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Articles filed in: Worldview

The Sure Thing

If you’ve ever watched surfers you’ll know that they spend far more time reading the waves, than riding them. And despite all of the waiting, watching and experience, they still sometimes choose the wrong wave to ride. In the end they take their best guess, commit and go.

And so it goes for ideas too.

Did the Pintrest founder Ben Silbermann know back in 2009, that he was building what would become the fastest growing social network? And did Kevin Systrom have any idea that his Instagram app would be acquired by Facebook for a billion, just months after Kodak died?

Nobody knows for sure. There is no certainty. No such thing as a ‘sure thing’.

So once you’ve done the preparation, there is no reason not to take your best guess and go.

The people who succeed, are the ones that put the need for certainty aside, to focus on riding the best wave they can. They don’t wait for the tide to be perfect tomorrow.

Image by Mike Baird.

How To Charge What You’re Worth

The days when you clocked in and out, and got paid by the hour for dipping squares of caramel into big vats of icing, (pink or white—a job my mother did for years), at the factory, are largely gone. You don’t get paid for showing up. And yet that’s how many creative entrepreneurs try to charge for their art.

How is it possible for Johanna to charge Starbucks by the hour, for the joy drinking in the London store surrounded by her hand designed wallpaper? What about the time in took to get there? The years of practice, of putting her bum in a seat, the knowing exactly where to ink?

If you’re a coach, consultant, writer, designer, teacher, leader or muse how to you charge for the ability to change everything?

You do two things.

1. Acknowledge what you’re worth to yourself first
Really sit and think about this for a second. I work with a slew of creative geniuses (writers, coaches, designers, leaders and on and on), who have trouble acknowledging what their work is worth. Mostly to themselves. “It only took me half an hour”, or “That’s what everyone else charges”, they say.

You don’t work on the assembly line.

Your art is not billed by the hour, it’s billed by the impact it creates.

2. Frame your scarcity
Don’t be shy about telling the real story. Point out how your designs brought a brand to life. How your coaching helped someone to do the thing they’d always wanted to do. Tell people the story of how your work changed how people feel. Show them how you take people from where they are to where they want to be.
Find the right words. Set yourself apart.

Then hold your head high and double your prices.

Image by Fred Hasselman

Valuing Creatives. When Love Is Not Enough

No business owner would expect to rent an office for half the going rate, or buy a delivery van for far less than it was worth. Not even a fledgling, bootstrapping, startup founding, entrepreneur. And yet every day designers, creatives and freelancers are asked to drop their rates, do a deal, or consider some special circumstance.

Talented geniuses who have the power to communicate everything about an idea to the world with visuals and words. Who make the abstract concrete. Who take their insight and experience and make ideas tangible, are regularly asked to take less, so someone else can be more.

Not just less money, but less respect for their art, and less acknowledgement of the value they deliver.

Can we quantify the value of Nike’s swoosh or Apple’s apple? The impact of “Think different” or “Just do it”?

I think we do a pretty poor job of commoditising creativity.

Creatives who take on projects at knock down rates to pay this month’s rent, can’t do their best work when they know it isn’t truly valued.

Great designers get ten enquiries a day prefaced with, “we love your work”.

Bargain basement rates are never a bargain in the long run, and sometimes love is not enough.

Image by Adam Toldfield.

Worldviews And The Story Of Bottled Water

Do you remember the first time you saw bottled water for sale? For me it was back in the late 80’s when I was on holiday in Greece, where the tap water wasn’t safe to drink.

And then in the 90’s suddenly there it was. A trickle that turned into a deluge, supported by a worldview that we need to drink two litres of water a day and that bottled water is “better for you”. The global consumption rate quadrupled between 1990 and 2005.

Today the bottled water market is valued at $60 billion, and apparently the need to drink two litres of water a day is a myth.

Bottled water was not created to satisfy a need for thirsty consumers. It is a product designed to fulfil a western worldview about health. A 21st century creation that supports the story you can tell yourself about making the right choices. Like a take away Starbucks coffee cup, bottled water has become a statement as much as a product, for people with a particular worldview.

Bottled water companies didn’t create the worldview, they tapped into the beliefs at the edges of a market and created a product that supported those beliefs. More on that in this video (it’s well worth watching).

You should pay attention to the beliefs of the people you serve. Marketing and brand storytelling is about reminding people what they wanted in the first place.

Image by Dave Hoefler.

You Don’t Need A Badge

My eldest son Adam graduated last Saturday. The whole family flew five hours across the country to be there.

What you’ll know about anything as special as a graduation ceremony is that it takes an army of people to pull it off. There are legions of people involved on the day, from caterers to photographers, academic staff to the valedictorian. And a thousand tiny opportunities to touch someone.

The person who stood out to me on Saturday didn’t have a title, a badge or even a clipboard. She was the anonymous woman, who went along the line of graduands adjusting their hoods as they stood waiting to go on stage to accept their degree. She was the last person to offer them a word of encouragement, or place a hand on their shoulder. And she arranged each hood with love.

You don’t need a badge to make a difference.

Image by Gerard Girbes.

Signal Versus Noise. You Get To Choose.

I’ve always loved the name of the blog at 37Signals… Signal vs Noise. They chose well. They write well too.

Signal versus noise perfectly describes how we are living and working right now. We want to be connected, both as business entities and as human beings. But we’re sacrificing hearing the signals because of the noise. I’ve thought about this every time I sent a tweet or an email this week and asked myself, “Is this a signal or am I just adding to the noise?”

