I’m not one of those marketing people who believe slapping on a new logo will deliver magical change.
But it’s time for a rebrand.
I love Kill All MBAs, because my partners and I worked for a great business that nearly got destroyed by bloodsucking finance parasites*. Then we set up our own biz so we could do the exact opposite of the MBAs, and it’s been both profitable and on average a unicorns’n’rainbows uplifting experience.
Now for the business version of the classic racist disclaimer: some of my best friends have MBAs. We’ve spoken. They take no offence, because they know the sort of creepy entitled private equity MBAs I’m talking about. Plus I have more effective ways to offend them.
I’m not selling out, but the data does not lie. Your casual site visitor is a bit frightened by killings, even if they’re only metaphorical.
It’s time for something a bit more self-explanatory. And a shade less psychotic. So, meet:
Why sceptics (or skeptics for our US and Canadian friends)?
Because plenty of us want to achieve greatness, but aren’t sure if the pathway to that is jumping up and down in a hotel ballroom full of excitable bros to Eminem’s Lose Yourself. We don’t get inspired by guys shouting fridge-magnet slogans into their phones on LinkedIn. If that gets you out of bed in the morning, cool. Each to their own.
I’ve written before about how all the really successful people I know don’t go to success seminars. Here are 5 reasons why the sceptical path can be good for your business.
Sceptics Aren’t Blinded By Product Love
Most people who start a business, or launch a new product, are hopelessly in love with their product. More about this problem here. From that article:
“You know the depth of their love by how often you see this specific TV ad concept. Picture the boardroom creative pitch:
We open on someone going about their daily routine when, suddenly, something grabs their attention. A love-struck look spreads across their face. Warm light bathes the scene, everything goes all slo-mo and romantic string music plays. Then we cut to the reverse angle, and everyone’s expecting to see another person but they’ve actually fallen in love with … your product!
That’s gold. Thank God finally an agency that understands how people really feel about this.”
When I had a branding agency, the single most important part of my job was taking the viewpoint of the cold, detached punter who doesn’t give a damn if your product exists, and will only buy it if you can prove it solves a specific problem for them.
The market is a cruel place. Better to be realistic about that.
Sceptics Don’t Burn As Much Cash
Sceptics don’t just accept things because a guy said it in a video. Like a few weeks back when old mate Gary Vee says buy Facebook ads NOW for $4 because when people recognise the value they’ll cost $80 SO GET IN QUICK!
Sceptics might ask: ok why are most of the younger users abandoning this absolute dumpster fire of misinformation, leaving it with a core user base of frightened, angry old people?
It’s unfashionable in 2018, but sceptics like checking facts, like say:
Does Vee own Facebook stock?
Do you even have to ask?
The easiest way to earn money is not to spend it all on shiny things and carny schemes.
Sceptics Choose The Slow Build Over The Big Viral Score
Most success stories you read are the lottery-odds wins of the few that struck it rich when their app went to IPO. That takes incredible skill and effort. You don’t read about the equally incredible skill and effort of the 95% of startup founders whose businesses burned on the launchpad, because those stories aren’t very clicky.
I’ve been shown plenty of fantasy league-spreadsheet business plans, factoring in a fixed monthly growth percentage that compounds to Bezos wealth over a decade. It’s the business version of firing up Super Mario and expecting to get all the way to the end first time without a fatal fall. It will not happen.
Your sceptic goes for gradual success that actually happens, factoring in the inevitable setbacks and fails, rather than listen to the crowd noise urging you to chuck it all on the roulette wheel.
Our business turned 10 last year. I asked my co-founder “hey remember when we started this thing and bet the entire value of our houses, cars and domestic pets on opening four offices in year one, did you ever, even for a moment, have any doubt that this thing would work?”
“No,” he said.
Me neither, not for a microsecond, even though it was a brutal cash hemorrhage for a while there.
Betting all your own belongings sharpens your mind about how odds work.
Sceptics Get The Basics Right First
Hey if you want to win you can try to get the edge on your competitors with agile machine learning or whatever current craze you just read in Fast Company, and maybe that will work.
It won’t if you don’t get the basics right though.
We believe the core of a successful business is that most people just want to do a good job because it makes them proud to do that.
Sceptics say: don’t send them to some embarrassing teambuilding day. Spend the money on giving them the best resources to do their job, and spend your time removing the bureaucratic blockages that slow them down.
The thinking sceptic stays humble. They don’t believe anything is purely because of them. It’s a great way to approach a business: if you think it’s all about you, it’s hard to grow, because you find it hard to delegate.
Sceptics Aren’t Cynics
Cynics say that won’t work. Sceptics say: step back and think about how to make it work.
Cynicism gets you nowhere. And oh my God business is more fun than pet pandas if you approach it the right frame of mind. It is an honor to employ great people and watch them develop into stars. Then later watching them develop their own stars while you just watch from afar. It’s all the motivation you need to have someone tell you they just bought a house because their job with you allowed them to.
If you follow the success media, a certain type of business achiever gets all the attention, but greatness is all around us. In teachers, community workers, scientists, the super-helpful woman in the phone store who hunted around and got the thing your kid needed. People who never get a bonus or much in the way of thanks but just do it because they want to be really good at what they do, and want to do good things for others. There’s lots to be learned in places you don’t expect.
Monocles on, folks.
* They survived, cleared out the MBAs and they’re fine now.
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