I’ve heard people use both ternary and tertiary in conversations, many times interchangeably. Here’s some useful clarification:
The word “ternary” means “to have three parts.” This is used frequently in programming languages, such as a “ternary operator.”
The word “tertiary” means “to be third in order.” This can be used to indicate anything after the secondary item. For example, “tertiary education” refers to the third stage of education, typically college / university.
Remember when doing anything, from building a global business to writing a term paper, your computer is only the medium by which you accomplish your task. It shouldn’t be the sole place you spend your time, thinking and working. Any task, big or small, that requires a computer should be started away from one.
Just learned a neat trick in Cyrus Shepard‘s article Stop Clicking Here! 7 Superior SEO Alternatives to Generic Links…
Many times it’s useful to determine synonyms for keywords, such as in planning content strategy or in determining alternate anchor text as in the article above. Here’s a quick way to determine words that Google considers synonyms to a keyword:
“~keyword” searches for synonyms of the keyword
“-keyword” subtracts all results that include the keyword
When searched together, you get results that contain all synonyms for the keyword without results for the keyword itself. Simple, but brilliant!
Lately I’ve felt that my busy days weren’t always ending with real results. To improve this, I’ve been prioritizing a significant portion of my time for things that “move the needle.”
Now fast forward a few weeks of this sort of thinking…
Today I was G-chatting with an old friend (that’s chatting via Gmail, not gangsta chatting) and the thought popped in my head, “I can’t spend time on this, it doesn’t move me closer to my goals.” Of course I instantly realized how crazy this is. If you spend all your time and energy throughout life labeling, quantifying, sorting, prioritizing, etc for maximum efficient or output or whatever, you’ll end up like Wal-mart – very efficient and profitable but no soul.
So when I say don’t prioritize your friends, I’m saying leave them out of the equation altogether. They don’t belong in the robotic, profit-driven, problem-solvin’, high-IQ side of our lives. They’re in the human side, and it’s important to remember we have one.
We get disconnected from reality because we don’t view our lives from a perspective other than our own and, from this perspective, evaluate our thoughts. For example, we could sit and think about the past, maybe childhood or adolescense, and dream of going back and, knowing what we know now, do things differently – make “better” choices. But in reality choices are just choices, and we make some that teach us a lesson the hard way and others some that seem to be “right.” In the end, though, they all make life better.
The even bigger reality check is to stop thinking about the minor ways we could have done something differently. First, we can’t be sure life would have turned out better than it did. And second, these are mostly first-world problems we’re dealing with. We should just be happy we grew up with the “things” and experiences that we did. Looking on the positive side like this is what keeps us from entering into a downward spiral of regret, self-pity and a disassociation with reality – or a general feeling of not being content.
Imagine a couch – not visibly new or old, no stains or tears – just an average couch.
Next imagine the room around it is very tidy and clean. You sit on the couch and feel good and comfortable. The couch feels nice and clean.
Now imagine the same couch, but the room around it is messy and dirty. There are papers, clothes, dirty dishes, etc. etc. scattered around the room. The floor clearly hasn’t been cleaned in awhile. You sit on the couch and feel uncomfortable – what dirt and germs and other disgusting things could be on it, touching you?
The two couches are identical, yet the surroundings shape our opinion, feelings and overall satisfaction of our interaction with the couch itself.
In the same way, many small negatives (or even one!) can detract from the overall quality of your core product or service – even if the core product or service itself is perfect.
Ask yourself: Is my design or layout slightly off, unappealing or unintuitive? Does my customer service leave customers entirely satisfied? In the process of monetization are we annoying or frustrating the customer?
In your quest to build something great – always exceed every expectation and get every detail right. This allows people to see the couch for the couch without any subconscious prejudices.
LinkedIn recently revealed their “Endorsements” feature, which presents a user with a handful of connections along with various skills that each of these have self-selected. The user can quickly (ie. en masse) confirm or deny the accuracy of all of these, essentially “endorsing” these connections.
Example of LinkedIn “Endorsements”
While in theory this is a great idea, the accuracy of these endorsements is lacking. I’m constantly receiving notifications from LinkedIn that so-and-so endorsed me for a particular skill (that I had selected). The problem is I’ve never worked with this person in any way related to that skill. Essentially, they have no idea whether or not I’m good at such a skill, making the endorsement valueless.
