Lawrence He http://lawrencehe.com Doing more stuff en-us Sun, 15 Dec 2019 19:14:07 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator What it takes to do your best work http://lawrencehe.com/what-it-takes-to-do-your-best-work I work at a large company now and when having conversations with my friends they would often express surprise at my decision to do so. Up until now I’ve only done creative freelance work, or worked at small startups because I wanted to have creative input. I had an expectation that because I was doing client work or working directly with the owner of the company that my ideas would be heard, but I would say my experiences haven't met these expectations. This jadedness has lead me to fall into state I call mercenary mode: I’ve cut my feelings toward a project and approach my work with a cold distance, whatever my client or manager wanted me to do, I would just implement. And this was my reasoning for joining a big company, if my ideas weren’t going to be heard either way, I’d rather be at a place with more structure and downtime.

These days I contemplate going back to creative work. On one hand I feel most fulfilled doing creative work, on the other hand doing operations at a large company is very straightforward and stress-free, I would even say its enjoyable. When I do humor myself at the thought of doing creative work again I will inevitably feel cynicism thinking back to the many ideas I’ve brought up with excitement and sincerity only to have them be turned down.

I do, however, question the validity of my frustration. Are my feelings toward wanting to have my idea heard valid? In an interview with Rene Ritche, Apple Designer May-Li Khoe expressed astonishment at the fact that other designers are upset with having to do work that eventually gets thrown in the trash. She says that 99% of her work gets thrown in the trash and that's the normal.

And maybe this is what it takes? Maybe the right mindset is to be okay with knowing it takes having 99 ideas turned down, or having 99 prototypes trashed to have a chance at that 1 project completed the way I envisioned. Maybe this is the price paid to be a creative.

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Sat, 17 Aug 2019 05:44:17 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/what-it-takes-to-do-your-best-work
Cool Friends http://lawrencehe.com/cool-friends I've noticed that of the friends I have, the cool successful entrepreneurial types, when you tell them a lofty goal or aspiration they never respond with "you know how hard that is?" or "you really think you'll manage that?" their responses are more along the lines of "that's cool man, do it up", "let me know how I can help or who I can introduce you to", "that's ambitious, can't wait to hear your progress"

And when you tell them about a failure or a stupid decision, they usually empathize rather than tell you what you should've done:

"I can relate, made a similar mistake a few months back"

"awww man that sucks, better luck next time"

"that was horrible, you totally f'ed that up haha" (In a joking way rather than a I'm-trying-to-solve-your-problem way)

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Mon, 15 Jul 2019 04:28:06 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/cool-friends
Seeing the matrix http://lawrencehe.com/seeing-the-matrix Strategy is the deployment of tactics operating under a principle...

I think the brilliance that comes from having a piece of information like this is in how formulaic it is. Because it’s formulaic, you can take the same variables and apply it to any other subject:

style is the deployment of elements and technique operating under a philosophy

expression is the deployment of communication operating under a set of values

Just taking a look at those two properties, style and expression, and you have a whole chunk of understanding for any type of art (painting, music, dance, fashion)

We can continue to apply this for any number of subjects in life:

guidelines is the deployment of protocol operating under a methodology

perception is the deployment of focus operating under a framework.

It’s cool to think about because you can start breaking down highly abstract big picture subjects. Start by finding a formulaic explanation in one area, swap the variables for another area.

What interest me about all this isn’t necessarily the formulaic examples I just provided but the formulaic thinking in and of itself. To me, as you practice in this kind of thinking you practice being able to see the matrix.

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Fri, 04 May 2018 00:28:55 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/seeing-the-matrix
Thoughts on: ideas turning out to be wrong / being wrong http://lawrencehe.com/thoughts-on-ideas-turning-out-to-be-wrong-being-wrong I've found that one of the best ways to be less wrong overtime is to do an analysis of why an idea wasn't successful. It can be overwhelming to try to dig into analysis, but I've found that being wrong usually came from a few different reasons. These five reasons usually relate to business/marketing but can be applied to other ideas you develop or want to execute.

First I'll state the five reasons, then I'll explain a little more my thoughts on how they apply to the real world.

1. There were false assumptions made

2. The idea was a bad fit for you

3. You didn’t understand the psychology of the applied tactic / technique, and thus there was an error made in application

4. The timing of the market was off.

5. The timing of your development stage was off.

1. There were false assumptions made

This is relatively obvious so I'm not going to go in depth explaining this, most decisions are made with incomplete information (because if we had complete information decision making would be easy) and assumptions must be made. We can later identify where we made assumptions and which of those are inaccurate.

2. The idea was a bad fit for you (doesn’t make sense for your personality type / strengths / organizational culture)

Sometimes, there was nothing explicitly bad about the idea but it just didn't mesh well with you. For example, you might have an idea to join a particular field or career and you realize you don't like it, even though you could see how many other people could find it interesting or fulfilling.

