Becoming Superhuman

Jeff Gibbard

What does it take to become superhuman? That's what this show explores. With thoughtful explorations and insights about work, society, and culture, we dig into the areas of life where human potential can be unleashed. This podcast accompanies a blog and newsletter.

Start Here
The remarkable similarities between unhealthy masculinity and bad leadership
Sep 1 2022
The remarkable similarities between unhealthy masculinity and bad leadership
What’s your favorite movie of all time? Until recently, I had a number of movies vying for the title of “Jeff’s favorite movie.” I wouldn’t fault you for thinking it’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. I love that movie, it’s easily my second favorite movie of all time. Dead Poets Society made a huge impact on me at an important time in my life. Countless other movies have made it into the top 3, at various points of my life. Recently, I came across a movie that resonated with me in every possible way. It was exciting, engaging, thought-provoking, and emotionally touching. Immediately after the closing credits started rolling after my first viewing, I knew it was my favorite movie of all time. The movie is called Everything Everywhere All at Once. Whether or not you’ve seen it, we’re going to extract an important lesson from it. I’ll give you all of the context you need. However, I think we should start somewhere familiar… Who are our Leaders and Heroes? Quick! Think of a superhero. Chances are, most of you reading this thought of one of the following: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron-Man, or possibly Wolverine. These are some of the most popular characters as well being some of the longest running publications. When we think of Leaders, a similar phenomenon occurs — we often think of men, first. In both of these cases, we have an unconscious bias that is largely a result of the availability heuristic (”rule of thumb”). The availability bias shows we are generally more likely to recall things that we see frequently or that stand out. In many cases, these biases can lead us to make incorrect conclusions as Daniel Kahneman points out in Thinking Fast and Slow. However, in the case of gender in leadership and comics, the stats are clear, men overwhelmingly dominate. Most of the prominent and celebrated leadership positions we see on a regular basis are dominated by men, even when considering any recent progress for gender parity. The Fortune 500 has reached an all time high for women CEOs…at 44, or 8%. Meanwhile, comics continue to have a representation problem that goes back decades. All of this is undergirded by the cultural norms handed down to us by the society we live in. While the sum-total of everything above is not the exact definition of the patriarchy, we are dancing in the same disco. via GIPHY The Leaders and Heroes we see When we have such a strong support system for placing men at the apex of society and in leadership or idolized roles, we naturally begin to analyze their traits assuming that it must be something in their behavior or habits that explains their success rather than any structural advantages created through violent opposition to equity. In a capitalist system, this means that we will find ourselves seeing success among those who are stoic or unfeeling, willing to be aggressive, willing to win at all costs in service of maximizing shareholder value. If you live in the US, you are also living in a country whose entire commonly shared history is a collection of stories that glorify war and conflict while glossing over the untold suffering caused by these conflicts. Is it any wonder that our leaders are influenced by a culture whose “real heroes” went into battle and whose fictional heroes are to be revered and modeled because they indulge our power fantasies of invulnerability and justified, righteous violence? It is here that we find ourselves waist deep in the conversation about culturally accepted understandings of masculinit
The remarkable similarities between unhealthy masculinity and bad leadership
Sep 1 2022
The remarkable similarities between unhealthy masculinity and bad leadership
What’s your favorite movie of all time? Until recently, I had a number of movies vying for the title of “Jeff’s favorite movie.” I wouldn’t fault you for thinking it’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. I love that movie, it’s easily my second favorite movie of all time. Dead Poets Society made a huge impact on me at an important time in my life. Countless other movies have made it into the top 3, at various points of my life. Recently, I came across a movie that resonated with me in every possible way. It was exciting, engaging, thought-provoking, and emotionally touching. Immediately after the closing credits started rolling after my first viewing, I knew it was my favorite movie of all time. The movie is called Everything Everywhere All at Once. Whether or not you’ve seen it, we’re going to extract an important lesson from it. I’ll give you all of the context you need. However, I think we should start somewhere familiar… Who are our Leaders and Heroes? Quick! Think of a superhero. Chances are, most of you reading this thought of one of the following: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron-Man, or possibly Wolverine. These are some of the most popular characters as well being some of the longest running publications. When we think of Leaders, a similar phenomenon occurs — we often think of men, first. In both of these cases, we have an unconscious bias that is largely a result of the availability heuristic (”rule of thumb”). The availability bias shows we are generally more likely to recall things that we see frequently or that stand out. In many cases, these biases can lead us to make incorrect conclusions as Daniel Kahneman points out in Thinking Fast and Slow. However, in the case of gender in leadership and comics, the stats are clear, men overwhelmingly dominate. Most of the prominent and celebrated leadership positions we see on a regular basis are dominated by men, even when considering any recent progress for gender parity. The Fortune 500 has reached an all time high for women CEOs…at 44, or 8%. Meanwhile, comics continue to have a representation problem that goes back decades. All of this is undergirded by the cultural norms handed down to us by the society we live in. While the sum-total of everything above is not the exact definition of the patriarchy, we are dancing in the same disco. via GIPHY The Leaders and Heroes we see When we have such a strong support system for placing men at the apex of society and in leadership or idolized roles, we naturally begin to analyze their traits assuming that it must be something in their behavior or habits that explains their success rather than any structural advantages created through violent opposition to equity. In a capitalist system, this means that we will find ourselves seeing success among those who are stoic or unfeeling, willing to be aggressive, willing to win at all costs in service of maximizing shareholder value. If you live in the US, you are also living in a country whose entire commonly shared history is a collection of stories that glorify war and conflict while glossing over the untold suffering caused by these conflicts. Is it any wonder that our leaders are influenced by a culture whose “real heroes” went into battle and whose fictional heroes are to be revered and modeled because they indulge our power fantasies of invulnerability and justified, righteous violence? It is here that we find ourselves waist deep in the conversation about culturally accepted understandings of masculinit
Working in Public
Aug 25 2022
Working in Public
“Hey Jeff, what’s new?” Oh, nothing much. Same old, same old. Do you ever do that, or is it just me? People ask “how you are” or “what’s new in your world” and you skate right past it into “just another day in paradise.” Not today! I do a lot behind-the-scenes and often don’t talk about my projects until they are published. This is odd since I’ve long been an advocate for documenting your process and sharing your work along the way. So, today, I’m going to follow my own advice and share what I’ve been working on. Nearly all of these are works in progress and not ready for prime time, so please take these with a grain of salt and be kind. Here are 10 things I’m working on right now outside of the work I do with my clients. My clients always take precedence over the following. These are the projects I work on late at night when the emails stop coming in and my mind is free to focus on passion projects. 