Email Destroys Lives

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You’ve seen the campaigns against texting and driving…

Texting kills.

Texting and driving is worse than drinking and driving.

Not to mention those haunting images that make their way around Facebook of ‘the last text this man sent before he died.’

There’s good reason for all the propoganda. Texting and driving is dangerous, in an obvious way.

But what about email? Email probably won’t kill you, unless I’m severely underestimating it.

Instead, email destroys any life you thought you had by drowning you in a sea of unsolicited communication.

The problem with email is it’s indiscriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are, how busy you are, or whether you care to engage… if someone has your email address, they’re guaranteed to reach you.

As opposed to the telephone, where you can decide whether or not you want to pick up the phone. Even before caller ID you just didn’t pick up the phone when you were busy.

Then there’s the magic of real world communication. If you don’t want to see someone, you don’t go see them. On the other hand, if you actually want to talk to someone, you go talk to them.

But email breaks down all those barriers, and not in a good way. With your email address, anyone can reach you. Their message is guaranteed to be delivered. And a response is expected.

Regardless of whether the message is important, something you want to address, or from someone you want to interact with.

Think about how people interacted before mass communication. If you had to send a messenger with a scroll to deliver your message, you’d be a lot more discerning about which messages you send.

Or a telegram… translating that message into morse code is hard work, on both sides.

But those people got along just fine. Maybe even better. Because they weren’t preoccupied chatting about the latest designer beaver fur over morse. They were doing their work.

Why am I getting all bent out of shape over email?

Email is not the only culprit. Social media produces more than its fair share of distraction.

But email is particularly dangerous because when people check their email, they feel like they’re working. They feel like they’re being productive. They feel like they’re doing something important.

But the truth is, not only have they wasted their own time, they’ve wasted the time of the person who has to respond to, or at least read, their useless email.

It’s a never ending cycle. The more email that’s produced, the more it generates — exponentially (reply all). Before you know it, it’s time to call it a day and all you’ve done is respond to a number of arbitrary requests.

As I write this, my three-year old daughter is sitting beside me playing with her toy laptop. She presses one of the buttons and a voice responds saying “have you checked your email?”

The tyranny begins.

This post is my submission for day 4 of #YourTurnChallenge, a 7-day blogging challenge orchestrated by Winnie Kao, Special Projects Lead for Seth Godin.

Flickr creative commons image via Bruno Girin.

What happens when you only listen to half the story

This morning, I cued up a Mixergy interview with Noah Fleming for listening during my kettle bell workout.

Noah’s story is interesting — and the interview covered some inspiring anecdotes from his journey as a marketing consultant, and now author.

For example, Noah told the story of when he hosted a free breakfast for a group of high profile CEO’s at the Four Seasons in Toronto. He booked the venue, paid for the catering, sent out invitations to a large group of CEO’s, and hoped some of them would show up.

That sounded crazy to me. How can he expect a bunch of busy CEO’s that don’t know him to show up to a breakfast just like that? It’s not like the free breakfast alone was going to entice them.

Apparently, Noah felt the same way. He described how all his self-doubt and anxiety surfaced as he stood in the hallway of the Four Seasons at 6:40am wondering if anyone would show up by 7:00am.

In the end, he had a full house. The breakfast was a huge success and it generated tons of business.

But it’s stories like these that people misunderstand.

It’s tempting to conclude that the breakfast was a big win because Noah had the guts to get out there in front of some big CEO’s and make a good pitch.

He took an idea that would’ve been too daunting for most people and executed flawlessly. Feel good story of the year.

But if you listen to the rest of the story, you’ll see that what Noah did was far more nuanced than that.

  • He had been building his email list for years. Every week, he was putting out high value content that people were starting to notice.
  • One of the CEO’s who attended the breakfast was on his email list. And his invitation included a testimonial from that CEO, who was a recognized name among his peers.
  • He already had a full roster of clients that gave him the experience to speak to his topic with credibility and authority.
  • He was in the process of writing a book on customer loyalty, and he shared some of the highlights from the book with that group of CEO’s.
  • He was coached and trained by Alan Weiss, one of the world’s most famous and prolific business consultants.

In other words, he didn’t build his business by making high stakes pitches to CEO’s. He put in years of hard work leading up to that moment.

The problem is, if you take that story in isolation… it sounds like Noah was an overnight success. It sounds like that breakfast was how he really ‘made it’.

