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Loyalty tests and purchases

For most of us, loyalty is earned. When someone has shown themselves to be dependable and trustworthy, we begin to feel loyal. We prefer to work with them, and eventually, we may stick our neck out for them. 

When someone tests our loyalty or tries to purchase our loyalty, that generally means they know they can't earn it. 


Work a little harder when using bald words to communicate. Use Bill Jensen's CLEAR model.

Texting, emailing, slacking (a communication thing now--right?)... all these channels rely on typed words with no vocal nuance. This lean messaging can also lead to being confused and getting ignored. 

Behaviorally-focused messages can be patterned for success. Okay, let's C.L.E.A.R. a message, as designed by Bill Jensen, author of Simplicity and many other books and tools.

The message could be an email, or a multi-part text, or even some meeting notes after the face-to-face. 

  1. For the first sentence or phrase, communicate how the message is CONNECTED to what the recipient does, or wants to be doing, or to accomplish: "Since I know you're working on the ____ project..." When we start this way, we are making the message more relevant, and the recipient more attentive. We are answering the "why do I care?" question. 

  2. The second part is to provide a LIST of actions... It can be a one-item list. Here are the things the recipient could do to realize their goals in Point 1 (see above). It's a very good idea to make this 'list' either a set of steps or a single boldface command. 

  3. Set the EXPECTATIONS. Share what results they can expect from taking action. What does the recipient's success look like? Paint a picture. Say, "if you follow my suggestion, you'll see progress in...." As David Allen would say "what does success feel like?"

  4. Point out the ABILITY of the recipient(s) to achieve their goals. The LIST of actions you provided in step 2 must be things that the recipient is empowered or capable of doing. Remind the recipient they have the power, whether it's formal authority, talent or even just persistence. (If during this step you realize the recipient does not have the capability to execute the list you provided in Point 2, stop and reconsider your message.) 

  5. Close the message by clarifying the RETURN (or ROI: return on investment). Spell out "what's in it for me, as the recipient of this message." Show your faith in their capabilities and how you will rejoice in their success. They need to know they can get what they want. This point is often referred to as the WIIFM: the "What's in it for me?" point.

    In many cases, you should let them know that success is not the only good outcome. If they can explain all the causes and issues that obstructed success, and they know that sharing this information will benefit them, then their shared knowledge may benefit many, many more people. 

This communication model has been invaluable to me over the years. It doesn't always make things happen, but when it doesn't work, I usually end up with clear feedback. And I'm always sure that I'm not wasting my time or someone else's energy. 


Exercising our loyalty by speaking up

When you have a meaningful relationship, it can be disloyal NOT to speak up.

Seth's Blog: Exit, voice and loyalty, 2018-Apr by Seth Godin

Voice matters.

Loyalty, then, could be defined as the emotion that sways us to speak up when we're tempted to walk away instead.

When your loyal customers speak up, how do you respond? When you have a chance to speak up but walk away instead, what does it cost you? What about those groups you used to be part of? I've had the experience several times where, when my voice ceased to be heard, I decided it was easier to walk away instead.

Voice is an expression of loyalty. Voice is not merely criticism, it might be the contribution of someone who has the option to walk away but doesn't.

In Exit, Voice and Loyalty, Albert Hirschman explains how this overlooked mechanism of the world works. 


Nice work if we can get it... how affirmative action lifts overall performance

I first came across Adam Galinsky's work when his excellent TED talk "How to speak up for yourself" came out. 

Now he's published an article and video "Are Gender Differences Just Power Differences in Disguise?" As usual, he looks at the issue from several different angles and explains the experiments he used to test his theory as a social psychologist. 

Most importantly, he points out that power and status have a tremendous impact on performance. Feeling less "able" makes us behave less competently, even if we have more ability than we realize. 

He encourages business leaders to improve the overall performance of their companies (and society) by dispersing power across gender and minorities despite the performance gap

...the Women’s Emancipation Index, calculated by the United Nations, can be used to predict the size of the gender performance gap in a country.

More recently, I’ve found this exact same measure can predict not just the performance of female World Cup teams, but also the performance of male teams. Countries that had greater gender quality had higher performing male teams. Why? Because they had better talent. Why? Because more equal treatment of women is associated with more equal treatment of many different types of people.

