Why is hip-hop is so inspiring? Because they created something out of nothing. Sure, every artist does this, but it seems like hip-hop had more adversity than others. I watched the defiant ones on Netflix recently and it is so motivating. I am sure lots of people will take from it that they were lucky, but serendipity does not happen when you are at home on your couch doing nothing. Here is what I took from it:
Always work towards the bigger picture. Jimmy Iovine would not have a career if he had not gone to the studio on a holiday and met Bruce Springsteen. And Jimmy wanted to quit being an engineer on Born to Run because he was tired of asshole artists. His boss told him to look at the bigger picture. Your job is not to get paid for 9-5, your job is to help the artists make the best album they can make and if you do that, you will have a friend for life. Which brings me on to...
Relationships, relationships, relationships. Everything is built on relationships. Everything. Every opportunity and every risk. And they are best cultivated in person. And if not in person, then on the phone. Phone someone every day and keep that relationship hot. Whenever they signed someone tricky to get, it was because a relationship went sour and the artist wanted out. They got the artist because they worked on building and maintaining the relationship.
To scale, produce the producers. Jimmy realised that he could not get across all the artists he wanted to, so he had to get other producers rather than do all the work himself. This is not managing the managers, this is leading the leaders - and everyone can be a leader.
Get great people and let them do what they do. Do not try to control or manage the fall-out of great people. Just put the blinkers on them, set them down the course and let them ride. You got them for their good bits, do not try to manage their bad bits. That is part of who they are, and you will interfere with their creativity and passion if you do.
I found this so interesting and I for one have got a habit I want to try - phone every day. What are you going to try from this list? Let me know in the comments.
You can get a lot done with a small group of great people. You feel like you can change the world, and sometimes you can. Having just one person that is negative, that does not "play with the other children nicely," that just slows things down unnecessarily can destroy this.
Having the right team around you makes all the difference. Equally, having too many people, irrespective of their ability has the same effect. Things become slow, arguments get circular, discussions turn to consensus and things get taken out and "decided" one to one in different forums.
Two easy things to check next time you feel like this:
- Have we got the right people on this?
- Is this the minimum we can manage with or can we take more people out?
I was watching Master Chef. What a decadent people we humans have become. I watched someone prepare cauliflower for three hours. Slicing it, grilling it, making balls of it in solution and making a powder out of it. They served it four ways with a tiny ball of sheepâs these on top. Whilst it looked good, and was obviously a testament to the technical skills and creativity of the chef, do we really need to mess around with our food?
The answer to this question was made clear for me when the critic who tasted it described it as very clever because when he ate a bit of the cauliflower along with the cheese that exploded in his mouth, he said it tasted like cauliflower cheese - something much less extravagant that could be knocked up in a tenth of the time. If you want to eat something that tastes like cauliflower cheese, then why not just eat that rather than over complicate things?
Unsophisticated is the counter-argument. You are not sophisticated enough to understand the delicate flavours and all of the work involved. You must be unsophisticated if you like to eat actual cauliflower cheese for a tenth of the price.
I feel like money comes first and then seeking a way to waste it. Michelin star restaurants are the epitome of this for me. Why can we not be happy eating plain porridge for every meal? Why must we seek out the most elaborate processes possible for our food to be tampered with before we can enjoy it?
Why must food be exciting at all? It does not need to be anything more Than just fuel for the body if we do not give in to our need for pleasure.
Of course, we do this in every area of life. Spending money and over complicating things to further the perception of ourselves to others. We love to over complicate things as it makes us look clever, indispensable, that we need a bigger team to cope.
What can you try today to live with the scantest of fare, to think from first principals, to simplify? See how it feels.
If you do not have a plan when things go wrong, what do you do? You are trusting yourself to make a reasoned choice quickly amongst chaos and emotion. Planning is not some magical thing where you have to tirelessly plan out every scenario or every detail - as people who hate planning might think. Nor is thinking that the plan will need to change anyway so why bother doing it in the first place.
It is the planning, rather than the plan itself, that is beneficial. It is the thinking time ahead of chaos that allows better decisions when the plan is knocked off track, even if you have not formally considered the event or circumstances that end up impacting the plan.
Similarly, it is much easier to assess what is going on in life through a mental model. We have mental models whether we consciously choose them or not, so why wouldn't you want to be conscious of them! To be more aware of yourself, you need to be aware of the mental models you are using.
A plan is very to mental model, it helps make sense of what is going on around you, and the consequences, very quickly. It provides structure now, to any further decision. With no plan to start with, things will quickly descend into scattered panic and disorder at the first sign of trouble.
This is what leaders do. They must sell the vision of the future, gain buy-in and then get on track through a plan.
Meetings are no different. They will descend into mindless chatter and chaos without knowing the vision of the meeting - the purpose. There must also be a semblance of structure - an agenda. It does not need to be detailed, but it does need to be there to protect the purpose of the meeting.
Things will go off track but deciding how to get back on track is much easier now you have done the groundwork.
The second of this weekend's link posts is from my fave, James Clear. A short and sweet excerpt, although the whole article is a quick read too:
Hereâs the single greatest skill in any endeavor: doing the work.
Not doing the work that is easy for you to do. Not doing the work that makes you look good. Not doing the work when you feel inspired. Just doing the work.
You might not be a brilliant writer, but if you actually write something each week, then youâll be better than most because you are doing the work.
