Simplicity, Part 4


If you can’t explain something simply, you probably don’t understand it well enough.


P.S. Want more simplicity? Here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


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The Myth Of ‘Slow Change’

Leadership, Life

It takes a long time to build anything worthwhile.

  • Building a house = slow.
  • Building a relationship = slow.
  • Building trust = slow.
  • Building a great company = slow.
  • Growing a tree = slow.
  • Writing a book = slow.
  • Recording an album = slow.
  • Painting a painting = slow.

This isn’t really all that surprising. What’s really interesting is how quickly these things can go away.

  • A house can be demolished with a few explosives.
  • A relationship can be destroyed in an instant.
  • Trust can disappear in a moment.
  • A company can dissolve without warning.
  • A tree can be uprooted by a big storm.
  • A manuscript, a recording tape, or a painting can be thrown in a fire (thankfully this is getting harder to do with digital media).

There are a couple of lessons here, I think.

First, we should probably be more patient. Growing something good always takes time.

Second, most of us operate under the myth that all change is slow. But that’s only one kind of change: The “growing” kind.

If you want quick change, all you need to do is get rid of something. That kind of change is FAST, and it’s not always as destructive as my examples here. (For example, get rid of your performance reviews.)


NOTE: This post was inspired by this conversation.


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Thoughts On Millennials, Ownership, & Fast Company


Last week, an article of mine was published in Fast Company online, which was a huge thrill. I’m a print subscriber myself, and greatly enjoy reading their magazine.

Many people were very kind to share and retweet the article, but it also seems that it was surprisingly polarizing (as you’ll see if you scan through the comments). This, in itself, is completely fine — as much as I enjoy persuading people of a new point of view, I have no expectations that everyone will enjoy what I write or agree with it.

That said, there are two things about the article I want to comment on.


Somewhere between my writing and the publishing, my title got changed. I approved the title We Don’t Buy It: Embracing the Death of Ownership — this somehow got changed to Why Millennials Don’t Want To Buy Stuff. In my view, these are completely different articles, and it seems like the title that got assigned led to some unrealistic expectations, which then caused a few whiplash reactions.

This is a good lesson for me when I’m reading online: unless it’s directly posted on the author’s own blog, I shouldn’t assume the author had final editorial approval.


I should have made it more clear that, while the three components I outline in the article have always been a part of what ownership means, they are more important now.

In the new economy these things are essential to understand — for everyone across your entire company.

The very act of ownership has been commoditized, especially in places like the US. Here, we quite literally want for nothing, and when this happens, organizations and leaders must start to think more about the invisible motivators that power their customers’ decisions. Good marketing folks already think like this, of course, but I don’t know many other organizational departments that do this very well. Companies that can optimize this new mindset towards ownership across the organization are the ones that will thrive most.

If we want a work revolution, our goal is to design organizations that can leverage new mindsets towards ownership (and many other things). We can debate the philosophical underpinnings of the concept of ownership all day long, but that’s really missing the point — which is to create tribes that can build great stuff that makes the world better.


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