#16 The 99 percent

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Hello friend,

Last week I visited NYC for the 99U Conference. What drew me to the event was its bias towards action. Unlike most "creative" conferences that focus on idea generation and inspiration, 99U focuses on execution. Every speaker that hit the stage shared practical wisdom around doing the work. While most of the tactics were specific to creative services, here are a few general highlights:

Ryan Carson - CEO & Co-Founder, Treehouse

  • Begin with the end in mind.
  • There isn't a peak to our life, there's just now. Pay attention to where you are so you can maximize as you go.
  • Ask yourself every evening, "Did today matter?"

Kristy Tillman - Design Director, Society of Grownups

  • Don't wait to be picked. Invite yourself to the table.
  • When you find a problem in the world you want to be solved, take responsibility and solve it.
  • Prepare for moments of failure. Things won't always work out the way you want them to.

Jason Fried - CEO & Co-Founder, Basecamp

  • When you've hit your local maximum, it means you've optimized something so much you can't make big improvements anymore. It's then time to blow it up and start over.
  • The more you protect the things you've created, the harder it is to be creative.
  • People don't mind change. They mind being forced to change.

Tristan Walker - Founder, Walker & Co.

  • Don't let your lack of context cloud your judgment. Get out and talk to people and you'll learn.
  • An interview question you'll want to ask: "What is the hardest thing you've ever done?"
  • "The trials you go through and the blessings you receive are the same thing." ~ Tyler Perry

Chris Guillebeau - Author, Born for This & $100 Startup

  • If the work you're doing isn't A: something you like, B: something you're good at and C: something that is financially sustainable, QUIT doing that work.
  • Success is at the intersection of joy, money and flow.

Dan Mall - Director & Founder, Superfriendly

  • Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to make a profit than those that aren't.
  • Investing in developing young talent is about half the cost of hiring experienced talent.
  • Apprenticeships produce loyalty and future masters of their craft.

Effie Brown - Executive Producer, The Project Greenlight & Duly Noted, Inc.

  • You don't have to identify as your job title.
  • Life isn't fair, so don't cry about it. Be about it.
  • Know your character defects as well as your assets. Effective leaders play to their strengths and empower others to fill in the weak areas.

Jennifer Daniel - Graphics Editor, The New York Times

  • Accept that you are in service to something greater than yourself.
  • Don't get sucked into the perceived life of people you see online. It's not real. Not everything is perfect.
  • Embrace improvement not perfection.

Cap Watkins - VP of Design, Buzzfeed

  • Acknowledging and empathizing with others will break down department silos.
  • You don't always have to make small steps towards a goal. It's important to recognize when you can just jump to the end.
  • Rank what really matters on every project. Don't sweat all the details and die on every hill. Choose your battles.

Yuko Shimizu - Illustrator

  • Be someone who someone you respect would respect.
  • Once you're a professional in your trade, stop being influenced by others in your own field.
  • Take at least one small risk every day.

Tobias Frere-Jones - Founder, Frere-Jones Type

  • Break things deliberately to teach yourself something new.

Hope these will get help you make things happen.

Until next time.



P.S. I also spent an evening with Makoto Fujimura. It produced this Mother's Day themed article.
P.P.S. My favorite video they showed at the conference: Jerry Seinfield on how to write a joke.
P.P.P.S. Enjoyed these acoustic rarities from Acceptance while on the trip.

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