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You can out-spend or out-teach

Outteach

Imagine you're trying to launch a new software product, book, web service, church, small business, social cause, consulting practice, school, podcast channel, rock band, whatever. The most important skill you need today is not fund-raising, financial management, or marketing. It's not knowledge management, IT, or human resources. It's not product design, usability, or just-in-time inventory.

The most important skill today is... teaching.

Whatever it is you're launching is probably not in short supply, and there's always someone who's doing it better, faster, and cheaper (or will be within weeks). Most of us authors, non-profit evangelists, indie software developers, small start-ups (the soon-to-be Fortune 5,000,000) can barely afford broadband let alone a "marketing/ad campaign". We can't hire a publicist. We aren't going to be on Oprah.

But you're not interested in using deception and bulls*** to manipulate someone into buying a product, membership, or idea that you don't believe in yourself. And that's your big advantage over even the biggest and best-funded competitors: your belief.

Because what you believe in, you can teach. And teaching is the "killer app" for a newer, more ethical approach to marketing. While in the past, those who out-spent (on ads, and big promotions) would often win, that's becoming less and less true today for a lot of things--especially the things designed for a younger, more-likely-to-be-online user community.

Kind of a markets-are-classrooms notion. Those who teach stand the best chance of getting people to become passionate. And those with the most passionate users don't need an ad campaign when they've got user evangelists doing what evangelists do... talking about their passion.

But passion requires real learning. Nobody is passionate about skiing on their first day. Nobody is passionate about programming in Java on their first day. Or week. It's virtually impossible to become passionate about something until you're somewhere up the skill/knowledge curve, where there are challenges that you believe are worth it, and that you perceive you can do.

Nobody becomes passionate until they've reached the stage where they want to grow in a way they deem meaningful. Whether it's getting better at a game or helping to save the world, there must be a goal (ideally, a continuously progressive goal) and a clear path to getting there. It's our job, if we're trying to encourage others to become passionate, to enable it. And the only way to do that is by teaching.

I've talked about all this before, but I wanted to consolidate the links and the "story" in one place:

1) The importance of learning/teaching your users:

Upgrade your users, not just your product

Kicking ass is more fun
(The better your users are at something, the more likely they are to become passionate.)

What software can learn from kung fu
(the Next Level is extremely motivating)

2) Teaching techniques:

Crafting a User Experience
(It's all about flow... balancing challenge and skill)

Keeping users engaged

Learning doesn't happen in the middle
(Have lots of beginnings and endings)

Just-in-time vs. just-in-case learning
(If you don't provide the "why", they may not listen to the "what" and "how")

Is your message memorable?"
(You have to get past the brain's crap filter)

Getting what you expect is boring.
(The "oh shit/oh cool" technique)

The users's journey
(take your user on a modified hero's journey)

The case for easter eggs (and other clever user treats)
(let the user discover "surprises")

Many of us would be better off if we ditched our marketing budget (hah! like we have one...) and put it all toward something that helps the user kick ass, have more fun, and want to learn more. And to be honest with myself here, part of the point is that people who want to learn more are more likely to want more of your tools, services, community, and "tribe/pride items" around whatever it is they're learning.(So make sure you and your wake can support that.)

There's no way I can ski as well on my $100 skis as I can on my $600 skis. That's a fact, not a marketing manipulation or my imagination. That I wouldn't have known the difference (or needed the difference) had I not learned to ski better is an important point, but even if the ski maker had been responsible for teaching me to improve to the point where I needed their more expensive skis, it makes me happy to ski better. I'm grateful that I've improved enough to benefit from better skis (and thankful I was able to get them). To use the lamest cliche--it really is a win/win.

