Most of us talk a lot about our “to do” lists, but not much about our “done” lists.
But science fiction author David Levine and marketing ninja Seth Godin are known for publishing their “done” lists. (Here’s Seth’s for 2010.)
I find that a “done” list is a great baseline for creating a better “to do” list for next year. What do I wish I had done? What do I wish I had done more of? What do I wish I’d done differently?
Here’s my 2010 “done” list:
- Wrote a successful grant for the Clarion West Writers Workshop.
- Wrote my first ebook, Take Control of iPhone Basics, published as part of the Take Control ebooks series in October, and launched the blog iPhone 4 Tips.
- Appeared on two radio shows (MacVoices and Tech Night Owl) to promote the ebook.
- Rejoined the Northwest Folklife board, filling the unexpired term of the late Warren Argo, and took United Way’s training for board members.
- Wrote a website for a state government agency using “Plain Talk” standards.
- Wrote six humor columns for a membership publication.
- Wrote more than 100 blog posts, op-ed pieces, brochures, profiles and case studies for clients.
- Took fiction writing workshops taught by Ellen Klages and Mary Robinette Kowal, and submitted two stories to magazines.
- Worked as a volunteer at the Fremont Solstice Parade and conducted training for Northwest Folklife greeter/fundraisers.
Nearly every “done” on the list had a significant obstacle — from mastering new technology to dealing with difficult people — I had to overcome. In every case, the earlier and more thoughtfully I tackled the obstacle, the better the result.
A big thank you to the people who offered me the challenges, the people who mentored me through them, and the people who were there to celebrate with me when I finally crossed the finish lines.
One of the questions often asked of bloggers by non-bloggers is “Where do you get ideas to write about?”
One of the questions often asked of bloggers by other bloggers is “How do you decide which idea to write about?”
Since rejoining the a nonprofit board of directors last month, I’ve put myself into serious learning mode — learning not just about the organization, board operations, and board culture, but also about how boards work in general. This process includes attending half-day workshops on boards offered by United Way of King County. (Highly recommended to anyone on a board or anyone who works with a nonprofit board.)
As you might image, I’m in danger of drowning in ideas.
While nonprofit culture is vastly different from that of for-profit organizations, I’m finding that, as usual, I’m getting good advice from Seth Godin. His blog post this morning is about how you can reduce the amount of time you spend in “downcycles” (interactions that aren’t working and are only going to get worse) by stepping back and reframing them to create “upcycle” processes.
The last time I blogged about change, it triggered an avalanche of change and challenges that kept me busy for weeks, even months, after.
So I wouldn’t be blogging about change again without very good reason. That good reason is a recent blog post by Seth Godin, provocatively if inelegantly titled “Change and its constituents (there are two, and both are a problem).”
It’s a brilliant insight that explains why change is so easily sandbagged by small groups of complainers. Apply this to elections (know of any coming up?), family discussions, or your favorite board or committee:
People who fear they will be hurt by a change speak up immediately, loudly and without regard for the odds or reality.
People who will benefit from a change don’t believe it (until it happens), so they sit quietly.
The result, of course, is what appears to be overwhelming opposition against change. This often leads people to withdraw their proposals for change — even though, if they pushed through, they’d win the (belated) thanks of the people who’d benefit from it.
My original post about change proposes a corollary to Seth’s insight: That because the dissenters’ protests are often without basis in fact, the dissenters’ commitment to their fears can be fickle. They often turn out to be the people who are happiest with the change when it is implemented — to the point that they’ll often deny they ever opposed the change.
My conclusions: Get tough. Take the long view. Recruit those who will benefit to speak up on behalf of change.
Image via Wikipedia
Trust? If you read this blog, you’ll know that I trust marketing guru Seth Godin.
Seth has just created an inexpensive project management tool called ShipIt, available now through Amazon.
I’ve bought a set of five ShipIt workbooks (the price per book is less than a quality spiral-bound notebook at Staples) because I’m about to start a short but difficult project and I want to see if ShipIt can help. Look for my report here at the end of September.
Last week I had a day in which I felt as though I were moving backwards. Every small, simple step I took, I got shoved backwards. Every road I took had a roadblock. People who are usually supportive were suddenly cranky and irrational.
Fortunately, my email included the daily blog post from Seth Godin. He has a talent for getting a lot of us past the roadblocks, and inspiring us to charm the cranky and irrational — or sometimes, to learn a valuable lesson by examining why people are being cranky and irrational.
My favorite Seth Godin book is the recent Linchpin: Are You Indispensible? Today he released an addendum to the book that profiles people who are linchpins, from Wired’s Chris Anderson to Jo Ann McGrath, a high school teacher. It’s free! Enjoy.
We’ve all heard of the Amber Alert (named after a 9-year-old kidnap victim in Texas). And most people are familiar with the Brady Bill (named for presidential press secretary Bill Jim Brady, shot during the Reagan assassination attempt) that mandates background checks for gun purchasers. Since 1948, the Jimmy Fund (named after a 12-year-old cancer patient who went on the radio to talk about his disease) has been raising money for pediatric cancer treatment.
It’s no secret that people are more likely to pay attention to a movement, a brand, or a product that has a human-interest story attached. Naming a program after a survivor (or a victim) has a powerful impact. Nonprofit fundraisers know this (Gilda’s Club and the Susan G. Koman Foundation). But government agencies rarely use this dramatic marketing tactic — even when lives hang in the balance.
Marketer Seth Godin, noting that more than 50 percent of parents in New York City initially kept their children out of the government swine flu vaccine program there, says “If I was marketing the swine flu vaccine, I’d name it after a kid who died last season.”
Sometimes I think the blogosphere is tipping over.
I find myself swamped with emails and blog posts that are chock full of tips for this and tips for that. I’d stop reading the stuff except there are always those few tips that stand out from the crowd and offer some information that significantly changes the way I approach a project, a client, or my career.
Is it that they are targeted at exactly my level of experience in a particular area? Or is it that they are written in a particularly engaging way?
Those factors certainly help, but I think the key factor is that they needle me to be outrageous, to take risks, to go the extra mile, or to look at something in a contrarian light. They dare me.
Sometimes I find myself initially offended by the tips, but there’ll come a point during the day when I think back on them…and a little light goes on. And gets brighter.
Who does this?
Joe Hage. (Read “The first three questions.”)
Full disclosure: Chris Rugh and Joe Hage are clients of mine, and I’m a client of Freelance Switch.