Ex Post Facto no. 16: Humans, Furniture, and How to Cultivate Influence

We’re back for another Ex Post Facto, the email with 3 things you’ll wish you’d known earlier—just in time for the weekend. Thanks for joining! –Shane

There are a few things I really don’t miss from The Before Times. Public sneezes. Going through TSA and getting on a plane just to go to a 1-hour meeting. And also networking.

That word still gives me a mildly slimy feeling. How about you?

Too often, what it takes to get what we want in our careers is knowing someone. I hate that fact, but I show up to the cocktail hour at the conference anyway. Because meeting people is important.

But this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about a new book by a friend of mine that has completely shifted the way I think about the idea of networking and replaced it with a much more interesting, useful, and I’d dare say reassuring idea—one that I think is much better suited to our modern soon-to-be-post-pandemic world.

The idea is that instead of networking our way into the path of people we “need,” we ought to focus on a more helpful and more effective goal: cultivating influence.

That’s the premise of the book You’re Invited: The Art & Science of Cultivating Influence by Jon Levy, and it’s such a powerful one that I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s EX POST FACTO to it.

So without further ado, here are three influence-related things you’ll be glad to know in time for the weekend:

One EXcellent bit of wisdom

The fundamental element that defines the quality of our lives is the people we surround ourselves with, and the conversations we have with them.

  • I love this quote in juxtaposition with my crappy attitude about networking. What if when we met strangers—whether at a work setting or not, virtual or in-person—our primary goal was to have a great conversation? Even if nothing comes of the relationship, a great conversation is fun.

  • And I suspect (well, in Jon’s book he lays out some psychology proving this) that giving others the gift of a great conversation is a lot more effective for building relationships anyway. (That’s the core premise of good content marketing, as my co-author Joe Lazauskas will tell you in his newsletter The Storytelling Edge, which just hit 100,000 subscribers and you should definitely check out!)

  • But think about it. What do you do with the people you love spending time with? I’ve been to a lot of different places in my life with friends. And somehow, no matter where we are and how gorgeous the scenery, we always end up sitting around a table talking. How great is that?

One POST you won’t want to miss:

One FACT Of great interest:

  • Did you know that people over-value IKEA furniture, not because of the price or the design—but because of the effort it takes to get it set up? Shopping at IKEA is a mission in itself, and assembling your own furniture itself is such a project that by the time your couch is installed you’re likely to value it more than it’s worth. Because you put effort into it.

  • Social scientists call this the IKEA effect. It’s why even if your kid is primarily a pain, you still love them—because you’ve put so much work into them. (You can learn more about this effect and how it comes into play at work in Chapter 4 of You’re Invited.)

As someone who’s a bit of a pain, I’m personally grateful for the IKEA effect. Cheers to the science that keeps us pulling together.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Much love,


P.S. If you liked this newsletter, why not pass it along to a friend!

Ex Post Facto no. 15: Jargon vs Trust, Creation vs Craft... vs Kraft

We’re back for another Ex Post Facto, the email with 3 things you’ll wish you’d known earlier –Shane

A pal of mine recently opened my eyes to an idea about “artists.” He said that there’s two parts of art: the creation and the craft.

The first is the figuring out part—the ideation, the experimentation, the combining of building blocks that haven’t been combined before.

Then, the craft is the execution part. It’s the carving of the statue, the baking of the fancy cake, the mastery it takes to actually bring an idea to life.

This reminded me of how one of my favorite magazine editors used to tell me that great writing was only 1/3 writing. The other two thirds were researching and thinking. Great art takes both creativity and craftsmanship.

Which has me thinking:

How much of your time do you spend on creation vs craft?

And with that thought starter, let’s get to this week’s Ex Post Facto!

One EXcellent bit of wisdom:

  • “I don't think there's any artist of any value who doesn't doubt what they're doing.” –Francis Ford Coppola

    If this guy who won tons of Oscars and changed cinema had moments of doubt, then you and I should feel a little bit better about ours. Just because we doubt ourselves doesn’t mean we’re not doing something valuable.

    Of course, we need people in our lives both to encourage us to go out onto the limb, and also to pull us back when we go too FAR out on it. But it’s comforting to hear that great artists like Coppola were nervous out there on that limb, too.

One POST you won’t want to miss:

One FACT Of great interest:

On the subject of craft, I recently learned that kraft with a k is not just a brand of macaroni and cheese. It’s the official name of that tough brown paper we make bags (and art projects) out of.

And it’s actually made from a NEWER type of paper process than the stuff in your printer is made from. (It was invented in the 1880s.)

Unlike standard paper, making kraft paper doesn’t require pollutive chemicals. It’s biodegradable (like all paper), but when it does degrade, it also doesn’t leave chemicals in the ground.

We’re not going to save the planet by using more kraft paper. (Btw, you’ve got to check out Bill Gates’s new book, or this interview, on that note.) But if you find yourself with a choice between bleached and dyed wrapping paper with dancing snowmen on it, vs some nice thick, planet-friendly brown paper—why not be krafty and go with the good stuff?

The talking point for my craftspeople: It feels nicer in your hands.

For my creatives: you can congratulate yourself for using more “innovative” paper than the rest.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Much love,


P.S. Just a week left until we close registration for our Leadership Intensive at Snow Academy. (It’s from March 8-19th: 1hr/day livestream + masterclass).

If you haven’t checked out what past leaders who’ve been through the program have raved about it, take a look at the brochure here!

Or just reserve your spot here before they run out!

Ready to Level Up Your 2021 Leadership? See the syllabus for our next Intensive!