I can process graphics and video much more quickly on my iMac G5 than I could on my old iBook G4. Thanks to Nikon's free online training, I now can take much more interesting photgraphs with my Nikon 5700 than I could with my old point-and-shoot digital Nikon. Nikon taught me to appreciate aperture control, something the clueless recreational snapshot taker I was before wouldn't have wanted and wouldn't have paid for until Nikon gave me a reason. It's not a b.s. reason. It's not a fluffy "coolness" reason. It's about me taking better pictures--something I don't need, but really really enjoy. (And no, it certainly didn't hurt Nikon either ; )

I'll say it again -- if you're marketing-through-teaching, and helping your users kick ass, and in the process teaching them to appreciate your higher-end products or services, this is not a bad thing. I do respect that old-school marketing has done plenty of evil and horrifically damaging things to people and communities (even whole countries). But we are not those who pushed products without a conscience. We will be mindful, and we will not promote that which we don't believe in. This is about creating passionate users, and that can happen only if we help our users learn and grow and spend more time in flow.

These moments of flow you can help enable are some of the happiest moments in a person's life. And yes, this applies not just to hobbies and games and sports but even to work. After all, a big part of the success and passion around Getting Things Done, 43 folders, and 37 Signals software is about people being in flow... just getting their daily work done.

So, who can you help find flow today?

[Footnote: I'm leaving for the Parelli conference tomorrow morning, and internet access will be very limited (it's basically a cowboy ranch). I won't be back until Tuesday night, so if there aren't any more posts until next week, that's why. Matt Galloway and Shaded, you're in charge of comments while I'm gone (I'll make it up to you, I promise ; ) No food fights.]

[Update: gulliver left a wonderful, important comment for this post, and as a result I added a few more links into this post. But you really must read the whole comment. Thanks gulliver!]

Posted by Kathy on September 7, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

With the wealth of really good stuff hidden(?) in the links of your entry, it's perhaps better suited to a minibook than a blog post. I'm saving it all for a re-read offline.

Only slightly churlishly (and entirely constructively) I have - well, I don't really... just couldn't resist the opportunity - to take slight issue with the line about 'teaching' - even when more softly expressed as 'creating passionate users... can happen only if we help our users learn'.

At risk of over-simplifying things - we simply need to engage them. To get their genuine attention. Quoting the eminently sensible John Peterman - 'People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but a factual romance, about them'.
My chosen method is more gonzo - 'let's make it a [expletive deleted] adventure'. Is language like 'a voyage of exploration and discovery' suited to commercial relationships? Dunno. Your call. My ship left harbor eons ago.

The better vendor/client relationships are *exactly* that - a relationship. Most instances of the sale process aren't - they're just 'hits'... brief encounters of no greater durability than the morning mist. Rather than a pleasurable collaboration, they're often an arduous - and sometimes tortuous - process.

To me, and I suspect others (certainly Tom Peters who wrote the book from whence I swiped this bit), 'good collaboration is like romance - it can't be routine and predictable'. Any hint of 'process' and 'procedure' is the kiss-of-death. It has to be openly authentic - entirely genuine... 'I'm me, you're you - let's dance'.

Perhaps paraphrasing unfairly, I suggest Godin-et-al get it wrong when talking of 'telling a story'. Sure, amid the permadross which is much of marketing, that'll gain immediate ground - but the foreign land which is 'enhanced sustainability' demands an entirely different currency... truth. Open. Honest. Authenticity. 'Turn up. Tell the truth. Smile.'

I'm suggesting relationships be founded upon a genuine personal connection - at least as best as can be achieved in the confines of one person trying to sell something to another. This is not a 'doorstep deal with the Avon lady' scenario. Why not fewer and deeper commercial associations than the usual weak, mediocre, superficial and compromised dross that so many accept? If that seems unfairly harsh, I urge you to think again... and consider just how many associations end in grief - perhaps not having been that good to begin with.

This implication here is 'special'. And I want 'special'. How's about you?

The prize for those whose language is 'teach and learn' is the buyer's mind. My quest is more complex - and extends beyond the old 'heartstrings pull pursestrings' adage... simply, I want your soul.

'Often have I wondered how deep the visitor has looked; how carefully have they listened? Did anyone catch that? Do I but amuse myself?'... is, in an age in which 'we're all too busy', something which probably applies to us all... how best to present ourselves in an honest accurate manner and foster mutally beneficial collaboratation with those who 'aren't too busy'?