To give an example related to marketing, you might have a great idea to start a Youtube channel as content marketing, but realize that being in front of a camera isn't something you feel comfortable with, and you'd do much better writing blog posts.

Lastly, to give a sports related to sports, let's say you're building your basketball skills and you're training your ability to drive into the paint and finish on contact. That could be a great idea to build your skillset into but later you realize your body type is actually much more suited to being a post-up player.

3. You didn’t understand the psychology of the applied tactic / technique, and thus there was an error made in application

It's really easy to blunder tactically because of the abundance of tips and tricks the internet provides. Many times we hear "try this.." and we follow it -- be it email marketing or a new workout routine.

In digital marketing, we see a lot of "Free reports" and "$7.99 Ebooks". But just because those tactics are popular doesn't mean they'll work well. The point of offering those two items to your prospect is because you want to offer things your audience can easily say yes to based on the level of trust you've built with them. Then, as you warm them up and gain more of their trust you offer more expensive items to build their customer lifetime value.

4. The timing of the market was off

Two years back was probably the best time to start an Amazon business (this is just my opinion based on conversation I've had with friends who own Amazon businesses). Selling products on Amazon two years ago as a money making strategy is essentially what ranking-websites-on-Google was in 2006. If you timed it well and just happened to get into physical products or manufacturing two years ago the opportunity would have been lucrative. I hear its still lucrative today, but because other people can do Amazon market research and build product really fast, its less lucrative. If you wanted to start a tech startup, 2012 would have been the best year to do so...mid 2016 would have been a bad time as many investors pulled funding. All this is to say that the idea might have been a good idea, but the timing of when to execute that idea could have been off.

5. The timing of your development stage was off.

Ramit Sethi has this saying that I love: "don't try to be 40 when you're not 30". He uses that to joke about his friends trying to show that they have exquisite tastes of similar to older more accomplished people even though they're not at that life stage. I think the same with business development. How I relate to this personally is in my approach to client selection. During the early months of building my video agency, I wanted to work with big ad agencies, so I sent them emails and tried to connect with them. But it makes more sense to go slow, build a nice portfolio and have practice working with smaller marketing agencies first. Once you work on bigger video projects, smaller mom-and-pop shops won't hire you because they can't identify with your portfolio, or worse, they hire you and expect the same amount of quality but only have a fraction of the budget.

Just to note: the examples I gave in explaining the five reasons above are not to say that those were wrong things to do flat out, they simply were wrong after analysis of why the idea I tried didn't work. It gives me a lesson I can apply to my decision making going forward.

Now, originally this post was going to just be about the relative ease and the importance of doing analysis, but it got me thinking more into the meta of "being wrong".

For a long time being right or wrong about my ideas was somewhat an emotional thing for me (I think it is for all people, since being wrong sucks... it feels bad because we all want to be right and think that we're often right). A few years back I wrote a blog post about proving your friends wrong, and the fact that I even wrote this blog post goes to show that it's significant as a subject matter to me. I've come to realize as I grow less immature that I don't need to emotionally make a big deal out of being wrong.

As I listen to talks given by experienced marketers, I see that they never get hung up on their idea. Their approach is "test it, see what happens". Especially those in direct marketing, every new marketing campaign is tested against a control. If they have a brilliant idea for a sales letter, they write it out, send out a batch and see if their brilliant idea beats the sales letter that's already working best -- if it does, that becomes the new control. The line of thinking is that an idea is just an idea, you try it out, you test it and see if it works. If it works you move more in that direction and if it doesn't, you scrap it and move on. I'm not taking an entirely objective stance on my ideas, I still feel delight when my ideas were right and I still feel frustration when they're wrong, but overall I feel more flexibility with my ideas, I feel that I can implement quicker.

What I wrote in the first part of the post still applies though, analysis and reasoning are still very important to my decision making, and I still have the attitude to avoid being wrong, but the significance lies in the importance of analysis rather than feeling bad emotionally about being wrong.

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Sun, 06 Aug 2017 01:00:09 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/thoughts-on-ideas-turning-out-to-be-wrong-being-wrong
How I got decent leads from Google Adwords for my Video Agency http://lawrencehe.com/how-i-got-decent-leads-from-google-adwords-for-my-video-agency **SETT%IMAGE**]]> I've since paused my Adwords campaign because the CPC is too high (going to wait until I set aside time to optimize my quality score to turn it back on) but last year about a third of our closed projects came in from Google Adwords.

Here's a few pictures:

Quick note about why I'm writing this blog post: This blog is mostly about me doing stuff and sharing the results; for those of you who already know Adwords you can pretty much skip this post, but for many it could be a fun tactic to try out.

My motivation to try Adwords came from understanding that one of the keys to business success is to reach out to someone who is more successful than you, ask them what is working for them, and try the tactics they give you.

