"We gather knowledge faster than we gather wisdom." - William Bell

The Extra 10% (Or Why I Write Letters)

Posted: August 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Random | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Sometimes I write letters. Real ones … with a pen and paper. Letters that get sent to people in the mail. In reality, it’s not the most efficient form of communication. It requires a little bit of extra effort. But the extra effort required produces a disproportionate gain for the person getting a letter in the mail. They get the surprise of getting something their mailbox. They get a physical object. They know that I took extra time and effort to communicate with them. All of this is value that is above and beyond what is actually said in the letter.

All of this is better an email. Email is convenient, but it’s average. It doesn’t stand out. It’s boring.

FROM “MEH” TO GOOD
Mediocrity sucks. Sure, you can get by. You can survive. But you don’t succeed by being average.

The good news is that moving from “average” to “good” is easy. It only requires an extra 10% effort to distinguish yourself from the masses of mediocrity.

Here’s why:

To accomplish any task, whether it be in your work or personal life, requires a base amount of dedication. You have to put in SOME time and effort into it. Most people coast along trying to stay between the lines. Trying to be normal. Putting in the minimum amount of effort in order to be average.

If you’re already average, than you’re doing it the base amount. To distinguish yourself from from the average all you have to do is add the extra 10%. Run the extra windsprint. Get into work 15 minutes earlier. Say “please” and “thank you”. All of those things are easy enough to do, but allow you to separate yourself from the pack. To stand out. To rise above the average.

EXAMPLES

1. At The Bar
If you’re looking to meet a romantic interest at the bar, there’s a certain baseline. If you’re a guy, all you have to do is stand out from the crowd of lazy and shy guys out there. You have to do the simple things that that none of the other guys do. The simplest? Iron your shirt. Most guys don’t pay attention to their clothes and go out dressed like slobs. A close second? Smile. Most guys look nervous, bored or stoic if they’re uncomfortable at the bar. The third? Get off your ass and talk to a girl. Okay, so this one is probably more than 10% of extra effort, but it definitely helps you stand out, as 90% of guys are too scared to take this step.

2. At Work
The average worker bee comes in, clocks the minimum number of acceptable hours and then rolls out. Sure, they’ll stay late when a project requires it or push through the weekend if there’s a tight deadline, but that’s it. They don’t want to be there. They don’t want to do work. To stand out and show that you give a shit, show up 15 minutes earlier and stay 30 minutes later than the norm. It’s only 10% more time than the typical work week, but you’ll be infinitely more productive. Without other people there to distract you, you’ll be able to focuse to kick start your day and wrap up everything before leaving.

3. Training
If you want a competitive edge on the pitch, you have to train for it. Your teammates are doing it. Your competitors are doing it. The guys who want to take your spot on the field are doing it. But if you’re training as a team, chances are that you’re all doing the same workout. So stay late and do those extra windsprints. Work that extra 30 minutes a week on your pass or your shot. Those little elements will add up to make you a much better player on the field.

CONCLUSION
Going from average to good isn’t difficult. You don’t need any special skills or exceptional brain power. You just need to put in that extra little bit of effort. And that extra 10% will provide you with exponential results that eclipse the additional work you put it. The tougher task is going from good to great. But that’s a whole different story and a whole lot more work.

- Christian


5 Things To Do In Your Downtime To Stay Creative

Posted: August 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: On Ideation | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Downtime happens. You’re waiting for feedback on a project. A supplier hasn’t gotten back to you. The client needs approval on a budget. But what you do with it can make a big difference to yourself. Most people will waste downtime. They’ll do something like watch movies or troll the endless gossip websites for entertainment. But all you get accomplished is a temporary reprieve from boredom. You don’t actually get to take anything away from it. Where you are at the beginning of the downtime is the exactly the same as where will be at the end. Nothing has been accomplished.

But you don’t have to do that. You can do small things that will kill two birds with one stone: (1) keep you entertained, and (2) set you up for better creativity and productivity when the work comes back. Here are a couple of things that you can do in your downtime that will help you stay creative:

1. Get the boring shit done.
We all have shit that needs to get done, but is boring to do. Pay your bills. Do your timesheets. Sort out your expenses. When you’re busy, it’s easy to push this stuff to the bottom of the list. But then it lingers there. It sits there not getting done and all of a sudden your company owes your $350 from three months ago because avoided the 10 minutes require to fill out an expense report. Get the boring shit done. Handle your business and get paid. It’ll keep your mind at ease.

2. Read a book.
Television entertains you with pictures and sounds. A book entertains you with words and your imagination. Guess which one allows you to flex your creative muscles? Exactly.

3. Exercise.
If things are slow, drop out of work for an hour and go for a run. Or go to the gym. Or play a game of pick-up basketball. Just exercise. Get your body moving and start a sweat. A healthy body equals a healthy mind.

4. Declutter Your Life.
Clean up your desk. Organize your hard drive. Go through your closets and get rid of stuff that you don’t need. The goal is to get down to get rid of the clutter that inhibits your life, your creativity and your productivity.

5. Invest In A New Experience
Creativity is fueled by experiences. Things that you get to witness, participate in or do that open your mind to new perspectives. So go to a museum and check out a fashion exhibit. Or watch a folk band live on stage and jive with the rest of the crowd. Or go skydiving and see the world as you free fall at equivalent of an 18 story building each second. Exposing yourself to new experiences create new opportunities for your creative mind.

So that’s the list. Either way, doing any one of these things is better than doing what most people do to entertain themselves during downtime (shopping, watching movies and reading gossip websites). What are you favourite ways to stay creative during your downtime?

- Christian


Move

Posted: August 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

If you’re stuck in a rut, there’s a simple solution.

MOVE.

Seriously.
Get off your ass.
Get out there.
See the world.
Get a different perspective.
See how we’re different.
See how we’re all the same.

See the generosity of strangers.
Haggle with a local cab driver trying to rip your off.

Creativity comes from the ability to see different angle.
To come at problems with a new perspective.
To connect the dots between disparate insights and elements.

Cooked food is better than pre-prepared meals.
A book is more rewarding than a magazine.
And you’ll learn a lot more from an experience than from a movie.

So move.
Whether you travel across the city or across the world.
It doesn’t matter.

Just move.

- Christian