1. A Website that’ll knock your socks off Websites are never “done.” There’s always something to add, update, refresh, or retire. My current website hasn’t done a good job of showcasing my work as a speaker and workshop trainer. It’s hard to navigate and especially not good at surfacing the “best of” content. The new site addresses many of these shortcomings with a much improved design. If you’re brave enough to poke around an unfinished staging site, I’ll give YOU a sneak peek. You know, because I like you. View the staging site. 2. A Game-Changing Podcast Network: Shareable.fm I’ve mentioned it here and there but it’s just about ready for launch. I’m in discussions with the guys over at TurnKey Podcasts to be my partners for the network. There are a few details that need to get ironed out and there’s still a bunch of pages on the site with placeholder copy. Shareable.fm is a podcast network built for podcasters BY podcasters. It’s first and foremost a network that supports podcasters with help clarifying their message, growing their audience, monetizing their shows, and streamlining their production. The benefit for non-podcasters is the creation of a collection of podcasts with shareable content. Podcasters win and listeners win! Could we be the next Gimlet? The next Wondery? Who knows? Only time will tell. Sign-ups for podcasters start soon. 3. Something you gotta tell someone about: Shareable Season 6 The last episode of my podcast Shareable was on February 4th. I’d been on hiatus since then. I put the show on hiatus for two reasons. I had taken on too many projects (see: this post — the one you’re reading)I wanted to change things up a bit so the show didn’t get stale. As of last week, Shareable relaunched for season 6 with a new format, now hosted on Shareable.fm (see above), and with a production process that is hopefully going to be more scalable and sustainable. If you haven’t yet listened to Shareable or {gasp} not yet subscribed, now is a great time to do so. Check it out. 4. Ever want to be a Superhero? Check out The Superhero Institute The Superhero Institute is a coaching certification training. Completion of the training curriculum entitles coaches to promote themselves as authorized, certified superheroes. They’re also given a listing in our directory of superhero coaches (the Superhero Universe). Up until recently however, most of this was just an idea. I’ve been working in the background to build the site required to put this idea into motion. Again, if you’re brave, here’s the staging site. <
States of Awareness
Aug 15 2022
States of Awareness
How much do you know about neurodiversity? How about race, gender, sexuality, class, or ableness? I wasn’t “officially” diagnosed with ADHD until college, in the late 90’s. At that time, much less was known about ADHD, and far less was shared openly. The methods of treatment on offer could be boiled down to a handful of medications, all of which seemed to have the same goal of “correcting” my brain to be more “normal.” It wasn’t until many years later, after several unsuccessful rounds of medication that I found what worked for me: embracing the gifts of ADHD, acknowledging and communicating my weaknesses, using systems to stay on track, and putting myself into environments that worked along with my strengths and weaknesses. The real story, however, is about the 20+ years between my first realization and the present day. Discrimination, Gaslighting, and Erasure Throughout my life, people have told me -- to my face -- that “ADHD is not real,” suggesting instead that I was merely lazy or undisciplined. Some have acknowledged that ADHD is real but usually speak about it as little more than a punchline about short attention spans. “Oh man, I’m so ADD right now. LOL” Throughout my formal education, teachers would note my inability to sit still. So many of my teachers would say the same things. These phrases haunt me to this day. “Jeffrey is very smart if he would only just apply himself. I’m afraid if he doesn’t learn to sit still or follow directions, he’ll never reach his full potential.” At work, I would receive praise for my creativity and strategic insights, my willingness to stay late, and my ability to perform at a very high level with little preparation. Yet, I would also receive warnings with threatening undertones that if I didn’t start showing up on time, checking my email more frequently, or managing my tasks with greater consistency, that disciplinary measures would be taken. Time and time again throughout my life, people have wanted the benefits of my mind without any of the drawbacks. When I’ve chosen to share the things I struggled with, I’ve often been met with dismissive comments, being told I’m making up excuses, difficult to work with, or asking for special treatment. All of this made me question whether or not I really was just lazy, undisciplined or stupid. I chose instead to hide who I am, under the mask of normalcy. This is my story, but this is a story that is far more common than you may realize. The Five States of Awareness While this post has so far explicitly focused on my neurodiversity, the following framework applies when thinking about and discussing other intersectional identities including race, gender, sexuality, class, ableness, and more. One of the first steps in creating a kinder, safer, and more equitable world, is to understand the impact of various states of awareness. You simply are not in the conversation for positive change until you locate yourself on an awareness spectrum. Here’s how I think of it… Unawareness For the sake of this framework, I’m going to use Unawareness as the most neutral point possible on the continuum. This is a person who is 100% completely oblivious and unaware about a particular issue. In my case, this would be someone who has never heard the term ADHD in their life. While this person may cause harm, it would be completely unintentional. The moment this person is made aware at all, they have a choice of which direction of go but can no longer be considered unaware. Passive Awareness This is a person who is passively aware of something, has heard about it but doesn’t really understand it, or seek to understand it because it doesn’t affect them personally. Because of this, they may not understand the challenges or problems associated with this issue and as a result may unintenti
Just Do...Something
Aug 1 2022
Just Do...Something
As a business owner, entrepreneur, or even someone responsible for your company’s marketing, it’s your job to make some noise. It’s your job to let people know you exist and explain what you do, why they should want it, and how they can get it. And yet, after 15 years in the business of helping folx who want that, it’s time to let the secret out: most don’t do it. I’m not even saying they don’t do it well, I’m saying they don’t do it, at all. This represents one of the biggest opportunities in marketing today; doing something, literally, anything at all. Because too many people and companies are so busy trying to pick what to do, arguing about where they should do it, and worrying about how they’ll do it, they spend years never publishing a single thing. So today, I’m going to give you the formula I’ve used to —so far— produce: More than 1,270 blog postsAround than 300 podcast episodesAround 450 Youtube videosAround 44,600 TweetsAround 1,800 Instagram postsHundreds, maybe thousands of Linkedin and Facebook posts 1. Pick a thing to do It’s easy to look at someone who publishes a lot and think that’s where they started. They didn’t. Trust me. They started at the beginning…just like everyone else. They probably started doing one thing and once they found a rhythm, they just kept adding things. It’s either that or they found a way to maximize output without dramatically increasing input — more on that later. Some choose Youtube as their thing. Some like podcasting. Others are writers. Pick a thing. Just one and do something…literally, anything at all. It doesn’t really matter. Pick something that sounds fun. 2. Build a system Now that you’ve picked a thing, lay out a simple structure. Answer these two questions: What topics will you talk about? Pick roughly 5 big topics and then 3-5 subtopics within those. Congratulations, you now have a focus of your content. Don't stray from that. How often will you publish something? Anything less than once per week is probably not enough. Anything more than twice per week is ambitious. As for what day and time you should publish, it’s not that important at this stage. Just pick a schedule that gives you enough time to create and schedule the content. 3. Follow the system and hit Publish This part sounds easy but it’s actually what this whole post hinges on. You gotta show up, do a thing and hit publish. As easy as that sounds and even though it is literally the only thing you really must do for this to work, it’s the thing almost no one does. It’s why most podcasts have less than 10 episodes.It’s why so many blogs haven’t posted since Obama was President.It’s why so many businesses keep turning to new consultants and new tools only to find themselves without a podcast, without videos, and with the blog turned off on their website until they “get their ducks in a row.” This is where rubber meets road. If you've gotten this far, you must do this work and avoid detours. If you can’t do this, then you can’t have the sweet level up that comes next. 4. Level Up It’s only after you’ve been consistent for some reasonable length of time that you can progress to the next steps: Efficiencies and Calls-to-Action Efficiencies Smart marketers don’t work harder, they work smarter. They repurpose content.They recreate content in other formats.They use technology to automatically distribute their content and recycle it.They find ways to smooth out the creation process with templates, formulas, and production schedules. You can’t optimize and scale a process that doesn’t exist in the fi
Embrace the Mission, or Hide?
