Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Seth Godin did a great blog post the other day which I thought I would share. You can read his blog here. Here is the aforementioned post:

A figment

It seems like the only thing you can be a figment of is someone's imagination.
Andy Warhol wanted the word FIGMENT etched on his tombstone. He understood that the only place he actually existed (and will exist forever) is in the imagination of other people.
No, the falling tree in the empty forest makes no noise, and your project or your brand doesn't exist except as a figment in someone else's imagination. The challenge, then, isn't to worry so much about what's happening in the real world, outside, but to work overtime to be sure you exist in the figment world, inside.
You don't need proof. You need belief.

The takeaway: people’s perception of you or your product is all that is real.
Life is a magic trick. That’s all it is.
If you are trying to win reality, rather than perception, you will lose.

I read a book by a famous US election pollster once, his mantra was “it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear”. This reminded me of another Godin blog the other day about categories…

When I meet you or your company or your product or your restaurant or your website, I desperately need to put it into an existing category, because the mental cost of inventing a new category for every new thing I see is too high.
I am not alone in this need. In fact, that's the way humans survive the onslaught of newness we experience daily.
Of course, you can refuse to be categorized. You can insist that it's unfair that people judge you like this, that the categories available to you are too constricting and that your organization and your offering are too unique to be categorized.
If you make this choice, the odds are you will be categorized anyway. But since you didn't participate, you will be miscategorized, which is far worse than being categorized.
So choose.
Make it easy to categorize you and you're likely to end up in the category you are hoping for.
What’s the point I’m making? The truth about you and your art is irrelevant. People don’t see the nuance, the texture, the shades of grey. They see black and white and they make lazy comparisons to what they’ve seen before.

This can occasionally serve you. But it can work against you. One reviewer in Edinburgh accused me of being hack. That is a serious criticism in the comedy world. Why did they do this? Well, I had material on some topics that hack comedians use. So she put me in the “hack” category, ignoring the vast amount of material that wasn’t deserving of this.

This can work in lots of different ways. Think your one wanking gag doesn’t make a difference and people will ignore it? Think again. In one joke they’ve put you in a category with the wanking guys. Think the fact that you wearing just a t-shirt on stage doesn’t make much difference? Think again, you’ve been put in with the rest of the pack. They assume mediocrity because you dress like the mediocre guys. Think girls will see beyond your shyness and see the real you? Think again, you've been put in the category of "gutless loser" with all the other guys who didn't have the balls to challenge them.

You need to care about people’s perception of you, not about who you really are. That is the only thing that will impact their decisions on you: to like or hate you, to buy or not buy your product, to hire or note hire you.  The pre-existing categories make it easy for them to make a category error with you. You need to work to ensure they don’t do that.


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