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Brainstorms

The Myth of Well-Roundedness and Other Random Thoughts

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A few random-ish thoughts that could possibly be of use in running your business (or living your life):

  • Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well-rounded is the secret to success. (Lesson: Do what you love. Hand off the rest. Or as much of the rest as possible, anyway.)
  • Dietary lesson: Guilt makes things taste worse. A feeling of virtue makes things taste better. Unless you overdo virtue — in which case, the opposite applies and guilt tastes delicious.
  • At the gym, for some reason, I excel at two machines — the abductor and the adductor. (The machine where you squeeze your legs together and the other where you push them apart.) On each machine, I can lift the whole stack 20 to 25 times. Why this machine? Why not bench presses? Why not pull-ups? This odd proficiency got me thinking that sometimes people’s talents may not be obvious or immediately classifiable. But they are there and, given time and opportunity, they will reveal themselves.
  • Quote from the late David Bowie, explaining why he hadn’t put out a record in so many years before 2013’s The Next Day. He wanted to wait until he had “something to say instead of something to sell.”
  • Wrapping up on a similarly musical note from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke: “I think what makes people ill a lot of the time is the belief that your thoughts are concrete and that you’re responsible for your thoughts. Whereas actually — the way I see it — your thoughts are what the wind blows through your mind.” Lesson: Don’t obsess about what’s banging around in your head; let the winds blow.

This article was originally published in May 2013.

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Brainstorms

The Grinch Who Boosted Holiday Sales

Thinking of getting dressed up for a Christmas event? Go green.

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He’s misanthropic, mean-tempered, has a heart that is “two sizes too small” and is a vegetal green; but kids can’t get enough of the Grinch. That’s what pet store The Green Spot discovered when they invited clients to bring their kids (and pets) in to take pictures with the Dr. Seuss character on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30 in 2019). “It wasn’t until we started doing the event that we realized how much people loved the Grinch,” co-owner Jessica Ellis told INVISION’s sister publication PETS+. The Grinch’s presence and special offers produced sales about 25 percent higher than the typical Saturday, while The Green Spot also got attention from local TV news. Dressing up for Xmas? Go green!

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Brainstorms

Keep a Good Time Journal to Better Design Your Life

And overcome feeling uninspired at work by doing more of what you love.

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Feeling uninspired at work? Before you do something drastic like trade your business for a timeshare in Bali or resign yourself to a life of drudgery, try keeping a “Good Time Journal,” say Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, authors of the book Designing Your Life. For three weeks, keep track of your daily activities and keep an eye out for those you enjoy the most. Then try to redesign your current schedule so you do more of what you love and less of what makes you go “Ugh.” Success usually flows from things that make you happy. It may lead to a whole new optical business built around what you love doing most.

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Brainstorms

Have You Heard of the Diderot Effect?

It’s a psychological phenomenon that could help you close more sales.

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The Diderot Effect refers to the way a newly purchased product fails to deliver on the happiness it promised, and instead causes our other possessions to suddenly look timeworn and in need of replacement. It takes its inspiration from an essay by the enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot in which he laments how a new dressing gown has made his other clothes look like rags and he suddenly feels “discordant.” How to put this psychological weakness into play? In much the same way Ikea or any home goods retailer does: Through suggested add-ons. (“Now that you’re ordering that new dining table, shouldn’t you consider those plates, too?) Is it manipulative? We’d argue not. It’s not your fault a stylish new pair of sunglasses is suddenly making his readers look beaten up and, let’s be honest, when you take a close look, a little shabby. “I was the master of my old dressing gown,” Diderot laments in the end. “But I have become a slave to my new one.”

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