A great way to vet people is…

…by finding out if successful people are talking about them. I ran across a video on goal setting by someone I hadn’t heard of, Zig Ziglar. The video I saw was interesting and the content checked out, but I was still suspicious: who is this guy? Is he legit?

Then I got an idea. I typed his name into the search field on Seth Godin’s blog. Lo and behold, there he was. Several blog posts not only mentioning the very same man, but celebrating him and his methods. This guy is for real.

Explore your surroundings

When I was going to university in England, I lived on a long straight street full of typical English row houses. Down the street was a Tesco supermarket and an entire avenue full of small shops. For months I didn’t bother walking up the street because it looked like there was nothing there. One day, for whatever reason, I did just that and discovered a small corner shop much closer to my house. Granted I usually ended up going to Tesco anyways, but I learnt something important: always explore.

If you start using a new program, go through all the settings and push all the buttons. When you move to a new neighborhood, take a few hours to walk around and be mindful of what you see. Take a different route on your commute, switch to a different bus or a train. And of course, see the world and travel as much as you can.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

There’s a common trend with bad fast food restaurants. If the fries are stale and taste bad, you can rectify the situation by adding an extra portion of stale fries to the order. The math behind this is simple. Soggy fries taste roughly half as good as freshly cooked ones, so a double portion fixes the problem.

Of course that’s not how any of this works. The fries still taste terrible, now you just have twice was many. Some companies (read people) are rooted in a post-war like mentality where quantity is always more important than quality, where scarcity is still an issue. Pushing down prices (with quality), inability to modernize, aiming to please everyone, having an inconsistent product line and concentrating on “maximizing profits” is a surefire path to a difficult existence and extreme competition where the biggest company almost always wins.

Review your old Facebook posts easily

Reviewing your old (and perhaps embarrassing) Facebook posts by using the “Activity log” is a lot of work. Active users have thousands, if not tens of thousands of likes, comments, posts and so on to go through. An easier way is to check the “On this day” feature once a day. It lists all the posts you made on that particular day of the year. If you do this every day for 365 days, in theory you have just gone through all of your Facebook posts!

Bad design

A great way to stay safe is to include everything in your design. All the data, all the buttons and all the terms. The user not accomplishing their goals is their fault, not yours. I mean, you did provide all the facts.

Bad design is laziness and covering your ass. Good design is knowing what to leave out, what to highlight and taking the risk that maybe you’re wrong on something.

Informal media

10 – 20 years ago, appearing on media (TV, radio) was mostly a formal thing. There was the inevitable combination of scripting, planning, wearing a certain type of clothing and talking a certain way which would form the end result. I’m not talking just about interviews, but also comedy specials, commercials, dramas and the news.

Of course this formal format still exists, but now there’s an alternative which emerged both from necessity and the evolution culture towards the acceptance of informality (necessity as in it’s difficult to keep up appearances for a 3 hours podcast being live streamed).

A more relaxed, informal style makes us look more human. It makes people more open and real. Freestyling instead of following a script is much less predictable and has the potential to reveal intimacy that would otherwise be buried under formality.

What doesn’t kill you hurts

I fully subscribe to the famous Nietzsche quote “What doesn’t kill your makes you stronger”. Well, almost. Most pain we experience in life comes from every day hardships: learning new things, having a flu, making progress at the gym. These experiences make us stronger and better. But then there is pain that does the opposite. Pain from abusive people, bad design and unhealthy patterns. This type of pain makes us weak and anxious. Learn to distinguish between the two and cut away the latter from your life.

Time or money

People have either time or money, but usually not both.

People who have time don’t understand why someone would pay for something you could do yourself. People who have money understand doing it yourself, but don’t have the time so they pay someone else to do it for them.

If you have neither time nor money, consider re-evaluating your life.

Accessories, accessories, accessories

Buy any Android phone, even one of the more popular ones, and you’ll struggle to find accessories for it. The retailer might have a few different cases and a screen protector, but that’s it. If it’s a model that stopped receiving updates 6 months ago, fuhgdeddaboutit.

Walk into any supermarket and they have iPhone accessories for the 5, 6 and 7 models. There are all kinds of grips, holsters and gadgets that are iPhone exclusive. Not only is the iPhone user base massive, but it’s easy to keep stock when there are only 4 or 6 variations (instead of 400 to 600) to take into consideration.

Companies which create iconic, recognizable, design products don’t inundate the market with dozens of variations trying to cater to everyone. They focus on solving problems their way, to their tribe and ignore the noise. That’s why Apple sold over 260 iPhones while you were reading this post.

Clutter & space

Think of a massive pile of stuff lying on a shelf or even on a floor. Shoes, clothing, magazines, everything. If you were to de-clutter and organize it all, I can guarantee it will take more space than when you started. Shoes need to go inside boxes, clothes on a rack and magazines inside binders. Twenty pairs of shoes need twenty shoeboxes or a medium sized trash bag. Which one takes up more space?

You can either have clutter & space or you can have order & no space, but you can’t have both.

If your goal is to have as much stuff as possible, the most effective way to store it is in a big messy pile. Having a messy pile is not very helpful if you want to find things, have them accessible or keep them in working order, but it doesn’t take much space. If you’ve ever seen one of those hoarder TV-shows, you know what I’m talking about.

The alternative is to store things properly, keep them organized and be mindful of what you really need. Don’t store your valuable stuff in supermarket plastic bags, stacked on top of each other or lying on the floor. Invest a little and buy plastic storage boxes from IKEA.

Storing stuff in piles is sometimes unavoidable, but always ask yourself if it really is.