The Resistance Won A Battle. But I’m Still Fighting The War.

There’s reading about it, and then there’s living it.

I’m a big fan of Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.”  The book is a kick in the head for all creative people, including writers and entrepreneurs.   It both names and to helps fight the Resistance, that shitty part of your brain that stops you from doing the (seemingly) risky, scary and essential creative work you were meant to do.

I’ve read all of Steven’s non-fiction work and it helps.  But oh boy it’s not helping this month.  The damn Resistance has me hard.  It’s clawing at my brain stem right now.

Some may call it a migraine, but I know exactly what it is.  You don’t just get a migraine when you sit down to write.  But I’ve had three over the past week. Each time it takes me three days to get the courage up to write again.

I tried to trick it, by painting or recording a video instead of writing.  Smart, eh?

Well it wasn’t me that was being smart.  It was that f’ing Resistance again, deflecting the whole time.  Don’t create!  Research a new medium instead.  Look for tripods.  Adjust the lighting.  Watch yourself umm and ahh on video instead of writing clearly like you can.

It took a ‘knock me in bed’ migraine today to finally get it.  I See You.  You prick.

I’m writing about you now, Resistance.  Then I’m hitting Publish.

Then I’m finishing my article.  And starting another one.

You won for the last three weeks.  I won today.

 

 

What Are You Up To?


Saturday Farmer’s Market, Estremoz, Portugal

Cindy and I walked down to the Farmer’s Market today. It was fun to see the vendors again and catch up on things. It’s been two years since I baked for the Market but lots of people still want to see our bread there.

There was lots of interest in our trip and what we saw. There was even more interest in what we were doing next. Sadly, I think my response was a poor one.

I have this habit of telling people I need to figure something out, because I can’t be “unemployed” for much longer. But that’s the wrong answer.

  • I’m already talking to several places in town about starting or improving their bread production
  • There are people signed up to The Baker’s Bench who are ready for another baking course
  • I’m running into people on the street who say they enjoy our travel blog and want me to keep writing

So whether I say it or not, I’m already a baker, a teacher and a writer. And I’m doing all those things. I just didn’t get paid today.

It’s too easy to describe ourselves only in terms of what we do for money. That’s a trap. There’s a lot more going on in all of us.

What’s Your Medium?

jobs_interview_still_edit

I recently watched “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview” on Netflix (also on YouTube here.) It’s a complete interview from 1995 when Jobs was running Next, before he came back to Apple, launched the iPod and iPhone and basically ruled the world.

The interview was a real trip down memory lane for me because I remember the PBS show “Triumph of the Nerds” (on which they showed excerpts of the interview) very well.  I loved that show; I may still have the much watched VHS tape I made of the series and the book on which it was based somewhere in the basement. Although the host didn’t know it, the show was about me, my life in high school, University and my first career as a programmer at SaskTel.

But I was really taken aback listening to him now, some 20 years and a lifetime later.  Steve Jobs’ ideals and vision resonate with me now even more than they did in 1995.

The best bit for me had nothing to do with technology.  At the very end of the interview, Jobs was asked if he was a Hippie or a Nerd.  After declaring for the Hippies, he defined what that meant to him.

[Hippies see that] There’s something beyond what you see every day. There’s something going on here in life that’s more than what you see.  More than a job and a career and a family and two cars in the garage…

…It’s the same thing that causes people to be poets instead of bankers.  I think that’s a wonderful thing.  And I think that same spirit can be put into products.  And when you give that [the product] to people they can feel it.

…So, I don’t think the best people who I’ve worked with, worked with computers for the sake of working with computers.  They worked with computers because they are the medium that is best capable for transmitting some feeling that you have and you want to share with other people.

It’s a weird feeling hearing that now because I started out using computers with exactly that feeling.  Lately I use flour and water and bread as the medium.  But the goal is the same: to build something awesome and share that spirit with other people.

Since I no longer have my bakery, I need to find something else to do. But I’m after more than just a job; I need a different way to share that spirit.  It might be with bread, or with words, or even with technology again.

I’ve tried explaining this to prospective employers or partners but I’ve been scraping around the edges.  That segment in the video helped me find the centre again.

What’s your medium?  What glimmer of awesomeness are you sharing with other people?

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

We just got back from a Christmas holiday to Calgary and Fernie, and not a moment too soon.   Another day or two and I’d end up causing a big fight.

The trip was great, but highlighted by a series of strange communication errors. Either I would only hear half of what someone was saying, or I’d only say half of what I meant.  So many situations were unnecessarily strained, from arranging a meeting with my aunt and uncle or sorting the recycling as we cleaned out the condo in Fernie.

Inevitably I’d get frustrated by the misunderstanding.  Of course we were going to meet today!  Clearly this pile is recycling and that is garbage!  Then I’d get accused of being ‘snippy’ which would raise the tension three more levels.

Luckily we had a nine hour drive home where I could stew, mope, then try to figure things out.  I was taken back to a “Crucial Conversations” class I took years ago where the instructor kept quoting the Spice Girls.

Tell me what you want.  What you really, really want!

If what I really, really want is smoother, easier, stress free conversations with my friends and family (and I do), then that’s what I need to focus on.

Relax.  Get centred.  Explain in detail what I’m thinking.  Ask for feedback.  Ask for input.  Ensure we have understanding.  Then ensure we agree on the next step.

It’s hard for me, because I’m either experiencing life in big gulps and don’t want to stop, or I’m anxious about something and am dancing around the issue.

But if I’m going to reduce the number of Defcon 4 moments, I better stick to the program.

