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Permission To Be Impractical

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Back in 1984, it wasn’t practical for Richard Branson to think he could launch a better airline with just one secondhand Boeing 747. And yet, that’s is exactly what he did.

It would have been more practical for James Dyson to give up after the fifth attempt to invent the best vacuum cleaner in the world. But he kept going, creating over five thousand more prototypes until he got it right.

It wasn’t practical for one man—even one of financial means, to believe he had a shot at building a better rocket than NASA, with the hope of colonising other planets. That belief was the beginnings of SpaceX, the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft.

It would have been more practical for Apple to keep the buttons instead of innovating the touchscreen. That decision gave us the iPhone and revolutionised the way we connect and communicate.

It wasn’t practical for Serena Williams to play, let alone win a grand slam final while she was pregnant. Of course, it would have been more practical for Rosa Parks to stand up and for Nelson Mandela to quiet down.

It’s not practical to look people in the eye or search for flaws in your thinking. It’s never practical to care more and demand less. And it’s always impractical to do the thing that doesn’t give us an immediate or obvious advantage. But often being impractical is essential to doing meaningful work.

Image by Lee

Pedestals

filed in Success, Worldview

Whoever said you should never meet your heroes was only partly right. There is an element of truth in the adage. Reality can rarely compete with the imaginary. Fleeting, real encounters are flat—two dimensional at best. The imagined meeting is all deep connection and unspoken understanding on both sides. In matters of hero worship, the admirer has the unfair advantage over the admired. The poor hero has little sense of the depth of feeling and gratitude upon which his pedestal is built.

The problem isn’t that we shouldn’t have heroes or build pedestals, it’s that we erect our pedestals too infrequently and for too few. What makes the girl putting in an eight-hour day shampooing hair at the salon, carefully placing fresh towels under strained necks, less or a hero than the rock star who can dazzle the crowd for an hour? Why do we value the contribution from the stage above the one from the heart?

We believe in superstars whose job it is to live up to the image we’ve created. What if instead of looking to the false gods of our imagination for inspiration, we applauded the real acts of ordinary heroism we choose to ignore? When we change our attitude to greatness we change the way we move through the world.

Image by Martin Fisch

21 Questions For Creators And Innovators

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation, Success

Ideas are easy and free, execution can be painful and costly. Not just because it requires time, effort and resources—but because we often don’t do enough groundwork to get clear about the impact we hope to create. While it’s important to plan for success and mitigate against failure, what’s equally worthwhile exploring is why the idea matters to you and the people you hope it will serve. Why should you give it priority?
These twenty-one questions will help you get clear about your intention.

21 Questions For Creators And Innovators

1. What sparked this idea?
2. What’s your motivation for starting this project?
3. Who is the ideal user, client or customer for the end product?
4. Why will they buy or buy into it?
5. Why do you care about solving this problem for these people?
6. Why are you the person or team to bring it to life?
7. Why this project and not something else?
8. What’s the end goal?
9. What’s the first step?
10.What resources do you need?
11.What’s your minimal viable product?
12.Who do you need to involve or get behind the project?
13.How much time do you need?
14.How will you test your idea?
15.Who can you trust to give you objective feedback?
16.What are the likely challenges you could face?
17.How can you mitigate against or learn from them?
18.What circumstances would make you quit?
19.What does success look like?
20.If this idea succeeds what’s your next step?
21.If not this, then what?

You’re more likely to succeed by confronting the hard questions before you begin.

Image by Business Region Skane

In Praise Of The Ordinary

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

We devote a lot of resources to creating the momentous. Dressing the window for the big sales event, crafting the sales pitch for a product launch, planning the grand family celebration—those orchestrated events to remember, where we can shine. The truth is we have the potential to make the most impact in more ordinary moments. Those times when we do the human, unexpected thing without a script because we care, not because it’s expected or people are watching.

Your customers will rave about the little thing you didn’t have to do, more than the specifications you met. Your team will be talking about how you reacted when they missed a sales target, long after they’ve forgotten what you said in your speech on launch day. And your child will remember the weight of your arm on his shoulder when he fails, more vividly than the balloons and candles at his birthday party.

Thoughtful, human acts carried out without applause are worth more than grand gestures made under bright lights. The ordinary is underrated.

Image by Kathy

Meeting, Managing And Exceeding Expectations

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

If a brand is a promise, then the expectations people have of the brand are created by the promises we make. Meeting expectations is about the alignment of words and deeds.

Disappointment occurs when we don’t do what we say we’re going to do. When we promise more than we can deliver or pretend to be something we’re not. Ironically, we are the ones who are most disappointed when we don’t meet the standards we set. We have the power to change this, by prioritising building trust over making an impression and only setting the expectations we’re willing to live up to.

Easy to say. Harder to do. That’s why it’s worth the effort.

Image by Bert Heymans

 

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