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The Value Of Subtraction

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

We spent an estimated $85 billion on hair care in 2017. Sales of products to combat dry and damaged hair are on the rise because more women are using straightening irons to get the ‘perfect look’. We have eaten our way through a $500 billion fast food mountain, then paid $83 billion for gym memberships to work it off. We have whiled away 2 hours a day on social media and tried to claim our time back by investing $56 billion in productivity apps.

When it comes to creating change, we often begin by thinking about what we can do differently to fix the problem. We question what we can add to the mix to make life easier, better, more productive.

Often it’s not what we start doing that makes a difference, but the thing we stop doing that creates the biggest shift. Maybe the growth and change we want begins with subtraction.

Image by David Phan

Better Than Before

filed in Brand Strategy, Success, Worldview

Our plumber, Evan, spends every minute of his day solving problems. There are no breaks to check email or to see who’s commented on Facebook. He’s too busy working things out, wondering where the source of the problem is or deciding how he might make the repair more robust than what was originally installed. Evan regularly deals with frantic customers and unreliable suppliers. He crawls over hot tin roofs in summer and trawls through muddy backyards in winter. He squeezes his head under toilet bowls and his body into roof spaces. A lot of his workmanship is invisible, hidden behind plasterboard and covered by tiles.

Evan’s job is a juggling act, tough work by every measure, yet he acts as if the work itself is a privilege—not just a means to an end—but an end in and of itself. He takes pride in his ability to use his hands and his head to make things better. He seems to see challenges as opportunities to do something right.

Of course, it’s not possible to always see a problem as an opportunity, but we can choose to be grateful for the chance to leave something better than we found it, no matter what work we do.

Image by Nikk

 

12 Lessons From The Biggest Hit Of The Year

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation, Success

Ed Sheeran’s hit song, ‘Shape of You’ was the most streamed track of 2017. The official video is expected to reach three billion views within a year of being uploaded. There’s a lot we can learn from this video where Ed and his co-writers talk about the process of writing a hit song.

12 Lessons From The Biggest Hit of 2017

1. Hits are accidents waiting to happen. You have to put yourself the situations that give you the best chance of doing great work.

2. Creativity is unpredictable. In Ed’s words.’None of us thought that much into it.’

3. Flexibility is your friend. Understanding what’s not working is key to finding what does work.

4. You can’t always think your way to success. Sometimes you have to feel your way.

5. Going against the grain often creates magic.

6. Shifting your focus can help you to view challenges with fresh eyes.

7. Average first drafts are necessary iterations of great finished products.

8. Your perceived flaws and enforced constraints can become your biggest strengths.

9. A strong team trumps a lone superstar.

10.Nobody knows for sure. Everything would be a hit if we could predict what’s going to fly.

11.It pays to allow your work to be seen through someone else’s lens.

12.Don’t set out to win. Set out to love what you do.

Here’s to continuing to learn from our failures and successes.

Image by Kmeron

Permission To Be Impractical

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Back in 1984, it wasn’t practical for Richard Branson to think he could launch a better airline with just one secondhand Boeing 747. And yet, that’s is exactly what he did.

It would have been more practical for James Dyson to give up after the fifth attempt to invent the best vacuum cleaner in the world. But he kept going, creating over five thousand more prototypes until he got it right.

It wasn’t practical for one man—even one of financial means, to believe he had a shot at building a better rocket than NASA, with the hope of colonising other planets. That belief was the beginnings of SpaceX, the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft.

It would have been more practical for Apple to keep the buttons instead of innovating the touchscreen. That decision gave us the iPhone and revolutionised the way we connect and communicate.

It wasn’t practical for Serena Williams to play, let alone win a grand slam final while she was pregnant. Of course, it would have been more practical for Rosa Parks to stand up and for Nelson Mandela to quiet down.

It’s not practical to look people in the eye or search for flaws in your thinking. It’s never practical to care more and demand less. And it’s always impractical to do the thing that doesn’t give us an immediate or obvious advantage. But often being impractical is essential to doing meaningful work.

Image by Lee

Pedestals

filed in Success, Worldview

Whoever said you should never meet your heroes was only partly right. There is an element of truth in the adage. Reality can rarely compete with the imaginary. Fleeting, real encounters are flat—two dimensional at best. The imagined meeting is all deep connection and unspoken understanding on both sides. In matters of hero worship, the admirer has the unfair advantage over the admired. The poor hero has little sense of the depth of feeling and gratitude upon which his pedestal is built.

The problem isn’t that we shouldn’t have heroes or build pedestals, it’s that we erect our pedestals too infrequently and for too few. What makes the girl putting in an eight-hour day shampooing hair at the salon, carefully placing fresh towels under strained necks, less or a hero than the rock star who can dazzle the crowd for an hour? Why do we value the contribution from the stage above the one from the heart?

We believe in superstars whose job it is to live up to the image we’ve created. What if instead of looking to the false gods of our imagination for inspiration, we applauded the real acts of ordinary heroism we choose to ignore? When we change our attitude to greatness we change the way we move through the world.

Image by Martin Fisch

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