By Ian Whitworth
Audio version, includes an impersonation of Gary Vaynerchuk fans on LinkedIn , 7 mins
You can waste years acting on confident tips from business gurus and motivators that turn out to be nonsense. Or just nonsense names for stuff you’ve known since you were a child.
Let me save you time and confusion with translations of some motivator shtick I’ve run across lately.
1. “Combine sales and marketing – we call it smarketing.”
No we don’t. You do. And nobody thinks you’re clever.
Sure sales and marketing should work in tandem. There is already a name for this: competent management.
This always reminds me of Rhys Darby’s “We’re werewolves, not swearwolves”. Except Rhys Darby is funny and likeable.
2. “It’s not word of mouth any more. It’s word of mouse.”
Even the remotest hilltop tribes of Borneo know that online reviews are important so this is scarcely a breakthrough insight. And just as we say “chat” for digital conversations, can we also agree “word of mouth” works just fine online?
Also not even my Mum uses a mouse these days.
“I call it furk. It’s the first two letters of the word ‘fun’ and the last two letters of the word ‘work’. Because work should be fun.”
FURK. So many lines spring to mind, but this one speaks for itself. No I didn’t make it up, search it.
4. “Every Company Is A Media Company”
You have to admire the Vaynerchuk energy and most of his stuff is true. But when people with no idea of “media” hear this command, they think: “I must be more Vee”.
So LinkedIn now has the testosterone aroma of a changeroom laundry basket, swarms of business lads shouting into their phone cameras: “HEY WHASSUP! TODAY I’M GONNA TELL YOU HOW TO KICK FAILURE RIGHT IN THE NUTS” etc.
There is no business in talking about yourself all day. And I’m pretty sure the Vee Bro vibe alienates the 50% of customers who are not men. Tip: stop talking, focus all that energy into visiting some potential customers and listening like you’re the Dalai Lama.
5. “Presentations are 7% words, 38% how you sound, and 55% visual.”
No they aren’t. This is classic 80s Anthony Robbins pseudoscience. And because everyone else mines his gear for their own material, it’s been propagated by thousands of how-to-present bloggers and is now accepted as gospel.
Those numbers are from a 1967 UCLA research project by Professor Albert Mehrabian.
Unpacking this one is a whole future article, but to sum up: the experiment design had nothing to do with presentations. Subjects listened to a single word spoken in different tones of voice, and those numbers were only true when there were major contradictions between words and non-verbal signs, like when you’re frowning while saying “happy!”.
Words are important.
6. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Standard creepy MBA thinking. Enough of this plausible-sounding excuse for stifling intuition and long-term thinking.
Here’s the number one factor in how successful your business is: the mood of your staff. If you’re the sort of manager who thinks that can be reduced to a number, their mood probably isn’t so great.
7. “I’m an artist… for your digital palettes I want you to think about three colors: Technology, content, distribution.”
Good old Shingy, the world’s favorite Digital Prophet, mashing ideas together like Andy Warhol except that in a hundred years Shingy’s ideas will still be worth nothing.
8. “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed by who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”
It’s airport-store philosopher Alain de Botton. Looks like wisdom. Sounds like wisdom. But it’s just … some words.
Learning is great. But unless you are Milo Yiannopoulos, 2017 you was just fine.
9. “Fortunately, by filling up on alkaline foods, you can actually help detoxify your body, avoid having overly acidic blood and counter the acidic impact of both diet and lifestyle.”
Robbins again, unleashing a torrent of witch doctor remedies.
Look up any peer-reviewed science (Robbins Research International is the opposite of that). Acidic blood is not a thing. Diet doesn’t influence it. Your body has sophisticated checks and balances to keep your blood pH nice.
Robbins has your bloodstream confused with his swimming pool.
Just eat your vegetables, you knew this all along.
Right now your Robbins fan is thinking: don’t listen to this negative voice, it’s lowering my energy state and only losers have that mindset ha ha lose you cranky loser guy.
Think whatever you want but facts are important. The world is full of genius experts who care about getting facts right, who get them across in ways that are a pleasure to take in.
Mark Ritson on the plain truths of marketing. Ann Handley on business writing. Henry Rollins on curiosity and work ethic. Scott Galloway on almost everything, though if you watch just one thing his career path guide is packed with truth bombs you won’t read elsewhere. And when you’ve had enough facts and just want quality twisted amusement on business life, Sarah Cooper.
I think the test of whether you should listen is: are they still at the business coalface doing actual work, at least some of the time? Full-time keynoting and talking about yourself on LinkedIn is not that, and you can waste a heap of time listening to these business-casual carny hustlers.
Hunt for knowledge like your career depends on it – which it does – but don’t believe everything you read.
Now get back to furk.
This piece is a sequel to 7 Steps To Success and Why Motivators Suck, you might enjoy that one to0.
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