Active Work

When you wake up in the morning, do you choose to brush your teeth?

Do you choose to eat something ‘easy’ or ‘quick’ for breakfast?

Do you choose what route you take to work?

Do you choose to go to work?

Probably not. In fact, many of the things we do on a daily basis are choices that we’ve already made. Choices that we’ve put in our mental bank of “don’t have to worry about this anymore”.

But the problem is that without an ongoing choice…

Without an ongoing analysis of what we’ve already chosen…

We end up choosing what we wanted last year. Or 5 years ago. Or even when we were 10 years old.

This is how we fall into the trap of unloving relationships, or terrible jobs. This is how we start to fail at life & work and one day we wake up wondering “what the hell just happened”?

Instead, the answer is to actively choose on a daily basis. To say yes every day to the things we take for granted…

Until we don’t.

And when the answer is no too many times in a row, we need to accept it, and take action.

Because it’s over.

You haven’t chosen yes anymore. You’ve chosen no.

The Japanese have a word for active work. They call it Samu.

Active work involves being present. Being where the work is happening.

Not distracting ourselves with excessive future planning, long meetings or loud music.

Active work is choosing your actions. Choosing your work. And choosing what you want to put out into the world.

And it’s the only way to accomplish something great. To have an impact.

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How to Play the Guitar

How do you learn to play guitar?

Do you beat yourself up each time you hit a wrong note?

No, you start again.

You repeat.

You do it better.

And pretty soon, it’s right.

And soon after that, it’s good.

And if you keep going. Maybe. Just maybe. It’ll be spectacular.

But you don’t get there by beating yourself up. You don’t get there by demanding perfection from day one.

You get there by starting. And then starting again. And continuing to push until your mind, your fingers and your soul hurt.

So how, then, do you expect to make connections?

… to produce good work?

… to build great companies?

Is it by demanding perfection from day one?

Or by making a habit of starting, then starting again, then starting again…

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I’m sorry, that’s not our problem

In customer service, it’s easy to pass the buck.

“Sir, if we can’t repeat the issue, we can’t help you…”

“Sir, it looks like the issue is with your [insert other company here] provider. Please call them for help.”

Or even…

“See our online help forum for answers to common issues”

It’s far more rare however – and more valuable – to go the extra mile.

To solve problems that don’t fall into the realm of your support services.

Often, these problems are even easy to solve for a halfway competent customer service agent.

But the problem is that there’s no standard operating procedure, so it’s scary. Scary for the employee because it involves thought. But also scary for the middle manager because it’s difficult to measure… and it’s difficult to justify.

It’s far more easy to pass the buck. Abandon the customer. And wipe your hands of the situation altogether.

But what you’re leaving on the table is a connection.

Sure, the customer probably won’t BLAME you for passing the buck. But they won’t love you either. They won’t rave to their friends about your company. They won’t become a lifelong customer that breeds other, raving, lifelong customers.

It’s your choice.

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Here, I made this: WordPress Popup Surveys

Collecting feedback from your website visitors can be an incredible asset to your blog or business website.

It allows you to find out what your ACTUAL visitors are thinking, instead of waiting for them to send you emails – or worse, just guessing.

There are a number of tools available that allow you to collect user feedback.

Two of the premium ones are:


I have used both of these tools in the past, and they are incredibly helpful. They cost between $20 and $100 per month for the service.

However, I wanted a popup survey tool that integrated into WordPress directly, and saved my data on my own website. After all, if I ever left one of these premium services, I would lose any data that was stored on their servers.

This lead me to create a new WordPress Survey plugin called Popup Surveys and Polls.

It’s simple. It works. And it keeps all of your survey results data on your own server.

And best of all, it’s free.

Check it out here:

It uses a simple one page edit screen to create the surveys right within WordPress:


Currently, you can create 3 kinds of survey questions:

  • Multiple choice surveys (with an unlimited number of choices)
  • Net promoter score
  • Text response

And so far, I’ve built these additional features into the plugin:

  • Create an unlimited amount of surveys
  • Run multiple surveys at the same time (only one will be displayed to a user at once)
  • Control the delay before displaying a survey
  • Display your survey on the left or the right side of your website
  • Customize the thank you message of your survey

More to come, and if you like the plugin, please give me a review over at Every little bit helps.



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Planning to death

It feels good to plan.

We plan our lives

We plan what we would do with more time off

We plan what we would do if we won the lottery

We plan a new business

In fact, many times planning is just another form of procrastination…

… because doing is hard.

Doing ruins plans, because even the best laid plans don’t work flawlessly – we as humans are really bad at predicting the future.

Doing requires us to dig deep, and work our asses off.

But doing is the only thing that produces any value.

Doing is what matters.

So do.

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I’ll think about it…

Thinking about something only works if you’re willing to actually think.

It only works if you’re going to add value to the decision making process.

It only works if you’re going to process what was said, and if you might change your choice from what your gut tells you, to something else.

