Rather a Few Failures than a Never Was…

The project graveyard is better than a speech

Don’t be that guy.

You know, the one that is always at the meetup.

He knows everyone, he sees every blog post, he understands every reference you throw at him.

That conference? He’s there! You have 18 mutual connections on LinkedIn, amazing!

Fantastic, until you ask about the work, he’s doing.

Then, it is silent.

That guy doesn’t make an impact – it’s nothing but hot air.

Be the person who tries. There are far more lessons in understanding failure and far better mentors available for those who can discuss what went wrong and wonder why.

The guy that talks too much is too busy talking to notice, though.

Spend a Moment and Talk It Through

Talk to yourself

Communicating is hard. Explaining is more difficult.

Make it easier: talk to yourself.

Ask yourself questions and try to answer them. Take a moment to “chain knowledge.” That means taking information from other sources to explain the new piece of information you learned.   See if you can get to the same conclusion.

Sometimes it looks insane, and you’ll feel like that one person looking weird at the bus stop, but wait.

It turns out it isn’t crazy.

Self-explaining has a lot of evidence. You’re explaining why things might be interconnected, and why they matter, and those meaningful distinctions between the two of them.

The quote is from Ulrich Boser, whose new book called “Learn Better” talks about techniques to keep what you are trying to keep in your head to stay there.

So talk to yourself, and you’ll be able to talk to other people later :-).

Simplify Through Talking

Get it out of your system

Communicating your taste for laypeople has an excellent side effect.

It forces you to simplify and contextualize what you’ve done.

To do that, you have to go back to your work and figure out what is important. You have to ask yourself, what do you want people to take away?

There is clarity through simplification.

An excellent time of year to try this is during the holidays.

When your family gathers around the table, see if you can explain your current project.

Take the questions they have and try to figure them out. What inspired them to ask?  It is a chance to get to know someone’s worldview, and it’s useful, even if they aren’t your customer.

Don’t get defensive. Those around you want to help, and those notes they are giving through questions are perfect to take back to your workshop to improve your pitch.

It’s a great barometer for oversimplification, too.

If you want to save whales and they think you are trying to save the ocean, it’s time to reframe.

So, talk and know your product better through other’s eyes.

Your family and friends will appreciate getting to know you a bit more, too.

Cultural Divide

We are all cultured.

All of us come from a background where there are rules on how to talk, dress, see the world, etc.

Knowing these things allows us to communicate more effectively with someone from another culture.

Here is an example: when an American says “how are you doing,” it’s flippant, almost directly following “Hello” as a courtesy. In some parts of France, this is a no-no, as “how are you” is a very personal question.

Think about these before you engage in deeper communication (more than just a hello), what is the culture, how can you learn more about it? It can save you the hassle. 

It can save you the hassle. 

You don’t want to over-communicate in a bad way.

Let People Know

Hiding thoughts

Getting away from the world at the first sign of danger can give temporary peace of mind. You’ve avoided conflict, so that’s a win in most people’s eyes.

Except you haven’t avoided anything.

Hiding thoughts only delay the inevitable. Either the conflict resurfaces with that person later or one arises in one’s self.

Talking through your issues,with tact upfront, avoids that feeling.

Honesty is the best policy.

Follow-up Questions – Intriguing, Cynical, Fearful :-)

I love asking follow-up questions.

Part of me gets intrigued when someone goes deeper.

Another more cynical part of me hopes the person can’t answer.

Another part of me gets scared that I pushed them too far.

I think all three parts create the balance in conversation, and more specifically, in follow-up questions.

What is the intriguing part?

Asking questions is a skill, one that takes time to develop. Each time I get the opportunity to ask a follow-up question, I get a chance to work on it. It’s a small window that lets me test how I ask questions.  It is usually successful, because people love to talk about themselves.

There is also a chance that the conversation takes a turn I didn’t expect. I love these moments, because they increase my knowledge base and add some fun to any conversation. Those unforeseen turns make dinner conversation exciting.

What is the cynical part?

I’ve learned that follow-up questions lead to interesting answers. In some cases, they lead to no answer at all. My inner cynic is waiting for that moment, to confirm his main thought, that “no one knows anything.”

There is a purpose for this, though: The most deft in conversation use that inner cynic to know when to move on, and not to press. If I don’t let it go, it presses me towards the third part of this post.

What is the fear part?

Fear is everywhere. I have a ton of fear in conversations, but when it concerns follow-up questions, sometimes I hold back because I don’t want to go too far. When someone loves what they talk about, they love nothing more than a follow-up question. However, if someone doesn’t know, is posturing, or is having a slow night then there is nothing more terrifying than the follow-up question.

The cynic pushes me here sometimes, and I often regret it. Nobody wins, so watch the ego.

Follow-up questions need to exist.

Even with the fear of exposing yourself, conversation gets better, generally, with follow-up questions. They give you a chance to get to know the people around you, continue conversations, and dance with some internal daemons*. When it comes to conversation and building relationships, do more, not less.


*Not demons 😉


Communication is Key

Communication is key.

Yet it is something that I struggle with.

There is something about communication that is a struggle with me. It has effected me in everything that I do – comedy, work, life and I really want to put an end to it.

Lack of communication skills is the start of a cycle that creates an environment of distrust and ends with me self sabotaging to the point where I think the world is fighting against me – when in reality in fear, I have made a mistake and haven’t put in the time to build a relationship with those who want with me.

I am going to try to open the bridges and see what floods in.