Hot hand fallacy

Nobody can predict the results of a random event. That would make it predictable not random.

Yet, we tell ourselves stories that somehow we are the exception to the data, that success is right around the corner or past performance is indicative of future results.

We call this the hot hand or gambler’s fallacy.

This is how we stay on the hook, that with one more attempt we could win again or somehow convince ourselves there is a chance.

The truth is, suckers play the lottery. You are better off throwing your money away. Or better yet, giving it to a charity. At least it could be used for something good.

Year after year, people still continue to play the lottery.

Because money is a story.

It is a story we tell ourselves. It can be used as a tool or is something that oppresses us.

Edgy

It’s tempting to aim at the center. We think this where we could have the biggest impact for the biggest audience.

Except in the center, this is where your work will suffer.

To the masses, your work looks like everyone else’s. It can’t stand out because there is a crowd fighting for every bit of attention.

And even if your work finds a way to get the attention of the masses, it is highly likely that most people won’t get it. In order for the masses to understand what it is you are trying to accomplish, you will have to dumb it down.

It is far better than to aim for the edges.

At the edges is where you can experiment with your tribe to find out what resonates with them. At the edges you can remain unseen while you perfect your craft. At the edges you can stand for something, not everything.

Find the smallest group of people only you can change. Now, go change them.

What success looks like at the beginning

If you wrote something for the masses and went to the center, they will say that it reminds them of someone else.

And if you went to the edges, they probably won’t get it.

At the beginning, most people won’t take the time to read what you wrote or even know who you are.

That’s okay.

Anonymity is a great place to start while you perfect your craft.

If you can’t change one person how are you expected to change a thousand?

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”

The old adage credited to Henry Ford. (Who knows if he actually said it?)

It’s important principle to understand that customers often don’t know what they actually want.

The thing is, not everyone is going to get the joke and there is no need to dumb down our work in order for everyone to understand it.

It is far easier to build products for your customers than to find customers for your products.

Forgiveness creates forward motion

Forgiveness is a choice.

A narrative, a posture that each of us can choose. It isn’t one single act but a way to live.

We tell ourselves that we are human and that we all make mistakes to make ourselves feel better. But really, it doesn’t last. Because we continue to climb and the mistakes continue to stack up.

This is our fear, that we will never be good enough for love or forgiveness. That we have fallen too far out of reach. We don’t deserve connection.

This fear is deeply rooted in ourselves and it is reflected in our culture. Creating a vicious cycle of shame.

The antidote is forgiveness. And after we forgive ourselves, we can extend this gift to the world, creating forward motion. Bringing us all closer together.

Writer’s block

There is no such thing as writer’s block.

Isaac Asimov wrote over 400 books in his lifetime. Not all of them were his best work. But every day, he would get up at dawn and write. It didn’t matter if he was in the mood. It was his job to produce.

Stephen King recommends people to read and write four to six hours a day. “If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.” In addition, he writes a minimum of 2,000 words a day and won’t stop until he finishes.

That is what writers do. They write.

Do enough bad writing and eventually some good writing comes out of it.

Another way to look at this is, I have never ran into someone who has talker’s block. Everyone talks, everyone finds something to say.

Write how you talk.

Otaku

It is a Japanese word describing something more than a hobby but not quite an obsession.

Otaku is what gets you to drive across town to eat at your favorite sushi bar. Otaku is why people camp out days before the new iPhone is released. Otaku is rooting for your favorite sports team.

Another way to think about otaku is the pursuit of something remarkable.

This is my 700th blog post. My otaku. Thank you for reading.

Presentation matters

Paper lanterns in a Chinese restaurant and horseshoes in a steakhouse are placebos. They give your restaurant a certain look and feel. But it’s all fake.

The Chinese don’t actually cover their walls with paper and cowboys don’t actually eat at places with horseshoes.

These are things that the culture has come to expect. (No matter how demeaning it may be.)

The question is: Does this make the food taste better?

Presentation always changes how the food tastes. Just like a 1 star review on Yelp or a 5 star Zagat review.

What other parts of our lives are affected by presentation?

Bad news via email

Have you ever waited to open an email containing bad news?

You check it ten times hoping it will disappear on its own. We foolishly tell ourselves that once we open Pandora’s Box there is no closing it. So we wait and squeeze every moment we can before the inevitable storm hits us. We fuel our fears and anxieties, while imaging every possible worst case scenario.

Of course, once we open it, it never is as bad as we imagine. Sure, the mistake still needs to be fixed but stalling has only put more pressure on us to finish the task at hand–adding more stress and emotion to the situation.

Wouldn’t it have been better to just face our fears head on to begin with instead of letting them grow?

How much time and stress would we have saved?

The good news is when we have to open up unwanted email we don’t spontaneously combust. So there’s that.

About feedback

It is scarce to find valuable feedback, the kind of feedback that matters.

Usually valuable feedback comes from our biggest fans, our true followers, the ones who intimately know your work and your mission. If one of them comes back and says I think you can do this better, you should listen.

Then there are some who won’t get the joke. For whatever reasons–it may be the wrong audience, it may be too soon, it wasn’t delivered right–in this moment, it’s not for them.

Finally, there are trolls who choose to criticize your work opting to never produce. For them I suggest saying Thank you. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for taking the time engage with it. And then, go back to work.