“Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood.” — Jeff Bezos
Five years from now, this may seem dumb.
I looked back over some blog posts I wrote a few years ago recently and was pleased to find I was still proud of them.
The writing I do now is better — which was also encouraging — but I was proud of what I had done years ago nonetheless.
And just as importantly, I could see the seeds of the path I eventually followed that led to where I am today.
Which got me thinking…
If you can look back at work you’ve done and decisions you’ve made five years ago and still be proud of them, then you’re doing something right.
I hope five years from now I’ll feel that way when I look back at this newsletter.
Now, on to this week’s ideas…
1. HOW TO CONQUER YOUR FEAR OF SELF-PROMOTION
“The truth is you hate self-promotion because you don’t believe the work you do provides value to people.”
If promoting yourself and the work you do makes you uncomfortable, then this post is for you.
In it, I explain why the reasons you shy away from promoting yourself are not what you think they are and suggest if your work provides genuine value to others, then promoting it is a generous act, not a selfish one.
2. YOU STRUGGLE TO BE PRODUCTIVE BECAUSE YOU STRUGGLE TO BE BORED
“Our intolerance for boredom is one of the primary reasons our productivity suffers. It is not the phone or Facebook, those are secondary causes. Before we check Facebook, we are bored.”
I bet the intro to this post from organizational psychologist Dr. Nicole Lipkinsounds familiar to you — it did to me.
In the post, Lipkin details the most overlooked thing that kills our productivity — our inability to be bored. She also shares advice on how to improve your attentiveness, increase your boredom stamina, and make yourself less “distractible” in the process.
3. NO PRODUCT IS TOO PERFECT FOR PEOPLE TO WANT AN ALTERNATIVE
“The people who already have your competitors’ products know exactly what they want, and they know exactly what they’re missing.”
Successful products and businesses don’t have to be created out of thin air — they can be created as an alternative to an existing success.
This Jon Westenberg post offers some great product development advice and points out there’s always a market for an alternative product, noting that people can become passionate advocates of anything — as long as there is an opposing view for them to advocate against.
4. STOP CREATING, START DOCUMENTING
“It’s much smarter for you to talk to the world about your process of going through this than the advice that you think you should be giving.”
Gary Vaynerchuk is a content machine and this video in which he explains his philosophy on content creation is well worth watching.
In it, Vaynerchuk outlines why you are better served to create raw content that documents your journey as opposed to more polished content designed to show people what you think they want to see.
5. MOST GREAT IDEAS GO UNNOTICED
“There’s a significant gap between changing the world and convincing people that you changed the world.”
When the Wright Brothers conquered flight, it took the New York Times three years to write about it for the first time.
That story, as well as the gap between the public’s embrace of several other landmark innovations, is detailed in this great bit from The Hustle newsletter. It demonstrates the huge gap between invention and adoption.
6. THINK DIFFERENT IS BAD ADVICE
“Apple and Google’s biggest successes actually came in areas where they were followers rather than leaders.”
For all the hype about being different, it turns out there are real advantages to innovating in a familiar way.
This Nir Eyal post uses multiple examples to show that the key to a brand or product catching on isn’t to be different, it’s to be a little familiar.
7. THINK TWICE ABOUT YOUR NEXT MISTAKE
“The mistakes weren’t intentional. What was intentional was the desire not to go back and fix them.”
This is a story about why Navajo rugs include mistakes in them.
But really, it’s a short post from Jason Fried to make you rethink how you approach any mistake you make in work or life.
8. THE 5-HOUR RULE
“The long-term effects of not learning are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not having a healthy lifestyle.”
If there’s something Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg all do, it’s probably worth paying attention to.
This Observer article details the five-hour rule, a process of deliberately setting aside at least an hour a day for deliberate learning.
Good news: reading this newsletter counts toward your hour today!
9. HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR COMPANY STORY
“You don’t hire someone to create a story. It has to be uncovered. It’s there now. All you have to do is discover it.”
Storytelling has become quite the buzzword in branding and marketing circles these days, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.
This Jann Sabin post shares a straightforward approach to discovering your company’s story, using her work with the brand DHL as an example.
10. WISDOM FROM WRITERS ABOUT EVERY YEAR OF YOUR LIFE
“There are patterns to life, and they are shared. We don’t simply live these patterns, we record them too.”
This Joshua Prager TED Talk is an interesting look at how every year of your life has been described by some of the world’s greatest writers.
Those descriptions can help you better understand who you are and who you will become.
I ASKED, YOU ANSWERED
Last week I asked you what one thing you learned in high school has been the most valuable to the rest of your life.
Here are a few of your answers that stood out:
“I was the best in my high school at writing philosophy papers and soon enough I was writing papers for half of the school and burning myself in the process. Overnight, I increased my prices 5x and still retained more than half of my ‘clients.’ After buying three very expensive tennis racquets with my money I had to explain to my parents that I had just learned the first rule of economics — supply and demand.” — Daniel Silvestre
“High school taught me that if you focus on your truth…it eventually becomes the world’s truth. I went from being a bullied, ostracized nerd, to receiving a standing ovation as the valedictorian at my high school graduation. I learned that if you stay true to who you are, hone in on your strengths and always believe that you are of value to the world — the world starts to believe it too. It is miraculous.” — Eleazar Mars-Cilliers
“The one thing I learned in high school was that even though a teacher/principal is a respected member of the community and a person of authority with power, it doesn’t mean they aren’t shooting heroin or working the street in the evening hours as a prostitute.” — Michael Gabriel