Tag Archives: progress

The Same People

Do you constantly hang out with the same people?

The concept of Dunbar’s number is an interesting one. Recently, I have seen more discussion on it and how it relates to social connections.

In short, Dunbar suggests there’s an upper limit to the amount of relationships we can maintain. That number, for the record, is 150.

You can read much more about Dubnbar’s number at Wikipedia.

Mashable wrote about how it relates to Facebook.

Jacob Morgan wrote an interesting piece on how Dunbar’s number is irrelevant and the importance of weak ties.

Chris Brogan talks about beating Dunbar’s number.

Personally, I think it’s all very interesting, but since I’m not a Ph.D., I’m not going to add any scientific arguments to the fray. I’m going to bring it down a level.

If you always go to the same networking events, switch it up. Try some new ones. Meet some new people. Your current network won’t (really) exclude you and you’ll probably meet some new people and learn some new ideas.

If you have a big social network, go out of your way to meet some of them in person or “IRL” (In Real Life – a popular abbreviation on twitter). Often, some of the real-life contacts can introduce you to other real-life contacts.

I have a list of people I want to meet this year, in real life. Some are people I’ve connected with online, others I haven’t. Others are a handshake or two away. It’s an aggressive list but I’m confident I can get it done. To do so, I’ll have to pass on some networking events that are frequented by current friends. In the end, I think they’ll forgive me.

While I find Dunbar’s number interesting, I’m not particularly concerned about managing my 150. I’d much rather venture out and meet some remarkable new people.

My Three Words for 2010

Taking a cue from the forever brilliant Chris Brogan and his post today, below are my three words for 2010.

My 3 Words – Revere, Ship, Daily

My Three Words for 2010

Revere – I am not using the traditional definition of revere here, but rather a reference to Paul Revere, the revolutionary who successfully warned an entire region that the British were coming. In Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book, The Tipping Point, he illustrates why Paul Revere was successful in his famous ride (the message tipped and spread), while William Dawes, a different man trying to accomplish the same goal, was not successful.

From Gladwell’s The Tipping Point:

Paul Revere’s ride is perhaps the most famous historical example of a word-of-mouth epidemic. A piece of extraordinary news traveled a long distance in a very short time, mobilizing an entire region to arms …
At the same time that Revere began his ride north and west of Boston, a fellow revolutionary — a tanner by the name of William Dawes — set out on the same urgent errand, working his way to Lexington via the towns west of Boston. He was carrying the identical message, through just as many towns over just as many miles as Paul Revere. But Dawes’s ride didn’t set the countryside afire. The local militia leaders weren’t altered. In fact, so few men from one of the main towns he rode through — Waltham — fought the following day that some subsequent historians concluded that it must have been a strongly pro-British community. It wasn’t. The people of Waltham just didn’t find out the British were coming until it was too late. If it were only the news itself that mattered in a word-of-mouth epidemic, Dawes would now be as famous as Paul Revere. He isn’t. So why did Revere succeed where Dawes failed?
The answer is that the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. Revere’s news tipped and Dawes’s didn’t because of the differences between the two men.
[Revere] was gregarious and intensely social. He was a fisherman and a hunter, a cardplayer and a theatre-lover, a frequenter of pubs and a successful businessman. He was active in the local Masonic Lodge and was a member of several select social clubs. He was also a doer, a man blessed — as David Hackett Fischer recounts in his brilliant book Paul Revere’s Ride — with “an uncanny genius for being at the center of events.”
It is not surprising, then, that when the British army began its secret campaign in 1774 to root out and destroy the stores of arms and ammunition held by the fledgling revolutionary movement, Revere became a kind of unofficial clearing house for the anti-British forces. He knew everybody. He was the logical one to go to if you were a stable boy on the afternoon of April 18th, 1775, and overheard two British officers talking about how there would be hell to pay on the following afternoon. Nor is it surprising that when Revere set out for Lexington that night, he would have known just how to spread the news as far and wide as possible. When he saw people on the roads, he was so naturally and irrepressibly social he would have stopped and told them. When he came upon a town, he would have known exactly whose door to knock on, who the local militia leader was, who the key players in town were. He had met most of them before. And they knew and respected him as well.
But William Dawes? Fischer finds it inconceivable that Dawes could have ridden all seventeen miles to Lexington and not spoken to anyone along the way. But he clearly had none of the social gifts of Revere, because there is almost no record of anyone who remembers him that night. “Along Paul Revere’s northern route, the town leaders and company captains instantly triggered the alarm,” Fischer writes. “On the southerly circuit of William Dawes, this did not happen until later. In at least one town it did not happen at all. Dawes did not awaken the town fathers or militia commanders in the towns of Roxbury, Brookline, Watertown or Waltham.”
Why? Because Roxbury, Brookline, Watertown and Waltham were not Boston. And Dawes was in all likelihood a man with a normal social circle, which means that — like most of us — once he left his hometown he probably wouldn’t have known whose door to knock on. Only one small community along Dawes’s ride appeared to get the message, a few farmers in a neighborhood called Waltham Farms. But alerting just those few houses wasn’t enough to “tip” the alarm.
Word-of-mouth epidemics are the work of Connectors. William Dawes was just an ordinary man.

