Data into information

It takes discernment to do this. Most problems don’t require more data. They require more insight, more innovation and better eyes. Information is what we call it when a human being takes dat… | Continue reading | 4 hours ago

Clearing the table

Centralized control is fabulous until it isn’t. Centralized control gives us predictable, reliable, convenient results. Until it suffocates. Google promises websites free attention at a time … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

Dissolve it

The best solution to a persistent, apparently non-solvable problem is to make the problem itself obsolete. Go around it. Cease to need it to be solved. Redefine your process or goal so that the pro… | Continue reading | 2 days ago

How big is your unfillable hole?

It doesn’t really matter, does it? All of your bad habits (and some of your good ones) exist to fill that hole, or to protect it from being seen. And as long as our mission is to fill the hol… | Continue reading | 3 days ago

Minimum Viable Audience

The smallest group that could possibly sustain you in your work… If you could pick the members of this audience, who would you choose? Their dreams, their worldviews, their energy, all up to … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

The minimum viable audience

The smallest group that could possibly sustain you in your work… If you could pick the members of this audience, who would you choose? Their dreams, their worldviews, their energy, all up to … | Continue reading | 4 days ago

Where are you headed?

Traffic at work isn’t just a metaphor. It’s real. We get stuck. Surrounded by people who are just as stuck. It can seem like progress is at a crawl. And then, we see a different way. So… | Continue reading | 5 days ago

The invisible limits

Words like חמץ and kx’āhã don’t appear in English. These words, like thousands of others, include sounds that aren’t part of the normal spoken range of the language. We don’… | Continue reading | 6 days ago

Resilience and tolerances

Resilience is what happens when we’re able to move forward even when things don’t fit together the way we expect. And tolerances are an engineer’s measurement of how well the part… | Continue reading | 7 days ago

Faucets and drains

Some people, every time they engage with others, are an energy drain. They take persuading, cajoling and enthusiasm to get going, and require ever more of it to keep going. And some people are a fa… | Continue reading | 8 days ago

Unexpected yet totally plausible

That is where breakthroughs lie. If you keep poking around the expected, it’s unlikely you’ll be surprised by what you find. | Continue reading | 9 days ago

‘Move fast and break things’ isn’t a worthy slogan

…because ‘breaking things’ isn’t the point of your work. How about, “Move fast and make things better,” or “Move fast and create possibility”? The re… | Continue reading | 10 days ago

“You made my day”

When your day gets made, how long does it last? A made day–is that different from a normal day? Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a made hour or, if we’re going to be quite t… | Continue reading | 11 days ago

The surprising secret of web headlines

It’s not that difficult to write a headline that people click on. But a headline that people click on is rarely one that earns trust, sustained attention or action. Which means that if you… | Continue reading | 12 days ago

Monopoly is the opposite of capitalism

If you believe in the benefits of the free market, then the logical conclusion is to oppose policies that a market-dominating monopoly decides are in their best interest. Adam Smith and his descend… | Continue reading | 13 days ago

People who don’t care…

…doing things that they don’t understand, for managers who have no sense of strategy, in an organization that measures all the wrong things. Everyone involved unable to honestly answer … | Continue reading | 14 days ago

Everyone and no one

Rarely true. “Everyone loves it.” “No one wants to be my friend…” More effective and accurate to replace these words with, “someone.” | Continue reading | 15 days ago

Truth in bots

All day we interact with others. And sometimes, they’re bots. Perhaps you’re in a chat room, and after a few Eliza-quality backs and forths, you realize that this helpful voice isn̵… | Continue reading | 21 days ago

To vs reply vs bcc

How much of your inbox activity is initiated by you? What percentage of your email threads started with an email you wrote? And how much is spent replying to others? And finally, how often are you … | Continue reading | 21 days ago

“I don’t like your work”

That doesn’t mean I don’t like you. The difference is critical. It’s impossible to be a productive professional if you insist on conjoining them. Here are two useful things to con… | Continue reading | 22 days ago

On feeling incompetent

At some point, grown ups get tired of the feeling that accompanies growth and learning. We start calling that feeling, “incompetence.” We’re not good at the new software, we resis… | Continue reading | 23 days ago

Choice and obligation

If it’s an obligation, then you don’t have a choice. Pretending you do is simply a way to create frustration. Free yourself to simply do what you have to do. On the other hand, if you d… | Continue reading | 24 days ago

The first piece of tape

I’m sitting on a black couch in the lobby of a nice theater. The couch is cracked and peeling, with seven strips of black gaffer’s tape holding it together. And you don’t have to … | Continue reading | 25 days ago

