If you were raised in a conflict-averse household like I was, you may find that this early history seeps into your business and you are afraid to upset anyone with a controversial product or service.
The most successful (and interesting) businesses take a stand and create something different, unique, and meaningful for their target market. You should be no different.
“Polarize people. When you create a product or service that some people love, don’t be surprised if some people hate it. Your goal is to catalyze passion: pro or anti. Don’t be offended if people take issue with what you have done; the only result that should offend (and scare) you is lack of interest.”
This week’s 6-minute podcast expands on this thought, and offers a few strategies for taking a stand while designing your business:
- Create from the heart and soul. Let your rational mind have its place in the design process, but by no means let it lead.
- Speak clearly and speak the truth. My take on why Bob Sutton’s book The No Asshole Rule is a success, and why it would have been so much less effective with a watered-down title such as Don’t be a Jerk in the Workplace or The Successful Manager’s Handbook.
- Know your niche. If your urban youth-targeted product offends your wife or mother, you have a winner.
- Embrace your detractors. Learn to decipher useful information amidst snide personal comments. Decide who to care about and when to delete offending messages, lest they stink up your inbox.
- Don’t back peddle. Tweaks and enhancements are good. Total redesign to accommodate many diverse segments of a market will lead to watered down products and “design by committee,” a phenomenon that should strike fear in the hearts of any corporate employee who has lived through it.
Finally, I want to distinguish between being bold or controversial for its own sake rather than as a means to create something of use, value or beauty for a specific group of people. Ann Coulter is my poster girl for the “rile em up, consequences be damned” approach to creating controversy. I could be wrong, but it seems like little value comes from, as Bob Sutton would say, acting like an asshole for its own sake. I don’t imagine that I have one Coulter fan in my blog feed, but if I do, please point out where I am missing the boat. Just refrain from the personal insults, ok?