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Waiting for all the facts

"I'm just going to wait until all the facts are in…"

All the facts are never in. We don't have all the facts on the sinking of the Titanic, on the efficacy of social media or on whether dogs make good house pets. We don't have all the facts on hybrid tomatoes, global warming or the demise of the industrial age, either.

The real question isn't whether you have all the facts. The real question is, "do I know enough to make a useful decision?" (and no decision is still a decision).

If you don't, then the follow up question is, "What would I need to know, what fact would I need to see, before I take action?"

If you can't answer that, then you're not actually waiting for all the facts to come in.

All Marketers...

Not liars, storytellers

Just to be clear, especially if you’re just joining us:




The truth is elusive. No one knows the whole truth about anything. We certainly don’t know the truth about the things we buy and recommend and use.

What we do know (and what we talk about) is our story. Our story about why use, recommend or are loyal to you and your products. Our story about the origin and the impact and the utility of what we buy.

Marketing is storytelling.

The story of your product, built into your product. The ad might be part of it, the copy might be part of it, but mostly, your product and your service and your people are all part of the story.

Tell it on purpose.

Do the (extra) work

Do the extra work not because you have to but because it's a privilege.

Get in early.

Sweep the floor without being asked.

Especially when it's not your turn.

Not because you want credit or reward. Because you can.

The industrialist wants to suck everything out of you. Doing extra work as a cog in an industrial system is a fool's errand.

For the rest of us, the artist and the freelancer and the creator, we know that the privilege of doing the extra work is the work itself.

The habit of doing more than is necessary can only be earned through practice. And the habit is priceless.

Amnesty for latecomers

"But what will I tell my neighbors?"

Once someone makes a decision about your cause or your product or your resume, it's almost impossible for you to persuade them that they were wrong. You're no longer asking them to remake the first decision, you're asking them to admit an error, which is a whole other thing.

Compounding this, organizations often make it awkward for someone who is trying to come around to be embraced, largely because the tribe is hurt that they were rejected in the first place.

The opportunity is to encourage the non-supporter to look at new information and make a new decision. Give them the story they need to tell their colleagues. "Well, I know that I always thought this brand was a cult and I said I would never use them, but then I saw their new product line. They've listened to all the stuff I said was wrong and fixed it…"

And step two is to celebrate the newcomers, not to dredge up their past statements and wave them in their face.

Denying facts you don’t like

Transformational leaders don't start by denying the world around them. Instead, they describe a future they'd like to create instead.

Denying the truth about relative market share, imperial power or the scientific method helps no one.

Gandhi didn't pretend the British weren't dominating his country, and Feynman didn't challenge Einstein's theory of relativity or the laws of thermodynamics.

It's okay to say, "this is going to be difficult." And it's productive to point out, "our product isn't as good as it should be yet."

The problem with Orwellian talking heads, agitprop, faux news and Ballmer-like posturing is that they take away a foundation for a genuine movement to occur, because once we start denying facts, it's difficult to know when to stop. Tell us where we are, tell us where we're going. But if you can't be clear about one, it's hard to buy into the other.

The easiest way to thrive as an outlier

…is to avoid being one. At least among your most treasured peers.

Surround yourself with people in at least as much of a hurry, at least as inquisitive, at least as focused as you are. Surround yourself by people who encourage and experience productive failure, and who are driven to make a difference.

What's contagious: standards, ethics, culture, expectations and most of all, the bar for achievement.

The crowd has more influence on us than we have on the crowd. It's not an accident that breakthroughs in music, architecture, software, athletics, fashion and cuisine come in bunches, often geographic. If you need to move, move. At least change how and where you exchange your electrons and your ideas.

We all need leaders who challenge the tribe. We benefit even more when our leaders have peers who push them to be even better.

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