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Present Tense Planning

filed in Brand Strategy

When surgeon and author Atul Gawande treats a terminal patient, he doesn’t assess the available options in ways a conventional medical team might have weighed them up in the past. Instead of wondering whether they should keep fighting or if the time has come to give up, he and his colleagues ask a different, more important question.

“What are we fighting for?” They are seeking to understand what a good day looks like for the patient, and then to treat him in a way that enables him to live that day until the end of his life.

Most of us are not making life and death decisions about our work, career paths or business growth, but we’re still planning for the future. We come unstuck while strategising tomorrow’s survival when we compromise on what’s important to us today.

What are you doing on your good days?
What choices do you need to make today to protect them?

Image by Kev Lewis

The Link Between Actions And Outcomes

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

When we set a goal to achieve a particular outcome, we zoom out to consider the big picture. And while a result is dependent on knowing what we’re aiming for, it also requires us to do the things that give us the best chance of accomplishing it. A successful attempt to get fit doesn’t hinge on joining the gym or buying the running shoes. It depends on us setting the alarm and doing up the laces.

What are the three smallest steps you can take today, and every day to get you to where you want to go? Start there—then do up your laces.

Image by Stefano Coroso

Gaining The Advantage

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Success

This week you answered a customer query and solved her problem. You responded to every email, tweaked your resume and made your case well in the last meeting. You ticked off the things on your to-do list, had a look at your numbers and made solid plans for the weeks ahead. And that’s exactly what your competitors did too.

We spend a lot of our time doing the busy work of trying to gain an advantage in an attempt to compete and win. It turns out that the most sustainable path to significance is to do the things that the competition would never dream of doing—the things that only you would do.

You don’t need to compete when you know who you are.

Image by chat des Balkans

In Praise Of Curiosity

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Not so long ago conversations with strangers just happened anywhere and everywhere. This was especially true in Dublin where I grew up. It was not unusual for someone you’d never met to practically tell you their life story while you were standing waiting for the 16A bus into the city. Showing an interest in other people, or being what some people might call, ‘nosy’ was part of our Irish DNA. That’s certainly changed the world over.

I’ll never forget the story author, Maeve Binchy once told during an interview, when she was asked where she got her ideas from and why her dialogue so good. She was sitting on a bus one day and overheard a conversation between two friends who were heading into town. One was planning to buy a 25th wedding anniversary card for her parents. “That’s nice.” her friend said. The couple’s daughter made a face. “Not at all, they have a terrible marriage,” she said. “But you know, the worse the marriage, the bigger the card.”

That conversation inspired Binchy to write her bestselling book, Silver Wedding.

Today, eyes down, earbuds in, thumbs scrolling, we are the losers. Our capacity to be interested is diminishing, as a result of our obsession with being interesting. We don’t know what we’re missing.

Image by Toshihiro Gamo

By How Much?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

Our financial advisor, who lives in another state, almost 3,000km away, stayed for dinner after our annual appointment last night. Sarah spent time catching up with our boys, chatting to them about their plans for summer and beyond. We exchanged dessert recipes and movie recommendations. Of course, Sarah could have spent those three hours on more measurable or scalable business building tactics. The things that provide her with an immediate metric or result—proof that she’s making progress or doing a good job.

Every new client Sarah chooses to work with comes to her by word of mouth. She’s recommended because of her warmth and humanity, not just because of the measurable outcomes she delivers for clients.

Our best work is often the thing that’s not replicable, scalable or measurable. That’s why it’s our best work.

Image by Sebastian Sikora

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