The generosity boomerang

Here's conventional wisdom:

Success makes you happy. Happiness permits you to be generous.

In fact, it actually works like this:

Generosity makes you happy. Happy people are more likely to be successful.

       
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Does corporate trust have to be an oxymoron?

Brands are based on trust. Corporations extract enormous value from the relationships they have with suppliers, employees, partners and customers. Yes, it's possible to trust a corporation, we do it all the time. But it's not free.

The two key choices a brand makes to be trusted in the long run:

1. You will postpone profit-taking. There are always shortcuts available to you, always ways to make money sooner rather than later, plenty of chances to do a little less or charge a little more.

2. You will do things that are difficult. We know it’s not easy or convenient for you to keep every promise, especially the little ones. That it’s expensive or a hassle or emotionally risky for you to extend yourself and your brand, but that’s where the trust is earned.

And so, when people on your team say things like, “due to unusually heavy call volume,” “we sold your data, the fine print in our terms and conditions says we can,” “I’m sorry, but my hands are tied,” “Well, because you complained, just this one time I’ll have our executive response team get involved, but don’t ask us to do it again,” “It doesn’t matter what the contract says, this is all we can do,” “I know Bob told you that, but he doesn’t work here anymore,” “Sure, we used to do that, but too many people took advantage of us and we can’t do it for you,” or, most common of all, silence, then yes, we trust you less. That's because we really prefer to trust people, and when people act to deny their humanity, we trust them less.

It’s easy to seduce yourself into believing that you can be trusted at the same time you take short-term profits and cut corners when it suits you. Alas, that’s not going to happen. 

Trust is expensive and trust is worth it.

       
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Trapped by linkbait

After reading a magazine article by a freelancer, I clicked over to his blog. It was part of a bigger media site, and it contained more than a hundred articles.

Every single one of them was formulaic. The standard linkbait headline:

([Integer between 5 and 10] WAYS to [action verb like avoid or stumble or demolish] [juicy adjective like stupid or embarrassing or proven] [noun].)

Every article was edited to exactly the length thought to maximize page views and every single article was boring. Sometimes he got to end his headlines with a question mark, but that was the extent of the humanity involved.

Daily, this talented writer trades in his art for what feels like a job writing. But he's not writing, he's not building a following, he's not doing work that matters. He doesn't actually have a voice, he's doing piecework, work that will be replaced by someone else's output as soon as his boss can find someone cheaper.

He'd be way better off doing highly-paid work as a plumber for a few hours a day, and then doing real writing in his spare time.

Practice doesn't make perfect. Meaningful practice makes perfect, even if you don't get paid for it.

       
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"How do I get rid of the fear?"

Alas, this is the wrong question.

The only way to get rid of the fear is to stop doing things that might not work, to stop putting yourself out there, to stop doing work that matters.

No, the right question is, "How do I dance with the fear?"

Fear is not the enemy. Paralysis is the enemy.

       
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Saying 'thank you' in public, three times

Earlier this year, I launched two ongoing classes on Skillshare:

One is on the thinking necessary to invent and launch a new business

and the other is for marketers of all kinds.

I'm grateful to everyone who has posted a kind review, launched a useful new project or shared the course so far...

But mostly, I want to thank the people at Skillshare: the software does exactly what they promised, and they're kind and a delight to work with.

Yesterday, Typepad was assaulted by a DDOS attack that brought the service to its knees. The team there really rose to the occasion, communicated clearly and honestly and got this blog up and running quickly. I've had this blog hosted by them for a decade or so, and despite the cool kids telling me I have to move it, I like the fact that the software does just what they say and that they're kind and a delight to work with.

And finally, did you know that you can subscribe to this blog, for free, by email and RSS? The email is handled daily and flawlessly by Feedblitz. It does what it's supposed to, and Phil is kind and a pleasure to work with.

Sometimes, the biggest, flashiest, most annoying services aren't the best way to build something that works. I'm grateful to these organizations and those like them that show up regularly and make things work. Thanks.

       
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