Brief break

Imagine that you are having a house built for you. The electrical contractor approaches you at the beginning of the project and says, “So…. what voltage are you thinking for this house? A lot of my clients recently have been going with 88 volts because they like the sound of that number. Oh, and what about the frequency of the alternating current? Got any inspiration for that? Or maybe DC would better represent your rugged yet sophisticated Edisonian individualism?” This never happens because there is massive benefit to not having to think about what voltage to use in your house. …

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Average but trustworthy

If you specialize, you can be completely average and trustworthy. As with visibility, specialization is an amplifier for your ability to earn trust. Specialization can make you an insider to your client’s world. It won’t happen overnight, but specializing accelerates how quickly you can gain the market insight and reputation that makes you read like an insider to your prospects. Market insight might help you engineer a solution that is particularly well-fitted to your clients needs. In this case, it’s not that you are great at earning trust; it’s more that your solution feels trustworthy because of how well engineered …

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Institutions and service providers

Institutions are so large and solid that they create their own “gravitational field”. Service providers respond to the “gravitational field” of market demand and opportunity. Many of the crises that organizations are suffering these days flow from their need to transition from institution to service provider status. It painful and disorienting to move from setting the rules to following the rules of someone else’s gravitational field. The NYTimes won’t have to make this transition anytime soon. They dealt with this sea change early and effectively enough that they can continue to function like an institution for a while longer, along …

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A good example of beachhead thinking

This, from Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View newsletter, is a good example of beachhead thinking: TikTok’s entry into India was a calculated decision to target the next big market of internet users. India has the second-highest internet penetration rate of the 10 biggest nations worldwide. The Indian market is divided between the urban haves and the rural have-nots. Interestingly, TikTok targeted users in rural areas and smaller cities to gain a foothold in the country. It did this by taking advantage of the lower cost of targeting them through Facebook adverts. Having gained a foothold, the company then moved towards glamming …

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How normal people earn trust

Some inherit trust. Some are freaky-good at earning it without trying. The rest of us have to do it on purpose. There are 4 ways we can earn trust on purpose: We are insiders of some kind. Or we become insiders. We are articulate (or become articulate) about our craft and people trust us because we are able to explain our craft/expertise well. We understand the specifics of a desired change that our clients only understand in general. We help people build a vision or new desire for something better. Each of these 4 methods is based on stuff that …

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Some people are freaky-good at earning trust

Where does trust come from? Some people people inherit it, and some are freaky-good at earning it without consciously trying. We are probably not these people when it comes to earning trust for our consulting services, but it’s worth knowing about these folks. Consultants who leave large, famous consulting firms inherit trust from their old employers. Employees who leave a management position at a company to become self-employed inherit trust from their old employers as well. In these cases, the market trusts that if the consultant’s expertise was valuable enough for Google or McKinsey, for example, it’s good enough for …

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We are average at earning trust

Let’s be honest with ourselves. We are utterly average at earning trust. If we happen to be good at it, we need to ask if it is really because the bar is low and the thing we’re good at earning trust for is not really that important in the grand scheme of things. After all, we do practice a profession in which the world does not insist on requiring a license or continuing education. Most of us earn around a 90th percentile income with far less formal training, certification, or licensing than is required of a dental hygienist (73rd percentile) …

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Things Built; Risks Taken

Here’s a quick rundown of interesting stuff along the lines of building and taking risks. TEI member Guillaume Wiatr is offering a workshop on strategic narrative from late July – August 2021: https://www.metahelm.com/the-strategic-narrative-workshop/ Guillaume used this process that I recently wrote up to bootstrap his design process for the workshop: https://publish.obsidian.md/indieexperts/Indie+Experts/Purely+Tactical+Stuff/Prototyping+a+Workshop This article, from David C. Baker, is a good one: https://www.davidcbaker.com/quit-listening-to-ruth David generally writes for readers who run firms with employees, but this one is relevant to anyone who creates value via expertise. I’d hope that after reading it you are either encouraged to keep going or encouraged to …

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Flinching

The main risk of specializing is “self-harm”. You’ll remember that risk is the product of uncertainty and the potential for harm. The biggest potential for harm when specializing is choosing a way to specialize that seems so risky to you that you flinch during the implementation of your decision. Flinching is pulling back suddenly because the feeling of discomfort or fear has become unbearable. If you flinch while implementing your specialization decision, you cause a sort of “self-harm”: Your confidence suffers, which has negative follow-on effects You suffer opportunity loss You start to doubt your decision-making competence Because specialization is …

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Risk

When you decide to specialize, you face uncertainty (How will the decision play out? What will happen?) and the potential for harm (What if things go badly? How bad could it be?). Risk is the product of uncertainty and the potential for harm. You can reduce risk by reducing the amount of one or both components of risk. You can almost never completely eliminate uncertainty, though. And you can get ridiculous with the effort to reduce the potential for harm. How we respond to risk is the product of 3 things: Our emotional comfort with uncertainty Our physical ability to …

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