You might not be an incredible athlete, but if you never miss workouts, then youâll be better than most because you are doing the work.
You might not be a savvy business person, but if you make a point to serve your customers every single day, then youâll be better than most because you are doing the work.
Read the whole article here
The first of this weekends's link posts is from Alison Rimm on HBR about to-do lists. The whole article is worth a read for how she manages her to-do's, but I love the following advice about using this in conjunction with your calendar, which I have also been doing for a while now:
The calendar is for blocking out time to accomplish important matters on schedule. For example, instead of putting an item like âwrite speechâ on my to-do list, I put it on my calendar, blocking out the necessary prep time to get it done. I do this as soon as I book the speech. Then thereâs no chance that Iâll notice the day before, âOops, Iâm supposed to give that speech tomorrow!â And putting it on the calendar right way means that if I donât actually have time to write the speech, I can see that at the outset and (regretfully) decline the opportunity. I consider that block of time an unbreakable appointment.
Read the whole article here
I used to think that it was just a way to stop people complaining in meetings. To give them an action to sort out whatever they raised as an issue in a team meeting.
Well, it might be, but it is also a great gift for development. If someone cares enough about a subject to raise it as an issue amongst their boss and their peers, then it must be something important to them to change. Allowing them to take responsibility for sorting it out rather than just stepping in to provide an answer is a great way to get someone to grow. It shows that they can take responsibility for everything in their lives and therefore work to change it. It also serves a great purpose to teach them time management. They are not going to have anything taken off their plate, they must find time to do sort the new issue too. Giving someone something they are passionate about is the best way to prioritise and make things quicker as they will have to find a way to make the things they are less interested in, or less important, be done in a faster time to free up space for this new project. If they were not passionate about it and they were just complaining, then this a great lesson too. It is easier to criticise than it is to do. No one is going to sort out shit for you, you are going to need to do it on your own.
Not complaining is a great habit to get in to, although one that I find particularly difficult in our society as we are surrounded by it. All the news is complaining. About something someone has done, something someone has not done or something someone should have done better. There are not many influences around us that teach us to just make the change ourselves in whatever version we can influence. And then to build on it. This is how everything gets done but apparently is not important enough to be taught at school.
We choose our own actions. Even when we are planning the future, it is the planning that we are doing in the present moment. We only have the present to do things and only a series of present moments before the future becomes the present and then just as quickly becomes the past.
Wishing is the worst of future activities. Wishes get you nowhere. Next best is planning. This can be helpful but can also be disguised procrastination. If you are planning in the present moment, then this is also time that cannot be spent actually doing the activities that will move your plan forward. Realise this and also that 'no plan survives first contact with the enemy' as well as the fact that you are unlikely to be planning to lead men into war. If you plan fails, it does not matter. Try something else.
If it can be helpful to plan, but also if the plan is likely to change and is not life-threatening, then how much time should you. Spend planning? As little as possible. Say, ten minutes?
A plan can protect us from busy work. We just need to make sure that doing the plan, and the associated tasks of keeping it up to date does not become the busy work itself.
A quick rule of thumb for planning quickly: Plan top-down using no more than three steps. Then list no more than three steps below these as sub-tasks sub-steps. This forces you to keep it really simple. Do not over complicate things. You do not need much structure to know what you should be doing right now. Keep it simple to the point that it seems too simple. Then do the first thing that you can do.
You do not need much more than this to start. Just start.
The twelve-week year. A 90-day challenge. It seems like even the algorithms of the internet reward you for consistency for 3 months.
Even before I heard of these, when I was busy in my day job, I found that I could cope with long hours and working weekends as long as it was in three-month bursts. I knew that during those three months I had to find a way of making all the things I was currently doing fit into a sustainable timeframe to give me a "break" by being able to work "normal" working hours for the subsequent three months. At the end of the three-month burst, I would be able to take a holiday, get back into a more moderate pace for three months before taking more one on and having a mother three-month burst.
After doing this a couple of times, it no longer took three months to sort out the next big workload. The same techniques can be implemented much quicker once you have practiced them and you start to get into a groove of your own system: cut out these meetings, replace with reports; find out who is reading the reports and cut out the ones not needed; find some areas of the business driving noise and move them to self-serve with a bit of training.
The thing that takes longer than three months is working on yourself. And that is okay. Once you have taken the time to boil things down to habits you can do every day no matter what - then do them every day, no matter what - why stop doing them? Build upon them instead. You might have identified one habit in order to get fitter. Great, well don not stop when you have done this for 90 days, just build on top of it. Find a way of making it sustainable.
Thinking of a 90-day challenge of content creation, I think this is where Gary Vee's document versus create comes from: do not give yourself the excuse of not having ideas for content, just document your day - that is the content.
Where else can you find excuses and turn them on their head? Find a way of keeping going longer than 90 days. Use the common three methods eliminate (other busy work), automate (non-important things taking your time), delegate (the tough bits or get help).
The second of this weekends link posts is from The Wall Street Journal Article on the most productive hour of the day - 4am. Some highlights below:
One of the most common challenges to productivity, Dr. Davis says, is that people booby trap their offices with distractions: Desk clutter, email pop-ups, cellphone, Facebook , news feeds. "By waking up at 4 a.m., they've essentially wiped a lot of those distractions off their plate. No one is expecting you to email or answer the phone at 4 a.m. No one will be posting on Facebook. You've removed the internal temptation and the external temptation."
Read the whole article here