Two years ago I sent an email to Ryan Spanger, who runs a video agency in Australia called Dream Engine and asked him for advice, one of the tactics he recommended was Adwords.

Notice the brevity of his email.

Shortly after, I somehow stumbled onto Local Client Takeover, which I recommend checking out. They have really good free tutorials on SEO and PPC. I followed the seven-part tutorial by Jan Schroder, and basically slapped it together following his directions without really understanding Adwords. I just dumped all the keywords I thought people would search for into one campaign, and wrote very basic copy.

A big lesson I learned early on is the importance of setting negative keywords. Not knowing about negative keywords is the reason I think many people who try Adwords for the first time fail and get mad thinking Google trying to suck their pockets dry.

What you do is you click on the search terms tab to see what searches your potential audience is making, and add all of the search terms that don't make sense into your negative keywords.

All in all Google Adwords is worth it but its expensive. When I first implemented it two years ago it was $5 a click, now its about $8-$15 at least for keywords like "San Francisco Video Production".

If you provide a niche service that has little competition (or if the competition is likely to be unsophisticated at marketing) I would definitely recommend trying Adwords, for example I feel like a florist would do really well running Adwords. If you're thinking about trying Adwords for the first time I recommend setting aside $800 bucks and following the guides in Local Client Takeover. Once you get it working and you see some progress, one of my friends Guillaume wrote an in-depth knowledge base on Adwords, and I would follow that to optimize.

Lastly, reading and understanding Adwords is kind of arduous if you're just getting started I'd recommend taking a look at different blog posts for different perspectives. I recommend this post by Patrick Mckenzie since he's very good at writing about technical things and making them understandable.

Also, thought it would be worth mentioning I've run Facebook, Yelp and LinkedIn ads, they haven't worked for me at all.

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Sat, 17 Jun 2017 04:47:58 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/how-i-got-decent-leads-from-google-adwords-for-my-video-agency
How My Video Agency Is Doing http://lawrencehe.com/how-my-video-agency-is-doing It's been a while since I last posted and it's because I've just been so focused on trying to grow my video production agency. Looking back I can't believe it's been three years since I posted this blog post about moving out of being a beginner. I don't feel like a beginner anymore these days but I also don't feel full confidence that I have what it takes to succeed as a entrepreneur.

It is quite a journey looking back at when we first started doing small business videos, we we're paid just a couple hundred bucks; now moving up the value chain, we've closed projects in the five figure range, which is exciting because it allows us more resources to put into the craft and creativity of the video. For example, one of our most recent projects involved renting out a large cross-fit gym and then setting up a 15 ft dolly track, and a fog machine. That was super fun and I really got to experiment with carrying out my directorial vision. One of the most exciting opportunities last year was the chance to pitch to Sandisk. We had always dreamt of having enterprise clients so we we're really eager for the opportunity. The pitch went really well and was accepted, but we found out that many enterprise clients don't pay deposits; Since we're too small of a company we had to turn that project down. It was sad mainly because these past two years I've been so gung-ho on my dream: Making videos for fortune 500 companies -- for Nike, Apple, and shooting television / Super Bowl commercials; and its sad because we had been so focused on growth in the form of high-value clients (which is riskier) rather than growth in client base and while that trajectory looked promising it is abruptly halted by this ceiling.

All of this sounds like I'm getting a ton of traction -- and I think I am, but from a financial standpoint it sucks. Sure, I've cut my expenses down and can survive but I'm not making much money at all. All of our profits go back into the business, and we have super low margins because we use so much budget to make the video look good. The project budget gets spent on equipment, crew, actors, and set dressing, so at the end, there's barely any profit left for the three of us. I wouldn't mind it so much if I felt I had a good grasp of marketing, but I can't seem to find consistency. Certain things have worked. I'm running Google Adwords, and that's been a good source of leads for us for far, but it's not consistent enough and the cost per click is insane.

The hardest part of marketing is knowing that the biz dev responsibility lies on my shoulders. I didn't mind it at all when I first graduated out of college, but now that it's been a few years, I can't help but question myself: Am I just playing around? Am I in the wrong market? Maybe I should do something else

With each passing year the pressure grows. The pressure of making this a sustainable source of income. Like I mentioned before, I personally don't mind a low income because I believe in the Early Retirement Extreme philosophy, but It's hard not to be envious of your friends working at tech companies making such-and-such. And it's not just my employed friends either, I have entrepreneurial friends who are also young and in their mid twenties with growing businesses, and while I'm super happy for their success I can't help but question the lack of my own. I look at my progress from when I was 23 to 24, from 24 to 25, and 25 to 26 and I wonder if this is sustainable going into my late twenties and thirties.