Five reasons you might want to start a podcast

You’ll meet some amazing people. Most podcasts are based on interviews, and having a podcast is a fabulous excuse to interview fascinating people. It will help clarify your thinking. You migh… | Continue reading | 27 days ago

Experience and variation

The only way to learn from experience is to have different experiences. The very nature of an experiment is that there’s a chance you’re doing it wrong, or at least less ‘right… | Continue reading | 28 days ago

Telescopes and microscopes

It pays to look at opportunity with a telescope. It’s real, but it’s distant. The telescope brings it into focus and helps you find your way there. Telescopes are easy to find if you lo… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Work before passion

“Offer me something I’m passionate about and I’ll show up with all of my energy, effort and care.” That’s a great way to hide. Because nothing is good enough to earn y… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Too important to have a fight about

Battle lines drawn. Positions solidified. Arguments made. All thrilling, perhaps fun, but unlikely to change minds. If your cause is important enough, it’s worth taking the time and emotional… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Skill vs planning

If you’re a gardener, planting orange trees in Ottawa, and nothing’s growing, it’s possible to beat yourself up, burn yourself out and say, “I’m a bad gardener.”… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Who’s in the room?

We accidentally curate who comes to the meeting, who has a seat at the table where decisions are made. We almost randomly decide who is interviewing and being interviewed, who is brainstorming, who… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The practical de-escalation of worry

In order to maintain its power, common anxiety (sometimes called worrying) needs your help. Constant reminders, moments of conflict and concrete examples all pitch in to keep our worry on the warpa… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Some problems are easier to sell

In order to solve a problem, you need to sell it first. To get it on the radar, and to have people devote time, resources and behavior change to address it. Human beings in our culture are wired to… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Mastering the medium

We know what it sounds like when you’re great at AM radio, classical music or even reality TV. We can imagine the tone and content you’ll need to be really good at being on Broadway. Ja… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The trap of early feedback

We skew our thinking based on the first feedback we get. That’s the moment of maximum fragility, and so our radar is on high alert. But the math doesn’t hold up, and this high alert can… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Workshop updates

Today’s the very best day to sign up for the Business of Food Workshop. It’s being run by the extraordinary entrepreneur and UC Berkeley professor Will Rosenzweig. You can see all the d… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Workshop updates

Today’s the last-best day to sign up for the Business of Food Workshop. It’s being run by the extraordinary entrepreneur and UC Berkeley professor Will Rosenzweig. You can see all the d… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Hard work

Consider two loading docks at small companies. At the first, a tractor-trailer filled with heavy boxes shows up. The sole worker on the dock is tasked with unloading the trailer, asap. He puts on h… | Continue reading | 1 month ago


As Close as Necessary to Perfect The thing is, with limitless focus and energy, just about everything can be improved. That’s not the question. The question is: Is this thing you’re wor… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Productive choices (which?)

When you’re doing scary creative work, or work that requires emotional labor, it’s natural to want to walk away a bit. To distract yourself. To go shave a yak, mindlessly eat or bother … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

What if you pretended, just for a little while…

What if you acted as if? What if you pretended that you were glad to see me, happy to deliver this service, eager for it to be well received? What if you acted as though you were more charismatic t… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Digital peer pressure

“You’re using it wrong.” That’s how culture develops, of course. That’s why no one uses ALL CAPS IN THEIR EMAIL ANY MORE. Culture develops online at the speed of light… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Are you being manipulated?

Pundits, politicians, hustlers, unethical marketers, hucksters and grifters seek to manipulate people every day. Manipulation is pushing for a change that benefits the manipulator, not us. It’… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The business of food

Everybody eats. Every day. I’m thrilled to announce a new workshop, one that could change the way you work (and have an impact on the rest of us). There are few products or services with as u… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

When you’re over your head

As you gain a reputation for doing projects that work, it’s not unusual for the stakes to go up. For projects to look and feel bigger, with more inputs, more decisions, more pitfalls. It can … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Getting the word out

For some, this is the holy grail of marketing. If only more people knew what you know. If only they were aware of what you have to offer, of the work you can share. Perhaps you can get more people … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The job interview approach

That meeting on your calendar, the one scheduled for tomorrow. What if it were the final interview for a job you care about? Would you show up on time? Where would you sit? What sort of questions w… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The honor code

Does introducing an honor code presume that the people involved have honor, or is it designed to create a space where honor can develop? An honor code: The simple expectation that we trust you, tha… | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Data is expensive

The iHome alarm clock, common in hotels, shows a small PM when the time is after 12 noon. I arrived at my hotel at 7 pm, carefully setting the alarm for 6 am the next morning. Of course, I failed t… | Continue reading | 1 month ago