Monday, December 14, 2009

Update on my new blog address

Well I finally figured it out!

The URL of my new blog is now:

I look forward to sharing my thoughts and engaging in discussion with you over there. I do not intend to post anymore on this site.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New blog address


If you've been reading my blog, first of all thank you! I hope you enjoy it.

Now the news: I am switching to a new blogging platform (URL is at the bottom of this post). I don't really have a clue what I'm doing but the new platform will allow for a more professional and high quality look and feel. It will also allow me to edit and add features more easily.

Now because I am learning this as I go, I'm not sure if/how it will work. If you've been subscribing via email or RSS, I hope you will continue to get my posts sent to you. If you don't, there are tools on the new blog that will allow you to sign up again. (And hopefully they will work!)

And now just because I've criticized the whole new look without new benefits marketing tactic, let me explain a bit more why I'm doing this and why I'm not a hypocrite for it :)

New packaging on potato chips does not change the functional benefit I receive from my chips. They taste the same. They clog my arteries the same... But the look and feel of a blog directly impacts reader experience. I want people who read my blog to get a certain experience that is consistent with the way I would like to present myself and makes their reading more enjoyable. I felt that my current blog made that difficult for me. I also want to be able to add more features without having to find workarounds for everything.

Anyway, I want to thank you again for your attention and hope that you enjoy the new blog. Please share any feedback with me. This is very much a work in progress. I will be adding new features, changing the color scheme and generally messing around with it for a while until I and you are happy with it.

Check it out at:

Oh and BTW, I will probably change the URL to just once I figure out how :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Network not netjerk

I just got an email from a guy I knew years ago. I have had zero contact with this person in more than two years and possibly as much as six. And even when we had contact, we were not close. We socialized a handful of times a year and he was friends with my brother in law. Between the time I last had contact with him and now, I have been in the process of getting divorced. It's been nearly two years since that process started. And not a peep from this guy. Well, that's OK. We weren't close anyway.

But now he sends me an email. The subject line of his email is: "q for u".

And the text of his email is:
"Hi Adam,

I’ve got a q for you that is possibly business-related, or maybe you’ll have some advice - when is a good time to talk, and what is your number?


Note how unfriendly he is. Note how he does not acknowledge that we have not been in contact for years. Note how he has no comment on the fact that I'm getting divorced. And note how he simply assumes I will give him my time.

Well, my inclination is to help. That's a natural human inclination. But this is just bad behavior. And I'm not going to reward bad behavior. The polite thing for him to do would have been to say a proper hello, acknowledge my life circumstances in some way and ask if he could get a few minutes of my time.

I was going to simply ignore his email but why should I be the guy that ignores emails? Instead, I sent him the following email which is a bit testy but I think he deserved it:
"No "Hi, how are you? It's been a few years and I hope things are well for you." No "Hey, I hear you've been going through a divorce. I hope you're doing well."


Do you typically find that method of networking to be effective? If so, I recommend you send your question to those people with whom that approach works. I generally prefer a bit of humanity with my networking."

And just a few minutes later he responded with:
"Sorry, u r right - jerky of me. Am using a pda and just went quickly. Lesson learned."

Yes, it was jerky of him. It just didn't meet the basic standards of human decency. Now could a good friend send me an email like that? Absolutely! That good friend would have built a reservoir of good will with me. I would know that he or she would be there for me. They would know I'm there for them. That's a big part of what friendship is. But if you're not a good friend then you have to be a bit more polite. Be human.

If you walked through my front door, how would you act? Would you just barge in and start demanding things? Or would you announce yourself, be nice and then make your request only after having (re) established the relational right to do so? Look. I may not be able to call the cops on you for spamming me the way I can if you walk into my home without permission. But just because you can send me an email and just because it is legal to send me an email does not mean it is wise to send me an email. And if you're going to send one, think about what you should say. Yes, it is very easy to hit send. But it is just as easy for me to hit delete.

Can this guy repair things with me? Probably. But now it will take more effort than had he simply taken an extra minute to be friendly. Now instead of just overcoming years of a dormant relationship, he has to overcome years of that dormancy plus today's jerkiness.

Do you think it was worth it for him?

Don't scratch that itch

Years ago when I was a kid practicing martial arts I remember one of my teachers telling me, as I interrupted a technique to scratch my leg, that it was important I stay focused on what I was doing and that if I focused properly then I would not feel my leg itch at all. That it was in the power of my mind to feel or not feel the itch.

Last week a dear friend told me about something she had learned in yoga. It was all about not scratching an itch. And it was meant to include physical itches but also metaphorical itches. The point was to reject the reflex to scratch the itch and make it go away and, instead, to live with it and see what came of it.

I thought this was very interesting and it holds some lessons for those of us that seek innovation.

So let's think about itches for a minute. Our bodies and minds throw all sorts of itches our way. Hunger is an itch to eat. Sexual desire is an itch. Parents often have an itch to see their kids when they are away. (Or not to see them when they are!) We have itches to study a particular topic or visit a certain place. And we have itches to avoid things as well. For every itch we get that tells us to go do something, there can be a corresponding itch to not do something. There is a hunger itch, but there is also an itch not to eat if you have eaten too much. You might really not like someone and get an itch whenever you're in their presence to get away as fast as possible. Maybe you don't like being in crowds and you get an itch to find open space...

It occurs to me that these itches are mechanisms of stasis. They are designed to maintain you the way you are. Hunger is your body telling you that in order to keep going, you need fuel. Sexual desire tells you that you need release because if you don't get it, you will find yourself in an uncomfortable state. All of our itches are signals from inside telling us that something is not going according to plan and that we need to adjust our course to stay on track.

We also have various variety-seeking mechanisms. People cannot eat the same things, see the same things, do the same things day in and day out without getting bored. We crave variety and novelty. Now I would argue that these variety-seeking mechanisms are also mechanisms of stasis. Because we have been constructed to require variety and novelty, when we don't get them, we get an itch. Our bodies and minds tell us that if we don't get some new input, we will find ourselves in an uncomfortable state. Variety-seeking is really just a way to maintain. It's that old expression about running just to stay in place.

Now think about what we do when we get an itch. That's right, just shout it out when you know it. Yes! We scratch the itch. As quickly as we can. We are good little soldiers and follow the instructions from inside that tell us to get back on track right away.

That's wonderful if maintaining ourselves is our goal. But it's not so good if we want to innovate. Stasis is the enemy of innovation. Stasis is about keeping everything constant. It's about the safety of the familiar. Old routines. Old habits. Changing only enough to maintain. Stasis does not help you see wonderful new vistas or create inspiring new ideas.

The solution is to not scratch the itch. Let it ride a bit. See what frame of mind it puts you in. Find some new experiences. These will be uncomfortable. Certainly at first. Maybe forever. If they turn out to have negative consequences then scratch the itch and make it go away. But some of them may open you up to new ways of thinking and feeling. You may find yourself changed for the better by allowing yourself an opportunity to see what lies just beyond the itch.