The worst part -- well it used to feel like the worst part but I don't necessarily feel that bad about it anymore -- is giving up my dream of being a digital nomad. I remember reading Tynan's blog in college and knowing that I'll follow the same path. I planned my mid twenties to be traveling across Southeast Asia working from my laptop with all my gear in one backpack. When I first moved back to San Francisco I still had that dream. I'll just build the business and systemize it so I can work on it while traveling, I thought, It will probably just take six months. Six months turned to three years and I'm still nowhere near that goal. I feel kinda sad about this, but I know it's the right thing to do. Adventure would be nice, I see all my friend's travel pictures on instagram, but now is the time to work. Now is the time to put my head down and do something. So long as I'm working, I'm not thinking about how my twenties should be. But If I take my head up for a second to see where I'm at, the anxiety of expectation sets in.

Expectation has a pretty big impact on your self-esteem. On an episode of Gary Vee this girl Taylor called in. She's 22 was telling Gary how she was going to be a millionaire by 25 even though she hadn't done anything. It's laughable, and obviously, Gary rebuked her... yet I relate. For some reason I had always had an expectation of myself to accomplish something of significance, in my current case: building a successful video agency, and I had always reasoned it as, oh of course I'll be able to accomplish that in the future, I have plenty of time, if I just believe in myself enough, future me will take care of it, something will happen. But when you have that expectation, and the inputs aren't aligning with the outputs, it leads to anxiety. It's odd to feel anxiety. I've never really had emotional health problems before. I hear about people having panic attacks, depression, or trouble sleeping, and because of my lack of experience, I wasn't able to really be empathetic. This past winter I had anxiety to the point where there was pressure building on my chest. It sucks. It sucks because I've always had a care-free, worry-free personality. I didn't stress even during final exams in college nor did I stress when I volunteered at a summer camp and had to work 11 hour shifts in the kitchen with the pressure to feed 500 people. But now I'm filled with this sinking looming feeling: the feeling that I only have a few years left of my twenties.

At the end of the day I have to remind myself not to dwell. To stay objective and move forward, and be thankful of what I have. I remind myself that that I've learned a lot in my pursuits and delivered a lot of value to my clients. I value the skills I've built in sales, digital marketing, copywriting, and project management. Just keep moving forward, no point dwelling. I know that businesses takes a long time to grow and scale, that it's dependent on my ability to make decisions and execute, so I hold on to why I started this agency in the first place: It's place to put into practice the information I'm consuming about business and to really test my abilities to get results in the real world. So with that I put my head down and grind.

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Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:53:55 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/how-my-video-agency-is-doing
Maker / Manager Schedule and how to choose tasks for the day http://lawrencehe.com/maker-manager-schedule-and-how-to-choose-tasks-for-the-day Choosing tasks for the day is somewhat of an overwhelming process. With so many opportunities and so many things we can be doing, how do we make the most of our limited willpower? In this post I'm going to cover some familiar productivity concepts, introduce new concepts, and show you how I'm applying these concepts to make my workday easier.

The concepts: Popular concepts you've either heard to not heard of, but have already been written about:

1. Maker Schedule vs. Manager Schedule - http://paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html

2. Design vs. Marching - http://sebastianmarshall.com/staying-with-it-design-vs-marching-lead-vs-lag-process-vs-outcome-trend-upwards-vs-hohw

3. GTD vs. Deep work - http://calnewport.com/blog/2012/12/21/getting-unremarkable-things-done-the-problem-with-david-allens-universalism/

Some concepts I've been thinking about that are important for consideration:

4. Task on-ramp vs. Marginal Endurance:

Task on-ramp basically takes the idea that for certain tasks, its easy to be in the mood of working once started, but the initial effort of getting yourself to start that task requires a lot of inertia. So we want to find ways to on-ramp us into a particular task that otherwise might be hard to get started. Cal Newport's book Deep Work gives examples where some authors go for a walk in the woods in order to spur their creative minds for writing.

Marginal Endurance is the idea that certain tasks we have no problem getting started on but we can easily get bored of doing. For example, washing dishes -- I have no problem starting the task of washing dishes, but if there's a lot of dishes, I would get really tired of washing 20 minutes in.

5. New Task vs. Routine Task: Many times a particular task is really difficult to do, not because it takes a lot of time and effort, but simply because its a new task we've never done before. Because of this, a routine task would require way less will power to execute. Tactically if you're swamped with work, it might not be as effective to push yourself to do a task you've never done before. you've probably heard the advice of breaking up a large task into smaller chunks, but its helpful think about only setting aside a huge chunk of time and expectation to do a large task if you know its a routine task you've done before. For example setting aside a Saturday afternoon to start and finish an oil painting sound super doable if you're already familiar with oil painting, if you've never finished an oil painting before it might be better to break up that project into chunks by just set aside an hour of time to paint the background.