Sadly, the one-line statement-of-benefit which opens nigh every damn commercial site seems to be held in great esteem. Sadly? Sure - and wrongly. Whilst an absolute boon to snaring those 'super busy perpetua-motion got-a-meeting-at-eleven' types, it misses many - notably those who 'demand' a more spohisticated process in which they're allowed/ encouraged/enabled/assisted to discover at their own pace.

Harking back to the days before we all ventured online, the real-world parallel is the salesperson who immediately leaps upon those venturing into their auto lot/clothes store. Please, lay out your offer and allow me to wander. To roam. Trust me to choose wisely. And not. Please be aware that, if I 'don't bother' to take time and make effort to 'receive the message', then we weren't really suited anyway. Sure, we may have shared a toothbrush in the morn - but we'd never have stuck it out to the point of choosing bedlinen and gifts for the children.

In trying to circumvent the 'exploration process'- that path upon which 'know more' often (naturally and ultimately beneficially) becomes 'no more' - we use a plethora of gambits/tactics... 'tricks' to nudge the prospect our way and succumb to the cold kiss of commerce 'you've got product' message and 'buy!' impulse as our skeletal hand reaches round and removes the visa card from their back pocket. Pity. We could have had a great time together. Instead, you tried to sell me something.

Personally entirely disinterested in deals where someone has to be persuaded, convinced and sold... why can't we 'the menu here is wholly different' allow things to be less contrived and more natural. This, I posit, is entirely in accord with 'you're not interested in using deception and bulls*** to manipulate someone into buying a product, membership, or idea that you don't believe in yourself'.

So... 'teach'... 'learn'...? maybe. How's about 'discover'?

Posted by: gulliver | Sep 8, 2005 3:01:18 AM

Gulliver: wow, what a fabulous comment and a ton to think about it and do. I'm running out the door for my trip, but you did motivate me to at least stick a few more links in the post to things that address "surprise", "discovery" and "the user's journey". I hope to talk about this more with you when I return. Thanks so much!

FYI: elearnspace makes a key point in their trackback that it should be "learning", not "teaching", and I think that's right. I was (mistakenly) associating teaching with learning, and that's not always the case. So you'll have to do a mental search and replace that when I say "we must out-teach", the long version of that is really "we must do whatever it takes to help our users 'learn'". I hope I've made the exact point over and over in other posts on this blog, but sometimes I use a shorthand to make something concise. When I say teach, I mean teach in a way that causes learning. You have to read the whole entry to make sense of it, and I'm hoping "elearnspace" won't take the headline completely out of context... and appreciate that I mean exactly what they're saying--it's about learning. But "enabling learning" is more, well, unwieldy. So I'm not sure that substituting the word "teaching" is such a bad thing if we take the time to back it up.

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Sep 8, 2005 9:41:46 AM

And I'm about to learn what I'd actually do with the keys to Kathy's blog.

Hmmmmm......

Kathy your chair seems warm, as if emanating power. Oh thats right you were just using it. I like the Mac, by the way. I think I have Mac envy, mine is only a mini.

But they say its not the size of your.... cliche...

Oh look! Its a folder entitled "Unbelievably brilliant ideas!" Kathy HOW did you know Matt and I were the only ones you could trust enough not to spill the beans early?

... never mind... enjoy your trip... We've got reading to do.

Posted by: shaded | Sep 8, 2005 10:46:22 AM

I don't know if this theory really clicks for me. Is Apple successful because they taught?? Maybe they could point to their theater workshops. What about Mark Ecko and his successful products - where's the teaching there? Or a craze like Designer Toys. I hear what you're saying but I don;t think it's ONLY the most important thing.

Posted by: Piers Fawkes | Sep 8, 2005 12:59:59 PM

Teaching - there's a concept!

