On adding a zero

Just about everyone can imagine what it would be like to add 10% more to their output, to be 10% better or faster.

Many people can envision what their world would be like if they were twice as good, if the work was twice as insightful or useful or urgent.

But ten times?

It's really difficult to imagine what you would do with ten times as many employees, or ten times the assets or ten times the audience.

And yet imagining it is often the first step to getting there.

       
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Three things that make CEOs stupid

I sat through an endless presentation by the CEO of a fast-growing company. He was doing fine for half an hour, but then, when his time was up, he chose to spend 45 minutes more on his final slide, haranguing and invecting, jumping from topic to topic and basically bringing the entire group to its knees in frustration.

Power, of course, is the first problem. When things are going fairly well, the CEO has a ton of power, and often, that power makes things appear to work, even when they're not the right thing to do for the long-term. As a result, there's no market that is correcting the bad decisions, at least not right now.

Exposure is the second problem. Once a company gets big enough, the CEO spends his time with investors and senior executives, not with people who actually invent or deliver products and services, and not with customers. Another form of not getting the right feedback, because the people being pleased aren't the right ones.

The truth is the final and most endemic problem. Employees incorrectly (in many cases) believe that the boss doesn't want to hear from them, doesn't want constructive feedback. Everyone else has a boss, and built into the nature of boss-ness is the idea that someone is going to tell you what's not working. But we fall into the trap of believing that just because the CEO isn't assigned a boss, he doesn't need or want one.

A stupid CEO can coast for a long time if the systems are good. But a stupid CEO is always wasting opportunities, because being smarter usually leads to doing better. Plus, they're a lot more fun to work for.

       
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Notes, not received

An expected apology rarely makes things better. But an expected apology that never arrives can make things worse.

An expected thank you note rarely satifies. But an expected thank you that never arrives can make things worse.

On the other hand, the unexpected praise or apology, the one that comes out of the blue, can change everything.

It's easier than ever to reach out and speak up. Sad, then, how rarely we do it when it's not expected.

       
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Predicting the future isn't easy

The best plans are based on trends, not specific events.

Here's a hopeless task: There are 18 candidates in the GOP race.

If you can rank them in the order they're going to drop out, I'll give you a signed copy of my new book or $10,000, your choice. The chances of being correct are 1:18!, or about one in six quadrillion, so I think the prize is safe.

On the other hand, this blog's twitter account is consistently creeping toward 500,000 followers. If you can guess the date, I'll send you a signed book. Your odds are a lot better on this one.

When in doubt, pick projects where the factors you need to have in place are on the road the audience is already on.

       
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What is your art?

I define art as having nothing at all to do with painting.

Art is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen.

Five elements that are difficult to find and worth seeking out. Human, generous, risky, change and connection.

You can be perfect or you can make art.

You can keep track of what you get in return, or you can make art.

You can enjoy the status quo, or you can make art. 

The most difficult part might be in choosing whether you want to make art at all, and committing to what it requires of you. 

       
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