Jun 30 2022
Embrace the Mission, or Hide?
In May of 2008, noted technology-genius and Billionaire weapons dealer Anthony Edward Stark, was kindnapped from a weapons demonstration at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan, and held hostage. At a press conference following his escape, Mr. Stark reflected upon his role in the world and in a surprise announcement swore that he would never sell weapons again. After years of being a primary accomplice in a system that made the world a more dangerous place, Mr. Stark sought to use his powers to protect people and try to make the world safer. While Stark Industries carried on, the focus of the organization changed. Business continued, but with a different perspective. All of this was brought about by a traumatic and sobering event in Mr. Stark’s life that triggered a turning point. Putting aside the obvious anti-Islamic undertones, the glorified pro-military propaganda, and the myth of lone, heterosexual, playboy, white male, super-genius that’s coming to save us…I think we can learn something from Iron Man. The Mission Pepper Potts had been working for Tony Stark for years, complicit and supportive of him as he created and sold weapons of mass destruction. When he changed course, she was initially reluctant to help. Many of us have been present and complicit in the presence of things that (sadly) seemed normal: racist jokes or commentscasual misogny and misogynoirhomophobia or transphobia Maybe we were unaware of our role in it or maybe we didn’t want to confront our role in it. Maybe we didn’t want to make our peers uncomfortable while they were making others uncomfortable. Maybe, later on, we were even quiet or uninvolved when we saw a particular group losing their rights or going through a struggle that we, personally, would likely have avoided, thus giving us the privilege to ignore. And when we were called in to do the work to fix it, many of us did what Pepper Potts did, we quit. It’s often only when we’re confronted with the truth that we decide to push through the discomfort of change and step up to do the work that needs to be done. We no longer have the option to be complicit or to quit. In fact, we never really did. The Neighborhood A lot has happened recently, and more bad news seems to hit the front page every day. I see a lot of people falling back into the usual day-to-day. Will we take note only to then go back to false safety and comfort?Will we quietly move past and move on from these flagrant assaults on people’s rights, these egregious calls-to-violence, and these impending acts of discrimination and oppression.Will we give in to apathy and helplessness because it’s just easier than confronting our past, changing our present, and fighting for our future? Showing up at work and pretending that none of this is going on is a political decision. It is aiding and abetting those who perpetrate these harms. Many of the people doing this fall into one or more of the categories of the in-group. Here’s the thing…the protection racket of being a part of the in-group is only valid in so long as the rules of membership never change — but the rules change and the goal-posts always move. So instead of putting our heads down, retreating to the safety and comfort of our business as usual, and waiting for this whole thing to blow over, what happens when we come to find out that our business as usual is no longer safe? What happens when there's nothing left to retreat to; when there's no neighborhood left to protect? I guess what I’m wondering is, what will it take for everyone to gain some perspective, focus on what is really important, and take bold, dramatic action? Is the best we have to offer a return to the status
Dig Past Predictable
Jun 16 2022
Dig Past Predictable
It is far easier to say what you want than it is to create the conditions to get what you want. I’ve been consulting clients in some form or fashion for the last 14 years and over that time, I’ve noticed something. Whenever I'm doing an assessment or an inquiry with a new client — which is the basis of most of my work as a strategist — the initial responses I often get back are not deep and thoughtful, but rather something entirely predictable. This is not a criticism, it's an observation. It’s not until we go several more rounds of investigation that we actually extract something meaningful and unique. What usually follows is a realization of just how much work needs to be done to execute these new and unique insights. The project is either then abandoned in favor of the easy route: doing nothing and preserving the status quo, or it is implemented in a watered-down way so as to render it a fruitless exercise. Let me give you some tangible examples and then let’s work through an alternative approach. Hiring Are you hiring right now? What kind of candidate are you looking for? When given the opportunity to envision their ideal employees, most owners, and managers will list off a garden variety of predictable traits, such as hard-working, responsible, loyal, ambitious, high attention to detail, creative, professional, great positive attitude, and so on… All businesses want this because, obviously, why wouldn't they? But if we’re just going to paint the picture of the perfect worker robot, we may as well throw in that the ideal candidate also chooses to work for free, and shouts company praise from the rooftops every weekend. Let's agree to be honest. A job is a transaction. The worker sells their time to the company in exchange for a fee. In return for that fee, the company expects a certain set of deliverables and job responsibilities to be fulfilled. That’s the transaction. The Transaction and the Price So, if we want people to give more than the minimum, we have to provide something in return, don’t we? When we say that we want someone loyal, what are we doing to earn that loyalty?When we say we want someone hard-working, 1) how are we defining “hard work” and 2) what actual reason are we giving them to work hard?When we say we want someone ambitious, does that mean we are willing to take someone on whose ambition exceeds what our organization can offer, or will their drive make them a liability? Do we even know how we’ll feed and satisfy that ambition?When we say we want someone creative, or with a positive attitude, what are we doing to create an environment where those attributes can continue and thrive past the date of hire? Every trait we are looking for comes with a price, and most often that price isn’t baked into the salary. Even when some of it is, there’s only so much a salary can pay for. At a certain point, the candidate’s wallet may be satisfied, but their spirit is left to wither. There's very little at stake to describe the ideal employee, who would be the perfect embodiment of these wonderful and idealized things. It takes a bit more courage to ask yourself if the company is worthy of this sort of person. The important work that comes next is identifying the real traits of someone who would be a perfect fit for your company -- outside of the obvious. We have to dig deeper and identify the real attributes that we can actually afford. Brand Values When I ask a company about its values, I either look up to see the word integrity painted on the wall in a fancy cursive font, or I’m given a list of the same words used as Brand values by such notable companies as Enron, LuLaRoe, or Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. There’s obviously nothing wrong with integrity, innovation, or excellence. The problem is when the exercise is trea
The Art of Reframing
Jun 13 2022
The Art of Reframing
When was the last time you revised your resume or went on an interview? Whether you realize it or not, you were engaged in a storytelling exercise. Your resume is a storyWhat you say in the interview is a storyYour web and social media presence is a story Anytime we communicate toward a destination, we are storytelling. We are engaged in acts of storytelling multiple times per day Giving feedback is storytellingWebsite copy is storytellingBuilding a movement is storytelling None of these stories exist in a vacuum. There is no objective story. Each story is framed, consciously or unconsciously, by how we tell those stories. Stories at 30,000 feet Good stories often include all of the following: characters, conflict, resolutions, progress, and tension. When we tell stories without these elements, we are still telling stories, they’re just far less interesting. To forever improve your ability to tell a story, make sure every story includes these three elements: Problem (Conflict)Solution (Action)Results (Resolution) If you want to learn some other ways to tell stories, I suggest some of the following frameworks: The Red Thread Framework from Find Your Red Thread by Tamsen WebsterThe Storybrand 7 from Building a Storybrand by Donald MillerThe Golden Circle from Start with Why by Simon SinekThe Idea Introduction Pattern from Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff Framing at 30,000 feet The story is defined by what we choose to focus on within those three elements. This is the frame. What problems are we choosing to focus on? Have we adequately described the problem?How do we explain our solution? What should we give the greatest importance to?What are the intended results? Did we choose something ambitious enough, or not enough? The frame is the unique perspective through which the events of the story are seen. Changing the frame, changes the story. Changing the words, changes the frame. Stories begin at the Destination The best first step of crafting our story, or choosing our frame, is to know where we’re going. Great stories are designed to build toward a destination.Not-so-great stories wander aimlessly, in search of a destination. Before writing your resume, walking into the interview, or giving that feedback, make sure you know where you want the story to end and what theme you want to come through loud and clear. This is where the frame becomes clear. Reframing Reframing is the act of taking an existing story or idea, and changing what you choose to focus on in order to see the end result more closely match your intended outcome. Now that we’ve covered some of the theory and process, let’s go into some examples. It’s time to write your Resume Let’s look at a few of the ways you can subtly reframe your resume to tell a better story. First, start by deciding what your theme is. What should someone walk away with? Is it about people-first leadership, revenue growth, or cost-savings? Is it your work ethic, your quick thinking, or your willingness to color outside the lines? Once you have this, let it serve as the north star to guide everything in your resume. Next, I’m going to give you three things you can do to shift how someone understands the story of your resume. 1. Shift Activities → Outcomes It
Sales is a Leadership Opportunity
Jun 9 2022
Sales is a Leadership Opportunity
How do you feel about sales? Do you enjoy the initial qualifying meeting?Do you relish the close?Does every part of it make you want to run and hide? How we feel about sales is a product of our experiences on both sides of the sales equation: as the salesperson and as the prospect. Too often these experiences have been uncomfortable, manipulative, or lead to long-lasting remorse. We’re all familiar with the meme of the used car salesmen -- a greasy, slick, smooth, fast-talker who’s gonna do what it takes to “get a deal done today.” As a result, these experiences impact our future willingness to engage in the sales process. We get filled with fear, with apprehension, with dread. We don’t want to become the person I just described. That would be awful. Bad sales experiences are a symptom of a much larger problem. However, I think the symptom comes with important insights and instructions for ways we can dramatically improve business, society, and ourselves. So today, we’re going to explore sales, try to resolve the tension we feel around it, and provide a blueprint to save business and possibly the world. Instead of feeling like we’re manipulating people, we can feel genuinely valuable. Instead of feeling guilty, we can feel proud. Instead of feeling gross, we can feel whole. This is the superhuman approach to sales. But first, let’s start with a familiar story… or click here for the TL;DR Hustling for Sales The first time I remember ever formally having a role in sales was back in 2008. I had just begun working for a management consulting firm, and one of our many responsibilities was to cold call executives at companies to sell our consulting services. I did not like this. Some of my colleagues would boast about their 100-dial days. Others would talk about having made 50 calls before lunch. It seemed to me that we were in a competition to see who could bother the most people, all hoping to get someone to buy something they didn't ask for. As far as I could tell, it was manipulation. If I had to choose a word to describe how it felt to be in this role, I’d use the one I’ve heard thousands of times to describe sales: icky Change a few details of this story and this is how many people are first introduced to sales: interrupting or being interrupted, and either trying to get someone to buy something they didn’t ask for, or being the target of such an unwelcome experience. The One Thing in Common So, what was it that felt so uncomfortable about those cold calls to me? I believe that all negative experiences in sales have one things in common: The customer doesn’t want or need what is being sold to them. This is the single element that makes sales feel icky. What makes sales feel icky, gross, or uncomfortable, is when the salesperson knows this fact, and either through malice or coercion-by-quota moves forward anyway. Some justify this by believing “the customer really does have a want or need, but just doesn’t know it yet.” They believe their job is to enlighten the customer about their own needs. This is — at best — self-deception. I want to pause here and ask you to reflect on this. Really think about it because the remainder of what I’m about to get into builds upon this single insight. The Second Factor Throughout my own sales experience and speaking with others who thrive or suffer through sales, I’ve learned the second important factor is belief. Do you believe in the product/service/solution you are selling? This can span from a practical belief in the basic utility of your product as one of many competing solutions in the marketplace to fervent devotion to your solution as the single best o
Nurture Curiosity
May 19 2022
Nurture Curiosity
The process of becoming superhuman is an important, life-long pursuit. A commitment to the process will never fail to impact your personal and professional success and well-being. Beyond that, it can also have a profound positive impact on the success and well being of others. A few years ago, I conceived of the Superhuman Framework as a method for unlocking your potential to grow, and address any challenge in your way. The first part of the framework is learning, which is our primary tool for growing our awareness about the world around us. Given recent events, I think it’s time we look at how learning prepares us to actively contribute toward making a world that is kinder, safer, and more equitable. This post is about work. Also, this post is not about work. NOTE: While there is nuance that exists in the space between intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge, for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to be using the word knowledge in this post as shorthand to describe the state of having information and understanding about a topic. The Relationship between Knowledge and Empathy One of the things The Coaching Habit says about what great coaches do differently, is they “stay curious a little longer.” This is because to be a great coach, you need to ensure you’re solving the right problem and this is often buried a little deeper beneath what people immediately reveal. So, we ask questions and asking the right questions requires empathy. Done effectively, it allows us to gain insights into how the other person sees the problem but also to create the space where the real problems can even be safely revealed. We use our empathy to gather knowledge. Great leaders have the capacity to accomplish great things as a result of the size, innovation, competency, and cohesiveness of their teams. But a team will neither grow nor stay together without understanding and acceptance of one another. It will be neither the most competent nor innovative without diverse perspectives. Those with insufficient context and knowledge will lack the tools to empathize with those who have a profoundly different lived experience, and will fail spectacularly as a leader. We gather knowledge to effectively empathize. This relationship is cyclical. We must continually learn in order to better empathize and we must use our empathy to continually learn. Knowledge is Power and its Antidote You’ve probably heard that phrase before: knowledge is power. What you may not have considered is that knowledge is also the antidote to power. Power, which often implies some form of authority or control, can be wielded by those with greater access to information. Therefore, learning can be a defense against control or illegitimate authority. For example, those have read the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene are able to recognize the tactics when someone tries to use it against them. A basketball player who has watched hours of game footage is better prepared to recognize an opponent’s tendency to go left or right and can be in a better position to defend. In short, knowledge isn’t just power, it’s also often your best defense against power. This is why those in positions of power often want an imbalance in access to critical information. Learning at full speed One of the unfortunate aspects of both school and our lives after graduation, is that neither is particularly well-suited for developing well-rounded people capable of critical thinking. In both cases everything is moving at full speed racing toward priorities that are not your own. In school, it’s about fitting in, following directions, and earning the grade. Y
