Small Gesture, Great Impact

Change Someone’s Day

More often than not, I’ll worry about how someone will see me more than how much I can impact them.

I should flip the order of importance there.

The power of a thank you letter, a sweet text, or a warm call can take moments to write, and at their most potent, change the trajectory of someone’s life.

Those gestures are more powerful the more specific they are about:

  • What they did
  • How it affected you
  • How it changed your perspective

I am going to work on improving my perception, and if this post spoke to you, I hope you’ll join me.

Great Leaders Don’t Pay You to Know

One of the worst things a leader can say to someone is “I pay you to know.”

Two consequences stand out:

  • You’ve told the people around you that curiosity is a waste of time
  • There are penalties for being wrong

No one wants to make a mistake.

When you are doing things that create impact, trying for perfection creates chaos.

One of the wisest things I’ve ever heard is the phrase “to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs.”

Creating is a messy business.  Eggs in the shell don’t look like an omelet. They have none of the value that omelet provides to a hungry person.

To get that wonderful breakfast, you have to get messy, involve a bunch of moving parts, and look a little silly (especially if you want it to look good :]).

When you say “I pay you to be right” you’re asking them to work with the egg in the shell and not explore. It’s a major handicap to look good and stay clean.

Don’t handicap your team in the name of your ego.

Add Context, Big Impact

Adding some context makes us feel better

Take a look at these two sentences:

  • Go to the store and get some milk.
  • Go to the store and get some milk, I’m working on my taxes.

Which one feels better?

The ask is the same, yet, the second option seems better. It seems like the person asking isn’t just asking to ask; there is a reason. As a result, I feel there is some respect for my time.

And, I bet you feel the same way too.

That isn’t just your intuition; rather, there is science behind it.

A Harvard study found that adding a reason to a request makes compliance more likely. This behavior happens with every ask, and as a result, it is in your best interest to always add context.

The next time you make an offer, take the time to add an idea and some context.  As a result, more of the things you ask for will happen, and you’ll have a greater impact.


Small is Good.

I hope your idea is too small and doesn’t “fit:”  for example. Voltron obsessed,mohawk having, and dog loving hiker. This is hyperbole, but small is good.

The time for the big idea is over. Attracting people at scale for X is over. Making something that appeals to “Middle America” and New York is gone too.

So what does that leave us if you get hip now?

  • You have an opportunity to understand, before most people, the effects of the internet’s “shrinking” of the world.
    • Now that there is no distance(the internet) between someone who loves cabbage patch doll alterations in Indiana and in London, why would they talk to the motorbike enthusiast across the street?There aren’t that many Voltron obsessives dog lovers but when they connect they are going to love each other.
  • Trying to understand the impact.
    • Back when the internet was going to scale you had to reach critical mass for cultural impact, now you can do it with 1,000 people.  That same group of Voltron loving hikers is going to talk, and each effect hits them way harder than a tiny change on Amazon.
  • Customer connection and service get relevant again.
    • The mission statement with corporate jargon and the telephone line to a robot aren’t going to work (and until AI passes the Turing test it won’t do either). Your story to that mohawk loving Voltron obsessives better means something or else they are going to take the dogs elsewhere.


My Horrible Conversation Secret – And How I Try To Combat It

I am going to tell you a secret.

I think everyone knows what I know. When someone talks, I assume that they have more information than me, and it can cripple me in conversation. I spend time trying to think of something else, and sometimes this means I am 7 steps down a road of conversation that no one wanted to join me on. They have moved on, and I am still stuck thinking about the last topic.

It sucks.

Especially when I know that relationships are critical, and how I communicate ultimately determines how much impact I have.

Has this ever effected you?

One thing I’ve realized through writing this blog, and connecting with the newsletter, is that my problems are not unique. I am betting that this affects another person who reads this.  If so,  I would love to share the exercises I do to fight this feeling.

  1. Ask questions – This suggestion feels counterintuitive, but by asking questions, you allow your brain to be open to the idea that it’s ok not to know. This will break down that apprehension in discussions where you feel like you can’t add anything, and has an added benefit of level setting (making things clear).
  2. Repeat things – Take breaks in the conversation and try to repeat parts of the conversation in your own way. I bet you have a unique way of saying things. I also bet that you will understand the conversation better as a result.  This deals with the thinking about something else problem, because it forces you to stay present.
  3. Meditation – Most of this is self talk.  Learning how to deal with self talk is important if you want to break away from the monotony of “normal life.”   Meditation is a great way to learn about those voices, and learn that they are only that, voices. Those voices don’t mean anything unless you give them power.