...is that it still has edges. It's tempting to believe that creativity comes from starting fresh. But even when we start fresh, we approach projects and problems with self-created boundaries. You can't do real work without edges, without something to leverage, but those edges don't have to be the same edges as everyone else uses. Creative people often excel because they change the shape of the clean sheet.
This is the most difficult sentence for companies that stumble in doing effective customer service. By effective, Seth means customer service that pays for itself, that is a rational expense on the way to building a loyal brand following and generating positive word of mouth.
When someone in your organization says, "You're right, we were wrong," they're not saying that you're always wrong, or that you were completely wrong, or even that, in a court of law with a sympathetic jury, you would lose. No, all you're saying is that you made a promise or set an expectation and then failed to live up to it. Owning that and saying it out loud does two things: it respects the customer and it allows you to make more promises in the future.
We expect authors, painters and singers to identify themselves, to sign the work they do. What about managers, committee members, engineers and everyone else who makes something? Who made this policy? Who designed this menu? Who approved this project? If you're not proud of it, don't ship it. If you are, sign your work and own the results.
One thing you'll discover when you start pan roasting brussel sprouts is that more is not always better. Sure you have three uncooked sprouts left, and it would be a shame to not serve them, but if you add those three to the pan with the others, the entire batch will suffer. Adding one more is just fine, until adding one more ruins everything. Greed costs.
Perhaps it's better to commit to wading instead. Not the giant, life-changing, risk-it-all-venture, but the small. When you do a small thing, when you finish it, polish it, put it into the world, you've made something. You've committed and you've finished. And then you can do it again, but louder. And larger.
The job is no longer to recite facts, to read the bio out loud, to explain something better found or watched online. No, the job is to personally and passionately make us care enough to look up the facts for ourselves. When you introduce a concept, or a speaker, or an opportunity, skip the reading of facts. Instead, make a passionate pitch that drives inquiry.
What's worth more, the frame or the poster? It turns out that a well-framed graphic is often transformed, at least in the eyes of the person engaging with it. It might be the very same beautiful object that was thumbtacked to the wall, but it sure feels different. And an unwrapped piece of jewelry is worth far less without the blue box, isn't it? The wrapper isn't everything, it might not even be the point. But it matters.
Don't measure anything unless the data helps you make a better decision or change your actions. If you're not prepared to change your diet or your workouts, don't get on the scale.
Those people who owe you because you mowed their lawn, drove carpool, promoted their site, gave them advice, listened to you in the middle of the night – they will probably let you down. Favors aren't for trading, they wear out, they fade away, they are valued differently by the giver and the receiver. No, the best favors are worth doing for the doing, not because we'll ever get paid back appropriately.
Do extremely difficult work. That seems obvious, right? If you do something that's valued but scarce because it's difficult, you're more likely to be in demand and to be compensated fairly for what you do. The implication is stunning, though: when designing a project or developing a skill, seek out the most difficult parts to master and contribute. If it's easy, it's not for you.
If you believe that you must keep your promises, over-deliver and treat every commitment as though it's an opportunity for a transformation, the only way you can do this is to turn down most opportunities. No I can't meet with you, no I can't sell it to you at this price, no I can't do this job justice, no I can't come to your party, no I can't help you. Not if I want to do the very things that people value my work for. No is the foundation that we can build our yes on.
The batter has already hit two home runs. When he gets up to bat for the third time, his confidence is running high. It's easy to feel confident when we're on a roll, when the cards are going our way, or we're closing sales right and left. This symptomatic confidence, one built on a recent series of successes, isn't particularly difficult to accomplish or useful. Effective confidence comes from within, it's not the result of external events. You succeed because you've chosen to be confident.
What is the best advice Seth Godin has given you?