All happy people are different. 😎 Self-serving biases. On being relevant, consistently. Finding joy in your work.
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Hello there:

86 percent of Americans are fairly unhappy right now.

That's another way of saying that only 14 percent are happy.* This is the lowest it's been in 50 years. It's a challenging context for individuals, community, and companies.

The General Social Survey has been collecting data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972. In all those years, the relative percentage never dipped below 29.

The sense of loneliness doubled compared to 2018, but it's not as low as it could be. This for three reasons:
  1. Many organized ways to stay in touch with neighbors, colleagues and friends, taking special care to connect with loved ones daily or weekly.
  2. People have been asking themselves: Was I happy before the pandemic?
  3. Outdoors activities are way up: biking, running, kayaking, windsurfing, walking. In general, doing some form of physical activity more regularly.
This is what's going on in people's lives, and is part of the context. Take it into account in your communications. What job does your product or service do that can make the above activities more enjoyable or easier?

There's also a bigger context—culture. Reimagining happiness is almost hard-wired into Americans’ DNA. Think about how you can support or assist people as they rethink their careers and lives. What can your company contribute to their efforts?

Of course, the meta-context is in the equation as well—human resilience. There’s lots and lots of evidence that we can adapt to everything. People do find a way. What could your team provide and suggest to help?

Three simple questions that can help you refocus what you write, say, visualize and share on your website and digital media.

This is U.S. data, so I was curious to see how happy are people around the world?

The World Happiness Report** ranks national happiness for 156 countries. It's data is based on respondent ratings of their own lives. The report correlates these responses with various life factors. This past year, the report focused on the environment – social, urban, and natural.

As of March 2020, Finland was ranked the happiest country in the world (page 184) three times in a row. If you're curious, the researchers look at how the factors that make Nordic countries happier are interlinked on pages 179-183. Here's the full ranking.

While all miserable places are the same, all happy places are different.

All happy companies are also different.

Difference in business is much more than a positioning statement. It draws from behavioral cues: Business practices or how we do what you do, the relationships you cultivate, and the experience of doing business with your company. They all contributes to your reputation.

There's an enormous difference between being "perfect competition" and being a "monopoly." But it's fairly hard to tell which business is which. That's because, as Peter Thiel says:
"The confusion comes from a universal bias for describing market conditions in self-serving ways: both monopolists and competitors are incentivized to bend the truth." 

Monopolies frame their market as the union of several large markets. Perfect competition companies exaggerate the distinction by defining their market as the intersection of various smaller markets. To see through the bias, you need to understand your own propensity to overlook it.

More about biases below.

*May 21-29 survey of 2,279 adults with funding from the National Science Foundation.
**Annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Diego Stocco is a sound designer from Rovigo, Italy.
You may not know him, but you'd know the movies'
he's contributed to over the years.
His sounds are in the upcoming Christpher Nolan's Tenet.

Diego and I met through a blog post I wrote about fog,
a common experience in Italy. Then,
we talked about sound design and communication.

It's mine, it's obvious, it's fair.

We're irrational, but in ways we can predict. For example:
  • Ownership ― or the “endowment effect” says that we place higher value on things we already own.
  • Confidence ― we do have an overconfidence problem, and this is a problem in prediction-making. More information may not help us make better decisions. Because we're poor at discounting biases. Often we see what we want to see.
  • Fairness ― we determine value based on what we think is fair. Which is why surge prices get so much attention in both directions.
When we lack time and have insufficient information, we either adopt automatic and obvious rules, or no rules at all to get things done.

Beyond bias.

The good news is that you can work with your natural tendencies and learn to think better.


I love it when a solid idea, well executed, gives a team results and satisfaction and creates impact. This is particularly great when it's a team I mentored as Venture For America advisor.
  • The context: It was 2014. Evan Brgandoff and Zubin Teherari were both VFA fellows living in New Orleans and Detroit, respectively. Evan was volunteering at a basketball tournament in inner-city Detroit—kids were no older than 15, playing incredible hoops. Rasheed Wallace was there watching his son play.
  • The idea: Evan looked around the auditorium and realized that there’s no better way to engage/connect with a passionate group of families than through youth sports. Without sponsors, the tournament would not even have happened. Hence, solve the fragmented youth sports problem.
  • Execution / results to date: Evan and Zubin co-founded LeagueSide to help brands with community marketing. Almost 6 years later, LeagueSide has a national network of over 10k youth sports organizations. Companies including Comcast, Dunkin'​ Brands and Academy Sports + Outdoors leverage LeagueSide’s platform to achieve their community impact goals in a way they can measure.
Word of mouth is a very powerful tool in your kit. The more consistent and credible you are over time, the more you earn mentions, the better the mentions in time.
I'm re-reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse for the fourth time in my life.

The first time I was still in high school, the second I was in University (it was part of my coursework), the third I had just come to the U.S. Every time, the book made a different impression on me. This time around it's about finding joy in one's work. It was the humility in the last part of his journey, the joy he felt.

Work is different from "job," it's the journey of a lifetime of learning and practicing your craft.

May you find joy in yours.

“If you exclude prodigious and individual moments that destiny can give us, loving one's work (which unfortunately is the privilege of few) is the best approximation to happiness on earth.
But this is a truth that not many people know."

- Primo Levi,
Italian chemist, partisan, Holocaust survivor and writer.

The antidote to fear is trust
Why capacity needs as much attention as output

Books as personal media: most interesting titles
Knowledge work and the metric black hole

I ground all my sites here.
If you're a creator and are planning to ground your digital presence using WordPress, check SiteGround out.

Graduate to fast, affordable WordPress hosting.

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Thank you for reading. I appreciate you.
Conversation Agent LLC / @ConversationAge
Copyright © 2020 Conversation Agent LLC, All rights reserved.

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