Who, What, Why, How, and How Much

Consider the components to a creative business (or any business, really), and here’s what you get:

Who, What, Why, How, and How Much.

  • Who is your (ideal) customer or client.
  • What is the product or service you’re creating or providing.
  • How is a combination of your resources as well as your business plan (as in: how are you going to do the work, and how are you going to connect your product with your customer).
  • How Much relates to the value you’re providing to your customer as well as the price you’re charging them.
  • Why relates to the motivation, vision, and values of the work you do.

Two sidebars before we get started:

  1. This doesn’t just have to relate to indie entrepreneurs and start-up CEOs. It can relate to in-house designers, freelance developers, and more. Say you work for a design firm or a recording studio. Your “who” is your boss — your company. Your “How Much” is your salary.
  2. I used to think you had to start with why. But as I’ve been reading through Cal Newport’s book, I’m realizing that most of us start with what. In fact, Newport argues that you starting with why is actually bad advice. In short, it’s in the process of doing the work that we get much-needed experience and clarity about the sort of work we want to keep on doing, and in that process we are able to build up the relationships and resources we need in order to do the work that matters most to us.

That said, let’s break down the Who, What, Why, and How Much a bit more. I’m going to use The Focus Course as my example.

  • Who: My ideal customer for the Focus Course is someone who is eager to learn, do their best creative work, and has energy to move the needle forward in their life. Though I created the course so just about anyone can work through the 40 days of assignments, the person I most have in mind is someone who already has an internal drive to make changes in their life.

  • What: A self-guided, 40-day course that gives you insight and clarity into your values, goals, stress points, and distractions and then gives you an action plan for doing something about it all.

  • How: I built the course itself by writing every day, working with a pilot group to test and review the contents, and then working with a designer and developer to create the website that hosts the content.

  • How much: The price of the Focus Course is $249; the value, though it varies from person to person, is (I hope) much, much more than that.

  • Why: I’m someone who is naturally spontaneous, distracted, and seems to always have more ideas than time. In my early 20s I realized that I needed to get a grip on how I spent my time and energy or else I’d never make meaningful progress on the things that were most important to me. The ideas and tactics of The Focus Course are things that I myself have used and taught for more than a decade and I wanted to create a fun and even better way way to clearly teach these things to others.

Here’s a sketch I made (don’t laugh) to show how these elements interrelate with one another to form the components of a sustainable business.

Business Components

As you can see in the chart above, when your product and your customer connect, then value is created and exchanged. It’s at this intersection that your business model exists. You have something of value to offer, and others are willing to pay for it.

Additionally, if your product or service is something that aligns with your own personal values and goals, then when you sell to your customer you’re also giving expression to your vision.

There is immense satisfaction in providing something of value to someone else in such a manner that also sustains the ongoing providing of more value. Consider the converse: when our work and actions don’t align with our vision and values, it can be a huge drain on our morale and motivation.

This is what a sustainable business model is all about: doing work you’re proud of, providing value to others, and having a means to continue doing that work. It’s what Walt Disney meant when he famously said, “We don’t make movies so we can make money; we make money so we can make more movies.”

The money serves a two-fold purpose. For one, it gives some measure of validation to our work because money is a neutral indicator of value. If nobody (as in, literally not one person) is willing to pay for what it is you’re offering, then it’s probably not valuable enough (at least not yet). When that’s the case, simply go back to the drawing board to find a different expression of your creative idea or find a different market (or maybe both).

For his book, So Good They Can’t ignore You, Cal Newport interviewed successful entrepreneur, Derek Sivers. Newport asked Sivers about what it was that led to his entrepreneurial success. Derek replied that he has a principle about money that overrides his other rules: ”Do what people are willing to pay for,” he said. “Money is a neutral indicator of value. By aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable.”

Derek Sivers — By aiming to make money you are aiming to be valuable

Secondly, money allows us to buy food, pay the bills, and acquire the tools and resources we need in order to keep making art and doing work.

The whole goal of Walt Disney’s movie making business model was to sustain their creative outlet of animating and producing films. It wasn’t about the money for money’s sake — it was about doing work they loved and enriching the lives of their audience. And by selling their work they could keep on making more movies.

For most makers, it’s not about the money. It’s about the creative work. There is (most days) joy in the journey and satisfaction in being part of a creative community. And there is the dream of adding value and enriching other people’s lives.

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Again, from So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Newport writes that “people who feel like their careers truly matter are more satisfied with their working lives, and they’re also more resistant to the strain of hard work.”