The conclusion is clear. Many gender differences will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated when — and only when — women have more power. So, we all have an obligation to help this process along, to help women gain opportunities in business, and in politics, and all realms of society. When we do so, it’s not just helping those women, it’s not just giving people role models, it’s literally changing fundamental aspects of the mind, and producing better outcomes for everyone in society.


How email newsletters are evolving

Signing up for an email newsletter used to be a risky business, but two things have dramatically lowered the risk. 

  1. Unsubscribing has become a more reliable process, with many companies offering a 'less frequent' option. 
  2. Users have figured out how to avoid having newsletters get in the way of more urgent messages. (Plus, urgent messages just don't go through email that often anymore.) 

Now we're experiencing an amazing flowering of email newsletters. 

  • small-base newsletters are becoming more important
  • engagement is more prized than reach
  • newsletter variety has exploded. 

Here's a good recap of what's happening with publisher newsletters, from NiemanLab: Here's how to build a better newsletter

And here are some really cool newsletters for you to browse:

  • Recomendo: 6 brief recommendations for cool stuff every week. Co-authored by Kevin Kelly
  • Om Weekly is an intermittent personal newsletter by the inimitable Kelly Barrett, but if she's not your cup of tea, you should still review her 2014 article about how newsletters are evolving
  • No Mercy / No Malice covers the media landscape and more with Scott Galloway's withering insight. 
  • Dexigner sends a monthly dose of man-made beauty from around the world. 
  • Storythings is a weekly newsletter with summaries and links to diverse and powerful stories on the internet.
  • If you think you have a book in you, you have to subscribe to David Moldawer's Maven Game. If like me, you doubt you'll ever write a book, you'll still enjoy his advice on "writing, speaking, and sharing--without hating yourself in the morning."

I'm assuming that you already know about theSkimm, NextDraft, and Quartz. These allow me to put the news in perspective and keep up with all the new memes. 

I just realized that I don't have enough beauty in my inbox, so I just signed up for the National Geographic newsletter. I'll let you know how that goes. 


How to live with anxiety and not be ruled by it

Reading this article made me remember that I've lately been filling the 'liminal space' in unproductive ways. Playing with my iPhone helps me avoid worrying but using the time to observe and release my anxieties is much more productive.  

Katie Malachuk: The Cool Boredom of Being a Grown-Up, 2017-Oct-17

Thanks to meditation, I better understood that anxiety was a common reaction to the uncertainty of human life. On its face, human life is uncertain. We’re here but don’t know why or for how long, and we never really know what is going to happen next. Of course we’re anxious. That anxiety easily inspires the dark, disoriented sense that life is too difficult and maybe I shouldn't be here at all. Or, as one of my friends recently put it to me, “Oh, we all got that.” And, we all have the opposite response that I’m the most important person alive and doing it better than those people over there. Generally speaking, our anxious hot boredom reaction to life’s uncertainty is the grand project of me—developing habitual strategies to either prove our worthiness or affirm our unworthiness. We often run parallel tracks working self-promotion and self-destruction simultaneously—hence our relentless outward displays of achievement, acquisition and awesomeness coupled with secret, shadowy stuff around food, intoxicants, sex, internet, etc. I’m the best and I’m the worst are two sides of the same confused ego coin.


Unexpected signs of sanity in the universe: staff of Know Your Meme on The Verge

Lately, I've been reading many things written by technologists who think the internet has gone off the rails, and maybe (they think out loud), we should do something about it. Most notably, Dan Hon's No one's coming. It's up to us

This article published on The Verge gave me hope because I didn't expect the staff of KnowYourMeme.com to care. They haven't found a solution but they are working on it, realizing that it's going to be a matter of each of us taking responsibility for the unintended consequences of what we do

The assumption that something that’s popular is good, and that something with a lot of views is valuable, has been programmed into us by 100 years of mass media, [Kenyatta Cheese, co-founder of Know Your Meme] argues. And it’s something we need to unlearn “if we’re going to understand memes and if we’re going to understand influence.”

'Unlearning.' Yes, that's what we need. 

The Verge article focuses on the site's editor-in-chief, Brad Kim, but includes interviews with several staff members and founders. I highly recommend reading the whole thing