Monday, February 27, 2012

Do the twist.

Think of something you recently found interesting. Now dare to tell me that it didn't have a surprise element to it. No matter if you're talking movies or marketing, facebook likes or youtube views, predictability leads to anonymity.

My apologies for dipping into outdated business-speak yet again, but surprise is a primary way of creating stickiness. But outdated is relative. It was probably old hat when Homer threw a one-eyed giant sheepherder into his tale to mix things up.

Here are a few twisty starting points:


01. Do something you don't like.
We're constantly in search for support material for our world view. So we cherry-pick facts that reinforce our conservatism or liberalism. We read blogs that rail against our common established enemies. We do things we like, avoid things we don't.

Understandable. But there's untrodden ground over there, outside of your self-imposed fence. If you're hip and think stock car racing is silly, go to a track someday. If you're set in your eating ways and assume sushi is sickening, suspend your disbelief and saddle up to some sashimi. It's not going to kill you to do something that repels you, but it will provide you with new perspectives.

02. Do something you really suck at.
I threw the discus in high school. I was horrible. While some of the top guys were throwing 150 feet, I was lucky to make 60. But every afternoon I kept at it, hour after hour. And you know what? I only made it up to 80 feet. But that was more than a 30% gain in one year. Presentations have long been my weakness. But now I'm up to okay, heading quickly towards good. Better yet, since I wasn't a natural, I might end up with a different and compelling twist on it.

Take Miles Davis, for example. Obviously he didn't suck at trumpet. Unless you compare him to Dizzy Gillespie, that is, the quintessential bebop voice when Miles was coming up. But Miles apparently didn't give a shit. He constantly worked his own unique angle--and become one of the most original, compelling voices in jazz ever.

03. Aim away from the target.
We all see that bullseye ahead. We've seen others hit it, so we strive to strike it ourselves. Unfortunately, it's the same target everyone's aiming for.Turf for fresh thinking can be found by purposefully aiming astray. Google aiming for effective search simplicity when everyone else was aiming for portals. Steve Jobs aiming for calligraphy as his inspiration for computers instead of code. The band Tortoise aiming for jagged, artsy instrumentals instead of standard indie rock. They all looked afield from the prevailing direction of the day.

04. When you've found the solution, keep digging.
You struck gold, so you stop. But sometimes the richest veins lie even further down. If Zuckerberg had been been gratified with Facemash, he would be a few billion dollars poorer right now.And my guess is that he and his crew of wealthy employees will keep digging even now, despite all the Teslas in the parking lot, finding new angles that'll continue to enrich the social media experience.

2 comments:

  1. Great inspiration, Kevin! And a masterful use of Homer, Miles Davis, and Mark Zukerberg all in the same post.

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