While there are many dynamics which contribute to the feeling of a career that matters, one of them is the realization that the work you do is valuable to others. As Sivers said, by aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable.

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Further Reading

Who, What, Why, How, and How Much

Paddle is an all-in-one SDK that gives app developers access to all the essential tools for building a great product. Including in-app analytics, user feedback, app store ratings, funnels and more. With only a few lines of code you can start building better apps in less time, allowing you to focus on the best parts of being a developer.

It’s free to start, and you only pay when you’re ready to get serious about your app business.

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My thanks to Paddle for sponsoring the site again this week.

Paddle: Giving app developers access to all their favorite tools from a single SDK (Sponsor)

True story: I decided to get the iPhone 6S Plus this year.

In part, I went with the bigger iPhone to see how the big-screened other side lives (my Android-toting cousins are never going to let me hear the end of it this Thanksgiving).

I also went with the 6S Plus because it has the best camera in a mobile device (if you can call an airplane wing a mobile device). The in-body image stabilization goes a long way with video.

Knowing that I’m not the only one looking forward to shooting with the new iPhone, over on Tools & Toys, we put together an unordered list of awesome gear to take your iPhone photography and videography to the next level. A super-cool mobile tripod, awesome extra lenses, etc. Check it out.

Awesome Gear for iPhone Photography and Videography

If you’re getting a new iPhone in the near future, here’s our Sweet Setup article from a few months ago with the steps on how to pair your Apple Watch to your new phone. In short, back up your old iPhone, un-pair your Watch, set up your new iPhone and restore from the iCloud backup, then pair your Watch to the new phone, and chose to restore the Watch from backup.

And, speaking of iPhone upgrades, in case you need some tips with how to backup your current device before setting up your new one, we’ve got you covered.

How to Pair Your Apple Watch to Your New iPhone

Paddle is an all-in-one SDK that gives app developers access to all the essential tools for building a great product. Including in-app analytics, user feedback, app store ratings, funnels and more. With only a few lines of code you can start building better apps in less time, allowing you to focus on the best parts of being a developer. It’s free to start, and you only pay when you’re ready to get serious about your app business.

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My thanks to Paddle for sponsoring the site this week.

Paddle: Giving app developers access to all their favorite tools from a single SDK (Sponsor)

What Would Your Ideal Workspace Look Like?

Steve Jobs Workspace




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A few weeks ago I wrote about Whole Brain Creativity, and how each of us have different learning and thinking styles.

And, as Cynthia Ulrich Tobias writes about in her book, The Way They Learn, we each have our own preferences for an ideal and productive work/learning environment.

The ideal elements of our best work space go far beyond the gear on our desk. It also includes the temperature of the room, the way it is lighted, how comfortable or not the chairs are, if we are hungry or not, if there is background noise/music or not, and more.

For me, even if I have 4 hours of interruption-free time and all the right tools are at my disposal, if the room I’m working in has an uncomfortable chair and is too cold, then it will be nearly impossible for me to concentrate.

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I am a staunch proponent for making it a routine to do our best creative work every day. Quantity leads to quality, and showing up everyday helps us overcome procrastination and build a “creative habit”.

Why not show up every day to a work environment that is conducive to doing our best creative work? A space that serves us, inspires us, helps us, and gets out of our way and allows us to concentrate.

It seems obvious in hindsight, but oftentimes it’s the low-hanging fruit of things just like this that we take for granted.

My Ideal Workspace

Several weeks ago as I was thinking about this, I decided to write out what my ideal workspace would actually look like.

I didn’t let myself get caught up in the practical limitations of how all the elements would go together in reality. I just wrote down individual components that I wanted — things I knew would be awesome and helpful.

Here’s my list:

  • A huge, huge tabletop. Like 150-square-feet big. 5 feet deep and 30 feet wide. It has to be big because it has multiple “spaces” on it. One area for a computer and keyboard. Another area for spreading out books and notebooks for research. And yet with still enough space left over so that there’s a clean space somewhere. In short, big enough to spread out without taking over everything.
  • I could work either sitting or standing.
  • Speakers and music.
  • There is space for other people to work as well, but they don’t work there all the time. I need some hours every day to work alone and in concentration, but I also want to have hours every day where I am working with others and collaborating.
  • Lots and lots of natural light, with bright-yet-warm lamps and ceiling lights.
  • The view outside is of something spectacular — mountains, ideally — and there aren’t people walking by the windows to distract. But the office itself is just a short walk from a downtown area where there are coffee shops, restaurants, parks, and people.
  • Tall ceilings to allow space for big ideas and wildly creative thinking.
  • Fantastic coffee with non-generic coffee mugs.
  • A conversation-starting brown leather couch that’s ideal for reading, sipping on a drink, and taking napping.
  • Bookshelves, drawers, and plenty of other storage so that everything can have a place while also being easily accessible.
  • Beautiful and inspirational artwork and photography.
  • Lots of whiteboards so ideas are never in want of a space to get fleshed out.
  • Super fast internet that never goes down.

