Because your work and how you do it is personal. It’s your brand. It’s what makes you indispensable. So it stands that it should be highly personal. Otherwise, why do it if it’s not?
Why would anyone choose someone else instead of you?
If what you have on offer can be done by someone else for less, there is no loyalty to you. But what if how you acted, how you inspired, how you led, how you worked and the results you achieved could only be performed by you? And what if your performance was in demand and so valuable to someone they would gladly pay you more for it?
Loyalty isn’t reserved for brands, companies and products. It’s for people too. Might as well be you.
Expertise is essentially driven by two things…falling in love with a subject and relentless effort to change an outcome…practicing enough to achieve the result you seek.
Consider the young mechanic who spends hours of his off-time learning about the physics of friction and how it impacts the transmission. Or the musician who dives into music theory to better understand the relationship of notes and why some work better together than others. Or the aspiring chef who takes chemistry classes to better understand how sauces change food. Each could certainly do the job adequately without the additional insight. But it’s the love of the craft and the obsession to understand what’s in-between the cracks that creates break-through.
Same goes for practice. Practice is for failing…for failing differently on purpose to gain confidence…confidence which then reduces those mistakes to make room for others, higher level ones. And the cycle repeats, over and over, resulting in higher level mastery.
But it all starts with love…without it, expertise doesn’t stand a chance.
Today I’m releasing my second published work, Will You Be Missed?. It’s been twelve years since the last one. I know, I’m taking too much time.
Will You Be Missed? isn’t a short story or manifesto. It’s a workbook, an exercise of personal reflection meant as an alternative to the traditional performance evaluation, usually completed by your boss. The trouble is that your boss doesn’t know you as well as you do. Your boss doesn’t have the insight, the clarity or the truth that you do. And she likely doesn’t care as much about you and your future as you do. So don’t wait for someone else to tell you how you are doing…you already know. My hope is that you will use what you know to move forward, to reach your goals and realize your dreams.
You can find my new work here. I hope it helps.
Beyond the transaction of the job and the compensation on offer, the job interview is for understanding how we are going to help each other realize our dreams by working together. So the challenge then isn’t to determine the hard skills, the aptitude, how much or how fast we each can produce. More important is to understand what we care about, what difference we are trying to make and how we plan to get there.
The lottery works because it creates momentary hope…a very small chance for a new start. It’s for people who believe that financial freedom creates happiness and some sort of a springboard to success. Of course, it’s almost certain that your not going to win. In fact, the chances of winning the lottery are almost the same…whether you buy a ticket or not.
Alternatively, rather than investing in almost certain failure and the false hope of the lottery system, why not create something worth talking about. The chances of becoming a millionaire (or billionaire) are far greater when you make stuff…put things into the world which make a difference. The odds begin to shift in your favor when you do the hard work, go through the trials and tribulations of uncertain outcomes and take responsibility to lead change. It turns out that you are far more likely to realize your dream of financial freedom if you work to create a legacy of remarkable work. But first you have to believe in yourself. And then you have to start. Good luck.
When you notice…see a chance
When you care enough to put someone else first
When you show up over and over, practice and put forth effort to do something remarkable
When you choose hard, and right over easy
When you cause someone to reflect, Wow, you did that for me.
When you choose to, you can make a difference.
Shut everyone else and their belief system out and you have isolation and complete protection of your own beliefs. No need to consider anyone else’s point of view. No need to be generous and consider the alternative. You’re alone and content. Keep those thoughts to yourself and you’re an obscure hermit. Shout them from the rooftops (or a street corner) and you're seen by most as a psychotic. But not by everyone. Not by those who live in fear or with enough anger to sign-on.
Thanks to the internet, anyone can have a global street corner. It’s not reserved for people smarter than you, more courageous than you, or more talented than you. And thankfully it’s not just for madness. The question is then…what’s it for? What should you use the platform to offer?
We need your point of view, your slant on things. We need you to choose yourself. But we also need you to listen and consider the alternative because that’s what leads to meaningful change. Otherwise, it’s just a rant…and sometimes a very harmful one.
