Just about all sabotage is self-sabotage.
We don't get forced to eat that cookie, we choose to. And so the diet is ended.
Marketing self-sabotage is fascinating to watch and understand. Consider the college application: it's primarily an opportunity for teenagers who aren't sure of where they want to go to undercut their chances by exposing their uncertainty. The lizard brain, the voice in the back of the head that wants security and safety–it's not eager to go to a college that might be 'too hard' or 'too good'. The easy thing to do is to scale back the effort, not do what works, but do what feels right instead.
Or consider the way we resist opportunities to lead, to connect, to do work that matters. We don't resist because we're not capable of it… we resist because if our marketing fails, if we don't get the job or earn the trust, then we're off the hook. No promises made, which means no promises to keep.
We know more than enough about marketing now. We know how to craft a story that will spread, we know how to find and lead tribes. The thing we have trouble with is making the commitment to do it even when it's frightening and difficult.
That's what makes it a monster.
In fact, when you look the monster in the eye, when you calmly and carefully inspect the actual monster, you discover that he's not so bad after all. It's just the shadow that's scary.
When in doubt, ignore the shadow.
Paco Underhill on women and retail.
Nancy Lublin on learning from causes.
Noah Boyd with an FBI thriller beach read. Better than the last Reacher novel, imho.
And stunningly elegant (and lovely to hold) pottery inspired by some of my work from Lori Koop.
100 people doing something at the same time has far more power than 300 people doing it over time.
We unconsciously amplify the power of coordination when we consider the impact of actions. If there's a thousand people waiting outside of a store, we instantly believe we're seeing a phenomenon.
While the internet makes it easier than ever to spread ideas, it makes it far more compelling to coordinate actions.
If everyone in your weekly meeting drops a pencil at precisely 12:03, you'll notice.
The wifi Kindle, $139. Drop the first digit and you're on to something. And it only took them six weeks!
The cost of being first is higher than it's ever been…
It's entirely possible that you're racing.
Racing to the market with a new product or a news story or a decision or an innovation. The race keeps getting faster, doesn't it?
If you're racing, you better figure out what to do about the times that you don't know for sure…because more and more of your inputs are going to be tenuous, speculative and possibly wrong. Day traders have always understood this–all they do is trade on uncertainty. But you, too, if you're racing, are going to have to make decisions on less than perfect information.
Given that fact, what are you going to do about it? I think it's worth a few cycles of your time.
Is it smart to blog on a rumor?
Worth dropping everything and panicking because of a news alert?
Should you hire someone based on information you're not sure of?
What about changing your website (your pricing, your layout…) based on analytics that might not be absolutely correct? How long are you willing to wait?
Given that you will never know everything for sure (unless you're opting out of the race), some of the issues are:
- What's the cost of waiting one more day?
- Are you waiting (or not waiting) because of the cost of being wrong, or because loud people are yelling at you?
- Is the risk of being wrong unreasonably amplified by part of the market or your team? What if you ignore them and focus on customers that matter?
- And have you thought about the costs of waiting too long? If you don't, you'll probably end up last.
Have you noticed how often stock analysts quoted in the news are wrong? Wrong about new products, wrong about management decisions, wrong about the future of a company? In fact, they're almost always first and almost always wrong.
Rule of thumb: being first helps in the short run. Being a little more right than the masses ultimately pays off in the long run. Being last is the worst of all three.
A few people care a lot about scoops. Most of us, though, care about alert people making insightful decisions. Decide who you're trying to please, then ship.
If you work out on a weight machine that has a limit–where you have to push the bar until it stops–you're far more likely to to hit that limit than if you had left it to your own initiative to figure out how far is far enough.
People enjoy going to the max (or in the case of Spinal Tap, a little farther than max, to 11). But if there is no max, no limit, it's much easier to satisfy yourself and declare that you've done enough.
If you want your best users to do more, one way to do it is to announce the most they can do. While this may dissuade a few people from pushing ever farther, it will in fact motivate a large number of people to up their game.
"The maximum number of times a week you can dine here is three."
"The maximum bonus paid is $100k."
"The maximum number of tweets per day is 30."
The only problems you have left are the perfect ones. The imperfect ones, the ones with a clearly evident solution, well, if they were important, you've solved them already.
It's the perfect problems that keep us stuck.
Perfect because they have constraints, unbendable constraints, constraints that keep us trapped. I hate my job, I need this job, there's no way to quit, to get a promotion or to get a new boss, no way to move, my family is in town, etc.
We're human, that's what we do–we erect boundaries, constraints we can't ease, and we get trapped.
Or perhaps it's your product or service or brand. Our factory is only organized to make X, but the market doesn't want X as much, or there is regulation, or a new competitor is now offering X at half the price and the board won't do anything, etc.
There's no way to solve the perfect problem because every solution involves breaking an unbreakable constraint.
And there's your solution.
The way to solve the perfect problem is to make it imperfect. Don't just bend one of the constraints, eliminate it. Shut down the factory. Walk away from the job. Change your product completely. Ignore the board.
If the only alternative is slow and painful failure, the way to get unstuck is to blow up a constraint, deal with the pain and then run forward. Fast.
When a newspaper loses 15% of its readers or 15% of its advertisers, it goes out of business. There are still people who want to read it, still people who want to advertise, but it's gone.
When a technology company increases its sales by 15%, profits will double. The sales line doesn't have to increase that much for profits to soar.
It's so tempting to head for green fields with a new thing, a new market, a new business. But in fact, 15% right here and right now might be exactly what you need.
Every brand, every organization and every individual is either running away from something or running toward something (or working hard to stand still).
Are you chasing or being chased? Are you leading or following? Are you fleeing or climbing?