Norms and Rules

In a boxing match, there are certain areas where you can’t hit. And there are other areas where you can hit with a single penalty and remaining areas to hit as you please.

So you need to win without breaking the rules. Also, there are certain norms like not hitting when someone is down.

Nothing illegal, but if you win this way, you won’t be applauded.

The New Norm

Earlier film critic used to give away the ending just like that. But now the norm is to say, ‘spoiler alert’ to give away any critical information.

Ninety years ago, Agatha Christie wrote a novel in which the illustrator hires a detective to find the murderer inside the mansion. And at the end, ‘spoiler alert,’ the illustrator is the murderer.

At that time, it wasn’t the norm that the illustrator would be the killer. She saw the norm and choose to change it.

Seth’s Observation

In one of his modern blog posts, he noticed either both motorcycle couples wore helmets or none did in Provincetown.

Later he found that the choice was given to the couple. The first person who spoke become the norm.

The shop owner had the option to change the norm by saying that everyone wears a helmet and so it’s recommended.

Rules Vs. Norms

Rules are usually enforced, and norms are acceptable behavior.

For example, consider measles disease. More than a million people have died earlier. Now you have vaccines but now the norm today isn’t to be vaccinated for measles. But the measles disease doesn’t care about the norms; they care about spreading as their rule.

Another example, stopping at the four way is a law. But in some cultures, it is an acceptable norm to go ahead despite the red sign if no vehicle exists. In this case, the governing body just doesn’t enforce the law because the norms are different.

So if people from this culture move to a different city, then they will get the ticket because the rules are enforceable because the norms are different.

The Wrong and Right Usage

Many people in authority aren’t working hard to make sure the rule becomes the norm. So that there wouldn’t need to be any more rule.

For example, speeding is against the rules, but not all are punished, so it becomes the norm to speed despite the law.

Smoking was considered cool because of the marketing, so it became the norm. One way to change this was to have a rule that puts teenagers in jail and enforce it, but that would be devastating.

What they did was made a rule to have huge taxes on cigarettes and thus made smoking not cool a new norm. And you can see the change happening.

The Confusion

When you were in school, the norms were never told to you. And when you go to high school, the norms shifted, and thus it’s no wonder that you are confused about it.

Some kids grow up thinking norms are rules and thus don’t break them. While some kids grow up, thinking rules are norms and thus break them all the time.

Norms are usually – people like us do things like this. So if you can generously break the norm to help others, it is lauded in an open culture and not appreciated in static culture.

Rules are made when the norms are violating others. For example, there is a rule of spitting because the norm of not spitting couldn’t be set. But there can’t be too many rules because then norms can’t be shifted.

The Problem and Solution

When the health department makes a rule not to serve raw things that sit for a long time, then it is a good idea. But they shouldn’t be allowed to make norms on how to eat the food in combination.

Rules exist to serve the norms or when you can’t make a better decision.

Wikipedia has a problem because there are fewer rules but so many norms that you might consider off-putting to edit the articles.

But the change of norm happens this way. Sometimes with powerful and productive people at the center like how to format the article. Or sometimes from the outliers like what to wear now – edgy fashion choices.

Hence you will find people trying to break the norm so that the culture changes.

Sometimes the norm is slapped down, or it is embraced.

Society can’t make rules for everything. And it is the norm that makes the forward momentum. There is always room for innovation. You are in a culture where changing the norm is the norm, and that’s for the better.


  • As a filmmaker, I released my first movie in Amazon prime. But since the payment is negated, I am considering Patreon. What do you think?

You can bypass the middlemen and connect with the audience. And the best part is you are making things for the people who already support you.

This is artist dream come true. But because the alternative is to deal with trying to sell your thing and it can be frustrating.

Here is a myth; people won’t come and start paying you if you make a Patreon page.

It’s not that you can skip the line to get paying patrons. It can work only if you have earned enough fans, then the Patreon is an extension to make your life easier.

