Moving is a sad business.

My wife and I have been married almost 20 years, and we are in the middle of our 10th move. 5 states, 6 cities, 10 dwellings.

I don’t remember all of them being emotional, then again I don’t remember much about several of them. In fact, that’s what makes this kind of thing sad.

We’re leaving a place we had memories, kids hit milestones, hard times, good times, and every mundane in-between were experienced. We saw seasons come and go, visitors come and go, and life phases come and go.

The sad part about leaving is that I’m old enough and have been through it enough to know, no matter how permanent the memories now seem, I will forget most of this phase of life in this house.

That’s hard.

When I look forward to where we’re going, I’m excited. When I look back on what we experienced here, I’m pleased, proud, and happy. But there is a deep sadness too, knowing every turn of the road, shadow on the landscape, sound in the night, and child in the grass will fade into inaccessible recesses of my mind quicker than I’d like. They will doubtless resurface at random times, but I will lose the bulk of them.

Time is a series of deaths. Each moment births a new person and kills the old. But when place remains constant, each moment has access to the accoutrements of the previous, and a deeper sense of continuity is maintained.

Changing place severs the connection, and each forward moment increases the distance between those of past time and place, until they are lost.

I am pre-emptively sad for the loss of memory about this place and phase in life I know is looming. I don’t mind moving ahead, but I don’t want to leave all of this feeling and memory behind.

In near death experiences, you often hear of some kind of life review. I’m not sure about the pressure of accounting for my deeds, but I would love the ability to review and remember all the things I’ve lived but forgotten.

We’re moving on. Which means some compartment in my brain will now be home to all the things we experienced here. I only hope I don’t lose the key.

Now the AI is Getting Interesting

AI stuff has been pretty boring to me.

Granted, I haven’t made the time to dive deep or spend a lot of time contemplating the full implications and use cases. But the early generated images seemed kinda cool but not “Oh shit!”, and the generated text seemed like more of the same internet-molded crap humans already produce too much of (old man shakes fist at cloud).

AI search has thus far seemed like an even worse version of what Google is becoming – highly constrained and censored, with an express mission of obscuring points of view that don’t fit the comfort zone of the programmers. Boring and kinda creepy.

But then HubSpot launched ChatSpot.

I haven’t used it yet, and have heard mixed results on its performance. But that will come. What got me excited is the replacement of complicated processes of generating reports from a CRM with plain english requests.

If you’ve never worked in a company that uses SalesForce or HubSpot, or god forbid something like Razers Edge or Aptify, you have no idea how hard it can be to surface seemingly simple info that already lives in your database.

“OK everyone, welcome to employee training number 11, where we’re covering how to create multi-conditional lists and then link them to an event type and generate a report”, says the weirdly excited ops person when all you wanted to do is see how many lapsed customers registered for your webinar.

The process involves about seventeen hundred clicks, infinite scrolls through drop-downs, and many conflicting, redundant, and counter-intuitive names for things (tags, categories, labels, fields, entities, etc.) If you flub up on one of the many conditions, the whole report is bogus.

The ability to tell the software the same type of thing you’d ask your ops person is incredible. “Get me a list of every former customer who registered for this event.”

So that’s one use case I love. Truly wealth-creating, in that it allows humans to accomplish more with less.

But there are more.

Ever had to get on the phone to figure out why the cell phone company charged you incorrectly and fix it?

Ever had to navigate a government bureaucracy online or over the phone?

These are basically the same as getting info out of your database, except the people on the other end are grumpier than SalesForce.

Imagine an AI assistant to do all that for you.

“Remove my oldest kid from our cell phone plan and shop around and send him the best individual plan you can find along with the price.”

“Update my home insurance policy now that we put in a pool.”

Another potential version of AI that excites me is one that is not constrained or controlled by its creators (who are rightly fearful of social and political pressure). If you could hone and adjust your AI yourself (without needing to be a programmer) then things like search could actually be useful, instead of Orwellian as they seem so far.

I’m not worried about AI or scared of it. I’m always worried about humans and our potential to do great evil with anything from a rock to a rocket. New tech opens new risk areas for sure. But it opens new opportunities as well.

I’d like to see AI help solve the mundane stuff on a scale that creates serious standard of living improvements. The creative side with AI art and literature doesn’t do it for me so far.

Categorized as Commentary

A Quick Update

I’ve been daily blogging most of the time since 2012. I occasionally take deliberate breaks to direct my writing elsewhere and mix things up.

This is one such hiatus!

