Everyone Needs A Good Editor.

A few weeks ago, I flew to Australia to give a talk about email, and I flew down on Fiji Airways.(1)

Ever since, I haven’t stopped thinking about the flight map in their in-flight magazine. I’ve always been fascinating by these route maps — I recently discovered a Tumblr dedicated to old airline maps, and wasted a few hours browsing through maps from the past. But the Fiji Airways map was a little different.

At first glance, everything seems pretty ordinary.

But when you zoom in on the North American section of the map, you start to notice something: It’s wrong.

Toronto is basically at the Northwest Passage. Chicago, Indianapolis, and Salt Lake are in Canada. Raleigh is in Baltimore, Charlotte and Phoenix are in the Midwest, and Reno is in Portland. St. Louis added an “e” to its name and moved to the Bay Area.

I don’t know how the map ended up this inaccurate — but it really could have used a good editor.

I used to think that editors were just for catching big mistakes — like the ones on this map. But really great editors do more than that. They can also help shape the projects you’re working on. They’re people to bounce ideas off of, and people who can challenge your point of view. They’re there for typos, yes, but also partners to help turn your work into something amazing.

You don’t have to go it alone. Find an editor, a mentor, a partner — someone to work with on your ideas. Whatever you’re making, a great editor can help you make it better.

As for Fiji Airways: If you need an editor for this map, I’m happy to help. All I’ll need is two first-class tickets back to Fiji and a week or two off work to help you get this one right, OK? :-)

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  1. I should say: Their customer service was excellent. I’d absolutely recommend them if you’re flying to that part of the Pacific.

How To Network The Right Way.

It took me a decade to figure out what “networking” really meant: Meeting lots of people, being kind to them, and staying in touch.

That’s it.

Meet lots of people. Go to events involving people in your field. Reach out to leaders you admire. Talk to friends of friends — the network of people at your level may not be very powerful yet, but one day, they probably will be. Don’t ask them for stuff right away — after all, you just met!

Be kind to them. Write these people thank you notes when they help you out. Send them kind, congratulatory notes when they do something great. Just be nice.

Stay in touch. It doesn’t have to be much. Sending someone a note on their birthday counts. Emailing them a link to a story they might like counts. Reaching out every so often to grab lunch counts.

I know I’m using the word “networking” to describe this behavior, but that doesn’t really get at what I’m actually trying to do. All I’m really doing is meeting interesting people.

Sometimes, I can help these people. Maybe in the future, they can help me. But here’s my advice: Don’t go into this looking for favors — just try to meet as many interesting people as you can. You never know where those relationships might lead you.

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That photo, which, admittedly, is a more obvious stock photo than I usually use here on the blog, is from rawpixel.com via Unsplash.

Direction Is More Important Than Speed.

A co-worker asked me this week: How busy are you these days?

I’ve been at this job for four months, and my co-worker knows that we have a thousand things to do. We have to improve the way we drive newsletter growth. We have to launch new products. We have to improve our existing products. We have to work more closely with our sales and marketing teams to serve their needs. We have to improve the types of data we collect, and find and build better tools to work with.

That’s why my response seemed to catch my co-worker by surprise: I have a list a mile long of things to do… but I’m not crazy busy.

Yes, there’s a lot to do. And yes, I want to get these things done as quickly as I can.

But I can’t make all these things happen at once. I don’t have the team in place yet to take on all these projects, and I’m still getting buy-in from other teams in the office that we’ll need to work with.

Sure, I could try to run through walls to try to get stuff done. But I know I can’t get past those walls by myself. The only way to get through them is with time, teamwork, and money. But I don’t have those things yet — and if I push too hard, too fast, I’m going to drive myself insane.

Instead, I’m trying to work smarter — not faster. I wrote about this last week in my annual Things I Believe post:

“Direction is more important than speed. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going if you’re headed the wrong way.”

Building something new is going to take time. For now, the best thing I can do is help point the team in the right direction. I’m spending a lot of time meeting with other stakeholders, figuring out what they want and how it lines up with what I want. I’m spending a lot of time asking questions, and a lot of time listening.

We’re not moving as fast as I want to, but that’s OK. We’re starting to move in the right direction, and it’s OK to take slow steps towards progress. If we’re heading the right way, and if we’re working with the right people and tools, we’ll build up speed over time.

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That photo is by Robin Pierre on Unsplash.