Right now, at this very moment, you’re in the content consumption business. Fifty or a hundred years ago, it’s likely at any given time you weren’t. Back then you were either working, mainly through physical labor or engaging in one on one social behavior. Industrialization, technology advances and broadband internet access have changed all of that. The creation of goods is far easier and cheaper than ever. Simultaneously, the access to goods is far more efficient and also cheaper than ever before. What’s created is a storm of massively produced stuff along with increasing amounts of time spent on getting that stuff…because it’s so easy to do so.
A world full of so much consumption leaves room for a wonderful opportunity…to be unique by choosing to be in the content creating business. The caveat is to challenge yourself to make interesting stuff, something that’s hard, something that might not work. We need people making solutions to interesting problems, leading change for the better.
We need creation more than ever…but please not another smart phone photo layered with filters.
Make interesting stuff…because so many people don’t.
should be like your first…because that’s what your new client, customer, co-worker or friend expects from you. They expect the same energy, glean in your eye, leaning in approach to the performance. Anything less would be a disservice to them.
Go break a leg.
…are caused by people, not companies.
Dispensable people (who do just enough) are in higher supply than indispensable ones. And they can be had for less. If you fall into the dispensable category it is very likely you can and will be replaced by another…for less. This happens at all job levels. Most companies are willing to trade higher turnover for a lower price…because they can…lot’s of mediocre people to choose from.
On the other hand, indispensable disrupts the status quo. It creates a different paradigm by being remarkable. This type of work commands a premium because it is in shorter supply and thankfully some companies care enough to seek it out. Over time, as it infiltrates the work category it pushes the production to a higher level (experience, care, quality, quantity, etc.). And this translates into higher compensation on a broader scale and a better experience for the consumer…along with a higher price. And then the cycle begins again.
The choice then (and it is a choice) is to either be in the business of pushing the bar higher…or not. Choose wisely.
Each project or job you choose stands a chance to be the most important work you’ve ever done or to lead you to it. If not, it’s a placeholder. Placeholders are sometimes important for survival. But they should be seen for what they are…placeholders, a stopping point, a distraction. They are not for fulfillment, happiness or generosity…only found in work with a cause with people aligned around the same idea.
Every time you choose, you can choose not to settle. Choose wisely.
determining if we should do work together…and as a result work together. It’s a time to determine if working together as a team will result in our best work.
Conversely, if the work is already determined, and we’re merely finding a person to do it, we might overlook the opportunity to create something entirely new together…more meaningful work and an experience we haven’t imagined yet. That’s a journey reserved for groups of people who come together because they are aligned in purpose and core values…and that’s when the magic happens.
We (I) want to do work with you because…
A meaningful interview occurs when both sides answer this question with something they have to offer (other than pay, skills and solving an immediate problem)…and when both sides come prepared to walk away when they can’t.
- As a person
- As an individual
- As a linchpin
- As someone they can’t do without
- As someone they should avoid
- As a leader
- As a marketer
- As a creator
- As a maker
- As a teacher
Where will we go to see the real you?
How can we engage with you?
Where will you show up?
It’s your turn...
I often ask people about their dream…their overarching goal, their purpose. And while the answer tells a story about what drives them, their true compass, more importantly it tells us that they are going.
Rest is important. But other than a refresh, it doesn’t lead to change. It’s less important what you are doing. It’s really important that you are doing it.
Go be seen.
What would change about your offering if you could only make one?
What would change if your legacy was based on one performance? One interview, one record, one customer transaction, one sales pitch?
What would change about the packaging? The marketing, the advertising?
Would the cereal box look the same if it was meant for a specific child? How about a magazine? Or an airline flight?
Most marketers don’t have trouble making one. You can pour yourself into it...your purpose, your best focus and energy. You can spend more on making one thing work. The obvious problem is making it scale. The inherent problem with remarkably interesting stuff, stuff worth doing and talking about is that it isn’t easy to sustain. It’s far more manageable to do one of almost anything than multiples. So In order to scale we make sacrifices...and down the line the thing feels different than the first one.
The more your 5,000th one is like your only one, the better chance of making something personal that leads to meaningful change.
Now what will you change?