As I read though that list I can get a vivid picture of what a space like this would look like. It has the vibe of a master woodworker’s shop, but with the amenities and tools of a pixel pusher. It’s a place for thinking, relaxing, collaborating, and crafting.

But for some people, a large, open, and bright space like the one I’ve described sounds terrible. They’d prefer a smaller, quieter, more cozy room with walls painted deep and warm colors, and just a lamp. For others, their ideal work environment is free from the distractions of the Internet. And I’m sure a good percentage of folks would be happy to never see another white board in their life.

Will I ever have a work environment like the one outlined above? Maybe. I hope so. But identifying the elements of my ideal workspace isn’t just about a pie in the sky dream. It also gives me clues about what changes I can make to my current workspace.

For example, in my small downstairs den, I don’t have a spot for even one giant whiteboard. So maybe I should consider getting one of those kraft paper wall mounted rollers as a stand in.

And while I don’t have a 150-square-foot tabletop, I do have both a desk and a coffee table and I bet I could find a larger coffee table.

What does your ideal work environment look like?

Just because your company issued you a 3×5 desk, a semi-adjustable chair, and a room full of florescent lights and distractions, it doesn’t mean that is the ideal work environment for you.

What does your ideal work environment look like?

Is it open and collaborative, or is it cozy and personal? Music or silence? Coffee, tea, water, nothing at all?

Think to the last time you were deeply focused and concentrating on something enjoyable…

Where were you? What was your posture like? Were you eating or drinking anything? Were you at a desk, on the couch, on the floor, outside? Was there any music or other sounds? Were you alone, or were other people around?

The way you default to concentrating when you are doing something enjoyable can give you some insight into how you may best be able to concentrate when doing all of your work.

Make changes so as to have an ideal-as-possible work environment. So that way, when you show up to do your best creative work, you’re giving yourself as many advantages as possible.

What Would Your Ideal Workspace Look Like?

curbi gives parents peace of mind; providing the best solution so the entire family can enjoy the online world as much as the real world.

My thanks to curbi for again sponsoring the site this week. curbi is pretty incredible, especially if you’ve got a family of devices you’d like to help safeguard.

And it’s more than just for kids. You can set it up on your own device as well, and use it as an internet content blocker that actually works — so you don’t accidentally get slimed with stuff you don’t want to see and so you’re not constantly entering in a PIN to visit regular sites that iOS doesn’t need to block.

Curbi (Sponsor)

Thoughts on Annual iPhone Upgrades

This year I decided to buy an unsubsidized iPhone so I could save a bit of cash on my monthly wireless bill, and so that I could own my iPhone.

But, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if that’s the best route after all.

Over on Lifehacker, Whitson Gordon crunched some numbers comparing the cost of a new phone to the value lost over 1, 2, 3, and 4 years. In short, if you’re holding onto your iPhone for 2-3 years in order to save money on upgrades, it’s actually not that much money saved compared to just buying a new model and selling your old model year over year.

This, of course, assumes that you are selling your old phones when you buy a new one.

However, nowadays, all the wireless carriers are making it much more difficult to buy a subsidized iPhone (which is why I decided to go with unsubsidized).

If you’re able to wrangle your carrier into selling you a subsidized iPhone, or you’re willing to just buy one unsubsidized, then you can rest easy to know that you’re spending about 1/2 as much compared to leasing your iPhone.

But, that’s only if you’re selling your year-old hardware on Craigslist or eBay. Which has become a challenge these days.

And thus, for those of us who don’t like to hassle with selling our iPhones on Craigslist / eBay, we trade it in to Gazelle. But Gazelle doesn’t pay as well (because they have to make a profit as well) and thus your net expense of ownership goes up.

And then there is another thing to consider: with Apple now also offering their iPhone leasing/upgrade program, it makes me wonder if the resale value of an iPhone will go down in the coming years. I suspect a lot of people will prefer to pay $32.41 or more per month and just trade in their previous iPhone in order to upgrade every year.

