Transcript- The Three Second Rule : How to Destroy Your Linked In Profile

The transcript for Track Changes episode 103, a conversation on job titles

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[Intro music]00:16 Paul Ford Alright, look, Rich —

Rich Ziade Paul?

PF People’s careers is a big focus for us: how do you help your clients? How do we help our employees? How do we move forward? Careers matter.

RZ Careers matter for people!

PF Ok so here’s a big thing about careers, right? [Intro music fades out.]

RZ Mm hmm.

PF What title do you have?

RZ Are you asking me that question?

The ceremonial title which is ‘Co-founder’, speaks nothing to skill or vocation.

PF Well, it’s a general question. Actually, yeah, lemme ask you: what is your title?

RZ Well, there’s the ceremonial title which is co-founder —

PF Co-founder or co —

RZ — which speaks nothing to skill or vocation.

PF It means nothing, right? It means that you —

RZ No! It means I have been knighted.

PF It means your name’s on the checking account. What I wanted to do — I went on LinkedIn, ok? And I looked up a bunch of different titles.

RZ Oh shit.

PF I know. And I wanna throw out — cuz I wanna sort of what’s a — people worry a lot about titles in a very abstract way [mm hmm] but I kinda wanna see if we can get into this conversation to some actual council and advice as to what your title should be.

RZ Yup.

PF Here let’s start one out: Chief Compliance Officer. How’s that one?

RZ See, ok, let’s pause for a second and talk about the Chief Blank Officer.

1:24 PF Ok.

RZ Ok, let’s break down the Chief Blank Officer.

PF So let’s be — first of all: if it’s GE, Chief Anything Officer is a big deal.

RZ Without a doubt. I mean it’s GE!

PF It’s a big company.

RZ It’s like jet engines.

PF Right.

RZ Alright so —

PF But what if it’s a little company? Let’s say it’s anything less than let’s say 500 people.

RZ Go for it! You can have the Chief Blank Officer! Absolutely. Here’s the thing: Officer carries a legal implication.

PF Right.

RZ You are effectively vicariously liable to what the company does as an officer.

PF And you have like a specific relationship with the board? Like there’s, there’s —

RZ Yeah! It’s — there’s legal stuff around it, right?

PF Yeah.

RZ And then there’s chief. You walk into a deli in New York City [yeah], “Chief, what can I getch you?”

PF Yeah that does happen. Boss is another one.

RZ “Boss!” “Same thing, boss?”

PF I like boss because chief actually doesn’t go both ways but you can call a guy behind the counter — you can be like, “Hey boss, can you get me that coffee?”

RZ It kinda does go both ways.

2:24 PF Yeah, boss is a mutual respect thing.

RZ Right, so, chief —

PF Boss is a great — you never see that on a business card.

Boss [as a title] is a great. You never see that on a business card.

RZ No.

PF Boss comma experience.

RZ Right [chuckles].

PF Do you know what compliance is?

RZ Behaving! [Chuckles]

PF I mean that’s the thing: Chief Compliance Officer, I’m assuming that just means you walk around and are like, “Oh! — ”

RZ “Are you kidding me with this?!” [Laughs]

PF “Suzy, why?!?”

RZ [Laughing] “Why would you do that?!?”

PF A Chief Compliance — I mean what is it? What do you think a Chief Compliance Officer does? I’m assuming it’s just like —

RZ Such a ninny, the Chief Compliance Officer.

PF We told the — yeah, I don’t know what you do. You comply!

RZ There’s no optimism coming out of that person.

PF [Laughs] oh so they just have to comply with everything.

RZ Every — like could you have any — what kind of music do you listen to? “Oh it’s like uh — ”

PF “I like all kinds of music!” [Both laugh.]

RZ It’s everything!

PF Yeah, I’m Chief Compliance Officer.

3:15 RZ Yeah.

PF Here’s a title that I thought was actually kinda tricky: Owner. So like John Smith, Owner.

RZ I’m from Brooklyn, dude —

PF The owner’s ok?

RZ “Hey, this is Dan. He owns the diner.”

PF Right.

RZ Like I’m cool with the Owner.

PF The law firm, you’re good with Owner?

RZ Honestly, it’s less pretentious than Founder.

