The banality of the magazine rack

Stop for a minute to consider those magazines that stack up like firewood at the doctor's office, or that beckon you from the high-priced newsstand before you get on the airplane. The celebrity/gossip/self-improvement category.

All the airbrushed pretty people, the replaceable celebrities and near celebrities. The mass-market fad diets, the conventional stories, the sameness tailored for a mass audience.

It's pretty seductive. If you can just fit in the way all these magazines are pushing you to fit in, then you'll be okay, alright, and beyond criticism. Boys and girls should act like this, dress like this, talk like this. Even the outliers are outliers in tried and true, conventional ways.

The headlines are interchangeable. So are the photos and the celebrities, the stories and the escapades and the promises.

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Industrializing, professionalizing, scaling...

You could make it into a cookie cutter, a scalable, depersonalized, committee-approved ticket to endless growth.

Or you could make it more real, more human and more personal.

What is "it"?

It is the interaction you have with your best customer. It is the way you talk to your employees. It is your safety policy, your go to market strategy, your approach to the board meeting.

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Superstition at work

I got stuck in the EZ Pass lane the other day, my transponder wasn't tripping the sensor.

The grumpy toll man walked over, grabbed it out of my hand and shouted, "You've got too much Velcro! It doesn't work if you have more than a little strip." And then he ripped off the stuff that had been holding it to my window, threw it on the ground and handed it back.

Of course, Velcro has nothing to do with radio waves. And this professional, who had spent years doing nothing but facilitating the interactions between antennae and transponders, refused to believe that, because radio waves are mysterious.

As mysterious as everything else we deal with at work.

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An alternative to believing in yourself

Of course, self-belief is more than just common advice. It's at the heart of selling, of creating, of shipping, of leadership...

Telling someone, "believe in yourself," is often worthless, though, because it's easier said than done.

Perhaps the alternative is: "Do work you can believe in."

Not trust, verification. Not believing that one day you'll do worthwhile work. Instead, do worthwhile work, look at it, then believe that you can do it again.

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Opposition

The opposite of creativity is fear.

And fear's enemy is creativity.

The opposite of yes is maybe.

Because maybe is non-definitive, and both yes and no give us closure and the chance to move ahead.

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More of a realist

When did being called a 'realist' start to mean that one is a pessimist?

Sometimes, people with small goals call themselves realists, and dismiss those around them as merely dreamers. I think this is backwards.

"I guess I'm more of a realist than you," actually means, "I guess I've discovered that a positive attitude, a generous posture and a bit of persistence makes things better than most people expect."

Hope isn't a strategy, but it is an awfully good tactic.

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