Monthly Archive: June 2011

Old Standards cannot measure New Ideas

I’ve been busy lately, putting together this website (for what it is worth), creating an eBook, a new talk and another website at SALESPUNK which will be live in the next week, on top of increasing my Klout score (give me a measurement and I will obsess about it) and watching the activity on Google Analytics like a hawk.

It’s an odd sort of time as I’m building things that for now won’t generate any revenue for a while. Build it and they will come, though right?

That’s my feeling anyway and in the mean time it means I can generate loads of interesting new content and do my bit to stuff the world’s web servers with another hundred or thousand or so articles.

There’s a strategy here believe it or not and hopefully that will become clear in a week or so now.

I say hopefully because I had an interesting discussion during the week with this guy I know, who just cannot get what I am doing.

He’s decent enough and he certainly tries to do his version of ‘good’ as he goes about his daily business. He can even be enormously supportive and helpful from time-to-time. But I’ve never met anyone who can so readily say “no” to new ideas and leap into an explanation about why they’ll never work. Not in a million years.

On the other hand, the majority of the limited number of people I have chosen to share my new ideas with not only understand them, but think they’re quite cool and worth a shot. Some of them are even a little bit excited by the strategy.

Which tells me it isn’t the idea of a couple of interlinked websites, backed by electronic publishing and live talks that are the problem but perhaps this other guy’s way of thinking.

And I think what it boils down to is that he may be one of those people who measures everything against standards that he set in concrete sometime in his twenties and hasn’t been able to move away from since.

It’s not unusual for people to be like that. Ask anyone who was 20 in the 1970s what the greatest music in the world is and they’ll likely name Fleetwood Mac or ELO or someone, regardless of the fact that there have been 30+ years of music since.

People seem to get to a point where they stop being excited by new things. And then they wallow.

It’s a pity for them because I don’t think those people are equipped to look at new ideas with anything like the level of understanding that they require. I know this myself: I try to be as open minded as possible about other peoples’ ideas, but there are times when people are on the leading edge that I just cannot get my head around what they’re doing.

But you have to at least try, you know?

In the mean time, understand that Old Standards cannot measure New Ideas because they don’t have any frame of reference. So stop asking people like that for advice. It won’t help you.

How ONE DAY per week can make you a star

What do the following dates (on the UK calendar) mean to you?

18 March, 2012
17 June, 2012

Anything? Nothing? If nothing, shame on you! You ought to at least have an idea. The first is Mothers Day. The second, Fathers Day. Special days when you get to spoil the people you love.

But you know what? You’re right. Forget about them. They’re commercial opportunities for retailers but they have no bearing on your life if you’re serious about your relationships. You know when Mothers Day should really be? Every Saturday. Assuming the mother in question is the mother of your children, give her breakfast in bed, flowers, a card. Maybe a little extra gift now and then. A foot rub. A picnic. You can come up with millions of other ideas, I know. Every Saturday.

The same thing goes for Wifes Day and Husbands Day and Girlfriends Day and Boyfriends Day and Flatmates Day for that matter. You may not have the sort of relationship with your flatmate where you’d feel comfortable bringing them breakfast and flowers in bed, but you can make Thursdays the day you buy the beer and pizza as a show of appreciation for them.

Make no mistake that in doing so, you’ll generate good will and appreciation in return that you can’t get any other way. You may even get other things too … you know how goodwill can spiral! But you should do these things without any specific desire to get anything in return; without any agenda in mind other than to show the people closest and most important to you that you love them and appreciate the positive impact they have on your life.

In return, you’ll change your life in the most awesome ways. You’ll build more solid and more committed relationships. We all need more of those.

And of course, the same goes for customers.

When is your Customers Day? Do you have one? You could argue that every day ought to be Customers Day, but realistically, with all the stuff you have to do every day, it may work better for you to set aside a day when you do nothing but work on customer generosity. A specific day when you do things for them that show them you think they’re awesome even at times when you have no specific revenue agenda.

