business

Big ideas

I have watched agile methodology kill companies. Agile methodology originated in the software world and bled into every other world. Distilled down, it’s the concept that instead of dedicating a lot of time and energy into one big project, you should break it up into little bite-sized sprints, build a little bit at a time, and test small things before you commit to a big thing. It’s good in theory, and it works for some sorts of projects, but when you apply it to business it is pretty much a recipe for mediocrity. Big success requires big ideas. Big ideas require big work. Let me illustrate. I once worked with a company that wanted to be innovative, but was actually… 

Why the SMMA model is fundamentally broken

This year, I have gotten more messages about one specific subject than anything else by far. On Reddit (where I engage regularly in PPC & agency related topics) I’ve gotten 41 messages this month alone…and of those, 37 of them were asking about SMMA. To be honest, even though we published Building A Successful Micro-Agency earlier this year, I hadn’t heard this specific term. So I did some in-depth research. SMMA (social media marketing agency, also called “agency in a box”) is a term used by a few gurus — where they sell courses teaching you how to make millions without any specific skills or domain expertise. This model is fundamentally broken, and the more I look into it the… 

Goalposts & Relativism

Last week, Q2’s economic numbers confirmed that we are not in a recession. Sure, it’s a recession by how the dictionary defines it (two consecutive quarters of negative GDP) and how the Harvard Business School defines it (two quarters of negative GDP growth) and by all other visible means (waves of layoffs, high inflation, crashing home sales) but no, it’s not a recession. We were assured of this by a torrent of ivory-towered journalists letting loose a preemptive wave of opinion articles declaring that there is nothing to see here. We were additionally assured that all is fine by a Wikipedia editor who changed the article on recession to say “the definition of a recession varies between different countries and… 

ESG & carbon credits: the indulgences of a zero-sum world

At some point in the past couple decades, the corporate world drew inspiration from the Middle Ages, and decided it was time to bring back indulgences.  Indulgences, if you’ve forgotten your Roman Catholic theology, are a way to reduce the amount of temporal punishment you undergo for your sins. In other words, you could pay money and spend less time in limbo. At first this penance was paid in forms of prayer or charity or good works, but if you’ve forgotten your Roman Catholic history, this began to mean financial donations. By the time of the Reformation, you could basically just pay off your vices through consistent donations to the overflowing and corpulent Papal treasury.  Simply put: pay enough, and you’re… 

Scurvy (and, the power of doing over understanding)

If you’ve ever watched an old pirate movie, and I hope you have, you’ll remember scenes in which pirates, stuck in the doldrums, are afflicted by scurvy. They lay around on the deck, first weak and helpless, then depressed and listless, then their hair and teeth start falling out, and then unless they catch sight of land (and therefore, fresh fruit and vegetables) they eventually die. Scurvy, of course, is a disease caused by lack of vitamin C. Humans are one of very few creatures (along with monkeys, bats, capybaras, and guinea pigs) who cannot create their own vitamin C within our bodies. It must be consumed.  Sailors of old ate a diet of salted meat and hardtack (fruit and vegetables… 

Silver

If you’re like me, when you’re researching things online, you’ll often realize that you’ve just ingested extremely biased information. Unfortunately, there is no instant antidote for incorrect information, usually since you don’t know if it’s poison or not. I’ve read articles about life insurance, about how I can ensure my family’s safety in the event of my death & dismemberment for only $18 a month, only to reach the end and realize it was written by one of those Northwestern Mutual fellows who send me LinkedIn messages about whole term life nonsense. That’s like drinking a bottle of something and then seeing the skull-and-bones on the warning label. How much of what I just read was true, and how much was false?… 

The precedence of comfort

In the absence of critical analysis, comfort takes precedence over anything else. Without a long-term approach, without delaying gratification in the now for better results in the future, humanity always defaults towards comfort. Comfort can mean different things, but the tangible basics are the same. At some level, it involves basic human needs, but it doesn’t stop there. It starts with the necessities of survival like food and shelter, and it spans a massive spectrum of needs and wants until it ends with things like feeling important or being special. There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with comfort. I’d argue that a huge part of a productive, practical life is forging towards new levels of comfort for you and your family.… 

Good attempts

If a fellow in a ‘97 Civic challenges a dude in a ‘20 Porsche to a race, we’re not going to blame him for the loss. Getting to sixty miles an hour in a 1997 Honda Civic takes about 9.6 seconds. The 2020 Porsche GT3 RS takes around 2.9 seconds.

In this case, we don’t critique the loss. We critique the attempt. A terrible Civic driver who dumps the clutch and gives up with a pout before even finishing the run? Not worth our accolades.

Loud, brash, and bold

Loud, brash, bold – it’s the sort of thing that can dazzle you. Whether it’s a client, a boss, a colleague, or a competitor, the pure speed and amount of activity is intimidating. Fast-talking conversations, two phones ringing at all times, sending hundreds of emails per day, until you feel like you’re in a live-action retelling of Uncut Gems.

Stop sending me Calendly links

If you do not know someone — if you haven’t established a working relationship with them — you should never send them a Calendly link.

For those of you who don’t know what Calendly is, let’s break down how it works. It’s basically a link to someone’s schedule, and they’ll have a list of open slots where you can reserve a half-hour or so of their time for a meeting.