10 Ideas Worth Sharing This Week

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” — Steve Martin

I played Skee-ball today for the first time in a decade — and I was terrible at it.

But, I was infinitely better when I played a second game moments later.

It reminded me of two truths that extend well beyond carnival games: We’re never as bad as it may initially seem and we’ll always improve if we give ourselves the chance to do so.

It’s true in Skee-ball, it’s true in life.

Now, on to this week’s ideas…

1. HOW TO BECOME THE BEST WRITER YOU CAN BE

“The places we go, people we meet, things we do, media we consume, and experiences we have are all assets in our writing arsenal. Experience is the foundation of great writing and the more we acquire, the more we have to draw on.”

Whether you write business presentations, blog posts, or novels, there are simple things you can do to improve the quality of your writing.

In this post I share a six-step process to improve the next thing you writeincluding to separate idea generation from writing and writing from editing.

2. WE MIGHT BUY THE SAME STUFF, BUT WE DON’T PAY THE SAME PRICE FOR IT

“Our ability to know the price of anything, anytime, anywhere, has given us, the consumers, so much power that retailers — in a desperate effort to regain the upper hand, or at least avoid extinction — are now staring back through the screen. They are comparison shopping us.”

If you buy things online, you need to read this.

The Atlantic explains how online shopping makes suckers of us all, noting that retailers now use advanced algorithms to determine how much we’ll pay for different products at different times based on data they’ve collected about us.

While the internet initially gave consumers an edge thanks to the ability to comparison shop, businesses have now learned to use data to their own competitive advantage.

As a result, nobody quite knows what the price of anything is any more.

3. HOW TO LEARN LIKE ELON MUSK

“Learning across multiple fields provides an information advantage (and therefore an innovation advantage) because most people focus on just one field.”

Michael Simmons breaks down how Tesla founder Elon Musk has managed to build four innovative, successful companies in four different fields (software, transportation, energy, and aerospace) thanks to his ability to learn.

It explains how Musk learns faster and better than everyone else and points out the key to his success is his ability and eagerness to study seemingly unrelated fields.

Combined with a voracious reading habit (he read two unrelated books a DAY starting in his teenage years), this has enabled him to develop a strong “learning transfer” power — he takes what he learns in one field and applies it to another.

4. DO YOU WANT TO BE A CRITIC OR A CREATOR?

“At the end of the day, do you want to pick apart something that happened or do you want to create something yourself? You can either sit around and be entertained or you can go out and try to be entertaining.”

This 2012 video features Clerks filmmaker Kevin Smith’s perspective about criticism and creation.

Smith suggests it’s time to move past the era of criticism and explains that we now live in a world where it’s never been easier to create and distribute art so that means anybody who doesn’t like what’s being created has an opportunity to create their own alternatives.

As he says, “It’s not enough to comment any more, you’ve got to do.”

5. I OWE 20 YEARS OF CAREER SUCCESS TO THIS ONE-SENTENCE BELIEF

“You need to do things. Not enough people do things.”

When asked to give some advice to a person starting out their career, this post shares what I came up with based on the first 20 years of my own career.

I explain why doing things is the key to building a successful career and spell out why so many people fool themselves into thinking they do things when they actually don’t.

6. HOW TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR FACEBOOK FEED TO INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

“You can also teach Facebook’s algorithm to stop showing things you don’t want to see so that it will show you what you want to see.”

I know the best way to customize your Facebook feed to increase your productivity is probably not to ever look at it, but let’s be real — you’re not going to do that.

So, this Buffer article is worth a read because it shares some great tips to get the most out of your Facebook feed including how to improve what the algorithm shows you, how to set up lists that filter your feed, and how to control what you see as shortcuts in your sidebar.

7. STEVE MARTIN ON HOW TO BE A COMEDIAN

“The goal is not to be good — it’s to be great. The idea is to have the audience leave, and say, ‘You’ve got to see this.’ You have to work backwards from that result.”

When a comedy legend opens up and shares his perspective about how to be funny and how to build a creative career, it’s worth paying attention to.

In this New York Times interview with Steve Martin, he discusses everything from his obscure early influences, to how to construct a stage persona, to why people want their own generation of comedy.

8. THE REAL REASON FOR THE MEDIA BUBBLE

“Today, 73 percent of all internet publishing jobs are concentrated in either the Boston-New York-Washington-Richmond corridor or the West Coast crescent that runs from Seattle to San Diego and on to Phoenix. The Chicagoland area, a traditional media center, captures 5 percent of the jobs, with a paltry 22 percent going to the rest of the country. And almost all the real growth of internet publishing is happening outside the heartland, in just a few urban counties, all places that voted for Clinton.”

There’s a media bubble in our country, but the reason for it isn’t what you think.

As this Politico article explains, the real reason for the media bubble is there are no journalism jobs in red states any more.

There’s some fascinating data here that demonstrates how the decline of newspapers across the country has led to the majority of journalism jobs shifting to the internet publishing — and the vast majority of internet publishing jobs are located in Democratic areas on the coasts.

9. THE TWO THINGS YOU NEED TO GET RICH

“You need to be in a position where your performance can be measured, or there is no way to get paid more by doing more.”

Venture capitalist Paul Graham knows a thing or two about what it takes to get rich and this Charles Chu article breaks down Graham’s philosophy on the subject.

Graham believes there are two things you need to get rich — you need to be in a position where the results of your performance can be clearly measured and to be in a position where you can get leverage, where your work can make a big impact.

10. TEN PR TIPS FROM WARREN BUFFETT

“Buffett builds political capital thoughtfully, for the day he may need it, because, as his partner Charlie Munger noted, ‘Our core competency is knowing we don’t know the future.’”

In addition to being a world class business man, Warren Buffett also has one of the best public images in the world. So, his perspective on how to handle public relations is worth considering.

Jeff Cunningham interviewed Buffett and came away with these 10 things Buffett believes about PR including to remember that a journalist’s hypothesis is often wrong but never in doubt, to talk vice when everyone else talks virtue, and to be a daily source and an annual subject.