What are you working on right now?
It’s a question I often ask in order to elicit a more specific response than would be received by asking, “How are you?” I think it’s because of the now.
For the last year, I’ve been treating now as a word that represents attention, focus, and priority rather than status. And I’m not the only one.
In October, 2015, Derek Sivers created a page at http://sivers.org/now that he describes as his “public declaration of priorities.” He updates it each time his activities or priorities change.
Sivers is an entrepreneur and author of Anything You Want. While working as a professional musician, he went looking for a way to market and sell his music outside of conventional distributors and labels. He ended up creating CD Baby which went on to generate more than $100M in sales for more than 150,000 independent musicians.
I think he’s better known for his hit 3-minute TED Talk Leadership Lessons from a Dancing Guy, one of my personal favorites. Sivers encourages us to create our own “now” page, such as www.kylesexton.com/now, and has created a community of people who have done so at www.nownownow.com.
“If I’m doing something that’s not on my list,” writes Sivers, “Is it something I want to add, or something I want to stop?”
Sivers’ “/now” page, which has since become the “/now movement,” is an inbound destination. And I wonder as I write this, what would happen if “/now” became an outbound declaration of priorities?
What if, for example, your email updates to members only happened when something changed in your activities or priorities?
It seems to me that as leaders of organizations, we can also benefit from a public declaration of priorities.
“It helps me say no,” adds Sivers. “When I decline invitations, I point them to that (/now) page to let them know it’s not personal.”
I think often about the difference between noise and signals. So much of the clutter in our organizations is a result of over-informing those who we think might be interested only because they are members.
Back to my email fantasy: I imagine getting a simple text email that clearly lays out what has changed since the last note. No fancy layout, no repeat information, no sales pitches, and no updates to programs for which I didn’t specifically opt in.
Those who attend my communications strategies class at IOM come to understand the sensitivity that some members have to being over informed. There is new evidence, however, that over-informing isn’t a matter of personal preference. Over-informing is a trigger that turns off engagement.
Communicating your priorities in an engaging way is an art form, but only if you first understand the science.
Derek Sivers is modeling how a new class of entrepreneur is communicating his priorities with the tribe. And it’s creating a much more engaged tribe than a mission statement ever has.