Starting and finishing

Sometimes the rule is: You don’t have to finish, but you do have to start. And sometimes the rule is: You don’t have to start, but if you do, you have to finish. When building a persona… | Continue reading | 17 hours ago

Denialism is not skepticism

Resolutely refusing to accept a conventional understanding is a statement of certainty. That’s different from honest skepticism. The skeptic offers an open mind and is clear about what would … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

Magic, persistence, imagination and more

Magic first: Acar and the folks at Penguin are offering a limited-edition deck of special cards to go with The Practice. It launched today. Persistence: Today is the 200th episode of my podcast Aki… | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Selling hours

This might be the workplace question of the decade. Does the boss buy your time or your productivity? In the pre-industrial age, when we worked from home (“cottage industries”) workers … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Faster! Faster?

This simple free tool lets you speed up just about any video you watch in Chrome. And it’s not difficult at all to speed up audiobooks or podcasts, just look for the button in your favorite p… | Continue reading | 3 days ago

Why the blockchain matters

But first, let’s understand some words… Bitcoin is not the blockchain. If the blockchain is a printing press, Bitcoin is a kind of paper money. There are countless things that one can do with a pri… | Continue reading | 4 days ago

Jargon vs. lingo

Jargon is intentionally offputting, and lingo reminds us how connected we are. They might look similar, but the intent is what matters. Jargon is a place to hide, a chance to show off, a way to dis… | Continue reading | 5 days ago

Mouth to mouth resuscitation

It might be the best way to save someone in distress. But it doesn’t scale. You can only offer this sort of lifesaving intervention to one person at a time. Often, we get stuck because we try… | Continue reading | 6 days ago

Shortages, momentum and the search for meaning

A general malaise is not new. Sociologists have been writing about it since the Second World War. Today, of course, the malaise isn’t simply general, it’s also specific. There’s t… | Continue reading | 7 days ago

The benefit of the doubt

Rarely talked about, and the heart of marketing and more than that, of culture. We can’t possibly know precisely what’s inside the book or the box or the bottle before we buy it for the… | Continue reading | 8 days ago

The weather problem

Meteorologists on TV spend most of their time talking about how the weather is right now, right outside. And progress for TV weather often looks like more accurate reporting of the current precipit… | Continue reading | 9 days ago

“But how will you know?”

It pays to know what something is for. It helps us figure out how to do it better, how to allocate resources and how to know when we’re done. Much of what we build or invest in is complicated… | Continue reading | 10 days ago

An alternative to hustle

No one wants to be hustled. To be pitched and pushed and most of all, pressured into buying something. Hustle culture has been around for a long time, but the internet–and new forms of it in … | Continue reading | 11 days ago

When it doesn’t work out

Possibility has a flipside. We need possibility to do our best work. To believe that it might work. To understand that if we do our best work and bring our full selves to the project, we have a sho… | Continue reading | 12 days ago

Compared to what?

Organized sports, particularly for school-age kids, present a real challenge. The results are easily measured and are on just one axis. Points scored. Winning vs. losing. If we teach a child to ide… | Continue reading | 13 days ago

Confusing identity with strategy

Who we are isn’t the same thing as what we do. But sometimes, what we do can change who we are. Our identity describes the person we see in the mirror, the groups we identify with, the versio… | Continue reading | 14 days ago


A mass noun is one that doesn’t take an S when we have more. “Butter” and “Information” are both uncountable in use, because when we only have only one unit of butter … | Continue reading | 15 days ago

Knowing it can be done

We can improve and magnify things in very short order. Light bulbs, elevators, website technology–give it some time, and people will pile on and all of the important metrics will be sharpened… | Continue reading | 16 days ago

You can’t beat the algorithm

When a new medium shows up that allocates attention, someone comes out ahead. They win a Google search, amass a ton of FB followers, hit the jackpot on Twitter or even Clubhouse. “They picked… | Continue reading | 17 days ago

Decoding the sign

A “Deer Xing” sign isn’t there to tell the deer where to cross the road. It’s there to let drivers know that this is the spot where deer often choose to cross the road. Beca… | Continue reading | 18 days ago


You can build a city below sea level, and it might work for a while, but sooner or later, the water will win. Trends don’t determine whether we’ll be able to accomplish something tomorr… | Continue reading | 19 days ago

Competition vs. activation

Innovators rarely have a competition problem. The challenge isn’t that your market is buying from an alternative provider–the challenge is that they’re buying from no one. The wor… | Continue reading | 20 days ago

The host’s rules

The language we use, the standards we adhere to, the kind of interactions that are permitted–this is up to the host. You’re at a dinner party, and if you want to be welcomed back, you&#… | Continue reading | 21 days ago