Quick note on my thought process after learning these concepts:

My entire thought process on these concepts begins with thinking about Design vs. Marching (concept #2). A few months back I was going about my days relatively smoothly, until I told myself I should be more productive and that I should march and use more will power to get more things done. During that time, I did notice myself being more productive, but it felt pretty brutal (at least compared to my happy-go-lucky style of not constantly pushing myself to do work). Upon reflection, I decided that my quality of life would be better if I just focused on doing things through design. And this blogpost is basically the way I'm thinking about leveraging the concepts listed above to design a productive day as much as possible. If I'm to utilize willpower, I think it'd be better spent marching on habit building than task crunching.

A few things we should agree on:

1. Maker schedule vs. Manager schedule has the biggest impact: As you've read in Paul Graham's article, it just takes a ton of effort to switch momentum when you're in the mode of making something vs. being in the mode of a manager.

2. A small amount of Deep Work is more valuable than finishing a ton of shallow work: You really need read Cal Newport's book in order to fully understand the argument, but I think his reasoning is pretty easy to agree with.

Application (How I'm applying all this):

The first thing I do before I put tasks onto my daily task list is to decide whether it'll be a maker day or a manager day. I usually only classify it as a maker day if I see that my calendar is free from scheduled calls or events, which means there will be a strong likelihood that I'll probably classify the day as a manager day. I like to assume that all events, meetings, calls should automatically have a task that requires two things: (1) planning and prepping beforehand and (2) notes/analysis/debriefing to be logged and organized afterward. Other types of manager schedule tasks include teaching / managing / leading / sharing, basically anything where you schedule a set time for an activity, even measure activities, like head to yoga or the gym mid-day.

This puts me in a nice groove of just following my schedule. You might think, well how does this differ from maker schedule? I'll explain my reasoning in a little bit when I discuss maker schedule.

So if I'm arranging my schedule, I would try to time it to pack anything communications related into this day if I can. This applies to sales meeting or calls, but also if there's anything I need to explain or clarify to the team, I try to schedule a specific time to do this. The main emphasis I want to add here is the scheduling. In "Getting Things Done", David Allen recommends only scheduling things you know you're going to do, not things you hope you'll do.

Manager schedule entails management...clearly, so its management of the team but also project management and routine operations. A manager-schedule-themed day would be a good time to check in on metrics, cashflow, and dragging Trello cards around. Other stuff of similar grounding include emails, networking, browsing on social media, FB groups or forums. And depending on how mentally draining the day is I would also group in mindless tasks like cleaning, organizing, or looking for useful software and tools.

If there's a lot of extra time that day, the rest of the day I'll spend on very light work. Dreaming, setting vision, decision making, thinking, strategizing, watching content to hone my craft, journaling, reading, gathering resources for the future, or systemizing and documenting processes.

Now if you notice, aside from the calls and meetings, most of the tasks are pretty non-intensive tasks that don't require a lot of concentration to do. This is intentionally so that I can jam pack the rest of my day with this type of work in between my calls and meetings. The extra five minutes here and there all add up to getting a lot of small things done, and these are things I'd rather not spend time doing from my precious maker's schedule. I want my maker-schedule-themed days to be devoted to creating things and executing things.

I feel like manager's schedule is pretty easy because it's pretty much laid out. If you watch Dailyvee and you wonder "how the heck does Gary Vaynerchuk work so hard?", well his entire day is a manager schedule day. Its blocked out and all he does is take calls, have meetings, and give speeches. These aren't things that people tend to procrastinate on. Not to downplay his hardwork, I think its still a lot of work, but these are things that he enjoys doing and is already familiar with. Remember the new task vs. routine task concept I wrote about earlier? Well Gary Vaynerchuk doesn't have any new tasks. He might have new ideas for projects, but the tasks he's responsible for are things he's done for over 10 years; VaynerSports might be a new thing, but his tasks within is role like leading his team, giving speeches, and checking out new social media platforms to advertise and develop content in isn't new for him at all.

Okay, let's get into maker's schedule.

Maker's schedule is much harder and I feel like its also rare to get pure maker schedule days because it's so easy to get caught up putting out fires and the plethora of small tasks that nag at our attention.

If i've decided that the particular day is a Maker-schedule-themed day the first set of tasks I put on my task list are tasks that have a due date. Its important for me to do the urgent tasks first, even if they're of low importance because I've found that knowing I have nothing due (or that the things that are urgent are going according to plan) frees me up to work on the big project. I've noticed that when I try focus on that one main project that if I have small urgent tasks, even if they're not that important, they keep popping up in my mind and distracting me. When your mind is free from nagging things, it tends to be a much less overwhelming process to focus on the priority.

