Here’s another great post by the king of great posts, Seth Godin, in which he proposes “an antidote to a corporatized, unfeeling, profit-maximizing world.”
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, no matter how creative or rewarding, I can bet with 100% certainty that it often feels corporatized, unfeeling, and profit-maximizing. Your industry will probably chew you up and spit out your soul. There’s a good chance your industry will take all of your wide-eyed ideological wonder and turn it into bitterness and regret. So how do you slay these cynical dragons of crass commercialism?
Godin gives us examples: “No one reports liking Steve Jobs very much, yet he was as embraced as any businessperson since Walt Disney.” Steve Jobs. Walt Disney. These are men that we remember for their brands, Apple & Disney respectively, not for their personality. Brands that not only sold a product, but sold a lifestyle, that sold passion and heart. What did these two men do to elevate these brands above their corporatizing, unfeeling, profit-maximizing worlds?
According to Godin, THEY CARED. He suggests that we have to care about the people we are marketing to, and that we have to care about our product. And that’s certainly true. These two men were so successful because they were passionate about their craft. They didn’t make products for a target audience, they made products for themselves. No one loved Apple products as much as Jobs and no one loved Disney movies as much as Disney. Their passion comes through in their product.
I feel like the “care more” mantra is cut short though. I believe that what you really have to do is care more about your product than you do about yourself.
Jobs & Disney certainly weren’t ego-less, but their goal was not to get famous, rich, or universally loved. Their goal wasn’t even necessarily success. Their goal was to make the BEST PRODUCT POSSIBLE. And when that’s your central goal, all of those other things will follow.
As a writer, it’s easy to get frustrated that I’m not at a certain level or not making a certain amount of money or not attracting a certain kind of attention from certain types of people. What kind of stories am I going to generate from this mindset? Stories of bitterness and cynicism. Stories that no one wants to read.
If it’s my ambition to find personal success, then the message I’m sending out into the world is one of selfishness. But if I choose to care more about my stories than myself, if I choose to care more about my readers than myself, the message I’m sending out into the world is one of caring. A message of passion. A message of hope. A message that inspires people.
Is your goal to find personal success or is your goal to inspire your audience? I really believe the latter always leads the former. But it rarely works the other way around.
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my very favorite films, Jerry Maguire, as Jerry (the sports agent) points out to his only client, Rod Tidwell (the football star), why Rod is holding himself back:
Here’s why you don’t have your ten million dollars yet. You are a paycheck player. You play with your head. Not your heart. In your personal life? Heart. But when you get on the field, it’s all about what you didn’t get, who’s to blame, who under-threw the pass, who’s got the contract you don’t, who’s not giving you your love, and you know what, that is not what inspires people. That is not what inspires people! Just shut up and play the game. Play it from your heart. And you know what? I will show you the Quan. And that’s the truth. That’s the truth man! Can you handle it! Just a question between friends, you know!
To which Rod responds:
I don’t want to be friends no more!