Archives for category: Communication

I came across this picture recently. I can’t remember where I saw it. It was too late to be included in my book, which is available in all good booksellers – actually just one enormous online bookseller… I think I would have put it in if I’d seen it earlier.

I’m not sure when the picture dates from, perhaps the 1920s, or perhaps the 1930s is more likely. There’s something so sad about the picture, yet it sums up the whole reason for me writing the book in the first place.

I’m not sure it’s genuine; the bottom of the placard looks a bit too straight and clean. If it is genuine, then it’s not a great advertisement. What trade does he know? What job does he want? What does he want us to do?

In the book I talk about how we’re not really a Jack of All Trades, we’re a Jack of Few Trades. Three trades qualifies as a few, and I’m willing to bet in the pictured case they’re closely related.

The funny thing is, in today’s world and today’s economy we would prize this type of person, and they’d probably be doing fine working from home. Yet, back then, in dire economic hardship – the kind of economic hardship we might be looking at now for the next number of years – this basket of physical skills was not enough to land a single job.

There was little opportunity back then to craft your your own value as a specialised generalist. There is now.

If you’d like to know more about how we Jacks of All Trades can triumph in the modern world, you can buy the book here, or from the US and Germany Amazon sites too.

I think this is my first ever Sunday post. Feels good!

“Concurs 2014, Castellers d’Esplugues” by Castellers d’Esplugues is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Here’s one of the first pages of my You Don’t Know Jack! book, which you can buy here.)

This book is for 99% of us.

This book is for the 99% of us you don’t see on screen, you don’t hear about on the radio, you don’t read about in the papers.

Who are we? We are the Jackies and Jacks of All Trades – the JOATs. We’re pretty good at a bunch of things, but not so good at one of them that you would know of us.

Yes, we work, we play sports, we do a bit of music, we talk politics. But we’re not the 1%.

We are the people who put other people in power. We are the audiences at sports, music and other cultural events. We are the powerhouse of the organisation that gets things done. We are the buyers and consumers of things and ideas. We are the economic provider for the rich and famous.

We are the unsung heroes. We are the people that matter. We are multi-talented, we have options, and we have control. This book helps us understand why this is so and how we can live to our fullest potential.

Are you one of the 99%? If so, I recommend the book. But then I would, I hear you say, I wrote it. You can buy it here, or from the US and Germany Amazon sites too.

 

Are We Following the Wrong Role Models?

Here’s one of my favourite pages, and one of my favourite images, of which there are over a hundred, from my recently published book You Don’t Know Jack! Why the Jack of All Trades Triumphs in the Modern World. You can buy the book here, and if you could leave a review too, well, that would be awesome – to me.

The page is entitled ‘Are we following the wrong role models?’ and it goes like this.

“Who are our role models? Whose posters adorned the walls of our bedrooms when we were growing up? Film and TV stars? Music stars? Pop stars? Sporting heroes? Fighting heroes? Sex gods and goddesses? Cartoon or comic book characters? Business icons? Entrepreneurs? World leaders?

Do we look to them for inspiration? Or do we strive to be like them, to take their place? And what happens next year when their star fades, and we lose interest in them, and their posters are replaced by those of the new gods, the new heroes? They’re still doing what they do best, aren’t they? They haven’t changed their tune, tried something else, started again, like we have.

These are unattainable dreams, to all but the very few who knew from very early on that this is what they were born to do, what they wanted to do. They have one dimension, one direction, one dream. We don’t.

Who ever had a poster of their parents made and put up on a wall? The people who spent their adult lives helping to make us the people we are today? Who scrimped and saved, sweated and worried for us? Who we have to thank for putting up with us? Who we took for granted as we got older and who we wish we’d done more for now they’re gone? Who, actually, we strive to be like, kind of?

They’re in the photo frames on our table, but why aren’t they in the posters on our walls? And why not our teachers, coaches, mentors too?”

I hope you like it. Actually, I don’t mind if you like it or not. I’m more interested in whether you think it’s good, whether you think it has value.

 

JOAT! Book front cover

You Don’t Know Jack! is available in Kindle ebook and paperback

I’m beyond excited – and actually a little giddy – to announce that I have published my first book. I hinted at this when I completed my 1,000th blog post earlier this year. I feel like linking to my book every other word, but that would be silly, and probably annoying to you, the reader, and potential buyer. I’d be super grateful if you shared this post with your network. If you do buy it, a stellar customer review would make an oldish man very happy.