Relax.  Get centred.  Explain in detail what I’m thinking.  Ask for feedback.  Ask for input.  Ensure we have understanding.  Then ensure we agree on the next step.

I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions, but it seems I have one this year.

POW! A book about Surprise that I would love to read

pow

One of the things I try to do in all my work is to take a new approach or a fresh angle at solving an old problem.  Whether it’s transforming my community association to be more about looking out than looking inward, or bringing brand new bread to my neighbourhood, or even a new style of presentations to my day job, I want to Wow people.

Andy Nulman is a man who has indirectly guided me along this journey.  He’s the author of one of my favourite blogs and has just finished a new book called POW! — Profiting from the Power of Surprise.  It’s a book I’ve been waiting for.

In support of his book launch, Andy’s giving away 200 copies of his new book to bloggers who link back to his site.  I’d gladly link back for free, but just in case, here’s my address Andy  🙂

Mark Dyck

2904 Wascana Street, Regina, SK S4S 2G8

Have You Read the Tribes Q&A Book?

I must have been abducted by aliens and had my memory wiped out since I completely forgot to tell you all about the Tribes Q&A ebook. It’s another collaboration from Seth Godin’s tribe of followers — some of the nicest, smartest and most creative people I’ve ever met.

This ebook answers some of the questions that seem to come up when people try to apply Seth’s ideas about forming and leading tribes.   I could go on, but fellow triiibster Paul Durban is a genius at expressing ideas through pictures, so let’s have Paul explain it for you.

Tribes Q&A Trailer

In case you also missed the first e-book, containing over 200 pages of tribe case studies, you can find that one here. My case study made it in too — it’s on page 91!

Who is your strategy document for?

If you’re a leader within a large organization, sooner or later you’ll need to develop a strategy — recommendations on how to respond to an event or take advantage of a change in the world. You’ll do some research, talk to people and think a lot.

When the vision is clear in your head, typically the next step is to get everything down on paper so your strategy can get vetted, approved and implemented. Here’s where everything slide sideways quicker than a Texas driver in an ice storm.

One Size Does Not Fit All

You need to remember that a LOT of people need to know about your idea, from the top executive to the worker who will eventually implement your vision. And they need to be treated differently. “Maximize shareholder value” might have meaning for the CEO but it sure sounds like vapour to someone who is working with customers all day.

But Everyone Loves a Story

Execs may claim to be all about the numbers, but they still need to get some emotional attachment before your big idea will really resonate. Storytelling, examples, pictures, colour all help spread your idea and make it stick with people, no matter who they are.

So what should I write?

If your idea is important, and it needs to spread, then you’re going to have to spread your idea many ways. Time to get over the false hope that a single document will inspire everyone in your company to see the light. Here’s some ideas on how to get different audiences to respond to your strategy:

  • You can’t avoid the standard documents: Execs probably require standard documents like business cases, standard item descriptions and presentation layouts. They’re not fun but they’re required. Do them.
  • Make it fun and make it real: Leave the business case in your desk and take a strong presentation on the road to talk to workgroups. Lots of colour, pictures, stories and a strong image of the future. You’ll gain credibility and some allies.
  • Give them something to share: An entertaining ebook that describes your vision and the journey to achieve it is a great giveaway to help your allies spread the word for you.

It’s worth it!

Sure, it’s a lot of work building a collection of documents and presentations to get your ideas across to a variety of audiences. But it’s a really big idea, right? Right? If it’s not worth the effort then you’re better off stepping back to the research / talking / thinking phase.

Photo by Noeluap.

Is that all there is?

Has this ever happened to you?

Yesterday, about 150 corporate marketers trudged five blocks to the local hotel, went into the dull beige ballroom and sat in row upon row of hardback chairs for another “quarterly rollout.” We started with “the numbers” (three charts, small font) then list after list of what we did and what we’re doing next quarter. The call for ‘any questions?’ was met with silent stares. 90 minutes later we stood up, stretched, and trudged back to work.

Is that all there is? You get 150 people in a room to bore them to death? Honestly, a single slide with a picture, or colour even, would’ve knocked people out of their chairs. In this case, the only leaning forward was to look at a blackberry email.

It is so frustrating when people blow wonderful opportunities to inspire, delight and energize. Boring 150 people at a time is criminal, but how often do we do this in our small groups too? How many of your community meetings just drone on through the same agenda month after month? How many of us, in an attempt to include everyone, talk to noone in particular?

If you do this, even a little, please get help with your presentations. There are lots of good presentation examples available.

Photo credit: Stephanie Booth.

Examples of Tribes: The Tribes Case Study Ebook

Marketing guru Seth Godin has launched a new book called Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us.  I’ll be posting a review shortly, because it truly is an amazing book about a very powerful idea.

“Tribes” is the term Seth uses to describe groups of people who form around an idea and a leader.   It has huge implications for marketers, since it changes the approach about marketing your product or service or idea.  Instead of making sure Everyone knows about your idea, Seth asserts it’s more important that you reach out to those people who are passionate about your idea, give them the platform to let your idea spread and lead them along the journey.

It’s tougher for me to explain the concept than it is to share examples.  I figure Seth anticipated that, since he organized his own tribe (including me) to build an ebook with tribal examples.   There are nearly two hundred cases in the book, including a short one about my favorite fantasy football website, footballguys.com.  Go check it out, or download it here.

currenttribescasebook.pdf

While you’re at it, make sure to sign up for updates on Seth’s site.  It’s my favorite blog in the world, daily inspiration, observation and marketing leadership.  Seth knows what’s going on.