Being Wrong but Useful

Alyssa Wright reflects on how creating value and being right don’t always align. Beliefs shape lives, but the utility of those beliefs is often more important than their truth.

We all want to be right, to have a true understanding and right perspective on the world around us. We look around at different perspectives that clash with our own and think those people are ignorant, stupid, or evil. We look into the past and see all the times people were wrong and laugh at how stupid they were.

But in the future, people will look back and laugh at us and how stupid we are. Are, as in right now in this current moment. We are wrong about a lot of things, and don’t even know it. Probably a majority of what we believe to be true isn’t.

In some cases, our wrong beliefs have a functionality. If they have enough sense, they cohere with the rest of our understanding of the world. In science, models are simplifications of reality. In the past, models for atoms were incorrect or an oversimplification. But in high school chemistry class we still learn about Bohr’s model of the atom before we learn about the more complex, more current models. Because there’s a usefulness in the wrongness. The model is inaccurate, but it helps simplify the concept so it is comprehensible.

For this post, I’m drawing from two videos. “On being wrong,” a TED talk by Kathryn Shulz, and “You have no idea how wrong you are,” a video I watched during Praxis last month.

We’re wrong, a lot. Kathryn Shulz said in her talk, “Being wrong feels like being right.” And it does, until or unless we realize we’re wrong. But in the realm of religion or philosophy or etiquette or any number of other things, we will never know if or that we’re wrong. We can change our minds, sure, and think we used to be wrong in what we believed, but we can’t know.

For example, I don’t believe in any god or gods. But a lot of people do. I used to. I don’t know if I’m right or if some of the people who believe in a god or gods are right. I could very easily be wrong. They could very easily be wrong. Everyone is probably wrong. And we’ll never know what’s right. But what we believe is right shapes our lives.

That most of what we think and believe is true doesn’t entirely matter. Most of it is probably wrong. Whether it works and makes sense in relation to what we know and understand of the world matters. Though most of our understanding is probably very wrong. But it works, just like Bohr’s model of the atom. It has a utility.

When we can relate to the world and to each other in a way that makes sense and use that relation to create value, we can succeed. Even if a decade, or century, or millennium from now people look back and think we’re stupid for how wrong we are. If it works and we can use it to create value and improve people’s lives, including our own, we’ve succeeded.

How right we are doesn’t matter. How much value we can create does.

Learning the Digital Design Tool Easil

Alyssa Wright shares her experience learning Easil and the fun she’s had with the tool over the last two days.

For this week’s value prop, I’m designing social media posts. I was initially planning to learn and use Canva, but was turned off by the price barrier. I did a search for free alternatives and found Easil.

For the moment, I’m actually not using the free version. I have a free trial of their premium with all the advanced features that includes.

The tool has a quick, simple tutorial to explain the basic functions. Beyond that, it was easy for me to figure out how to do what I wanted.

At first I built off of their templates. The first image I created I didn’t even change the background image. After that, though, I changed the images, the text, often the fonts. If I used a template it was for a specific element that I knew how to create myself but could save time by not.

Yesterday my blog post was “Robin Hood’s First Theft,” a short narrative poem I wrote in January 2015. In only 20 minutes, I found an image on Pexels that I liked to represent Robin Hood and created a storybook cover for the poem. If you follow the hyperlink at the beginning of the paragraph you can see that image.

I’ve had a lot of fun making graphics for this value prop and for my blog. I’ve temporarily taken a step back from writing for Over the Invisible Wall, but I’m going to make the images for the blog posts in addition to continuing to help edit. The first one will be up tomorrow, so be sure to visit the blog to read the new post and check that out!

First Value Prop

The details of Alyssa Wright’s first value prop, for Fundera.

Last week I created my first value prop for Fundera. They’re a business that helps other businesses get funding, make financial decisions, and learn about running or starting a business.

I wrote on my blog about learning SEO to write an article for them. I also learned about crowdfunding to dissect the pros and cons of using it. Both of those articles can be found here.

I had a lot of fun writing those two articles for Fundera. I learned a lot about SEO and crowdfunding, and I pushed myself to write quality articles in a short amount of time. I did all my research and all my writing for those two 1500+ word articles in only ten days total.

It was a bit stressful at times, but I pushed through to completion.

This week I’m working on my second value prop. I’ll share the details on that next week.

Back to Daily Blogging

Alyssa Wright shares her commitment to daily blogging for the next 30 days.

It’s been a while since I blogged every day for a noteworthy amount of time. In January I hit over 100 days straight. That felt really fantastic. I was thrilled with my obvious progress and dedication to writing.

And then I fell off. I don’t know exactly why.

It could have been tied to my breakup. I could have been down or unmotivated for other reasons.

