when work ends

If you happen to be in a smart working company chances are that you’re lucky.
Surrounded by great people with a nice mindset.

You might be tempted to simply do your work. But what is your work?
In today’s jobs our work doesn’t really equate a task.
Is a task “your work”?

I’m not sure. What I think is that a task is part of our work.
Completing a task is part of what we should do.
We should also be sure to do it correctly, be sure that we understood the problem and how to fix it, following up to be ensure that the people depending on our work will use it correctly and so on.

The more we help the people after us, the more we try to be sure that what we did was great, the more the workflow will improve, the more the quality of what we do will stand out.

It’s easy to simply finish a task. It’s one click away.
But your work is much more than that, don’t be fooled by technology and go the extra mile to help, improve, document, discuss.

a little respect

What will you remember 10 years from now?

Will you remember that customer that shouted at you?
Will you remember the long working hours?
Will you remember the anxiety of finishing a task?

or

Will you remember that trip to Hawaii?
Will you remember your wedding day?
Will you remember that time when you did bungee jumping?

As you might have guessed: Some experiences stay with us, some other disappear.
Work is great, work is part of our life.
But work should be efficient, if it’s not then it won’t make a big difference.

Working too many hours might be useful for a short sprint to help a project, an extra hour from time to time might seriously help your coworkers live a better workday tomorrow and in these cases then go for it. Do it.

It shouldn’t be the norm though.
Your quality of work is based on your life, and your life is what you’ll remember 10 years from now.
All the rest is gonna disappear. You’ll even forget many of the discussions you’ll have with your partner, let alone the issue at work.

So learn to protect your time, both in and out of your work.
Make your time count, be more productive at work by having less distractions (messages, etc) and protect the rest of your time.

urgency

After some years both as an employee and as a company owner I came to realize that urgency, for some people, is the standard.

I don’t know if it’s because they realize what must be done too late or if it’s because they are extremely anxious.

The fact is: For some people urgency, emergency, is the standard.

There is no difference between long term, short term: Everything is urgent. Everything is needed now.

These people might be easy to spot, but it doesn’t mean they’re always visible in plain sight.
Some people hide the urgency behind a great communication, some people use different words. In the end you might not guess instantly that they are “those type of people”.

It might take a while and some introspection to understand who they are but when you do there is only one answer to them: Delay them.

Not if the work is truly urgent, not if it’s truly critical.
Delay them when it’s not.

Here’s the thing: Urgency is like a sale. If everything is on sale, nothing is on sale.
Same goes for urgency.

Go for the important things. Those will _always_ pay off in the long term.
Not so many things are truly urgent. A lost website might be urgent, payment not working might be urgent.

Wrong text? It depends.
Wrong image? Unless it’s inappropriate then it’s definitely not urgent.

Urgency often lies in the needs and the social status of the other people.
They overpromised and urgency is their way to get their act together.
Or maybe they need to save their face in front of their boss, coworkers, whatever.

Urgency is rarely a matter of damage, mostly a matter of status.
It’s hard to distinguish between the two, but after a while trying you’ll start noticing pattern and know when it’s the right time to delay, to put the important things first.

Because important things will always make a change. Urgent things will always make a fix.

self help is the question, not the answer

It usually goes like this: You struggle, you fail, you struggle a lot, you want to get better, get rich, improve.

At this point you’re quite frustrated, you don’t know what to do, you feel powerless.
Then the self-help world opens up its doors with words like success, happiness, money, managing and controlling people.

Is it too good to be true?
Before answer this let me share one thing: I did struggle. I did fail. I did search for a solution.
At that time those solutions seemed like the perfect one. I studied marketing, influence, how to make money. They all seemed to show one hidden side of this world that wasn’t shared mainstream.

Many of those self-help books/video revolve around visualization. I did also write an entire 100 pages book on the subject of self improvement, using some of the things that worked of me. Special types of visualization also used in a specific branch of psychology here in Italy.

Oh, those visualization. One common one is “Fake it till you make it”.
It’s based around the fact that if you mimic being happy, you’ll someone force your mind/body to act like that and it will partially work.

Or visualizing success, things like this.
They do work, but they’re also missing the point.

Because what’s missing in this equation is the human nature. The “Fake it till you make it” can work days, weeks, months but it won’t get you further than that. To go beyond you have to embrace it. To be honest and force yourself to change.

