In coaching, consulting and reviewing the reports from our on-site trainers, human capital challenges are at the top of the list of items we’re hired to fix. As I’ve done with most systems, challenges and opportunities in business, I help my clients and trainers develop and deploy “litmus tests,” or quick “yes/no” tools to help guide next steps.
Here’s one you might put to good use when your next employee challenge or frustration arrives. Ask if this is an issue of character or circumstance.
Our data indicate: underperforming employees are rarely an issue of character. These situations are almost always an issue of circumstance.
For example, we failed to place the employee in the proper role. The training program was inadequate. Oversight and motivational systems were not being deployed consistently. Communication was unclear. We did not support the employee’s desire to learn new things, master his own environment and contribute to a higher sense of purpose.
And yet, I see employees in our clients offices being disciplined or terminated because of circumstance. This is a horrible mistake. Do not let good people go if you haven’t done your job in placing them in the best-fit position, training, managing and motivating them and then getting out of their way so they can help you achieve your vision and mission.
In the rare situations where an employee has demonstrated a problem with character, in a twist of irony, many practice owners drag their feet in firing the employee.
Listen. There are no quick fixes for issues of character. There is only one solution for an employee who is dishonest, has a poor work ethic, refuses to be a team player and sabotages new projects in the office: swift termination.
And yet, too many business owners fail to address this problem because the employee has been with the team for a long time, performs their job, at least from time to time, sufficiently, etc.
Isn’t that interesting? The fact that most small business owners will tolerate a crisis of character but not one of circumstance? Why?
For starters, it’s easier to blame the other person for poor performance than it is to look in the mirror and admit that your systems for hiring, training, management, motivation and culture all stink like yesterday’s garbage.
Our egos don’t get damaged when we point our fingers at someone else. But, like my mother used to say, “when you point your finger at someone else, there are three more pointed back at you.”
This advice and litmus test, if you take a moment to unpack and consider them, make perfect sense in the larger picture of running a successful business. Because if you get this right, you’ll behave in the opposite fashion of every other competitor in your industry.
As of November, Nike no longer sells directly on Amazon. Nike is not alone. Birkenstock, Louis Vuitton, North Face, Patagonia, Asics, Ralph Lauren, Rolex and Vans do not sell directly on Amazon either. Nestlé Nespresso dominates a huge direct-to-consumer channel and paid Starbucks $7 billion to take over the sale of coffee and capsules for Nespresso machines. The new Disney+ streaming service cut out the middleman and kicked Netflix in the shins on the way out the door.
These smart firms want to own the data and chart their own course into higher lifetime customer value, margin and sustainability in a world where 85-90% of retail purchases are still done in physical stores. Sure, Amazon dominates the online retail world, capturing more than 50% of all online sales, but don’t forget that 85-90% of all retail purchases are still completed in physical stores.
These firms know, in order to survive the Amazon apocalypse, they must shed inefficiencies and middlemen, deliver more value than the competition and delight their customers, so that everyone else is forced to follow in their wake. In business, you’re either making waves or getting splashed in the face, by the way. The deeper the water, the bigger the waves. This has been true for a long time.
Conrad Hilton, founder of the famous hotel chain, made waves when a family friend told him in 1920, “if you want to launch big ships, you have to go where the water is deep.” A serious student of success stories of Rothschild, Carnegie, Girard, Cooper and many artists, scientists and philosophers, Hilton saw a bigger vision of what might be possible with his first hotel and he started chasing his “blue ocean” strategy before anyone else thought like this.
Two important questions leap to mind as they apply to your practice: (1) Are you sailing in deep or shallow waters? (2) What must you shed and what must you control and leverage in order to reach deeper waters?
What five things must everyone in your market know about you? Do they know them, or are you hiding your unique selling proposition under a bushel? Can patients and spouses pass along these “talking triggers” to friends and family, making it easy and a pleasure to refer to your practice?
What five things need to be continued in the business and what five things must you stop doing in order to get to the next level? What five things are you not doing that you must start doing? Who or what seems to keep pushing you back into shallow water? What vendors are tying you down and need to be removed, have their contracts renegotiated or brought in-house?
These are difficult questions. They require time and patience to implement. They force you to zoom out and see a much longer runway. They push the horizon further out and they give you the time and space to attract the proper talent and strategy, in the right market at the right time.
The good news and opportunity, like Hilton realized, is that hardly anyone thinks like this.
Most new clients I meet with want to grow the practice rapidly. Like yesterday. Few possess the ability to take their dreams and vision into much deeper water and then painstakingly pursue the hard work, investment and frustrations that are required in order to implement a “blue ocean” strategy. The most-successful think like Hilton and these other smart firms sailing to deeper water
When Brian Carroll was laid off unexpectedly from his sales position at a car dealership in Michigan, he received a call from a past customer wanting a car.
Carroll told the buyer he no longer worked at the dealership, but the customer didn’t care. “He hired me to find the exact car he wanted and to negotiate with different dealers to get the best price.” Carroll then drives the new car to wherever the customer wants it delivered.
The car concierge. Brilliant.