If, in fact, you’re just looking for a way to politely NOT make a decision – to avoid the decision altogether – then you should probably just say no (or yes). Stop wasting everyone’s time and put it to rest.

Then, get back to work.

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Your big idea isn’t that big

Ideas are a funny creature. We want to protect them.

“My idea is a million dollar idea… but I can’t tell you about it, you might steal it”

I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no such thing as a million dollar idea.

Ideas are only a small part of the overall picture.

Ideas require work to create value. They require refinement, testing and tons and tons of effort.

What the cycle looks like:

  1. Have an idea
  2. Create a plan
  3. Build it
  4. Launch to the world
  5. See what happens
  6. Adjust and make it better

Instagram wasn’t Instagram when it started

Airbnb tried some pretty strange ideas before they found their niche

In fact, many huge, well known brands have made major pivots in their journey

You get better at what you practice.

That means you should be practicing launching and adjusting all the time. This is good for you and good for your idea.

Go launch.

Do it relentlessly and with zeal. Create new habits of launching projects until it becomes uncomfortable if you aren’t.

You will fail – a lot – but you will also succeed far more than you would if you keep protecting your ideas.

And each time you fail, you get to apply what you learned to the next launch.

Who knows, maybe one of your ideas will make a million dollars. Or even a few billion.

But it sure won’t if you keep hoarding it to yourself.

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Is the government running your business?

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who thinks that government organized projects are efficient.

You’d be even harder pressed to find someone who would call most governments a well run organization.

Why then, do so many companies let themselves be run by the government?

They do so by building policy based on what’s bare minimum by law.

Any time you choose to follow what is written in an “employment standards act” or other bureaucratic tome, you are letting the government make business decisions for you.

After all, you have a choice.

You can instead choose your policies carefully… thoughtfully.

Of course, you can’t choose to do less than the minimum…

…but you CAN choose to do more. To be generous. And to expect generosity in return from your staff.

Because after all, if you give the bare minimum, you will get the bare minimum.

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Using the Firefox Reader View to Improve Your Landing Pages

The Firefox web browser just came out with some updates which include a new feature called “Reader View.”

It’s a new button that’s located on the right side of the address bar:


The button essentially removes all distractions on a web page, and leaves only the text.

What Firefox probably didn’t intend, is that this is a great tool for evaluating website landing page copy.

By looking your landing pages as only text, you can evaluate the copy without the distractions of images or design.

Take a look at how the Firefox Reader View changed the look of one of our product pages:

This is the page as it is:

urban cultivator commercial page

Now take a look at how the same page appears in the Firefox Reader View:

commercial page - only text

As you read over the text on your landing page, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the copy still make sense?
  • Does the copy on this page flow well?
  • Does the copy answer questions that arise in your potential client’s mind?
  • Does the copy stand on it’s own?

The Firefox Reader View doesn’t work on all pages, but I found that it functions quite well with a number of the landing pages that we run, and it’s already allowed me to spot some opportunities for improvement in our copy.

Time to start improving!

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Salesforce tip: Getting an accurate lead source in your opportunities

Managing salespeople can kinda be like herding cats. The only way to get them to do what you want, is to change their environment and tools.

They have to WANT to do something, you can’t simply demand it.

How then, do you ensure that you get accurate data out of your Salesforce opportunities? Especially when it’s up to the sale rep to enter the lead source into the opportunity.

This is something that we struggled with when setting up our Salesforce installation. We were getting some sales reps simply enter a generic lead source because it was faster than taking the time to check the real lead source from the contact.

Yes, you can map the lead source from the lead to the contact objects, but this still won’t translate the data all the way to the opportunity.

Luckily, with a couple of formulas, you can get the lead source from the lead object to stay the same all the way to the opportunity.

Here’s how:

1. Create a new custom field on your contact that automatically picks up the lead source from the lead object

From the setup menu, under App Setup go to Customize -> Contacts -> Fields

contact fields

Create a new custom field

Choose formula as the field type

formula field

Choose Text as the field output type and name the field

field type

From the formula step, click the button Insert Field

Choose the Lead > object, and then the Lead Source field and click Insert

insert formula

That should insert Lead__r.LeadSource into the formula box

Now you need to convert the Lead Source field from a picklist type to a Text type. To do this, add the function Text()

Your formula should now look like this: Text(Lead__r.LeadSource)

Click Next, add the field to any layouts that you would like, and finalize the new field.

This step creates a new field on your Contacts that will always have the Lead Source that was assigned to the original Lead object.

2. Create a custom Opportunity field that links to the new Contact field

Repeat step #1 for your Opportunity field. When you get to the formula section, you can choose the field like this:

insert formula 2

Where “Campaign Name” is the the name of the custom field you created in step #1

3. Change your reports

All you have to do now is simply customize your sales reports in Salesforce to pull from the custom lead source field on your opportunities. This customization will ensure that you always see the most accurate lead source that came directly from either the Lead or the Contact objects.

I hope this helps! Keep on hacking.


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