Hacking Life

Nope, not a life hack.  This might very well be the key to hacking life itself.  The 80/20 rule.  Allow me to unpack the idea. 

When the singer Sting abandoned The Police (a band -duh) he needed a new team of musicians to back him as a solo artist.  Legend goes that he had open auditions to anyone who wanted to take a stab at it.  Sting is a Bass Player and there is a unique symbiosis between a bass players and his percussionist.   Many a starry-eyed wanabe drummer showed up in the hope to join the megastar’s new line up.  One by one each drummer was asked to play a 4/4 beat.  The very 1st guy; so the legged goes, did an aggressive snare roll as an intro for his own audition.  Sting stopped him straight away.  “Thank you for coming.  We’ll call you…”

Well, we all know what that means.  The rest of the auditions did not go any better.  The second guy played 4 bars at the end of which he did a tom cycle.  He was given the “Thank you for coming.  We’ll call you…” also.  The 3rd guy played very well, but worked in a few ghost notes – whatever that is.  “Thanks you for coming.”  One guy played 4 bars on the hi-hat, but when it came to the imaginary chorus he moved to the larger cymbals.  “We’ll call you.”  And so it went on.  17 drummers auditioned of which all deviated from the original instruction:  play a 4/4 beat. 

Finally Vinnie Colaiuta walked in, drum sticks in hand. He adjusted the chair and went straight for it. He kept going. After two minutes Vinnie was still going at 120 beats per minute. “The man was like a metronome” Vinnie resisted the urge to do rolls, ghost notes, rim-shots, off-beats or any of that funny things drummers do to show off. Vinnie did not slow down or speed up. Vinnie did not go louder or softer.

Sting joined in on Bass and Vocals, so the legend goes, and they jammed for 30 minutes. Did Sting wanted a subservient musician that does what he’s told? My theory is that Sting knew a little something about the 80/20 rule.

So, what is the point here?

Watch this video

People glibly mention the 80/20 rule these days.  Yet, nearly no-one realize the weight of the issue.  20% of your skills will make 80% of your income.  20% of the labour you’ll do will earn 80% of the income – the difference that does not make you money is likely marketing meetings and admin…. 20% of your staff will do 80% of the work… Should you fire the rest?  Maybe if it was that simple. 

Hacking the 80/20 rule is hacking live. If you can swing that percentage in your favour, say 79/21 rule, Maybe grow it to 85/15 you will win at life.  You will get tired of winning like a guy once said.  Maybe 80%of you will get tired.  I, however, are part of the 20% that will never tire of winning. 

For more fascinating reading go look up Pareto principle

And while you’re at it, also Zipf’s Law.  Both was mentioned in the Video above. 

At the time of typing this blog I discovered this book also:  The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less.  I will make an amendment once I’ve read it and have more special insights to share.

Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit–And You Should Too

I remembered this legend from the early days of e-commerce.  How Zappos, I Las Vegas online shoe store, paid new recruits not to work for them.  This was a sifting strategy to make sure only the lifers sticks around the the giggers move along.  Here are some of the article…

I spend a lot of time visiting with companies and figuring out what ideas they represent and what lessons we can learn from them. I usually leave these visits underwhelmed. There are plenty of companies with a hot product, a hip style, or a fast-rising stock price that are, essentially, one-trick ponies – they deliver great short-term results, but they don’t stand for anything big or important for the long term.  Read more….

Original article from the