Posted by: RMT | Sep 8, 2005 1:17:19 PM

Hi Kathy,

I'm a passionate and regular reader of your blog. With your last update, I've come to the conclusion that it's really time that you bring all this intelligent stuff in a book that I will be so happy to read.

I'm living in France near Geneva, Switzerland. If you have the opportunity to give a conference here please let us know.

Best regards, Lionel

Posted by: Lionel | Sep 8, 2005 1:30:44 PM

Wow, what a great post and an equally interesting response from gulliver. I don't recall one more sesquipedalian.

First off, some house keeping – gulliver & lionel, you both mentioned a book and it's my understanding that this blog has been Kathy's Creating Passionate Users book prototype so we're all anxiously awaiting this in book form. But no word yet on when we can expect it as far as I know. Although, I don't recall a post where Kathy has organized previous posts to support a larger concept on this scale. I can just see the mind map developing on the white board. I'm taking this as a sign - we might be getting close.

I've read and reread gulliver's comments. I even went to his web site – which is equally opaque. To be honest, I'm not sure I get him but at the same time I really, really want to. To me this is almost as interesting as his comments or Kathy's original post. I keep thinking about Kathy's "next level" and the idea of helping users get to where they want to be. In this regard, gulliver's language suggests that he doesn't want people to get to the next (his?) level - instead he seems to wants to elevate himself above the crowd by using language that is difficult for average folks to digest. Well, at least difficult for me to digest. Don't get me wrong – I was rivoted by his commentary, enchanted with his vocabulary, it was almost like reading Shakespeare – which, in my opinion, is really, really hard.

Okay gulliver, I get it, you are really, really smart – now what are you trying to say?

(I too couldn't resist and mean this entirely constructively.)

(As best I can tell) One of gulliver's main themes is that the notion that interactions designed to stimulate real learning are capable of catalyzing passion is valid, however, it is but a small subset of the general goal which is engagement – to get genuine attention. Furthermore, (and more generally) any specific strategies, tactics, gambits designed to inspire passion are by their very nature insincere as they are transparently fueled by the ultimate goal of closing deals – and, by extension, are implicitly not fueled by the desire to help customers kick ass. Back to square one, you're still a marketing jackass.

gulliver's alternative (if I read correctly) is to build a genuine, deep, personal, less contrived and more natural individual connection with each and every customer sans strategy or gambit, pretense or forethought... presumably to close the deal.

Am I the only one that doesn't see a difference here?

As I see it, we have a Catch-22 here beyond the Rubicon. "What Rubicon?" you ask. The one we crossed when we decided we wanted to provide a product, idea, service, whatever to someone else. Transactions don't exist in a vacuum. We typically think of the vendor-client relationship as a downward flow, but it ain't – it's bidirectional and (should be) symbiotic. The client/customer/user has an agenda too – they want, need or desire something. Take our relationship with Kathy for example – she wants to spread (and validate?) her brilliant ideas about passion, we want to drink them up – to learn, to be part of the community, to validate our own ideas. But in addition to that Kathy wants to sell books (to pay for skateboards, iPods, Vokyll skis, Icelandic horses, and her daughter's non-college vegetarian education), we want to figure out how to inspire passion... presumably to close more deals... so we can each meet our personal and professional goals. True altruism is a myth. This is the Catch-22 - in order to help others we must ensure our own needs are met.

Ah there's the rub – whether 'tis nobler in the heart to suffer the slings and arrows of miserable product failure or to take arms against a sea of gulliver's rhetoric and by opposing, successfully market a product, service, idea that we believe will truly help people kick ass.

Not quite perfect iamb, but poetic nonetheless.

Hmmmm. Enough with the contrarian folderol – gulliver makes some cogent points. Namely, the bit about "enhanced sustainability" demanding truth - Open. Honest. Authenticity.

This bit, of course, is dead on.

My take is that there is a growing wave of authenticity in the world and it is changing everything. There is lots to explore here, but the part that is relevant to this conversation is that authenticity is the difference between legitimately inspiring passion and evil subversive marketing. As Kathy wrote a while back – everyone is a marketer. The question is motive – is it selfish or symbiotic.

