“We’ve created an aspiration gap.”

“We’ve created an aspiration gap – a disconnect between the capabilities of our talent and their drive for excellence – and we are now at a juncture where we seem more concerned with congratulating everyone for participating than we are with providing highly talented people with the resources they need to compete on the national and global stages.”

via We need to stop coddling our kids if we want Canada to become a nation of entrepreneurs (The Globe and Mail)

I don’t agree with all of this, but I do agree that there should be a difference between rewarding participation and rewarding excellence.

Finding fulfillment from showing up and taking part is a positive habit loop. But there’s also a benefit to having a higher level of performance to strive towards.

Freedom from interrurption.

Taken together, the lesson here is that the ideal space for focused work is not about freedom from noise, but about freedom from interruption. Finding a space you can hide away in, regardless of how noisy it is, may be the best strategy for making sure you get the important work done.

via Why you can focus in a coffee shop but not your open office (HBR)

I loathe open office layouts for this very reason. (Thankfully I’ve been a remote worker for the last two years.)

  • If you’ve ever poked your head into an open office layout, you’ve probably noticed that anyone doing work has a pair of noise-canceling headphones on.

“What is your life’s work?”

Once you check the boxes on the things you think you’re working for, like financial security, you start to ask, “What is your life’s work?”

via Neil Grimmer: Shout Your Ideas From the Mountaintop (99U)

One of the things I love about working at GoDaddy is that the ambitions of the company as a whole (drastically shifting the world in favour of independent ventures) is incredibly close to my own personal ambitions (help small businesses do more with the web).

Up until joining GoDaddy a couple of years ago, that personal mission was fulfilled through extracurricular effort, like organizing WordPress meetups and leading technical workshops.

I’m still doing a lot of that, and it’s great, and I don’t want to stop doing it any time soon, but now I’m starting to zoom out and wonder about the things that are distinctly my own.

What if your life’s work isn’t your profession?

From being a cartoonist to having a radio show to writing a book, there are a lot of ambitions  I had as a kid that I never bothered to pursue.

So now I’m wondering… is there an opportunity for that? Can I make those things a reality? Can they be more than just wishy-washy childhood dreams?

(Yes, I was a strange child.)

The thing is, with all of the tech that’s available now, even just some rudimentary apps on our phones, I can do all these things.

To be a cartoonist, all I need to do is draw and upload images to Facebook, a la Sarah’s Scribbles.

To host a radio show, I just need to record an audio track on my phone and upload it to Podbean.

To write a book, I just need to write it in Google Docs, and export it as an ePub.

And maybe that’s the first step to figuring out what my life’s work could be, just doing it?

If only it was that simple, right?

Time is a challenge.

It’s hard finding the time to do all these things. There are only so many hours in the day.

I try my best to allocate time to everything, blocking out chunks of my calendar for specific tasks, but even then it’s not enough.

Things happen. Stuff comes up. And most of the time, the side hobbies get gobbled up because of it.

I love the work that I do at GoDaddy. I love the challenges that we’re trying to solve and that we’re in a position to make a real impact on small businesses around the globe.

But is it my life’s work? Maybe my life’s work is down a path I haven’t even stepped onto yet?

Reviews are critical for local search.

The basic conclusions of the study are that: (1) organic ranking factors (e.g., links, keywords, anchor text, etc.) boost local visibility; and (2) reviews are critical. The study argues that “local and organic search algorithms are still highly interconnected.” It adds that while Google is trying to include unique variables in the local algorithm, “traditional organic SEO tactics” are effective to rank locally.

via Local ranking factors study finds reviews, organic SEO best practices boost local visibility (Search Engine Land)

Easy win for local small businesses. Add a little “nudge” on invoices, email communications, and in-store signage reminding customers to leave a review.

Before that, of course, you gotta make sure you’re set up on Google My Business.

A proven case study formula.

Case studies generally follow a tried and true formula: How Person A achieved XYZ by using Product B. What makes the difference between a dry, inauthentic story to one that truly captivates is how you tell it. A good case study shares the elements of a good story, period:

  • Protagonist: a relatable customer from an aspirational company
  • Tension: a portrait of their workflow and challenges before using your product
  • Resolution: how they solved it by replacing their workflow with your product

Tension is the driving force of your case study. It grabs the reader’s interest, puts them in your customer’s shoes, and without it, your resolution (and “BUY NOW!” call-to-action) will sound completely unconvincing.

via Make customer enthusiasm work for you (Inside Intercom)

Case studies are content that close deals and create new customers. I think businesses, large and small, aren’t sharing those success stories nearly enough.

Maybe because they haven’t prioritized it. Maybe because they haven’t thought about it. Or maybe because they just aren’t talking to their customers as often as they should be?