At work I write subject lines and email copy designed to get people to open my company’s emails and buy something.
Sometimes, there is internal debate at the office about the words I choose.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea because…”
And then I’ll respond with why I chose to write something as I did.
Recently, during a debate about a particular subject line that said simply: “You’re Invited,” a co-worker took exception to its lack of clarity. Considered it to be a little too “tricky.” That a customer who opened it would be opening it to learn to what event they were “invited” and be disappointed and close the email upon realizing it was not an invitation to an actual event, but merely an informal invitation to save money on our company’s sales.
I was more than willing to change the subject line to what the other guy wanted because I thought he made a decent-enough point.
But our boss, upon hearing the discussion and both sides of the debate, wanted to test it.
We’d send a small batch (but a significant data sample) with one subject line, and another small batch with the other.
In internet marketing (and probably several other industries), we call this A-B testing.
We sent the test batches. My subject line got the most opens and made the most money. So we sent the remainder of our list with my version.
My co-worker came over to shake hands and eat crow. And it made me feel bad. Literally. Because he’s a good guy and was just trying to do what he thought was best for our business.
“Don’t apologize, man. I agreed with you and thought you’d end up being right. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.”
I DO NOT take pleasure from being “right” so long as something mean-spirited wasn’t involved.
I DO NOT feel gratification when one of my work ideas performs better than someone else’s work idea, especially when the other person is a teammate—someone I’m only interested in lifting up.
I often feel bad when I take someone’s money in a poker game.
When my favorite team beats its archrival, I actually feel sympathy for my friends who root for the other team.
I feel lousy when I get to do something awesome or meaningful with my son that his mother wasn’t able to take part in. Like when he lost his first two teeth with me. Like when we visit my family for the Fourth of July.
As much as I love spending time with my little son, I do not enjoy it at the expense of others not being able to spend time with him.
It adds an element of bittersweetness to most of the wonderful things we do.
Perhaps those feelings will go away in time. But given my propensity for not always enjoying victory and fun and good things at the perceived expense of others, I’m not sure it ever will.
I Am Whatever You Think I Am?
There are people in this world (my sweet and innocent grandmother, for example, who thinks I’m an angel even though I almost never call her to say hi) who probably think I’m a way better person than I am.
I’m not afraid to admit I make mistakes all the time.
But I also have no reservations about telling you how hard I try to be better. How much I think about, pray about, and work toward being the best person I possibly can.
A daily grind during the most-challenging few years of my life that has amounted to me aspiring to improve 1% each day, but knowing full well I spent much of that time lazy and lethargic and depressed and alone and feeling sorry for myself.
I don’t always succeed at improving 1% a day.
Maybe I can improve 1% at improving 1% and then win the Extra-Meta Guy Award.
Everyone who creates art of any kind needs to learn and accept The Rule of Thirds.
One third will love you.
One third will hate you.
One third won’t care.
So only make your art for the one third that loves you because you can’t reach the haters. The problem is, if you’re wired like me, you’re going to WANT to. You’re going to want to so bad.
To change their hearts.
To change their minds.
To make them believe that everything you write or draw or sing or sculpt or think or feel lives in your soul at the keyboard or the canvas or the microphone, and away from it.
You don’t know me.
Talk to any divorced person and they’re likely to tell you the same story: If I can’t even trust myself to know and choose the person I planned to spend the rest of my life with, how can I ever trust myself to marry again?
It’s scary when you realize you can fudge the biggest decision of your life.
But there’s another part of that.
You don’t know me.
You don’t really know anyone.
Every time a beloved celebrity commits suicide, we all go: “Oh my God!!! How could that person do that!?!? EVERYONE loved them!!!”
Every time you hear about a school shooting or serial killer, there’s always the people interviewed that knew them from way back when and thought they were just a nice, normal person like everyone else.
Maybe we only see what we want to see.
If anyone comes to my funeral, I hope each of them can walk up to my son and tell him: “Your dad was a really good guy,” then tell him a little story illustrating why they thought that.
That’s what I want from life.
When the final ledger is tallied, I hope analysis of that ledger draws the conclusion I’m working toward: Matt was a man who loved people, who tried hard to be non-judgmental, who loved friends and family and laughter, and who had a big heart that he tried to share with others.
Maybe that’s selfish. Because that’s a lot of things.
I don’t know what you think of me.
And it doesn’t really matter because I can’t prove you right or wrong.
But I want to type it anyway. Because it really matters to me. Maybe today more than ever.
I want to be a good man who helps people.
I want to teach my son to be the same.
I want my son to know in the deepest recesses of himself how much his parents love him.
I want to be a person who gives more than he takes in all things.
I want to write stories that help someone. Not everyone. Just someone.
I want to die as the best-possible version of myself.
Everyone is not only allowed to believe whatever they want—they’re going to anyway.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking you know who I am.
This is my truth.
And today I’m 1% closer to living it.