Monthly Archives: October 2008

The short dance

I have been mulling over this post for almost a week now. I can basically sum it up like this:

It’s possible. It’s not easy and it isn’t for everyone, but you can do it.

I’m talking about doing what you love, about changing the world–in both big or small ways–and fighting for a belief (or finding a belief worth fighting for).

I didn’t always feel this way–the post-college experience put a lot of this in doubt for me. It was a strange time and I found it flat-out depressing. I wanted to do big things, and had great experiences behind me, but I didn’t know how to apply this stuff. I didn’t know how to add it all up into a road map. It was like I’d been given all these tools to climb mountains with but didn’t know which one to start on. And when presented with too many options, you freeze up.

And while I’m not sure where you’re at right now, I might guess you know what I’m talking about.

It’s scary and a bit overwhelming.

The trick–and what I keep preaching–is to just start doing stuff. Baby steps, but nonetheless steps in a general direction. For me, it was this blog. For you, who knows? Cooking classes. A Web store. A whiteboard. A journal.

The steps add up.

I realize I’m simplifying this. I realize there’s a lot to it. But I also know that it’s the simple stuff that tends to win. So, I invite you to start small and see what happens.

And ultimately, remember that life’s pretty much a short dance.

PS-If you think a new job is your ticket, I have this to say:

You’re never going to win if you’re trying to be like every other applicant. You probably won’t get the job, and if you do, you’re working for someone who hired a cookie-cutter applicant. Either way, it’s a loss.

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94

It officially took 94 posts until this blog–this personal rally flag of mine–landed me a dream opportunity.

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining Andy Sernovitz and his crew at GasPedal as their editor. I’ll be writing blog posts, newsletter articles and anything else that comes my way.

In about two weeks I’ll be (hopefully) settled in Chicago and writing content for sources I have been reading, linking to and–in general–enjoying since I began this journey in marketing and the blogosphere.

It’s like Tony Romo getting feel-better calls from Brett Favre–a boyhood hero of his who a few short years ago appeared in posters on Romo’s wall.

Or like Arnel Pineda being selected by Journey as their new frontman after discovering his covers on YouTube.

Pretty much, I’m Henry in Rookie of the Year. Minus the broken arm thing.

Above all, I’m incredibly excited to join a group of people who think along the same lines as me–that the best marketing tells a story, that the best way to make money is to make people happy and that, in general, there is a better way to do all this business and marketing stuff.

Soon, I’ll give some details on how this all happened and hopefully share some insight on how other folks might be able to experience similar success.

I hope you’re looking forward to the next 94 blog posts as much as I am. Thanks for reading.

Cheers!

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Infinite

hughtrain8166.jpg

Of all of Hugh MacLeod’s cartoons, this one speaks to me above all others.

I think I find it so compelling because it sums up in nine words what I’ve tried to say in 90-some blog posts.

I was reminded of it when Hugh posted it along with his interview of Seth Godin. They talk about Seth’s new book, Tribes, which outlines that the world has always been organized into tribes–groups of people who want to (need to) connect with each other, with a leader and with a movement. The products, services and ideas that are gaining currency faster than ever are ones that are built on a tribe.

The brief conversation that ensues is basically two of my heroes talking about life.

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The myth of more revenue from more stuff

Looking for more revenue?

If you’re a restaurant, it’s easy to expand your menu.

If you’re a law firm, it’s easy to add new areas of practice to your list.

If you’re an automaker, it’s easy to add another car to the lineup.

If you’re a home construction company, it’s easy to dig pools too.

The problem with all these easy solutions is that they don’t work. More stuff for the sake of more revenue is a dumb idea. Often, these extensions are the seeds of brand dilution–the erosion of what you stand for in the minds of people.

Now, I’m not advocating for you to play it lazy and safe by saying you shouldn’t build. Rather, build smart and build often when doing so will strengthen your position as the best and most remarkable in your world.

But until then, stop eroding your brand.

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Missions

Give your followers a mission.

If you’ve got employees, donors, supporters, students, fans, whatever… you owe it to them to give them a mission. And the simpler the better.

Missions lead to goals, to accomplishments, to a sense of purpose and to a more rewarding experience. It’s equally true for work as it is for youth baseball.

So this is my mission for you: If you’ve got a tribe behind you, give them a purpose.

Small missions, big missions, whatever–but take time and make them with meaning. And be prepared to lose a few fans, students, donors and employees along the way. That’s part of standing for something.

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Lands’ End and the most remarkable return policy in the world

I’m doing some research on how it’s possible to be remarkable by being generous, and while looking through examples I stumbled across Lands’ End’s return policy.

Simply, it reads: “If you’re not satisfied with any item, simply return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price. We mean every word of it. Whatever. Whenever. Always.”

They’re not kidding. Here’s their story of how they accepted the return of a taxi:

As you’d expect, over the years our guarantee has been put to the test. We’ve been given countless opportunities to demonstrate our commitment to customer satisfaction and our willingness to stand behind the products we sell – though none more demonstrative than the return and refund of an original London taxi.

Featured on the cover of our 1984 holiday catalog, the taxi was purchased for $19,000 by a Kansas native as a gift for her husband (an avid car collector). In 2005, her husband contacted Lands’ End and expressed interest in returning the car for a full refund. Of course, we obliged – because whether your purchase includes a tote or a taxi, your satisfaction is Guaranteed. Period.®

There ya go. Lands’ End, remarkably generous and damn confident in their stuff–even taxis.

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