Oh, I'm going to go on a slight tangent here and bring up a few other concepts that I didn't mention in the concepts portion earlier:

6. 1-3-5 Task list - http://lifehacker.com/5994155/make-your-to-do-list-more-doable-with-the-1-3-5-rule

7. Eat that frog - http://www.briantracy.com/blog/tag/eat-that-frog/

If I'm on manager's schedule I almost always set 9 (1+3+5) tasks to do that day. If I'm on maker's schedule, it really depends on how I'm feeling, some days I choose 9 tasks some days I aim to put work into 2-3 really important projects.

So picking back where we left off before that slight tangent, I usually pick a task I'm excited to do and put that on the top of my task list. The reason is, I want a warm up task just to get me in the groove of work-mode. Then I start putting in work on eating the proverbial frog. This is where the task on-ramp concept comes into play. Only you know what gets you into deep work mode fastest and like I mentioned before Cal Newport has a whole book written on this, but it's strategically beneficial to be intentional with your on-ramps and to put them into practice. For me, I do video copywriting and if I ever feel a ton of inertia preventing me from writing or editing copy, I can watch Apple or Nike commercials for inspiration, and I can also print out the rough draft I've written and make notes and comments onto that print out. Of course I could use pure will-power and force copy out of myself, but being aware of what reduces inertia just smooths out the day.

There's a lot to explain so I'd like to end this post with questions that might have arisen as you were reading this and to answer and clarify.

How does morale and willpower play into my workday?

A lot. On days with high morale and high willpower, none of this matters. For most of us, during those types of days we just push through and get done what we want to get done. However, those days don't happen to be as common as I'd like them to, so I rely on structuring my days where I'm most likely to get those tasks done, and if I plan it like this then I won't beat myself up when I don't do a task because I'd have properly planned when to work on that task. I'm aware that there will be days where you need to get something done and utilize willpower to do so, and I think the best way is to develop the awareness to sense when those days are coming up and plan ways ensure motivation though igniters and also to failure proof those days with firebreaks.

What if my days are mostly somewhere in-between maker's schedule and managers schedule?

I only explained Maker schedule and manager schedule with dichotomy so that its easy to see the distinction. I'm aware that most of the time, there's going to be a lot of overlap between the two schedules. When there's a day of overlap I'd recommend still trying to set a distinct point that separates one schedule from the other and add a buffer time so you can mentally shift. For example, If my last call of the day ends at 3pm and I have up till 7pm to still do work I can mentally assign morning to 3pm as manager schedule, an hour of buffer time to chill, and then 4pm-7pm to be maker's schedule.

You mentioned a lot of types of tasks for manager's schedule, what types of tasks are there for maker's?

There's nothing wrong with doing small manager-schedule type tasks on a maker-schedule day especially if you think it can help you on-ramp to a maker-schedule task, but just know that the focus of this day is on focused creation, execution or deliberate practice.

Woah, I think this might be the longest post I've written, and If you've read to the end, thanks for tuning in. If you have any questions or if any of this is confusing to you please write in on the comments section. This is a lot and I know some of this can sound convoluted, but thanks for reading, and really as much as I'm writing this post to internalize all of this into my productivity, I hope my writing is clear and readable enough that you can find these ideas useful for your own daily productivity.

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Sat, 10 Dec 2016 22:31:05 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/maker-manager-schedule-and-how-to-choose-tasks-for-the-day
They’re both important, next question http://lawrencehe.com/they-re-both-important-next-question22 After sitting in as the audience member on many talks and listening to a lot of Q&A’s from experts both live and digitally, I’ve noticed that many people end up asking the same question. Not just the same questions, but the same type of questions, usually in the format of: what’s more important? this or that?

What’s more important passion or hardwork?

What’s more important product or marketing?

What’s more important? idea or execution?

find new opportunities vs capitalizing on current opportunities?

charisma vs authenticity?

what’s currently working vs. future trends and predictions?

The answer varies. Sometimes the answer is heavily in favor of one, sometimes its the other. If its a question posed in a forum, a Facebook status or a Youtube comment, a debate will soon follow.

Guys, we’ve already spent years listening to people’s opinions on these matters. What’s more important ...the idea or the execution of the idea? The answer is both, let’s move on. I’m not ranting on these types of questions, I’m just surprised that people are still asking these types of questions after they’ve heard different people give different answers to the same question for years.

To be fair, you might ask me, how can you say its both, sometimes it’s one or the other. And well, you’re right. It is sometimes one or the other, but we get so caught-up on on trying to maximize our actions for one or the other that we get stuck. So, my opinion is that if you have the question of “is one more important than the other”, you run through that question mentally and you feel like the answer is likely both; then it will save you a lot of time to just assume so.

You’d do well if you worked on both things at the same time maintaining a one-to-one ratio and basically putting equal effort on both fronts.

There will be a time when its more lucrative to maintain an unbalanced ratio and put more effort into one. But I think you should only do so when you recognize the timing and the context strategically.

