Monthly Archives: May 2013

End of Month Four

And with this post, this is the end of the fourth month of this little experiment. The fifty-fifth thought that I’ve put online. When I say it like that it seems like a lot more work than it actually was.

At the beginning of May I was considering stopping writing all together. The viewings weren’t really growing and I honestly thought that I would run out of things to write about. Good thing that is in May there was a definite bump inconsistant views and apparently I haven’t run out of things to say yet.

I’m glad that there are still things that I want to write about, because I actually have fun doing this and think that it’s doing me some good on a few levels. I guess time will tell if that will keep going or not!

The best part about this is that it keeps me accountable to myself. I know that I’m going to have to put something up, so I’m constantly taking the time to think about the world around me. Additionally, I’ve noticed my projects section getting a little neglected, so I have found a few new and fun things to go work on. More on that later…

There Are No Right or Wrong Decisions

… there are only consequences.

I say this a lot. Maybe a little too much, actually, but I truly think it’s accurate and in some ways comforting. Rather than labouring over a decision being “the right one” or “the wrong one” we could all be better served with coming to terms that life is so complicated that we will never know the full extent of the consequences of our actions. Therefore there is no right or wrong, when it comes to comparing the options we have.

Sure, there are varying degrees of uncertainty. I am fairly certain if I jump out of a plane with no parachute, I’m going to be dealing with a fairly negative consequence. It is then easy to attach a label like “wrong” to it.

When it’s tricky is when there are more variables at play, all with an unknown level of effect on the outcome. Take the example of deciding between two jobs. You can see the merit in both, think that they both have something to offer you, and would be happy working at either. How can you accurately know which choice is right and which wrong?

The short answer is you can’t. While it is true that one of the jobs will likely net you a greater level of happiness than the other, you have know way of knowing that when you are making the decision. That is why it’s important to abandon notions of one job being the correct one and the other being incorrect, and find different criteria to frame the decision around.

If you’re like me and believe the above, I guess the only choice you have now is to look at it as a positive or a negative. For me, I like the fact that there is no prescribed, “right” decision whenever I have a choice to make. It would be too much pressure to always be correct. I much prefer the thought that no matter what I decide, it’s how I deal with the consequences that ultimately shape the choice that I’ve made. There is a level of power in this that makes me feel like I’ve made the correct decision in my outlook.

What is the Goal of Your Company?

This seems like something that would be fairly obvious to ask yourself, but I’m ashamed to say it took me nearly 3 years to really think about it. From the beginning of Snap It, my partners and I always said it was a way to have good looking girls want us to take their picture, but that’s a little creepy and got old quick. Who am I kidding? It never gets old, but that can’t be our only goal!

Seriously, though, it just seemed like a fun project to us and we went for it. I’m sure I can speak for all of us when I say it’s stayed fun since then and that’s good enough for now. While fun is great, I am more appreciative than ever for the need of a more solid end goal.

Enough micro, though, every company should have a Goal. What I mean by a capital “G” goal is an overall, all-encompassing thing you are striving for. Think somewhere between a mission and vision statement; specific, but not necessarily the reason for existence. Obviously there is a need for many goals, but the big Goal should be what all actions are working toward.

The Goal can change as you and your company change, too. It should for sure be revamped once you have reached it. There is nothing worse than working on something or somewhere that has already accomplished everything it is looking to do. Without a large, common goal for everyone to be working on, there is no way that all efforts are being coordinated to their fullest potential. Even if it’s just you running the business, having a constant Goal in mind can help remove you from thinking about the day-to-day every once in a while.

If you have read between the lines it will be obvious that a Goal is only as good as it’s communication. What’s the point of having one if it gets locked away, or kept between a small number of people, or even just you as an individual? There needs to be constant reminders of what is being worked toward, and your actions need to reflect its importance. Nothing is more of a Goal killer than the leader not showing that it is the number-one focus, or taking resources away from its achievement.

In the end, you don’t need to come up with something grandiose. Use the KISS principle and make sure it’s understandable. Make it public and explain why it’s important. After that you may be surprised how quickly other things fall into line.

Create Yourself

I have never really understood what people mean when they are going to go “find themselves”. It doesn’t matter if it’s through travel, a spiritual journey, volunteering or anything else, the idea confuses me.

Maybe I shouldn’t say the idea, but the way it is described. To me going to “find yourself” is too passive of a statement. It’s almost implying that there is some idea version of you out there, waiting for you to stumble upon them. My opinion is that doing some soul searching and new experiences can do great things for you, but it is our meaningful actions that define who we are.

