More important and more accessible
If connection is so important to us there days, why isn’t there more of it? I find that we’re so connected with our “friends” on Facebook that we rarely find the time to connect in real life.
Connection is more important and accessible that it has ever been. But with that, brings the possibility of deeper connection than we’ve ever known.
Find new ways to connect the disjointed, displaced or disconnected. Find new ways of reaching people you’ve never met. Find better ways of getting to know them all more intimately.
Do not buy my kid LEGOs.
Actually do, because I see them as incredible building tools. But don’t buy sets. Sets you can only build one thing with the instructions, then you’re done. Game over.
My son is almost 5 and he’s just getting into Legos. I made the mistake of showing him the instructions but I can tell you that the next time we build, there will be no blueprint. We will create. We will make it up. We will build without restrictions.
[A brief dive into the history of LEGO will show you their near bankruptcy state back about 10 years ago. Their main reason for the comeback was the creation of the "set". These sets (Star Wars, Ninjago, Batman, etc) that are now all they sell, was something foreign to them. A main cornerstone of their product was that no block should ever only be able to be used for one thing. Now, most every block is custom and has one sole purpose.
Sadly, it was our culture and society that demanded it. We had to be told exactly how to do something, the right way, the first time. Now there is little chance of failure (due to instructions) and next to no hope of creating something unique.
This post isn't just meant for LEGOs, just so you know. It's meant for anything you're creating. Make it up. Forget the instructions. That's what creating is all about.]
It could mean quality. It could mean service. It could mean a lot of things, but it should always mean great.
The thing with our culture today is that anyone can market as premium. It’s a completely different thing to be able to show it and stand by it. With as many individuals as we have today creating things, premium can be a rare case. But we also have to be careful to not equate premium with being polished. Those are two very different things.
Polishing is what a factory does. It makes the widget better, shinier, faster. But those things aren’t always what the customer is looking for. Sometimes the handmade items are in the highest demand with the highest price tag because they are the highest quality around. They are premium. (Experience also lends itself to creating something premium.)
Premium is important. The thing to remember about it is that as we grow, others will catch on and make the same level of premium. It’s during those times that we have to choose what we will do differently to allow us to continue to stand out. Will we cut corners to join their race? Or will we continue to produce great?
On making things
I recently watched a video of a presentation by Seth Godin where he talks about making things, school, the industrial system and few other related topics. Several things stuck out to me in this presentation but mainly the idea of not being afraid that what you create will meet criticism.
When I come up with an idea for what I want to make, immediately there comes a flood of reasons why I shouldn’t make it. Maybe financial reasons, acceptance reasons, users or just time to do it. But according to his philosophy, there shouldn’t be any reason I can’t make that. If I need capital to start it, then get it. If I need time, find it. If I need approval, someone out there will. Will it be a huge success? Probably not. But maybe.
I wrote awhile ago about the heart of the entrepreneur and why we really do what we do. The gist is that we are really just looking for hope. We create and build something for the hope that it will make a difference. Not that it will, but the act of doing brings about enough glimmer of hope that it becomes worth it.
That seems appropriate when we think about anything people create. Every inventor has met criticism and people that did not agree with what they were building. Every company that changes things had to keep pushing through all the moments of near failure.
The things we make are no different.
Breaking a model.
I’ve been trying to think of something new to build that will impact people in a positive way. One that will help people’s lives in some form or fashion.
Our inclination is to stick with a traditional model that has worked well in the past. That’s the easier path, but still a hard one.
The more difficult, but possibly more rewarding path, is to break an old model. Though I would venture to say that most people wouldn’t recommend it, it’s definitely where my head is. Changing the way people find places to stay while on vacation like Airbnb did wasn’t a simple execution. It met plenty of challenges. Allowing people to rent your car while you’re not using it like Flightcar or Getaround takes guts. Even creating a line of eyeglasses that people want to buy more than one pair of like Warby Parker, had it’s moments of struggle.