I’m mostly writing on partner ecosystems in the B2B SaaS world right now on other platforms.

I will be back on the blog again at some point. Many new ideas and experiences brewing, and above all, I’ll always be a writer. And a writer just can’t stop writing.

Categorized as Commentary

When Satire is Mistaken for Reality

Recently, I mistook a satirical article for a real one. This seems to be more common in the last few years.

There are three reasons satire gets mistaken for reality.

Reason #1: Too eager to confirm unrealistic biases.

You can be taken in by satire if you have an inaccurate or exaggerated worldview and you are emotionally dependent on finding confirmation for your worst assumptions.

We’ve all seen it. None of us wants to admit when we fall prey to it.

Some group you think is horrible or ridiculous is satirized in a completely over the top way and you want it to be true so bad you accept it and start sharing it as justification for your opinion of them. Oops.

Reason #2: Bad writing.

Not all satire is good. In fact, a lot of it is ham-fisted and fails to identify what’s funny about reality and how to properly push it to the obviously over-the-top point that reveals the absurdity underneath.

Satire that is too realistic, too subtle, doesn’t overplay reality in a big enough way is just not good satire. Sometimes it’s mistaken for reality for no other reason.

Reason #3: Reality has gotten too absurd.

After all the Official Authorities spent months boldly proclaiming no one could get sick with Covid if they received government injections, people who got injected started getting sick with Covid. Some died.

More than once, I saw stories reporting on the Covid death of a vaccinated person that said it “could have been worse” if they hadn’t received the shot.

I assumed these were satire. I verified. They were not.

The problem with a reality like this is you can’t satirize it. There is no more extreme, absurd, over-the-top evil/hilarious/utterly incredible thing you could possibly do than to say of someone whose fate for following your advice was death that it “could’ve been worse”.

The Black Knight in Monty Python at least still had legs when he insisted he’d “had worse” than losing both arms.

Categorized as Commentary

Maybe We Need More Boredom

“Do tank.” I’m not kidding. People were unironically naming things that.

About a decade and a half ago, it was popular to criticize think tanks and mission based organizations for too much thinking and not enough acting.

I get the sentiment. Most nonprofits and academic institutions waste a bunch of other people’s money on disconnected ideas and status games. That is what drove me to entrepreneurship in the world of profit and loss signals.

In business, action bias is awesome. Try stuff. Build stuff. Experiment. Get your ideas into the world. It’s the fastest way to get feedback from the market so you can create the most value.

But in many other aspects of life, it’s better to slow down with your ideas and opinions. Especially when they involve the lives of others. Especially especially when they are grand schemes or harsh judgements.

My friend TK Coleman has talked for years about the idea of noble boredom. A mind devoid of temporary titillations. A mind in search of interestingness. What happens when you become comfortable with that?

Well here’s what doesn’t happen: Rage. Reactionary movements. Hot-headed ill-tempered shallow arguments. Mindless dopamine benders. Arrogant attempts to control the world.

It seems all everyone does now is act. Everything seems to be screaming, begging, demanding from us action and reaction. Opinions must be stated and stated now! And loudly! And cleverly! And you must work to ensure they elicit action and reaction from as many other people as possible. All day every day.

You may call this talk rather than action. But expressing oneself is an act. And the act of instant expression creates a lot of problems.

Instant expression spurs sub-optimal action and takes the steam out of more productive action.

It spurs escalatory, reactionary, instant, “emergency” action. The kind with little thought, little depth, and little long-term impact. It stokes fires and triggers all the darker instincts looking for an excuse.

It kills productive action. When something troubles you and you do nothing and say nothing, it builds. It rolls over in your mind. It gets worked with, refined, and clarified. Given enough time and silence, you might be compelled to some productive action. But the instant release valve of shouting your discontent steals all the impetus before it’s had time to mature into something worthwhile.

This isn’t always the case. Sometimes instant expression is a good thing. Sometimes its instinctive, reactive nature moves quickly to save lives or prevent disaster. But this seems rare.

If you’ve ever studied learning patterns, you’ll be familiar with research on boredom, classrooms, and attention “disorders”. The TLDR is this: kids conditioned to constant external stimulation lose the ability (innate in humans) to be alone with themselves. To think. To stay in the moment with nothing but their thoughts. To generate a robust internal life.

What would happen if you let yourself sit in one place until all your thoughts slowed to a crawl and then you sat some more?

There are parts of the human mind only unlocked slowly. Parts only accessed after long silences. Parts only those who can handle boredom ever access.