These actions are definitely impacted by any experience we have, large or small. Our world view is shaped by the context we perceive it, so seeking out different perspectives is a great way to check and shift your paradigm. Just don’t expect by witnessing something new, you will have all the answers you will ever need for your life.

The truth of the matter, whether we try new things or not, meet new people or not, go new places or not, we are all still exist and are all individuals. No finding necessary.

So by creating new experiences we are contributing to the incremental evolution of ourselves. There can be large changes and small changes, but everything we do and see will have some sort of impact. There is no perfect version of us just waiting to be found in some far-away land.

By appreciating all experiences in life, I think that we can find more happiness. Realizing we don’t need some huge, life-changing experience to change the way we’re living can be liberating. So every day should be seen as a chance to change yourself for the better, and good things will continue to happen.

I realize that this post is very motivational-speakeresque, but thought that it had to be said. To me going out to “be changed” can be either largely disappointing or largely ignorant. Disappointing because even if do everything you think you should, there is no guarantee you will have a monumental epiphany. Ignorant because we’re never the same people at the end of the day as we were at the beginning, so thinking we need big experiences for big change is a narrow view.

My ending thought would be to go an seek out whatever experience you want, what’s stopping you. Just don’t expect to be a completely different person by accident and don’t ignore what affects your life every day. Oh, and never, never think that you’ll suddenly stumble on your “true self”. There is no such thing as perfection, but we should all strive for it.

Refusing to Learn From Mistakes

Less than a month ago I wrote about promoting and learning about your failures. I still stand by this, but have read a different perspective and it has me thinking that the amount of time you take to reflect on a failure relies more on context than I originally thought.

The book I’m referring to is Damn Good Advice by George Lois. Lois is a well known and respected artist, art director and ad man from New York during the exact era of Mad Men. I know nothing about his personal life, but as far as the advertising aspects of the show, that was him. Not only that, but he has won numerous awards for his work, and has many followers and fans.

While I don’t know too much more about him than Wikipedia and what I’m reading in this book (which is essentially a large list of his thoughts on being a good advertiser), he obviously has an ego. With the level of success he has had and the career path he has seen, I think that his opinion is at least worth considering. And that opinion is to pay no attention to your failures and keep shooting big.

This is interesting, especially like someone for me who hates nothing more than failing. I dwell on what’s gone wrong, dissect the situation and vow never to repeat the same mistake. Does this make someone like me more hesitant, though?

I would like to think not. The important thing, though, is to keep shooting big, even if your “big ideas” haven’t worked out in the past. To me there is a big difference between avoiding past mistakes and being cautious, because if you don’t pay attention to what didn’t work, what’s preventing you from doing the same, incorrect, thing?

The thing to note is Lois’ perspective is from someone who is much more creative than I am. Maybe it’s my quasi-OCD nature that makes reflection more of a benefit than to someone like him. Never having met him this is obviously pure speculation.

In the end, I guess, we just need to know ourselves and do what’s best for us. The more I read and write in this blog, the more I realize that we’re all so different and we need to take the time to learn ourselves to be truly successful. If that works for you.

Don’t Fear “No”

Hearing “no” is one of the worst experiences a human can have. No matter what it’s about or how many times you’ve heard it, there is something about being told that word that will always suck. Personally, and I don’t think I’m alone, I have a real problem not taking it personally.

While a “no” will sting for a while when you first hear it, the real problem is the lasting effect that a string of negative responses can have on your self-confidence. If it has been too long since you heard a “yes”, you can really start doubting your product. Even worse, is that when you do take it personally and have some huge doubts about yourself.

It is important to get past that, though. There are a million and one cliché quotes about how every no is just another brick on the road to a yes, and what ever else. While they induce eye-rolls and likely just made up by sales managers to try and motivate their employees, there is some truth to them. I try to take a more rational approach, though.

What I have to keep reminding myself is that to expect 100% interest and appreciation for everything you do and offer is insane. Like actual insanity. There will always be someone who uses Bing to search the internet and the Coke vs. Pepsi battle will never end. In the end, everyone is different.

There is some silver lining to be found in every “no” of course. I try to focus on the fact that it is increasing brand awareness, as well as learning who not to waste effort marketing to. Not only that, but you can key into what aspects they liked and what were the sticking points and make a better product or presentation the next time you go out there selling. The important part often is not getting a “yes”, but rather taking the “no”, learning something and living to fight another day.

The last thing is nothing bothers you forever. While it may seem like a big deal, you move on and forget. More importantly the person who rejected you will forget much quicker and likely won’t think any less of you as a person. Putting yourself out there isn’t for everyone, but getting that “yes” definitely makes it all worth it. You may just have to work to get there.