Here’s another way to think of it: a base-model iPhone 6 costs $649 unsubsidized. If you buy it, keep it in pristine condition, and then sell it one year later, you’ll get as much as $450 on eBay or Craigslist, or as little as $320 on Gazelle.

In that scenario, you’ve spent between $200 – $330 to use your iPhone for a year.

If you were to use that same iPhone for a year, except this time go through the Apple Upgrade plan, it would cost you $389 ($32.41 x 12).

And so, while Apple’s Upgrade Program is $60 more expensive at best, it also comes with Apple Care, and you don’t have to worry about keeping your device in pristine condition in order to get maximum resale value from it at the end of the annual upgrade cycle.

From where I’m sitting, if you like to upgrade every year, if you’re not ultra-thrifty, if you don’t care about keeping your old hardware, and if you like to pay for convenience, then Apple’s Upgrade program actually sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

Thoughts on Annual iPhone Upgrades

An excellent, as always, overview of last week’s Apple event, as well as John’s initial thoughts on the new iPhones, iPad Pro, Apple TV, and Watch.

I was bummed that I couldn’t watch the Keynote last week — I was in the air during the event, on my way to Dallas to speak at the 2015 Circles Conference (more on that later). Being at Circles, I was offline most of last week and missed a lot of the new Apple product news (aside from this ridiculous newspaper headline).

But I did still wake up at midnight to pre-order a new iPhone. I decided to go crazy and went with the iPhone 6S Plus. I’m perfectly happy with the size of the 6, but I thought it would be fun to try out the bigger sized phone. Just about everyone I know with the 6 Plus loves it. So we’ll see. Also, after getting a massive headache trying to figure out the new pricing structures and what would be the best route to go, I decided to jump off the subsidy bandwagon and bought a contract-free, unsubsidized phone through AT&T. I prefer to keep my iPhones after the contract on them is up, either for resale, or — now that I’ve got two boys — for watching Mighty Machines on long road trips.

Another thought on the new iPhones: 3D Touch looks fantastic. It was pretty obvious that it’d be coming to the iPhone; after just a few weeks with my Watch I was already naturally trying to Force Press app icons and menu buttons on my iPhone. It may be “for power users” but I also think it’ll be quick to acclimate to, and in a few days we’ll all be grumbling about how our iPads don’t have it.

I’m also excited about the new Apple TV. Like a lot of you, I suspect, my house doesn’t have cable TV — we watch all our shows and movies via Netflix and iTunes (with an attic antenna we use during football season).

What John Gruber had to say about the new Apple TV only makes me that much more amped:

Apple TV is hot. I only got a brief period to play with it, but it seems fast, responsive, beautiful, and intuitive. It feels alive. If I worked at Apple I’d want to be on that team. On first impression, it is everything I wanted to see. It sounds like a small talented team got to build the Apple TV they wanted to see and use themselves. There is a clarity and vision to the entirety of its design. I think it exemplifies the best of Apple. […]

I think Apple TV might be the most disruptive product from Apple since the iPhone. Not the most lucrative, necessarily, but the most disruptive — in the sense of defining how all TVs will work in a few years.

John Gruber’s Brief Thoughts and Observations Regarding Last Week’s ‘Hey Siri’ Apple Event

Corbett Barr:

I’ve also noticed something over the past several years: the most interesting, accomplished people I know all have a vision for their lives. They seem to know what comes next, like they’ve seen the future.

On the other hand, people I meet or know who are stuck and have that hopeless look in their eyes, like they’re just passing time in life without joy or aspiration, those people don’t have a vision. In fact, many of them don’t even have long-term goals. This was painfully clear at my recent high school reunion.

I couldn’t agree more.

How to Create a Vision for Your Life

For Kinfolk, Rachel Eva Lim interviewed Yale researcher, Mei Tan, about creativity and it’s great:

How do you scientifically define creativity?

We define it as a set of skills that allow an individual to produce something that’s both novel [original] and task-appropriate [useful]. It can be argued that originality and usefulness may vary depending on situations and cultures, so therefore a universal measuring stick for creativity would be impossible.

I love that definition. Creativity is a combination of originality and usefulness; something unique and something helpful.

The Creative Impulse

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My thanks to Incase for sponsoring the site this week.

Incase — Never miss a shot with the DSLR Pro Camera Backpack (Sponsor)

What Does Opportunity Look Like?