I kept trying and failing to restart my daily blogging. The first couple weeks are probably the hardest, and after that it starts to become a habit. After a couple weeks, keeping up the streak becomes really important.

So here I am, publicly committing to blog every day for at least the next month. By the end I should be set to keep it up.

I want to surpass my last 100 day streak. I want to get to 200.

But I understand that I need to start small, get my engine warmed up, before I can keep it moving that long.

So here’s to 30 days seeing you on my blog.

Learning SEO in 5 Days

Alyssa Wright details how she taught herself SEO basics in only five days for a value prop.

On Wednesday, Johnny Roccia, one of the Praxis placement advisors shared three open positions at a potential business partner called Fundera. One of them was a staff writer which involved creating frequent blog posts for their niche — small business financials. I was immediately drawn to and excited about applying for this position.

I sketched out a value prop — one blog post for them by today and one to two more by next Monday. I thought of three possible topics, and chose to write a beginner’s guide to SEO.

Before Wednesday, I had never delved into SEO. I had heard of it, seen a blog post from a fellow Praxis participant about her experience learning SEO and how her blog traffic improved upon implementing it. But I had never learned about it myself.

Over the past five days I assigned myself a crash course in SEO from various Youtube videos. (You can check out the resources I found helpful in this playlist I’m making.)

I learned enough about SEO to write an article about metadata, keywords, finding more keywords including long-tail keywords, finding content gaps, backlinks, and conducting an SEO audit.

Not only did I learn the SEO basics in only five days, I simultaneously wrote a ~1500 word article about it for Fundera.

I’m going to pay attention to my traffic, Google rank, and subscribers to compare before and after implementing SEO on my site. This will help me measure how much I learned and how well I applied it for myself. I have yet to do a full-site update, though, so posts about the results will have to wait.


If you like this post and my blog, be sure to check out my Patreon.

Exploring SEO

I’m just learning about SEO and will be updating my website and sharing what I’m learning very soon.

Yesterday and today I started introducing myself to SEO. It seems more and less complicated than I anticipated.

The concepts are simple, keywords, quality up-to-date content, backlinks, website loading speed, the amount of time people spend on your site.

Harnessing them, though, is more complicated.
To that end, I watched a couple videos about tools, both free and paid, that allow you to analyze your website’s performance. From that analysis, you can improve and get more traffic to your website, rank higher in Google, and see what content should be updated or deleted.

I will be curating a playlist of the internet marking and SEO videos I’m learning from on my Youtube channel. If you want to learn along with me, be sure to check that out here.

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring SEO and implementing it here. This won’t just help me, it will improve your experience on my site. I’ll be creating more of the content that you and others want to see by using SEO strategies.

Recap: Forward Tilt Ep 40

This is part of a series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast to an article to a Youtube video to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.
I’ve also responded to Episodes 9, 29, and 36.
Episode 40 is called the Rough Draft Mindset. I’ve listened to this episode twice, first early on in Praxis and again now that I’m entering Placement.

Notes

Having raw material to work with is easier than starting from scratch. Early in the program, Praxis participants build some beginning things. First instinct is to ask open-ended questions for ideas. Once there is a rough thing, it’s easier for people to give feedback for improvement. It’s so much easier to edit when you’ve got something started. Before you seek input and advice, have a rough draft. Difference between surveying people, which is abstract, versus creating a prototype and offering something tangible. Isaac Morehouse’s son wanted to start sandwich business. The first attempt got one order, so he brought free samples and got 30 email addresses of people who liked his sandwiches and wanted to order next time.
When you want info and/or feedback, come with a rough draft. Don’t schedule a call about your idea. Have the first draft, have something tangible created and ask for feedback on it. If you get a bunch of generic feedback, you’ll be less likely to act on and talk yourself out of it. If you do a bit, you get a taste, you’re more likely to be able to adapt, respond, and not get analysis paralysis before you’ve even started.
When you have real tangible problems you can get real tangible feedback. Don’t just present an idea, ask for feedback on a rough draft.

Response

It was easier for me to build my pitch deck from a template than from scratch. When I got stuck, I looked at some of the other participants’ decks to see how they approached the deliverable. Before I shared my deck for feedback, I talked with Hannah Frankman, the pre-program advisor about an aspect I was struggling with. After I had feedback from other participants, I edited and refined my deck. Having a template and examples of what I was building (a rough draft of sorts) made it easier for me to build my pitch deck.
I’ve started from scratch on a lot of projects and had to build the base for them myself. In creating N’Zembe, I first had to decide how many planets there were, what they were called, and which of them supported life. Then I was able to expand to the size of each, the length of their rotations and revolutions. From this base I can create the geography and figure out where people live in order to create the history. To go with the history, I am creating the first language, the origin story of the language and the writing systems, etc. I keep building on and with what I’ve already created in order to create more.