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Attention + Empathy = Meaningful Interactions

I want to know everything. 

Everything you care about. The meat, not the surface. I have grown to dislike small talk. Something unuseful by design, an introduction without substance.

When you write an introduction to your book, a lead for your article, or record an introduction to your podcast, you (should) do it after the fact. After you make it, you can nitpick the substance or create suspense.

But what if we cared?

Oftentimes with small talk, it’s empty. Lack of interest and lack of substance. But what if we cared? What if we care about the people to start a conversation and maybe build a relationship? It surely doesn’t happen when we move on to business.

The ultimate conversation starter

“Tell me about yourself.”

A substitute for the small talk we dread. You know, the one about weather and traffic and busyness and how time flies by.

It’s great because it’s compassionate and non-judgmental. It doesn’t preconceive notions about the other person and leaves them free to form the story about themselves.

Maybe what she does for a living is not what she deems important. Maybe she’s not ready to tell you about her weekend. Maybe she wants a permission for your genuine attention.

And it costs nothing to try it out.

Lessons on marketing from Dr. Seuss

We looked and we saw him,
the Cat in the Hat. 
And he said to us:
I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny,
but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.
But our fish said:
No, no, make that cat go away!
He should not be here, he should now be about,
he should not be here when our mother is out!

 — excerpt from The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss, 1957

This is a place for a header. A hero image. A video, a testimonial. Client logos. A newsletter sign up button. Something should be here. Anything. Just in case. Just in case is safe, easy and lazy. But you know, it’s been tested, it works, it’s functional, it brings results. For them.

Yes, everyone else is doing it. Are you everyone? Or are you unique? Are you different?

Yes, your work is unique. You should speak in the same way. Coming from deep empathy and precise thought behind every interaction, we can infuse the culture, the message, the change you seek to make at every step of the way.

We need to think about the why. 

Why is this here and what’s it for? 
What if it wasn’t here? 
What if it wasn’t there in the first place?
What if we didn’t say it like that? 
What if we made it say that…

Some people wouldn’t get it. Some people will also never buy from you. If you want everyone to be your customer, you better get a megaphone. And if you’re doing something remarkable, you don’t have a megaphone.

No shouting, no interrupting, no bothering, no spying.

You have something better. You have a story. You have a message, an idea that sparks something in those who are willing to listen. The people you’re looking to serve. No shouting, no interrupting, no bothering, no spying. Just say it. Distinctly, but gently.

Because it’s not for everyone.

The cat in the hat is the critic. The challenger. The creative. The innovator. All she wants to do is have some good fun. And indeed, you can have some good fun if you dare to do things that might not work. Those things others wouldn’t do. 

You can always think positive. Yes, it’s tough sometimes and you want to play it safe. But there is always something positive to focus on. Something new. And it’s worth doing it even if it’s risky. Even if you end up being wrong, it’s better than doing the expected. Because now you know.

It may not be what you saw it for in the first place.

The fish likes to follow the rules. He’s the narrow attention span, the rush to judgment, always on the needle, anxious to get what she expects.

For those who are willing to listen.

Dr. Seuss taught us to postpone judgment, to be generous, to be creative and joyful, to ask what if, to enjoy the moment. 

To see the impermanence of things. He wrote the book using 260 words. He had a message with a new way to say it, for those who are willing to listen.

On sales

Sales is like polishing turd.

At least, it feels that way from the inside.

From the outside, it must never show. From the outside, it must look professional.

The product will never live up to your internal expectation. You built it and you know the ins and outs. It will always be a turd no matter what it looks like from the outside. No matter how well you polish, you will always see the dirt under the hood. And that's fine.

As we create new products, we cherish creativity and innovation at the cost of something else. The founder has a novel idea that brings value to the market. She combines skillset with creativity and puts her own skin in the game.

The corporation used to have that, too. It was once a founder with a great idea. But today, the turd is hidden elsewhere. Today, it's someone else's problem.

No company is perfect. No product is finished. No team is perfectly organized. Yet, the promise meets the expectation with a job well done.

It always starts with polishing turd.

This is why your day is ruined

Since the beginning of humanity, the snap judgment was essential to our survival.

Fight or flight. Danger or safety. Black or white.

For some of us, this day and age has been the first time we don’t have to worry constantly about the imminent perpetrator.

Yet, most of the time, we do. We rush to judgment all the time because it’s instinctive.

Instinct > Emotion > Action

There is a choice though. As we mature we attain a skill. We don’t suppress our nature. We learn to separate feelings from the action.

Instinct > Emotion < Choice > Action

As we mature even further, we learn to control our emotions. We’re still people, thoughts manifest themselves instinctively. But we have a choice to label them as good or bad, practical or impractical, or rather, as thoughts. No more, no less.

The skill of maturity is seeing things for what they are in reality. Next time someone cuts you off in traffic or you yell at your kid because she did something, think about this:

Did they really ruin your day?

Or did you ruin it yourself?

It’s not about you

Words carry meaning. A paragraph is there for a reason.

Every word should be there for a reason. This should be here for a reason.

It’s easy to forget that words carry meaning. Words are everywhere. Sometimes we think ‘hey, we should put a paragraph of text here.’

Why? Because the page asks for it, everyone does it, or that’s how we’ve always done it.

We should have a name, a logo and a tagline. We should have a story. We should have a mission. We should have colors. We should have a design system. We should have a bio, a short one, a long one, and something in between. Just in case.

Everyone should know what we do. Really, please, read out all this crap we can do for you. Every single thing. Aren’t we great? We can do all those things. We’re the best. No, we’re better than the best. We’re the bestest.

If we did spell out what we do, we would be only that. We would be just another company trying to compete inside a category. And we would’ve successfully matched ourselves with the thousands of those who do what we do but cheaper. And you will never win if you sort by price.

What if we are something else.

What if we say how instead of what.

What if we say why.

What if we make things say things.