Would You Rather Have Skills Or Credentials?

are people who have skills as opposed to credentials.

insight from Aaron Dignan.

So I couldn’t help but wonder. What’s the difference between the two?

The word credential comes from the
Latin term credentialis, which means,
letters entitling
the bearer to certain confidence.”

with credentials get degrees and earn certifications and win awards and have
titles use designations. It’s a permission-based experience. They’re valuable
through the endorsement of their peers.

The word
skill comes from the Norwegian term skil,
which means, “the power of discernment and the ability to separate and

People with
skills solve problems and notice patterns and connect ideas and synthesize data
and perform excellence. It’s an expression-based experience. They’re valuable
through the labor of their own.

would you rather possess? Which would you rather your team members possess?

If you picked skills over credentials, congratulations.

the world we live in. 

One where degrees don’t carry as much weight as they used to. One where your body of work speaks louder than your resume. One where the network attached to your name is more valuable than theacronymafter it. 

About ten years ago, I contemplated getting a masters degree to legitimize my credentials as a writer. My thinking was, maybe having those two letters after my last name would make people’s question marks go away.

But then I calculated the cost, time and effort of that path––and realized it was smarter, cheaper, faster and more fun to just write a lot of books instead.

Now, nobody ever asks for my credentials. Ever. 

Because the skills have been spoken for.

If you want to steer
your work orientation into the same direction, I’ve put together a short audit
inspired by my favorite book, The War of Art:

Are you doing the work for its own sake, or for the
attention and applause?

Are you asking what’s in your heart, or what the marketplace
is looking for?

Are you looking within to validate your work, or letting
others define your reality?

Are you receiving sustenance from the act itself, or the
impression is makes on others?

territory over hierarchy.


How Well Do You Integrate?

Successful people integrate.

That’s a big word for me, integrate.

It literally means, “to render something whole.”

And the people who master this art––actually, it’s more of a
way of being, really––bring substantial value to those around them.

The challenge is, integration can’t be taught. There’s no
formula or system or seminar.

But it can be
modeled. Consider these examples:

Zapponians are encouraged to bring unrelated passions to the
work environment. In their culture book, one employee wrote, “It’s like a game
to see what part of ourselves we can bring to work every day.” Sounds like a
dream job to me. Integrating means making use of everything you are. What unique aspect of your personality can
you enlist to help you work?

Billy Jean King, hall of fame tennis player and advocate for
sexual equality famously said, “Bring all of yourself to everything you do.”
She’s right. Halfway will be the end of you. Integration means fulfilling your
whole capacity for living. Do you have
the freedom to use the talents you might never exercise anywhere else?

Mike Arauz from Undercurrent talked about hiringsquare shaped people: “It’s not just surface knowledge, it’s going deep enough to
be dangerous on an expansive landscape of interconnected knowledge that quickly
makes you a powerful recombinant thinker and inventor.” That’s what allows you to participate in deep, thoughtful conversations
about anything. Even offer meaningful advisement off the cuff. Do you know a little about a lot or a lot about a lot?

Conan O’Brien, the funniest man on the planet, oncetold a storyabout the best piece of advice he’d ever been given. Johnny Carson said,
“You will use everything you’ve ever learned.” That’s one hell of a memory. Integrating
means refilling and accessing your mental reservoir.What’s your routine for documenting and organizing your daily

Scott Adams famously admitted, “I succeeded as a cartoonist
with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of
humor and a bit of experience in the business world. Dilbert is a combination
of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers,
funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that
each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is
created.” Everyone should be so lucky to fire on all cylinders. Integrating
means meaningful contribution through masterful combination. Is everything you do designed to give you a
stronger base?

Jerry Seinfeld is a master of integration. He famously told
Howard Stern, “I’m never not working on material. Every second of my existence
I’m thinking, can I do something with that?” That’s what billionaires do, they
leverage everything. Integrating means killing two stones with one bird. What’s your system for accumulating more
firepower into your creative arsenal?

I read a fascinating article about Douglas Hofstadter, a
professor and author and Pulitzer Prize winner. He said, “Anything I think
about becomes part of my professional life.” Amen to that. Workers of the mind,
unite! Integrating means rolling your snowball down an infinite hill. How do you expand your repertoire a little
bit more with each thought?

