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January 23, 2020

Your Strategy Is An Excuse to Avoid Work

It’s never been a more exciting time to do work…yet nobody seems to want to do it. 

Online courses can give you five years of on the job skills for the price of an appetizer. 

Data driven companies and tools like Facebook Ads, Ad Words, HotJar, Instagram and a million more let you A/B test your logo, your designs, your jokes, your images, your content and of course…your product. 

Yet so many people have: 

  • business ideas that never get off the ground, 
  • podcasts they never make, 
  • books they never write.
  • apps they never launch,
  • and a million more examples I’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

So Why Exactly Is That?  

In an era when you have sample code for everything, WordPress plugins galore, templates for any creative and tools and sample code and Google to answer whatever you want…why are we still so…unproductive? 

Well, for lack of a better explanation…I think many of us in the middle-class are so comfortable with our paychecks and fear of failure…that we’re unsure of what will happen if we actually succeed.  

It’s easier to critique and contemplate than make mistakes.  But real people know mistakes were meant to be made.  

In fact that’s the entire point. 

Software has bugs, films have editing, books have rewrites, FMCG companies have focus groups…even relationships have hardships that make them amazing.  

Just Do It

Nike may have trademarked (or copyrighted?) the slogan, but I’m pretty sure Phil Knight selling shoes out of his car had more to do with the slogan than an athlete getting up and going to the gym.   

If a Stanford graduate recognizes that you need to roll up your sleeves to try and push a commodity (shoes)…well, you get the idea. He actually got on his knees and laced his shoes on people outside of high schools…and you can’t be bothered to ask a friend to like your Facebook page or install your app?!?

The principles are the same, but we live in a time when the Internet and social media gives a voice to sadly those who may not use one properly.

I forget who said this, but… I recently read that “In the future…intelligence is going to be knowing what to ignore, not just what to listen to.” 

I have so many friends who love to sit at bars, talking about films that never get made, products that should, shortcomings of Uber and Swiggy and what else…yet never seem to want to pick up the phone and make things happen. 

  • “Yeah we could make that app..but what if Amazon just adds it as a feature?”
  • “Yeah you could try that movie, but I read on Twitter nobody likes that genre as much.  Or so-and-so did something similar so everyone will think we’re copying them.”  

But that is all fine.  

You could spend years trying to perfect your first novel, or you could spend two years getting the junk out, learning the publishing game, testing out your tone and voice via blogs (and instant feedback).  

Those who try the former get heart broken when after years of cafe trips, writing in Bali and inspiration seeking they realize their first attempt was just as bad and the game has changed.  Those who try the latter realize having an ego is just bad economics.

Attention spans are dwindling, and trying to get a 300 page book read today versus in 2010 are much different beasts.  

You could spend years theorizing about the perfect app, fleshing out every requirement and getting opinions from 100 people. 

Or you could JUST MAKE ONE for a few thousand dollars, drink at home for a few months…and use your first 50 users as a way better barometer of success than any focus group ever could.  Yes the requirements weren’t perfect and your developer may want to eat your head…but again…”done is better than perfect right?” (Sheryl Sandberg)

But Isn’t Failing to Plan…Planning to Fail?

Maybe 20 years ago, when a logo cost $10,000 and was actually paid attention to. But you can redesign a logo or register a new domain for again…the cost of a drink. 

Some of the best startups and tech founders talk about pivoting, about being the first movers, and about the importance of marketing and sales.  

Artists think they don’t need social media or digital marketing, because (I also used to agree) that the art should speak for itself. 

But in an increasingly crowded world, when billion dollar movies have billion dollar marketing budgets…and even Will Smith thinks he needs a social media strategy to get you to pay attention…who are you kidding bro? 

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover…but go ahead and test a bunch of covers until you find one that sells.  You’re not “selling out” if you try to find a cover that sells…you’re letting your hard earned art reach the masses so you can then get more feedback, more experience, more data…to ultimately make a better book the next time around.

What’s Wrong With That?

Conclusion

The internet and technology has made billion dollar companies off of a few people’s laptops.  Look at WhatsApp…17 billion dollars…less than 100 employees.

If it’s never been cheaper to succeed….it’s also never been cheaper to fail.  

I’m all for planning, having a strategy, getting the best equipment and doing your grunt work to understand an industry, technology, or idea…but you can easily make tomorrow’s winners with yesterday’s tech. 

Your logo might be amazing after 19 design sessions…but if nobody gets to see your homepage because they scroll right passed it…well…you get the idea.

Let me know if this helped you or any comments?