Someone might get viral. But you probably won’t get there. The work is to make sure you have permission-based fans one by one. Once you have 1000 people on your list, then you can start making money on Patreon. But let’s be clear it is the last step.

The Hype Cycle

If you play a game of darts and let everyone play then you will get many darts closer to center, few around the edges and few far away from the board. That is called a normal distribution.

And this exists in many places. For example, take random 100 books. About 80 percent of them will have similar page length and 20 percent will be scattered around the edges.

The distribution of who likes new idea is similar to normal distribution. Eighty percent of the population likes thing when it has been proven. 10 percent tries new things, and the remaining 10 percent doesn’t want change.

The 80 percent market drives value for technology, corporation, and culture.

Consider this- media is written for people who are early adopters. And because of this the percent of early adopters have increased and also partly because of status.

What Does Early Adopter Want

You won’t be an early adopter in everything – you might be one in meme or shoes or type of music but probably not in all of them.

Often an early adopter want something to share with others so her status will get increases, something to make an impact or simply get happy because of owning something new.

What Do Masses Want

They want something that works. That’s it.

Technology companies bring the new thing to early adopter hoping that they talk about it so the masses wants it too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

iPhone was bought initially because it was new. And the early adopters shared their experience and slowly the masses bought it too because it worked.

Another example, memento movie was for early adopters because it wasn’t what masses were looking for. Hence, the initial response was less in terms of viewership. Slowly when the masses adapted to it, the movie became a classic hit.

The Hype Cycle

There are four stages of the cycle. Let’s consider bitcoin as an example. First is the technology trigger when something new comes. Then media companies starts to write about it and makes it the next big thing.

And more and more people are buying into this. Then there comes inflated expectation because of many new companies trying to make the next big thing. All of this speculation but still early adopters get enrolled.

In the case of bitcoin, it’s value kept on increasing. If you are lucky to see the hype cycle before, you might cash in.

The hype cycle will continue until it hits it peak value. And there is drop coming – almost always.

And then people start to go away and only about 5 percent of people remain. At this moment, if you don’t know about the hype cycle, then you will see it as a disaster and done deal.

But at this time, you can start making things, work hard and quietly because there are no media. The next and final stage is coming, and that is a plateau. And then because of their work, the middle of the normal distribution gets to enroll and adapt to it.

Authors Journey

Let’s understand the hype cycle in the journey of getting your book out.

  • Writing book and putting it in public
  • Hyping about book
  • And mostly walking away
  • But other times, you are still hyping and working your body of work slowly – and slowly it becomes part of the culture

The Dip is the part where most people quit when no one is paying attention.

Another way is to anticipate the dip and then work hard. So if you want to change the culture, you need to focus on the slope of enlightenment and not on the hype.


  • How to approach the difficult issue like climate studies?

People have a strong belief and are eager to argue. It doesn’t matter if your idea aligns with the scientific method, they will be difficult to change because of their belief.

Personal experience is one way to get the message out. Encourage people to experience ground reality.

People don’t like to be proven wrong. So you can approach with new data then the chances of them being triggered is less.

Sometimes people are choosing to fit in. When the culture changes, people like us do things like this. And thus there are new things which people do, so their belief shifts too.

Aravind: Management can change the world

If Mcdonalds can sell billions of burgers and Pepsi can sell billions of cola, then why can’t Aravind sell millions of sight restoration operations? That’s the Dr. Venkataswamy speaking when he opened up the hospital at the age of 58.

And no wonder Aravind, a change of eye hospital in India has performed more than 30 million operations.

There was a challenge because many people were losing the eyesight in India, which could be avoided. So Dr. Venkataswamy decided to do something about it. And built management around his vision and practically changed the world.

Similarly like Ray decided to franchise the McDonald’s, but the managers made McDonald’s the way it is now. Having good management and choices shapes the way.

The Impossible

Aravind performs millions of operations based on their hospital and eye care clinics and camps for different areas.

How is this even possible, and the bigger question is why they do it?

The secret is they do so many eye surgeries that every training doctor in eye works in here so they can excel faster.

