How Good Do You Want To Be?

I spend a lot of time thinking about ways to improve. Reading books written by experts is a huge part of my own professional development, and I’ve read a ton of old school advertising books this year. Earlier this week I finished Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. Reading Ogilvy, Caples and Schwartz has been integral to improving my understanding of advertising and copywriting. But I don’t have much interest in being an ad man.

Not interested in being an ad man

I’m switching my focus to modern books that are more relevant to the work I’m currently doing, and the kind of work I want to do. This means books that focus on user experience, product marketing, and digital strategy. I’ve learned a lot by reading the classics, but I’m a pragmatist. I want to learn more about marketing in 2015. Not in 1965.

All my systems are part of a bigger system to improve as a writer and marketer. I spent an hour earlier this week and read It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden. Arden’s book is a quick, motivational piece about taking on things you don’t think you can do. It’s about finding your limits, and pushing yourself to exceed those limits. It’s about growth.

All things I’m currently focusing on, and it was a great reminder that short books can be valuable, too.

I love iteration, and I’m a member of the Cult of Done. I found INHGYAIHGYWTB has a ton of overlap with the Cult of Done. They both emphasize getting started, and doing good work with the tools you have at hand.

The perosn who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.

Failure is a matter of degrees. Anything that works can be improved, and anything that fails can help you improve. Done is better than perfect, but that doesn’t mean done has to be sloppy. Done can be careful. Done should be the best work you’re able to do given the time, skills, and resources you have.

And you can improve something that’s done. You can’t improve perfect (or achieve it, if we’re being honest). Perfect sucks.

Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.

Focus on the task at hand. Not the next project, or the one after that. Do the best work you can, even when you don’t feel like working. If you keep waiting for the perfect time or the perfect project, you’ll never get anywhere.

We’ve all had projects we didn’t find interesting, or that were difficult to work on, or not quite the kind of work we wanted to do. But they still had to be done. The Cult of Done and INHGYAIHGYWTB are both about iteration, and steady improvement.

If you show a client a highly polished computer layout, he will probably reject it. There is either too much to worry about or not enough to worry about. They are equally bad. It is a fait accompli. There is nothing for him to do. It’s not his work, it’s your work. He doesn’t feel involved.

Some of the least constructive, most demoralizing feedback I’ve received has followed days or weeks of work on something in isolation. Someone who’s involved early in the creative process is less likely to complain late in the project. Show people what you’re working on. Involve the people who need to approve your work, or help you get it out into the world. Come in with a rough sketch, not a finished design.

I’ve never come away from a close working relationship with someone with a worse outcome. Working with someone else has always produced a better result.

I'm Tyler, and I blog about marketing, programming, writing, and things I'm working on.

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