If the answer is symbiotic, passion will ensue. No matter the method – learning, teaching, engaging, discovering – whatever. Even the dreaded storytelling of Godin lore can be used for the forces of good. If you want to talk authenticity, let's focus on motive - not methodology.

Mr. gulliver, I really enjoyed your thoughts and ideas. I hope you take my entirely constructive comments in the spirit in which they are intended. Both you and Kathy challenged me today and you helped me kick ass. Well done.

Oh, BTW Mr. gulliver – your domain name is set to expire in 9 days.

This has been really fun – although I'm fairly certain Kathy will never invite me back.

-Matt, One of the Guys Left in Charge of Comments

Posted by: Matt Galloway | Sep 8, 2005 10:17:24 PM

Piers,

I talk with lots of folks about the whole Passionate User thing and somebody always throws out negative examples – how do you create passionate toothpaste users? While I'm sure everybody that reads Kathy could think of some ways to try to create passionate toothpaste users, the reality is that nobody's ever really going to try. I think that companies have a choice – do I want to go for the whole passionate user thing or just do I want do something else. There's lots of something elses. Some will even work – with some metrics better than the passion route.

That said, I'm not sure the designer toy industry is after Passion in the Kathy Sierra sense.

I think Apple 'teaches' in the sense that they lower the barriers to getting to the next level. They are particularly good at doing this from ground zero. The iPod was actually kind of late to the portable MP3 player game – now they have 75% of the market. Why? Partially because they taught us (the general public) how to download and manage music easily. Through their silhouette ad campaign they taught us that digital music is easy, fun and relevant. By working really hard on the human-machine interface they make the experience intuitive – this too is teaching. This is the thing with Apple – they are so good at this we take it for granted.

If Rio, iRiver, Creative Labs or Sony did more teaching and less featuritis marketing, I suspect things would be different.

BTW, I love PSFK – you kids rock.

-Matt

Posted by: Matt Galloway | Sep 8, 2005 10:58:46 PM

This brings to mind one of my own personal hot, hot, hot button issues. The corollary of "what you believe in, you can teach" is that our teachers should believe in their subjects. By this I'm talking about our school teachers. The ones we send our kids off to everyday.

Passionate belief in your subject is the MOST IMPORTANT quality for a teacher. Think of all the great teachers you ever had in school. Each one had their own style, unique to them. Some may have been disciplined and formal, some wildly creative and unpredictable. But they really cared about science, latin, english, whatever is what they were teaching you.

This is why the last decade or so of educational reform politics is so utterly frustrating to me. The straight jacket of high-stakes standardized testing that is being imposed across the country. It is insanity. It threatens Americas greatest cultural advantage -- our creativity, our passion.

By the way, when is "Head First 9th Grade Biology" coming out? My daughter needs it...

-Charlie

Posted by: Charlie Evett | Sep 9, 2005 8:56:34 AM

Thank You
I am a camara operator if you are Camara ready.
The property I live on is owned by my partner PRODUCER/ACTOR TED JESSUP http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=202137 .
Ted is the producer of the Al Franken Show on the Sundance channel
http://www.ofrankenfactor.com/
We are located on Royce Road in Bethel, New York scene of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
http://www.woodstock69.com/
Love ya
brother daniel


Posted by: Daniel Eggink | Sep 9, 2005 10:55:17 AM

Lovely thoughts. Yes, products can be replicated, ideas can be stolen (or bought!!), speed-to-market can take the thunder out of marketing campaigns but the most rare commodity is passionate users.

Software companies have learnt this art quite well!

1. Microsoft has Microsoft Certified Professionals! A course taught and evangelized by Microsoft.
2. Novell has certified Network engineers!
3. Oracle has certified DBAs

No wonder, there are monopolies and open software networks. Linux is again a great example of how passionate users continually upgrade the product!

Finally, employees also have to be taught. Selling a product passionately is one thing but executing it with same vigor is difficult.

