What Is A Now Page
Derek Sivers says no better than anyone I’ve ever met. Derek was the founder of CD Baby, one of the first big e-commerce success stories. I met Derek about 4 years ago at MusicMatters, after he had sold his stake in CD Baby and moved to Singapore. I found Derek to be a warm, smart, funny guy who was really open and generous with his experience of living in Singapore and his insights into the startup and creative scene in Asia. But, every time I emailed Derek for a followup meeting, he said no.
Of course, there’s no and there’s no. Some people say no is a harsh way that makes you feel bad for asking. Derek’s no’s weren’t like that. They were polite, more than polite they were charming, affirming, the kind of no that actually makes you feel good about yourself; the kind of no that reminds you priorities and focus are important in this world of perpetual breakfasts, coffees and “hanging out.”
Derek’s Now Page
Derek wasn’t singling me out for rejection. Every well known figure is swamped with requests for their time, perhaps more so now internet has made finding and contacting public figures so easy. For Derek no has become something of a mantra.
So, it was fascinating to see Derek add a “Now Page” to his site, a short list of the commitments that are demanding his attention right now. The Now Page, as Derek explains, is a “public declaration of priorities” and way to show that when he declines invitations it isn’t “personal.”
A Now Page Is Not A Set Of Goals
The Now Page is written in the present tense, it hints at goals in the future, but it outlines actions and priorities in the present. It says, the reason why I don’t have time to do that, is because I’m doing this. Goals are good. The Now Page is about focussing our present commitments so we can have the resources required to reach those goals.
Rather than say he wants to be a good parent, Derek declares he’s “being a full-time dad half the week.” Rather than hope to be healthy, he states he’s “weightlifting, running, hiking.” It’s perhaps a reflection of our times, that many people are focussing heavily not just on goals, but on the daily investment of time needed for the small actions and decisions that move us towards our goals (another example of this is Jamie Oliver’s You app).
A Now Page Is Not An About Page
There’s at least three ways to write a About Page. First, you could just share your biography, your story. Second, you could explain your goals, your direction, your hopes and dreams. Third, and perhaps best of all you could link your story and your dreams together and explain what we all stand to gain from following you or working with you. So, for a photographer’s About Page, how you became a photographer is good, where you want to go with your photography is better, how we can all fall in love with life by looking at your photos or learning from you is best of all.
But, the Now Page isn’t everything we’ve done, it’s what we’re doing right now. And, it isn’t the sales pitch, it’s the goods we’re delivering to the store. It’s not the trying, it’s the doing.
Why I’ve Added An About Page
These ideas, when to say no, and how to keep the right focus, have been on my mind all year. I wrote some thoughts a few months back in an article called The Best Way To Say No. The Now Page idea hit me on the final days of a three week sojourn in New York. I was there to take part in James Victore’s Dinner Series, which I alluded to a few months back, and as part of a big reset of my creative goals, which I hoped would happen when I wrote this post. I’ve come back to Tokyo with a burning desire to narrow my focus, pull back from projects that despite my love for them, are not the best use of skills and commit more time to my family and to the creative work I’m best at doing.
I’m not good at saying No. Too often, I’ve said yes because I believed good opportunities will always be scarce, like they were at the start of my career. Or, I’ve said yes, because I felt insecure and needed the validation (or the quick cash). I’ve said yes to appease people, or at least not offend them. I’ve said yes because the project or opportunity looked so good (or paid so well) even if I was a poor fit for the work. Or, I’ve said yes because at the time, it was the right thing to do, even if that moment had now passed and the yes should have become a no.
For all those reasons and more I’ve written a Now Page – please take a look.