The modern resume isn’t very modern. It looks much like the ones first used in the late 1400’s. Back then it was quite useful as a medium to share your achievements, education and experience for the purposes of being hired or gaining support. Apart from personal contact, it was virtually the only way to make your point. Of course then much more than now a person’s vocational skills were the focus. We need you to write, so list your education and your writings. We need you for carpentry, so list the places where you’ve done this sort of work and for how long. Fast forward to the present and regretfully the similarly styled resume proudly lives on.
The standard resume should be abandoned…because now culture trumps hard skills. And it’s nearly impossible to illustrate these essential skills in a one or two page written document. The resume as we have come to know it isn’t very effective at all in illustrating someone’s uniqueness, their story and how they lead and solve problems. Even the resumes themselves all look the same. Fortunately, technology has solved this problem for us. Now through the internet, and some inexpensive media creation everyone can share…
- what they stand for
- what they’ve made
- what problems they have solved
- how they write, sound and look
- what they want to learn
- the culture they seek
- their dream
Technology gives us a chance to unhide…resumes keep the real us hidden.
An often misused phrase attempting to describe the intent or lack thereof of an action, where it’s more likely the outcome was the part not intended. I didn’t mean for that to happen vs. I didn’t mean to act that way.
Almost all actions are done on purpose. Otherwise, they’re accidents…where both the action and the outcome were unplanned and therefore unexpected by everyone involved.
It’s virtually impossible to act without intent. But it is quite possible to act without a purpose. Going to work, showing up, even just to go through the motions is intentional…on purpose. Most work is done on purpose. All of the mediocre products and services are done on purpose. All average books, bad movies and boring lectures are on purpose. Not one is an accident. The problem is that they aren't done With purpose. With purpose requires something more than start-up funding, efficiency and hanging on. Doing work with a purpose means a legacy and a promise are at stake. Purposeful work requires an investment of hubris, curiosity and emotion. Of course it might not work. But it might…and it’s this kind of work that leads to meaningful change. Without it we’d still be in the stone age.
Every time you act you don’t get to choose if it’s on purpose. But you do get to choose if your performance, has a purpose…or not. Do purposeful work. We deserve it…and so do you.
Every interaction is a performance. People watch, listen, anticipate, expect, and respond to how you act. If you’re in the business of leading change, making a difference and creating a remarkable legacy, every performance might be the most important one you ever give. Choosing to act this way takes tremendous dedication, courage and effort. It’s both physically and mentally exhausting. And it requires lot’s of learning and practice. Of course, the audience doesn’t always respond the way you’d like them to. But sometimes they’re in synch and actually become part of the show. The energy of their engagement helps move the performance to an even higher level. And that’s when the magic happens…the unexpected delight of the show of a lifetime.
Every audience deserves the best you. Otherwise, what’s the point of showing up on stage.
Most don’t ring at all. But ours does. Tom takes the time to notice if something looks too important to leave in the box and rings the doorbell to get it safely into our hands. He takes the time to notice when a piece of mail is mixed in with another address and makes a special trip back to our house to be sure it arrives at its intended destination. And Tom always does it with a smile, please and thank you.
Postmen don’t need to go out of their way, do the unexpected or cause delight because it’s not expected. It’s not part of make-up of what the postal service is for. The postal service isn’t designed to lead change or make people happy. Its designed to deliver paper as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. This applies to most monopolistic business like utilities, waste removal, coal mines and the like. The people in those organizations are protected by the customers' lack of choice. Consequently, virtually no care is taken to make hospitality, quality or improvement (for the benefit of the customer) any sort of priority. And the real shame is this sort of transaction centric mentality creeps into non-monopolistic organizations as well…cable TV, telephone, grocers, hotels, theaters, etc. It’s particularly well engrained into publicly owned companies where quarterly earnings reports dominate the culture.
Fortunately, there are the crazy ones, the outliers, the ones that understand that happiness and change are important, that leaving a legacy is what work is for. Thankfully there are people like Tom.
Work is for two things…leading change and causing delight. It’s this adventure and pioneering spirit to make the world a better place that makes life worthwhile. Otherwise, what’s the point.