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What will you leave behind?

Twenty years from now, you will have new skills. New customers. A new title and a new kind of leverage. All of this forward motion requires a less celebrated element–all the things you’re not doing any longer. To get a new job, you’ll need to leave the old job behind. When you have a child, you’ve initiated a process...

The test kitchen mindsets

The first mindset is pretty common. Take good notes. Make tiny changes. Repeat. Improve. Incrementally move along the asymptote. Test and measure. The other mindset is rare indeed. Do things that might not work. Develop new assertions. Go past the edges to unexplored territory. Try to figure out why things are the way they are. Fail often....

“They were all bored to tears waiting to hear something they knew”

That’s the report from the band on the audience’s reaction to the first live performance of Stairway to Heaven. They bombed. The audience wanted hits, not something new. Every good idea starts as a new idea. And new ideas are never familiar.

An illusion of scale

Successful small businesses often stumble when they seek to get to an entirely different scale. It’s easy to believe that things are dramatically better when there’s more. More customers, more employees, more market share. And it’s easy to believe that getting to the next sustainable level is simply the result of efforts...

Effort

Insufficient effort creates work that’s wasted. If you do a slapdash job, then the roof leaks, the food is inedible, the car doesn’t start. Insufficient effort is a shortcut that wasn’t worth taking. Sufficient effort is the goal of the industrial capitalist. Capture the most value with the least work. Build a house that doesn’t fall down,...

The hedonic buffet

Every day around 3 pm, my dog takes a nap. As far as dogs go, he has a ton of available options. He could hang in the backyard, chase a squirrel, whatever. But in that moment, every day, the choice with the most benefit for him appears to be a nap. We’re not that different. Except times a billion. In any...

Zero percent market share

If you have a million Twitter followers, that means that 99.9% of the people on Twitter are ignoring you, which, with a little rounding, means you have 0%. If you write a book and it sells a million copies, it will be one of the bestselling books of the year. It will also reach far fewer than 1% of the country’s population, never mind the...

Contagious commerce

Early adopters change the world. While one person choosing not to eat meat will have a small impact on our climate, it will have a much bigger impact on the restaurants, groceries and food suppliers who notice what you’re doing. They’ll change what they offer, and that will lead to a multiplier effect of other people changing their...

A future of retail

What do traditional retailers own or control? The buildingThe inventoryThe relationship with vendorsData about who is shopping and how they shopTrust with vendors, customers, employees and landlords And now you can see the problem. When retailers move online, the things they used to own are either eliminated or transformed....

Swap the line

Here’s a business idea for you, feel free to build it if you’re interested. Don’t waste a waiting list The waiting list has value, and it’s also a source of frustration. There are people waiting for delivery of a new car, or to stay in a popular airbnb or to buy a limited edition jigsaw puzzle. There are...

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