You won’t have too many people for the event you’re hosting. Make a bet on it.
Many of us will host events at some point in our lives — choosing a date, creating some programming and inviting people to come. I do quite a bit of this, some 50 events a year for work, a dozen or more a year for social groups I’m a member of and maybe that many among friends or one-off special get-to-gethers.
Often you might hear someone express frustration with the delicate balance, that you don’t want too few people there but you also can’t have too many. I’m here to help you: in very nearly every case, it’s better to have too many people than too few so that’s exactly how you should optimize. Don’t waste energy worrying whether you have too many people coming.
There is an entire industry of creative productivity self-help resources. My friend Sean Blanda gave me ‘Manage Your Day-to-Day,’ one in a portfolio of books from 99U, an effort from Behance, the Adobe division where he works.
It was a quick and energizing read. Buy it for $8. As I like to do, I wanted to share a few of the directives I most acted on.
Organizing a regular event for peers and friends as a volunteer has become far more widespread with the power of the web, social media and services like Meetup.com for connecting like-minded professionals. It can be rewarding and relevant for both your personal and professional interests. This is what I’ve learned by doing just that.
Stop taking credit for ideas you didn’t execute on. We’ve all had those moments. When you find out about a new project or initiative and can recall with great clarity having had that very idea before.
It’s natural to want to allow ourselves that moment of validation. It’s as if a thought of yours has sprung fully formed, so it’s rewarding to take some ownership over it. But’ it’s hardly fair and certainly not accurate.
Here is the simplest method I know to receive submissions and fairly execute a randomized lottery for a contest.
Twice now, I have operated a lottery for those who wanted to play a video game on a skyscraper in Philadelphia. In 2013, 1,200 people requested to play pong and this April, more than 1,500 people asked to play Tetris. Fewer than 200 people got to play each year.
When traveling, when learning about a new community, knowing what is variable and what is constant is invaluable. That is, what is climate — the deep, long trend and narrative of a place — and what is weather — flighty, trivial and wildly variable?
It is challenging but absolutely imperative for understanding a new place or time. A late snow in May in Philadelphia would be a strange weather pattern, not indicative of its general climate. Likewise, when you are trying to learn something, you have to strive to now what is unusual and what is indicative of a trend.
When I am seeing a new place or having a fun experience I’ll want to revisit, I try to limit how often I use my mobile device to supplement my real life. I was so impressed Jeffrey Stockbridge, and other photographers, describe their work as “making a photo,” rather than “taking” one. That difference may extend the point.
If you are leading an organization, it seems there are three main speeds you should be going.
Experimenting — new ideas, creative thought, innovation
Focusing — paring down the projects and efforts to get to our clear mission
Executing — moving forward toward that mission
The trouble seems to come when we’re trying to do all of them — or none of them — at the same time. That’s when we get distracted and lose our way.
Staying focused on one of those speeds at a time is more than difficult enough. Now think about being able to cycle through them in the life of an organization when you know you either need new ideas or to find a focus or to make good on that mission. That takes remarkable leadership.
Creating media continues to become easier and more varied every day. Humans are the only species to develop the practice of recording history.
So whenever we are in a moment we regard as a distinguished experience — travel, first-time moments, extraordinary circumstances — we are bound to have this motivation to record that history as best we can.