But they all broke an old model. And I will create something someday that will break a model. Which model exactly is up for grabs. But I assure you that it will have an impact on God’s kingdom in some way. For that, is the ultimate goal.
The no additional fees economy
[Hint. It doesn't exist yet.]
Technology makes things cheaper. Cheaper to operate. Cheaper to build, maintain and streamline. So why then do we have a wide variety of businesses from government agencies to movie theaters that charge their customer more to use their online system?
Charging your customers extra to use your online system is completely backwards. Yes, it saves them time and hassle, but it saves you some too. Pass on the greatness of not having to deal with processing one more transaction by hand and give your customers the same price they get at the door, or better yet, cheaper.
[One way this could work would be to go up on all your prices $1 at the door (or office, etc.). This would entice people to purchase ahead of time saving you both time and hassle. There's more ways, I just offer this one.]
Marketing really is storytelling
Unfortunately, too many marketers are so good at telling it, that we buy into their story thinking it’s our own. (That is their plan.)
Our own story involves serving. There may be needs along the way that our culture and products can solve, but mostly, simple is the only thing that has worked for centuries.
I say we have a problem in America. We account for about 5% of the global population…but we consume about 25% of it’s resources. The industrial age taught two main things:
- how to work (and follow directions)
- how to buy (an excess of stuff)
What a marvelous job it has done.
[I’m not mad at marketers so you know. The good ones are brilliant game-changers. And it’s just interesting to note that we now have a generation of people that only know how to follow directions, wait to be chosen and buy a ton of crap. Hoarding not a condition we are born with, it’s one we are taught.]
There’s this whole big movement about “launching” and “starting” your project. I agree that you have to at some point. But it seems like everyone has jumped on the same ship and they’re all buddy-buddy with the next guy about how to be a success in this world.
I really don’t give a crap about being a success in this world. This world can be destroyed in an instant. And it will someday.
What I do care about it being the best servant I was created to be. Serving family, friends and my God is on the top of my list. It’s not about material things or wealth or fame.
So I’m un-launching. I’m un-starting. I’m being true to what I was created to be instead of what the world wants me to. Too many of us have been programmed to want more, do more, achieve more. But I find that the more I want, the more I want. That’s a problem that too many of us in America (and other places) have. It’s an entitlement mentality that we have to fight. A healthy striving for making a difference, gone terribly wrong.
Make a difference, yes. Make a ruckus, of course. But most of all, make it your own dream, not that of the media’s.
The decisions we make
…are not necessarily our own. We think they are, but the majority of the time, they are influenced by outside sources. Those outside sources have an agenda, usually to sell something. It could be an idea or a product or service. It could be an entry into a way of life.
More and more I’m finding that skepticism is important in this day and age. Not to the extent that you can’t function without thinking people are out to get you of course. But at least to the point that we realize most marketers have an agenda. Sure, it could be to legitimately and effectively serve you, but it’s always about being chosen.
Critical thinking in the school system
It’s just something they really don’t teach. Or rather, don’t allow our children to experience much of. We are taught to solve problems and given a direct path on exactly how to do it.
But what happens when we find another path to the correct answer? Maybe a shorter or more efficient one? We get docked points because it wasn’t done exactly how it was supposed to be done. So, we saved ourselves time (a depleting resource) and we get punished for it. The industrialist mind wants workers that follow directions exactly. The connection economy requires the complete opposite.
That’s how the system works. Do it their way, you win. Do it your own, you lose. If we are raise a generation of children that want to solve hard problems, we’re going to have to let them do it however they can. For some it might take them longer to get there. But the journey is where you learn. It’s through the trials and falls that we learn to keep going, or learn to quit and go another way.
This issue of critical thinking is extremely important. It’s so important that it could be one of the largest flaws in our system today. In school it’s a math problem, but in life, it’s a world problem.
Spreading the gospel is full of solving critical problems. How will I talk to this person about Christ? How will I get into that country to share with those people? How will I serve my industry with a gospel mindset? Critical problems that require creative answers.
Without the desire to learn and ability to forge our own path, we will never be the creative individuals we were designed to be.