Another thing Dr. Venkataswamy decided was to reduce the cost so that the operation can be faster. He did this by making sure the patient was ready once the current operation was done by a doctor. And he achieved this with only 4 in 1000 infection which is less than the accepted standard.

The Management Role

Dr. Venkataswamy is no more. But the management persists. You can either focus on getting more dollars for the CEO or do the work because it matters for your goal of making change happen.At Aravind, their goal is to make eye care accessible to everyone.

Hence when you go for cataract surgery, you can either pay a nominal fee or get it for free. And still, they make a profit.

Principles and Management

Aravind focuses on continued improvement. For example, they recently announced that the screening number of people went down. But it was because their screening methods improved.

Another thing is they do everything centric in the patient. Also, they came up with better drug and machines so they can be cheap and then shared with others.

Also, they focused on the staff because most of the work is voluntary. The major focus is to be frugal – spending money wisely to achieve the larger goal.

This was they were focusing on better. Hence in recent 50 years, they have gone from 1 man to performing millions of surgeries, thus making life better.

In contrast, Pepsi focused on increasing appetite of yours to drink more colas.

It boils down to management – what are you focusing on. And once you do it for a long time, then it becomes more efficient, cheaper and better.

Having great management focusing on things they care about and measuring the right things accelerates their growth.

The Cycle

In social media, the game is to get your attention, make you stick longer on the site. So for that, they introduced followers metric and how many people clicked. Thus you end up spending more time because of that metric.

Another example is people keeping track of quarterly reports of public CEO. And if people are reacting, then the companies would focus on somehow increasing the numbers.

But Aravind never focused on quarterly profit reports because if he did, then he couldn’t have changed the world in such a positive manner.


When you go to work, you are measuring something. You have been trained always to ask what will be on the test or how to do the job. You rely on the rules set by management.

But if you see yourself not finding value in your work, then you need to decide. You can either take a shortcut and get a quick job or dig deep and find the place where you can see and be seen.

Money is easy to measure. As such, you should focus on making change happen. Because Pepsi, who is focusing on money, is leaving behind a legacy of obesity.

So you need to decide the direction where you want to go.

Being managed by good management is great, but it depends on the leadership by making quality principle.

So the opportunity you have is to become a leader by taking in focus on things you measure for yourself.

Short term or long term – you decide. What is a good day for you? So put the right things you want to measure. You have a choice to make about which story you will tell yourself to your coworkers and for what impact.


  • What is the difference between being supple and chasing the next shiny object?

When you commit to the people who seek to change –  so you might change the tactic, but the goal is the same. Supple means being open to different ways to reach the goal, which was the change you want to make happen.

It means sticking when something because it matters even when the paths change by adopting them.

  • I am a freelancer, and my living depends on it. But my passion is on being an entrepreneur. What to do?

One of the reasons for your dilemma might be because you enjoy the quest more than the destination.

Another reason is that you aren’t fulfilling your job. So you are hesitating because your success isn’t making you happy, but you have worked hard for it.

It is up to you to accept the gift from your past self who worked hard.

But you can use your reputation and leverage then work on the next project, which matters to you.

One way to do your project is to focus on clients that are related to your passion. And ignore the clients who aren’t on your journey.

It’s scary to walk away from success. But if next thing matters, you have to get going.

But if you aren’t going to leap then stop that narrative and enjoy the moment you have. Make the contribution and enjoy the status you have worked hard for.

It’s Atmosphere Cancer – Breathe

Every day you breathe in air so that you keep on existing, have you ever wondered about the air you breathe in.

Air Composition

Air is invisible if you are lucky. There is about 78 percent of Nitrogen, which is a boring gas for you because it doesn’t do much for you directly. And about 21 percent of the air is oxygen, which is essential for you.

About 1 percent of air is Argon, also a boring gas. And ignoring water vapor there is carbon dioxide which in the news like forever comprises of 0.03 percent.

That seems almost negligible. But that much carbon dioxide is enough to change the dynamic of the environment.

The Cycle

Other planets get warm and cold because there is no atmosphere over there. Earth has it, which makes sure there is a comfortable amount of temperature for the organism to live.

Plants take in carbon dioxide, use energy from the sun, and do photosynthesis and thus making fruits and other things and releases oxygen. You breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

All of this is easily measured and hence not in dispute.

The Greenhouse Effect

That little carbon percentage makes a barrier not to allow heat to escape.

For a million years, plants used to do their cycle and eventually die. And some would de compost and grow again, and some would become fossil fuels. Thus the carbon they had has been trapped in the form of oil.

Because of the industrial revolution, fossil fuels combustion started happening, and thus, there has been a tremendous increase in carbon dioxide due to the oxidation of carbon.

Adding to this the deforestation, there has been a ⅓ increase in the percentage of carbon dioxide.

The Report

All of the above things aren’t in dispute and are in agreement with everyone.

R P Jacobs and team made a report for Exxon mobile, mentioning that there will be huge repercussions in the human environment and have a significant social, economic, and political shift.

The Real Reason

Many of the top scientists analyzed all the information and the crisis that was supposed to come. But their bosses at many companies had different plans.

According to their study, it was found that the top 100 companies were responsible for more than 50 percent of the increase in carbon dioxide release.

But they didn’t want the companies to shift. Because many people were seeking profits of those companies and they will be not happy.

So leaders of these companies decided to make it a political issue. And soon it was given to the public. Thus this scientific issue was kept somewhere in behind.

And everyday people can’t anticipate how the future will be and thus can’t make a better decision for the future. Or at least understand the significance of the crisis.

The Short Term

Everyone is focused on the short term goal. Social media has added to this fuel.

Humans don’t understand most of the complicated things, and their instinct in political issue is to argue. Also, the poor people have least say in such a situation, who are probably the people going to be impacted the most.

What you end up with is a perfect storm (irony intended), Of science, culture, and industry making it very difficult to respond appropriately.

The important thing is to understand is that about 100 companies are responsible for about half the change which is happening. Hence a better technology innovation could dramatically change the carbon dioxide and also your quality of life.

For example, driving an electric car is futuristic because it is. But it is difficult to sell because the culture is to stay the same. Also, it is about dividing people into teams, and people at the top are controlling and profit from your argument.

One best example is breaking the news about things which is happening. It plays on your human tendency.

But it isn’t easy to make breaking news about a crisis in the future.

Let’s not focus on global warming. Let’s call it environmental cancer because that is a scientific name and there is no denying about that. Changing the narrative and pushing companies to take the best leap is the goal.

When right people come and says, follow me for a brighter future, if you can leave behind your innate desire to argue about it. Instead, focus on being people like us do things like this – being in sync of ‘this.’

Politicizing a crisis so that about 100 companies CEO can benefit – there is a better opportunity than that. To see, open doors to innovations to make things better all along.


  • Do you think about how we do small things is how we do big things?

Never just ship it. Rather merely ship it if you commit to ship on a certain deadline. That means your work will get better the more you ship it.

How long does it take to write a novel? Maybe nine months.

How long to type a novel? Maybe 4 days.

You are stuck in almost 9 and a half months, trying to figure out dead ends and exploring different narratives.

Erle Gardener wrote Perry Mason novel in 20 days. He dictated the novel to the secretary, and that is the final draft.

The point is that you can do your craft by merely shipping without a lot of wasted time. Whenever the deadline comes, you ship the best version at that time. Doing best work ain’t easy, but you have to put in the time.

So by merely shipping your work, you will know your craft and work and it will only keep on getting better with time.

What’s the problem with a used car salesman?

One person made all the difference in the automobile industry. He enabled the shift in the culture such that a car company is named after him; of course, he is William Metzger.

The Story

He was the first car dealer in the US. In the 1890s he opened up a bike store. He got influenced by the auto show and car making process, he sold his bike store and started making electric cars.

