Insulation from the user experience

When a small enterprise offers a lousy user experience, the person in charge learns about it, fast. Customers leave, visitors bounce, complaints roll in. It’s expensive and it undermines the … | Continue reading | 20 hours ago

Generalizations work (until they don’t)

Unlike natural phenomena like orbiting planets or geologic formations, there are no consistent and perfect laws of human behavior. If we’re talking about groups of people, if we’re teac… | Continue reading | 1 day ago

Understanding the automatic self

How do you act when you’re not thinking about how you act? When no one is looking and when you’re just doing what you’re doing… That’s the automatic self. No narrative… | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Shopping is not the same as buying

Just about everyone over the age of fifteen, anywhere in the world, engages in the market in some way. We need things and we buy them. That’s not what shopping is. Shopping is the act of imag… | Continue reading | 3 days ago

The monopoly distinction

At enlightened companies, leaders are smart enough to ask, “how do we make things better for our customers?” They realize that this simple ratchet leads to loyalty, word of mouth and mo… | Continue reading | 4 days ago

“I Get It”

No need to read the whole book, I can just glance over the Cliffs Notes… I get it. I don't need to hear your whole pitch, just show me the summary slide… got it. No, I already hear… | Continue reading | 5 days ago

The persistence of hierarchy and status roles

REM was one of the most respected indy rock bands. You’d think that a group that somehow managed to thread the needle between whatever authentic means to them and huge popular success could w… | Continue reading | 5 days ago

More Popular (and Cheap, Too)

If Harper Lee had written To Kill a Mockingbird today, there’s no doubt that the salesforce and the marketers would have pushed for a catchier title, probably with better SEO. And it’s … | Continue reading | 6 days ago

More popular (and cheap, too)

If Harper Lee had written To Kill a Mockingbird today, there’s no doubt that the salesforce and the marketers would have pushed for a catchier title, probably with better SEO. And it’s … | Continue reading | 6 days ago

Contradictory answers to obvious questions

That’s how you know that they’re not obvious. When smart, committed people disagree about the answer to a question, you’ve found a question worth pursuing and a discussion worth h… | Continue reading | 7 days ago

The grateful pumpkin

It might not be autumn where you live, but the iconography of the large orange pumpkin travels around the world. People carve faces into them, stick a candle inside and use them to ward off the dar… | Continue reading | 8 days ago

Butterfly hunting

Ideas are like that. The successful editor, curator or entrepreneur doesn’t go hunting ideas to kill them, but to celebrate them, identify them and dance with them. And a brutal, all-out fron… | Continue reading | 9 days ago

Subconscious pre-filtering

It’s entirely possible to believe that your ideas come from the muse, and your job is to simply amplify them. And that successful people are lucky because the muse keeps giving them useful an… | Continue reading | 10 days ago

Today is Worldwide Backup Day

Google is not your friend, it’s a tool. It’s been 2,702 days since they shut down Google Reader and people still remember. Or consider that Google can shut you out of all their services… | Continue reading | 11 days ago

Smart, generous and kind

The Ngram tracks words used in books over the last 200 years. Here’s what a million authors and a billion readers think: Kindness matters. | Continue reading | 11 days ago

Are you stalling?

I have a little wooden plaque with those three words on it. And of course, the answer is often “yes.” If you’re waiting on an unavoidable delay, then you’re not stalling. If… | Continue reading | 12 days ago


This is the Inuit word for “sitting together in the darkness, quietly, waiting for something creative or important to occur.” Of course, this works. The only difficult part is doing it.… | Continue reading | 13 days ago

A paradox of community, belief and reality

Belief happens when we combine community with emotion. It’s a way for us to see and understand the world, at the same time that we engage with some of the people around us. Belief is a sympto… | Continue reading | 14 days ago

Entitlement fails

An attitude of entitlement doesn’t increase the chances you’ll get what you want. And it ruins the joy of the things you do get. Win or lose, you lose. | Continue reading | 15 days ago

The ocean is made of drops

That’s easy to say but hard to visualize. Even a puddle has more drops than we can count. It’s got to be difficult to be a drop. And yet… What else could the ocean be made of? | Continue reading | 16 days ago

“Until further notice”

Of course, every rule, every announcement and every policy is in place until further notice. We say it as a form of throat clearing. A way to make the announcement seem more official and specific. … | Continue reading | 17 days ago

The right answer

Which is better: Feeling like you were right the first time or actually being correct now? When we double down on our original estimate, defend our sunk costs and rally behind the home team, weR… | Continue reading | 18 days ago

If it were easy…

Then everyone else would find it easy as well. Which would make it awfully difficult to do important work, work that stands out, work that people would go out of their way to find. When difficultie… | Continue reading | 19 days ago

Where is your ifthen?