PF Yeah, Founder is actually, that’s true. That’s true. You know it’s more — it’s less abstract. Founder kinda papers over the equity agreement, right? [Yeah] Like Founder is like oh but really, really here for everybody else.

RZ It also implies you founded a nation. It’s got bigger implications. Owner is like: “This is mine. I started it. I put my own money in it and it’s mine.”

PF Alright, let’s try another one: Evangelist.

RZ This is bad.

PF Yeah, this is where it gets —

RZ Evangelist is bad.

PF So this was a real role for awhile for technology, right? [Uh huh] it was like, “We’re gonna send — you’ll be the Chief Evangelist for our platform. You’ll go to events, to meetups, and companies.”

RZ Yeah, “You’ll sell.” Well, it’s not sell. “You’ll preach.”

PF It was — you’d kinda sell to the media. It’s like halfway between marketing and sales.

RZ Yes. It implies absolute loyalty though.

4:21 PF That’s right. “I really believe in this thing.” [Yeah] I always felt it was a weird title. Like Guy Kawasaki was like the Apple Evangelist for awhile.

RZ See, yeah, like what — yeah. It’s —

PF So he would just go out and talk about how great Apple is. You’d put him on stage. I mean I’m trying to imagine a Postlight Evangelist. We don’t tend to hire Evangelical types. They tend to be more questioning [both laugh]. We tend to hire Agnostics.

RZ Yeah. Corporate Agnostics.

PF “Why are we doing this again?” Is a very sensible question here. But um no, it’s true. The role of the true believer — I don’t see it. It’s still out there, on LinkedIn [yeah], but I don’t see it as much as I used to.

RZ Interesting.

PF Ok. Ok. We’re gonna go a little further down the hole: Entrepreneur in Residence.

RZ This is the shitiest title [PF laughs]. First off, I’ve met like three of ‘em.

PF Oh it’s always —

RZ They’re exhausting!

PF So basically it’s like, “I’m 24. I sold my startup. I have eight million dollars but I’m not ready to get myself out of the paternal relationship I’ve built with my VC.”

RZ This is the thing. You’ve found success! Like, you’ve figured it out! Why would you go back home to live with your parents?

PF Cuz most of the people don’t become EIRs. They sell their companies and then they go buy 20 drones, and then they do like drone acrobatics [right] for like eight months [they kayak], and then they get into BitCoin. And they kayak, yeah. It’s like BitCoin and the Grand Canyon [right] and then they go to Southeast Asia and they do some skydiving, and go to space. So these are the things that are normal when people sell but then there’s the people who are like, “Nah, I need to bring my ideas.”

RZ We’re stereotyping, by the way. I’m sure there are very nice people who are —

PF It’s not even nice.

RZ EIRs, by the way. I’ve heard EIR.

5:58 PF The EIR is rough. Here’s one that I found really tricky: Self-employed.

Most of the people don’t become Entrepreneurs In Residence. They sell their companies and then they go buy 20 drones, and then they do like drone acrobatics for like eight months, and then they get into BitCoin. And they kayak… and then they go to Southeast Asia and they do some skydiving, and go to space. So these are the things that are normal when people sell but then there’s the people who are like, “Nah, I need to bring my ideas.”

RZ Uh, I like Self-employed. It’s honest, it’s earnest. Because what’ll happen usually if you are self-employed, most people will just spice it up so you have no idea what they are.

PF It is true. Ok.

RZ They just obfuscate it to such an extreme level and then you’re like, “What is this?” And then they’ll create the company, which is them, and they’ll put themselves inside the company and they are the reason that company is successful. Self-employed is like, “I don’t work for anyone.”

PF “I don’t wanna pretend otherwise.”

RZ “I’m a consultant.” “I don’t wanna pretend otherwise.” I respect it, honestly.

PF You know what’s tricky though? Is if you look — so the pattern that I think works best, if you look at LinkedIn titles, it’s Title at Company. Right? So I was looking [right] at you know I have a friend Jim Aley, I worked with him at Businessweek [uh huh]. And Jim’s title is Deputy Editor at Businessweek [ok]. And you’re just like, “I don’t have any questions about what this person is.”

RZ It’s clear.

