In-M-Out #3: You can do it vs. Can you do it

Read, listen, watch: Effortless, Paul Jarvis, Oscars TV Truck


  • Read: Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg McKeown —  Essentialism was literally the second audiobook that I bought ever, so I was excited to see that Greg McEwen released a follow-up book. It's about making things easier by design. He isn't saying life as a whole should be effortless. It's that life is hard, so it's important to identify the parts that we make needlessly harder. Then finding ways to reduce the grinding and working toward effortlessness. 

  • Video: Oscars : Behind the Scenes in the TV truck —  A couple weeks ago, the model for the week was hard work: hidden vs. obvious. This is another example of hidden hard work. You've probably seen Cuba Gooding Jr.'s classic Oscar acceptance speech. It's a pure moment of joy where he stops caring about formalities or time limits. In the TV truck, there's a ton of work going: controlling the you're-over-time play out music, picking the best angles in the moment during the live broadcast, etc. It's amazing to think that live streamers today do the same thing with a toolset that fits at their desk.

Model: You can do it vs. Can you do it

If you're building a community, these two options can help you with branding.

  • Can you do it? — I learned about this through My First Million, where they discussed the #75Hard challenge. That's an example of "Can you do it?".  People in the community bond over how difficult something is. If you complete the challenge then you join the other completionists in the club. On the way there you can bind with the other people also on their way while getting the support of people that have made it already.

    Nutrition has the Whole 30 challenge, artists have Inktober, programmers have 100 Days of Code, designers have 100 Days of UI, writers have NanoWrimo.

  • You can do it — The opposite framing can work as well. You take something that most people perceive is very hard and break it down to show that normal people can get started on it. A relevant example for me right now is Draw a Box. Many people think becoming an artist is difficult but Draw a Box makes the first steps very approachable so that anyone can get started.

    The "Can you do it?" examples have their corresponding "You can do it" versions.

    Nutrition has IIFYM, artists have Draw a Box, programmers have Codecademy, designers have "design for non designer" books, writers have morning pages.

  • You can combine them — CrossFit's brand is difficult workouts completed by the best athletes on the planet. At the same time, the intro stresses that anyone can get started and exercises will be scaled down. "Can you do it?" creates an inspiring image to strive for and "You can do it" creates a supportive network when you're getting started.


This section might just evolve to tweets from the week.

  • Here's a tweet from a few weeks back about the above "You can do it" vs. "Can you do it?" model

  • Here's one about positive self talk. I spent too much time trying to figure out how to get this animation to loop properly

Until next week, thanks for reading!

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