We all have them. “If ____ happens, then I’ll do ____.” If this emergency passes, then I’ll take a break. If this customer closes, then I’ll invest in my education. If… | Continue reading | 20 days ago

The incoming

Standing at my desk this summer, it had just turned 10 am, and I realized that I’d already: Heard from an old friend, engaged with three team members on two continents, read 28 blogs across t… | Continue reading | 21 days ago

The gift of results

When Ignaz Semmelweis pioneered statistics in order to save countless women from dying in childbirth, his fellow doctors refused to believe him. They ignored his work, didn’t wash their hands… | Continue reading | 22 days ago

Second cousins

Being smart often has little to do with being persuasive. And yet we often assume that one leads to the other. We spend years and years educating people to do well on tests in the belief that this … | Continue reading | 23 days ago

A theatre of dominance

Organized sports often turn into a play about status roles and dominance. Bullfighting, pro wrestling, even hockey, are about who’s winning, who’s losing and who’s in charge. But … | Continue reading | 24 days ago

Launches and orbits

The launch is fraught. It takes a lot of energy to get the thing started, and the orbit is the goal–there are still satellites up there, circling, decades after launching. Even after twenty o… | Continue reading | 25 days ago

One difference between science and art

If you can’t replicate the work and get the same outcome, then it’s not science. If you can replicate the work and get the same outcome, it’s not art.   PS Tuesday is the First Pr… | Continue reading | 25 days ago

One difference between science and art

If you can’t replicate the work and get the same outcome, then it’s not science. If you can replicate the work and get the same outcome, it’s not art.   PS Today’s the First… | Continue reading | 25 days ago

Principle is inconvenient

A principle is an approach you stick with even if you know it might lead to a short-term outcome you don’t prefer. Especially then. It’s this gap between the short-term and the long-ter… | Continue reading | 26 days ago

And a pony at your birthday party

Do you remember your first birthday party? That’s pretty unlikely, even if you have pictures to remind you. So what’s all the hoopla for? Why the cake and the pony and the rest? It̵… | Continue reading | 27 days ago

The words matter

Every time we have the floor we have the chance to create connection (or to sever it). We can open up possibility or we can close it. Sometimes, we share our answer thinking it might be the answer,… | Continue reading | 28 days ago

The unspoken questions

Before we make a decision, we wonder about our dreams, our stories and our needs. Some of the things we wonder about, even if we don’t verbalize them to ourselves: What will I tell my friends… | Continue reading | 29 days ago

The spaces in-between

It’s comforting to have a snappy answer or the certainty of knowing not only how it is, but how it happened and precisely what happens next. But sometimes we don’t know. And in those mo… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

A new book and some excitement to go with it

Today is ship day for my new book, The Practice. Medium asked me to do a weekly series about creativity. The first two posts are now live. Also! I’m doing a Facebook Live (to be reposted late… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The useful crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis was an actual crisis. The world was hours away from being annihilated–gone forever, all of us. Since then, the media has exploited (and invented) crises on a regular … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

What do you get and what does it cost?

This is pretty easy to discuss when we’re discussing buying an ice cream sandwich. It costs $2, you get an ice cream sandwich. It gets a little more nuanced when we talk about what $2 means t… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Omission, commission and the places in between

If you accidentally leave the gate open and foragers end up destroying 1000 acres of crops, the guilt feels different than if you went and actively burned down the fields, even if the damage is ide… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Absolute value

It’s time for the annual window painting competition in my little town. Store owners allow kids to have a 2 foot by 4 foot piece of window to paint a scary/funny/punny Halloween billboard, an… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

A/B/C and the problem with skipping a step

Striving to be asleep is a difficult leap. On the other hand, committing to lying still is do-able. Lying still makes it more likely you’ll get to the next step. Hoping to grow your business … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The successful scientist

The scientific method is the most powerful invention humans have ever created. It’s not just for people in white coats and in labs. The scientific method has changed what we wear, what we eat… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

“All anecdote and no data”

That’s a criticism, of course. A report, study or testimony that’s all anecdote with no data carries little in the way of actionable information. On the other hand, if you want to chang… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Back in the tube

There are two kinds of mistakes. One is the sort where failure is not noticeable because failure means that you didn’t engage with an audience. If you do an art show and no one comes, no one … | Continue reading | 1 month ago


If you’re not having any second thoughts at all, it’s probably because you’re not thinking it through enough. The hallmark of the true believer is that there’s no room for j… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Popular vs. good

They’re not the same. We often strive to have both, but that’s unlikely. The price of having one almost certainly involves losing the other.  We often end up compromising something to g… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The thing about sunk costs

Tomorrow is another opportunity. There are thirty people over there who are just waiting for you to help connect them, lead them or make things better. But if you’re still defending the stuck… | Continue reading | 1 month ago