Category Archives: Life

Behind everything is a market

Been thinking about this for a while now.

I wonder about the root causes behind things. How it got started, how it ended up where it is today.

Like, why is Chicago situated geographically where it is? Why not 10 miles further north? Or, why do insurance companies mostly congregate in Des Moines and Hartford? Or even, why does a particular part of a city have lots of people begging for change, while others do not.

And what I’ve decided it all comes down to, at some point of origin, is market forces. Sure, there are other factors like luck and random chance, but at some point, most decisions are made with at least a basic consideration for what gains and losses are involved.

Sometimes it’s monetary, but often it’s not this tangible.

Just one of my tricks for rationalizing a complex world.

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Checkboxes

I have an ongoing debate with a good friend of mine.

Right now he’s in the middle of grad school, getting his MBA. He’s always been a go-getter, so it’s not surprising he’s getting an advanced education so young (he had to extra-apply to get into what is traditionally an MBA program for older professionals). His big argument is that soon, the MBA will be viewed like the bachelor’s degree in that you’ll probably need one to get in the door, and certainly need one for executive positions.

My problem with this is that he’s describing a checkbox–something to ensure getting past HR filters and the like. It’s not about a desire to learn and change as much as it’s a desire to get in the door, and then, I suppose, do something magnificent.

Perhaps what’s most discouraging is that he’s right–at least in the short term. Companies already have lots of filters designed to catch outliers, and it certainly makes sense that the MBA thing will work its way more and more into the forefront.

And while I wholeheartedly endorse the pursuit of higher education, this mindset is a hindrance.

Organizations built to fill checkboxes aren’t going to change the world. And likewise, I’m concerned that individuals focusing on addressing the filters are missing a bigger picture.

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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

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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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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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How do you know when you’ve found it? A CEO and author’s response

I had the opportunity today to speak with a pretty smart guy. He’s an author and a CEO of a growing company doing some exciting stuff.

So I asked him, “What drives you? And how did you know when you found it?”

He responded by saying that you don’t know. You just start doing stuff and testing things out. It’s like being in a pinball machine and trying to guide things in a certain direction, hitting the flippers when you can, but a lot of it just kind of happens.

Personally, I felt relieved to hear that. Glad to know there’s no secret sauce–just a willingness to pedal.

Then he told me to read Johnny Bunko, a book written for people asking that question. So, I think I’ll do that. If you’re asking that question, you might consider it as well.

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