Stardate S02E20

Mood: 😊. Putting the mental gymnastics aside.

Crossing into South Wales via the Prince of Wales Bridge

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

I was a bit slow getting these notes across the finish line because I’ve been busy visiting the Welsh coast for the first time! As I’m writing it’s only natural for my thoughts of gratitude to turn to the beautiful landscapes, castles, Welsh cakes, and Joe’s ice cream.

But thinking back to the work week, I’m chuffed to have gotten two articles out on parallel tracks. I might not be able to keep up this pace of writing in future weeks but it’s satisfying to feel momentum building, and the editorial process shortening with each post published.

🍀 What surprised me this week?

Have you ever had an important, but not urgent, meeting that you kicked around the calendar a few times because you yielded to the tyranny of the urgent? And have you ever had several such ‘satellite’ meetings orbiting your urgent ones* multiple times in the same week?

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

The sales training we did recently is still popping up in recent director chats, especially the A4 3-option proposal. It’s occurred to me that seeing a technique used when you know about it reduces its effectiveness somewhat — I was wary of this when we attempted a bit of role play in our negotiation Masterclass.

You can try to play this metacognition game during a real-time sales conversation, always trying to outmaneuver the other side with words. But a defense against these ‘dark arts’ can be surprisingly straightforward: just know (unshakeably) what you want. All the persuasion and nudging techniques in the world will fall flat when the buyer brings passion and clarity of intent with them to the conversation. You either help, or you don’t.

Which makes me wonder, if these are the sophisticated buyers we ultimately want to engage with… are we overthinking the whole thing? Should we be focused back at the beginning, on our positioning?

🔮 What do I still need to take care of?

Beyond these 12 weeks of product strategy rehearsal that have given us a much clearer plan to continue developing Talent Compass, I’m keen to help Michelle shape the product roadmap for future phases. Collaborating on it will be a good test of whether we’ve synthesized all our validated assumptions into something credible, and investible.

💡 What do I need to remember?

Andreas shared a great narrative structure from this Daniel Pink podcast that frames all the Pixar movies you can think of. Apparently it’s also great for pitching ideas, and it goes like this:

  • Once upon a time, some context…
  • Every day, the status quo…
  • One day, the stakes are raised…
  • Because of that, things change…
  • And because of that, more things happen…
  • Until finally, the resolution…

As a variant of the hero’s journey, it also reminds me a bit of DG’s narrative structure, in that sense of providing order to the chaos that a blank page can bring. Raising stakes and building to a climax is tried and true for a reason — there’s better places to try and break the mold than the spine of the story.**

Said another way, it’s the spine you want to hang all your zany ideas off of, so you don’t lose others when you start trying to communicate it. Great if it all makes sense in your head, but ditch the spine and you’ll end up making something like Tenet 😅.

Narrative arcs aren’t a bad constraint to impose on yourself when your goal is to ensure your ideas are easily understood by others.

📚 What did I discover?

Loved this find from Cain. It ties together a number of threads around purpose-led businesses, a bit of Tribal Leadership’s ‘noble cause’ thinking, and infinite games with leadership as the driving force for each.

Don’t forget the “K”! This is a nice reminder of why focus matters when it comes to success measures. They’re not “key” if you have dozens of them — you also don’t need to measure your daily grocery runs. It’s about all measuring the behaviors you want to encourage.


Yes, I broke my Sunday weeknoting rhythm. Can’t complain though.

Looking back at Langland Bay hiking towards Mumbles

*We did finally get to take that first crack at product strategy enhancements this week, but some 1:1s got caught up in schedule juggling. I always feel a bit bad when this happens — both because I get annoyed when it’s done to me, but equally because they are generally super high leverage, and almost entirely upside, for the time spent. Is jumping on the urgent at their expense a bit like chasing IPOs instead of value investments?

**This is essentially a thesis for incremental innovation.




Reflecting through #weeknotes. Learning what works. You’re welcome to read over my shoulder while I do.

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Sean K. Gabriel

Sean K. Gabriel

Kindness first. Lean product aficionado tweeting @skaulana, web @ Finds you interesting. (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ

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