Categorized as Commentary

How Good Marketing Happens

What marketing team wouldn’t want 15,000 people in their target demographic to see a post praising their company for being customer-centric?

Of course you can pay for ads that do it. But they’re ads. People don’t like them. And ads that brag about your company don’t hit people the right way.

You know what’s a lot better? When real people praise your company with no campaign or ad spend.

Like this:

This didn’t just happen out of the blue.

There are some pretty amazing lessons in everything that led to this little post.

It started with a partnership

Airmeet and PartnerHacker partnered up to deliver the PL[X] Summit, a five-day remote experience about partner-led growth.

Airmeet employed two of the most important principles of partnerships.

Build trust.

They were easy and enjoyable to work with. Reasonable. Timely in communication and action. And offered great service. They built total trust with our team at PartnerHacker.

Make them famous.

After the event, Airmeet invited us on to a year-end celebration they were hosting where they recognized PartnerHacker as one of their “Airmeet All Stars” for the year due to the success of the PL[X] Summit.

Who doesn’t like receiving a Major Award?

I joined their event to accept and say thanks. It was during this event that, in a casual convo between the CMO and CEO, this little nugget came out that the CEO spends three hours a day on customer calls.

I was blown away by it and shared it on LinkedIn.

I shared it because it was interesting.

But I also shared it because I was at an event where I had a chance to hear it.

I was at that event because Airmeet was making us famous with an award.

They were doing so because they had built trust with us as a partner.

See the causal chain?

You can’t plan this like a campaign.

A LinkedIn post with15k impressions from a partner, customer, and fan isn’t earth-shattering. But it is damn good marketing. A lot better than an ad or a cold email.

Since it can’t really be planned and plotted and executed and measured like a science project, this kind of thing rarely gets focus from marketing departments.

The point isn’t to craft a formula to repeat this or generate more similar posts. That kind of kills the very authenticity that makes it valuable.

The point is, when you come across stuff like this, to ask yourself a few questions about what led to it. A confluence of events and behaviors preceded it. A series of principles like partnering, building trust with those partners, and making them famous.

Uncover those. Re-enforce them in your culture. You’ll start to see more of the best kind of marketing imaginable.

Categorized as Commentary

What if You Already Know Everything?

“The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.” — Oswald Chambers

I have always found the above to be true.

Moments of epiphany, breakthrough, enlightenment, penetrating insight, profound understanding, and deep joy come when a puzzle piece that’s been wandering around inside me finds a place to fit. The piece always seems to be there already.

Which makes me wonder, how much knowledge is contained within us waiting to be unlocked and properly placed? All of it?

I don’t mean factual information. New facts can certainly be learned that weren’t lurking ill-defined inside me already. Trivia is fun and sometimes useful, but it is not Truth.

Truth about ourselves, our fellow man, and reality always seems to be revealed through a process of finding, refining, and fitting pieces already in us into a better position. I cannot think of a time when this wasn’t true.

In the end, there is no other way for an individual to form a belief than by what feels true. You may take issue with that, but I don’t mean it as a rejection of logic or objective truth. Beliefs can be laid out logically, but a person could choose to deny that logic is a valid measurement. Objective measurements can be made, but a person can choose to deny that objectivity exists. There is no getting around the fact that all beliefs are ultimately internally decided. They are decided on feeling or gut or instinct or something else inside us.

Humans seem to have inside them some thing against which everything is measured. When you’re miserable or confused, you’re living out of alignment with this thing. When you’re harmonious, or when you have those wonderful a-ha moments, you’re in line with it.

We seem to contain far more insight and understanding than we possibly realize, but it takes tremendous work to find it, tease it out, and fit it into its proper place.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” — Psalm 51:6

Categorized as Commentary

See I Told You So

I can’t decide if ‘see I told you’ so is acceptable, and if so, how much.

There are plenty of people who love to show receipts for accurate predictions made by others, but is it ok to show your own receipts, or is that just tacky?

Proving someone was right about something isn’t only about bragging rights. It can be entertaining, but it can also be useful.

When someone is correct about something most people missed, it causes you to ask why and seek to understand the worldview that led them to the prediction. Sometimes they just got lucky, or made so many predictions one was bound to happen. Other times, there is a useful new lens you can apply to more accurately understand the world.

Yes, most people use it as a way to own their enemies more than a way to enlighten and start interesting conversations about frameworks for understanding the world. But usefulness is possible. Sometimes ‘see I told you so’ is productive.