The X at Y is a really good formulation if you’re trying to break through and let people know what you’re about. ‘Self-employed’ is tricky. It should be Self-employed Something at first. You know? Self-employed Writer, Self-employed Designer.

PF And so I think it’s the at Y — the X at Y is a really good formulation if you’re trying to break through and let people know what you’re about. Self-employed is tricky. It could be — it should be Self-employed Something at first. You know? Self-employed Writer, Self-employed Designer.

RZ It should have more, for sure. If it’s just Self-employed, yeah, I mean —

PF I also feel that people — you should probably give yourself a little bit of a rubric. So let’s say your name is, I dunno, Sally Wilcox. Or I probably know someone named Sally Wilcox. So Sally Ziade. I’ll give her your last name.

RZ Fine!

PF Sally Ziade should be Self-employed Product Manager at Sally Ziade Enterprises.

RZ That’s what it should say?

PF That’s what I think it should say cuz —

RZ Oh that’s a lot. There’s a lot going on.

PF I know but if you see that, you’ll be like, “Oh I get it! You’re self-employed — ”

7:48 RZ You want clarity.

PF I want some clarity. I get what this person is about: they’ve got their own thing going, they’re seeing themselves as a business, you’re gonna interact with them kind of as a business [yeah]. So I just would say like having looked at several hundred titles and become an expert in this field [uh huh] in the last five to ten minutes, that the X at Y is a good formula.

RZ You like it. You like that.

PF I do. I would suggest that if you wanna appeal to me, Paul Ford [uh huh], your name, you know, your title, you can be self-employed, it’s all good, but just give yourself a little bit of hustle on top of it.

RZ Yeah, I’m with you.

PF Alright, how about just someone whose title is Operational Excellence?

RZ See [laughs] you can’t do that. You can’t do that.

PF [Laughing] yeah, I know it’s bad. And then — [yeah, um] but then as you get that business card and it’s like, “Hi, I’m — ”

RZ What’s the analogue for Operational Excellence?

PF There isn’t. I mean you’re just a —

RZ I mean, “What are you having for breakfast?” “Extra crispy.”

PF Yeah, that is brutal, right? [RZ laughs] That’s exactly — it’s just a squeezy sponge. You’re like, “What? What is this?”

RZ [Laughing] it’s just there’s nothing there! You’re not — I mean I need something to —

PF Well, “I operate in excellent fashion.”

RZ What is the logo? Is the logo I think I remember at one point if you don’t put your headshot in the LinkedIn it’s like stars or like [yeah, yeah, yeah] or the Big Dipper or something [laughs].

PF It’s just so abstract.

9:03 RZ Like what is Operational Excellence, the avatar? What is that? What does it look like?

PF Ugh, it’s just a grey circle.

RZ Is it a grey circle?

PF No, it’s a star. It’s one star.

RZ It’s a gears fitting into each other [laughs].

PF Alright, here’s — let’s go in a different direction: “My name is Bob Samuels and I am an Entrepreneur.”

RZ [Sighs] you know what? I’m ok with that, I guess. You’re saying you are a different type of person, you don’t do jobs. I mean you peer down for a second. Like, ok, “Well, what’d you entrepreneur?”

PF That is the thing, I think like people need to be a little more specific about industry folk like Entrepreneur focused on X, Entrepreneur [yeah!] focused on Health Care.

I think this is a good piece of advice, generally: LinkedIn flies under people’s noses… You’re always on a list with about 200 other people… so if somebody’s giving you the three seconds, you gotta really nail your headline.

RZ Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think this is a good piece of advice, generally. LinkedIn flies under people’s noses, man. It’s just — it’s all a blur.

PF You’re always on a list with about 200 other people.

RZ You’re — it’s a blur, so if somebody’s giving you the three seconds [yeah], they’re willing to give you those three seconds, you gotta really — the headline! Paul, you’re a writer, how important is the headline?

PF Oh it’s the most important thing. Most people only read and/or tweet [the headline] the headline, yeah.

RZ So, nail your headline.

PF Yeah I think that’s right. And it’s gotta be —

RZ Nail your headline. Gimme more in your headline —

PF Give people context.

RZ — before I move on.

