10 Ideas For The Interested This Week

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” — Tim Ferriss

Since you read this newsletter, I assume you’re the kind of person who likes to get stuff done and make things happen.

Me too.

So I started a new Facebook page to share productivity tips and inspiration and I’d love to have you join it.

It’s called Productive People and you can go here to Like the page and join us.

If nothing else, it gives you a chance to finally say the time you spend on Facebook is at least a little productive.

Now, on to this week’s ideas…

1. HOW TO FIGURE OUT YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

“There are reasons for people to choose you and your work over other available options and the better you understand these reasons, the more likely you are to succeed.”

You have a competitive advantage, but you may not know what it is — most people and companies don’t.

In this post I explain how to figure out your competitive advantage by asking yourself a series of questions including what combination of skills you have that others don’t, what experiences you’ve had that others haven’t, and whether you utilize a work process that others don’t.

2. HOW TO GET 1% BETTER EVERY DAY

“If you were able to improve by one percent each day for an entire year and those gains compound, you would wind up 37 times better at the end of the year. Everybody wants a radical improvement and rapid success, but we fail to realize that small habits and little choices are transforming us every day already.”

How much differently would you approach your work and life if your goal was simply to improve by 1% each day?

James Clear demonstrates how that approach can be a game changer in this talk about how to develop habits to get 1% better every day.

He breaks down the process of developing small habits into four stages — noticing, wanting, doing and liking — and shares how he used this process to develop a writing habit that’s attracted more than a million readers a month to his work.

3. YOU’RE FUN AND CREATIVE, SO WHY IS YOUR BRAND SO DULL?

“Usually the brands that try to be professional are plain boring. The fact that something is not traditionally accepted doesn’t mean it’s not professional. If anything, trends are moving towards genuine connection, human-to-human marketing, and brands full of personality.”

Stop trying to do what everybody else is doing if you want to get noticed and stand out.

Brand consultant Violeta Nedkova explains why most creative people have boring brandsand suggests ways you can avoid that trap including to avoid doing what others tell you do, to focus on your brand’s priorities, and sketch out what your ideal brand looks and feels like.

4. YOU’LL BE HAPPIER IF YOU LET YOURSELF FEEL BAD

“Emotions are naturally short-lived experiences and if we let them wash over us instead of trying to push them away these emotional experiences would actually pass relatively quickly.”

The more you allow yourself to accept your negative emotions as part of life, the easier they become to deal with.

The Cut explains how recent studies have found people who accept their negative feelings are happier and more psychologically healthy than people who try to push back against them.

The findings also suggest even people with high levels of stress in their life are happier when they employ a willingness to accept negative emotions without judgment.

5. HOW YOU CAN RUN A MEETING LIKE STEVE JOBS

“When Steve Jobs ran Apple, he had little patience for executives who screwed up. But that’s partially because he had a system to ensure his team was clear about expectations and responsibilities.”

Steve Jobs was infamously difficult to work with, but it turns out he may have had some justification for his impatience.

In this post from my new Productive People Facebook page, I explain how Steve Jobs ran meetings by employing a technique in which every meeting ended with an action list that assigned specific tasks to a single “directly responsible individual.”

This eliminated all confusion (and excuses) about exactly what was expected from each staff member in the meeting and made the company more productive.

“AN EXCLUSIVE FOR PAID MEMBERS!”

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“Go here to sign up, become one of THE INVESTED for just $5, and receive Friday’s email. Thx!”

“NOW, BACK TO THE NEWSLETTER…”

6. FOCUS YOUR SALES PITCH ON THE STAKES, NOT THE PAIN

“Most people you’re selling to are not experiencing much pain. Your first task, therefore, whether you’re selling a healthier lifestyle or enterprise software, is shattering that delusion. You can’t do that by talking about pain, because your prospect isn’t yet experiencing pain — either because there is none, or because he or she is in denial.”

There’s a conventional wisdom in sales and marketing that you need to present your product as the cure for the buyer’s pain point.

But, what if they’re not actually in pain?

Andy Raskin suggests an alternate approach and explains why you should focus your sales pitch on stakes as opposed to pain.

He explains how to frame your sales pitch in a way that presents you and your product not as a doctor treating a patient, but as a wizard helping a hero.

7. HOW WE’RE LOSING THE INFORMATION WAR

“The information networks we’ve built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor. Your brain tells you ‘Hey, I got this from three different sources.’ But you don’t realize it all traces back to the same place, and might have even reached you via bots posing as real people. If we think of this as a virus, I wouldn’t know how to vaccinate for it.”

Kate Starbird is a professor who studies how social networks respond to disasters and she’s plenty concerned about the state of information these days.

The Seattle Times interviews her about her findings and explains how we’re losing the information war, noting that “strange clusters of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach.”

8. HOW TO GET MOTIVATED TO DO SOMETHING

“Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it.”

Mark Manson has an interesting theory about the root of motivation and how you can motivate yourself to do just about anything.

He believes motivation is sparked by action and has developed what he calls the “Do Something” principle to help people overcome their fears and take action toward what they want in life.

As he explains, “If you lack the motivation to make an important change in your life, then do something, anything really, and then harness the reaction to that action as a way to begin motivating yourself.”

9. A SYSTEM TO FIND THE BEST INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS FOR YOUR NEXT POST

“To get the highest return from your hashtag strategy, your goal should be to find the 30 tags with the largest Reach and the highest Relevance within your target audience.”

I’ve read a lot of posts about Instagram hashtag strategy, but this one might be the simplest and most logical to follow.

Eduardo Morales shares a system to find the most effective Instagram hashtags for your posts that involves studying the posts of influential Instagram users within your niche.

10. HOW USER INTERFACES ARE DESIGNED TO TRICK YOU

“Scams don’t work if the victim knows what the hustler is trying to do.”

Harry Brignull is a user experience designer and consultant who put together this talk to share with you some of the ways user interfaces are designed to trick you.

It will make you think twice about what happens on all those sign up and payment pages you encounter on your Internet travels.

A SPECIAL THANKS…

Just wanted to give two quick shout-outs.

First, a thank you to Scott Monty who recommended the FTI newsletter in his recent Content Marketing World presentation. Scott has his own fantastic newsletter that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you subscribe to — check it out here.

Second, the cool photo you see at the top of this newsletter comes from photographer Mitch Weiss — check out his excellent work on his website.