Mojo Monitor Mishap, or the Peril Of Poor Partner Picking

I’ve started reading the book “Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It” (Marshall Goldsmith) (affiliate link) and I love the book so far. It’s a little similar to another good book, “Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment” (Tal Ben-Shahar) (another affiliate link) in that it operates on the principle that you will improve what you focus your attention on. For those looking for a magic bullet it might be a disappointment, but for those looking for simple techniques to help themselves it’s a great resource.

Anyway, one of the things to do is to monitor your mojo, basically a combination of happiness and meaning, by rating yourself after major events and at various times throughout the day. Sound like a great problem for an iPhone app to solve? Sure!

They made a mojo app, but instead of being great, it isn’t. They made three mistakes.

Mistake #1: They picked the wrong partner

They partnered with an unrelated service that doesn’t complement their cause.

The mojo app is part of the Rypple app. Rypple is an anonymous review service, more or less identical to the Checkster of old. The gist is that you join, and so does everyone else from our company (something not likely to happen east of California) and then you can give each other anonymous feedback. Great idea, and as soon as companies are filled with well-adjusted, confident, open-minded, web-savvy folks with a genuine interest in improving each other it will work great.

I figured this out only after spending quite a lot of time on the Rypple site. The first thing they ask for, before you can use anything, is permission to send push notifications. Then they ask for a work email address. Not a good feeling. Plus, I’m not at all interested in Rypple or what it does. I like the concept, mind you, but my company and culture simply aren’t compatible with this kind of thing.

This is why Mojo+Rypple is such a bad combination. One is an individual exercise that can be done privately. The other is a social exercise where the first thing they ask for is your work email address.

But I want to do the mojo exercises recommended in the book, so I download the app. Thankfully it accepts my personal email address, and fortunately the non-mojo part of the app isn’t too intrusive.

Mistake 2: The app doesn’t support the book or the brand.

I wasn’t even sure I had the right app when I downloaded it. I had to go back to the mojo site to make sure. there wasn’t any obvious branding that told me I had the mojo app – of course, there wouldn’t be until after I registered because that’s the first required step. Even after I registered I wasn’t entirely sure.

Mistake 3: The app is unintuitive, and doesn’t work

It’s not clear how to enter your mojo until you grok the idea that first you start by entering an event, which is similar to entering an appointment. Then you can enter your happiness and meaning values. Not the ten values described in the book, just happiness and meaning. There is no way to just add them quickly without entering an event. Entering an event is more than enough of a hurdle to make it easy to put off.

The app is supposed to be able to wake up on a regular interval and prompt you to enter these values – every hour or a multiple there of. Only it doesn’t work. Every time I go to the app the time-based reminders are turned off. I turn them on, but when I return, they’re off. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t wake up, either.

For an app that has perhaps 7 buttons, this is pretty poor quality control.

A book this good deserves it’s own app, and the author’s brand deserves one that works well.

Book Review: The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success

The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success , by Marcus Buckingham, is an interesting little book. It comes in a foil-wrapped slipcase containing the book, a DVD, and a small notebook for making observations. The book itself is short, as is the DVD, so there’s not much fluff. For this alone I’m tempted to give the book an A, as far too many improvement books seem to be published to hit page targets rather than just communicate.

The premise of The Truth About You is that we all have strengths, and in order to live happy, productive lives we should play to those strengths.

The author debunks the idea that we must focus our efforts on our weaknesses – instead of trying to become good at things we hate and are naturally not good at, we should play to our strengths and capitalize on them.

I agree with this. I shudder to think about the gazillions of productive hours in corporations across America have been squandered by optimistic middle managers trying to act on annual review suggestions to address areas of improvement that will never really be improved. Instead of celebrating what each employee brings to the table, and encouraging them to hone those attributes, we instead focus on the impossible task of making them all equal in all areas. Stupid.

The process of discovering these strengths lies in making observations about what activities leave us feeling happy and satisfied. While I agree that it’s important to play to one’s strengths, I’m not sure it’s very useful to record what we’re doing when we feel strong or empowered or happy. For me the observations just weren’t very actionable.

For example, I was in my workshop making a woodworking project. I feel very good. I feel strong, and empowered, and all good things. What observation should I make? I enjoy woodworking precisely because I DON”T do it for a living, so I don’t think it’s useful to observe that woodworking makes me happy. Stepping back a bit, what makes me happy about woodworking is creating something new – that’s good.

But “making something new” isn’t very actionable. Or, perhaps because I’m in a job where my main goal is to create new things it doesn’t seem actionable.

Regardless, the book will make you think.

It’s a good book to give as a gift because it’s attractive, and the case & DVD help make it more than just a book. It’s not very long so the recipient won’t feel like they’ve been handed some massive project. They can read the book in an evening, carry the notebook for several days, and have fulfilled the intent.

It’s also a positive book, and I don’t think anyone would take offense to it the way they might at receiving, say, a book on weight loss.