m going to take along one of those composition notebooks that kids use in school, the kind with not so great paper that bleeds through the page if you use the wrong ink. I’ll use that to keep working on my habituation and routineuation (my new word for the month) so I don’t lose the momentum I’ve already established. Yes, it would be wonderful to have a new MacBook Air to take along with me, because then I could keep doing development on my tool on the laptop. But I need to test my discipline while I am on vacation. I’m going away for two weeks to be with my sister and mother, and in the second week, my brother and his family, and some cousins. I need to find out how my underlying method works for people who might only have a book that explains my ideas and expects people to work with nothing more than a cheap composition book and a pen.

Don’t get me wrong: I love technology, especially stuff with an Apple logo. But I know that most people aren’t going to want to spend over a thousand dollars on a MacBook Air, and half that amount on software they would need to get the most out of it. I wouldn’t be doing them any favors if they just didn’t have the reserves of inspiration to pursue their passion. They have to overcome inertia to get moving in any direction at all, much less muster the energy to change something about their future.

But if I understand what it takes to do my process on paper, following a guide that gets them to step back and look at where they are going, I will probably have a better chance of selling them on the really big ideas I want to pursue. I just can’t dump it all on their desk and say, “Here, do this stuff and I’ll be back in a month to see how you are doing.” They wouldn’t even do that if I paid them, much less do it if they had to pay me.

I’m pretty confident my analog version of my tool will work on paper with a pen. But I’m taking my iPad with all my data along with me, so I have a place to record the improvement ideas I come up with while I’m away. I might get a few fixes implemented so that I can get more done while I’m laptop free, but that isn’t the point.

I’m going on vacation to determine my vector and rate of change. Do I have five weeks of momentum built up or 60+ years of inertia to overcome?

When I figure it out, you’ll be able to read about it here.