The Difference Between Just Showing Up and Moving the Needle

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According to Woody Allen, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” If that’s true, I would say the other 20 percent is sheer perseverance to make progress, or move the needle. Showing up is just the baseline, but it’s not enough.

Back when I practiced martial arts very seriously and it was a huge part of my life, I would train everyday or nearly every day. Sometimes I’d hit a plateau for months where I wasn’t making any progress. I thought that just by showing up every day consistently, that was making a difference, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t pushing myself so I wasn’t making any gains. I was in my comfort zone doing what I could do and not training trying to do what I couldn’t do.

If you want to move a stone to build the pyramid, it’s not enough to just show up and push. If there was not enough force to move the rock even an inch, simply showing up everyday to push it will not get you a pyramid. However if you put in enough force and effort to move it even an inch, eventually you will have something.

I think it’s like that with any craft. If you don’t the same thing you’ve always done, you’ll likely get the same results. If you do marketing and are not seeing new customers, doing the same thing over and over isn’t likely going to change it.

Popularity: 5% [?]

How to Become More Productive

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I feel like there’s just not enough time to do everything I want to do. I think many of you can relate. People want to be more productive in general. However much of the day is wasted in such unnoticeable ways. Also, some work rituals we cling to because of pure dogma not realizing it can be improved or streamlined.

For example, for years I clung to the ritual of paying my bills by writing physical checks. I liked going through the process because it felt like I was paying more attention to my finances by doing so. When I finally awakened to paying my bills online and even setting the recurring payments to autopay – it was amazing. You don’t have to pay attention to it anymore. It’s always good to every once in a while make sure you are not being billed for anything you didn’t want but in general, setting this and forgetting this task is an overal productivity plus.

As part of my work, I design a lot. I can spend hours on Photoshop. One thing I started to finally notice after years of using Photoshop was that I kept doing a certain task a lot. I would copy a Layer Style of one design element and apply it to another. This would take several clicks – Right clicking on the element I liked and click on the menu item. Then I had to right click the new element and apply that style. There weren’t any shortcut keys, or at least none that I saw. It dawned on me that it was so inefficient and time consuming and that there had to be a better way.

I finally started researching this and found that you can create your own shortcut keys and I did so. Now I can do the same set of routine tasks that would take at least 4 steps and reduced them to 2.

Of course not everyone uses Photoshop but if you generalize this lesson, you have to be aware of the things you do. You have to be critical of all the steps you take to accomplish a task. Ask yourself, can this be simplified, reduced or automated in any way. Can you systematize this. Even better, can you remove yourself from the steps. I’ve really started to think about this and it has helped streamline my day and focus on the things I have to focus on.

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How to Create Compeling Advertising

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Watch this ad:


and then watch this ad:


The former commercial focuses on the features. If you look at the signage in the commercial, it says things like 8MP Camera, Wifi Hotspot, Smartphone, HDMI, etc etc. It basically tells me what this phone is about but as far as appealing to me or striking a cord, it falls flat.

The latter commercial tells a story. The product (insurance) isn’t even shown in the commercial, only mentioned in passing at the end.

You can appeal to logic by listing all the things your product does and try to outdo the competition by doing more and more, or you can appeal to base emotions like anger, joy, happiness, love, hope, or in this case loss. I think the latter works better and is timeless. Imagine watching the Android commercial 5 years from now. Will you be impressed by 4G, HDMI, 8MP cameras? At the rate technology moves, probably no. The Thai insurance commercial is actually a very old commercial, but it has as much resonance today as it did when it first came out.

The iPhone Facetime commercial reminds me very much of this style of advertising:

Apple never tells you all the features the phone as. They just show you how it can change the way you share experiences with your loved ones.

Popularity: 5% [?]

On Perserverance

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At some point you will face a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Whether this is a technical problem, a challenge at work, or a plateau in your training, everyone will come across this at some point in their life. I have been working on something for quite some time. I keep slowly plugging away at it, but lately, I’ve seem to hit a brick wall, and I feel like I’ve been equipped with only sticks and stones to take down this mountain of bricks despite my best efforts. At times like these, I tell myself to keep pushing but when there’s no hope in sight, it can be daunting. It’s so easy to throw up your hands and give up. The seduction of just letting it all go can be tempting.

Sometimes you just have to step back and take a look at how much you have accomplished. At times like these it’s good to have someone tell you that the end might just be around the corner. If you stop now, you’d never know how close you got. There is a Chinese saying, “Failure is the mother of success.” You can rarely succeed without first failing. Through failure we learn our lessons just as long as we are willing to pick ourselves up and keep moving.

I hit plateaus in my martial arts training all the time. When that happens, I try to surround myself with people who will push me and motivate me. I also try to change it up a bit and work on not only getting over the hump but also training on other stuff that may help me get over the plateau. Sometimes, you just need a break or get a fresh perspective.

I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
- Steve Jobs 1995

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Fake Blood: Corn Syrup + Food Coloring

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Had a shoot today at Alter where I looked progressively bloodier and bloodier. It was the first time I had fake blood on me. I guess I was never really into scary Halloween costumes. I looked at the ingredients of the fake blood and it’s corn syrup and food coloring. There’s also several types of fake blood: viscous, chunky etc. Here’s some photos from behind the scenes and the people that made the shoot possible: Producer Melanie Francis, Photographer Eric Sahrmann and Hair and Makeup Artist Karen Brody.

Popularity: 9% [?]

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