What’s the opposite of busy?

I wonder what the opposite of busy is. A busy day can either be fulfilling or exhausting, or somewhere in between. The opposite of busy leans towards the fulfilling. You are intentional about what you do and the way you show up in life creates a certain vibration. If you pay attention to what is going on inside, you can feel it. Some people near you feel it, too, since it radiates. 

It’s a quality of being that has to do with inner calmness. Instead of draining energy, it energises. Even if your inside of a tornado, you are able to be at the centre of it, smile inward and say: “everything is perfect precisely the way it is now.”   


Sonder is a noun invented by John Koenig, the person behind the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It stands for the “realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”.

We all have a voice inside of our head, that is constantly speaking, filled with mentations of different sorts.

What if, when we meet a complete stranger, it would be ok to ask the following question: In what ways are you crazy?

A thought experiment

There exists an experiment which you can do in order to find out if you’re selling yourself short, which particularly might be happening if you are a freelancer. 

Here it goes: Imagine if you had to charge 10x more than what you’re charging right now, for your product, for your service, whatever it is that you’re offering? 

Just doing better or working harder is not a valid answer. Think about the product/service and determine the changes you’d make. Feel free to bounce your ideas off of me by dropping me a message

Getting to know a market

Empathy is hard. It’s just hard to imagine how it’s like to be someone else. 
If you’re truly curious about the people you seek to serve with your business, though, here’s an exercise for practicing empathy and gaining insight into a market.

Step 1
Pick something that is not from your “world”. With this I mean something you know little to nothing about, preferably you don’t even like it at all. For example, if you dislike heavy metal music, visit websites to research it, the kind of language they use, the kind of images, the colors, everything. Dig deep to understand that world, go visit a concert if you can. Talk to heavy metal geeks, ask questions. 

Step 2
Extrapolate from what you’ve learnt and go broader. Imagine how it would be like to be part of that group, what you’d be like, what type of content you’d consume, how you came to love heavy metal music.

Play with this and do it with different worlds: a nutty snack, adventure travel, first person shooter gaming, fishing…

Wants and needs

Once you’ve defined your audience and brand positioning, it’s helpful to understand the difference between desires and needs. When you’ve reached a decent level of wealth, it’s easy to mix the two. (Primal) needs are things you absolutely have to have. Think of the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: air, water, food, shelter, clothing (the basic kind, not those fancy party dresses)…
All the rest are desires, not real needs. 

If you can frame offer in a way that will address a primal need of your customer, your marketing will have more impact. If you say “people want fast, luxurious cars”, then that is all you can frame your brand story around. If you dig a bit deeper, though, you could e.g. realise that “people want fast, luxurious cars because it gives them status and a sense of power”.

Step 1
Have a look at the following elements of value.

Step 2
Compare these elements with your offer. What are the primary elements where you add value? How do you communicate and make this clear to your audience? 

Always be testing

Once you’ve figured something out that works, you should keep doing it. The challenge is to avoid neglect continuous testing. You can test your copy, your brand promises, your storytelling, your distribution channels, your pricing, an endless amount of thing.

What will you be testing next?  

A recipe for brand positioning

When I ask people to describe their brand positioning what most come back with are descriptions of why they are better than the competition. This is not in service of their customers but in service to themselves. Here is an alternative way of defining your brand positioning which is based on Seth Godin’s work.

Step 1
Make a list of all your audience’s desirables. The following are random examples which might or might be relevant to your own brand: 

– spiritual
– minimalist 
– natural
– ethical
– personal
– crafty
– playful
– participatory 

Step 2
Pick two of them and put them on a graph with two axes. Define where you’d like to sit within this graph and add a few of your competitors, too. Try your best to find a place where there is a lot of free room. What you’d want to avoid is joining a red ocean full of organisations that are shouting for customers’ attention. 

Step 3
Put obsessive effort into becoming really good in providing high satisfaction regarding the two desirables you have picked. Frame your brand story around that and put processes in place that serve the outcome your audience seeks. 

A match in stories

I’m sure, if given the chance, marketers would jump at the opportunity to implant an idea into people’s subconscious, just as in the movie Inception. I believe they kind of already are. Nowadays neuroscience is providing insights into how to connect with an audience on a deeper level than ever before, the type of connection that breeds utmost loyalty, evangelism.

When what a brand chooses to stand for, its peculiar worldview, connects with an audience that already shares the same beliefs, bringing about the change you seek to make, becomes so much easier. The audience members attach the stories they are already telling themselves to your brand story, if you earn their attention and trust.

This is why understanding not just demographics but psychographics is so important. You need to apply empathy and imagine who the people are you created the brand for. What are their desires and their needs? How do you introduce your brand to them and what does it do for them? How does it help them on their journey, not just your own?

Emotions touch us

The strongest memories are the ones where we’ve felt a strong emotion. Throughout the years we accumulate an archive of memories we hold on to. Here’s a video with a nice emotional story arch. This one touches me.

The power of a god

Empathy is hard. It’s hard to imagine being someone else, e.g. doing the job of a surgeon where life or death situations arise, literally. I wonder how it’s like to extend someone’s life while not being able to do so for another.

How does one make sense of it? I imagine there exists the extreme of becoming arrogant, thinking of yourself like a God whose might rises above the power of common mortal beings. And then I imagine another extreme, the one of reaching deep wisdom and connection with all other sentient beings, an insight about gratitude and the vast space of knowledge that is still to be explored. 

It is inspiring to meet the second kind.