You’ve Got to Roll With It

Not to go into too many details, but there was a caution sent to a group of possible clients for my business. I think that the caution was done hastily and the issuer was uninformed, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

Regardless, I made the choice to address the, not completely invalid, concerns. My response can be found on my company’s website. It is at the bottom left corner.

I’m sure that things like this happen all the time and I’m a little tired of thinking and writing, so I’m going to keep it short. There’s always going to be obstacles, so get over it and solve the problem. Anything else is a waste of time and annoying. Boom.

Why Choice Sucks

I sometimes feel like I say this all the time. I don’t know what it is, but it has always struck me odd that we equate endless choice with happiness. From what I see, choice and the pressure of decisions that comes with it makes us anything by happy. I’m not saying that some choice isn’t good, but we’ve gone a bit overboard.

To me, the idea that more choice is always good is an old idea that hasn’t been questioned for a long time. I’m guessing it comes from a time where most people had little to no choice. In profession, who they married, what they ate, what they wore, where they lived, etc. Don’t get be wrong, that sounds depressing and being able to make your own decisions regarding that is awesome, but I think that we’ve come a bit too far in some cases.

Like I said, the above scenario where there was no power to choose sounded awful, but the one thing it had going for it was that there was no pressure on you. If you didn’t like something about your life you had to say to yourself, “That’s just the way it is,” and move on. All of the blame could be, rightfully, applied to external factors. If you don’t get to make any decisions, you can’t make a wrong decision. Or more importantly, you can’t perceive that you made a wrong decision.

I think that this is more important in the smaller decisions in life. Take clothes shopping for instance. There are so many options for clothing out there, that in my mind I should be able to find clothes that I love the look of and fit absolutely perfectly. Even with all the different options, though, that’s a fool’s errand. I will always perceive that there is something better out there, so will keep looking rather than buying something that isn’t ideal. All the while, I’m pissed at myself for not being able to find the perfect match. I miss the days when your parents did the shopping and if you didn’t like something you could just say, “My mom picked it out, I hate it,” and move on. No blame, no fuss.

The same could be said for larger decisions. Growing up in a generation that was told we can be or do anything (not true, by the way, stop telling your kids that), it is on us to find out what this “ideal fit” will be. When we are told that there are no external barriers, the only thing holding us back is ourselves. It is us to blame if we don’t love our jobs and lives, no one else. That’s a lot of pressure.

What it comes down to, is that the blank canvas is scary and in some cases it’s much easier to colour in the lines. When you do find the perfect fit, though, I guess it makes the discovery that much sweeter. You have to be luck enough to luck into it, though.

Know When to Quit

This is a bit of a different post, because it’s not something that I’m considering in my every day life. I actually started thinking about this after watching what used to be one of my favourite TV shows, but more on that later…

Someone said something to me a few days ago that really resonated with me, that is that businesses that are doing OK are worse than complete failures. I’m sure that he was paraphrasing someone and I just paraphrased him, so it’s likely nowhere near the original quote. Regardless, the concept holds true. To me it is also related to Jim Collins‘ notion that, “Good is the enemy of great.”

It doesn’t take too much thought to come up with an example of this, in business or otherwise. Even if your own life you must have experienced this one time or another. Some subject in school that you were pretty good at and therefore didn’t need to try too hard to get good marks. Rather than taking it to the next level, you stopped short of great because good was comfortable.

I think this happens lots in small business, especially in a place like Winnipeg. An owner grows a business to the point where they are making what they consider a good living and rather than taking a leap to make their business great, they play it safe and remain good. While there is nothing wrong with this, I don’t see myself being like that any time soon. Especially when I’m young, I would rather take a bit shot and fail than stay good enough.

Or if there is no opportunity for that “big shot”, just quit. Which brings us back to me watching TV.

One of my favourite shows for a number of years was How I Met Your Mother. Back when it first came out it was great. It was everything I liked in a sticom.

The issue with the premise, though, is that they had committed themselves to an ending. Meeting the mother was what the entire series was supposedly about, so there was going to be this great payoff in the end. But it just hasn’t happened. They were so great that they eventually started settling for good.

The ratings and people’s interest were good enough that they dragged it along, the stories getting lamer and the characters getting tiresome. Not only that, but they’ve committed themselves to too many future occurrences that the story has been written into a corner it can’t escape from. Instead of being great, they settled for good, and in the process have failed.

On a final note, I honestly believe that the only way the show can salvage itself is if it turns out Bob Saget’s actually in an insane asylum and the “kids” he’s talking to are other patients. It’s just been some insane ramble the whole time. Surprise ending!