Recently, I exchanged some small talk with Mike Wagner. If you don't know him, you should. And he ended an e-mail with this:
"Keep creating unexpected value"
And it stuck with me. And it made me think about the things in life that I often tend to notice. Like the soothing clicks and beeps when I first used a Tivo. Or the handwritten note that I recently got from Zappos which recalled details from a phone conversation. Or the time I figured out how to take screen grabs from my iPhone (much to my surprise and delight). Or the secret move I taught Max on Marvel Universe. Or the first time I checked out at a Trader Joe's. Or the unexpected value I recieved from the millions of micro-interactions I have with people online—most whom I've never met before.
Value, is subjective—but the way we respond to it isn't. We save things of value, we recommend them to others, sometimes we can't even put a price on it. When it's unexpected, it's even better. When someone or some company provides value, we'll reward them with our attention. When something valuable is produced—we'll take good care of it. I remember reading research that compared the behavior of PC and Apple users. One difference was that the Apple users "babied" their machines. Taking greater care to protect and preserve them. When we value something, it makes us do the unexpected, like treating a machine as a child.
After spending a decent part of the day debating the value of value—it occured to me that the simplicity of Mike's message was even more valuable to me. And creating unexpected value is good advice, regardless of who you are and what you do.