The book is called ‘You Don’t Know Jack! Why the Jack of All Trades Triumphs in the Modern World’. It’s the so-called self-help genre, where you might find Messrs Ferris, Gladwell, Godin and Pink, to mention but 4 in alphabetically democratic order. Here’s the back cover blurb:

“Ever wondered why the phrase ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’ is always used as a negative and never a positive? It’s as if being pretty good at a good few things is some kind of burden! It applies to a staggering 99% of us, yet almost nothing is written on this overwhelmingly large part of the human race that will probably never be a leader in its field. You Don’t Know Jack! is the first book to explain the vital role the Jack of All Trades, or JOAT for short, fulfils in society. It tells us why it’s OK not to get into the 1% and how our thirst for variety and ability to adapt give us the perfect platform for us to live richly, generously and happily. This is the first book of Paul Dilger, a dyed-in-the-wool JOAT who threads his own experiences through this thoughtful and original publication.”

This project started in 2015, and it’s fair to say it began as it ended, as a side project while I pursued my paid job and a bunch of voluntary roles. I began writing it in 2015. I finished it in 2018. I then spent a year trying and failing to get editors and publishers to take it on, before deciding to self-publish. The following year I spent sourcing the photography for the book – it’s heavily photographic, and is designed to be coffee-table ‘putdownable’ – and cajoling a designer friend of mine to take on the project as a side project of her own.

So here we are, 5 years later, and it’s on digital and in print. I would be touched, and not just financially, if you bought it. You can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited, it’s £5.99 as a Kindle ebook and the paperback is a reassuringly expensive £19.99. Why so much, I hear you say. Well, the on demand print cost alone is almost half that, since almost every page is in glorious photographic and typographic colour. Then there’s a lifetime of personal experiences, thoughts and advice in it. Amazon takes a big chunk, and the remainder I split between me and the long-suffering designer.

Here’s my brand promise to you. If you are a generalist, a Jack or Jackie or Jacquie of All Trades, and, as you’ve read, I think that’s pretty much all of us, you’ll get something out of this book. You’ll certainly know me better than you did before.

If you get a chance, have a quick gander at the Jack!Books website, and you might give the Jack!Books Instagram and Twitter a sneaky follow too.

The publishing name Jack!Books is plural because I’ve already written a sequel to this book. I promise it will be out quicker than the first one.

Thanks for reading! The post, that is, not the book, yet…

Paul Dilger 1000 blog posts

1000 blog posts

This, folks, is my 1000th blog post since I started a regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday thing on the 2nd of September 2013. It will also be my last, at least in this 3-times-a-week cadence.

Have I run out of things to say? No, I don’t think, fortunately, that will ever happen, otherwise what’s the point to anything? It’s simply that I started blogging to generate the discipline of regular writing, writing in a style that I enjoy both doing and consuming. I wanted to write a book. I wrote the book, and a designer is currently putting her magic touches to it, making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It’s almost finished, and then I’ll publish it.

Of course, with 1,000 posts under my belt there is held, within this blogroll, at least another book or two as well, anthologised versions of my ramblings. The best ones put together if you like, although some of you might argue that if it’s only the best ones that make it in, they’ll be pretty short tomes.

I’ll still be blogging from here; after all I’ve a book to flog and some of you have been good enough to check in fairly regularly to read what I’ve had to say. Perhaps you’ll buy a copy. It’s on the subject that I’ve only briefly touched on over the last 1,000 posts, but the savvier among you might have an inkling as to the subject matter, especially since I’ve written small bits on a very wide range of topics.

Speaking of which, thank you. And thanks also to Seth Godin, who has done this sort of thing for longer, more frequently, and far better than I, but whose example got me kick-started.

So, 1,000 blog posts, over and out, until the next time. It does feel odd to be finishing mid-week, though. I don’t know what I’ll do come Friday…

It’s blog number 999 for me, but this is not an emergency. Instead, as I stand on the precipice of a 4-figure blog post career, I want to share what I’ve learned about this art form, or is it a science?

Of course, I’ve never been an example of the classic blogger, someone who writes to build a following. That was never my intention; rather, I’ve revelled in the joy and discipline of a regular write-up. This means that I’ll offer none of the lessons on acquiring readers, SEO, ideal blog length, influence, following people that follow you, that kind of thing.

