choose yourself

Make One

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 World is a Stage

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.

The Performance Business

No one goes to a U2 concert expecting anything less than their very best effort…maybe even the best one ever. It’s remarkable entertainers pull this off so often…pouring their heart into it, night after night. Same goes for dancers, magicians, actors and circus performers. The entertainment business is built on the rule that the final act, the one everyone sees must be remarkable. All of the work, practice, preparation, filing down takes place beforehand resulting in the best moment for the audience at a given point in time. Successful artists simply care more about the delight they seek to create than the hardship (and monotony) of getting there. And it’s expected.

Everyone should be an artist. Everyone should use emotional labor to cause delight for someone. And everyone should consider themselves in the performance business…every time they enter the stage and interact with someone. But we fall short…we don’t see ourselves as performers on stage. We see ourselves doing a job, going to class, or fulfilling family obligations. We do the work to get through our day, hoping to meet spec and check things off our to do list.

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone approached their job, class, interview, study group, or family time as a performance. Imagine the unexpected delight, the captivation, the excitement and the learning that might be created…if everyone made each performance the best one ever.

Is this tiring, hard and sometimes embarrassing? For sure. That’s the cost of performing at the edge and more importantly, creating new ones. But the world needs that. And it’s what your audience deserves.

Some Thoughts on Leadership

Leadership- to create a culture of causing delight and change (improvement)

Why Lead?- What would be missed if you were gone? What do you hope to change? Who will you enroll to go with you? What is your legacy?


  • Take responsibility- This might not work
  • Establish a hospitality and change oriented culture
  • Are highly intuitive. They notice things (that need to be changed). And can see an outcome which will cause delight.
  • Care enough to try something that might not work.
  • Recognize they can’t do it alone.

Leaders are people who inspire and enroll others on their journey. They are...

  • Artists- Not all artists are great leaders. But all leaders are artists. They are emotionally engaged in their work...beyond the transaction.
  • Craftsmen- they create something (from nothing) and take responsibility for things that might not work.
  • Improvisors- they seek the discomfort of handling the unexpected and enjoy the exchanges along an unknown path.
  • Innkeepers- they are in the hospitality business...causing delight through pleasant surprises and serving others in a meaningful way.

A Learner's Non-Traditional Study Guide

There are many choices when it comes to learning. Whether you're just venturing out or starting over, here's a list you should spend some time on before you decide which path to take...

Books by Seth Godin
Books by Others
Leap First (audio)
Michael Chaffin (of course)
Classes/Courses- Self Learning
Leadership Workshop (Seth Godin)
Specific Ideas/Posts on School
Stop Stealing Dreams (TedEx video)


(Thanks Haley for the inspiration to share it)

Bespoke Grad (or UnderGrad) School

Here’s the all too familiar dialogue (often between parents and student)…
Go to business school.
Why? (What is the expected result?)
Graduate with a better degree.
Why get a “better” degree?
Get a better job.
What’s a better job?
The answer is rarely clear. So we make an investment of time, money and emotion going down a path without a clear goal in mind. This could be a huge mistake.
The most important step then is the first one. You need to define the desired outcome…what does success look like? Perhaps being happy and fulfilled…while working in a hotel. Or is to earn more money out of the gate? Or is it a guarantee to be picked (which I doubt there is). To make it even more fuzzy the traditional expected outcomes (more money and an improved chance of landing a job) are not realistic, especially outside of education, science or advanced accounting.
So, what sort of education is best to get me that result? University coursework? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s a highly customized educational plan complete with unique work, life and social experiences. A plan that also includes coursework and book learning, but not necessarily in the institutional sense. Here’s a list of books (to satisfy the part of you that says books are a necessary part of learning)...
Now, build your own MBA…
Develop a list of books to read
Develop a list of jobs to work
Develop a list of projects to complete
Develop a list of people to connect with
Develop a list of places to explore
The point is to develop a plan…get it funded…and go learn! 


Create or's a matter of choice

Generally speaking I tend to busy myself with creating stuff or experiencing new things. And I actively limit consumption, particularly of the media sort. In that vein I only pay attention to those I trust and care about. So the chances of me tuning-in to the morning news is highly unlikely (here's a better explanation of this effect). Technology makes it easier than ever to fall into this consume vs. create. Technology also makes it possible to connect with anyone, anywhere at virtually anytime. It's a remarkable point in history. You can learn anything from whomever you want. You can make things and give people a peek or show off your skills to precisely the audience you're looking to attract. You can build your own fan club. So the choice is entertained or do the entertaining...choose wisely.

I interview people for jobs almost every day. And almost as often as I interview I’m disappointed in the lack of preparation. Not the kind of preparation you’re probably thinking of…a resume with no typo’s, a conservative look, a memorized list of their skill set and a forced smile. But a way to show me why I can’t possible ignore them. Before computers and the internet you relied heavily on testimonials (former bosses, co-workers and anyone else who would sing your praises) to instill confidence that you were the right choice. Smartly, some people figured out that providing references before someone asked for them was the big bold move…everyone else chose me, shouldn’t you? Now there’s a better way. And sadly very few use it. We use the internet everyday…to consume. But few people actually claim a spot and take the time to make something. Something that could be shown off, something that can’t be ignored, something that helps you choose yourself.

I would take this a step further. I wouldn’t show up for an interview without my own website. Not Facebook (although the right content there could be powerful). But a site you build yourself…about you. If you can’t get your namesake URL, get one that resonates with you. And then have some business cards printed with only that URL on them. Hand them out. The obvious question then…what to put there? Everything and anything that you are proud of…that screams you need me on your team. Sure you can have your resume there. And a few photo’s. But surely there must be some way to show how you can solve interesting problems and how you’ve led and inspired others to achieve remarkable work. There must be some evidence of a school project, a hobby, a craft or special interest. Surely there must be a really long list of the books you’ve read…and perhaps a short report on some of them. And surely you’ve had some interesting things to say and you’ve captured that in a blog or a video or two. Surely…

The point is that it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to show-off. Please start.