Scott Belsky wrote an article a while back about how to find your Work Sweet Spot.

Your Work Sweet Spot is where you will have the greatest job fulfillment and satisfaction as well where you will give the greatest contribution to the field and provide the most value.

This sweet spot is found at the intersection of (1) your natural interests and preferences, (2) your skills and expertise, and (3) your opportunity stream.

Scott Belsky — The Work Sweet Spot

Belsky writes:

Over the years, I have met many creative leaders and entrepreneurs that have made an impact in their respective industries. No surprise, they love what they do. But when I ask probing questions about their career paths, it becomes clear that their good fortunes were not predestined. Aside from lots of hard work, great creative careers are powered by an intersection of three factors: Genuine Interest, Skills, and Opportunity.

The same thinking applies to successful creative projects. The magic happens when you find the sweet spot where your genuine interests, skills, and opportunity intersect.

Your interest and preferences are the things you are naturally drawn toward. How are you wired, what fascinates you, what do you daydream about?

Your skills are the things you’re talented at. For some it’s math, for others it’s art, or project planning, or counseling, or playing sports.

Ned Herrmann, author of The Creative Brain, and the man behind the Whole Brain model writes that: “To prefer something is to be drawn to it, to have a taste for it. Competency has to o with acquired knowledge and professional experience.”

Herrmann also writes that “true mastery in a specific domain can only be achieved in those areas that converge with our preferences.”

But mastery alone is not enough to have successful impact in that area. Now, of course, not everyone wants to have successful impact. But if you do, then you need opportunities to contribute to something bigger.

Which is why I want to unpack a bit more about what Scott Belsky calls the Opportunity Stream:

The third factor that plays into every successful career is opportunity. Unfortunately, this is often where we get stuck, discounting the potential opportunities that surround us as inadequate. There is no such thing as equal access to opportunity. Old boy networks and nepotism run rampant in all industries. And most opportunities are entirely circumstantial. As such, you must simply define “opportunity” as an action or experience that brings you a step closer to your genuine interest. Opportunity is less about leaps forward and more about the slow advance. Most folks I meet recall their greatest opportunities as chance conversations. This is why personal introductions, conferences, and other networking efforts really pay off. Just surrounding yourself with more activity will inherently increase your “opportunity stream” – the chance happenings that lead to actions and experiences relevant to your genuine interests.

What does opportunity look like?

Belsky defines opportunity as an action or experience that brings you a step closer to your genuine interest.

As Belsky also says, these opportunities are usually slow advances. They are the little things that, in the moment, may seem inconsequential, but in hindsight prove to have been kairos moments.

Benjamin Franklin said that, “Human felicity is produced not as much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.”

Here are a few examples of actions or experiences that can bring you a step closer to your genuine interest, and ideas for how to find and create more actions and experiences.

  • Build and Foster Relationships: By far and away, the best “stream” for opportunity is with the people you know. They say if you’re out of sight you’re out of mind; and the opposite is true as well.

Do you know what your most important relationships are right now? What are you doing to foster genuine relationships with people who are in the same area you are interested in?

  • Meet New People:Go to conferences. Go to local meet-ups. Introduce yourself to someone. Send encouraging emails to people that also offer a nugget of value to that person. And repeat. Keep fostering, maintaining, and building relationships.

As I wrote a while back when I attended my first Macworld conference:

I’m not here as a journalist with the goal of covering this Apple-centric event so much as I am here to meet the Mac nerds I am privileged to work alongside all year long.

A handshake and a “nice to meet you” is worth so much more than an @reply. A conversation over a cup of coffee is better than two dozen emails.

  • Encourage the People You Already Know: In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor says that social support is our single greatest asset when it comes to success in “nearly every domain of our lives, including marriage, health, friendship, community involvement, creativity, and in particular, our jobs, careers, and business,” and that random acts of kindness (such as encouraging others) are one of the most significant ways we can boost social support and, in turn, increase our own happiness.

Achor writes:

When we have a community of people we can count on — spouses, family, friends, colleagues — we multiply our emotional, intellectual, and physical resources. We bounce back from setbacks faster, accomplish more, and feel a greater sense of purpose. Furthermore, the effect on our happiness, and therefore on our ability to profit from the Happiness Advantage, is both immediate and long-lasting.

Achor has conducted many studies and tests at different companies where employees were tasked with writing a 2-minute email to someone in their social support network (a friend or family member) as the first thing before they began their work day. They did this every day for 21 days, the result was a noticeable increase in employee happiness which, in turn, increased productivity, creativity, resiliency, confidence, learning skills, energy, and motivation.

