chalkbox newsletter: july 2023

Sharpen the axe

One of my favorite authors is Terry Pratchett. The 41 books in his Discworld series are some of the funniest and most accessible satire out there. He skewers class, communism, capitalism, religion, race, politics, bureaucracy, and anything else humans have a complicated relationship with. But sometimes, even while he skewers, he also speaks deep and inspiring truths. Here’s one of those moments, from The Fifth Elephant, published in 1999.

The Fifth Elephant, by Terry Pratchett

“This will become, in time, the axe of someone’s grandfather. And no doubt over the years, it will need a new handle or a new blade and over the centuries the shape will change in line with fashion... And because it will change with the times, it’ll always be sharp.”

In the book, this passage is commenting on originalism in government and religion. The world and its people change over time, and its institutions and inventions must, too.

Because of the business I’m in, I also like to read this as a sort of business and brand parable.

“This will become, in time, the business of a different generation. Over the years, it will need new leaders and new strategies (and employees, customers, ideas, and products). Over the decades, the brand will change in line with fashion. And because it will change with the times, it’ll always be sharp.”

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If we don’t maintain and update the important things in our business, we become dull. Don’t get dull.

Now go play outside. It's summertime!

 

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