Robert Downey Jr., perhaps the greatest comeback character
of his generation, was described as an artist who, “Will eat almost anything,
idea wise, or he’ll at least chew on it.” He takes in everything available. He never meets an idea he doesn’t like.
Integration means guarding your curiosity against exhaustion. Do you embroider the accumulated threads of
daily observation into a striking tapestry of innovative thinking?

I remember watching an interview with a renowned nerdcore
rapper. When asked about his experience working with Cartoon Network, he said,
They use every part of you like a
buffalo.” What a delicious way to work.
Don’t dismiss or deny your
native background. Compress all of your assets into a tight little package. Integrating means leaving no talent
untapped. When people tap you on the shoulder, how many different ways do they
use you?

The key to remember is, integration takes a long time, a lot
of practice and a high level of maturity.

It flows from a complete openness to yourself. Even the
parts you view as liabilities.

And it’s a spiritual imperative. At the heart of what it
means to be a person is bringing value and light and joy and meaning to the
people around you.

Are you ready to render yourself whole?


Why I Take Notes On Everybody, Everything, All The Time, Everywhere, And Refuse To Stop

My obsession with taking notes has very little to do with writing.

From an existential
perspective, taking notes brings me joy. It gives me energy and makes me feel
like I’m a productive, purposeful and useful citizen of the world. I always say
that I can rationalize almost any activity or experience, as long as I write
down at least one interesting thing I heard.

Sentences are my spiritual currency.

From a psychological
perspective, taking notes makes me a better person. Writing has been
scientifically proven to help people focus attention, strengthen patience,
stimulate creativity, illuminate patterns, build motor memory, lower blood
pressure and enhance the brain’s ability to process, retain, and retrieve information.
What’s not to like?

Writing is the basis of all wealth.

From an interpersonal
perspective, taking notes allows me to contribute to others. It’s how I add incremental value to my interactions with people. Even if I only write down one
sentence, taking notes demonstrates listening, presence, gratitude, respect and
encouragement. It brings people to life, helps them believe in themselves and
makes them feel seen and heard.

Burning a few calories with your pen goes a long way.

From a inspirational
perspective, taking notes helps me get through to people. If I’m using my
journal, I flip the book around and show people what I wrote down. If I’m using my
phone, I email them a copy. If I’m using a whiteboard, I snap a picture and
send them a text. If I’m using my jotter, I tear out the page and hand it over.
If I’m using my laptop, I print out a copy for people to read on the way home.
And if I’m taking notes in my head, I stop in the middle of the conversation,
repeat people’s exact words back to them, and wait in silence as they write it
down for themselves.

That’s how you give someone a front row seat to their own brilliance.

The moral is, if you don’t write it down, it never happened.

What notes have you taken today?

I Got Taken For A Ride Before I Was Ready To Go On One

My first book went viral before viral was viral.

The website got over a million hits in one day, emails began
pouring in from across the world and the nametag story spread like wildfire. My
career was officially launched. And to my surprise, that media storm lasted for
nearly two years.

You can’t pay for that kind of coverage.

Looking back, I estimate my advertising value equivalency to
be in the millions.

Then again, what results did I have to show for it? Beyond
the heaps of web traffic and the inflation of my ego, what economic return did
all that attention convert into?

Approximately, zilch.

Because I wasn’t ready. And neither was my business. When
the media tsunami came crashing through town, there was nary a surfboard in
sight. So while I may not have drowned, I was still miles away from hanging

I got taken for a ride
before I was ready to go on one.

This phenomenon happens all the time. History is full of
artists, politicians, athletes and businesspeople that became too successful,
too early, too often.

And because their trajectory initiated before their professional
foundation was strong enough to contain and convert the experience, they left
behind a wake of missed opportunities, wasted attention and underleveraged

And those are just the professional
repercussions. It gets personal, too.

When our trajectory of achievement initiates before our existential foundation isn’t strong
enough to cope with the experience, succeeding takes up our whole life. And the
big questions go untended.

Am I happy, or just smiling? What void am I trying to fill
with all this success? When will I have done enough to be okay with myself? And
if it all burns to the ground, who will I be without my brilliant career?

