Asking Who, Not How

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on what you do best and let outside specialists handle the rest. That will make life simpler and more efficient in both your work and personal lives.
  • Thanks to technology and the sharing economy, it’s never been easier to find affordable, highly competent outside experts.
  • Try out the five great sources for finding those specialists I discuss below.

Check out the latest edition of our Observer newsletter – “The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Defeat: Why Your Thoughts Determine the Outcome.”

Back in 2005, Steve Jobs asked Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning Inc., to make a special version of its Gorilla Glass just for small Apple screens—and to do it in just six months’ time. Weeks didn’t think it could be done, certainly not within the six-month time frame. But Jobs convinced him Corning could do it anyway—and they did. Sure, Jobs was a master motivator, but more important, he knew that even a company as brilliant as Apple couldn’t make the right kind of glass for its own devices. Apple had to look outside itself for help—the company knew “when to do who and how.”

Find others who can handle tasks better than you can

The majority of things today are about who—other people or resources that can get things done for you faster, less expensively and more efficiently than you can for yourself. It’s part of the sharing economy—think Uber for taxis and Airbnb for hotels. They’re great, easy-to-use services that make life simpler.

Here are five more that I want to share with you.

  1. 99Designs is a great resource for finding independent professional designers who can produce top-notch logos, book covers, T-shirts, tote bags and more in just a few days—often for $250 or less. It’s very helpful for small businesses and others that don’t have full-time graphic designers on staff.
  2. Fiverr is a massive online marketplace for creative and professional services—almost anything, within reason, you can think of needing for your business, often done for $5.
  3. NeighborGoods systemizes the neighborly borrowing process for little or no cost. You can borrow a ski jacket for a trip to Colorado, a lawnmower if yours is in the shop, a sewing machine to fix a garment or even a ceramic tile cutter if you have a small home repair job in your bathroom.
  4. Elance is a massive online clearinghouse to find freelancers, from a single writer to a team of programmers, for a myriad of one-off business and personal projects.
  5. Amazon Echo is a next-level, voice-activated, hands-free personal assistant. Just say “Alexa” and the small circular device turns on; you make a request or ask a question like you would with Siri. “Play my audio book To Kill a Mockingbird,” “What’s the weather going to be today?” or “What time is Revenant playing in the movie theaters today?” The responses are instantaneous and pretty accurate. It’s a lot easier than typing requests onto a small smartphone keyboard.


I thought you’d be interested in some smart ways to leverage technology to make your work and personal lives easier. So until next time, enjoy.

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