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Experience Building

Experience Building

The difference between Starbucks and McDonalds from a coffee perspective is what? The experience. Starbucks wants almost $4 for a cup of coffee near me, and McDonalds wants $2. Starbucks wants $6 an hour for wifi, and McDonalds wants $2. It’s far more cost effective for a road warrior to sit in a McDonalds doing their internet chores.

But would you tell a client you’re sitting in a McDonalds? Would you say Starbucks? See?

I think the difference is in the experience and how it’s been crafted. By the way, McDonalds is working on it. They’re putting in leather sofas and tile and all kinds of things to support a change of experience. But enough about my example. Let’s talk about experience building and how it relates to life hacking.

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Experiences

I’m using this term as a noun. I mean to call this something similar to a “chapter” or a “scene” in a book or play. An experience has a beginning, middle and end. An experience is a small measurement, where an “event” is the larger collection of these. Going to a wedding is an event (a series of experiences). Having a private moment with the two sets of parents in a private setting by a stream during the reception is an experience. Make sense?

Experiences can be built around job interviews, if you’re the interviewer. A series of experiences can be built into a dinner party. One might be the entrance to the party. You can let guests come right to the door, or you can start the evening with a big banner that says, “Bring your best ideas to this dinner.” A team meeting can be an experience. A software code review can be an experience.

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Oh, a quick disclaimer: just because you craft an experience doesn’t mean people will get the desired result you want. I once went to a well-crafted dinner party. The hostess had French cuisine, soft lighting, lots of new artwork for us to view, and a carefully crafted series of compact discs loaded with the soundtrack of our night. Two discs in (and several beverages later), someone said, “Hey, I’ve got the sountrack to ‘Undercover Brother’ with me!” Off went the hostess’s disc; in went the

Elements of an Experience

The following are the elements or levers or building blocks that you can use to generate an experience:

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  • people- you need someone to experience the experience. Right?
  • time of day- is a breakfast meeting more fun than dinner?
  • lighting- Barry White or 2001 white?
  • music- Soundtracks to experiences
  • food- if you serve pizza or jumbo shrimp skewers, what’s the difference?
  • mood- your face and tone set the stage too, right?
  • props- having a cookout? What would some inflatable palm trees do? Bring sponge gavels to the next meeting.
  • scripts- this gets hoaky, but remember, you can plan the conversations a bit, or at least seed them.
  • plants- not bushes, but people allied to the cause. Imagine a dinner party where you “hire” friends to make sure the conversation works right.

Why Bother?

Sometimes, the reason to bother is self-explanatory. When you plan a birthday party, you’re crafting an experience. Why wouldn’t you want it to be fun? Do you have pin the tail on the donkey? That’s an experience within the event. Are you planning a pirate theme? Ditto.

The plan here, or the way to think of this, is to consider the crafting of experiences in non-traditional settings. How would a team meeting feel if you took some account to some of the elements listed above? Do you need your team to be more energetic? Why bring them to a room in the building with no windows, nothing but white? Bring them to the mall. Take them somewhere that stimulates. Go out to a nature observatory.

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Mod This

Have you noticed that I write most of my hacks with the ending reading something like How would YOU change this? That’s on purpose. The best hacks are the kind you can make your own, right? Before iTunes and playlists, I had to just deal with other people’s sorting methods for my music. Before blogging software, I had to craft HTML to fake it. But my blog is different than this blog, is different than blog software pressed into service as a catalog.

Posting comments about how you’d make this hack your own is part of the process. That grows the experience. We love to read them. Most of you have received personal emails from me after a comment. That’s because the conversation is part of the hack and the offering of such.

Jump in. Tell me it’s stupid. Tell me how to take the part that works. Move it forward.

–Chris Brogan is Chief Content Officer of Grasshopper New Media. He blogs at [chrisbrogan.com], which lately has been pretty much nonstop PodCamp. That’ll change soon.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

Ah, Inbox Zero. An achievement that so many of us long for. It’s elusive. It’s a productivity benchmark. It’s an ongoing battle.

It’s also unnecessary.

Don’t get me wrong, the way Inbox Zero was initially termed is incredibly valuable. Merlin Mann coined the phrase years ago and what he has defined it as goes well beyond the term itself.[1]

Yet people have created their own definition of Inbox Zero. They’re not using it with the intent that Mann suggested. Instead, it’s become about having nothing left in immediate view. It’s become about getting your email inbox to zero messages or having an empty inbox on your desk that was once filled with papers. It’s become about removing visual clutter.

But it’s not about that. Not at all.

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Here’s what inbox zero actually is, as defined by Mann:

“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

The Fake Inbox Zero

The sense of fulfillment one gets from clearing out everything in your inbox is temporary at best, disappointing at worst. Often we find that we’re shooting for Inbox Zero just so that we can say that we’ve got “everything done that needed to be done”. That’s simply not the case.

Certainly, by removing all of your things that sit in your inbox means that they are either taken care of or are well on their way to being taken care of. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is often applied to clearing out your inbox. But unless you’ve actually done something with the stuff, it’s either not worth having in your inbox in the first place or is still sitting in your “mental inbox”.

You have to do something with the stuff, and for many people, that is a hard thing to do. That’s why Inbox Zero – as defined by Mann – is not achieved as often as many people would like to believe. It’s this “watered down” concept of Inbox Zero that is completed instead. You’ve got no email in your inbox and you’ve got no paper on your desk’s inbox. So that must mean you’re at Inbox Zero.

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Until the next email arrives or the next document comes your way. Then you work to get rid of those as quickly as possible so that you can get back to Inbox Zero: The Lesser again. If it’s something that can be dealt with quickly, then you get there. But if they require more time, then soon you’ve got more stuff in your inboxes. So you switch up tasks to get to the things that don’t require as much time or attention so that you can get closer to this stripped down variation of Inbox Zero.

However, until you deal with the bigger items, you don’t quite get there. Some people feel as if they’ve let themselves (or others) down if they don’t get there. And that, quite frankly, is silly. That’s why this particular version of Inbox Zero doesn’t work.

The Ultimate Way to Get to Inbox Zero

So what’s the ultimate way to get to Inbox Zero?

Have zero inboxes.

The inbox is meant to be a stop along the way to your final destination. It’s the place where stuff sits until you’re ready to put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it.

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So why not skip the inbox altogether? Why not put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it? Because that requires immediate action. It means you need to give the item some thought and attention.

You need to step back and look at it rather than file it. That’s why we have a catch-all inbox, both for email and for analog items. It allows us to only look at these things when we’re ready to do so.

The funny thing is that we can decide when we’re ready to without actually looking at the inbox beforehand. We can look at things on our own watch rather than when we are alerted to or feel the need to.

There is no reason why you need an inbox at all to store things for longer than it sits there before you see it. None. It’s a choice. And the choice you should be making is how to deal with things when you first see them, rather than when to deal with things you haven’t looked at yet.

Stop Faking It

Seeing things in your inboxes is simply using your sight. Looking at things in your inbox when you first see them is using insight.

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Stop checking email more than twice per day. Turn off your alerts. Put your desk’s inbox somewhere that it can be accessed by others and only accessed by you when you’re ready to deal with what’s in it. Don’t put it on your desk – that’s productivity poison.

If you want to get to Inbox Zero — the real Inbox Zero — then get rid of those stops along the way. You’ll find that by doing that, you’ll be getting more of the stuff you really want done finished much faster, rather than see them moving along at the speed of not much more than zero.

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Featured photo credit: Web Hosting via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merlin Mann: Inbox Zero

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