You are enough

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Whenever I struggle with feelings of impostor syndrome or self-doubt, I return to this poem.

Whenever I feel like I’m not enough — not good enough or strong enough or famous enough — I read this poem and feel better.

I hope it can be a reassurance to you, too.

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Startup ≠ life

This week I had a friend in trouble.

Everything’s going to work out okay (thanks for asking). They’re going through some things, and I had the privilege of walking through some of the messiness with them, together.

And in doing so, I realized — or, I remembered — that a full and real life is so much more than the pixels we push and the trials we start.

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Building a growth engine

Every three months, I do a recap of where my marketing team — the Buffer marketing team — is at and where we’re headed for the next three months. This time, for the first time, I put my quarterly recap into podcast form. You can listen below and subscribe to the podcast to get future episodes and musings.

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What’s the big idea?

I am here to tell you that the secret to success in your career comes down to three things: take risks, work hard, and get lucky.

Fred Wilson

Ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything

Neurologist Daniel Levitin (as mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers)

If you improve by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put it all together.

Dave Brailsford, Great Britain cycling coach (as retold in James Clear’s Atomic Habits)

There’s a theme that runs through all of the above advice: Effort.

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The future of Brand Experience (BX)

1. How do direct-to-consumer businesses grow today? They build remarkable brands.

2. If you ask leaders at some of the biggest DTC businesses in the world for their keys to success, they will invariably start with brand. Brand is the native language of the new DNVB industry. It is the single biggest differentiator in the fight against entrenched, behemoth companies. Brand is everything for these companies.

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Hobbies without expectation

It’s okay to love a hobby the same way you’d love a pet; for its ability to enrich your life without any expectation that it will help you pay the rent. What if we allowed ourselves to devote our time and attention to something just because it makes us happy? Or, better yet, because it enables us to truly recharge instead of carving our time into smaller and smaller pieces for someone else’s benefit?

Mollie Conway

Principles of strategy

Last year, I had the chance to read the book Principles by Ray Dalio, which covered many of the lessons Ray learned throughout his career of investing and business-building.

(Kindle version here.)

What I loved about the book was his approach to decision-making and how it centered on this idea of principles. Here’s a brief explanation of how he thinks about principles:

1. Slow down your thinking so you can note the criteria you are using to make your decision.

2. Write the criteria down as a principle.

3. Think about those criteria when you have an outcome to assess, and refine them before the next “one of those” comes along.

This way, whenever a new decision comes your way, you may be able to recognize its similarity to a decision you’ve made in the past, and then you can apply the same principles you used successfully before.

Voila! A shortcut to better decision-making. :)

The book is a #longread, and there are many, many different categories of principles that Ray talks about. One particular category that has stuck with me is his principles for strategy.

Here they are:

Principles for strategy

Don’t put the expedient ahead of the strategic.

Consider second-and third-order consequences, not just first-order ones.

Beware of paying too much attention to what is coming at you and not enough attention to your machine.

Remember that the WHO is more important than the WHAT

All of your “must-dos” must be above the bar before you do your “like-to-dos.”

These have been useful for me as I’ve weighed strategic decisions at Buffer recently.

Hope they can be helpful for you as well.