Ending it gracefully

Just about every business, every initiative and every intervention fails sooner or later. Since that’s demonstrably true, it’s worth considering how you intend to fail when the time com… | Continue reading | 22 days ago

The discard pile

Walking away from something that we’re used to, even if it’s unjust or inefficient or ineffective–it usually takes far too long. Fear, momentum and the status quo combine to keep … | Continue reading | 23 days ago

The map is not the territory

And that’s a feature, the reason the map exists. The phrase reminds us not confuse the diagram or model or overview of the situation with the situation itself. Because they’re not the s… | Continue reading | 24 days ago


When we do our work without regard for a third party, simply to serve the reader, the customer or the story, we’re creating something that’s unsponsored. The third party shows up when w… | Continue reading | 25 days ago

Backward about coming forward

If your comment is helpful to anyone else, than it’s generous indeed. Holding back is selfish, because it deprives the group of your insight at the same time that it normalizes non-participat… | Continue reading | 26 days ago

Investments and expenses

One goes up in value, the other doesn’t. It’s fun to imagine that our expenses are investments, but if they were, we’d call them investments. Our tools can be re-used, and our ass… | Continue reading | 27 days ago

Everyone is rational

But if that’s true, then why don’t we all agree on the right next step? It could be because everyone has a different experience, different data and different goals. Or, it could be that you are the… | Continue reading | 28 days ago

Bad Company

The arc of institutions, including governments and corporations, particularly public ones, bends toward short-term thinking, bullying, anti-competitive behavior and laziness. The antidote is persis… | Continue reading | 29 days ago

“What’s the hard part?”

A useful way to get in sync. “What’s the hard part” is a question that everyone on the team should be able to answer. But you won’t find out unless you ask the question. You might discover th… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

It’s time to get serious about how we show up in remote meetings. For a year, we slogged through it, but it was exhausting. Not only did we feel lousy at the end of the day, but other people … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Fixing Zoom calls: Looking better and feeling better

It’s time to get serious about how we show up in remote meetings. For a year, we slogged through it, but it was exhausting. Not only did we feel lousy at the end of the day, but other people … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Jobs to be done

The dog needs to be fed, there’s a blog post to write, a report is due, there’s a meeting at 10, this form from the bank has to be submitted… We can measure our performance (and o… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Getting better

The optimism and possibility that come from training and learning in groups is a miracle. It means that, with a little effort, we can level up, become more productive and enjoy the work more tomorr… | Continue reading | 1 month ago


It’s more productive to offer directions to someone who has already decided to go on the journey. “How do I get there?” is a much easier transaction than, “you must go.̶… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Three kinds of ‘fied’

Qualified means that you’ve done the work, earned our trust and could be invited to join us. More than ever, our current technology and the lack of gatekeepers mean that your body of work cou… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

All at once and quite suddenly!

Well, actually, “after a long slog” is a much more accurate way to describe it. An overnight success almost never is. Might as well plan for the journey. | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The 30-foot rule

If you’re designing a package, a cover, a fashion or even a meme… The goal is to have it be recognizable from across the room. That doesn’t mean it has to be loud or interruptive.… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

No fooling

When the world was small, our understanding of ‘reality’ was consistent, which is why a good April Fool’s joke felt right. It tweaked the normal just enough to cause us to wonder … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Errors in personification

“The sun is trying to break through the clouds.” “The virus doesn’t like it when people stay home and isolate.” “The computer didn’t expect you to type tha… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

A thing about ‘normal’

Normal is the thing many don’t notice. Until it changes. And then we can’t unsee how much we had failed to pay attention to. Who’s on the short list for consideration, who is give… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Screwdriver clarity

This screwdriver, what’s it for? The one with with black oxide non-slip tips, tri-lobe ergonomic handles, and a special “Speed Zone” at the base of the handle, which allows for fa… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Celebrity Art (priceless/worthless)

Why are some paintings so valuable? Works by Rothko or Matisse are worth millions. The Mona Lisa is truly priceless. There are four reasons, all working together, all quite relevant today as we rem… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Price, wants, needs and the perils of urgent

You have a choice to make. There are four quadrants, and the thing you offer can fit into one of them. Perhaps you make a low-priced treat, something that people want. Wrigley’s gum or Heinz … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Price, wants, needs and the perils of urgent

You have a choice to make. There are four quadrants, and the thing you offer can fit into one of them. Perhaps you make a low-priced treat, something that people want. Wrigley’s gum or Heinz … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Cons at scale

Traditional con men do their work one person at a time. It’s a laborious process, earning trust and the benefit of the doubt before ultimately ripping someone off. Toward the end of my dad… | Continue reading | 1 month ago