Only passion can drive consistent behaviour across any organization.

Posted by: Sivaraman Swaminathan | Sep 11, 2005 10:44:43 AM

Charlie - interesting point. I don't think passion is absolutely neccessary for a teacher to be competent, but I do think it helps. Furthermore, I do think passion is required for teachers to be truely remarkable, inspirational and life changing.

An intersting aside kind of along these lines - I'm currently in the market for a new car. I'm looking at lots of options (I tend to get obsessive about purchases like this). I looked at lots of websites. Volkswagon has a particularly good website that has some great examples of passion building - community stuff, VW clothing, informal writing style - and learning. They have some cool animated videos that show the difference between gas and disel engines. I spent about 2 hours on the site and was excited about test driving a particular car - a Jetta Wagon disel. After all - Drivers Wanted!

After wallowing in this post, I have been on the lookout for examples of teaching as marketing and the VW site is really excellent.

Then, I went to the only VW dealership in my area. The salesperson I spoke with was rude, uninspiring, disinterested and summarily dismished what I told him I had seen on the VW website 20 minutes earlier as being wrong. Because of that experience, I am no longer considering VW. (I'm getting a Scion xB - and I'm well on my way to being passionate about them, but that's a different post.)

The point is, VW did everything right to inspire passion for 99.9% of the process - but the sales guy - the last .1 % - was an ass, the polar opposite of passionate and not surprisingly, I'm buying a competitor's product.

If you are looking for a low cost, reliable, fuel efficient and uber-cool ride - check out the Scion line.


Posted by: Matt Galloway | Sep 12, 2005 12:08:53 AM

At risk of being seen to hog the posting space, in the 'serial killers often revisit the scene of the crime' tradition I want to clear a couple potential misunderstandings with Matt. And , if the initial post seemed overlong and confused, this'll likely be moreso.

If someone'll sit down and help write 'zen and the art of marketing' perhaps we can cover this in a manner which does good and pays the rent. 'til then though, more unpaid blog input...

>gulliver's language suggests that he doesn't want people to get to the next (his?) level - instead he seems to wants to elevate himself above the crowd by using language that is difficult for average folks to digest.

'More Hank Miller than WSJ', my 'too much Kerouac and not enough Drucker' is something which I hope makes things easier to grasp. A simple guy 'yearning for the good old days', I don't understand much of the marketingese that's thrown around so casually. Sometimes, as Dylan might have said, 'You just have to sing the song rather than analyze the lyrics'. The point here is simply:

I don't actually think there is a next level - just a single plane we all share and upon which EVERYTHING is played out. I'll borrow from Carl Sagan - speaking on the view of earth from 3.7 billion miles away as a pale blue dot:
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Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home, That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar,' every 'supreme leader,' every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
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On a much much much less grandiose scale... we have 'marketing' - and its parent, 'commerce'. (The founding father 'enterprise' has long since left the building in disgust at the untoward antics of its offspring.)
It's in 'differentiating ourselves' that the problems arise. So, an enthusisatic 'yay' to those who rightly see it as 'we're all in this together' and a resounding 'nay' to the others who see it as a 'them and us' game of gambit and manoeuver toward 'competitive advantage'.

Simply, we're all 'the crowd' - so let's please switch the pseudo perspective of the eagle for the viewpoint of the frog and 'get in there together'. Or, put another way - ' I have stuff you may wanna buy - please take a look and let me know; either way it's ok'.

Movin' on...

>gulliver's alternative (if I read correctly) is to build a genuine, deep, personal, less contrived and more natural individual connection with each and every customer sans strategy or gambit, pretense or forethought... presumably to close the deal.

Phew! My cigar collection remains intact... M, you're right - up to the word 'customer'. Simply, I just want to build a genuine, deep, personal, less contrived and more natural individual connection with each and everyONE - unless they're total frickin' idiots in which case let's nuke the f****** now.