Faking it won’t work in the long term. It’s a short term strategy to relieve you from some problems. To reduce pain, because it’s hard to fight when you have less power. So that’s it. But it’s not a cure.
It’s like an aspirin. Can work for a cold, not for a serious problem.

And we _do_ have serious problems.
So back to the question: Is it too good to be true?

Yes.

Some books might help you and I do think that many of them have some nice insights, things to keep in mind and learn.

But what they don’t teach you, what the major part of the self-help, success, moneymaking world, doesn’t always communicate is failure.

You know where were you in the beginning? Struggling. Failing. Trying and failing.

What they don’t teach you is that _it’s perfectly fine to fail_ as long as you try again, as you continue learning and trying, as you become more resilient to failure.

That’s the key. Success doesn’t commonly happen overnight.
Success happens after many failures.

So beware. Beware of all the shortcut to success, being it in communication, marketing or self help.
They do all come with a price, and the price of the shortcut is usually that it doesn’t belong to you.

Think of the many topics as boxes you can count on. They become information you can use to protect and to communicate with others. See them as a toolkit to use with judgement, honesty and good intention and find _your_ way to do the work.

Don’t be a follower.

shit acknowledgement

If you complain to something at starbucks they’ll be told to apply their “LATTE” method. What is it?

  • Listening to the customer
  • Acknowledging their complaint
  • Taking action to resolve the problem
  • Thanking the customer for bringing the situation to their attention
  • Explaining to the customer why the problem occurred.

You know what? It’s a great example on how to react to any problem and complain.
You listen, you repeat the problem and acknowledge how and why it happened.
You fix the problem.
You thank the user, and explain why it happened.

I’d also add that you take steps to avoid it in the future and share them with the user.

The user in this case can be anyone.
Your boss, your wife, a customer, a supplier.
**Any person in the world deserve such safe, human, reaction**.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that you apply it step by step. It’s one of the most human and kind reaction you can give to a shouting person in the room.


marketing for non marketers

I don’t consider myself a marketing expert, but I do consider myself a better than average -small marketer- and the reason for this is that I was able to sell things to people and write things that resonate with others.

It’s hard to market something. I am a developer and for many year I hated marketing.
This, until I discovered that marketing was _not_ what I saw on tv.

Marketing is much more than that. Have you ever got to a city you loved so much that, by talking to your friends, you made them visit the city?
Well, you just sold something to someone.

Word of mouth is, basically, a form of personal marketing and it works because it has three main components that are working well together.
First: You are passionate about the subject (in this case the city)
Second: You know it (you visited the city and can tell what’s great and what’s not).
Third: It’s honest (you are a friend)

That’s why it works, and this is something you can try to apply to as many areas you’d like.
Passion, Knowledge, Honesty are enough for basic marketing.

But yet we fail at marketing, aren’t we?
Why does this happen? Well, for one reason it’s selfishness.
Being passionate doesn’t mean shouting “IT’S BEAUTIFUL, IT’S THE BEST THING IN LIFE”.
These arguments are not worth it, nobody believes it.

If you think about it, when you’re passionate about a trip to a city and you tell the story you don’t simply start by saying “it’s amazing”, you add information that _you_ liked.

For example you might say:
_”When I was in Venice I loved the silence that you get because there are no cars around, it’s so strange to walk at night and hear the sound of water. It’s as if you’re in a jungle, but then you realize you’re walking into a city filled with people”_

That’s way different than saying “Buy my product, it’s the best”. That is the key difference.
What we miss when we try to sell things to others is that we tend to focus only on saying “it’s good” instead of explaining what does it for you.

Start by sharing how and in which things the product you’re selling will improve your life, work, whatever. Tell how it helped you, what it helped you to achieve.

Be honest about it, don’t be fake, share the struggle if you had it (like, for example, “I wasn’t able to do X because of Y”) and, last but not least: READ IT OUT LOUD.

It must feel like a talk with another human being.
If it doesn’t, it’s not ok, if it does, you’re off to a great start.

how to write

Some people would like to know how to write better because if you read their emails they’re in a strange, unusual language. They feel fake, they feel as if they were written from a robot.

This is the foundation to many marketing tutorials and at its core there is a simple principle: Write like you talk.

In writing we tend to use expressions that are too articulated and not suited for the medium. We’re not discussing the law of geometry here, we’re talking to people and as such we should communicate the way they expect it: In words that are simple, easy to comprehend, easy to digest.

