Is that it?

  • How long after getting a big promotion does it take for an executive to get antsy?
  • Why does a powerful senator take small bribes and risk his entire career?
  • Why do Amazon customers, with a choice of every book, delivered overnight, for free, whine about their customer service going downhill?
  • Why do customers at a truly great 4 star restaurants often feel a little bit of a let down after the last course is served?
  • Why do Facebook users (a free service that they used to love) complain so vehemently about a change in layout?
  • Why do the very same Apple lovers who waited in line for days now scoff at incremental (free) improvements in their iPhone?

"Is that it?"

This state of ennui explains why we’ll never run out of remarkable, why consumers are restless, why successful people keep working and taking risks. It explains the self-centered, whiny attitude of some bloggers who can never get enough from the world, and it explains why a rich country like the US could almost bankrupt itself in search of ever more.

I’m not saying that consumers don’t deserve respect and quality in exchange for their attention. I’m pointing out that we make ourselves unhappy just for the sport of it.

Marketers have played into this attitude and certainly amplified it. It helps them to gain share, of course, but also raises the bar on what they’re going to have to do next.

As a marketer or a leader, you have two choices:

The first is to realize that people will never ever be satisfied with you, they’ll even whine when you give away something for free. Embrace the whining and realize that this attitude gives you an opportunity to answer the question with, "no! Wait, there’s more!"

The second is to understand that a hug and a smile from a true friend is it. Along the way, marketers of stuff have tried to offer that stuff as a replacement to the thing that children/consumers/employees/customers/spouses really seek, which is connection and meaning and belonging and love.