PF Well, and just be a little user-centric, right? Like what would make somebody go, “I need to talk to this person.” Like what is that actual use case where you are gonna be the most valuable person they could talk to and then you can get value out of that? [Right] it’s not just job hunting. And it’s not — never expect them to appreciate your genius, never expect them to explore your genius, because they don’t even know that there’s genius under there [right]. This is always the fantasy, right? Like you show up and you’re like, “Oh hey, you know, there’s a black tarp over something. Who knows, who knows what’s under there?!” [Yeah] “But it’s me.” [RZ laughs] You know and most people walk by and are like, “Wow, there’s a bag of garbage on the street.” [Yeah] they don’t know that there’s genius underneath that. They’re not gonna sit there and pull it apart. So that’s — but there’s always that fantasy: like they need to take the time to figure out what’s under here [right]. And that’s a great way to sit at home for ten years [RZ laughs right]. See here’s a tricky one: Customer Success Manager.

11:16 RZ Alright, that’s actually kinda clear.

PF Ok, so I help the customers in my firm [yeah] — I manage a team of people or a process that helps the customer’s of my firm find success [yeah, I mean — ]. There’s a better way to do that.

RZ I hear, I hear support [yeah ok]. When you say Customer Success Manager, it’s a shitty title, by the way [it is]. It’s confusing. You’ve done it to me again. I’m just trying to figure out what the hell you do and you came in with this nonsense.

PF So, you’re out there. What do you want in a title? You wanna grow in your career? You wanna be a better business person, you wanna get more recognition. So, first of all, I would say, just a kind of functional clarity. Like I am a — my name is X, I do Y, for organization Z [yup]. So there’s that. So I’m Paul Ford, I’m the Co-founder and also have some operational responsibilities at Postlight.

RZ Yeah, Co-founder actually you know we’ve been talking shit. I mean that’s not helpful [no]. Co-founder doesn’t help, right?

PF So really —

RZ Senior User Experience Designer at Postlight says a lot.

PF Or I build partnerships at Postlight.

RZ That’s good.

PF It might indicate — cuz that indicates at least that you get in touch. Like it’s, “I’m here for you. I wanna hear from you.”

RZ Interesting so you wrote a sentence.

PF Maybe sure.

RZ That’s bizarre.

PF But that’s LinkedIn!

12:37 RZ “I’d like to introduce you to Paul. He is I Build Partnerships at Postlight.”

PF No, I mean, that’s — then I’m Co-founder on the business card but LinkedIn is weird that way. People do that [yeah]. There was one I saw it was, “Interested in building teams.”

RZ That’s the title?

PF That was the title.

RZ See that’s not a title. That’s a headline.

PF It’s tricky. It’s tricky.

RZ See that could be HR, that could be a really good manager that has excellent retention, that could be a lot of things. Confusing.

PF Alright so let’s talk a minute about like improving your title. Does it matter? Everybody always says titles don’t matter but then they always kinda matter.

RZ You’re doing your LinkedIn. Let’s get inside of that person who’s doing their LinkedIn. You wanna — it’s a sell. LinkedIn is a sell.

PF That’s right. So you want the best possible title.

RZ You want the best possible. So if I can say Senior or I can say — tweak it in a way where it’s not that tangible, right? It’s not Vice President cuz I can’t lie about Vice President [right, right] but I can do things like Lead is another ambiguous one. So you kinda like to put a little spice on there.

PF You know what you can do there? You can do — you can say Experienced.

RZ Experienced is another good one. Very good.

PF You know so you could even do like Experienced Junior Designer.

RZ And I appreciate people are gonna do that. So do it. That’s fine. And then there’s the actual profession [right]. Customer Success is not a profession.

13:49 PF No, that’s true. What does grandpa do? Customer success.

RZ What does grandpa do, right? And Evangelist actually kinda is decipherable.

PF I know an evangelist goes some place and talks to people.

RZ It’s there, right? So Senior Evangelist and then just tell me where you are: comma, Chipotle.

PF Common sense. Common sense.

RZ What’s the Senior Evangelist at Chipotle evangelizing?

PF Uh the fact that they don’t have e coli in there anymore [yeah]. Alright so that’s — be concrete, be honest, be clear, commas, give yourself a chance [yeah], give yourself a chance. You take the title they gave you, add a little colour to it, and remember that we’re gonna look at it for about two seconds in a list with all the other names and you wanna shine a little bit.

