August 18, 2010

Opinions, Errors And Creativity

black marker 500x298I am ok with putting opinions out there. I am ok with being wrong about them. I am just trying to think creatively. You?
--- Mitch Joel on LinkedIn
Mitch has a knack for writing short, intriguing messages like this. Often they link to online content or his blog posts.

Let's look at each point in a marketing context
  1. expressing your opinions
  2. being wrong
  3. thinking creatively

Expressing Your Opinions

We're bursting with opinions. In the right context, they spew out. Let's focus on ones related to your product or service.

Why not share your thoughts in view of your current and prospective clients? That gives maximum impact. If only your peers and competitors know your opinions, you forfeit valuable marketing benefits.

With consistent expression, you'll build a reputation. Your opinions may even be sought. Your views won't get unanimous agreement but you'll attract some clients and get respect for your courage.

As a bonus, your competition will mostly vanish through their silence.

Being Wrong

As a husband and father, I'm often told I'm wrong. And how. When my son was a twink, he often said "I'm just a kid and I know that." Ouch!

The consequences of being wrong depend on the context and your positioning. If you're "the expert", mistakes can harm your credibility because you're expected to know. If you're "the concierge" or "the quarterback", you need to find an expert through your relationships. If you're "the consultant", you ask questions and return later with the answers (and maybe an expert, unless you become one in the process).

You will be wrong many times. Magician David Ben said you choose the place: in public during a performance or privately during your 10,000 hours of practice.

Overcoming The Fear

When I started doing presentations, I was afraid of
  • making mistakes and
  • getting stumped by tough questions
The solutions were (eventually) easy.

You make fewer mistakes when you prepare. Even if you flub, it's unlikely as serious as you think. The audience rarely remembers. Having visuals or brief notes helps you keep on track.

Answering questions becomes simpler when you talk about your area of expertise. If you don't know the answer, you can provide it later. Knowing how to get the answer is often more important than knowing the answer.

Thinking Creatively

Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage? --- Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here (1975)
These words, the music and the back-story are poignant. When you think creatively, you increase your chances of making mistakes. And breakthroughs.

When the play-it-safe trap beckons, I think of those who dared. Movies have many examples. Think of poor Frodo and Sam going on a quest well beyond their abilities in The Lord Of The Rings. Our challenges are rarely life/death.

You'll have your own sources of inspiration to overcome inertia and spark creativity.


PS I agree with Mitch on all three points. What about you?


  1. Thanks for expanding on the post/tweet. I think people who perceive themselves as "professionals" (yes, I'm looking at the industry you serve ;) have the hardest struggle with this. They tend to want to publish what they think others want to hear vs. really taking the time/effort to express themselves. Hopefully, this Blog post will give them permission to let go (a little ;)

  2. Thanks for your comments, Mitch. I hadn't thought about the extra challenges professionals face.