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Now Vs. Next

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

We’ve come to believe that the ability to focus on the future is the cornerstone of achievement, success and progress. But we’re in such a hurry to get there we often sacrifice the opportunity to do our best work in this moment. The irony, of course, is that tomorrow’s success is dependent on the groundwork we do today. Begin where you can. Start here.

Image by Javi

Who Will You Impact?

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Success

The bus headed back over the Golden Gate Bridge as we neared the end of our tour of Sausalito. The driver pulled over at the second last stop and turned off the ignition so that he could ‘address his guests’. Then Dwayne Johnson (the man who had the name before the celebrity who made it famous), stood facing us, looking out towards the iconic bridge in the background.

He explained that he loved the city he had called home for almost sixty years. He told us he regarded his job as both a pleasure and a privilege. And then he began to evangelise about the stunning monument we’d just driven across.

‘This bridge will be the standard for every bridge that will ever be built,’ he said. ‘They say Disneyland is magical. No, this bridge is magical. Even guys take selfies on this bridge.’

Dwayne explained that although it was a cold day, we were in San Francisco at a beautiful time to experience it. On foggy days much of the bridge is obscured from view. He told us that he drives across it every day, but he walks across it at the weekend whenever he can. And then he invited us to get off the bus and do the same, even though we didn’t have to because the bus was going back across it anyway.

‘Maybe you think it’s too cold or you’ll do it next time. But you don’t know if you’ll be back. And one day, when you get home, and you’re showing the photos of your trip to friends they will ask you if you walked across the bridge. Your trip will be defined by that.’

Then Dwayne stood back and gave us a moment to decide. Half of the passengers (many of whom would have left a tip in the tip jar on the dashboard at the end of the trip), left the bus to walk across the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, as our guide got back in his seat and turned the ignition.

Dwayne Johnson doesn’t own Big Bus Tours. But he does own the power he has to touch people’s lives every day. Who will you impact today?

Image by 305 Seahill

Meaning And Work

filed in Success

Yesterday I met James on a bitterly cold day in San Francisco. He is employed by the City and works close to the magnificent City Hall. It’s hard to describe James’ enthusiasm as he guides each visitor through the facility he manages. He is empathetic and professional—intructing people on how to use the facilities and diligently recording the time and duration of visits. James is proud that the City will be using this data to improve how it serves people. He explains that he interviewed for the position and moved to San Francisco to take the job he now loves as a Pit Stop Monitor.

‘I used to be in jail, you see, and now I get to learn and contribute and meet all kinds of interesting people each day.’ he says, producing hand sanitiser with a flourish. ‘You might as well make the visit worth your while.’

As I walk away I can’t help wondering what the world would be like if every one of us shared James’ worldview about our work and our contribution.

Image by Paul Sableman

You Can’t Mimic Your Way To Success

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world. It welcomes more than seven million visitors each year. Six million of those visitors are there to see the world’s most famous work of art, the Mona Lisa. An estimated 16,000 visitors a day jostle in front of the 77 cm x 53 cm painting of Lisa Gherardini, many ignoring the other magnificent Venetian Renaissance masterpieces in the museum’s Salle des Etats.

We live in a culture of comparison. This is an era where it’s not only possible to see what everyone else is thinking, saying and doing—it’s almost impossible to avoid exposing yourself to other people’s game plans. Doing what worked for someone that’s gone before you feels less risky. While mimicry can feel like the safe option, I’d argue that it’s not going to help you to do the work you’re most proud to have done.

In a world of comparison, originality is underrated. Breakthroughs depend on a person or group of people with a particular set of skills and perspectives, at a unique moment in time, turning left when everyone else is going right. It’s impossible to replicate those circumstances. People are not craving the next Mona Lisa, and they’re not waiting for the new Banksy. They are looking for someone who can lead with their unique voice and vision to create the future we want to see.

It’s better to aim for doing work that matters to you for the people you care about serving than to invest your time retracing someone else’s path to success. So apply your blinkers and reflect on what it is that you can change in your way instead. Your time and your gifts are too precious to waste on becoming a carbon copy.

Thomas Ricker and Brett Davis

The Number That Matters

filed in Brand Strategy, Success, Worldview

Every so often I look at the list of readers who have subscribed to my blog but have stopped opening the emails they signed up to receive. When I see that they’re no longer interested, I unsubscribe them. I’ve personally done this almost 10,000 times over the past seven years. It’s harder than you think at first because we’ve been conditioned to believe that the only number that matters is the biggest one. What’s more important to me, and I’m guessing you too, is to reach and serve the people I can make the most difference to. That means respecting the choice of the people who are no longer engaged.

What would our world look like if we doubled down on only making work for the people we can move and only paid attention to the things that have the power to change us?

Image by Karina Yeznaian

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