RZ And it’s not us, we’re not being, you know, egotistical here. You just — nobody’s — I mean, everybody’s giving everybody else two seconds.

PF That’s right.

RZ Accept that. Embrace it.

PF No, I think people know that. People know that. But don’t expect anyone to see the light in your eyes.

RZ Can we give a bonus tip?

PF Yeah, go!

RZ There’s obviously the rest of your LinkedIn [yeah]. Please, please understand your own paragraphs. Just understand them. Don’t make them these sort of weird, abstract, indecipherable collections of shi — of just really what look like impressive words that don’t mean anything. It’s the worst thing.

PF Well all you wanna know is what did this person actually do?

RZ What’d you do?

PF And if the operational lies to team to execute on a strategy, even if they did a great job of it, you need something. You need something. It’s just we get a lot of that. We get a lot of, “I operationalized a team to execute on a strategic vision in order to achieve the Delta 2019 overall corporate reimagineering.” And you’re just like, “Don’t — don’t. I can’t do that.”

15:40 RZ Maybe we need to shut up, Paul? [Uh] maybe I think what we’re not realizing is that there’s an economy here. There are people who actually write those that hire people that actually write those.

PF Trust me those people are not listening to this podcast.

RZ That’s a fair point.

PF There’s listening to like [in deep mocking voice] Stanford E-Leaders from Stanford E-Leaders Technology, not affiliated with Stanford University [RZ laughs] [music fades in]. Hey Rich, it’s the middle of the show.

RZ Never done this before.

PF Let’s tell people about why they’re here.

RZ Postlight is a New York based digital products studio.

PF At 101 5th Avenue.

RZ You love the address. You keep showing it off.

PF I’m proud of it. I never thought I’d have an office in Manhattan! That’s awesome.

RZ Oh whatever.

PF I’m very proud of it. 101 5th Avenue! If you told me when I was like 14, I’d be like, “What?!?”

RZ This isn’t about you, Paul. It’s about the amazingly talented designers, product leads, and engineers that assemble to build incredible platforms.

PF God! They are good, actually.

RZ They’re so damn good.

PF I don’t even mean it in like they are genuinely — the team is this stable, smart group of individuals who are like —

RZ They’re smart. They’re true to their craft.

PF “Let’s build software!” They like to do it.

RZ They like the work and they like to do it well and uh —

PF That’s the guarantee, right? Like that’s —

16:54 RZ It’s led — it’s no accident, some amazing clients and some amazing work.

PF Yeah. For people who want to do it right [yes]. Once.

RZ And we are in technology, we should clarify, we build stuff. We build platforms, apps, APIs, web apps.

PF Yup, you come to us with a big idea. You’re like, “I need to build this thing.”

RZ Come big. Bring ’em big.

PF And then we’ll say, “Alright, well this is what it’ll really take.” Sometimes we say there’s a little one that you can build, “You can build a teeny tiny version of this and see if it works or you could go all out, build the whole big thing that’s in your head.”

RZ And we love it [music fades in]. A big meaty problem.

PF Either way. We’ll have that conversation either way. Alright, let’s get back to the show. Ok so [music fades out] uh Rich we have a little segment that we like to go back to from time to time. It’s about having strong opinions.

RZ Right.

PF And it’s called Can I Tell You? Because, for people who don’t know, our podcast and our business, Rich will often while you’re like really working hard with your headphones on, he’ll just come right up, tap you on the shoulder, and go, “Hey, can I tell you?” And then he’ll say —

RZ And I’ll just complain.

PF What’s it been the last couple of weeks?

RZ Yeah, I’m gonna give you two. Two for one, Paul.

PF Ok.

RZ I like good chocolate.

PF Oh boy do you!

18:11 RZ No, no, I don’t play games —

PF What’s that company that you truly love, the Italian one?

RZ Amedei.

PF Is that the one where you made me watch the video where they’re playing Steely Dan and sniffing pieces of chocolate from a goblet?

RZ Yes. Yes. And those people look very happy and very successful, by the way.

