I remember learning to take a selfie

My grandma – GraMelissa – had this green, disposable camera. Remember those?

We were taking pictures, and she said, “Here, let me show you something.”

She pulled my face together with hers, turned the camera around, held it out at arms length, and snapped a photo.

Whoa, you can do that? I thought. How do you know what your picture looks like? What’s if it’s a bad picture? Then you’ve just wasted that shot. There are only 24 in that thing.

I grew up frugal. I don’t remember having a lot of disposable cameras. Taking photos itself was a novelty. Turning the camera around to snap a photo of ourselves, a photo we couldn’t see until it was developed, seemed terribly risky.

But that’s why it was fun. I’d never done that before.

Now you take a selfie and turn the camera around to look at it immediately. You just delete it if it’s no good.


One-to-one before one-to-many

Lately, I’ve been working on setting things up to help market my band, Hunchback Whale.

In the process, I’m realizing more and more this lesson of one-to-one before one-to-many communication.

I heard this podcast a while back where they talked about the early days of Airbnb. The founders, at the time based in Austin, TX, we’re asked by one of their advisors where their customers lived. At that point, most if the customers lived in NYC. So the advisor asked, “Why are you still here?” The founders took that advice and began commuting to NYC each week. They started meeting with their first customers, asking them a bunch of questions, and learning how they could help them better with their Airbnb product.

The lesson was that while they still only had maybe a few hundred customers, they could talk with them one in one and get insights from them that would be much harder to get in a larger customer base.

In the context of our band, there are all these tools that allow us to automate the process of communicating with fans: mass email programs, social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and so many others, even our own website. The goal of all these tools is to allow us to communicate to fans or potential fans without us having to actually talk with them directly.

Or that’s how it seems.

But what if instead of using these tools for one-to-many communication, we used them for one-to-one communication many times.

That’s where I think social platforms like Snapchat win. They almost force their users to communicate one-on-one.

For someone who naturally wants to leverage the least effort for the most impact, it’s tempting to be like all the marketers out there who just blast out information to the most people possible.

Taking a page from that early stage Airbnb advisor, it seems like the better plan would be to use all these tools to interact as directly as possible, purposely eliminating as much auyo.ation as possible. Gary Vaynerchuk used to say that our grandparents are better equipped for business in this modern age than we are. They understood the importance of building relationships one person at a time, as opposed to the mass marketing generation that just believes in getting in front of as many people as possible.

For Hunchback Whale, here are some practical steps I’m thinking about:

  • Instead of sending out a bunch of tweets, maybe we send out a bunch of @replies directly to people in the platform.
  • Instead of sending out a bunch of email newsletter blasts, maybe we get into a bunch of separate email conversations with fans individually.
  • Instead of trying to gather a bunch of email addresses in the beginning with a auto-responder series to start them off, maybe we ask for their phone number and call each one of them individually to see what they’re up to and what they’re into.
  • Instead of trying to play shows and get people to come out to buy CDs and T-shirts, what if we got our band together and then personally visited some of these people and got pictures with them.

I suspect we could do both.

It’s more a mindset shift. Use the tools to help us be more efficient, but start with and focus on individual communication instead of blasting away at crowds that don’t care because they don’t know us and we don’t know them.


How I checked 21 tasks off my To-Do list in a day

Step 1: Write down each task you want to accomplish. This doesn’t mean writing down each end goal you want. I wanted all the laundry done, but I didn’t write that down as a task. I wrote down, “Wash first load of laundry, dry first load of laundry, fold and put away first load of laundry, wash second load of laundry,” and so on. The lesson here is that if I want to accomplish a lot, and I have to a) break each goal down into actionable tasks instead of listing them as goals and expecting them to get done and b) write them down.

Step 2: Sort the list into a meaningful order. I chose to tackle the outside tasks first, one after another, instead of trying to go outside separately for each of them or somehow leaving them until the end of the day when it’s dark. More important than batching or sequencing, I think, though, is that by putting them in order up front, I could immediately transition one to the next without wasting mental energy deciding what to do next after each task was accomplished. It’s a lot easier to put everything in order up front than to rely on my lazy brain once the action gets going. Had I sorted through the list after each task was complete, I bet I would have stopped sooner – the mental energy of deciding would have worn my out before I physically wore out.

Step 3: Do each task one after another without breaks. The idea behind all these steps is to separate thinking from doing. If I start thinking while I’m doing, more often than not, my brain comes up with some excuse not to keep going. I think of another task to accomplish, something else more important, or I get bogged down trying to decide what to do next or even to continue at all. Once I’m in the doing stage – this step 3 here – it’s head down, just doing. I’ve already taken care of all the thinking (and put it in writing so I don’t have to rethink it). There’s a reason Nike says, “Just do it.”


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