May 18, 2006
Liz published this at 7:24 am
The Fortune Series
You might have caught the Fortune Magazine piece by Cait Murphy that featured 12 successful individuals at work. It was called Secrets of Greatness: How I Work. The article presents a gallery of leaders and their work secrets, including those of Marissa Mayer of Google, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, Wynton Marsalis of the Lincoln Center, and Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Chicago. That was followed later by How I Work: Bill Gates.
After I read these articles, I filed them aside. I thought maybe I might find a use for some detail from the profiles some day. I didn’t know what, and I didn’t know why.
How Other People Work
Apparently, some folks thought this model was worth exploring. They added to it. Here are two more and one that won’t be happening:
- How I Work: Matt Haughey
- How I Work: Steve Rubel
- It could be my “different drummer” flaring up, but I won’t be posting about how I work. If nothing else the word, greatness, in the title stops me cold. I’m the nice one. Secrets of Niceness: How I Work doesn’t seem to pack the same punch.
Though each profile was only a few paragraphs, I kept wondering, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” I needed something, so I have figured one out. I found a “Liz answer” to the question of how to filter and use this kind of information to build a business and a brand.
Why the Heck Do I Care?
It never hurts to take a peek at how other people work, especially if those other people are anything like our customers, in any way. Here are a few reasons why I’ll keep reading those profiles and why I passed them on to you.
- The key reason is to build my database. I read them because there are so many of them. One is nothing, but a bunch allows me to see a pattern. Information is always good. Patterns are far better.
- I can see what there is about what I do that many other people also do. I can confirm and test assumptions that I might not even know I have.
- Likewise, I can see what many other people do that I’ve never even thought about. The key phrase here is “many other people.” I can find out what I’ve been totally blind to.
- I can get ideas about things I want to write about. One detail about one person in a profile can send me off on a whole series of articles that I might want to pursue.
- Personal profiles can help me put a face on my customers, help me think of them as individuals and people.
The patterns that I see in profiles are things my customers are probably doing every day. I’m always looking for opportunities to stretch my brain and my thinking in this way. I care about reading these profiles because I care about how my customers think.
Tell me if you had any surprises reading through the profiled days you find here. Why do you read the “How I Work” kinds of articles? What was the last thing that you picked up and used from one of them?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
UPDATE: Claire Tompkins at Productivity Goal will be posting the inner workings of my head a little later today, around 4 pm. Chicago time. Look for it. Don’t get too fearful. It’s my favorite work habits, not how my brain works. (She didn’t want her blog to explode.)
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