By: Dave Hogg

Deliberate vs. implicit communication

In this age where we’re quick to blurt out our thoughts and plans, it strikes me that the best things that I have executed on in my life happened rather quietly. There were no huge announcements. There were no big proclamations. What I did have in all those situations is tons of time to think about the right things and an obsession to work on those things and bring them to life. If communicating with someone was necessary, it’d be done. But there was no more communication than absolutely necessary particularly about incomplete thoughts or ideas.

Just describing this seems to violate so many tenets of running a successful organization. Aren’t you supposed to hyper-communicate? Aren’t you supposed to take feedback? Aren’t you supposed to bounce ideas?

May be. And that is what makes it challenging to reconcile what the best practices state versus my own experience.

I think traditional theories on communication focus excessively on deliberate communication, such as meetings, memos, phone calls etc. While those things become more important as the company scales, the implicit communication is a lot more critical at the inception.

Implicit communication is another way for me to describe the concept of being on the same page or being able to read the other.  I’ll argue that the best start-up teams, by definition, are masters of implicit communication. It is this implicit communication that lets a CEO trust an early employee to make important business decisions without needing clearance. The CEO doesn’t bet that the employee will get every decision correct; but he is certain beyond doubt that the employee won’t make a suicidal decision and that he will make many more correct calls than wrong ones.

When implicit communication fails, it’s because of a combination of issues from having major differences on some principles core to the organization or a lack of trust in ability to deliver. In these instances, it is better to go to a system of deliberate communication. But it is even better to address the root causes.

Deliberate communication in a start-up is akin to having to physically push a car. It will wear you down in little time. Implicit communication is kind of like riding on a highway full of driverless cars, with each car magically working in harmony with the other.

By: Timothy Vollmer

Ira Glass on taste

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.

Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.

And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.
—Ira Glass