No, this is what I’ve found over the years on the content alone, these 5 observations:

  • The one-off posts that come from something I come into contact with take longer to do, but are more fun because I don’t know where they’ll end up
  • The work-related blog post series on things to do with marketing, sales and general business are less fun because I know where they’re going but they’re more valuable to the readers
  • The blog post series which are not really series but posts grouped together to get me over a creative hump are the least valuable, and I apologise if you’ve had a sub-standard experience wading through them. At least you never have far to wade
  • If you sit down in front of your laptop needing to write a post but you don’t have a topic, it can be tough. The best thing to do is to let your mind wander where it wants and something will emerge. It doesn’t always have to be the light bulb moment that you must jot down for a future topic; sometimes you have to grind them out, crank them out
  • Fifthly, and perhaps most importantly, every single blog post is a mini product, a mini product of you, even if you’re not trying to sell your products, or services, or company. It’s your output, so it’s you. You’re giving away yourself, and in the course of repeatedly doing this you amass a body of hopefully honest work that can become something greater than the sum of each individual post. Even though sometimes you’re a slave to the schedule, to that standard of discipline I talked about, try and make every one a good one, the best it can be in the time you have

 

 

Are you a glass half full person, or a glass half empty? Tradition has it that the optimist is glass half full, the pessimist half empty.

But what’s the realist? I like to consider myself a realist, borne out of experience. This realism is often misconstrued as pessimism. I admit it, I’m a whinging pom sometimes, and I’m in the second age category that Wilde refers to when he says ‘the young know everything, the middle aged suspect everything, the old believe everything.’ But I’m still a realist, there’s no contradiction there in my view.

Consider these phrases, which I attribute to realism:

  • Hope for the best, plan for the worst
  • Sh*t happens
  • C*ck-up theory
  • Chance, happenstance and circumstance
  • It is what it is

To continue the glass metaphor, that makes me a glass 50% kind of a guy. It’s not half full, it’s not half empty, it’s simply half.

You can work and plan to improve the 50%, and that’s where your experience, track record and realism comes in. Hoping it’s going to happen, and fearing it won’t happen; they’ll do you little good.

It’s tough being a kid, especially a teenage one. It’s the one decade where you change out of all recognition. So much to learn, so much to get your head around.

It’s no wonder that kids seem to be all over the place sometimes, their poor brains scrambled as they rewire at an alarming rate through adolescence.

I know my kids often struggled with remembering to bring stuff with them, or to bring stuff back, or to give me things from school. So much going on, and so much to remember.

It’s unfair to expect them to remember everything, so you have to take memory out of it. You have to make it systematic: an automatic, engrained behaviour for a situation.

Give them a system, or a process, that they can follow until it’s almost instinctive. After all, that’s what you did when you taught them how to go to the toilet, hold their knife and fork, or tie their laces.

In point of fact, this advice works in work as well as play, for cutting down the errors, the miscommunications and the inconsistencies. A culture of system or process services us all brilliantly well. And then, on those occasions when we cut loose and get spontaneous, it’s so much more refreshing and enjoyable.

 

Hello and Happy New Year! I wish you a simply stellar 2020. I wonder if they had as much fun with the year 1010 as we will have this year.

This very day, the 1st of January, reminds me of an example as to why marketing is always leveraging the nuances of language in its work.

Here’s my example. This is the eighth year that I’ve blogged. Sounds a lot, doesn’t it? Eight years! Except it isn’t really. It’s not that I’ve been blogging for eight years. It’s not even that I’m into my eighth year of blogging. Let me explain.

I started blogging in 2013. Fairly late in 2013, September in fact, but September nonetheless. Counting up the years – 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 – this is indeed the eighth year that I’ve blogged. At least one post in each of those years, and if you exclude 2013 and 2020 I’ve blogged 156 times in each of them.

In reality the elapsed time is exactly six and a third years, or six and one third as our US friends would say, but eight years, or the eighth year, sounds much more impressive.

Trading on these nuances is what helps us marketers stretch our claims to our advantage, but not to breaking point.

It would take some going to get into my eighth year of blogging, and what seems like an eternity to have been doing it for eight whole years. Not gonna happen, don’t think.

 

The Germans have a word, actually I’m sure they have several other such examples, that conveys something that’s really hard to express in English without using a far less economical explanation.

Wikipedia describes the word as ‘a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include coziness, peace of mind, and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance.’

Whenever I think of the word I imagine being in a warm chalet half-way up a ski slope, with a roaring fire, comfy chairs, a bunch of friends and family, and a glass of gluhwein or a bowl of gulaschsuppe with a hunk of bread. I don’t ski very often at all, but I hope I’m conveying that feeling of snugness, without I hope, the feeling of smugness, that we can all experience without going alpine.

One of the wonders of there being loads of different languages is that they all have certain words relating to their own culture and are so idiomatic that you need a paragraph or even a book to do them justice in your own tongue. Another example would be the Danish word hygge, which is surprisingly close to gemütlichkeit in its meaning.

Whatever your own preference of word, I wish you much of it.