I am a Connector by nature but in 2010, I want to up my game, meet more new people, introduce other people, earn trust, build bridges and create value. In short, I want to emulate what Paul Revere did long before his famous ride and become the type of Connector he was.

This will help me personally and it will also help me build and scale my new media consulting firm, Tribes Win.


Don't wait for perfect, just ship

I spent six months in 2009 learning more than I thought possible from one of my heroes, Seth Godin. The most important thing I learned was the importance of “shipping”.

Seth has had many successes in his prolific career but before those many successes, he had many failures. Seth’s failures paved the way for his successes. He just kept shipping (including over 3,000 blog posts over the last ten years) and eventually the projects he shipped became more and more successful. The

From when we are young, it is drilled into our head (in our education system, at home and at work) that failure is terrible and something to be avoided at all costs. Seth taught us that failing is OK and shipping is what matters.

In addition to building Tribes Win, I have a few important projects I’m working on in 2010, including fear.less, an online magazine that I’m launching with Ishita Gupta, Carpe Defect, a new blog, e-book and book that I’m writing and a new type of social game that I am developing.

I will ship these projects in 2010.


Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ferrantraite

This is a simple reminder of improving daily in two specific categories:

    Daily Sense – Post here on DailySense.com at least once every day in 2010.
    Health – Eat healthier and workout in 2010.

I have tied each of these words to a more specific set of SMART goals with dates and specific measurements of success.

Chris Brogan inspired me. Hopefully I can amplify his inspiration. Give this some thought and consider sharing your three words here or back on Chris’ original post.

Revere. Ship. Daily.

The Space Above

Storage Unit

Having moved five times in the last six years, I’m no stranger to temporary storage units. They’re all pretty similar. You pay a monthly fee and get access to a small space to store your belongings.

When you purchase a storage unit, they are always quoted in width x depth. A 10′ x 10′ space might cost $120 / month or a 5′ x 10′ space might be $80 / month.

Here’s a little secret. The value is in the space above.

The height of the storage unit determines how much you can store. A 5′ x 10′ unit with high ceilings can store as much as a 10′ x 10′ with low ceilings. Now I always pack my items in sturdy, stackable containers.

Think about your own business or relationships. Is there ‘space above’ that you’re not utilizing?

On that long drive, instead of listening to the music, you could listen to a great audio book or catch up with that relative or old colleague you’ve been meaning to call.

On that plane ride, instead of watching the in-flight movie, you could write the business plan for your new idea or draft the first chapter to that book you’ve been meaning to write.

At home, instead of watching House reruns, you could start a blog for yourself or with your child.

Space above is everywhere. Look for it and use it.

[photo credit: merfam]

Book Drips – What NASA didn’t tell you

RocketMen Cover

Think your project is difficult?

Think your boss is demanding?

Think the deadlines you’ve been given are unrealistic?

Imagine working for NASA 41 years ago and John F. Kennedy telling you to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to earth.

Most of the 40th anniversary coverage has focused on the success and wonder of the historic event, and rightfully so, but in a new and thrilling book, Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, author Craig Nelson outlines the full story, the good and the bad, of the space and missile race.

Some nuggets you may not have known: (directly from Rocket Men)

– The thirty-story-high Apollo 11-Saturn V spaceship had over 6 million parts, which meant that under NASA’s rigorous instance of 99.9% reliability, as many as 6,000 could fail.

– The nearly 1 million spectators who began gathering at Cape Kennedy for launch on July 16th, 1969, were kept at least 3.5 miles away from the pad because, in an explosion, hundred-pound chunks of shrapnel would be hurled in a 3-mile radius with 4/5 the power of an atomic bomb.

– When President Kennedy proposed a moon landing within a decade as the most effective way to take the lead in the space race after the shocking Soviet achievements of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin’s first manned orbit, even NASA’s most zealous engineers were aghast.

– The astronauts’ final breakfast on earth was steak and eggs. Why? Low in fiber and low in waste.

– The lunar samples brought back to earth by the Apollo missions revealed the moon’s origins.

– NASA designers had neglected to place a handle on the Eagle’s outside door, which meant that Armstrong and Aldrin had to make sure to leave it open while they walked on the Moon.

– When Neil Armstrong was asked by a reporter what one extra item he would take with him, his dry humor shone through. “More fuel.”

These and more amazing details are revealed in Rocket Men as Craig Nelson takes the reader inside the journey that changed the world. I highly recommend this book to not only space geeks and history buffs but anyone who wants a deeper look into the story behind the first Moon landing.

[Disclosures: I know the author Craig Nelson well and consider him a good friend. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link.]