One (weak) counterargument is that a person can make an assumption based on their knowledge of your character, work ethic, etc. that you’d be good at this skill. However, these endorsements are designed to be specific examples… for a general “endorsement” of someone we have LinkedIn Recommendations. Furthermore, even if a connection believes I have exemplary character, work ethic, etc., this doesn’t mean they can vouch for my skills at MySQL or SEM.
This makes the endorsements a cheap currency.
In the end, though, this problem falls into a larger bucket of issues common in content generation by “the crowd.” This assures us there are ways to help instruct and coach users into providing more accurate endorsements. Should LinkedIn correct this issue (and I believe they will), endorsements could become the great feature they were intended to be.
We are at a time in which people have progressed faster than the “structures” around us. In a world where public education fails to properly teach our children (see Seth Godin’s excellent TED Talk on the subject) and archaic management approaches don’t fit the people of our companies, I also believe our long-held truths about productivity are wrong.
“Why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?”
~ Henry Ford
We are not robots building cars, we are extremely complex beings. The productivity equation for humans involves near-infinite components.
Dynamic beings require a dynamic approach.
Start work when you’re rested, focused and ready. Take a break when you need it. If you’re tired, take a nap. If you’re between projects and nothing is pressing, take a few hours off – really off. Go to a coffee shop, walk in the park, eat a slow lunch – and leave the office at the office. It’s in these moments we recharge. It’s in these moments we step far enough from our work to see the forest for the trees. Here is where innovations are born.
This lifestyle is more productive AND enjoyable.
Popular startup methodologies (ie. Lean, Ultralight, Bootstrapping, etc) all tout a fairly scientific process to building a startup. The most valuable aspect of this approach is the reductionist view of the steps to success:
- Find a problem to solve
- Hypothesize how to solve it
- Build the simplest version of the product that tests the hypothesis
- Give it to people and see what they say
- Move forward based on the feedback
- Repeat steps 1 – 6 until your exit
(Obviously a tremendous amount of sweat, blood and tears exist between each step and each iteration, but this simplistic view is incredibly useful).
At Happily Ever Answered, we recently launched the first version of the site (our “alpha” or minimum-viable-product) privately to close friends and family for testing (this puts us at step 4). This is extremely exciting as it’s the first test of our hypothesis, that people need a place to ask, answer and discuss weddings in a social Q&A community.
It’s not exciting simply because it’s testing our hypothesis, but because the result of this test determines the entire direction we go as a team for the coming months and years. Feedback from these testers may tell us one of three things:
“This is great – I want it now!”
Great, we can launch publicly tomorrow!
“This is cool, but I would only use it if [fill in the missing feature or service here]”
Now we know where to go next!
Even this disheartening feedback is actually positive feedback. The testers aren’t necessarily saying the market isn’t big enough and the problem we’re attempting to solve doesn’t exist – they’re saying our hypothesis isn’t the solution.
If you know your market and problem are solid – there is always a solution. Talk to your users, find it and march forward!
Being raised a good Midwestern boy, I learned the value of working hard. A day isn’t complete without an ache in your back and sweat on your brow. Yet while a work ethic like this has opened many doors, it does not come without a cost – it’s difficult, if not impossible, to take a break and not feel guilty!
This begs the question – how much work is enough? In a day? In a week? In a lifetime?
A good work-life balance is something it appears many countries have achieved, while most Americans (myself included) have yet to learn this lesson. Are we more successful because of the extra effort and hours we put in (meat-grinder theory: the more meat you put in, the more meat you get out), or is it a confounded answer involving the right place at the right time, seemingly endless resources, etc? Are we sprinting in what we will eventually learn is a distance race, oblivious to our current foolishness?
So for you and I, can we achieve great success without killing ourselves as beasts of burden? I believe so – mainly because I have learned there are big inefficiencies in working endlessly, without rest. While we may work 25-50% more hours than others, we are twice as tired, stressed, mentally worn. Some days I would argue that I can accomplish just as much in 2-3 hours if I’m relaxed and can focus (knowing I won’t work 10-12 hours today), than if I push to work the long day. Typically we sit for a long day and find numerous distractions (even work-related, like emails or meaningless conversations with co-workers), so it boils down to a few solid hours of work anyway.
Obviously every person and situation is different, and there’s still something to be said about working hard. But I believe we can train ourselves, over time, to truly worker smarter, not harder. Part of it is just slowing down mentally – work as if on a masterpiece, not a doodle. This TED video may help!