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Letter Zero.49
Dear <<First Name>>, 

Say it with me. “You’re fired.”

Doesn’t that feel good? It’s a phrase we don’t get to say because it’s an action that we usually feel is off the table. Consequently we endure stuff that wastes our emotional energy and drains our quality of life. What if you could exercise your firing ability more regularly? Let’s experiment with that thought a bit…

There’s a research method called “jobs to be done.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Gurus call it JTBD for short. The goal of JTBD is to understand the core reason people use something. When you conduct a JTBD interview you are basically interrogating someone until you uncover the core “job” that they have hired a given product for. The famous example is commuters hiring a milkshake for breakfast

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a researcher to benefit from JTBD. The joy of firing is that you get to decide who gets to keep their job, so I’m not going to tell you what to do. But if you want a place to start, here are some ideas to get you going. What apps could you fire from your phone? What foods or drinks deserve to have their salary cut? Pick something in your life and try to figure out what you have hired it to do. It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be an electronic gadget, this email subscription, a person, or even your government. Ask yourself if this thing is worth the mental energy it extracts from you. If you could recapture that lost energy, what do you wish you could direct that energy at instead? Are you better because this thing is a part of you? 

This exercise can be practical, perhaps it causes you to downsize your keychain from a tangled mess of clutter to something that fits in your pocket for the first time in a decade. But it also has the potential to unwind deep existential questions. For example, what do you hire money, political parties, voting, or social media for? It’s one thing to fire Pepsi and replace it with carbonated water (which I recommend) but it is something much bigger to abandon the D or R on your voter registration card (which I also recommend) after you realize it’s no longer cutting the mustard (which I do not recommend).

A personal JTBD audit might cause you to discover that you’ve been employing something huge and you can’t remember ever hiring it in the first place. It has been taking up residence in your mind, living rent-free, and collecting a paycheck. Over the years it has mutated, adapting as it learns to push your buttons and pull on your strings until it is confident that you will never ever fire it. Eventually it becomes unclear who is working for who. The tables turn when you realize that the product is you and the JTBD is whatever assignment someone else points you at.

Just remember that whenever we find ourselves in that situation, we still have one final option. Say it with me. “You’re fired.” I’ll write again next week. Stay creative

Your friend,
Adrian
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