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If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the only constant we can count on is change.

Of course, this isn’t news. However, now more than ever, we see twists and turns play out in everyday life. With every little shift, each bit of new information and knowledge, we’re forced to adapt. Flexibility is essential.

To me, the most eloquent way to articulate and leverage incremental change over time goes back to ancient Greece: the concept of Delta, Δ.

Now, don’t worry that I’m going to geek out and make you try to remember delta-driven lessons from economics, chemistry, physics, or math. …

Everything starts in the dark.

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The end of Adobe Flash is here.

For many of us forward-obsessed creative technologists, we’d moved on from Flash a long time ago. But I have to admit, the software’s death feels bittersweet.

It’s got me thinking about not just how far I’ve traveled but also how far we’ve come from a time when websites were just flat, blue and white links rendered in 2D.

It also makes me reflect on simpler days. Given that my time nowadays is filled attending seemingly endless Zoom meetings, reviewing virtual stacks of documents, and, on the rare occasion I leave my home office, trying to find the hand sanitizer, it feels awesome to reminisce. …

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Every year I’m excited to see what Google’s “Year in Search’’ reveals about society. And in 2020 — the most tumultuous, uncertain time in recent history — search was dominated by a small but highly impactful word: WHY.

If you haven’t seen the video yet, take a look:

As a Design Thinker, the first line of the video resonates with me most: “The most human trait is to want to know why.”

Which gets me thinking: why is that?

Before you Google “Why why?” here are some answers.

Curiosity is Life-Affirming…

When facing life’s uncertainties, Buddhist nun and author Pema Chödrön advises, “Let your curiosity be greater than your fear.” …

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This year has been full of so many surprises, and most of them have been pretty horrendous. So like millions of others, my wife and I turn to Netflix for some escapism and fun. This brings me to one of the most delightful surprises all year: I’ve found some kinship with, and inspiration from one of the top streaming shows this season: Emily in Paris.

Now, I’m not here to critique the show itself, which has mixed reviews. It was a combination of nostalgia (my wife and I got engaged in Paris) and a low commitment (30-minute episodes) that got me to press play. …

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When you think about entrepreneurs, who springs to mind?

I’m guessing a fearless, larger-than-life, risk-taker like Steve Jobs, Oprah, Sir Richard Branson, or Elon Musk. The type of person for whom working for “the man” (or woman) was never an option.

While I’m fascinated by anyone who has the guts to strike out on their own, I have a special place in my heart for entrepreneurs who never imagined they’d have their own business. The kind of person who has no choice but to answer the call of a burning passion or crushing problem.

This entrepreneurial subset is small yet mighty. According to a study by The Recruit Venture Group, a third of business owners never planned on starting their own company. Despite all of the challenges from bootstrapping to early failures and steep learning curves, a mere 1% regretted their decision, and 90% of those surveyed said they were happier than when they were employed. …

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Even if you haven’t, you can gather from the title that it’s about how destructive the mechanisms of digital interactions can be. As the New York Times points out, the film is “remarkably effective in sounding the alarm about the incursion of data mining and manipulative technology into our social lives and beyond.”

While I agree there are some nefarious implications in people’s personal lives, there’s a real dilemma that’s affecting our working lives, too.

The instant economy is rewiring our brains to think that everything is a click away. The easier it is to get our needs met, the more entitled we feel. …

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We’re at that time of the year when planning for 2021 is in high gear. But unlike prior years, the new year promises multiple unique challenges, all of them fueled by the dumpster fire that has been 2020.

So the question is, how will your business, like a phoenix, rise from the ashes? And can you do this knowing that uncertainty is the one thing we can count on for the coming year?

One of the pandemic’s silver linings is that it has opened up space for reflection and perspective. This is an invaluable opportunity to take stock of all your company has going for it as you prepare to decide about budget, resource allocation, and overall company direction. …

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There’s no question that COVID-19 has been a major catalyst for our reliance on digital technologies. Adobe Analytics reports an additional $107 billion spent online since the pandemic began.

But let’s look past the dollar signs to make a more valuable connection. What some might see as a trend, Accenture says, is a bonafide consumer behavior shift:

“To manage isolation, consumers are using digital to connect, learn and play — and they will continue to.”

Showing up across digital channels as personable, meaningful, and helpful is the fastest, most direct way for a brand to give its customers some love. …

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I’m a huge fan of entrepreneurs who choose a niche marketplace for one big reason: they are relentlessly and authentically focused on product-market fit.

By that, I mean that every touchpoint in their brand experience is created, illuminated, and guided by the customer experience. Understanding your audience at the deepest level — the things that keep them up at night — awakens possibilities for your brand.

I recently became inspired by the founder of the infused tequila brand 21 Seeds, Kat Hantas. Kat had a problem that literally kept her up at night: her evening habit of a glass or two of wine was giving her insomnia. Advised by a doctor to switch to a distilled, not fermented, “clear” drink, she was drawn to blanco tequila. …

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Back in 2015, a Microsoft survey found that people’s attention spans were officially shorter than that of a goldfish (8 seconds vs. 9 seconds of a focused fish). It was also around then that the Harvard Business Review reported that design thinking — an approach that uses equal parts empathy and experimentation to come up with human-centric solutions — had come of age.

Cut to today, where customer decisions are now made in nanoseconds, and you’ve got to think and move fast. The old way of digital marketing, which took months or even years to craft precious personas, elaborate customer journeys, and in-depth empathy maps, seems antiquated and overly labor-intensive. …

About

Pete Sena

Founder and Force-multiplier @digitalsurgeons. https://www.linkedin.com/in/petersena/ & http://petesena.com/

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