“Liking your audience members is the first step in being genuine with them.”

The main point: Build on a foundation of empathy for your customers and you will be less likely to make biased or incorrect judgements

Nancy Duarte is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., the largest design firm in Silicon Valley. She was ranked #1 on the world’s Top 30 communication professionals for 2017. In her best seller Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, Duarte writes, “Your goal is to figure out what your audience cares about and link it to your idea.”

But first, as she points…

The main point: “Words like transparency and authenticity, and the marketing actions they incite, are meant for the customer, but they are still about you. Your customer will care about these things if they serve as latticework for their imagination and the vision they have of their self.”

We have a bad habit.

And — as is occasionally the case — this habit is the product of trying to listen and act upon good advice, At all costs, make sure your organization’s marketing message is transparent and authentic.

Ok, what’s wrong with that?

While trying to work up to this…

If I had to pick one piece of start-up advice to give you, that would be it.

Regard 99.9% of what others say with a touch of suspicion.

Ask questions…

There is one conversation that I have repeatedly. (Think Groundhog’s Day with Bill Murray.) It goes like this.

“Oh, we are doing a terrible job of telling our story. There are a lot of moving parts, but if we could get the story right, the other pieces would fall in line.”

“Ok,” I say. “What part of your story isn’t being told?”

“All of it. All of it could be better.”

“But if you had to start in one spot…”

“Oh, I don’t know. That’s what I hired you for.”

The reason I have this conversation so often is that…

Hey, kid!
Did you know that dragons love tacos?

  1. Know your audience
  2. Be obvious
  3. Toss all the clutter
  4. Create opportunities by doing good work

Adam Rubin ‘accidentally became a New York Times best-selling children’s author.’ Apparently, he’s written 9 books, but there is only one that matters in the Hagan household. My near-three-year-old son got Rubin’s book, Dragons Love Tacos for Christmas. He got it one month ago, and I have read Dragons Love Tacos at least 30 times. My wife Lindsey has 3x’d that number, at least.

The kid loves it. Now, his favorite pajamas have dragons on them…

A few years ago I was staggered by Stephen King’s memoir/writing-logue, On Writing. Not by its wit, its depth, and its affable tone, but its poise — King is an author who is sure of his talent and unencumbered with critics or the millions of people who don’t read his books or watch the movies and TV shows influenced by his stories (the other millions will have to do).

He’s driven by the work.

I envy his composure, and — invoking his theory on telepathy — I have chosen him as a mentor throughout the years when stuck trying to…

Cleaning Out the Book Notes

I’m cleaning out Scrivener and came across an old project I was using as a commonplace book. I thought I’d share:

Get into the scene late, get out of the scene early.

— David Mamet, The Paris Review

[Do you ever feel unprepared?] Much of the time. But the prescription for that is to do more, to work harder, to do more, to do it again.

— David Mamet, The Paris Review

When contemplating a writing project, let just one question guide you: what’s at stake? Not just what’s at stake in the story but what’s at stake for you…

4 Temptations On The Road to Work/Life Balance

*before you go any further, if you haven’t read Jason Fried’s Medium write up on The Calm Company you’re doing yourself a disservice. If I were you, I would start there, and hopefully you’ll make it back.


That’s the day you’ll start doing all the smart things you read about: The rule of 3, batching, harnessing the mind-body loop, meditation, turning off your phone, working your side hustle, and all of the killer advice you can find here, here, or here.

The Idea of Tomorrow is the lie you’ll tell yourself today. …

I interview myself.

Not just me, but 41-years old me. On October 8, I’ll begin talking with 42-years old me. Often I write these interviews down, at the very least I’ll write down the answers I unlock.

It’s strange, but there are stranger things.

Here’s what I’ve found: I know the answers to some of my toughest problems. As myself ten years down the road, I can identify what matters and what doesn’t free of imposter syndrome or self-doubt. I recognize the good behaviors that will change my life.

The problem is all of the above is hard to identify…

Tim Ferriss’ new book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, invites readers to jump around. It doesn’t matter how you read it, straight through or popcorn style. I’ve read only 75 pages or so (its the classic, mammoth Ferriss book), but this is what has stood out to me so far:

Gabby Reece‘s decision to always go first is a great reminder for people everywhere. If she’s meeting someone for the first time, she’ll say hello first. If she makes eye contact with someone, she’ll smile first. …

Ross Hagan

Hey, I’m Ross. I study the creative process of writers and other makers and share how you can apply them to your life and work.

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