All in Strategy

"It Was Only Necessary To Sacrifice Everything"

This week, I’m sharing my favorite ideas from “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, an amazing book by Donald Miller. It’s a non-fiction book that speaks to how we should think of our lives as stories to be lived, making them more meaningful in terms of how we live it, and how we (and others) will remember ourselves as we grow older and when we eventually leave. This is Day 4.

Stories Without Risk Are Meaningless*

In my very early twenties, I went on my first business trip with my then boss. It was a quick trip to Bangkok (I was based in Hong Kong at the time) and I remember four things about that trip.

First, I got to fly business class, which was awesome. Business class was nice.

Second, I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Erawan, which was amazing. I couldn’t fathom such luxury.

Third, Bangkok traffic sucked - a 15 minute drive took an hour plus. Apparently, pretty normal back then (and not all that different now).

Born Versus Made

An endless debate that takes place in popular conversation is the question of whether people are born with special capabilities or whether they craft and mold themselves to become that way.

There’s a comfort in both streams of thought. The latter suggests that we control our destiny, who we are and who we can become. It provides for the mental foundation that we aren’t restricted to what we are today nor to what we have. Dream your dreams, make your plans and get after it. It’s all there for the taking.

“...Until You Get Punched In The Face...”

There are two types of people in the world: those who plan and those who don’t. 

And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that those who plan are more successful than those who don’t. 

Of course, just because you plan, doesn’t mean everything will go your way. Reality has a funny way of doing things that don’t align with our best laid plans. 

It Doesn't Matter What You Think

Perceptions are everything.

If someone believes something to be true, it almost doesn’t matter what the data says. The most reasoned arguments and the most robust set of facts will pale in comparison to their beliefs, values and worldview. 

And as a marketer or salesperson reaching out to current and potential customers, it certainly doesn’t matter what you think. It only matters what they think, how they perceive the facts.

Unplug Yourself

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” — Anne Lamott

It’s almost always a bad idea to try and make difficult decisions in the fog of war, unless we absolutely have to. 

In the midst of the battle, we’re faced with a host of messages and signals coming at us, non-stop, seemingly at random. Sometimes, our senses are heightened and we’re fully attuned to our circumstances, allowing us to make sharp, intuitive decisions. But more often than not, we’re not. Or we aren’t for any extended period of time.

Some Things Don’t Change

I was thinking about the Dotcom era of the late 90s and the euphoria that gripped the markets for those few years as stocks climbed to record breaking levels.

The news of the day was engaged in a fevered debate - were we in a new era, one where the old models had become hopelessly outdated? Or was this simply another fad, not unlike Dutch Tulips, a bubble that would burst in due course, once we all came to our senses?

More On Competition - Is That Even The Right Focus?

In my last post, I discussed the idea of competition and specifically, that it’s existence shouldnt act as a deterrence to us entering into a specific market. In many ways, it can act as a validating factor that should, frankly, encourage us to play in that space. 

But the more pertinent question, at least the one I’ve been turning over in my mind, is whether that’s even the right focus.

Rethinking The Idea of Competition

Our natural reflex, when we’re evaluating a market, is to think of competition as being a negative factor. If there is a plethora of companies already operating in a given space, fighting it out for share, our immediate assumption is that this market is “taken” or that adding another player into the mix is a dumb idea.

This might be the case, but then again, it might not.

I’ve got a bit of an issue with articles that proclaim that the golden age of something or the other is over. (I saw one recently proclaiming that the golden age of American dining was over.)

I get that stream of thought when it comes to specific brands or technologies. For example, I don’t think any of us would disagree that The Golden Age of the Walkman is pretty much done and dusted. Or that The Golden Age of Atari is essentially behind us.

That's Not How Good Ideas Work

I don’t subscribe to many email newsletters but one that I do like to read is from Rob Hatch and Chris Brogan of Owner Media Group. They always have great ideas and perspectives on doing business at a granular level - how to organize your thinking, how to position and market yourself and your products and so much more.

Rob recently sent an email about how we think about “ideas” in business, specifically referring to Chris’ book, Trust Agents, published ten years ago. He talked about how he still found the ideas discussed to be relevant. Still as applicable today as it was a decade ago.

You Can't Get A Little Bit Pregnant...

Free Soloing is a form of climbing that’s done without any sort of protection - no ropes, no harnesses, no climbing gear. Nothing but a good pair of climbing shoes, chalk to keep your hands dry and your technique and wits. It’s been around for decades but came back into the spotlight in the excellent documentary, Free Solo, which profiled Aex Honnold and his free ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite, a truly spectacular and breathtaking achievement.

Sometimes The Problem With Our Message Is Us

In my last post, I talked about the importance of simplicity and authenticity in our messaging. Complex, obtuse and, worse, overly clever messaging does a disservice to the point we’re trying to make. And most of the time, it detracts from getting that point across.

Sometimes, though, this just seems impossible. We struggle with distilling the key takeaways or the so-whats. What keeps emerging is far longer and more involved than what feels right.

The One Question You Should Ask In An Interview...Isn't Enough

If you spend any time online looking for advice (of any sort - personal or business), you’re bound to come across articles that espouse the “1 question you need to ask” or the “3 signs that you’ll be successful”. The intention behind these articles is clear - if you’re on the path to X, and if you pay attention to these one or two or three things, then you’ll get there.

I get the simplicity of the approach and I appreciate it’s allure, especially if the advice is coming from someone we consider to be successful (or from someone who works for a company we consider to be conventionally successful).

Get Used To Criticism

If you’re going to do anything different, you’re going to get criticized.

There’s no shortage of folks willing to offer you advice if you’re thinking about a new venture, a new project or a new position. They’ll range from friends, family as well as business colleagues - well intentioned or otherwise. Some of it you might actively ask for, but a lot of it will be offered to you, at no extra cost.