Dear Publishing Industry…

A Book Apart
CC Photo Credit: Jeffrey Zeldman

You’re losing revenue.

I can understand the reluctance of adopting new behaviors, as someone quite schooled in the science of change, there is always fear associated with moving away from the status quo.

I know many people (myself sometimes included) that love the feel of a physical book, the smell of the freshly pressed pages, often brings back fond memories for many.

I urge you to get over your fears of change.

Let me explain…

Continue reading Dear Publishing Industry…

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Tracking vs Doing

As I’m building a web app myself and hopefully several more to follow that build off of that system in the realms of the iPhone, iPad, and probably Android, I can’t help but notice the competition in the field of tracking applications.

There are hundreds of them.

There are apps for tracking everything, calorie counters, energy expenditure counters, there are even apps now that claim you can track anything, or everything. The latest pitch I got was literally, “our software will track anything for you.”

This would be fine I suppose for the data centric entrepreneur or individual, but what they almost always fail to address is the need for qualitative data.

Now there are some companies out there that are really qualitative trackers like bloggertumblr, other blogging platforms, idonethis and even Evernote. Continue reading Tracking vs Doing

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How to Become an Expert in Anything

Coach It

As a sub-set of that, Teach It.

As a sub-set of that, become a Mentor.


Michael Ellsberg wrote a good book this year. I say good and not great because I think he made an even better summary in this article (but you should still read the book). Actually I think his article for Tim Ferriss’ blog, may have been one of the best written and most useful blog articles (that I personally read) of 2011.

As a general advocate for education reform and as someone who considers it basically my job to educate others, I have been very intrigued by the study of expertise acquisition. When I see it presented in as simplified a method as Mr. Ellsberg does, I’m hopeful that people change their perception of education, back to that of a coaching model.

In the article, Michael Ellsberg lays out 8 steps to getting what you want without formal credentials. Of the 8, 5 are inherently linked, and perhaps ironically linked to the old coaching model.

  1. Choose your new field of learning (Decide what expertise you wish to seek)
  2. Showcase your learning (start a blog, read 16 or so, of the top books in the field you wish to explore, and write a blog post about each)
  3. Within Your Budding Social Economy, Start Working For Free (essentially an apprenticeship)
  4. Develop case studies of your work (essentially reflect upon your apprenticeship through your blog)
  5. Develop relationships with Mentors (Coaching!!!)

Honestly, what ever happened to this model of education?

In the days of Aristotle, Plato sought Aristotle’s teachings and learned directly under him. Leonardo Da Vinci studied, not at a University, but with master practitioners like Verrocchio. Benjamin Franklin apprenticed in the printing business under his brother James.

My own formal education (particularly at a University level) seemed more poised to develop me as a Researcher or  University Professor. Neither of which I really wanted to end up as, but oddly enough I love researching ideas on my own time and spend the majority of my professional life teaching others how to enhance the quality of their lives.

Retroactively speaking, I believe I’ve learned far more from practitioners, mentors and coaches than I did in any particular university class.

What I think Ellsberg is proposing, is essentially a return to this style of learning.

A heavy highlight from the article is that employers are looking for skill sets, not the typical education of today.

I’ll say that one again, people want skill-sets, not credentials.

As a coach I’ve been preaching skill acquisition as a strategy for most of what ails you as an individual (particularly in health and fitness) because it just plain works.

When you learn new skills though, and you then teach it and coach or mentor others, this is how you really develop expertise in my opinion. It forces you to analyze data and critically think about the application, creating the necessity of learning to dissect information and make it your own.

It also taps into the many input methods for learning (forget about your learning style, it’s bunk). With a coaching style of teaching you expose students to various visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, interpersonal, linguistic, social and other stimulus that are critical in development.

The 9 types of intelligence.

A cornerstone in your quest to become an expert should be to develop good skills.

On a final note, the only reason, I say Michael Ellsberg’s book is good and not great, is sadly because these four authors beat him to the punch on the acquisition of expertise.

The Four Best Books Written on Talent Acquisition:

  1. Talent is Overrated
  2. The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance
  3. The Talent Code
  4. Bounce

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Don’t Forget Qualifiable

I’m tired of everybody trying to quantify everything all the time.

To me, Quality beats Quantity every single time, it’s actually sort of a personal mantra.

Some people have a better grasp of this concept than others. You’d be amazed at just how much you can you can benefit from qualifying something versus quantifying it. You’d be equally amazed at just how much our society judges a situation via a quantifying process. Think of the 3 following situations:

‘Little Suzy is so much smarter than little Eric because she scored 86% on her Math test and he only got 64%.’

‘I only make $30,000 a year while that guy makes $120,000 he must be the happiest guy on earth.’

‘Josh has been to the gym 5 times this week, lost 50 lbs in the last year and every time I start i can only make it once, I lose 5 lbs then put on 10 lbs more’ Continue reading Don’t Forget Qualifiable

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Women and Start-Ups

I’ve been watching at a distance for a little while now. Amusingly, the large and most prevalent internet debate of the last little while was probably instigated by CNN, who apparently baited Michael Arrington into a discussion during an interview focusing on minorities in Silicon Valley.

That in turn sparked a series of rebuttal posts on his blog Uncrunched, and suddenly it became a big public debate about racism and sexism in start-ups.

Everybody from Eric Reis to Brad Feld, have now piped in on everything from racism to sexism, to highly represented minorities or misrepresented minorities.

Most recently Penolope Trunk wrote this article which sparked an entirely new public debate here and here.

I know what you’re thinking, I’m writing this post as link bait, might as well get in on the action right? Continue reading Women and Start-Ups

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