For example, let’s go back to the product or marketing question. If you recognize that timing is a big factor, then you’d want to put more efforts into marketing during a boom economy and more efforts into product when the economy is down. The reason why is that during an economic boom, more people are willing to spend money and you should maximize revenue — when it’s down, materials and labor are cheaper so you can do more R&D.

This is just one contextual factor, and there could be a million situations and factors that impact what’s more important. But in the end, having good balance means maintaining awareness of the ratio of effort and strategically choosing to put focus toward one or the other. If you don’t know where to strategically put focus to, then just assume both and move on.

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Sat, 19 Nov 2016 23:05:08 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/they-re-both-important-next-question22
A time I felt embarassed and the lesson I learned on domain of expertise http://lawrencehe.com/uid/1324133 A year and a half ago I was invited to sit at a workshop and be a guest expert at a conference. The event was Hardware Con, and because I had just been invited briefly before, and have never been a “guest expert”, I had no idea what to expect. So, because I had no idea what to expect, I didn’t think much of it until I got there. While sitting in the room 5 minutes before our workshop session started a small feeling of anxiety began to creep into me.

Thoughts popped up like: What kind of answers would I give that would even be helpful to these guys? Am I gonna tell them what camera to buy or what the difference between a grip and a gaffer? Would it benefit them for me to give feedback on the videos they’ve made?

Nothing out of the ordinary happened. They didn’t ask me questions that we’re related purely to the technical aspects of video production as I had initially worried about, but instead asked me to give feedback on some video ideas or to give feedback on their video strategy. This is all good and logical enough, but for some reason I felt like the advice I could in this domain wasn’t enough and wanted to give higher level advice, so I asked them about their overall marketing and what their funnel looked like. This was 2014, mind you, and internet marketing was still somewhat an obscure thing to learn, and because I was so interested in it at the time (still am) I felt like there was a lot I could give input on.

As so, when I transitioned the conversation to talking about internet marketing, things started to go south. People started getting uninterested and confused. One person even felt provoked by his skepticism and and asked, “Wait, what expert are you a field of again?"

“Video production"

“So why are you talking to me about internet marketing?"

“Um. Because your internet marketing determines how you should strategize your video and what kind of concept your video should have depending on what channels you’re promoting it on"

This sounds like a good answer because its true, I still believe in this answer that I gave him, but he didn’t like my answer.

“Okay, but, what makes you an expert? Why should I listen to you?"

“I don’t claim to be an expert. I could know less about this stuff than you, I was just invited to be here"

He let out a sigh of dissatisfaction and left the room.

After this incident I had an older gentleman ask me about my services, but as I left the conference, I still couldn’t help feeling like I f’ed up somehow. I drove an hour and a half to get to this conference, and now I felt like a fool. Am I regretting this? I thought to myself as I drove the hour and a half back home. The entire rest of the week I would think back to that event and feel embarrassed. This feeling slowly, slowly dissipated as I comforted myself telling myself It’s okay, you will realize something important one day and it will be because of this failure.

And finally, a year and a half later I did realize something important. I can accept that people will label you and box you in to the domain that you’re in. And this makes complete sense because this is the domain you’re known for. If you try to force your expertise on them outside of your positioned domain, people will be thrown off, so you have to connect with them where they’re at first, earn their trust and then transition to a different domain.

Very tactically, it looks like this:

  1. Connect with them on what they want to talk about
  2. Provide a “crunchy solution"
  3. Transition to a still somewhat relevant but different topic
  4. Qualify the transition you’re making
  5. Transition to a still somewhat relevant but different topic (this time closer to the topic you actually want to talk to them about)
  6. Qualify the transition you’re making
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you’re talking about a topic that you actually want to talk about (authentically, either because you think this will help them, because you can add the most value to them in this area, or just because you’re interested in this topic)

Why is this important enough to write about? Because when you start to understand this you start to understand how to get someone to let you do higher level work rather than the current work you’re boxed in to. This pain point seems to be very common among people who are very good technically, but want to move onto having more influence strategically — Personally, I want my area of expertise to move from video production to video strategy and then to advertising campaign strategy — Additionally, you begin to recognize this in marketing content everywhere. I remember going to a Creative Live class about “Getting more trust from your customers” and the speaker transitioned it all the way to what the talk was actually about: “Setting up your website’s privacy policy”. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me. I was kinda mad at the end, but my friend that I went with didn’t catch this at all, and said “yeah she made a lot of sense, I want to work on our privacy policy now”.

To take this post full circle and tie it to the story, it was because of that experience at Hardware Con that emotionally compelled me to pay attention to this stuff. Had I not been as embarrassed as I was at the time, I’m not sure this concept of “being boxed into my domain” and “transitioning out” would have really stuck out. So I’m glad for it. And I write this hopefully to inspire you to keep faith in the failure experiences you’ve had and to encourage you to keep an eye out for the revelation that that experience can give you years down the road.

