Ignore sunk costs: One of the most popular book Kickstarters ever was a project to publish a new, attractive version of the Bible. It raised more than $1.2 million. In this video, released shortly after the books were finally printed, we learn a lot about sunk costs. The first: It’s a fallacy to decide that merely because more people are buying something that it’s now a more important project. The joy you will create per person doesn't change when you have more readers.
Not only that, but given the efficient nature of book printing, more books printed shouldn’t lead to a two-year delay in the project.
Second, and far more useful, is understanding that real artists ship. In this case, the creator of the project spent every penny available to overengineer and procrastinate. My guess is that he would have gone right to the limit with $500,000 and with $5,000,000. The amount of money you have to spend should have nothing to do with how you spend it. Worth re-reading that sentence. Budgets exist to help us make plans, not because the problem we seek to solve is related to the money. It's not. It's related to the expectation of our customer.
Once the theater is big enough that you can't see the folks in the back row, it doesn't matter how big the theater is.
In this case, as in so many others, the real question is: What is it for?
What is the project for? What did the backers buy? When is it time to ship?
When making decisions, we need to drop much of the traditional narrative and get back to a very simple analysis:
At this fork in the road, what are our options?
Given the promise we've made and the resources we have to keep that promise, what's the best option?
Do it regardless of how much it cost to get here, regardless of how nervous you are, regardless of how hard you worked on the other option. Those aren't factors in making a rational decision.
Win a set of four signed books, and even better, let the world know about your weirdness.
My book We Are All Weird is about the death of mass, about the reality of the long tail and mostly about how marketers can thrive by recognizing people for who they are, instead of insisting that they conform.
Here's how the contest works:
Between now and September 30, create a tweet with the hashtag #WeAreAllWeird
In the tweet, include a photo or some text that highlights your uniqueness, your special contribution, something about yourself that makes you different–and proud of it.
The goal is to send a message that you want to be treated differently, not the same. Highlight a passion, a choice, a unique element of how you engage with the world. Your choice of knitting needles, your tattoos, your unusual hobby… We are not all the same, even if the mass media and the mass marketers that pay for it might prefer we act that way.
The most retweeted tweet wins. The prize: The four recently published books, signed by the authors. And bragging rights. Never underestimate bragging rights.
On October 1, I'll review all the tweets with this hashtag, sort by retweets and the tweet with the most retweets wins. (I reserve the right to disqualify NSFW or inappropriate tweets not worth sharing). I'll @mention the leaders from @thisissethsblog, and the winner can use a simple Google doc to send me a mailing address and we'll send the winner the prize. If we don't hear from the leader within two days, we'll go to the next person on the list.
Void where prohibited or frowned upon. Open to adults, over 18. You can enter multiple times, but only one tweet counts toward your total. Contest administration is my responsibility, not the publisher's.
Opportunity cost is the value of the lost opportunity, the benefit of the thing you could have done instead of what you're doing now.
How much does it cost to go to Stanford Business School? Well, there's the out of pocket costs, things like tuition and housing, but there's also the cost of the job you gave up to go.
Opportunity cost is at its most expensive when we miss opportunities. It's not merely the cost of making a choice, it's the real penalty of standing by as something important is happening without us.
The opportunity cost of not looking for a new job, of not building a new plant, of not listening to a new idea—these are significant, and we overlook them all the time.
It's almost impossible to live a good life if you're measuring the opportunity cost of everything you do. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a crippling syndrome, because you're always looking over someone's shoulder to see if someone (or something) better is across the room.
But even though FOMO is a joy killer, ignoring the cost of missing out is still a problem.