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What's the implicit "no"?

Resource allocation is our greatest daily challenge. We all have finite time, team, and financial resources (even if those differ from one another). Every day, we're solving the puzzle of, "How do I spend my resources?"

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What games are you playing?

I've been thinking about "games" a lot lately. And maybe it's in the air, as this morning, Justin Welsh wrote about the social media game and revealed how much of your success comes from your social graph (e.g. who routinely engages with your posts).

It's probably no surprise that the more influential the people engaging with your content, the more successful that content performs in the algorithm. So you see people with large followings dedicating time to engaging with others with large followings (because then they may get the benefit of reciprocity).

I'm glad he's writing about this publicly because people like me KNOW this is how the game is played. Some people do it very explicitly (i.e. a trade agreement) and others do it more naturally and generously.

It's not all bad. Some of it truly is generous and natural. But there are definitely growth-hacky bad apples that make it all feel kind of bad. And from the outside, it looks kind of bad once you know what you're looking at.

So we rarely talk about it – because if I'm seen as playing the game (even ethically) and that hurts my reputation (even unfairly) then I lose the game. This is where I virtue signal and tell you I refuse to play this game – but if I'm honest, I've definitely logged a few innings. Not all that successfully.

Anyway, I don't just think about social media as a game – I think of every activity I participate in as a game. That is, if it's an activity that awards "winners" with an outcome that I want.

So today, I'm pulling back the curtain on how I think about the games I play. This is something I originally shared in the walled garden of The Lab – but this is a small, safe place too.

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What would my replacement do?

Andy Grove was the third employee and, eventually, the third CEO of Intel.

Time magazine named him "Man of the Year" in 1997 for being "the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and the innovative potential of microchips." 

He had a massive influence on electronics manufacturing worldwide and has been called the "guy who drove the growth phase" of Silicon Valley.

But I know Andy Grove best for one simple question.

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What's the ONE goal?

I interviewed Noah Kagan last week, and to prepare, I listened to a lot of his other interviews. One recurring theme (particularly in this fantastic episode of Tropical MBA) was his focus on defining ONE goal.

At the beginning of the year, I spent some time goal setting. In typical fashion, I casually came up with sixteen different goals I have for the year.

I could defend this and tell you that many of these are small, incremental goals that are probably so small that they don't even need to be stated. But the truth is that I have a hard time declaring a small list of priorities.

I want it all! I want to have my cake AND eat it too!

But I've seen this movie before. When I don't have a short, focused list of priorities, I will jump around day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month to whatever feels the most interesting. It feels random and chaotic – and in my wake, you'll find many half-finished projects that became difficult and were ultimately abandoned.

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What's not being said?

I've come to believe that the things you want are on the other side of difficult conversations.

Throughout the last couple of years, I've developed a spidey sense for slowly-developing tension. Mostly internal tension, but I feel it externally too.

It feels like a low-refrigerator-level-hum drag on your psyche. It's a slow eating away at your conscious. The kind of tension that barely registers at first, but if left unchecked turns into extremely short and awkward conversations that tiptoe around the elephant in the room.

For me, it almost feels itchy.

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Which bricklayer are you?

In September 1666, a great fire swept through London, destroying the city. But after the fire, London was reconstructed on essentially the same medieval street plan, which still exists today.

Christopher Wren, one of the greatest architects of the time, is responsible for rebuilding 52 churches in the City of London after that fire. That includes St. Paul's Cathedral, which is widely considered to be his greatest work.

One day in 1671, Wren observed three bricklayers working on the Cathedral. One was crouched, one half-standing, and one standing tall – working hard and very fast. Wren asked each bricklayer, “What are you doing?”

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What sets your hands on fire?

One inspiration for this blog is my friend Joy Sullivan. Joy is a poet – and one of my favorite accounts to follow on Instagram.

In one post (which I'm struggling to find but haven't stopped thinking about) Joy encourages us to "write like your hands are on fire."

What a beautiful phrase.

I've been writing for years – but the more time that passed, the more my writing has felt more and more measured.

Slow.

Calculated.

But this call to arms to write like my hands are on FIRE...

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