We have to be honest with ourselves.

We have to decide which successes are worth succeeding for.

We have to understand that getting what we think we want often comes at a cost we
don’t expect.

They Always Remember Their First

Being the finest doesn’t
count as much as being the first.

If the goal of our interactions with people is to delight
and surprise and bring value and create moments worth remembering, the best
indicator of success is hearing them say the following magic words:

“Wow, nobody’s ever
done that before.”

These moments, these firsts, happen a thousand times a day,
in every industry, in every country.

The veterinary office that makes follow up calls after each
visit. The hairstylist who references her notes to see how she cut last time.
The consultant who does tons of preliminary research before the client even
hires him. The landscaper that takes pictures of the shrubs in progress and shares
them on the customer’s private photo feed.

Nobody’s. Ever. Done.
That. Before.

It’s the intersection of service, art, generosity, class and

Even if the act is
standard operating procedure for our organization, it’s still a maiden voyage
for the people. And that’s all that matters.

Because they always remember their first.

Don’t you?

Save Your Soul For Your Own Species

Fall in love with your work, but don’t make it your

I made that mistake for a long time. Like many
entrepreneurs, I found something I loved and it loved me right back. Of course I gave it everything.

Isn’t that how soulmates work?

It certainly seemed romantic and noble and meaningful at the
time. The prospect of treating my business as my first mate, first priority and
first responder appealed to my sense of duty. It stoked my work fire. It made
me feel heroic.

But as a result, I started giving more and more pieces of myself
to the work, and not to my relationships.

Let me show you my
secret compartments,
I would whisper in the ear of my enterprise. My
soulmate. My valentine. My twin flame.

Meanwhile, the people I cared about most were left with
crumbs. Emotional leftovers. The remains of the day that trickled down my

And I couldn’t be the friend or family member they needed.

That’s the danger of putting your all into something. It
becomes a part of you. Sometimes too much a part of you. Sometimes the sole
place of your identification.

And that makes it very difficult to make the rest of your
life happy.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with giving your heart
to your work.

But save your soul for your own species.


To Think That In Such A Place, I Led Such A Life

One of my favorite hobbies is keeping tabs on humanity.

Listening to what our culture is up to, watching how our
society is evolving and documenting where our species is heading.

At current, here’s how I feel about it:

I am so goddamn excited
to be alive right now, so hopeful for the advancement of our species, so
thrilled to be living in the greatest time in human history, the vomit of
happiness that spews out of me is nearly uncontrollable.

Here are four reasons why:

1. Creativity is on
its way back.
Our natural inclinations to hack and fix and improve are
immutable. Not only as trades, but as ways of communicating with the world. And
these verbs are being welcomed with open arms by even the most mundane of
industries and communities. Creativity, the great nurturing positive force of
humanity, has officially made making things cool. And easy. And profitable.

I was reading The State of Create, a global benchmark study on attitude and beliefs about
creativity and work, school and home. Adobe’s team interviewed five thousand adults
across the five of the world’s largest economies. Their research showed
several promising results. First, new creative tools are perceived as the
biggest driver to increase creativity. Second, technology is recognized for its
ability to help individuals overcome creative limitations. And third, our
country is the second most creative in the world.

We are finally
realizing our society as one large work of art.

2. We’ve broken the
sharing seal.
Downtime is the new billable hour. Access is the new
ownership. Sharing isn’t just caring, it’s commercial. And it’s digital. That’s
the difference. Humans have been sharing and swapping for centuries. But now
we’re able to do it with greater speed, efficiency, ease, meaning––even
profit––than ever before.

Does everyone need their own drill? According to a study
called The New Sharing Economy, maybe
not. Money is no longer the only or most valuable currency. Our sharing culture
makes it possible for virtually anything, including specialized skills or
knowledge, used goods, and social reach, to become currency.

We are finally
realizing our culture as one massive crowd sourced project.

3. Collaboration is
Talent is mating with other talent. And there are people out
there dedicated to making sure there is a trail. Which means we’re walking in
footsteps everywhere we go. It’s like we’ve plugged into this immense power
source, and there’s nary a blackout in site.