PF I’ve had it. You know, when Rich gives you a piece of chocolate — first of all, if you chew it, you’re an animal [RZ laughs]. It’s like, “Yeah you’re gonna put this in your mouth and not chew it.” And then you’ll come back like ten minutes later I’ll still be sitting there with chocolate in my mouth like an idiot and he’s like, “What are you doing?! You’re just sitting there with chocolate in your mouth?!”

RZ [Laughing] You’ve had it though, Paul. Give me some credit. It is spectacular.

PF It is. Well what happens is you put it in your mouth and, first of all, it has nothing to do with a candy-like experience.

RZ Don’t say candy.

PF Yeah I called it a — I called your chocolate bars candy bars at one point and you nearly punched me in the eye.

RZ Yeah.

PF There’s no milk in it, right?

RZ No. That’s what’s so exceptional about it, right?

PF Just cocoa.

RZ Just cocoa and it’s just it tastes like butter.

PF But that’s, again, something you love.

RZ I do love it.

PF That’s not what Can I Tell You? is about.

19:14 RZ White chocolate.

PF What’s wrong with white chocolate?

RZ It’s not chocolate.

PF Well, so what, it’s just white sugar brickel. Or whatever the hell it is.

RZ Yeah it’s terrible. It’s really bad. Just call it solid taffy or something. Don’t call it chocolate.

PF I think you need —

RZ Hershey’s is to blame, they’re full of shit with their like “support the local milk farmers.” [Exhales deeply] and they’re to blame for this. I think they came out with white chocolate with like bits of Oreo, I think?

PF Yeah.

RZ Their flavour.

PF Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RZ Which is actually a little tasty [sure]. Just don’t call it chocolate.

PF Did I ever tell you about my relationship with Hershey?

RZ You were born on one of the farms?

PF No. The Hershey Chocolate Company, or Her Co. for many many years, and the dynamics were really tricky but they fund entirely a I think a 12 hundred person school for children ages four to 17.

RZ I think that school has all the money.

PF The school does. There’s a trust that owns a vast amount of Her Co. [right] and the trust exists to fund the school. This was all set up by Milton Snavely Hershey in the early 1900s [right]. So that school that he founded I went to for two years. It’s a school — it’s a philanthropic organization for what are known as, and this is an awkward term: “social orphans,” people who kind of either don’t have parents or have fallen on relatively hard times.

RZ Which you did.

PF I did. I went there for a couple years and it’s a complicated place, it’s a tricky place, but I’m very, very grateful for the time that I spent there.

20:38 RZ Well, and you know what? They’re pumping out good people, e.g., Paul Ford.

PF There you go. There you go. So I’m a Milton Hershey school graduate. It’s hard for me, even though I understand the criticism of the chocolate [to hear this], I know that that Italian chocolate is not funding a school filled with “social orphans.”

RZ No, no, no, no. It’s funding the like Malioni family [yeah that’s exactly right] and their like villa.

PF Yeah they also have a vineyard, right?

RZ And a vineyard that they don’t care much about.

PF Anyway, so I didn’t mean to take white chocolate into a dark place.

RZ You turned it positive. But, whatever, I mean white chocolate it’s white candy which is fine. Chocolate is a lovely thing. It shouldn’t be tarnished with — you shouldn’t be misleading people about chocolate.

PF Right, is there anything else you’d like to complain about this week?

RZ I’m in the middle of contracts.

PF Oh —

RZ Some contracts.

PF So white chocolate and contracts are the things that are upsetting you?

RZ Yeah, unrelated [PF laughs]. I think contracts, I’ve come to realize that contracts are nonsense. No, no, I don’t mean like, “Oh they’re stupid. Contracts are stupid. Lawyers are stupid.” I actually mean even the contracts that firm up a relationship between two people are pretty much nonsense because if things go south that contract is too flimsy to hold it together, ever.

PF Well, really then doesn’t it kinda become guidance for arbitration at some point? Then the judge picks it up —

RZ Potentially, potentially.

PF And goes like, “Alright, well, you know when you signed this, this is what you said and so.”

RZ Yeah, I mean I’ll give you an example. Um every single “Oh did you get the contract? You can’t start work before contract.” And the truth is this: first off, you can start work. That’s called a relationship [yeah]. Second: no contract doesn’t have a parachute that can end it very quickly.

