Discover more from Steady Beats | Matt Tillotson
The Mix Tape No. 48
Welcome! I’m Back in Florida, so let’s get back to palm tree photos.
Sunset, in my neighborhood a few weeks ago:
Onto Mix Tape #48.
Fighting the Dunning-Krueger effect
Anne-Laure Le Cunff wrote a great summary of the Dunning-Krueger effect, in which people with low competency or knowledge in an area overestimate their competency:
Not only did most participants overestimate their performance, but the least competent participants—the ones that scored in the bottom quarter—were more likely to overestimate their performance. The least they knew, the more they thought they knew.
This is running rampant right now. As uncertainty and disruption ramp up, we enact personal defense mechanisms to protect ourselves. We reduce and harden our personal worldview.
I’ll add one more tip: to reduce confirmation bias, turn off your cable news channel of choice. Forever.
Reframing competitive analysis
Brian Balfour challenges business leaders to think in terms of alternatives, rather than competitors:
Slack was not going up against Hipchat, Flowdock, and the many chat products that came before them. The primary alternative for their use case was email.
Pinterest was not going up against iHeartThis and other early clones of Pinterest. The primary alternative for their users was cutting/pasting pics out magazines or copying/pasting digital images into document files.
DocuSign did not compete against HelloSign and other e-signature companies. The primary alternative for their customers were pen-and-ink signatures and FedEx-ing documents.
Thinking in alternatives naturally aligns you to create the best customer experience possible, rather than trying to out-feature, out-brand, or out-price competitors.
Is being labelled a “cult” becoming a term of admiration?
Apple, one of the most profitable companies in the history of the world, is often accused of fostering a “cult” of loyalists—customers who will defend them to the bitter end and buy whatever whatever is foisted upon them. (Even $699 computer wheels.)
In business, cult creation is becoming aspirational:
I believe the future consumer companies won’t just be open platforms. They will be inclusive groups with a deep shared ideology. They will be cults.
A cult is a social group that is often defined by its unusual philosophical beliefs, or intense devotion to an idea or person. Cults welcome all who want to join, so long as they believe.
I prefer the term community to cult. It’s less ominous. A community can rally around a common ideal without sacrificing all else, or drinking the Kool-Aid, so to speak.
Community is profitable. It builds loyalty and long-term engagement.
I also think it’s the future of online education for adults.
Many courses will try to compete with stronger curriculum, slicker videos or celebrity teachers. But the secret sauce is a loyal group of students, rallying around a common cause or ideal, and lifting each other up over the long term.
The value of regular writing
Web Smith, on the intrinsic long-term value of newsletter creation for writers:
The value of prolific writing and creativity is that you’re always in a pattern of thought. You’re constantly assessing beliefs and designing paths to further your understanding of a topic. When entrepreneurial thinkers begin a newsletter on the platform of their choosing, they are doing so out of sheer passion. Their minds are always thinking of enrichment, improvement, development, and progress.
Regular writing sharpens your thinking. Regular publishing expands your network and your opportunities.
No downside. Write—and publish online—regularly.
Write like John and Paul
“A Day in the Life,” my personal Beatles favorite song, is the last track on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album. The song is also the last true Lennon/McCartney writing collaboration, a final monument to their epic creative partnership.
The song is full of wild mood swings and drug references. It comes at you in waves of varying height and intensity. It’s chaos, just like the Beatles were at that time.
You can write like “A Day in the Life” sounds—without even taking drugs—using these elements to make your writing more interesting:
Clear voice: You can hear the lines of demarcation in the song, with John and Paul each writing to their personal stereotypical styles. Lennon’s first verse is gloomy painting images of World War II and suicide. McCartney’s second verse is lighter, a simple tale of his teenage scramble to get to school.
Varying tempo: The song is slow. Then it startles us in a transition, which is followed by a lighthearted piano sequence. Then it slows, climbs again, and closes with a haunting note you can’t forget. Varying sentence length, point-of-view, and emotion gives your writing variety and vibrancy.
A mix of POP: Personal, Observational, and Playful. David Perell argues we need all three POP elements for interesting writing, and “A Day” delivers. John shares his sullen feelings. Paul adds an upbeat piano jingle. Both men give us unique observations: “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall” is a reference to the holes blasted into Great Britain’s roads, courtesy of German bombs.
Take your reader on a ride. Change rhythm and speed. Inject surprise. Mix up your observations with personal anecdotes and cultural analogies. And close memorably.
We’re adding Mix Tape readers every week. Thank you for reading and sharing!
Please send me your thoughts and suggestions. I am hearing from readers more often, and it’s great.
See you next week!