Back to the question. Is it in bad form to show your own receipts? Should you just let others discover it on their own (or not)? I don’t know. Something about it seems a bit too attention-seeking and needy. On the other hand, I’ve learned some interesting things from people who are very eager to let others know when they were right.

Maybe it’s slightly annoying and damaging to their reputation but also useful at the same time.

I suppose it would help if people who did this often also showed receipts for when their predictions were wrong.

Categorized as Commentary

Perpetual Novice

I’ve written over 2,500 articles. I’ve done daily blogging on and off for years. I’ve published ten books.

Yet I show up every morning and face this blank screen with no idea what I’m going to write, how I’m going to write it, or whether it will be good.

When I’m done I don’t really know if it’s good either. There’s no metric or grade or expert to decide. Some posts make me happier than others. That’s about all I’ve got to go on.

I have no method or rules for writing either. Every time, I’m making it up from scratch. Tendencies and styles have emerged, but I’d be lying if I said those were deliberate decisions or disciplines. I just start typing and don’t stop until it feels like I’ve said enough.

I rarely edit and am bad at editing my own stuff. If I do, it takes the form of hitting publish, then reading the published piece over once and noticing mistakes or parts that make me cringe and quickly changing them.

The point is, I have no idea if I’m a good writer or a bad writer or a mediocre writer and I don’t even know how I’d measure it. Which is perfect because I don’t care. I write for me. Not to achieve any kind of status as a “good” writer.

So I’m not a good one to ask about methods and processes and rules for writing. I can sometimes tease out things that I notice, and I’m good at editing and workshopping other people’s writing, but I’m basically making everything up as I do. It’s just my gut reaction to ways things could be more enjoyable to read.

I am not bragging or claiming that perpetual amateur hour is a good thing, but it’s my reality and it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been writing for 20+ years and I’m still a novice.

Categorized as Commentary

Decorum is Overrated; Dignity Isn’t

Dignity. Some (most) things should be beneath yours.

I don’t mean decorum, which I consider to be a refuge of scoundrels. Decorum is all about going out of your way to employ visible trappings that signal you are a Very Serious Person.

Dignity is more about restraint. Some (most) things don’t need to be shared with the world.

We’re in a voyeuristic age, pushing to their limits the new toys of social media and ubiquitous recording devices.

I’m a big fan of openness, learning out loud, removing pretense, and dispensing with decorum. These also tend to “perform” well on social media, which has led people to do more than just be themselves and tell the truth in a mad rush to get “engagement”. It has led them to share every single thought and detail of their life.

Being truthful and open is not the same as having no dignity and sharing everything with everyone. One is about not hiding from people, the other is about begging people to look. One is honest, the other is embarrassing.

Weaponized authenticity is has become a favorite for the passive-aggressive and humblebraggarts.

Add the fact that victim is the most highly prized social status right now, and you see what happens. People start falling all over themselves to share all of their shame, pain, and indignity. The more others can see how pathetic you are, the more cheap digital praise will come.

You’ve gotta kill that impulse. You’re clowning yourself. You’re willingly playing the fool for the thinnest reward imaginable.

Respect – starting with self-respect – is better than “engagement”.

Categorized as Commentary

The Cost of Doing Business is Bloated by Leeches and Looters

It’s costs a lot to do business. Especially as a business grows. A big chunk of the costs are utterly unneeded and serve no purpose but to feed parasitic systems.

In a free market, monopolies are either everywhere or impossible, depending on what part of the definition you focus on. It’s when a business is good enough or early enough for a window of time to have very few alternate providers. They aren’t really harmful and tend not to last long. But monopoly created and sustained by government is awful. It’s when your money is stolen from you, or you’re thrown in a cage or murdered if you compete with or don’t use the services of government favored firm or industry. That’s where all these absurd business costs come from.

Lawyers, tax accountants, and occasionally even HR people or bureaucrats can be decent humans. Some are even good people. But the roles themselves are mostly crappy and unnecessary. They are maintained by threats of violence from the state, and every business is forced to deal with endless headache, time, and money costs no matter how useless and absurd.

Imagine building a company is like pushing a boulder up a hill, putting every ounce of muscle, heart, and lungs into the effort. Now imagine as you push that boulder you have 50 pounds of leeches all over your body sucking the life from you. That’s what all these government enforced regulations do.

Can you imagine how many more companies would be started and built, how many more deals would get done, how many more products made, how much more wealth and value created without this giant pile of leeches?

I can.

Categorized as Commentary
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