22:22 PF Yeah usually 30 days [yeah]. So the bigger the company, the more lawyers, and the slower it is to get a contract, it’s very hard for corporations to move quickly, and then they’re like, “Please, please god, can we get started?” And you go, “Well, normally we’d sign a contract.” And they go, “Ok that’s gonna be 90 days.”

RZ Correct. It’s a whole world.

PF It is a whole world.

RZ Anyway, contracts are necessary! I get it. You gotta sign your lease to be in the house. But even that, like let’s say your lease runs out in New York City, you’re supposed to leave but you keep paying rent. It is nearly impossible to get you out of the house if you keep paying rent. It’s very, very hard.

PF Oh I lived without a lease at an apartment for like six years.

RZ For years! It’s quite common here which is, again, falls back to the relationship between the landlord and the tenant there [yeah] and whatnot. But you know what it is? I think — we are in a position where we deal with relationships and have to codify those relationships into a —

PF Well it’s also they’re nullable. There’s things like bankruptcy that can basically can take all of that, you know, that Verizon User Agreement.

RZ Yeah, they’re just gonna forget about you.

PF It’s gonna get forgotten.

RZ Yeah, I mean we should probably have a whole episode on bankruptcy.

PF That would be great [RZ laughs] but not about us.

RZ We’ll complain about bankruptcy.

PF What everyone’s finding is that it’s incredibly hard to encode contracts as code [right] because human beings just don’t work that way [right]. We actually want the room to continue to negotiate and discuss [it is inevitable, it is inevitable], even after the contract’s signed.

If you keep going back to Clause 6A1, you will destroy the relationship. You will destroy it. … You just destroyed actually something far more durable than the actual contract.

RZ If you keep going back to Clause 6A1 [yeah], you will destroy the relationship. You will destroy it. The thing exists in the first place for mutual benefit. I get money from you, you stay in my apartment, right? If I go back to Clause 6A1 because you didn’t take the garbage out and put it in the front, therefore I’m gonna ask you for an extra 50 dollars, right? [Yeah] Cuz it’s in the contract. You just destroyed actually something far more durable than the actual contract.

24:22 PF Yeah that’s true. Also, you know one of the things I remember you being surprised by was I told you that all book contracts, the books are always late [yes]. Well, I’m late on a book but other people I know are late on a book and we had Alan Burdick on the podcast at one point writing a book about productivity that was like either five or seven years late.

RZ Yeah, it was about time!

PF Yeah and he spent all the time [RZ laughs] like he was like, “I’m gonna create a great productivity system in order to write this book,” and then never wrote the book. And so what it actually does is create an implied relationship in which the deadline sails by but the publisher is like, “Nmm mm, nope, you’re under contract.”

RZ That’s right. That’s exactly right.

PF And so you remain in that relationship but even though you’re in violation in a real way of the thing that is there in order of terms as a cultural understanding, there was a point, and I can’t remember which, but it was a big publishing house started to call its contracts back and the entire industry lost its mind. It was actually like a cultural thing. Like you can’t [I bet], you can’t ask for that money back [yeah]. So it’s a little bit of a speculative gamble [yup] and so there are norms around that stuff, right?

RZ Be kind and love each other!

PF Yeah that’s really — that’s right.

RZ And then you can have the contract as a formality but be kind and love each other [music fades in].

PF That’s our message.

RZ That’s our message.

PF Well, let’s leave on that.

RZ Perfect, Paul.

PF Ok.

RZ Optimism.

PF hello@postlight.com

RZ That’s how you get in touch with us.

PF That’s really all you need to know.

RZ It really is. It couldn’t be easier. It’s got that friendly “hello@.”

PF Yeah, we like to answer questions, people get in touch, we actually usually reply. And we’re like, “Well, what about this?”

RZ We’ve gotten some good ideas for future podcasts.

PF Somebody just asked me about intranets today and I wrote ’em a nice reply.

RZ Intranets are kinda dead. We should talk about it actually.

PF We’ll talk about it in the future. Yeah so I told her, I was like, “Don’t build anything. Just go buy some intranet as a service and call it a day.”

RZ That’s right. That’s right.

PF Alright, well, you know, that’s it, hello@postlight.com.

RZ Have a lovely week, all!

PF Bye! [Music ramps up to end.]


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.