“Aim for zero.” What?!?

by | Aug 7, 2021

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I always appreciate emails from Matthew Stibbe.

It means he’s posted another crackerjack article to make us think.
And I shamelessly pass it on to you. 😎 

With this offering – “How to get a big fat pay rise and promotion, even in lean times” – Matthew helped me look back on my days ‘working for the man’ and say,

“Ohhhhh … I could have used this ‘aim for zero’ concept then.”

But now, many of us are ‘the man.’ 
(And if we’re not, here’s a way to understand our boss better.)

If we don’t “aim for zero,” we’re not helping anyone

We solve problems for clients all the time, but I bet you’ve been in the situation (right along with me, ol’ problem-solver Kathie) where you’ve said

“Oops. I should have backed off on that. Not tried to prove anything.”

Matthew’s article showcases pointers for getting to know supervisors (or clients) better and letting others figure us out. As usual with Mr. Stibbe, unique ideas.

It’s a buffet of goodness you won’t want to miss.
(Matthew Stibbe is never boring.)

Pretty much, the first thing you’ll run into is a surprising, short video clip from astronaut Chris Hadfield.

As Matthew mentions, Mr. Hadfield “…has a useful way of thinking about people: you’re either a minus one, a zero or a plus one.”

Click the button to discover why Chris Hadfield suggests we “aim for zero” when we first come into a project … or any conversation, I suppose.

After reading Matthew’s article, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a comment on his site. Then return here to share your takeaways.

In this way, we both grab some Google love while providing more value for our readers.

Check out Matthew’s article and the short video with astronaut Chris Hadfield

Welcome back!

I hope you were as surprised as I was with Matthew’s article. There were so many good tidbits I hadn’t even considered.

As a quick review of Chris Hadfield’s points:

We fall into one of these categories on our projects

-1 = Charges ahead, but doesn’t understand the problem
 0 = Neutral impact. Doesn’t understand the problem yet
+1= Adds value; listened … studied … understands the problem

One of my favorite quotes from the video:

“A little later in life – especially when I got into the complexity of spaceflight – I recognized that it’s a lot more beneficial to everybody (including yourself): let’s aim for zero at the start.”  — Chris Hadfield

Once we spend a few nights or weekends reworking a project (at no cost to the client, of course) because we got ahead of ourselves, we understand.

We need to slow down and aim for zero at the start of a project.

This means listening carefully – especially for the words no one says out loud – to achieve the best result and become a plus one.

About Matthew Stibbe
On his website, Matthew tells us he is “… a writer, entrepreneur, wine enthusiast, pilot and geek (but not necessarily in that order). He is CEO of Articulate Marketing and Turbine and co-founder and marketing director at Vincarta.” Matthew has some great blog posts.
They are business-y, humane, fun, and geeky.

Join the Conversation

Please use the comments sections to tell us about your takeaways from Matthew’s article or Chris Hadfield’s video clip.

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I know you’re busy. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your time.


Contact me if you have questions about this post, or need help non-overwhelming a project. I’m here for ya! 😎



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  1. Shawn Huddy

    Great article, Kathie. Great take-aways from the video and Matthew Stibbe’s article, too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kathie York

      Thanks, Shawn,
      I’m always surprised by a “Matthew article.”
      It never fails to be enlightening and full of practical business concepts … that hadn’t occurred to me!
      Thanks for stopping by, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post, K.


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Kathie York, CSQE
Queen of Non-Overwhelm
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