To me, and I suspect at least a few others, marketing/commerce should be natural parts of our lives. Not 'extensions of' and certainly not ' just something we do monday through friday, 9-5'. If this is a little - or a lot - too much 'grow an organic beard and recycle your own sandals' oregon-commune philosophy then... well, life's like this sometimes.

The prevalent 'Dude, where's my deal?' mentality will be the undoing of us all. As long as someone's trying to sell something to the other one there'll always be unease and impediments to the natural flow (rather than forced encounter) which should be commerce. 'Folk'll ultimately do what they want anyway...' why should we even try to influence their decision making?

Lay out your stall, grab their attention and then stand back. If your stuff's good, enough will buy and you'll get to pass 'go' and collect the $200 enough times to cover rent and put the kids through college. And, if it's not, then 'play your funky music elsewhere' get out of the market.

Seriously, the parallel here is the archer - who can do little about the arrow after it's left the bow. 'Go to archery class, buy good equipment, be aware of the wind, select target'... our focus should be on getting the presentation correct - and not the aforementioned 'gambit and manoeuver toward competitive advantage' tango in which we all indulge. Bluntly: 'Do your stuff - well. Forget the deal. if you 'win' so be it. Should you 'lose' so be it.'

M, you're absolutely right on 'vendor-client relationship...(should be) symbiotic'. And entirely wrong on 'True altruism is a myth - in order to help others we must ensure our own needs are met.' We could simply help others regardless of the cost/benefit to ourselves.

Symbiosis should occur naturally - and if it doesn't it cannot be co-erced or forced.' Entirely practically... we can focus on meeting our own needs - that's commerce. And concentrate on 'help others' - that's charity/whatever. Or, big 'or'... we can detach from the outcome in a genuine 'I've done my stuff well so if they buy then fine and if they don't that's fine too' and in so doing we aid (read: not impede) the process.

The move toward 'authenticity' is excellent. Long overdue. That said, too much of it is in the vein of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'... a thinly-veiled and lacking-heart and substance ploy.

And that, is the root of my 'work'. The target. Simply, let's be real - and natural. Whatever that is and wherever they may lead.

So then, see ya on the other side...

Oh yeah - almost forgot...

>Mr. gulliver, I really enjoyed your thoughts and ideas. I hope you take my entirely constructive comments in the spirit in which they are intended. Both you and Kathy challenged me today and you helped me kick ass. Well done.

Thanks, M. They're received well.
And, 'semantics again'... I struggle with 'kick ass'. Seems an unnecessarily 'imply superiority' belligerent term - smacks of ballgame coaches and drill sergeants. But perhaps that's just me in my 'favor hoedown to showdown - rather shake you by the hand than throat' approach in which we all genuinely 'live together as brothers or perish together as fools'. Y'see, in the end, it wasn't 'them or us' - it is 'you and I'.

Posted by: gulliver | Sep 14, 2005 3:48:52 AM

Thanks gulliver. Sorry about the gender thing - I had assumed that you were male - simply because it's statistically more likely. Incidentally, I had originally thought you were arrogant, now I find you interesting. Funny how perceptions change.

All of your points are well made and, for the record, I truly enjoy reading you. I stand by my 'altruism is a myth' assertion though. We do nothing in a vacuum and all actions are necessarily motivated by self interest - even if that interest is martyrdom. In the end the sacrifice is for something in which the martyr believes. We are charitable because it makes us feel good to reduce the suffering of others, to believe that our effort can make a difference or to relieve guilt. There's nothing wrong with this, it's just the way it is.

I think the difference is the societal perception of the value of the transaction.

Money, happiness, attention, self-worth, and chickens are all currency. In this regard, 'altruism' happens when half of the transaction is paid with currency which may not be perceptible to anyone but the recipient. This doesn't, however, make it any less noble.

Gulliver thanks again for a very enjoyable and thought provoking exchange.

Kathy, sorry for running amok. If you squint hard enough, I'm sure this somehow relates to learning or whatever we were talking about.

-Matt

Posted by: Matt Galloway | Sep 14, 2005 9:59:09 AM

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