Doing so has an even greater impact than it does in your non-work relationships because it’s much less anticipated and much more surprising when it happens. Surprising that is, until they get to the point where they’re used to being spoiled by you and discover that your sort of love and attention are things they don’t ever want to have to do without.

This and more ideas are coming up in my new eBook and live talk entitled Simple Ways (to put the fun back into sales) which will be ready later this month. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you when it’s ready. I’m generous like that!

Why lists are probably the problem, not the answer

I like to make lists.

And on occasion, I like to do something with those lists.

For the most part though, lists with more than around three items on them seem to be a waste of time as far as I can tell. Item four on any list is the sort of inflection point where good intentions meet authoritarian overload and I’m done with the bossing around. Damn you words on paper (or in an Excel spreadsheet for that matter), I will not be owned.

It’s great to rebel. But it also means that point #4 (feed the cat or something) tends not to get done. Points #18 – #25 are doomed to forever remain unfulfilled.

At the same time though, I would argue that things you know you need to do ought never to be on a list anyway. Rarely do you see lists that read:

Brush teeth
Have sex

Lists are for things you don’t want to do or don’t trust yourself to remember.

I am greatly amused by lists with titles such as: 10 ways to remain focused when working from home for instance, which tend to list items along the lines of: put a sheet over the TV, create an work-focused environment, set yourself dedicated work times, break for lunch etc.

They amuse me because if you’re serious about it, working from home ought to be like the list above. Simple.

That said, here’s the ColinJBrowne UltimateGuide™ListForLife®. It’s free. You can thank me later.

1. List no more than three Must Do items for the day
2. Do them, one at a time
3. Chuck the list away
4. Oh come on now, seriously???

That doesn’t mean you’ll only do three things in any day. Of course you won’t. You’ll also brush your teeth and eat and sleep. Maybe you’ll get lucky. You’ll go to the shops for milk and bread and scan the newspaper and pay your bills and feed the cat.

But it seems to me that if you’re struggling to remember to do all the daily-life stuff, a list is very possibly the problem, not the answer.

For an alternative take on this, an old school friend of mine and tech writer, Alastair Otter wrote about his don’t do list a few months back. Still amusing and still a worthwhile take on how lists suck!

Pressing the suicide button just ever so gently

God it’s hard to remain focused without pressure.

The amount of pressure I put myself under is inversely proportional to the energy I can devote to all but the most sporadic acts of moral, intellectual and physical suicide. That seems to be a fact.

It’s the old adage of the devil making work for idle hands, coming to life.

I reckon we all spend a proportion of our time trying to kill ourselves in an increasingly inventive range of ways.

We’ve invented alcohol and cigarettes and television and Farmville and Coca-Cola and full-fat cream cheeses and Sunday mornings when we give ourselves a break from exercise and Stieg Larsson novels and Lady Gaga songs and polarised political intransigence and ‘me! me! me!-ism’.

It’s all herd food for bored minds. Personally, I’ve bought into a lot of it. I’d love to be able to say I haven’t, but I’m not going to lie to you and you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

But at my most focused, everything tightens up. I work harder, work out harder, eat better, purge my life of pop culture nonsense and make things happen because single-mindedness demands it. I am capable of focusing so intently in fact that I can stave off a quick press of the suicide button for weeks at a time. Months, perhaps.

But I can’t keep it up forever.

Sooner or later I’m going to stay at the pub for two drinks too many, grab a kebab on the way home and have chips with that and drink a Coke before bed and then stave off the after-effects the next day with so many toxins I’m basically out of balance for a week. And I’m going to switch on Comedy Central and lie down for 12 hours watching the same episode of Two and a Half Men three times, laughing at the same bits each time.

There was a time I might have regretted one or other aspect of my behaviour of the night before. There have been times when I have regretted the money spent or the lack of discrimination I had in the company I kept as the evening progressed.

These days though, all I regret when those moments happen, is the loss of the following day, be it a Saturday or Sunday or whatever it is. The loss of time.

And the thing that makes occasional blow outs necessary is precisely that which makes them increasingly few and far between these days: pressure. Self imposed or other wise.

It’s the thing that makes me press the suicide button only very, very gingerly.

I think it’s called growing up.