The ratio of signal to noise is more relevant to what you put out than it is to what you take in. You can spend your days online endlessly curating, filtering and re-purposing content, or you can create.

Are you endlessly curating, or endlessly creating? You can’t do both.

It’s easy to convince yourself that the time lost exploring links down virtual rabbit holes is your real work. It’s not.

If you have time and energy to find ideas worth sharing, then you’ve got time and energy to bring ideas of your own to life.

Your real work matters. Send signals. Don’t just make noise.

Image by Brent Danley.

If Only You Could Write Like Malcolm Gladwell


“A professional writer talented in non-fiction storytelling with a passion for the topics of startups, social entrepreneurship, cutting-edge science and technology, and the psychology of the crowd, capable of crafting non-fiction pieces that are captivating and massively popular (think Freakonomics or The Tipping Point)

Location: Los Angeles or telecommute

To apply: provide your resume and relevant writing samples. Applications without writing samples will not be considered.


Work with a high-profile CEO of startups and foundations backed by some of the world’s most famous billionaires to draft blog posts and articles in his voice (i.e. all byines (typo not mine) will be that of the CEO).
Work with a small team of content researchers to identify topics and develop content.
Draft a series of blog posts based on the NY Times bestseller of the CEO.
Draft a series of original blog posts and articles based on interviews and research on subjects such as:
How to create audacious startups to change the world.
How to drive innovation through crowd-sourcing, open-sourcing, incentive competitions and DIY communities.
How billionaire entrepreneurs realized their audacious goals.

The position is a month-to-month contract (part time or full time), expected to last 8 to 14 months.

Required Skills:

Excellent writing and story-telling skills.
Demonstrated ability to create engaging non-fiction articles that entertain, intrigue, instruct and inspire by telling a good story with actionable lessons.
With a writing style/voice akin to non-fiction bestsellers such as Freakonomics and The Tipping Point.
Outstanding communication, interpersonal and interview skills.
An organized and creative researcher.
Able to work as part of a small 2-3 person team.
Content production, editing and publishing experience.
Familiar with online publishing platforms like WordPress.
Strong organizational skills and attention to detail.
Able to meet all deadlines.
Enthusiasm and passion for our subject matters.
A plus: audio and video production experience.”

This is a real position. The job is open. Yours for the taking.

But…if you can do even a fraction of what is “required” here, please don’t apply. Go build your platform. Tell your own story. Write bylines you care about. Build a team. Be audacious. Innovate. Then show others how to do that, on your terms, for as long as you like.

The difference you want to make doesn’t happen when you’re working week to week for a paycheck.

Don’t live in anyone’s shadow, not even Malcolm’s.

Image by Chris Christner.

The Magic Of Making It Up As You Go Along

In Robin Sloan’s Fish: a tap essay, he asks what it means to love something on the Internet. Liking with a single click of the mouse is not the same as loving. To love something means to be moved enough to want more. It means to go back, retrace your steps, to linger.

Yesterday I found something worth coming back to. The best advice you’ll probably ever get about success, failure, fear and doing what you love.

Yes, it really is okay to stop holding your breath while you wait for success to arrive.

If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do.
If you make mistakes it means you’re out there doing something.
Let go and enjoy the ride.
Pretend to be someone who is wise and behave like they would.
Make glorious and fantastic mistakes.
Break rules.
Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
Make good art.

Image by Pilar Almenar.

Better Together

Putting your ideas out there is scary. Hitting publish is test of your nerve. Showing up most days involves commitment. Making room. Letting go of something else.

You don’t, as (Seth would say), expect applause… but it’s lovely when you get it, and even better when it sounds like this.

“Here’s a blog that succeeds brilliantly in balancing the expertise of the blogger with valuable, original, engaging content. Arresting headlines, considered imagery and a clearly nurtured and active readership make The Story of Telling a blog that’s easy to get into and hard to escape.

One of the commenters on the blog likens Bernadette Jiwa to ‘a female Seth Godin’ and I have to agree. A terrific example of a business blog that must do so much for the author’s business.”

—Robert Gerrish
Best Australian Blogs Judge

This week my blog won The Best Australian Blog Business Category.

I’m blown away, thrilled and humbled of course. There were so many great blogs on those lists. But here’s what I want to tell you.

Without readers there are words, but no story.

If there was no you with your big ideas on the other side of this monitor, then there would be a fair few words, but no real story to tell. You and your stories are what make my writing better. So thank YOU for showing up here too. For making my ideas matter and my headline hunting head, hurt. Thanks for caring and for making me care even more every day.

Image by Photosynthesized.

Begin With The Possibilities, Not The Limitations

When you’re scoping things out. When you’re strategising, or planning how to get from here to where you want to be, you often start by asking the wrong questions. You put your first focus in the wrong place.

You start by thinking about what went wrong last time. By telling yourself what you can’t do with what you’ve got. You begin with the limitations and not the possibilities.

Focus on what you made possible. Look at the things you brought to life.
Something you created from nothing, anything that you made happen.
Start there.

Then ask:

  • When did I blitz it?
  • What worked?
  • How did I do that?
  • How can I apply that here?

When you start by working out what you did when you were at your best, you can bring more of that genius into your life, work and business.

The same rule applies whether you’re the VP of marketing for Coca Cola, or a lone entrepreneur tapping away at your keyboard in Starbucks.

Image by Matthew Kenwrick.