And in an article entitled “Pay It Forward“, Karen McGrane wrote:

Not everything in our professional lives is a transaction, scrutinized and evaluated against how much it costs us, how much someone should pay. Not every teaching relationship must be formalized—a mentoring opportunity, a coach, an internship. Not every investment of time has to be “worth it.” Sometimes you just have a brief conversation with someone because—why not? You never know what will come of it.

  • Practice and Improving at Your Skill: They say opportunity finds you working. And while there is (obviously) a lot of value in the opportunity stream itself, you also need to be prepared. And so, yes, do something every day that will bring you a step closer to your genuine interest. But also do something every day that will help you improve your skills, competency, or knowledge in that area.

  • Show Up Every Day: Another way to increase your stream of opportunity is to do your best creative work every day and share it with others. If your genuine interest is technology, then what is one thing you can do every day that will increase the activity happening around that topic for you?

  • Create Opportunities for Others: Become awesome at word of mouth marketing for the people, products, and services you find great value in.

For example: I often get emails from readers who are wanting to build a website and are in need of a designer / developer. They ask me if I have a recommendation, and naturally I tell them about the people I know and have worked with in the past.

Don’t shy back from introducing people to one another, or from introducing your friends and social network to great products or services.

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Again, as Belsky wrote, simply surrounding yourself with more activity will inherently increase your Opportunity Stream. Get around other people; go to more events; encourage people more frequently; provide value to others.

When I wrote about building better defaults, this is exactly the sort of application I had in mind.

What is one action or experience you can do today that will move you one step closer to your genuine interest?

What Does Opportunity Look Like?

Books for September

Looking for something awesome to read this month? Here are two suggestions. One to learn from and one to kick back with.

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People Over Profit
By Dale Partridge

People Over Profit is an excellent book about running a business and building a brand that values people and ethics more than the bottom line. The premise is easy enough to understand: if you build a company where values such as honesty, generosity, courage, and quality are built into the fabric of your business model then success will almost certainly follow.

It’s easy to read the cliffnotes and be like, oh yeah, I get that. But do you? Really?

Dale has done an excellent job at outlining just why the values of people, truth, transparency, authenticity, quality, generosity, and courage are so important. And also how these things can impact your business model, company culture, and your brand.

The chapters on transparency, quality, and courage especially hit home for me. Transparency because I believe I have some areas that I can be more transparent with my readership and my team. Quality because the whole chapter was like the thesis statement from my own book, Delight is in the Details. And the courage chapter because it offers a lot of insight into a topic that I’ve been researching a lot lately: how fear can keep us back from doing our best creative work.

One of the many quotes that stood out to me from the book is this:

Business is really just the act of stewarding a series of relationships.

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The Martian
By Andy Weir

I read The Martian while during vacation last Christmas and I couldn’t put it down. If you’re not familiar with the premise, it’s about an astronaut, Mark Watney, who gets stranded on Mars after a 4-man mission goes wrong and has to survive with very limited supplies.

The movie comes out in a few months, but why wait to watch it when you can read the book now? (I’ve also heard that the audiobook version of The Martian is fantastic.)

Relatedly, the author, Andy Weir, recorded a podcast with James Altucher a while back. He shares about how The Martian was written and how in his attempts to give away the book, the Kindle version accidentally became a best seller on Amazon and led to the book and movie deal.

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Also Worthwhile

  • The Sketchnote Workbook: This book is actually far deeper than just a workbook to help you improve your sketchnoting chops. As Mike Rohde lays out in the very beginning, sketchnoting is about ideas, not art; it’s about listening to ideas, analyzing them, and finding the ones that resonate. (More on this topic tomorrow.) The workbook gives insight, instruction, and opportunity for ideation, creating idea maps, planning, documenting, and more. Even if you’re not “artistic”, there is much wisdom to glean just about the overall initial stages of the creative process.

  • Just yesterday I started reading In Pursuit of Elegance. One chapter in and I’m already pumped about it. Matthew E. May covers seven design lessons: (1) What isn’t there can often trump what is; (2) The simplest rules create the most effective order; (3) Limiting information creates intrigue; (4) Subtraction and restraint promote customer co-created value; (5 Limited resources are the very source of sustainable innovation; (6) Doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing; and (7) “Break” is an important part of any breakthrough.

Books for September