Letter Opener

The next time you get a piece of mail in an envelope. Put it up to some light, and look at the ends. One end is lighter than the other. It is empty.

There is nothing in it. The other end is full. Make sure you grab the empty end of the envelope.

Now tear the envelope open across the short and empty end you found. This is going to be a shallow rip across the end. You will likely only need to rip about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch off the envelope. And definitely I suggest ripping less than an inch.

Congratulations. You have now opened your mail more quickly, more succinctly, and more cleanly than any other method I have found. This is my preferred method of opening mail in envelopes. You did not need another tool to do so. And you don’t have a bunch of little rips and tears in the envelope.

I discovered this about five or six years ago and I have been opening my mail this way ever since. At times I might tap my mail on the table to make sure I get everything into the full end and give myself more space in the empty end. I tap them on the table much like you might do with a messy stack of papers to get them all in alignment.

Only once or twice have I ever ripped or torn the contents of an envelope and it was always in a non consequential way.

What other mundane tasks have you been doing for as long as you can remember? When was the last time you looked up another way to perform the mundane tasks in your life? Is there a better way to open a trash bag? When was the last time you discovered a new way to perform a mundane task? When was the last time you shared a novel way you perform mundane tasks?

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Fast Food

I have stopped eating at most fast food restaurants. Occasionally, once or twice a year I will in a moment of pure gluttony or desperation pick up some fast food, but otherwise? No.

(I recognize it is a bit of a privilege to be able to make this decision, and for that I am thankful.)

It is also a decision based on my values. Most simply it has to do with eating healthy. Equally importantly, it is out of frustration with the service. These poor people are working for a mega-corp for sub par wages in a job with little to no positive long term outlook.

And with their employer having no interest in their long term success. They have no interest in the joy of their customer. They are looking to make it through their shift, go home, and hopefully have made enough money to make it till the next time they get paid.

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I have been there and I totally get why they are that way. And likewise, I do not want to support the mega corp they work for. I want to support places that are genuinely interested in their most important customer...

Their employees.

For instance, when I worked at Starbucks (granted it has been a while) they seemed genuinely interested in my success and profitability beyond my time at Starbucks. Between stock options, retirement, healthcare, free pound of coffee every week, a generous discount on everything else, and a well outlined career path and transferring within the company to a place I might like to work longterm. They had enough opportunities for me to feel valued and likewise value my customer.

Because the company was so interested in taking care of me, I was very invested in taking care of my most important customer, the actual customer on the other side of the counter ordering drinks, pastries, and hot food. I was thrilled to take care of them because my company was thrilled to take care of me and it was a pleasure to work at Starbucks for years.

Who are you supporting? How are you giving your subordinates, friends, family, or direct customer relations more than an a transactional relationship? How are you adding value to other people’s lives? How are you engaging others for their benefit first?

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Serendipity

Making progress in life has plenty of serendipity in it.

It is hard to ignore the fact that MySpace was on the decline when Facebook was in the midst of their pseudo grassroots rollout to colleges. Hard to ignore Apple’s immense success following the release of the iPhone when the market was struggling to figure out what a smartphone was going to be and Apple released the simplest solution to the problem.

The rest of the time, you are left to make success on your own. Waiting for markets to be right means you might never go to market. Whereas finding the right first customer will always make a sale.

There are few guarantees in finding the right customer. You have to pick your customers and sell to them. Over and over again you sell to them. There will be many customers not buying before your first customer buys. Some of them will not be ready. Others will not understand. And yet, some will still just be afraid.

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But after your first customer buys, you will sell to your second customer some time later.

Then your third a little less time later.

Never will you have your third customer without your first two.

Likewise, your fourth is not without your third.

Your continuing to sell is what will lead to the right moment. You continued to be who you are until you found your right customer.

Who is your right customer? What does it look like for you to sell the way you are not the way you think you should be? How can you try more often to spread the word about your work?

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Progress

Progress.

I’m not one much for resolutions. I like the idea of themes and red threads to guide actions. I like the idea of having a lens for filtering decisions and taking actions. I like the idea of identifying the movement already going on in my and maximizing that movement to help me develop the changes I need to be a better person.

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The last theme I had was focus. I make these themes not as a short term decision but as a habit forming decision. I choose the theme based on what I need in my life and the movements I am already seeing in my life. I have felt myself fishtailing a bit as I have been traveling along. Whether I have been going too fast for road conditions or dodging too many obstacles I knew were coming. I have also felt myself making progress in some areas of life.

I know I am in a transition where ‘progress’ is the next step. Intentional, measured, regular, and focused progress. I’ve already started taking some steps. I’ll continue to take these steps and take more steps. This theme is starting now and will really pick up in the next few months.

Whether you’re choosing one resolution, a few resolutions, a theme, or nothing at all. Write it down somewhere you’ll see it every day. Make it your phone’s background. Make it your desktop background. Put a note on your dashboard you can’t miss.

Your change starts with you. Your change happens with one or two people who are going to help you stay accountable. Your change happens when you measure the progress and intentionally choose the difference.

I am who I am today because of the decisions I have already made. The habits I have today are what they are because I have needed them. My movement of late has been progress. I have been making progress and I can see places where I need to make more progress.

Who is going to help you? What change are you making? How will you measure the difference?

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