Sunk costs as gifts from our past selves

Listened S 2 E 13 Ignore Sunk Costs by Seth GodinSeth Godin from S 2 E 13 Ignore Sunk Costs
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I don’t remember where I came across a recommendation to listen to Seth Godin’s podcast, Akimbo, but I’m glad I did. I really enjoy his episodes. The first one I listened to is titled “Ignore Sunk Costs”.

He talks about sunk costs as gifts from our past selves, and it’s up to you to decide whether to continue using this gift, or to decline it and embrace a new set of possibilities. I like his example of having invested in years of study at law school, followed by years of practice as one such sunk cost.

If you decide that being a lawyer is no longer for you, it’s up to you to stop using that “gift” of that education and work experience, and embrace something new. I feel like I had a similar choice when we moved to Israel, even though I didn’t think about it quite in these terms.

This is a great podcast to subscribe to, if you’re interested in different perspectives on challenges you may be facing. Plus, I really like how he has a featured non-profit segment in his shows.

When kids start treating the staff poorly

Kids playing with pillows on a bed

Reconcilable Differences #66, titled “Inherent Injustice”, is both hilarious and cringeworthy for parents. The hosts, Merlin Mann and John Siracusa, were talking about raising young kids, setting examples for them, and issuing parental edicts.

I started giggling at around 31 minutes when they were discussing how kids seem to struggle with this idea that their parents are not servants who exist to cater for their every whim. I had to share this:

I had another laugh at about 1:01:30 when Mann and Siracusa started talking about resolving inconsistencies in rules that parents make for kids. I definitely have a preference for Siracusa’s approach. As with terrorists, there are times when you just don’t negotiate with kids about rules.

This was probably one of the funniest discussions I’ve heard for a while on this show. Even if you don’t listen to the show (and it can be an acquired taste), definitely spend a few minutes listening to these discussions.

What “content marketing” really is

Podcast about content marketing

I started listening to the “This Old Marketing” podcast recently thanks to a recommendation on Facebook. The latest episode, episode 162, has a terrific segment about what content marketing really is and where brands and advertisers tend to go wrong.

The episode begins with a discussion about fake news (also worth listening to) and transitions into the content marketing segment at about 20 minutes in (this link will take you to this point in the discussion on an Overcast.fm player page).

I don’t usually post a lot of marketing related stuff on my site but given that this is my day job and how worthwhile this discussion is, it is well worth sharing with you.

If you are in the marketing business, do yourself a favour and listen to this segment, at the very least. It is entertaining and tackles some of the sillier approaches to content marketing.

Image credit: Pexels

Better management

I had opportunities to manage people in my various roles and becoming a manager was definitely a work-in-progress. Because I have been both a manager and an employee at different stages of my life, I’m pretty interested in what successful managers do that creates their successes.

I’m really enjoying this episode 76 of Debug about management. Some insights that appeal to me include –

  • Managers need to constantly watch for burnout and adopt tactics to avoid it or, failing that, alleviate it through varied projects, changing the pace and constantly talking to your team members.
  • Take an active interest in your team. Get to know them well enough to be able to pick up on negative trends (perhaps due to overwork or stress) before they become problems so you can address them constructively.
  • Being a manager doesn’t make you the king/queen. It doesn’t mean ruling by edict.

If I were to flip through a book on management best practices, I am sure I would find myself ticking off a number of the worst practices poor managers have adopted. The positive side of that is that it has given me a helpful perspective on how to do the job better (if I ever, hypothetically, found myself in a management role again). I have also learned a fair amount just being an employee.

One theme which fascinates me is finding a constructive balance between planning and metrics on the one hand, and allowing for a degree of flexibility and autonomy that is both empowering and helps employees achieve their targets. The challenge with too much planning and structure is that it can basically squeeze the creativity right out of your employees. On the other hand, your work must ultimately make a positive contribution to the company’s bottom line so a degree of planning and measurement is essential.

Most interesting, for me at least, is how even creative work like mine has to have some form of structure and must be measurable. After all, content marketing is supposed to help boost sales and there are often clearly defined success metrics you need to achieve even though the work itself may be relatively unstructured.

Image credit: The conductor by me, licensed CC BY NC SA 2.0