I'm writing this largely as a reminder to myself.
Sometimes I do something that I think is really cool. Then I go share it with the world. And sometimes, I get feedback that seems off-base to me.
Y'know, I'm wrong a lot of the time. I'm wrong more often than most people, simply because I try to huge volumes of stuff. When I'm 55% sure, I'll usually write up my initial thoughts and just note that I'm not sure if it's correct, but it's what I'm thinking about.
So, I'm wrong a lot. A lot of times, someone points out a glaring error I made. For instance, Jason Shen was kind enough to point out that the vast majority of people think to some extent that business/commerce/wealth is zero sum, so maybe it keeps making sense to talk about "adding value" - oh, right, selction bias on my part since most of my peer group either directly create things that didn't exist before (artists, engineers, programmers, experimental scientists, etc) or facilitate trade and exchange and wealth building (entrepreneurs, managers, investors, financiers, etc).
But most people that aren't directly involved in the creation or trade. The world is complex, most people in the West work in big corporations and don't see how their role directly contributes to new wealth being created. So anyways, mea culpa there, and I'll amend my position. Thanks Jason.
So, sometimes it's pointed out that I'm mistaken. And that's great! Then I get to evolve my thinking.
But other times, I do something that I think is pretty cool and useful, and I get some feedback that seems to indicate a complete lack of getting-it on the part of the other person. Y'know, like, really really quit ignorant shit sometimes. The worst is when I'm writing something and I get ignorant nitpicky shit that incorrectly summarizes the point I made - even though I wrote the exact opposite point a little bit later in a piece, for instance.
My first reaction - "Blah. What an idiot. They don't get it."
No, it's on you, if you're creating, to make sure people get it. And that doesn't just mean being logical if you're writing or having great features if you're marketing a product you made or having the right qualifications if you're trying to land a job or a contract.
Nope. Being right isn't enough. You also have to do everything else.
If you're writing a piece, you have to make sure the title, introduction, images, and formatting all fit the expectations and heuristics of the people who you care about if they "get it" or not.
If you're marketing a product, you've got to cover all the relevant specs, and ALSO cover all the (sometimes irrational) buying criteria people have.
If you're trying to land a job or contract, you've got be well-qualified, but you've also got to convey professionalism, empathy, and the warm fuzzy feeling.
A lot of this seems like, and partially is, bullshit.
If you're writing, people will skim your work. You need to take that into account, and make good transitions, sub-headlines, intelligently use bolding and links, and otherwise make sure the people of your target audience get the message. If they don't get it, that means YOU didn't get it.
If you're marketing, people aren't going to buy your product solely on logic. Actually, a slim fraction of people will, but probably not enough to keep you in business. You need to keep learning marketing and buyer's psychology, even if you don't want to. Or hire someone to do that. Because if you're getting your ass kicked by a competitor that's got a worse product than you, it's not your customers that don't get it - YOU don't get it.
If you're trying to a land a job, people are going to size you up based on somewhat arbitrary criteria. If you get passed over for a less qualified candidate, it's not that the company didn't get it. YOU didn't get it. Cufflinks matter and the quality of the paper your proposal is on matters and if your shoes are shined matters and all of that matters, *if you care about that particular job*.
Of course, sometimes you don't care. Some people aren't your target market, and you can shrug it off. I think it would be a fantastic idea to conquer North Korea, for a whole lot of reasons. Yet, I likely won't be able to persuade Kim Jong-il of that, and that's okay. He's not my target market and won't be convinced.
But if you do care, then never ever ever ever say, "They don't get it" if you care about the person who just made that decision. No, you don't get it. You did it wrong. Learn. Figure out where the decision/reaction came from, and do it better next time.
This was largely a reminder to myself. Thanks for reading.
August 11th, 2011. Chiba, Japan.
A mix of confusion and awe as I step off the platform.
I must have made a mistake. But maybe a good mistake.
Birds caw and cicadas click gently, filling the warm afternoon air with sounds of nature. The train platform is open to the air and on the other side of the tracks is a high fence. Beyond it, a bicycle and walking path leading to a park.
Children are running around and playing in the park, but surprisingly quietly. Very Japanese.
Almost everyone I know is busy as hell. Running companies, contracting, doing creative work, and keeping a huge mix of projects going on.
Keeping busy is good, but sometimes it turns into a tragedy where you've got your head down doing work and duties, but you never get some of that real juice out of your life that you're wanting.
And many of the busy people I know -- myself included -- periodically have a day where they snap back to reality and really feel it for the first time in a while. "Oh god, I'm out of shape, my energy is low, I feel like crap, I'm not doing some of the key projects I love, I'm passing up a lot of really big opportunities stuck in the grind, I'm neglecting my hobbies and what I want to train... and for what?"
This applies just as much to entrepreneurs as people on salary, maybe even moreso. It's very easy as an entrepreneur or executive to get caught up in running around, getting stuck in the "errands" of business, dealing with what's on fire, and really neglecting the really expansionary projects that aren't urgent, your health, and maybe worst of all -- forgetting to have fun.
Is there an answer? Read on...