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Mon, 24 Oct 2016 17:25:06 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/uid/1324133
Using If then statements to trigger pattern a protocol http://lawrencehe.com/using-if-then-statements-to-trigger-pattern-a-protocol Principles by Ray Dalio is basically a collection of all the wisdom Ray Dalio has ingrained. Halfway finishing the book I thought This book is amazing, but it has too many good lessons. How am I going to remember to apply these lessons when the situation arises?

The typical route for developing your own principles is to make a mistake, feel the pain of that pitfall and think, how could I have avoided that error? At which point your brain replies, You developed a wrong opinion about this person. Didn’t Ray Dalio say something about opinions in his book? At which point you flip back to the page and read:

Ask yourself whether you have earned the right to have an opinion. Opinions are easy to produce, so bad ones abound. Knowing that you don't know something is nearly as valuable as knowing it. The worst situation is thinking you know something when you don't.

This is nice to keep in mind for the next time a similar problem occurs, but wouldn’t life be easier if you didn’t have to go about making mistakes and learning from them — if you could see the situation and apply the right protocol?

The problem isn’t that we don’t have foresight, the problem is that when we’re going through life events, we don’t have a mental clarity to consciously remember to apply the right protocol to the right situation. If we were robots we could. If we we’re robots we could just set an IFTTT trigger event (or a Zapier) that pops up in our mind and tells us what to do. Obviously we’re not robots, but I think there’s something that clues us in on how to move toward this, and that something is If / Then statements (Conditional Statements).

Conditional Statements are already known for being really powerful for habit building. According to an article by Psychology Today, you’re way to more likely to succeed by setting an if / then statement beforehand:

Amazingly, you are two to three times more likely to succeed if you use an if-then plan than if you don't. In one study, 91 percent of people who used an if-then plan stuck to an exercise program, versus 39 percent of non-planners.

Yes this is really cool stuff, but I want to take this one step further: by utilizing conditional statements in a similar way to how I use IFTTT.

Okay so, first let me explain my process, then I’ll give you some examples of how I applied to to my life.

Step 1: Keep a list of all of your conditional statements. If you think of a useful conditional statement, add it to your list. I use evernote

This is similar to the recipes analogy of IFTTT. You want them all in one place so that you can easily keep track of what things you're currenting setting a trigger for. I have two lists on the same document; one for the things I'm currently trying to pattern, and the other is a list of conditional statements that I've fully hooked.

Step 2: Decide which ones will act as reminders and which ones require either habit building or patterning/conditioning

Example 1: I noticed that whenever people ask me “do you mind if I…(do this thing)”, I get nervous for some reason and immediately respond, “yes”. The correct reply however, and the wording I would rather answer with is, “I don’t mind, go ahead”. So I set this as an if / then statement in my Evernote. I noticed that this situation is likely to occur at the gym when people ask to borrow weights or use a machine. So I wrote this statement out and taped it onto the back of my gym scan-in card. Every time I scanned my card at the gym I would remember to utilize the right protocol: “I don’t mind, go ahead”. After this patterned at the gym, it naturally spread to the rest of my life.

Example 2: I only have one copy of my car keys, and If I locked those keys in my trunk it was an ordeal to get out. So I set the statement: If I’m closing my trunk lid, I will hold my car key in hand. I wrote this onto a flashcard and put it into my trunk so I that I would naturally see it if my trunk was open. I also added to the flashcard: If you’re parking on the street, check for street parking signs. I haven’t gotten a parking ticket or locked my keys in my trunk for a long time.

Step 3: If you’re trying to trigger a protocol that’s more conceptual, you’ll have to take more time for entrainment and conditioning. I haven’t quite fully figured this out, and I intend to write a blog post on this when I do, but my current guess is to use some kind of mnemonic device to help you immediately think of the protocol that you’re patterning a trigger to. Another idea I had is that, according to the book The Power of Habit, it only takes 5 occurrences of a trigger-protocol to begin building a habit. Based on this, my advice is to proactively set a situation, and practice the right protocol for that situation five times as a minimum effective dose.

I’ve started thinking about this 2 years ago, and its been immensely useful to me over the past years. Because not only does it steeply shorten the path to solving reoccurring problems, it’s an easy way to get clarity on how to start solving a reoccurring problem. The last if / then statement I hooked was: If I say um, uh, or like, I will pause take a breath and continue talking slowly. I set a trigger event by having my close friends tell me whenever those words slipped out. And I’ve drastically reduced my “umms”, “uhhs”, and “likes” in less than two months with minimal effort — some people go their whole lives “umming” and “uhhing”. Its so powerful man, so powerful.

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Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:56:25 +0000 http://lawrencehe.com/using-if-then-statements-to-trigger-pattern-a-protocol