Bigger than Business
May 5 2022
Bigger than Business
“That doesn't belong on Linkedin.” Business and labor are fundamental components of our lives. Work is one of the primary places we spend our time and energy. The dominant function it occupies in our lives is to provide the necessities for survival, and so it is something we consciously think about. Yet, at the same time, its ubiquity causes it to resemble something akin to background radiation, or the ocean that fish unconsciously swim about in. Work is simultaneously everything, everywhere, all of the time, while also being remarkably personal, tangible, and within our daily experiences. Talking about “what we do” is as natural as talking about the weather or what to eat for lunch. We often cannot imagine a world where business and labor are not primary factors any more than we can imagine our lives without food, water, or breathable air. We are used to it, conditioned to its presence and rules, and have developed a culture that reveres the very idea of work while giving it priority over other areas of life. It is far more comfortable, in many circles to talk about work than it is to discuss many other topics of consequence. Even when the opportunity is seized to discuss important topics, it often has to be nested inside of considerations for how it may impact business and industry with a no-so-subtle implication of which takes precedence. As Superhumans, we need to have the resilience to discuss less comfortable topics. As Superhumans, we have to stand for the things that are bigger than business. As Superhumans, we need to stand up to injustice anywhere and everywhere, and that includes Linkedin. Priorities I see concerning behavior on Linkedin all of the time. It looks like people hiring outsourced teams to spam their contacts.It looks like harassing black men and women in the comments.It looks like tearing down confident women.It looks like lying about success. And yet, these behaviors persist and I’ve yet to see someone call that out as “not belonging on Linkedin.” Typically, I see a significant “both sides” argument about any of this. At best, I see a few justified "call outs" of the offending person. May is both mental health awareness month, and the month in which it was leaked that the Supreme Court of the United States intends to overturn 50 years of settled law in order to rob women of their right to privacy and bodily autonomy. In the comments of posts about either topic, I have seen the same sentiment: “This does not belong on Linkedin. This is a professional networking site.” Women make up roughly half of the working population, and various issues related to work are among the leading causes of mental health issues. It absolutely belongs on Linkedin. I’ll say it again...Priorities All businesses, every single one, are made up of human beings. These human beings do not cease to be human beings when they walk into the office or sign onto Zoom. Any issue that affects human beings is a work issue and therefore belongs on Linkedin every bit as much as hunting for new sales opportunities. Not only that, but I would argue that anything that affects how human beings show up at work, is substantially more important than business. Our right to bodily autonomy is more important than business.Our right to privacy is more important than business.Our mental health is more important than business.Our physical health is more important than business.Our dignity as human beings is more important than business. If we want to have better work environments, be better leaders, and ensure that the work we do isn’t meaningless, then we have to pay attention to all of these conversations that impact humans. How can we not when it is directly connected to how we show up at work?
Weaponized Empathy
Apr 21 2022
Weaponized Empathy
As humans, we are, presumably, always in the process of improvement. We seek to grow individually and collectively. We look for ways to enhance and optimize our material conditions in the home, in the corporation, in the state. However, we cannot always agree on what represents an improvement. In many cases, by improving in one area, we cause harm in another. We find ourselves routinely asking “do the ends justify the means?” Today, I want to interrogate what it means to improve in business by looking at a single, frequently-employed tactic. My hope is that by looking at this symptom, we are able to reveal the more significant condition it represents, and possibly present some methods to remedy what ails us. I'm willing to bet you can relate to this story. *Ding* The text message arrived to inform me that my bill had increased...by nearly 60%. I was upset. I was confused. Maybe more than anything, I was annoyed that I'd need to take time out of my day to deal with this. I wondered, should I call customer service or try to resolve this via live chat? I opted for live chat. "No Worries" "It is nice to meet you here in chat." "I'd be concerned too if I were in your shoes." "The pleasure is mine" "Thank you for sharing that with me. I appreciate it!" "As a bill payer myself, I know how important to manage our finances." All of this sounds great! I feel heard. I feel seen. I feel appreciated as a customer. Or, did I? The truth is, I sensed it immediately. The playbook has been upgraded. In addition to “nice” it now includes "empathy." Not human empathy but, empathy the tactic. At the end of my chat, the problem remained, I was given a number to call, and all I had to show for it was a morning derailed and wasted, and a representative, who was pleasant on the surface, but had no ability to help me. "Your call is important to us" So, how did I resolve it? I picked up the phone. I called the customer service line. "We're experiencing longer than usual call volume. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line (for an unspecified amount of time), and we will answer your call in the order it was received." How many times have you heard that? Can you hear the robotic male or female voice in your head as you read that? If you hear that message every time you call, wouldn't it stand to reason that the call volume should be expected at this point. Some of these companies make billions in profit each year and pay little in taxes. Could they hire more call reps? Perhaps.Is our call really important to them? Who can really know? All we know is that they've said it. I spent roughly two hours of my life across two phone calls, mostly on hold or being transferred. I want to believe the tone in the voice of the last woman I spoke with. She assured me that she would look into it, talk to her supervisor, and get back to me. Her voice sounded sincere, but regardless, after several rounds of escalation, she still had no ability to help me resolve the issue. Research has shown... So, if companies are going to waste our time in live chats, make us wait on hold with no end in sight, and don't plan to give anyone the authority to fix customer problems, then why include the facade of caring? Why bother with the veneer of empathy? Why not just leave the phone off the hook, and provide no resource at all...like Facebook does. Because they know it works. Since Edward Bernays published Propaganda, businesses have been at the forefront of an ongoing battle to control our wants, needs, and opinions. Once Milton Friedman outlined his theory of shareholder primacy, the final piece was set for this nightm
The Traumatic Case for Resetting Business
Apr 18 2022
The Traumatic Case for Resetting Business
