What advice can be given.

Choose. Create. Connect. As you move down the line of those words, there is more and more advice you can follow. There isn’t much anyone can do in life to help you choose what is right for you. After deciding, there are a few more things that people can tell you about what you create than they could about choosing. Finally, once you’re creating there are plenty of ways people can give advice on how to connect with your audience. I have a lot to say about connecting, so I won’t fit it all in this message. 

Pop music of decades ago

To a younger person, who wasn’t alive when the music was released, it’s likely obscure.

To an older person, who was of the target age for the music at the time of release, it’s pop music.

If they both like lesser known music, they younger one may like the old pop music, while the older one hates it.

Age is just one form of perspective. Everything shifts, it’s just a matter of time.

What engineering is about.

What it used to be about was calculating geometry that worked. This adapter fits these parts. Make sure they all go together.

Then 3D CAD tools arrived. While the figuring of geometry is part of it, the tools mostly do it for you. Significant reductions in the drawing of intersections and projections, and calculations of geometry have happened.

As a result, engineering is moving two directions from it’s geometric days:

  • Engineering performance
  • Engineering uniqueness

Engineering performance is about making the lightest, brightest, most powerful, most fuel efficient, etc.

Engineering uniqueness is about thinking creatively to create something that surprises people. That makes something that is worth talking about. Or worth sharing on social media. It’s about doing more than meeting specifications. It’s art.

In engineering performance, tons of math and simulation softwares are used, and there is a lot of room to grow here as a society. There is still far more that can’t be calculated than there is that can. However, if thinking long-term, computers will likely take over this role at some point. Art will become ever more important as the realm of work for people in the modern era.

The flippist

Creating something that doesn’t scale is the surest way to avoid strong competition.

Take a look at the flippist. How many competitors do you think he has? First they have to be artistic. Then they have to have the dedication and desire to make flip books which is time-consuming and tedious work. Then they have to have the marketing prowess to get attention to their offerings. The venn diagram of all of that is pretty small. He owns his niche.

Success for the flippist comes from:

  • Remarkability that spreads on social networks.
  • Scarcity since it’s not easy to find someone that does that work at that level of quality.
  • Network effects due to the fact that flip books are meant to be shown to others.

All of those three combine to make that gentlemen as busy as he wants to be as stated on his website.

The perfect scrambled egg.

Millions of people know how to make scrambled eggs, however, few execute the perfect scrambled eggs.

For me, the perfect scrambled eggs require:

  • a 12″ cast iron skillet
  • 5 large eggs of high quality (quantity changes how they cook)
  • being cooked with bacon grease rather than butter
  • being beaten with a fork until they become slightly aerated and more pale in color but perfectly uniform in consistency
  • poured into the pre-heated skillet that has been in a 400F oven for 15 minutes or longer, over medium heat letting sit for a minute until the edges looked cook then stirring, repeat that process with shorter durations in between stirs as the eggs warm
  • as the eggs come to just the right level of solid/liquid ratio, turn off the heat and let the residual heat of the cast iron pan cook the eggs to a finish
  • at the end the eggs should be fluffy, no browning, and moist.

You didn’t come here for scrambled eggs, but there’s an alternate point. When people are casting vision to a group of people, they often say the organizational equivalent of “make scrambled eggs” and think it means the same thing to everyone. However, only a select few make amazing scrambled eggs, so if you’re casting a vision and want the execution to be top notch, it’s best that you check how much detail you provided in that vision, at the very least you should have described the outcome of fluffy, no brown, moist eggs.

The Sales Process

  • Find a problem.
  • Determine it’s value of being solved.
  • Come up with a solution that cost less than the value of the problem being solved.
  • Convince the buyer that your solution will solve their problem for cheaper than the problem cost them.
  • Get the order.

For all the technical sales stuff that is out there about qualifying, negotiating, closing, this is all there really is to it at a high-level.

The world is about relying on others

Ask successful people how they reached where they are and you’ll commonly hear rely on experts.

Developed countries become so by relying on people to deliver electricity other people to farm, others to entertain. Less developed countries leave individuals to themselves to do it all.

Your career will be boosted by relying on others, though you should still have your own skill set that people rely on you for.

Circumlocution

is a phrase that circles around a specific idea with multiple words rather than directly evoking it with fewer and apter words.

The ability to understand these phrases is valuable in your career. For example, when meeting with customers they may not be well-versed in your field. They’ll use phrases for things they don’t know the words for. Deciphering that is a human skill. Currently, artificial intelligence can’t do that sort of work.