Confusing motion for progress

The noted French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabre, studied processionary caterpillars in great detail. This caterpillar is special is its instinct to follow in perfect lock step behind the caterpillar in front of it. A unique characteristic, it can also be deadly.

Video here.

Processionary Caterpillars

Zig Ziglar tells the story of an experiment Fabre coordinated, placing a number of processionary caterpillars around the rim of a flowerpot, each caterpillar’s head touching the caterpillar behind it.

Then Fabre placed the caterpillars’ favorite food in the center of the circle. The caterpillars followed each other for seven days, eventually dying of exhaustion and starvation, unable to divert their course to their favorite food only inches away.

They did something humans doe everyday. They confused motion for progress.

Motion: Ordering fitness DVDs and buying new workout clothes.
Progress: Finishing the program, losing the weight and convincing a friend to join you for Round 2.

Motion: Registering a domain name you’ve wanted.
Progress: Starting a blog and dripping interesting content often enough to get your 1,000th subscriber or your 100th die hard fan.

Motion: Buying a cookbook.
Progress: Hosting a dinner party for ten friends once a month.

Motion: Brainstorming a new and innovative project at work.
Progress: Taking the third project live and planning the fourth.

Motion: Organizing all your notebooks, pens and software, telling yourself you’re finally going to write that book.
Progress: Finishing Chapter 2.

Motion: Listening to the Rosetta Stone CD’s.
Progress: Moving to Italy for six months and learning the culture and the language.

Motion: Registering a twitter account for your organization.
Progress: Executing a comprehensive social media strategy, listening to, connecting with and engaging your customers.

The pace of possible

What’s possible?

In-flight movies


Apple just released the 3Gs, an iPhone where you can take a video, edit that video and post it to YouTube, all in less than 2 minutes (I timed myself). My friend Jon immediately viewed it from 30,000 feet on his Virgin America flight.


Every newspaper, book and blog in your briefcase or purse


The Amazon Kindle magically fits 10,000 newspapers, magazines, books and blogs right in your purse or briefcase (you can even get DailySense on the Kindle).

The pace of possible isn’t just limited to technology…

A comfortable thong

Gale Epstein and Lida Orzeck invented Hanky Panky, a comfortable thong (sorry, no picture or personal testimonial on this one but check the reviews).

If this is all possible today, what will be possible in a year?

Two years?

Five years?

Will you be ready?

Magic moments


Snapping the perfect photograph.

Getting on Oprah.

The right article in the right magazine in the right industry at the right time.

The unexpected presentation that wows everyone at the conference and has them buzzing for weeks.

The right licensing deal with the right partner.

The perfect product launch (getting on Oprah might be easier).

The right investment at the right time from just the right investor.

The YouTube video that makes you a household name. Overnight.

You don’t get many magic moments in the life of your business, although some people put themselves in position for way more than others. That old saying, “the harder I work, the luckier I get” is more true than not. Magic moments don’t follow Steve Jobs around. He creates them.

Sometimes, magic moments aren’t so obvious. Will you recognize your magic moment when it happens? Will you be prepared?

Most importantly, what are you doing today to increase the likelihood of it happening?

Get started failing

Testing used to be expensive. If your product was a failure, you ended up with a warehouse of unused, unwanted widgets and a sizable capital loss.

In 1987, if you had a brainchild to sell a set of ten hilarious new T-shirts, you had to produce a large enough run to pay for the screens. If you were wrong, your friends and family were flush with unsold shirts and your wallet was empty. Now, companies like CafePress allow you to start selling with no inventory and zero money down (and no risk of a sub-prime T-shirt crisis).

If nobody likes your T-shirt, change it and try again.

In 1988, if you wanted to start a magazine, you needed at least $10,000 and connections in the magazine publishing industry. Today, with sites like OpenZine, you can have your first issue live in less than an hour. For free.

If you don’t get any readers, change it and try again.

Get started. Get done. Measure results. Fail fast. Fail often.

The cost of changing the screen is almost zero.

Everything is amazing. Nobody is happy.

As comedian Louis CK elucidates brilliantly and humorously on Conan O’Brien, everything is amazing and nobody is happy.

iPhoneMobile phones can stream video content, provide GPS directions or identify a song on the radio but we complain if it hangs for even ten seconds.

Planes can get us from New York to Los Angeles (or Dublin) in 6 hours but we complain if we have to sit on the runway for 30 minutes.

We complain every time the price of a stamp increases, yet you can reliably mail a letter from Seattle to Miami in a few days for 42 cents.

Anyone who has an opinion and a computer can have their message heard by thousands of people, literally for free. And that computer? It used to cost $1000. Now the laptop version only costs $250.

Yes, there are challenges. Yes, the economy is in the tank. But it is an amazing time in our history and it’s time we stop complaining, start focusing on the positive and leverage the advances in technology to cause positive change.

Feel free to print this post and mail it to all of your closest friends for only 42 cents.