How do we get there? There are many ways, if you need to learn how to write one idea could be to first record a reply by voice so that you start by a talk, and then arrange that talk so that you put it into correct form.

Otherwise you can do it the other way: You first write and then read it out loud or, even better, read it to another person as if they were the beneficiary.

The other person can easily spot the issue in your talk and you will feel them too.

The last thing to do is to write more, and take more time to write so that by practicing you reach a better skill in this area.

Iterate until you reach confidence in the writing and you’re done.
You won’t become the next Stephen King by doing this, but you’ll at least improve the basic writing skills.

making good questions

To get great answers you need to learn how to make good questions.

Making good questions seems hard. How many times were you in a room and someone asked the teacher a stupid question? It happens all the time.

But guess what? It’s perfectly fine. Because if you want to learn how to ask good questions you’ll have to first ask the stupid ones. You’ll have to ask them and then go through a much deeper discovery of what the real problem is.
So let’s say you’re discussing a new project, how to get to the good question? Start by diving into the project by asking simple questions and then try to ask question to go deeper into the subject. Ask questions on how it works even in detail. 

See, the problem is that we think stupid questions are useless. They’re not, even though sometimes they can be easily avoided they are still part of the learning process.

The worst part of stupid questions is that we have learned, through social behaviour, that we should refrain from asking them. But how do we know if we’re asking a stupid question? We don’t have any reference and therefore we tend to keep our mouth shut. 
This hurts our learning because we don’t ask question at all, while we should do the exact opposite.

But how can I learn it to ask good questions? 
There’s a nice exercise I love which is based on the iteration, we can use it in many learning areas. The idea behind it is to find a way to explore a subject by iterating over ideas or, in this case, questions.

Let’s apply it to a simple example: A pen writing on paper. 
The goal in this case is to produce an amount of subsequent questions “after we feel exhausted”. So basically you need to get to the point when you think “there’s no way I can come up with another question”, and then get at least another 3 questions .

First question might be:
How does a pen write on paper?

Well, let’s suppose it’s a rolling pen, so in our case the ink rolls onto a piece of metal and gets to the paper.
But how does the ink stays on paper?

Well, probably the ink, being liquid, is absorbed by the paper.
And how come paper absorb the ink? What’s the process that allows paper to absorb liquid?

Etc etc etc.

The first question had a clear, stupid answer right? But we got fast to the point of “How paper absorb things”, and then you can still move on for at least another 6 questions.

The whole point of the exercise is to learn to go into detail about how things work so that your questions go into a deeper level of knowledge.

take your time

A couple of question for you

  • How do you think? Are you a fast-thinker, a slow thinker?
  • How do you decide? By impulse, after cooling down, by documenting, after confronting with others?

In other words: How do you handle your life?
It’s important to know it because you have to be prepared in both cases.

The slow ones.

I know. Slow has a negative connotation, but in fact slow in this case means: Taking time.
You might be slow in making decisions because you need to have a clear view of what’s happening.

You need more data, or you need to be relaxed.
_You have to know this_. Why? Because there will come a time when you’ll be asked for a quick answer and you’ll need a backup plan.

You need to know exactly what to say to gain more time, you need to know how to gain more time and how to get back into a relaxed mindset.

This way you’ll be yourself and be true to what you do best.

**The Fast Ones**

If you’re fast you have to know it too. Because sometimes you’ll be put in slow situations, waiting for a call or whatever.

This will test your temper. It will test your character and you have to be prepared so that you will avoid falling into these traps.

Or you might know what your fast-making ability is great _only_ in some cases and if so you’ll have to learn when to take time and when to speed up.

In both cases, we’re talking about understanding how you work, how your mind works, how your emotions are triggered so that you know how to act in any situation.

If you don’t know, you can’t act.

recharging

It’s fine to say no. We all tend to focus on praising, on having the person on the other side like us, but it’s fine saying no.

It’s fine to accept that we can’t do it all. Some people might do more than us but if we do our best it’s fine to know that if we do more, we’ll lose something.

Maybe we’ll lose empathy, maybe we’ll lose focus, maybe we’ll lose efficiency.
Whatever we might lose, it’s fine saying “Ok, I stop here”, knowing that this is for the best, to recharge and give more, to help again.

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