Learning how to make

Everyone should learn to make things.

Not because there is tremendous shortage of people who can produce things but because once you know how to make something, it changes how you see things.

Once you know how to assemble an electronic device, every computer seems a bit less mysterious. Once you know how to give a speech, you see things in the speeches others give.

Learning how to make things turns you from a spectator into a participant, from someone at the mercy of the system to someone who is helping to run the system.

Learning how to make give you the guts to make more, to fail more often, to get better at making.

A legacy of Maya Angelou

Others can better write about Maya Angelou’s impact on the world stage, on how she stood up for the dignity of all people, of women and on how she touched and changed our world.

For those that seek to make a change in the world, whether global or local, one lesson of her life is this:

You can.

You can make a difference.

You can stand up to insurmountable forces.

You can put up with far more than you think you can.

Your lever is far longer than you imagine it is, if you choose to use it.

If you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world.

Stop wanting to fit in, instead seek to stand out. Maya Angelou didn’t fit in, she stood out.

She was an artist in more ways than one, she connected with the world, she touched the world.

She will be missed. The world is running out of legends.

The You Show

You Spec (1)
A friend was telling me about some job interviews she went on. She enjoyed them.

Of course she did, I thought. She was starring in a show, a show about her.

One approach is to be reactive, to sit where you’re supposed to sit, have your CV appear just so, wear what you’re supposed to wear and answer each and every question in the safe and secure way.

The other approach is to put on a show. To be in charge, to lead.

When you go to Market Theatre in Johannesburg or State Theatre in Pretoria, the producers don’t ask you what sort of lights you want, what kind of story line you want to see and how long the show should be. They put on their show. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Plenty of other people do. As a result, they win.

They get to do their work, their way. And they profit from their confidence.

Some bosses don’t want to hire people who have a vision, a personality and a shtick. That’s okay. You don’t want to work for them anyway.

Your brand is not your logo

Smart marketers understand that a new logo can’t possibly increase your market share, and they know that an expensive logo doesn’t defeat a cheap logo.

They realise that the logo is like a first name, it’s an identifier.

Apple Inc Logo

So, when entrepreneurs start ‘testing’ logos, and proclaiming that a new logo might change their market share, I get nervous. You can’t test a logo any more than you can test a first name.

I guess the punchline is: take the time and money and effort you would put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.

Take the ball and go home

Bullies are everywhere. At school, in traffic, in party conversations, at the stadium, in relationships, at work, in business, committee meetings, political parties and even on social media platforms.

The thing with bullies is that they can’t be bullies when they are alone.

If you work with a bully, this is all you need to know. They need you.

A bully is someone who uses physical or psychological force to demean and demoralise someone else. A bully isn’t challenging your ideas, or working with you to find a better outcome. A bully is playing a game, one that he or she enjoys and needs. You’re welcome to play this game if it makes you happy, but for most people, it will make you miserable. So don’t.

The way to work with a bully is not to try to please her or to question the quality of your work or to appease her or to hide from her.

The way to work with a bully is to take the ball and go home. First time, every time.

Take Your Ball

When there’s no ball, there’s no game. Bullies hate that. So they’ll either behave so they can play with you or they’ll go bully someone else.

Call her on her behavior (not who she is, but what she does). “I’m sorry, but when you talk to me like that, I’m unable to do good work. I’ll be in my office if you need me.” Then walk out, not in a huff, but with a measure of respect for the person (not the behavior).

This is a shocking piece of advice. It might even get you fired. But it will probably save your job and your sanity. Most bullies are deeply unhappy and you might just save their skin.

If you’re good at what you do, you deserve better than a bully.