Shane here! In between my regular Ex Post Facto newsletters, I wanted to send you this special update about my Dream Teams Leadership Intensive.

What if you could consistently unlock more productivity & innovation from yourself and your team?

That’s what’s in store for you if you join our March 8–26 Dream Teams Leadership Intensive, a live (virtual) skills bootcamp for developing habits of:

  • Building trust and psychological safety

  • Approaching confrontation

  • Effective inclusion

  • Communicating inarguably

  • Group problem-solving

  • Intellectual humility

  • and more!

Leaders who joined our last Intensive said it literally changed their lives!

Check out the syllabus HERE to learn exactly how this program can do that for you!

I’ll be back soon with more fun Ex Post Facto for ya!

Til then—much love,


Ex Post Facto no. 14: Airborne Books & Elephants

We’re back for another Ex Post Facto, the email with 3 things you’ll wish you’d known earlier—usually just in time for the weekend, but today it’s just in time for 2021. Thanks for joining! –Shane

Hey, can I just say? I’m glad to have had you as a reader this year! The pandemic has been such a topsy, turvy, and often lonely time. So getting emails and LinkedIn comments expressing gratitude, support, and alternative viewpoints on the things I’ve been writing has been a way for me feel more connected to people.

Thank you for that.

Ok, on to this week’s Ex Post Facto!

One EXcellent bit of wisdom:

  • “People are more important than stuff.” <– This week’s wisdom actually comes from my own father. He used to say it all the time. And if there were one thing that I repeated to myself in my head all year more than any other, it would probably be this.

  • When things go wrong, I try to remind myself that people are more important than stuff—and then act accordingly. When I’m tempted to get upset about something monetary, I try to remember that people are more important than whatever it is. I’m not perfect at it, but it’s remarkable what a shift in perspective this phrase brings me when I remember to recite it.

  • So my 2021 challenge to all of you is to give reciting “people are more important than stuff” a shot yourself! :)

One POST you won’t want to miss:

One FACT Of great interest:

  • Speaking of books, I recently used the phrase “throw the book at them” in front of my wife, who said she’d never heard the term. She grew up speaking Spanish, so every once in a while an idiom like this comes up that makes me realize how many things I say that I have no idea where they come from.

  • If you don’t already know the history, “throwing the book at someone” comes from the early 1900s where judges who hear criminal cases would literally sit there with a book listing all possible crimes and punishments. So “throwing the book” was basically trying to roast the defendant no matter how.

  • I know that’s not as interesting or exciting of a FACTO as you’re used to in this email. But I wanted to talk about it today because I think that if we truly believe that people are more important than stuff, it’s going to be a rare occasion where throwing The Book at someone is okay to do. In the spirit of making this new year better than the last, I’d say let’s practice more charity with one another—especially when the matter at hand is about stuff.

  • In other words, if you’re going to throw a book at someone, why not throw A Book About Love at them? Or The Magician’s Elephant, for that matter. :)

Much love—and happy new year to you!


P.S. In case you missed it, my next Dream Teams Leadership Intensive has been moved to March. So there’s still time to sign up and get an early bird discount! If you’ve enjoyed my emails or posts over the year, I’d be delighted if you forwarded this link along to someone who you think highly of: http://snow.academy/leadership

Ex Post Facto no. 13: Lucille, 1890s X Files, & Burnout

We’re back for another Ex Post Facto, the email with 3 things you’ll wish you’d known earlier—just in time for the weekend. Thanks for joining! –Shane

Are you too exhausted from 2020 to write a clever introduction to your email newsletter? Me too! That’s why this week we’re going to jump right to it!

Here we go:

One EXcellent bit of wisdom:

  • “It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” <– I started looking up Lucille Ball quotes because of the post below. Turns out she wasn’t just hilarious, but wise too.

    This quote in particular’s got me thinking. Do I recognize what makes me happy? Upon reflection, absolutely. So with that recognition, I’ve decided that if I’m going to have another Wall-to-Wall Zoom Call Friday, why not sprinkle a few more of those things into my day? It’s not necessarily going to cure the burnout, but it’s a helluva start.

    Speaking of burnout…

One POST you won’t want to miss:

  • How to Hold Off Burnout During Hard Times <– Burnout is a topic for which I’m getting a lot of requests to write about, so I’ll be doing some work here over the next bit. (Please share your insights or research on it if you have some!)

    This post breaks “burnout” down into its most basic psychology and should help you think about what’s needed to stop or undo burnout. I warn you that though the causes of burnout are simple, fixing it is not necessarily easy. But the more we know the more control we can have!

One FACT Of great interest:

Have you taken part in all these Virtual Zoom background shenanigans lately? Well, it turns out that the technology to “key out” parts an image and replace them with something else (e.g a weatherman on a green screen, or a video call background that makes it look like you’re in Paris instead of your crappy apartment)… was pioneered 120 years by a couple of PARANORMAL PSYCHICS.

Around the turn of the 20th century, stage magician / hypnotist George Albert Smith and his controversial business partner Edmund Gurney who were known for their “paranormal psychical research” basically came up with a way to take a picture, then take another picture over the top of it so that it looked like both things were in the same photo. They did it for art’s sake… but also maybe for convincing people about the paranormal.

In other words, your Zoom background may be (partially) a product of an 1800s version of Los Espookys.

Have a great weekend—and keep each other safe out there!

Much love,


P.S. Only a couple of weeks left before final registration closes on our January Dream Teams Leadership Intensive! Check out the details of this awesome program here—and pass the link along to anyone you know who’s an up-and-coming leader!

P.P.S. Speaking of green screens…

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