The Global CoworkingSurvey asked two thousand people to talk about their experience working in collaborative environment. Their responses were highly optimistic,
ranging from greater creativity to a higher standard of work to increased focus
to meeting deadlines more effectively.

We’re finally
connected the disconnected and giving them people to scream with on the roller
coaster of life.

4. Instigation
capital is cheap.
The center of gravity has shifted. The boundaries between
consumer, producer, investor, supplier, buyer and end user have faded. Now, everybody
is everything. Partnerships between organizations and third party vendors have
operationalized logistical issues. Kickstarting isn’t a brand name, it’s a brand
new way of doing business. And the world is shifting from a gated community to a
permissionless platform.

The need for the middleman of the world is quickly
vanishing. Bruce Nussbaum dubbed this trend indie capitalism, a maker system of economics based on creating
new value, not trading old value.
And it’s not just for startups and
venture capitalists, it’s based on a community of people. Real citizens.
Neighbors. Anyone occupying anything. It’s the biggest threat to the powers
that be in years, and the best part is, we’re never going back in our cages.

We’re finally understanding
that the gatekeepers have left their gates.

The verdict is in.

Our species is literally more evolvable
now than at any time in our history.

Here’s to humanity’s bright future.

Whoever Said Love Is Free, Wasn’t Doing It Right

means changing our pronouns.

that every action we take has an equal an opposite reaction on someone else.
Remembering that most decisions can’t be made unilaterally. And letting go of a
life that’s solely focused on executing our own will.

short, surrendering to the alchemy of we.

It’s a
scary change. Maybe the scariest. Especially when all of our routines and behaviors
and activities were perfectly tuned to the key of I.

But we
can’t stay inside our own selfish needs forever.

you gotta extend your arm.

Still, what
makes the change worthwhile is the reward that’s waiting on the other side.

A new way
of being.

that makes us feel more adult and alive and whole. One that changes what we see
when we see people.

You were the music I was waiting
to hear. You were the life I was waiting to live.

what I said when my pronouns changed. That’s what we meant to me.

We meant
sharing the journey with others. We meant leaping headlong into dance of
closeness. We meant connecting to something bigger than the individual. We meant
engaging in a broader role in the human family. We meant my best and highest self
bubbled to the surface in the presence of others.

And, here’s what we means to a few of my heroes:

Jack Johnson says, we’re better when we’re together.

Ryan Adams says, it takes two when it used to take one.

Margaret Mead says, what a desert life might have been without them.

Man. Just the best lesson I’ve learned in years.

Change your pronouns, change
your life.

it’s an expensive process.

whoever said love is free, wasn’t doing it right.

Life Without Witness, Isn’t

Solitude is seductive.

It’s easier because we don’t have to think about
anyone else. It’s cheaper because we don’t have to listen to anyone
else. And it’s faster because we don’t have to wait for
anyone else.

So we retreat. We go it alone instead of sharing
the journey. We lock ourselves in our own little world and rejoice in the
ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want.

Why bother
calling a friend to meet up for a drink when we could go see a movie by
ourselves? Why schlep our laptop to the coffee shop when we could work out of
the house in our pajamas?

But then, about two hours later, when the euphoria
of aloneness wears off, the danger of prolonged isolation settles in. The
loneliness washes over us. And we realize that solitude, while often romantic
and frequently useful, is rarely rewarding.

We realize that happiness without someone to share
it with, isn’t. 

We realize that life without someone to witness it, isn’t.

As human beings, refusing to acknowledge our need
for each other will always leaves us cold, empty and alone. If we want to live meaningful,
nourishing lives, we need to change our pronouns. We need to develop a shared
language of we, our and us––not just a masturbatory monologue of I, my and me.

We need to go out into the world. We need to allow
the craving for togetherness to trump the tendency for antisocialness. And instead
of selfishly secluding ourselves, we need to abandon our egotistical
independence and start sharing the experiences that life provides.

Otherwise we’re just winking in the dark.

THINKMAP 017: Why Is Radio Shack Broken, And How Can We Use Digital To Fix It?

