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blah_blah_nation_CopyImage: Hugh McLeod

Saturday I decided to make a spinach-strawberry salad. With gritted teeth, I was ready to pay $5.99 for a small box of strawberries at Whole Foods. Until the cashier asked me if I wanted to donate money to some cause. I clenched my teeth even tighter and just muttered “No”.

I had a long speech ready but I kept it to myself. (And I won’t bore you with it either.)

I never found out what the cause was all about out. One could hope it was for a cause like “Nobody should pay $5.99 for 4 strawberries.” but I’m sure it was asking me to be support the daily sunrise with my little donation. (I’m totally against such a thing.)

I don’t blame the cashier. That’s why I kept quiet. I just feel it’s a symptom of a sickness sweeping this country.

Not one day passes where I’m not asked to copy and paste a status update into my Facebook to show support. I’m supposed to “Like” another group for clean water. Or RT my awareness and opposition against some human drama in the world.

Let’s be clear here: I’m against cancer. I’m against wars. I want the world to be a loving, empathetic, innovative and stimulating place. I’m against everything that hurts people and other creatures.

But “liking” a cause doesn’t make a difference. Copy and pasting my disgust with cancer in my Facebook status doesn’t change a thing. Talking about all the bad things in the world has never made a difference. It reminds me of all the junky toys my kid has. Junky causes. Soon to be discarded and forgotten.

For that moment when you push the “Like” button, you can pretend you really care. You can share with the world how progressive and forward-thinking you are. That’s there more about you than the favorite basketball team or the check-in at Starbucks.

When your kid has a problem, there’s no “Like” button and any gabbing on Facebook won’t fix anything. You have to get your hands dirty and fix the problem.

Why would you think it’s different when it comes to work? Or causes?


Quick: Think back.

What did you love doing when you were somewhere between nine and eleven years old?

What I remember from that age that I loved reading, coming up with big ideas how to change the world (I created mars colonies, a world filled with flying cars and robots that would go to work for me. Darn!) and helping others to solve their problems. Giving my friends advice how to deal with their parents and get the most out of them. All of my friends from the distant past remember me as the guy who always shared ideas how to solve their problems. (And pretty adamant about implementing my ideas. The word “headstrong” comes to mind.

I asked that question because I just finished reading “The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film”. In Murch’s book he discusses how to choose the work that makes you happiest:

“As I’ve gone through life, I’ve found that your chances for happiness are increased if you wind up doing something that is a reflection of what you loved most when you were somewhere between nine and eleven years old (…) At that age, you know enough of the world to have opinions about things, but you’re not old enough yet to be overly influenced by the crowd or by what other people are doing or what you think you ‘should’ be doing. (…) If what you do later on ties into that reservoir in some way, then you are nurturing some essential part of yourself. It’s certainly been true in my case. I’m doing now, at fifty-eight, almost exactly what most excited me when I was eleven.”

It took me more than 40 years to find a place that is a reflection of what I loved most when I was ten. Advertising, Marketing, Media – it came close. But now I feel at home. Excited like a 10-year old.

Take his advice to heart. It will change who you are.

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This is my daughter. Look at her. There’s this aura of infinite possibilities – she’s ready to take on the world. Nothing will stand in her way to explore this world that’s hers. We all used to be like that. We all had this fire in our eyes. Each morning we couldn’t wait to get out of bed, ready to make this world our world. We were curious. Eager. Had so many questions. Tried things out. Fell down. Tried them again.

And then life happened to us. Or better, institutions stood in our way. Pre-school. Kindergarden. Norms. Criticism. Homework. Schedules. School. Cruel teachers. Critical teachers. Grades. Norms. The system integrated us. We integrated the system into our lives. Into our thinking. And being. We graduated. When we were lucky, we traveled for a while. Found that joyful life experience again. But now it was time to join the workforce. To fit in. To accept mediocrity. Suddenly, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. Weekends and vacations are the only remaining highlights. We are slowly killing off everything that made us happy and curious in the first place.

Hold on, we just got a second chance.

The Great Recession is the biggest opportunity we will encounter in our lives. The Great Recession equals major hardship for many people but it also marks the end of the corporate era. If you’re corporate drone, your job will be eliminated very soon. If you try to fit in to make it in this world, you will struggle for the rest of your life. In order to succeed, you have to become an artist.

That’s the premise of Seth Godin’s newest book “Linchpin – Are you indispensable?” We have to become more human, creative and generous to be seen as unique and irreplaceable. And, most importantly, we have to ship. Meaning, we have to produce. Not spending hours on email trafficking, Twitter scanning, blog commenting. No, shipping. Producing. Doing. We can either give in to the lizard brain, the little part of your brain that is concerned with survival and is the reason for your procrastination and all your irrational fears. Or we can create our own destiny. Our own reality. And, at the same time, change the world.

Seth Godin’s Linchpin might be the most important book you’ve read in a long time. Hopefully, it will change you and your thinking. We’ve been working with major Fortune 100 corporations for years, even decades. We understand how tough it is to implement cultural change. But, it’s necessary. Actually, it’s imperative. Would you rather help your company change or see it vanish?

Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Hugh McLeod’s Evil plans (he illustrated Linchpin because he’s one) will give you the motivation and desire to change the world. We started our company with the goal to help transform businesses and change the way we work and live. Seth Godin distilled our thoughts in a neat and exciting package. Now it’s your turn to take the ball and change the world. We hope you’re ready.