“To know nothing about yourself is to live. To know yourself badly is to think.”
— Fernando Pessoa
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
An Episode At The Printers
I’ve been trying to build a digital art brand for which I’ve been making printing inquiries. Earlier this week, I had to visit a few printers and see if I can get my requirements dealt with in a way where I can actually make it profitable.
I’m quite familiar with this place since its right opposite where I went to high school. I entered sat down until someone asked me what I was there to get done. I told them a bit of what I was looking for, and then they redirected me to another person.
This new person (let’s call them Adam) wasn’t rude, but they did seem in a rush, which I believed was okay for a printing press. After I told them my entire requirement, they told me they’d get back to me with a quotation in a bit. I sat down again. Another customer, who I assumed had already ordered for something arrived. I saw them talk to someone, and then a huge cardboard holder came and left.
Adam, who also seemed to be in charge of the place, kept sitting in his chair. I looked at him in an attempt to cue that I’m waiting for him to do some basic math and get back to me. Then, Adam received a call, got up and started to walk throughout the small office while talking to someone who obviously was another client. Then, another client entered and so on.
This went on for thirty minutes. At which point, I could sense my frustration building, so I walked up to him and asked him if he could just let me know a rough estimate or how much time it would take. He said he’d let me know the exact amount, that he needs to do some quick math, and it’ll take another minute or so.
About ten minutes, one question-cue and another customer later, I observed their wall clock. It had a wonky second hand. It would go up to the 10 mark and then drop back to 6, and for some reason, it made me realise that I did not want to do business with this place. I got up, picked my bag up and, without saying a word, left.
On my walk back home, I realised two things. The first is that the way you treat a customer or a person before you’ve had an opportunity to earn/do business/gain anything from them says more about you and your business than anything else.
Another more important thing was about the clock. The clock was not a reason for me to get up and leave. It didn’t matter because it showed the correct time despite the second hand being broken. Yet, that is what I often refer to as the trigger.
In any situation, especially if it is an unhealthy or unfruitful one, be it short-term or long-term, there is a buildup, and then there’s a trigger. The buildup is, for example, months of irreconcilable issues and arguments between a couple, and the trigger could be an argument about ice cream, leading to a breakup. The same plays out when employees quit suddenly.
Now, the trigger, almost always, seems to be a bit illogical. If the reasoning for someone quitting or leaving seems abrupt to you, evaluate every single past experience from their perspective. A little empathy goes a long way, in business and in life. However, the only way to keep everyone happy is honest communication from both ends.
It was but a broken clock. It had nothing to do with printing. And yet, it did.
To Read: The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
“I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life.”
I shared the same book on the previous week’s Nudge Weekly on social media but this is too important to not share here. I read a quarter of this book during college and now I’ve picked it up again. Pessoa is an interesting writer in the fact that he used heteronyms which was a way for him to develop distinct personalities, with distinct biographies and distinct writing styles.
The Book of Disquiet is a compilation of everything that was found in his trunk. It’s a collection of unpublished writings, prose poetry, and reflections. Most of this book comes from his heteronym Bernardo Soares, but there’s more from what I’ve heard.
To me, this is an important book, because without knowing how much, it affected the way I do prose poetry. I only realised this once I picked it up again.
What’s On My Mind?
The question of how far should we try something before we know it isn’t panning out? In other words, at what point is your cost sunk cost? Difficult to answer but if one can figure this out with intent, life gets insanely easier. At least, I imagine it would.
Quick Update on Nudge › How
I had a lot of fun writing about the Via Negativa and Anti-Models blog post last week. The idea is that instead of trying to find who we are what we like, we should instead search for what we are not and what we do not like. Via Negativa literally means to define by the negative. You can read it here.
Also, I’ve made a decision to slightly shift Nudge’s priorities. In the fact that the Gumroad store is now kaputt and so are all plans for all physical and digital products. I’ll still make downloadables over time, just that they’ll be available for free on the BuyMeACoffee page.
The simple shift in philosophy is that I’m not taking Nudge as a brand or project forward. It’s something I do now which I genuinely enjoy and so I’ll keep going. Any support would help me keep it up with ease but it is not required. Nudge is now free forever.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.