Signals and Worldviews

From the price you set to the metaphors you employ to the typeface you use in your newsletters, every item you send out in the world sends a signal. However, each signal runs through a filter before it is received. And that filter is the worldview of the receiver.


As represented by

THE MINISTER of Agriculture

(Hereinafter referred to as “THE MINISTRY”)


Mark Dyck

(Hereinafter referred to as “THE SERVICE PROVIDER”)

We’ve been discussing “signals” quite a bit in over in the Right Company  community. From the price you set to the metaphors you employ to the typeface you use in your newsletters, every item you send out in the world sends a signal.

However, each signal runs through a filter before it is received. And that filter is the worldview of the receiver.

The six page contract that came last week for a 30 minute presentation I’d agreed to give (in exchange for gas money) is a case in point.

Even my single worldview drew out three distinct reactions.

  • What a power play! They’re just trying to push me down a peg. Service Provider – pfft.
  • Talk about bureaucracy! It cost them more to create the contract than the gas money. All for a 30 minute talk. What a waste.
  • That poor lady. She must be embarrassed to have to send me such a crazy contract for a tiny thing.

I’m sure you can think of more.

Now, the contract itself isn’t good or bad. A verbal agreement would create just as many reactions.

The question for us as leaders, storytellers and marketers isn’t “should I use a contract?” It’s not even “how will people respond to this signal?”

The more important question is “How will a person with the worldview I’m trying to connect with react to this signal?” Others will react differently and that’s OK.

The problem arises when we send a signal and are surprised by the response.



Seth Godin has a new course out. This one is about podcasting. He announced it this morning and I already have the signup page in front of me, with the cursor hovering over the submit button.

A month ago, it was the Bootstrapper’s workshop. The month before that, the Marketing Seminar. Last year, the altMBA (which I actually took.)

What is it about me and Seth’s projects that makes me want to drop all my work and join up?

It’s not the information, although it’s relevant and helpful.

Often it’s not even filling a knowledge gap. I mean, I just shipped my 29th podcast this morning. And I’m already bootstrapping three projects. I know how to do this.

But Seth is the master of connection. I’m desperate to meet the other people who sign up for the session. To see what they are making. To help them succeed. To be part of a larger cohort of bootstrappers, of marketers, of podcasters.

Really, to be part of his cohort of bootstrappers, marketers and podcasters.

Because what Seth has built over the years is a reputation of doing things a certain way. With purpose, clarity and generosity. I want to build the same reputation, as do the others he attracts.

People like us. That’s what we all want. And Seth has brought us together once again.

But I’m not signing up today.

As much as I want to, yearn to, I’m not going to do it.

Because it’s my lizard brain, my Resistance, that is screaming at me to press the sign up button this morning. It knows that if I sign up, I’ll be ‘all in’ for the next six weeks, spending hour after hour in the new group, with my new friends, helping them go forward. And I’ll spend six weeks describing, in great detail, how I want to move forward too.

All of that feels so, so, good. I want it so badly. But I know that it will delay me from actually moving forward.

I’ll be back in Dream mode instead of Ship mode.

So I have to say no. I must, respectfully, decline.

This is soooo difficult to do, but it’s the right call for now.

Using The Gift

I haven’t had the most productive week.  Well, I got things done, but not the important thing.

This was the week to send out invitations for my next project, but to do that meant standing up and sharing my intentions with people I admire.  To say “This is what I’m doing.”

Instead, I hid.  Let the week slide by.  At one point, I even told myself that my friends would refuse my invitation.

Cindy and I talked about this and she reminded me that every day is a gift.

I’m in this unique position where (for a while anyway) I can spend my time working on projects that I chose, rather than projects that others choose for me.

So a day not spent moving my projects forward is a waste of my gift.

We all have this gift.  A day, a week, or maybe only an hour.

Don’t waste the gift.  The world needs what you’re making.  Please use the time you have.


The End Of The Week

I’ve been deep in a post altMBA funk this week. I’ve got my project plan and my task list but I’m just not working at it enough to ship on time.

When confronted by being stuck like this, especially when it’s self inflicted, my first reaction is that my deadlines are soft. Or at least out too far.

One of the best things about the altMBA format is that there is something due every single day. So there’s nowhere to hide. No way to get around to it later. You gotta ship, period.

Some of us, me included, like to set weekly goals. I’ll ship by the end of the week.

But Monday quickly turns into Tuesday turns into Wednesday. Laundry is done, the house is (relatively) clean, groceries purchased, side projects tended to.

Then as the sun sets on Thursday night, you realize you haven’t really got going on The Big Project. The one with the deadline.

That’s when the downward spiral picks up steam. The funk gets funkier. Not good.

No, better to have a daily deadline and mean it. Promise yourself you’ll pay the neighbour (the one you don’t like that much) $20 if you don’t ship tonight. And tomorrow. And the next day.

Get a stack of twenties and put them on your desk as a reminder.

Then get to work. We need you to ship.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

More on Shipping

With Cindy and Ben working and Robyn in Calgary, this Sunday was actually a good time to keep working on my next project. I thrashed for an hour or two before I had to stop and figure out what was bugging me.

Often times I get so eager to get moving forward that I start in the middle and start writing. That’s fine up to a point but sooner or later I need to step back and reset.

That’s where the Shipit Journal comes in.

Seth created the journal several years ago as a way to document the fears around projects right at the start, so you could call them out and then deal with them. It’s also a good way to look at your project from several angles so that you can identify everything that needs doing.

In my case, I was starting the ‘doing’ without really identifying all the pieces that needed to get done. So my head was full of ideas for other stages of the project. And a cluttered mind doesn’t do great work.

So I took an hour and filled in the Shipit Journal from front to back. It was well worth it – even though this is a solo project, I was able to identify several areas where I could get some outside help. Plus, I wrote down all the areas of the project that needed good planning and design, from the pre-launch through to finding sponsors and partners. All in one little booklet.

Back in the day, Seth made these booklets in 5 packs so your whole team could fill them in. But they are out of print. I was lucky to get a paper copy as part of my altMBA package, which is photocopiable. (new word!)

There’s also a free PDF version online, which is what I used. I still can’t bring myself to write in a book. Sigh…