As a leader, do you believe that it is possible to fundamentally change the default culture of work? If not, why not? If so, how do you suggest we get there? The ultimate purpose of this blog is to give you anything and everything I can to enable you to become an unstoppable catalyst for change. One component of that is to analyze and explore heroic and lovable leadership. Our world is currently shaped in large part by the interests of business. It shapes nearly every aspect of our culture. Therefore, changing the culture of work is central to our capacity to change the world. We cannot change work until leaders everywhere address the elephant in the room: trauma. Our Story The world of business was designed — and is continually adapted — to benefit a certain small group of people. We have accepted that there will be winners and losers. Hierarchies are still the most common corporate structure. Power is consolidated at the top. Money and status flow upward. As a result, the business environment that we operate in, cultivate, or passively endorse is based on their values: control and domination. It is no accident that nearly every aspect of business has been explained through metaphors of war and conflict. The popular narratives promoted (read: propaganda) over the last 100 years are typically about cycles of boom and bust, wars fought and won or lost, and primarily feature a specific class of people presented as winners including politicians, military generals, and those who achieve outstanding financial success in the private sector. Yet, at the same time, talk to an individual among the general population, and we might hear an entirely different story. We might hear about layoffs, unemployment, disability, student loans, rising healthcare costs, wage stagnation, and debt. We might hear about how we treat veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, Black Americans, Asian Americans, Immigrants, and others treated as "others." While both groups of stories may be “true,” one group is considerably more personal. Each of us internalize the stories of our time and it creates a specific lens that tints and colors our perception of the world. The more traumatic the experience, the deeper the tint and the darker the lens we look through. Collectively, there are more of us who are traumatized in some form or fashion by a world and business environment that does not prioritize us than there are those who benefit from this paradigm. Stories Shape Behavior Humans are driven, by instinct, to avoid pain. As social animals, we fear isolation. Some will use this to their advantage. As a leader, once you understand this you can more easily understand and contextualize how people behave. All it requires is to ask yourself... What is this person protecting themselves from? Each person you interact with in business, as in life, is a collection of trauma and you get to interact with it. Lucky you! We often make the mistake of believing that people’s actions are thoughtfully and rationally considered. In truth, we’re mostly on autopilot, operating from the stories that color our perception. Trauma @ Work Bobby was taken advantage of in his previous jobs. He was young, inexperienced, and felt powerless to set boundaries or push back. So when his boss asked him to do things that made him uncomfortable, forced him to work uncompensated, or even handle his boss’ responsibilities, he kept quiet. Is it any wonder that, nowadays, he reacts poorly at work when asked to do something for the good of the team? Joyce has never been onboarded properly at any company she’s worked for. She’s always had
The Leader’s Guide to Motivating Humans
Apr 14 2022
The Leader’s Guide to Motivating Humans
What makes people take action? Is it something intrinsic? Is it something extrinsic? Are we motivated by punishment or by reward? Does motivation comes from profound words layered over a picture of a lion on an Instagram account about becoming a hustle billionaire? Is it wads of cash, lambos, watches, scantily clad women in bikinis or men with six-pack abs? Is it saying nice things, or buying pizza on alternating Fridays? What is the actual secret to unlocking a person’s motivation? Tell me! Today, we’re going to dive deep into this complex topic and explore the mysteries of what makes humans spur into action. Buckle up, we’re about to get motivated. The Leader’s Guide to Motivation Leaders and managers everywhere want to know, how can I get people to do what I need them to do? How can I get them to do what I want? The answer may surprise you. You can’t. What you can do, however, is get them to do what they want to do. The truth is the secret to motivating people starts with a profoundly simple premise: Understand what THEY want. Note that I said focus on what they DO want, not what they DON’T want. Environments where people are constantly seeking to avoiding pain or discomfort is not one they tend to stay in. Coercion, threats, or intimidation are not solid long term strategies. By contrast, people tend to stick around when they have the ability to grow and pursue their own goals. Beyond knowing everyone’s names, job titles and responsibilities, as a leader you need to know what they value, what they believe, what they care about, and what they want in their life. Equipped with this information, you can find where your needs align with their goals. If you can’t figure out how to motivate someone on your team, then your problem is simple: you don’t understand what they want. It’s either that, or what they want will never align with what you need. If that's the case, you should work with them to find a role that better suits them while you look for someone who wants something that aligns with what you need. If not, then get curious and find out more about what they want. Motivation is quite simple. People move because they want something. That’s it. This isn’t complicated. Bottom line: Just remember that everyone is on their own path and your job as a leader is find where your paths overlap and point in the same direction.
The 10x Problem
Apr 11 2022
The 10x Problem
If your Linkedin inbox is anything like mine, it’s a lot of this. Helping Experts Scale to $50k Helping Clients Grow Over $100 Million in 2021 ...hire me to scale to 6-7 figures I’m bored. The 10x Problem I’m tired of all the cold outreach that assumes what my goals are, and that those assumptions are exclusively about money. What’s worse, is that I know just how easy it is to make these claims without anything to back it up. I’ve had Zoom calls with people, recently, where despite what their profile said and all those logos on their website, I could feel the desperation in their voices hoping that I’d sign onto their coaching program without even the faintest scent that I’d expressed ANY interest at all. But, as angry as this trend makes me, more so, it makes me sad. Look closely and you will see this problem everywhere right now. It’s the abundance of coaches coaching coaches to coach coachesIt’s the legions of 10x gurus and "contrepreneurs"It’s the Crypto-NFT community trying desperately to convince everyone that all this crappy, uninspired, computer generated “artwork” and magic internet money will really be worth something, someday. No, really. We’re gonna build a real island to mirror the fake island in the Matrix. One thing we love in this country is a good grift. The reason is simple. We’ve put money above all else. In a country where money equates to safety and survival, we’re all scurrying to acquire as much as we can in an effort to feel safe. Because it’s something we all need, it’s something everyone is trying to sell you access to. The most unfortunate part is that our myopia has us only solving part of the problem, both individually and collectively. The Purpose Gap By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Japanese concept of Ikigai. I’ve never had a Linkedin message ask me what I’m good at, or indicate that they'd dug deep enough to know.I’ve never had one ask me what I thought the world needs.I’ve never had one ask me what I love. They just want to tell me about the system they are selling that they assure me, I can be paid for. Trust me, you are no more than one pixel away from someone willing to show you how to 10x your life, how to flip real estate, and how to “get in on it early.” The question is money, the answer is money. I have to believe we’re more than that. Where do we go from here? Today, I don't have a clever framework to share. There's no deep-dive, no cheat sheet, and no email-gated download. All I have for you today is two questions. What if more people adopted an approach where money was only one component paired alongside what we are good at, what we enjoy, and what the world needs from us?What if we looked at the problems that money is seeking to answer and tried to identify other solutions? We can do better than this. Whether it's 10x, 20x, or 30x, 6-figures, 7-figures, or 8, it’s all the same pitch, all the same rhetoric and it’s profoundly uninspired. Furthermore, by staying locked into this one answer, we fail to address the underlying situations we're attempting to solve for. That’s it. This is the unofficial end to this post/rant but if you want to stick around, I’ll illustrate how answering those questions might change things. ... 1. Ikigai Pitches I’m going to give you two pitches for my new podcast networking Shareable.FM and two pitches for my book The Lovable Leader. One will be the standard,
A Leader’s Guide to Bias
Apr 7 2022
A Leader’s Guide to Bias
