What do we have to gain?

Whenever we listen to someones opinion on any subject it’s worth asking. What have they been through? What are they doing now? And how does this affect their point of view?

Not that their view is necessarily right or wrong. But understanding the biases that cultivate it give us a clearer picture.

More importantly we need to do this when we form our own opinions. What biases are at play? What haven’t we considered?

You can see this clearly with the pandemic. People take a stance based on what they have to gain (or lose).

Rock in your shoe

Would you rather go for a walk with a rock in your shoe, or stay at home instead?

Most people would choose to stay at home. It’s more comfortable.

They might also forget that it only takes a moment to remove the rock.

An extra week

Quite a few people I know have (or are in the process) of changing jobs.

Most of them would love to take some time off in between, but they can’t.

Most of their new employers would love for them to show up on day one refreshed and ready to go. Which is difficult to do if you finish one job on Friday and starting a new one on Monday.

Which begs the question, why don’t companies pay you to take some time off before starting?

Even a few days could make a huge difference.

Praise in public, criticize never

One thing I’ve learned being a parent is that criticizing doesn’t work.

There might be some short term behaviour changes if I criticize, but over the long term progress is usually lost.

Criticism and constructive feedback are very close to each other. In fact, if I drew a Venn diagram they would probably overlap quite substantially.

The thing with young kids is if you try to give them ‘constructive feedback’, it’s just criticism to them. Thus it doesn’t work.

However praising when they do things well, publicly, seems to work.

An example:

My youngest daughter hates washing her hands (how convenient during a pandemic, right?). But rather than nagging her to wash her hands it’s more effective to publicly tell her big sister that it’s great that she washed her hands.

All of the sudden, guess who wants to wash their hands?


When refurbishing something made from wood it’s more efficient to start with a coarse sandpaper, sand the entire project, and then gradually progress to something finer.

You could, in theory, start with the fine sand paper. But progress would be slow. It would be more work than necessary. You might even give up before you finish.

It’s worth applying this methodology to other project’s life.

When starting something new, rough and done is better than polished but incomplete.

Metal beer cups

My grandpa passed over 10 years ago. I remember it quite well because I was in university at the time.

My grandparents lived in Port Hope, Ontario. Just outside of Toronto.

One time my Mom came back from a visit with them and she brought me a few metal beer mugs that were my Grandpa’s. He wanted me to have them. She said I should call him and thank him. It had been awhile since we had chatted.

I didn’t call him. I’m not sure why.

A few weeks later he passed away.

One of my bigger regrets in life and I’m sharing here for anyone who might need a reminder to call someone they care about.


We are really bad at understanding that every choice is a tradeoff (there are no free lunches). We’re even worse at knowing what we are actually trading.

Two examples that come to mind:

Buying vs. Renting a Home

Buying is always better! Or is it?

Most people view the tradeoff as ‘paying your own mortgage’ vs. ‘paying someone else’s mortgage.’

Really the tradeoff is ‘renting money’ vs. ‘renting space.’ Neither option is inherently bad or good, and each individual’s choice depends on a myriad of factors.

Internet privacy

More privacy is good. Less privacy is bad.

This isn’t even really a true tradeoff. But like all decisions, there is one to be found.

It’s ‘privacy’ vs. ‘functionality.’

If you want to stay 100% anonymous online your only option is to never use the internet. Not a very functional internet experience.

If you want a personalized Apple music experience you’ll need to set up a profile and allow Apple to collect data on your listening habits. For some people this might be too much of an invasion of their privacy. For others, the cost in privacy is lower than the benefit in functionality.

Make a choice

Please all, and you will please none.


Regardless of what you think about the current pandemic in Alberta I think we can all agree that our government has tried to please everyone, and in doing so has pleased no one.

Think opposite, avoid obvious

Sometimes it’s useful to think of the opposite of what we are saying, to see if it might be blatantly obvious.

When we see the opposite, we might suddenly realize that it’s obvious and doesn’t even need to be said. Or perhaps there is a more meaningful way to express it.

For example,

We’re the best (worst) restaurant in town – what makes you good?

We’re a (un)strategic partner – why are you strategic?

We (don’t) get results – The only reason to engage someone’s services is to get results!

Of course this isn’t universally true. But the exercise of considering the opposite can help us determine if it’s a meaningful differentiator.

I’v heard this come up in various places, most recently in the 2Bobs podcast. Worth checking out if you work in creative entrepreneurship.


Telling someone ‘no’ can be hard. Hearing it can de disappointing.

No, we aren’t interested.

Sorry, you’re not a good fit.

We’ve decide to go in a different direction.

All of these are infinitely better than ‘maybe’.

From this viewpoint it’s worth setting up a framework in advance. If we hear ‘maybe’ X amount of times then we should consider it a ‘no’ and move on. Sure, sometimes an unrealistic amount of perseverance will pay off. But this is the exception to the rule.

And watch out for ‘yes but’. These are just ‘maybe’ in disguise.