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by Mike Essex on 19th April 2013
Today at the 2nd ever ionSearch event I spoke about why although tools are amazing things they can also hold us back and stop us from achieving truly creative work. Over 70 slides I picked apart the reasons we love tools and highlighted lots of ways to make you more creative and work smarter.
There are 86 billions neurons in the human brain. That’s a lot of thought processes and a lot of untapped potential for self improvement. Yet I constantly hear presentations on “100 free tools” which although useful are only helpful in giving you a competitive edge if you find those tools before your competitors. Likewise tools can quickly become outdated or give false information that is only helpful with the right human inputs and outputs.
The key problem with tools is they are easy assets to copy – e.g. if everyone in an agency has the same tools, what separates you from your peers? Or what separates you from competitors if they have the same or better tools? Instead we should be focusing more on soft assets (brain power, networks, people) than hard assets (tools, computers, cash) if we want to stand apart and offer superior service.
If you look at the SEO industry as a whole it’s easy to see how tasks that were once only for highly skilled professionals have over time become easier and filtered down so anyone can do them. Such as how WordPress plugins have made some technical aspects of SEO easier and how you can now outsource high quantity link building if you wish. The below image from Marty Neumeier’s “Meta Skills” is a great way of looking at how work filters down over time.
Which means the more we rely on tools to do the work for us, the easier it becomes for our work to pass down from creative work to robotic work – and that doesn’t mean robots will do the work for us, it’s more a case of humans acting like robots with little need for creative thought. Likewise creativity is not solely for artists, as any SEO who has ever had a very complicated problem they needed to solve by nothing but their own skills will attest to.
Which means ultimately the key way to break free of tools and ensure our skills are always needed and always evolving is to become more creative.
You’ll find longer explanations for all of these in the slides but ultimately:
If all else fails and you don’t have the time to be creative then consider that even Barack Obama ensures he has three blocks of time to himself every day. His argument is that by taking time away from work he’ll be better at work when he is there.
I hope you liked my slides and if you have any questions then please leave them below: