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Smarter, Not Better

Posted: January 2nd, 2012 | Author: | 4 Comments »

New years resolutions are a kind of gray area for me. On the one hand, I think rethinking things and recommitting yourself to something is important, especially because I know that when I get comfortable in something, I can go into auto-pilot mode. On the other hand, though, why wait for January 1? Why not keep rethinking and recommitting throughout the year?

So I don’t ordinarily make specific resolutions. Instead, I aim at more general areas I want to improve. Be more active, read more, cook something new every once in a while.

This year, I’m looking professionally, and I’m looking more specific. Having thought about it for the past few weeks, I finally yesterday came to a satisfying conclusion about the whole thing:


“Better” has a lot of definitions. It’s relative. It means one thing today and another tomorrow. It’s emotional. It’s now, not later.

Smarter is well-planned, it sets the groundwork for the future, it’s logical.

For too long, I’ve been on auto-pilot. And auto-pilot dictated that I do things better, not smarter. There was more instant gratification in the decisions I made, less foresight. I don’t think I made poor decisions, but I think I did give in to what would make me feel “better” in the moment than down the road. That needs to stop.

What does that mean in my work? It means I’m not going to hold on to ideas beyond their usefulness, I’m not going to stake everything on one shot because I’m too attached to throw it out. More ideas, bigger ideas, smarter ideas. But not “better” ideas. Those don’t matter. Those don’t go anywhere. “Better” ideas aren’t definitive, because, by definition, they can still be even better…

Chasing the smart ideas, though, that’s where it’s at. Crafting smart campaigns, smart copy, and smart messaging… that’s where I want to be.

Smarter, not better.

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4 Comments on “Smarter, Not Better”

  1. 1 Jeff Namnum said at 12:09 am on January 3rd, 2012:

    You know Pete, I’ve been truly blessed at every point in my life to have friends around me that I learn something from at every encounter.

    This post helped me realize that you’ve become one of those people for me this past year.

    I’ve struggled for the past quarter really, trying to put a finger on what ‘that feeling’ was. That feeling that was scratching at the back of my brain trying to get into whatever section it is that’s in charge of solidifying ideas that we know are important but can’t take the time to think about. And now you’ve said it and I see it clearly.

    2011 was a year of better for me. A better version of this campaign or a bigger version of that event. A better way to organize my professional activities, better contacts, better opportunities, better, better, better.

    But a lot of it wasn’t smarter.

    I regret none of it because it’s built itself into a great 2012, but it’s a damn good feeling to see it clearer.


  2. 2 Pete said at 11:36 am on January 3rd, 2012:


    I’m more than flattered at the kind words.

    I’ve already begun to use this, too. Every time I say something or post something, I’m asking myself if it’ll make me feel smarter or better, if I’m going to look back on it as smarter or better. If it doesn’t pass the test, I’m trying to not let it happen.

    It’s gonna take a while for it to take hold, but I think it’s gonna change the way I live on a day-to-day basis.

    Good luck being smarter in 2012!


  3. 3 Post Script » Blog Archive » Taking My Resolution With Me said at 11:35 pm on January 5th, 2012:

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  4. 4 Long Island Tweetup » Blog Archive » 1st LITweetup of 2012 – January 25th said at 10:03 am on January 10th, 2012:

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