The Trap That Eats Start-ups and Entrepreneurs.

You should be worried if your boss or client ever says “we have no competitors, we are the best at what we do, and no one does anything similar to what we do”. You should be downright scared if you ever hear yourself say something similar.

“But, having no competition is good!” a novice entrepreneur might say. Sure, the imagination of owning an entire market to yourself sounds like a shortcut to world domination. Someone has to be first, after all. …


2021/04/06

The Czech sky is gray today, churning. The winter that has been seemingly in retreat for a week now claws its way back from the moist crevices of afternoon shadows. A chill in the wind brings a light dusting of snow. These small white grains fatten up over the course of minutes until your field of vision is consumed with white streaks. Sakura flowers that have appeared only the past weekend are now surrounded by falling crystals.

The grains resemble styrofoam now, moving along with the wind in the wake of some great unboxing, little eddies form in them…


Old Marketing Campaign Rule That Every Digital Marketer Should Know

When you think of cutting-edge marketing, direct mail is not what comes to mind. And yet, despite previously declining numbers, it’s proving to be a resilient marketing niche, and still represents the largest local advertising spend of $38.5 billion in 2020. There is a sort-of minimalist purism in direct-mail marketing. The message is delivered to the prospect, and that’s it. No cookies, no click-throughs, just a pass or fail, convert or wind up in the garbage can. …


At least if you want to build a business, rather than a pyramid scheme.

Clarity is the thin membrane that separates disaster from success. That 5-degree difference in heading that separates the wayward cruise ship from a near-miss to “abandon ship” — that’s the importance of clarity. That time Pepsi had to buy a contest winner a harrier jet — that’s a lack of clarity. The feeling of confusion when you operate a new machine, and the manual just doesn’t tell you how to get the result you want — that’s is the cost of a lack of clarity.

Photo by Deann DaSilva on Unsplash

I am a fan of clarity. I see it as the cornerstone for strong communications…


In this clip from “You Don’t Know Nicotine”, filmmaker Aaron Biebert discusses the public association of “nicotine” with the harm of cigarette smoking. The word “nicotine” has become so closely associated with smoking that it’s often used as a synonym. Let’s be clear: Smoking is harmful. Smoking tobacco kills half its users, over 8 million people each year.

“Nicotine” and “cigarette” are the same thing to many.

But what about nicotine? Psychologists and tobacco-addiction specialists worldwide now think it’s time to distinguish this well-known alkaloid from the effects of smoking. With many smoking alternatives available, nicotine can and is being…


COVID-19 is transforming what it means to be a teacher, bringing financial opportunity.

Teaching is a noble but demanding job. It’s also relatively rare for a teacher to be paid well. Without an advanced degree and tenure, schoolteachers often get a pretty raw deal. It’s getting more difficult for a teacher to buy a house in the UK, and many U.S. teachers take a second job just to get by. Still, the emotional satisfaction of doing something truly important often helps teachers stick to their profession.

In 2020, teachers saw the typical lack of resources and support compound, as they went from educators to medical safety and logistics organizers, as well as de…


Some things you just can’t find in a book, or a video.

Visiting China for the first time in 2008 I remember seeing people studying English everywhere. On buses, in restaurants, waiting in lines, people would just pull out their flashcards or phrasebooks, poring over the words dutifully. I even remember trying to start a conversation with one such learner. Being still in University, I thought the half-hour train ride to Beijing would be better spent actually talking to someone.

I opened with an “Oh, you’re studying English” in a friendly, noncommittal tone. The guy (also a University student) looked up at me, terrified. “我不好以,我不會英文,對不起!” was his rapid-fire response before turning away…


Why companies choose to ignore the problems that (eventually) kill them.

If you want to be an effective consultant or freelancer, you have to help your client deal with the big problems. You have to hunt these problems down, even as your client or employer actively tries to hide them from you. Weird, right?

I’m talking about those big, ugly problems that have become intractable, the ones that make everyone feel miserable. Those are the ones that people avoid talking about. Instinctively. The organization has learned to avoid mentioning them. These problems become “the thing that shall not be named”.

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

How an “Invisible Problem” Develops

I’ve seen this pattern develop in start-ups and in big, multinational…


How to have “that conversation” with your students and clients

As a rule of thumb, educators tend to be shy about asking for money. Even when you’re running your own online education or coaching business, the love for sharing knowledge tends to get in the way of having “that conversation”. This is unfortunate, as being comfortable charging a fair price and ensuring that you get paid is a key skill that will help you continue doing what you love — teaching.

While having this conversation may never be easy for you, here are a few tips that will help you navigate this interaction with a lot more grace and less…


Keep yourself healthy by feeding and exercising your brain

Stress, anxiety, disappointment … 2020 seems to come up with new ways to add these to your life daily. Managing stress is a key skill, considering how damaging stress can be to your health and habits. The Mayo Clinic suggests that prolonged stress can cause headaches, anxiety, loss of sleep, and a host of behavioral issues like self-medication, overeating, and social withdrawal. These can snowball into health, social, and mental health problems.

Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash

Our lives are filled with low-level, stress that drains us. While the stress response is crucial in live-or-die situations, what most of us experience is a sense of…

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