The low bar of being a good husband

Issue #69

Hi Everyone. Today’s email includes a reflection on an overly positive response to my organising a surprise for my wife. I also share the most insightful articles I’ve read around the web this week. And I include some notes on Seth Godin’s book ‘This is Marketing’. Enjoy 😊 –Sam

First thoughts

It was my wife Rachel’s birthday last weekend. I decided to plan a surprise meal out for the two of us on the Friday night. I booked us a table at a nice restaurant. And I sorted out a babysitter for the evening. 

It turns out that this simple gesture earned a lot of good husband points. Not so much the planning a surprise. Nor the booking of a table at a restaurant. No, it was the sorting of the babysitter that earned the serious points.

I can see why. I typically leave the babysitting for Rachel to sort out. The mum networks tend to be better setup for that. But it’s one of those unspoken ‘rules’ that whether subconsciously or consciously can lead to resentment on my wife’s part. Why do I always have to sort the babysitter?

When Rachel told her friends about our surprise evening out, it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t just Rachel who did most of the sorting-a-babysitter duties. It was nearly always the woman in all the partnerships.

Various people said, ‘I wish my husband would sort the babysitter once in a while’. Several of Rachel’s friends expressed how impressed they were with what I’d done in sorting the surprise night out.

Instead of these compliments feeling like a good thing though, I found them rather alarming.

I mean, how low is the bar on being a great husband if sorting a babysitter occasionally is so big a deal?

Clearly the expectations of what is the man’s role and woman’s role in a relationship are in flux. What have been norms for millennia are being (rightly) cast aside. But this was a good reminder that things still have a long way to go. That I still have a long way to go.

Organising a meal out and a babysitter should not be met with surprise and congratulations. The bar should be higher!

Insightful articles

1. What it takes to put your phone away

New Yorker writer Jia Tolentina writes about her experience of embracing the digital minimalism I’ve written about, inspired by Cal Newport’s book. 

Jia Tolentino, New Yorker

2. Heaven and Hell

‘As we observe our politics, antagonism appears to be the primary style of communication today—how to fight and win, how to be suspicious, how to be hateful, how to tell lies. Who can we exclude now? Which race, religion, or group is unworthy? (All in the name of God, remember!) That’s simply hell right now. And an awful lot of people, even those who call themselves Christian, appear to be living in a hell of their own construction. That’s why Jesus can say, “I do not know you” even to those who “ate and drank in his company” (see Luke 13:25–27)!’

Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation

3. Snooze is a trap

‘The snooze button is a trap. It’s a trap because not only do you have to decide later, but you just expended time and energy to deciding to decide later. Do it once, move on. “Decide once” is a magical productivity commitment.’

Seth Godin, blog post

4. Tim Cook wants you to put down your iPhone

‘Tim Cook thinks people should get off their iPhones and decrease their engagement with apps. The Apple CEO, speaking at the TIME 100 Summit today, was discussing the addictive nature of our mobile devices and Apple’s role in the matter when he made these comments. He said the company hadn’t intended for people to be constantly using their iPhones, and noted he himself has silenced his push notifications in recent months.’

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Book notes

This is Marketing

Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s latest book ‘This is Marketing’ has been the book I’ve been delving into this week. I’ve been reading Seth’s books and following his blog for close to fifteen years now. He’s a wise, seasoned leader who I have a lot of time for. 

And ‘This is Marketing’ is right up there as some of his best work. He makes two key points.

First, we are all marketers. 

Second, true marketing is about service.

It’s very easy to think of advertising and marketing as the same thing. But they’re not. According to Seth, ‘marketing is the act of making change happen’. And we do this not by pummelling people but with empathy and service.

Effective marketing is, in Seth’s words, about, ‘understanding our customers ‘ worldview and desires so we can connect with them. It’s focussed on being missed when you’re gone, on bringing more than people expect to those who trust us. It seeks volunteers, not victims.’

I don’t know about you, but marketing has always felt like somewhat of a dirty word to me. It makes me think of be pressured to buy something, getting spammed, or being tracked against your will around the internet. But Seth does a wonderful job of redeeming marketing. Of helping us see what marketing truly is and can be. And how that’s a good thing. That it can – and should – be about serving people, helping people, empowering people.

Reading this book is helping me see clearer. Too often marketing is all about us and rarely about them. But as the subtitle of Seth’s book makes clear, ‘you can’t be seen until you learn to see.’

Imagine a world where people and companies focussed on the needs of a specific group of people they want to serve. Not manipulate. Not trick into buying things they don’t really want or not. No. Serve

Oh to live in that world.