There are a lot of things that go into understanding what people are saying when using circumlocution, personality, shared experience, age, past experience with others communicating similarly. There is a wealth of data we’re drawing on without even being actively aware.

Develop skills needed to understand what others are trying to communicate and that will take you far in life.

The Daily Effort of Picasso

Picasso was one of the most famous living artists ever. He has several pieces that have gone on to sell for tens of millions of dollars, but people who know him, but don’t study art history sometimes mistakenly think he work up one day and decided, “I’m going to make a masterpiece today.” That never happened. He made art daily. Putting in the effort. For 70+ years! Some of that work was chosen by customers and society as his masterpieces. The consumers, not the artist, chooses the masterpiece. 

To put in perspective Picasso’s effort, It’s estimated that he produced 50,000 pieces of art in his lifetime between paintings, drawings, rugs, tapestries and sculptures. That’s multiple pieces per day. Only a handful of those pieces turned into the world shattering successes that most dream of, and he didn’t pick them. He just created daily and the world chose what they like. 

That should be comforting! 

You don’t have to agonize over your work too much. Just use that social media question on yourself, then put it out there, and if you’re wrong re-calibrate and try again tomorrow. If you continue to dedicate time daily, you’ll eventually build a body of work, and in time that body of work will grow to contain some eventual masterpieces. 

Network effect idea.

Discounts based on the number of people on the order at a restaurant.

You’re passing along discounts to customers who bring in friends. They are lowering your marketing costs after all. And because you make great tasting, visually remarkable food, those people share too. Your restaurant business grows, and you takeover the world.

There are many forms of network effects, it just takes creativity to think what they can be.

The fear of what you are doing.

There will always be doubt.

Reassurance is the least abundant resource as it relates to demand.

The problem is everything that is reassuring to do as a task is being gobbled up by computers.

Soon the only tasks left will be the creative thinking ones.

The ones that might not work.

The ones that are risky.

Not getting good at risk taking, and critical thinking is going to become the most risky move there is.

Here’s something’s I’ve tried in the past that were risky (though I didn’t bet everything on them):

  • An app like Uber (but prior to their mainstream).
  • A taco stand at a Farmer’s Market on the weekend.
  • A chocolate truffle business.
  • Solving the Riemann Hypothesis

Get good at doing things you aren’t sure will work, and you’ll learn a lot along the way. It also turns out the world values people who can operate in ambiguity.

The right amount of standardization vs. customization

Software companies are working on building platforms currently. One solution to all your problems. Except it creates a new problem, inflexibility.

Every commercial software is a standardization of a process or workflow or operations. The ability to take different softwares, put them together and run a company means that companies can choose how they operate.

Contrast this with the idea of a platform. A platform is good for standardization, but it’s not as helpful for customization. That may not be a problem, as long as the benefits outweigh the costs.

The question that must be solved when selling a “platform” is, “How does this company deal with the inflexibility when something new comes up?”

If you haven’t thought about edge cases around that, you’re probably not ready to pitch a platform to your customers.

CYA

It’s not “cover your a**.”

It’s “communicate your assertion. ”

Telling someone and following up with an email is for retention and comprehension of facts, not just stating out of trouble.

On creating daily.

Do you think Picasso woke up and thought, “Today, I’m going to create a masterpiece. All those other days I was just phoning it in.”? No. And Only some of Picasso’s works are the well-known masterpieces. The rest are just works by a man who made creating art a significant part of his life.

Choosing – the long and short.

I have a “Choose. Create. Connect.” mantra. It says happiness comes from choosing what you want to achieve. Creating new things or ideas towards that goal, and connecting with people.

However, choosing isn’t just a one time deal. There is a long-term choice. The passion. The mission. The goal. The problem to solve.

But, there is also the short-term decisions. The strategies, the tactics and the methods that will achieve the long-term.

Everyday you get a choice to choose how to work towards the goal. And that’s probably harder than the long-term choice itself. Figuring out these short term choices are the things we really doubt, after all, if we don’t make them correctly, the long-term vision is never found.

Fading into social media obscurity

It’s a sign that it’s time to innovate again.

The cycle looks something like this:

  1. You do something remarkable.
  2. People notice and share online.
  3. More people discover you, try you out, and also share.
  4. You become the new normal.
  5. Few or no one shares you any more on social media.

It’s not a failure, it’s just a sign that it’s time to innovate again.

Unlocking Value

Everyone sees what exists, but few see ways to get the gold out of the hills.

The gold can be as literal or metaphorical as you’d like. Inspiring someone to take control of their life is unlocking value with words.

Everyone needs help unlocking value, so help in the way you see possible.