A bias is a conscious or unconscious preference or shortcut for decision-making, that supersedes impartiality. We all have biases. To have a bias is neither inherently good, nor bad. Some biases are good or useful, others are not so good and far less useful. Most discussions of bias focus on the darker side of our conscious and unconscious decision making shortcuts. Since I’m not well-versed enough to teach unconscious bias, I will be taking a different approach to bias. However, I strongly encourage everyone to become fiercely curious about unconscious biases as a deeper understanding can help make us better, more well-rounded and inclusive humans. If you are interested in learning more about unconscious bias, I strongly recommend the book The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias: How To Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection, and Create High-Performing Teams by Pamela Fuller, Mark Murphy, Anne Chow. It’s also a good idea to search for and review lists of unconscious or cognitive biases. Today, we’re going to look at bias from a different angle so you become a better leader and a better human...perhaps even a superhuman. Positive and Negative Biases My friend Tony Chatman, who is a phenomenal speaker and author, tells an amazing story about the utility that an unconscious bias can have. He recounts being in upstate New York, in rattlesnake country, and feeling something slither over his foot, while wearing sandals. Without making the conscious decision, he took off running long before he could assess whether he just experienced a garter snake or something more dangerous. That useful unconscious decision, might’ve saved his life or at least from a nasty bite. Thankfully, he’s around to tell the story. Seriously, it’s a masterclass in storytelling. I’ve heard it three times and still laugh out loud. That is an example of a useful bias. Some biases are not as useful. All of us, at some point, have been presented with a narrative about certain groups of people. We’ve either participated or been present while stereotypes are “jokingly” passed around. We’ve had past experiences or traumas that get planted in our brains and that show up as a reaction to certain situations or people. These biases can limit our own potential by reshaping our perception and causing us to prejudge others. That is an example of a limiting bias. Conscious & Unconscious Biases One of the most important ideas I’ve learned about bias is that awareness of our biases give us the opportunity to make different choices. Gaining a mindful awareness of our various biases gives us a remarkable super power: The ability to interrupt the bias in its tracks and make conscious choices rather than quick judgments based on various inputs we may not have chosen. Over time, this moves the bias into the conscious zone where we can choose to invalidate the intrusion and move forward. What’s important to note is that not only can we do this through awareness of unconscious biases, but also through the process of deliberately and consciously installing valuable biases. For example, because of my ADHD, I have a tendency to lose small details. Even if a task only takes a few moments, if I put it to the side, it might be forgotten for weeks. So, I have consciously chosen to install a bias for completing small actions. If a task takes less than two minutes, rather than risk losing it to the black hole of “later,” I get it done and move on. These sorts of conscious biases can help us to recognize our patterns of behavior and design a preference for counterbalancing actions. Conscious Bias for Leaders Over the weekend, one of my favorite people to follow on Linkedin,
Can you relate?
Apr 4 2022
Can you relate?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. “I get you.” How about this one? “I understand.” Last one... I’ve been exactly where you are. In an effort to relate to others, many of us have learned these phrases. We think that it helps us to connect with and relate to others. On occasion, it does. However, sometimes, it has the exact opposite effect. Today, we continue to look for ways of becoming superhuman. In particular, learning the superpower of how to be a better human in the presence of other humans. Can you relate? Let’s set the scene. You’re a manager.You’re having a one-on-one with a team member.They come to you with a problem. Something that is stressing them out.They are frustrated. So, what do you do? Obviously, you start by listening. Because you’re a manager who cares, you really want the other person to feel heard. You want them to feel comfortable, and even safe. You want to let them know that it will all be ok. You think back to when you were in a similar situation. You want to let them know how you were right where they are, how you overcame what they’re going through, and how they will, too. You look past all of the ways in which your situations are different and unearth all of the places where you overlap. Now that you’re ready...you relate. “I hear you. I totally get it. I was in the exact same situation.” Intent vs Outcome In this scenario, you are intending to help the other person feel seen. You want to create a circle of trust. You imply: “you and me, we’re not so different.” I’m not saying anything about this is inherently wrong. But, indulge the following question. Is there a possible outcome of this approach, that could produce the opposite effect of your intention? If you’re having trouble visualizing it, try to think about a time when someone tried to relate to you, but you felt like they clearly didn’t. The trust fund kid who tells you they understand what it’s like to struggle when you're talking about your student loans?The parent who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s trying to tell you how they “get” the difficulties of growing up as if they too were glued to a smartphone, and trying to navigate a high school social life that includes TikTok and cyberbullying on Minecraft.The boss, who relates to the loss of your parent just long enough to ask when you think you’ll be back at work? In each of these situations, regardless of the actual parallels, do you feel like that person actually gets what YOU are going through? In each of those situations, do you get the sense that those people are trying to relate to you, or trying to relate you to themselves? Should you relate? In an effort to make others feel seen, we sometimes do the opposite. We put the spotlight back on ourselves. So instead of asking ourselves whether we can relate to someone, we might want to ask whether we should? This is for every person who has ever responded when I am being vulnerable by sharing the reality of my ADHD, by telling me that they “get a little ADD sometimes” and then proceed to tell me about the time they browsed Reddit a little too long. That cute little anecdote doesn’t make me feel closer to them. It doesn’t make me feel like they can relate to what I just shared. It subtly invalidates the actual hardships 30+ years of masking ADHD has taken on my mental health and feelings of self-worth by turning it into some minor inconvenience. Every person’s story is their own, and no matter how much you feel that you can relate to their story, that feeling is about YOU, not them. I submit for your consideration that maybe it’s not about relating, maybe it’s just about caring. What to consider saying
How to walk into the room
Mar 31 2022
How to walk into the room
Imagine you’ve just been added to a team or a new project. Maybe you’re the new CMO, maybe you’re the new lead for a project team, or maybe you just join a new department as a subject matter expert. The team you’ve joined has been working together for several weeks, months, or even years. They have an established rapport. They’ve been going through various stages of the project together. What’s the first thing you do? An Important Moment So, what was your answer? Whatever your answer sounded like, in my experience, the way people walk into rooms comes in two different flavors. Those whose presence enhances the teamThose whose presence fractures the team The difference between them is visible when you ask the question: who are they trying to make look good right now? If the answer is the team, then they are likely going to integrate into the team, and their ideas, challenges, and contributions will be recognized, appreciated, and rewarded. This person is joining the team and has set the proper conditions to enhance the team. If the answer is themselves, then they are likely going to immediately encounter resistance that they will be forced to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with instead of helping the team move forward. This person is protecting their ego and has set the proper conditions for judgment, resistance, and potential fracturing of the team cohesion. How to walk into the room My suggestion for how to walk into the room is virtually identical to sitting on the same side of the table, which is the key concept in my book The Lovable Leader. This is because the most important thing you can do when you walk into the room is establish trust. Two people can give you the same advice or criticism, but if one of them is a close friend and the other is a complete stranger, you’re going to receive it differently. The difference is trust. You trust that your friend still has your best interest in mind. There is less of a defense mechanism being engaged. Similarly, when you make a first impression on a team, I would suggest you start with the following steps. 