Visionaries shut up and listen… and not to focus groups

Really cool stuff doesn’t follow trends.

Kinda cool stuff does – but not really cool stuff.

Google didn’t follow the trends set by the (then!) giants like Microsoft and Yahoo!… and the Pure Digital’s Flip doesn’t either – even though they sold 1,000,000 basic camcorders last year, they radically diverge from the path charted by Sony and the rest of the industry. It wasn’t that their Dan (PD’s CEO – not me!) had focus groups and steadily developed a novel product – “He paid attention, and created a product for them—without hiring focus groups.

Isn’t that where the really great ideas come from?

Business schools have been popularising the “Blue Ocean” – but great minds have been thinking this way for thousands of years. In order to get ahead of the pack, you have to either be a born freak or you have to chart a different route. And born freaks just chart a different route intuitively.

We make it hard for those that want to march to their own tune. Radicals are punished – and that it is a good thing in a sense… it is in the nature of the ‘system’ to challenge those who work to undermine the Nash Equilibrium presently being enjoyed so as to ensure that the proposed change overcomes the switching cost. It’s not personal – it’s just evolution.

To stand out can be frightening and lonely. Yet if you don’t be true to yourself – or a company is not true to itself – what do you really have left?

Great minds listen to their inner voice. In the modern world, it is often drowned out by the clattering of empty vessels, but if you can stop and listen to the voice within, you can start to explore what makes you great. What makes you unique? What are you better at – or could you be better at – than anybody else? What are you passionate about? If you could stop and listen to that voice from within, what would you do? It’s like we have an internal radio tuner that we seldom tune – and we get confused that all the white noise means that there’s nothing really there.

It is still your song to sing… if you dare.