From March 2010

Ship it

That’s the message for success by many leading thinkers today. What that means is don’t wait for it to be perfect – it never will. Get it out there, get feedback and repeat. It’s never the smartest who win – it’s those who work the hardest at executing ideas. Those that fail quickly, get back up and try again.

This is something I always have to remind myself because I have perfectionist tendencies. Just one more edit. Just one more information source or data point and it’ll be ready. Problem is, it never will be. That’s why you need to get it as good as you can and hit send, print, publish or produce depending on what it is. But that doesn’t mean put a bunch of half-baked, sloppy ideas out there. It doesn’t mean spend 5 minutes on a direct mail letter and print it. It just means do enough due diligence to get it good, then release. And listen to your feedback. Look at why your results were stellar as well as why you flopped.

A sure way to keep shipping is to ship things on which you’re not betting the farm. Have a multi-layered approach with other things on the runway as you ship. So you can turn to the next iteration once you see how the latest performed.

I know someone who’s been working on a subscription website since at least 2004. Hasn’t shipped it yet. Last I heard she’s still working on it. Guess how relevant the work done from 2004 to 2008 is? Think about web technology in 2004. That’s before smart phones became common. That’s THREE years before the iphone. Needless to say, much has changed since then. She could have shipped, evaluated and had an incredible product in those six plus years. But all she has is a lot of money and time spent to show for it.

Get it out there. That’s my MO for the year. Make it yours too.

Five essential personality traits of successful people

I just finished Seth Godin’s newest book, Linchpin, and what a great whack on the head!  Towards the end he talks about the five personality traits that you need to embody to be indispensable: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Emotional Stability. These are not just from him, but considered essential by most psychologists.

I think these are pretty self-explanatory, but provide a framework on which you can evaluate how you stack up. Are you open? Or do you withhold information as way to grab power? (not a good idea). Are you considerate of others? Obviously being an asshole, although it might get results for yourself, is not an endearing quality. Doubt this? read Robert Sutton’s book, The No Asshole Rule.

Extraversion doesn’t mean you need to be the life of the party, but if you’re not able to engage in conversation with relative ease, it’s hard to build relationships with others – and relationships is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to long-term success. Agreeableness certainly doesn’t mean being a yes person – someone without any opinions or a backbone adds little value. But it does mean being able to engage in meaningful discourse and seeing other points of view. There’s a balance between the yes person and the one who’s always right.

Emotional stability? That’s key. Someone who’s unpredictable, volatile is not someone you can easily trust. Nor would you typically want to spend much time around them. Having the emotional strength to receive constructive criticism or work through tough problems and crises a huge benefit.

We’re in the midst of a huge sea change in how we work, compete and thrive. Seth’s premise in this book is that you have a choice – to embrace it, or be a replaceable cog. It’s not for the faint of heart, but nor is our new reality. And he makes the point eloquently. Time to toughen up.