Here are some of the problems he faced:

  • You needed a huge capital
  • The car was relatively unknown
  • And it would need service

Metzger devoted his life to the automobile industry. He started the auto shows in the US and started public racing. And among then racers was Henry Ford.

This was an important thing because people needed to visualize cars and see the shift in culture.

So highways were created to have a place so cars can be used.

Meanwhile Henry Ford had created 3 companies primarily because he had became famous by winning the automobile races.

The End Of Dealership

The business of dealership went through the roof because car companies couldn’t build up distribution from the ground up.

So they made a deal that they will stick with the dealership for decades or centuries if they can keep having customers for cars and also profit per car.

Tesla ended that cycle because you can order directly from them. The trick is they offer a 30-day money back guarantee, and that’s cheaper for them than working with a dealership.

But here is the messy part. Cars broke, and dealership is in the business of doing service. That’s why you have to take many trips to the car dealership for getting the problem solved.

And in a way, car companies are required to keep dealership happy. But now tables have turned and car company have the upper hand and your TESLA won’t need many trips for service.

You might wonder why car companies ask you to rate the dealership for service. Turns out for you as a customer can’t differentiate between car dealership and brands.

So some dealerships are working towards having a better service rather than focusing on short term profit. This is also an example of how the distribution changes things for people.

Computers And Other Examples

When the personal computer came into existence, they had the same problem as car acceptance did:

  • You need a huge capital
  • You don’t trust
  • And it needed service

So computer land became a sorta dealership for computers. But you as a customer weren’t ready to pay for the repair in huge dollars.

Apple decided that the hardware might not be fixed by you, but you don’t need to worry because the software is top notched.

And they created the Apple Store, which created an empathy level connection while selling Mac computers. So despite them being available everywhere, you bought it from them.

Now they aren’t focused on connection though as they have grown and their core values have been compromised.

Another Perspective

Still today many people don’t want to buy something which they can’t touch. One such example is eyeglasses.

Warby Parker put the bus in a different spot of a potential customer and experimented a lot. And where the bus had sold more, they rented the place and opened the store.

Opening retail outlet is an easy way to show trust if you are just an online company.

People Like Metzger

There are many high-end coffee beans retail place because economics allow them to exist. On another hand, there aren’t many high-end chocolate bars selling the retail store.

Hence when you think about how culture changes based in business, we need more people like Metzger to take the leap and push to go for the extra mile.


  • As a publishing company, what to do because of the hanging landscape?

First, you need to see that the world is changing. Also, what is your goal for your organization?

When the world changes, people fall because they focus on the things they don’t have. First focus on the things you have and double down on them.

In the book publishing industry, you are the intermediary, and you need to build a relationship with readers and authors.

You should be finding great authors for your readers and not find readers for authors. Build a relationship and show your value of curation.

One way to do is have a connection build in everything you do around you, authors, and readers. It’s tough, but if you are persistence and focused on both ends, you will grow.

  • Is it too late to start at 30 ignoring sunk costs and being supple?

First, you aren’t starting late. Because as the world changes, many people who have more sunk cost than you will have to start over.

Another thing is to look at the smallest Viable audience. And not focus on the biggest dip.

Instead of thinking of becoming the best and getting an academy winning actor, then there is a considerable dip you need to go through.

A better way is to become an accountant for a specific group of people – musicians in New York. By doing the best work for them, you will get a referral, and you can get through the dip fast and get the success you need. Choose your dip wisely by being ultra-specific in your craft.

  • Is there an approach to find your minimum viable audience?

And it depends on your craft and approach.

For example, if you get $1000 from 100 customers then that is your minimum viable audience. But before going in, you need to ask real questions – how many people will change, do they have money and do they need better service. And then go ahead.

With the advent of new cameras and phones, what is next for filmmaking student?

Better keeps on changing. For example, in filmmaking better used to mean if you can focus or use CGI. But now with AI doing most of the job, better means what kind of projects you are doing and can you lead

So ahead and take risky projects, do emotional labor, and have something beyond the pictures to show. Always keep asking, what does better mean?