I’ll admit, I was tempted to call up for the Four Seasons to schedule a breakfast of my own. I was already writing the copy for the invitations in my head.

Then I heard the rest of the story.

This post is my submission for day 3 of #YourTurnChallenge, a 7-day blogging challenge orchestrated by Winnie Kao, Special Projects Lead for Seth Godin.

My 3 Words for 2015

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Okay, I know it’s almost the end of January and I’m late on this one.

But better late than never right?

Chris Brogan started this exercise back in 2006. Instead of coming up with a long list of new year’s resolutions that will likely be forgotten (and likely are forgotten by now)… he recommends picking 3 words to frame your goals and intentions for the year.

Here’s why I like the approach:

  • It requires minimal planning. I feel like I’ve already wasted so much time planning in my lifetime that I can’t afford to do any more of it. Having a strategy and thinking through what you want to achieve is one thing… but sitting down and day dreaming about the future at the expense of taking action is a trap I’ve fallen into more times than I care to admit. The 3 words idea cuts right through the non-sense and gets to the point. I like that.
  • It’s easy to get down on paper quickly. I am obsessive about writing things down. If I think of an idea, or something I need to do, or have any kind of musing… I immediately need to write it down. This can be a productive habit if you stay within some healthy boundaries. I exceeded those long ago. This is one of the reasons planning scares me… more stuff to write down and put somewhere. 3 words is music to my ears.
  • It’s easy to remember. I’m probably the only one still thinking about new year’s resolutions. In fact, I’m sure most people have already forgotten what theirs were and have fallen back into old habits by now. But 3 words is simple enough… if I ever feel like I’m off track, I only need to recall 3 simple words, or read this post, to remind myself where I’d like to be and what I should be doing.

Here are my 3 words:

1. Work

I’d like 2015 to be characterized by a large volume of work. I believe that the path to mastery, in any endeavour, is about putting your head down and doing the work. There’s no substitute, no shortcut. And I don’t think I do nearly enough of it. The key here is to do ‘real work’, not ‘busy work’. There’s a lot of stuff I do that feels like work. But is it really pushing the ball forward? Not so much. That has to change in 2015.

2. Ship

The list of stuff I’d like to work on gets longer and longer every year. I’d like for it to get shorter in 2015. It’s time to start chipping away at that list by identifying which projects are worth my time and pushing them forward relentlessly. The hard part, I think, won’t be the act of shipping itself… but deciding what to ship and what to keep on the shelf.

3. Slow

I tend to abandon ideas too quickly. It’s the lizard brain, or the resistance, doing its work. I get impatient when I don’t see results right away. But things that are worth doing often require you to lean in, trust your gut, and be patient. I need to discipline myself to slow down and let things materialize instead of running off to the next shiny idea.

——

Looking at it again, there’s a lot of overlap there. But I’m working towards a deadline here…

This post is my submission for day 2 of #YourTurnChallenge, a 7-day blogging challenge orchestrated by Winnie Kao, Special Projects Lead for Seth Godin.

Flickr creative commons image via clement127.

Trying to get unstuck? Get used to the feeling.

"The impediment to action advances. What stands in the way becomes the way."

Feeling stuck is no fun.

It’s uncomfortable, unsettling, and if you let it get the best of you, it’s debilitating.

Here’s the thing: the only way to get unstuck is to be stuck in the first place. And the only guarantee, if you manage to get unstuck, is that you’ll eventually get stuck again.

But if you flip it on its head, feeling stuck is actually a sign of ambition.

High achievers are never satisfied with where they are. They’re never happy with the status quo. They’re always keen on taking things to the next level.

And until they get there, they’re stuck.

If you don’t think you’re stuck, you’re doing it wrong.

Brian Clark recently described a time when he felt stuck on RainmakerFM.

While entertaining some lucrative offers for his business, Copyblogger Media, he struggled to figure out what he would do next if he sold. He felt stuck.

At which point, his wife asked him: “will you ever feel satisfied?”

The answer was no. Because for people like Brian, and hopefully you and I, the journey is more important than the destination.

The good news is feeling stuck is a sign that you’re on the right track… and in good company.

The bad news is if you don’t like feeling stuck, the alternative is not an option.

This post is my submission for day 1 of #YourTurnChallenge, a 7-day blogging challenge orchestrated by Winnie Kao, Special Projects Lead for Seth Godin.

Flickr creative commons image via Steve Wall.