The Sky Is Falling!

Chicken Little was sure of it. I am too. I felt it. Didn’t you? Bang. There goes another one. I especially feel this way when I look at news — or read a newspaper (yes I still do that, although I’m not sure why).

Here’s the deal: Chicken Little attracted ATTENTION when she said the sky was falling. But even though she is wrong, that doesn’t stop her from alarming those around her.

Today’s media has a “Sky Is Falling” mentality.  While they’re not usually wrong, they’re rarely telling us about something good that’s happened. It’s probably a good idea to ignore the news. If we don’t know the sky is falling, we don’t worry about it nearly as much, and are able to accomplish more because of it. When something REAL happens, then we can engage.

I like to think about the two main variations on the ending of the Chicken Little story, each providing a strong moral or takeaway (which is what fables are supposed to do). (1) In the happy ending, the story makes a case for standing up for whatever you believe in. It’s okay to be different and a little weird. Spoiler alert for ending #1 . Chicken Little and her friends don’t get eaten by the fox. (2) In the unhappy ending, the moral has to do with the consequences of believing everything you hear, no matter how ridiculous. Spoiler alert for ending #2. Chicken Little and her friends are all eaten by the fox.

I like the happy ending. I want today’s children to understand that being different is a good thing. Yes, you might get eaten, but if getting eaten is only failing, what’s to worry about? Lots of people fail and then rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of their defeat, stronger and more prepared for the next battle. On the other hand, I am very tired of the Media trying to outdo each other with the worst story du jour. The trouble is, there are too many pieces of ugly sky falling about our head and shoulders these days.

Here’s what: I say make today a good day. If you choose to watch the news and see that the sky is falling, decide if there’s anything you can do about it. If not, keep doing what you’re doing, and dare to be different. Be the weird Chicken Little. Run around with feathers flying. Squawk a little. Better yet, make the sky fall. Carve a Steve Jobs ding in your universe and then eat the fox.

 

 

 

Decision Making

TOO MANY CHOICES

The ThinkerWhether it’s business, our health, or our insurance policies, the problem is the same. We have too many choices. Result:  We don’t choose. We do nothing at all. We’re exhausted and we’re paralyzed.

Here are three folks who can tell us why we are not happier, and not smarter and not better off with more choices.

  • Barry Schwartz, Ph.D. writes and speaks on The Paradox of Choice. (2004)
  • Malcolm Gladwell author of  Outliers and Tipping Point in his 2004 TED Talk.
  • Sheena Iyengar Ph.D. writes and speaks on The Art of Choosing, (2010). The book discusses “relationship between choice and freedom — one doesn’t always go with the other.”

What to do about it? Simplify. Boil it down to three.

Choose From the Top Three:  Make every decision—as difficult as it is—a choice among three things. Why? Because we don’t have time for more. We can only handle three. It forces us to seriously consider the most important three. It requires conscious choice and a modicum of analysis. There is usually not an advantage in over-analyzing.

Here’s what you get from choosing three: A momentum that will not get mired in the sludge of too many choices. Too many choices paralyze us.

To move forward, to move at all, whittle it down to three.

What if you’re wrong? The beauty is… You will know sooner rather than later.

Make It Easy: Make it easy for yourself and your clients to make decisions. They can handle three. More than that and you risk their not making a choice at all. You risk losing the sale.

And for yourself, you risk not moving forward. Stuck is stuck. Like a statue. Don’t be.

 

Seeing With Fresh Eyes

Everyone from marketers to writers to web designers needs Fresh Eyes. Find out why and how.

Seeing with Fresh Eyes

I don’t like to edit. Well, I like to edit other people’s stuff, but not my own. I like what I write. Or I wouldn’t be a writer. That said, everyone needs someone to edit their work.

 

EVERYONE. (Including moi).

Fresh Eyes are other people’s eyes. Or they’re your own eyes after a good night’s sleep.

Fresh Eyes are your eyes after 24 hours away from the project. Maybe 8 hours. Or 2. For longer works, Fresh Eyes, if they’re your own, require time and a blink-worthy dusting (think powdered sugar here) of amnesia.

Stephen King says Fresh Eyes are needed between book drafts. In his writing craft memoir On Writing he says, “How long you let your book rest—sort of like bread dough between kneadings—is entirely up to you, but I think it should be a minimum of six weeks.”

Fresh Eyes could be called “vu-jà dé” … (I stole this from Adam Grant’s TED Talk at minute:second 10:57 into the talk. Thanks Adam! J). It’s like the opposite of déjà vu, where instead of already having seen it before, you’re seeing it for the first time.

Fresh Eyes bring someone else’s perspective into your life, onto the project.

Fresh Eyes sing new tunes and bring new rhythms.

Fresh Eyes understand there are more ways to approach the problem, write the story, paint the picture, take the photo.

Fresh Eyes are untainted by prejudice. Fresh Eyes are unclogged by confirmation bias.

Fresh Eyes are often “focused” by listening ears and open hearts and reading out loud.

Fresh Eyes are gifted by a willingness to admit you’re wrong. A possibility that you made a mistake. The welcoming of another opinion, instead of an anxiety about being criticized.

Fresh Eyes are not fearful, nor are Fresh Eyes to be feared. They are your friends.