Radio Shack was the perfectly oiled machine.

the late 60’s, 70’s & 80’s, they pioneered innovations in electronic
calculators, personal computers, mobile phones and satellite television.

the place where you and your dad went to buy batteries for the remote
controlled car? That was Radio Shack.

the place where radio and electronic nerds used to hang out and bond over their
favorite mechanical hobbies?
That was
Radio Shack.

the place where you could geek out with the guy behind the counter without
caring who was watching? That was Radio

there place where you could always go in an electronic pinch and always walk
away with something useful? That was
Radio Shack.

No wonder they became the world’s largest electronics chain. Thank you very much, Mr. Tandy.

wasn’t just a store, it was destination.

somewhere around the late 80’s and 90’s, the brand started to struggle.

Big box
retailers like Best Buy were the new kid in town. Iconic design companies like
Apple were the hottest girl in school. And innovative technology like mobile was
the shiny new object.

perfect storm of competition, innovation and cultural transformation sent
shockwaves down Radio Shack’s organizational spine. And by the time the new millennium
came around, Radio Shack began to putter out like the very machines its
batteries once powered.

devaluated. Sales plummeted. Executives departed. Competitors advanced. Margins
dropped. Relevancy vanished. Employees walked. Customers complained. Image
deteriorated. Executives departed. Debt accumulated.

of all, their enterprise value
was on a collision course.

was waiting for Radio Shack to die. A few highlights from my research:

Did you know MSN Money reported
them as the second worst company to work for in 2013?

Did you hear Glassdoor
reported their CEO has a 38% approval rating!

Have you ever read the store
reviews from infuriated customers who call them a bloated mess of a mobile
phone store?

Can you believe for the
first time in over a decade, Radio Shack experienced an annual loss?

chorus was global: “How the hell are they still in business?”

So, as
big brands tend to do in this situation, Radio Shack panicked. They
started pulling out every trick in the book to be cool, hip and relevant. Partnerships
with celebrities, social media contests, concept stores, clever ad campaigns,
hip rebranding efforts and new executive leadership.

And some
of those tricks worked. Radio Shack’s efforts did see traction for a short
period of time. Especially with the digital generation. Thank you very much, Dr.Dre.

that’s the problem. Radio Shack doesn’t need tricks.

need to be useful. Digitally.

that what made them successful in the first place?

And even though big
box retailers like Best Buy and Amazon have been chipping away at their
clientele, Radio Shack still owns a three assets that those brands would
kill for:

Ubiquity, immediacy and memory.

everywhere. What’s cooler than having platform?

right now. What’s hipper than not having to wait a day for a part?

already invited into people’s memories. What’s more valuable than being a
fixture in your customer’s childhood?

it’s not like Radio Shack is the first brand to fall. Brand turnaround is an
economic phenomenon. Just ask Dominos,
Red Cross, Xerox, Taco Bell, Pampers and Best Buy.

all fell. But they also had a plan. A digital one.

So here’s
mine. Radio Shack, tune into this:

*  *  *  *

Take Back The Shack


#takebacktheshack is groundswell movement that enlists geeks, makers, techies and employees in the DIY project of a lifetime: Rebuilding Radio Shack. 

1.     Mission and Vision: We’re
going to own what we’ve built. We’re going to create monopoly on a story and a
set of expectations. We’re going to build an experience that consumers would go
out of their way to experience again.

2.     Employee Development: We’ll revise our hiring/training practices to view
employees as essential parts that make our corporate machine work.
Treat employees like a
million bucks, they’ll treat customers like a million bucks, and that’s exactly
the kind of money we’ll make.

3.     Influencer Marketing: We’ll use
crowdfunding platforms as a talent agency for our rebuilders. We’ll attach our
brand to the brightest young talent, helping them achieve their maker dreams.
The best way to be cool is to find––and fund––people who are.

4.     Internal Communication: We’ll build
a modern day ham radio that uses Arduino, Twillio or Raspberry Pi technology to open a
channel of communication
customers, frontline employees, branches, managers and leadership.

that’s just the beginning.

Shack isn’t a squealing mechanical dinosaur waiting to be put out of its misery.

It’s an
impassioned phoenix poised to rise from the digital ashes.


Want to
help me oil this machine?


Send an
email to scott@hellomynameisscott.com
and we’ll take back the shack together.

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