1. Prepare an opening statement Let people know about your goals and intentions. Share with people how you have been received in the past including things you do that might rub people the wrong way. Acknowledge and label all of these things so that when those issues inevitably arise, people are prepared and you’ve already addressed and contextualized those behaviors and tendencies. Hi everyone, I want you all to know that I’m really excited to be joining this team. I already see how much hard work has gone into this process. I hope that I’m able to contribute by helping us work through some of the strategic challenges we’re having. Since this is the first time we’re working together, I want to call myself out and acknowledge that I have a tendency to let my enthusiasm bubble over and that sometimes leads to talking over people or being a little too high energy. I know that I do this and I will try my best to keep it in check. If you notice me doing it, please mention it to me as it’s something I want to work on because my intention isn’t to take away from anyone’s efforts or dismiss anyone’s contributions. 2. Listen, Be Curious, and Validate When you first join a team, your advice isn’t likely all that good. That’s because you don’t know enough to know what problems need to be solved. So, at best, you’ve got a few nuggets of wisdom sitting amongst a variety of suggestions that are either not relevant or solve the wrong problem. For more on this, read Michael Bungay Stainer’s book The Advice Trap. Instead, listen to what’s going on. Ask questions. More importantly, ask good questions. Good questions are ones t
Marketing: What’s currently working & how to prepare for success
Mar 28 2022
Marketing: What’s currently working & how to prepare for success
Most of the companies that I’ve ever worked with, want to be a runaway success. They want marketing plans that result in uncontrolled virality. They want to be seen, adored, and showered with sweet cash. They want the hockey stick and to be the next big case study. Everyone wants to be above average, but if that were true, it wouldn’t be the average. In reality, most companies won't have success-after-success, they won’t go viral, they won’t beat the average. Despite this reality, I think there is immense value in going through the exercise of imagining runaway, viral success. Today, I thought we’d check in on Marketing and answer two important questions: What’s working right now?What happens if it works? Marketing your way to success Perhaps it’s the way my brain works, perhaps it’s the way I was trained on strategic thinking, or maybe it’s just what is truly the most effective approach, but I believe we must start with the end and work backwards. Here’s the opposite of what that looks like... The marketing team is joined by the executive team and all of a sudden it becomes an exercise where everyone tries to come up with the next BIG idea. This is primarily because people tend to think marketing is all about promotion and ads. They tend to believe that promotion and ads success, is all about creativity...and of course, everyone in this room is creative, right? So, people start chiming in about an ad they saw on tv or a billboard that made them laugh. Sometimes the conversation turns to the silver bullet, the growth hacks, and the first mover advantages. The room fills with tales of the most recent case study. “We could do something like that!” And seriously, what’s more creative than copying someone else? In the midst of it, you imagine launching any of these campaigns, and you get a funny feeling. It’s like there's no through-line, or that some critical questions haven't been answered. Why are we doing this? Is this who we are? Who is this for? What are the potential ramifications? Thinking Before & Beyond The Campaign In the room where this sort of brainstorming happens, we rarely find those who have done the necessary work beforehand. These rooms are focused on a short term win. They’re focused on being seen as clever and brilliant marketers. They’re focused on themselves and the campaign. If we look at what’s NOT working right now, it is this: being the clever one to create the next big viral ad campaignchasing the newest social media trendtrying to force what worked in the past to continue working In the scheme of things, isolated campaigns are meaningless unless your metric of success is short-term attention. Successful marketing is rarely exciting. Typically, it’s shockingly boring and methodical. It’s stuff like picking the right time of day to post your content, identifying how to adapt to the recent changes in an algorithm, or choosing whether to call your lead magnet an ebook or a whitepaper. Sexy stuff, right?! The excitement only truly emerges when the work is nested inside and supporting a larger idea: the Brand. It’s not about attention, it’s about the right kind of attention, from the right people, for the right reasons. It’s not about whether people SEE IT, it’s about whether people GET IT. What is currently working? It bears repeating but there is no silver bullet or universally successful tactic. There is however a process to uncover what may work for your specific situation. So hat is currently working is the same thing that worked before: design a great strategy for your unique situation. Here's where I reco
Triggers & Actions
Mar 24 2022
Triggers & Actions
IF this, THEN that. In the case of automation applications like Zapier, Automate.io, and of course, IFTTT, it represents the deliberate initiation of a sequence of desired next steps. In the case of social interactions, both digital and IRL, it can represent a spectrum of different events. In our pursuit of Becoming Superhuman, we should analyze these triggers, and the subsequent actions. Today, we’re going to look at the presence and impact of triggers and actions in our lives. NOTE: If you are someone who jokingly and antagonistically uses the phrase “trigger warning” to belittle people who have an emotional reaction to certain people, places, phrases, or events I would encourage you to read this entire post. While you do, try to engage your empathy muscles. Even if you don’t walk away learning to be more understanding of others, you will still gain a new tool for your own personal success. OMG, me too! In some cases, the trigger is something that spurs the action of retelling a particular story. In these cases, the triggers serve as the play button for a routine or shtick. For Example... IF a parent brings up a story about their child to another parent, THEN the other parent draws from a particular set of stories about their own children.IF someone brings up an embarrassing, but funny, story from work or childhood, THEN others will likely join in and share their own story from a short but memorable repository.IF someone brings up a restaurant they liked, THEN others will join in and share their own recent dining adventures. We do this unconsciously, as a shortcut, in order to create a connection. These stories and shticks aren’t deliberately curated but rather cobbled together after reading people’s past reactions. When we told that story last time, someone laughed, so we tell it again next time.We told that other story a few weeks ago and it fell flat, best to leave it out of the repertoire. The triggers in these cases are non-threatening, and our subsequent actions are generally agreeable. From a bad experience to outright trauma In other cases, the trigger is something that automatically causes someone to remember and experience an unwelcome memory or past trauma. In this case, the trigger is perceived as threatening and provokes a stress or survival response. The subsequent actions can range from total retreat to explosive and violent reaction, or anything along that spectrum. These triggers can take so many shapes. For Example... IF you offer someone help, THEN they react negatively. You may not realize that the mere offer of help makes them feel weak, helpless, or even untrusted by those who offer the help. This could be a result of their education, past employment experiences, or upbringing where internalized messages from childhood bubble up to the surface.IF you make a comment about someone’s hair, the way they talk, or mispronounce their name THEN they react hurt or angry. You may not realize that this individual has endured years of similar incidents and micro-aggressions have intentionally or unintentionally marginalized them and left them feeling like an outsider or other.IF after accepting someone’s Linkedin connection request they immediately start pitching you, THEN you respond with a snarky, sarcastic, or even hostile message. They may not realize the various beliefs, past experiences, or values they have encroached upon. That last one was about me. Three days ago. Unreceptive What inspired me to write this post was a watershed moment that happened to me just three days ago. I am in the midst of promo