For your writing project, your film, your new product, your idea, your company, or your invention or daring marketing scheme, take a moment and a deep breath. Take two steps back, or take a walk around the block. A trip around the world. A night away. Take in a movie or a play. Read a book.

Then return with Fresh Eyes. And when “Did I really say that?” escapes your lips, you can thank us. Or thank Stephen King. He’ll be glad he could help. I’m sure.

Artwork by Katie Phillips

 

Attention Women: You’re Being Scanned!

I call it the once over. It’s an art perfected by women of all ages. I’ve actually seen little girls as young as three doing it in the grocery store and at birthdays. I don’t know when we learn it, but we all do. I’ve decided it’s one of the few instincts left in human beings, as I have never personally seen an animal do this to another animal. But it is also peculiar to little girls and it is imprinted on them as clearly as their Mary Janes. It’s a quick flick of the eyes. Swipe—it’s done. Well, guys do it, too, but it’s not the same, is it?

When you’re the “scanee” on the receiving end, it’s like an ultra fast body scan. It’s as if you had been blown through a metal detector or an x-ray machine, at a speed (literally) of the blink of an eye. Nothing is quite as penetrating or quite as disarming when you’re on the receiving end. You can almost feel it.

Meanwhile, as the scanner, one’s goal is to attain the most detailed level of examination without getting caught: You have to perform the scan so the victim doesn’t see you doing it. But your target knows—she feels it just as you feel it when it’s done to you. So, you try to pretend you’re not, and she tries to pretend she’s not. Sometimes, though, the worst thing happens. Your eyes lock on the other woman’s eyes, your timing just right or just wrong, so that her down-and-up scan and your down-and-up scan coincide exactly, and you’re both caught in the act. You each look away, sometimes blushing lightly, pretending you hadn’t been doing what you were doing, although your hand might as well be shoulder length in the cookie jar. It’s a time-honored contest—a battle of speed and cunning. You try to take in as much as you can as quickly as you can before she sees you’re looking. She’s doing the same thing, and the game is afoot.

What are we looking for? Shoe styles, fabric colors, nail color, skirt length, stocking runs, unbuttoned buttons, falling hems, fashion statements, style gaffs. We look for hair color, hairdos, and grey hairs. We look at jewelry and accessories: scarves, belts, glasses, and purses. We look to see if they match or not, if they’re name brands or rip-offs. We are curious and catty all at the same time. The problem is, sometimes you don’t know whether she’s looking because you look good, or because you look horrible. “Did I wear the wrong thing?” always runs through your panicked mind. You look down to make sure you have the same color shoes on.

It’s fun, it’s mean, it’s a game, it’s war. It’s all of those things. Just don’t get caught. It’s embarrassing.

Tesla Motors, Autopilot Cars, You, Me, and Them

 

For starters, if you want to find out more about Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, head over to the TED Talk for a recent interview. Otherwise, stand back to witness the future unfold before your very eyes.

 

I hear you from all the way over here in my blog cave.  You’re saying, “Hah! Auto-piloted cars will never work.” And that’s what they said about toilet paper, airplanes, cordless phones (not to mention cell phones), and anything else that wasn’t here until it was.

 

The really cool part is that the visionaries that define these types of futures are “scientists” (or at least champions of the scientific method)  and dreamers all rolled into one. The Wright Brothers come to mind. Benjamin Franklin. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. John Lasseter of Pixar.  (Is he a scientist or just a dreamer?)

 

Medical scientists do not radiate the pizazz of an electric car or a cell phone or an airplane, but they are visionaries all the same.  Example: People rarely die of infections any more thanks to Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin back in 1928.  His claim to fame was that he paused to consider a fuzzy Petri dish on a vacation-neglected workbench. Visionary indeed.

 

Thank goodness we still have these folks in our midst. We are lucky to have people that believe they can do what they set out to do, and that they don’t give up.

I like to believe that you and I have the vision to stay out of their way.

Mismatched Socks and Marketing

It might have started with Helena Bonham Carter (HBC) at the 2011 Golden Globes. OR before. HBC rocked the fashion world by wearing OMG mismatched shoes!  Clearly on purpose, she chose one gray, and one red.  Not to be confused with the time I went to work with one navy blue, and one black leather pump, having dressed in the winter dark morning, only to be mortified the WHOLE DAY LONG by my style gaffe.

I received my first on purpose mismatched pair from a friend in February of this year. Cute, I thought, and I love them. At a local high school last week, I sidled up to a student, and kidded her, asking if she was aware that her socks didn’t match. “Oh,” she said. “Mismatched socks are good luck.”socks

With that, three other girls in the classroom pulled up pant legs to reveal, very seriously, that they too had opted for good luck.  Their socks did not match, and whoever added the “luck” factor deserves the you’re-an-awesome-marketer-good-for-you award.

Don’t know about you, but not only does this appeal to the environmental side of the universe, because we have plenty of sock orphans at our house, but also, it pays huge homage to the marketing theory of finding a new use for an old product. Adding the magic of “good luck” (wish I had thought of that), and you have a sock-it-to-you business that actually precedes HBC.  Come to find out that one company alone (Little MissMatched) sells $5 million a year of mismatched stuff to a very rich target of “tweens” and teens.

Meanwhile, I look to the future of being daring enough to wear mismatched anything.  My conservative self grew up wanting (because ours didn’t) for all the pieces of a place setting to match. Ask my mom.