This is not new, even though most sales people on the showroom floor have never considered it as an option to break free from working for someone else.
I created this option for myself by working with the same salesman for many years in a large network that sells nearly every brand under the sun. I haven’t gone through the normal motions of buying a car for over a decade.
Carroll says he now sells 30-35 cars a month, doing better than he did at his old job. And, I’d wager, he has more freedom and flexibility in being his own boss. If he’s smart and enterprising, he’ll recruit another handful of sales professionals to expand the business in other markets, franchise out his tools and systems or both.
This isn’t as innovative as Tesla ditching the entire inventory channel and car lot model used by every other car brand, but it is a very smart improvement.
In business, there is an ever-present temptation to innovate. We want to create something new, exciting and sexy. And yet, there really isn’t anything new under the sun. Jobs and Apple didn’t invent the telephone, but they did improve it significantly and sky-rocketed to become the world’s first trillion-dollar firm as a result.
In audiology, my specialty, we’re all racing to deliver in-office earmolds through 3D scanning and printing. Yes, it’s cool, but if I pick up the phone at lunchtime today, call your office and your team doesn’t answer, should you really spend more time, energy and money innovating, or should you simply improve your existing processes?
I know the answer but it’s not the sexy, exciting, shiny-new-object answer that most business owners want to hear.
Sigh. It’s very easy to make business owners rich but very difficult to get them actually to do the simple, boring things required to quickly double or triple revenue.
Write this down: given the choice between innovating and improving, take improvement ten times over.
From the first Netflix earnings call of 2020 and MarketWatch:
“What does it mean to “watch” a show on a streaming service? For Netflix Inc., it now means viewing at least two minutes. The streaming service noted in its first quarterly earnings report of 2020 on Tuesday that it has changed the definition of viewership — while Netflix used to consider any customer that streamed 70% or more of a single episode or film as having viewed that property, it now will count a view after viewing two minutes or any offering. The company admitted that it would boost the limited viewership numbers it provides by more than one-third.
“The new metric is about 35% higher on average than the prior metric,” Netflix executives said in their quarterly letter to shareholders. “For example, 45m member households chose to watch ‘Our Planet’ under the new metric vs. 33m under the prior metric.”
This, my friends, is the definition of insanity and a very slippery slope.
I’ve said for years that the internet is largely an unregulated cesspool when it comes to advertising and false metrics. Does anyone remember Jay-Z’s album selling a million copies in five days? Except it didn’t. His streaming service, Tidal, is under criminal investigation in Europe.
Facebook logs a view for advertisers when a video plays for at least three seconds. YouTube uses better metrics and bills the advertiser when a user watches a complete add that’s 11-30 seconds long or watches at least 30 seconds of an ad that’s more than 30 seconds or interacts with the ad. Instagram has admitted to wasting billions of paid sponsorship dollars on followers that don’t exist. Every year Facebook deletes billions (with a B!) fake accounts.
According to Forbes, “In the six-month period from October 2018 to March 2019, Facebook said it removed 3.39 billion fake accounts. That’s twice the number of fake accounts detected and removed in the previous six-month period and over a billion more than the 2.37 billion people who actively use the social network on a monthly basis.”
Netflix is following Facebook down this insane rabbit hole. It’s one thing to hoodwink investors about the number of actual users and views but advertisers won’t tolerate it and eventually everything comes home to roost. Streaming services will need to significantly increase subscription costs or introduce more advertising, something Netflix has said it will never do. Uh huh, Facebook said the same thing. “We changed our minds,” is the most-common phrase ever uttered by companies that follow the dollar down these rabbit holes.
As a small business owner, not only can you not afford to behave like this (you have to count with dollars in the bank and lifetime customer value and return on investment, etc.) but you must also pay very close attention to any advertising platform or media channel that counts with funky math.
The most transparent and effective online advertising platforms right now, for my businesses, are Amazon and Google, respectively.
I’m optimistic that Amazon can take over both of these categories (transparency and overall effectiveness). How much juice they will want from the squeeze is the only hurdle that remains for local service providers. But, rest assured, Amazon is coming for your advertising dollars.
I’d leap for joy if they allowed targeted in-package advertising for new movers, grocery deliveries and standard packages. It’s not a far leap for Amazon to allow local service providers to advertise in specific packages and via email footer ads with coupons for furniture assembly, appliance installation or lawn service. They have the best 360 degree view of their 101 million Prime members. Why not leverage those data points and sell to local service providers, after which Amazon could easily acquire or affiliate with the most successful of the bunch?
As a sound business principle, seek out and work with organizations that consistently raise the bar.
Google has done this consistently for years and has allowed very smart marketers like Jimmy Marketing to help local service providers make a ton of cashola. Amazon will hopefully do this even better.
Everyone else, unfortunately, is feverishly lowering the bar. There is no excuse to follow them into oblivion.
Indian spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy, explains that peace begins when expectation ends.
Perhaps the most dangerous trait I see in perfectionist doctors and business owners is the attachment to their expectations on how things should be; how a certain result should be achieved. They are attached to a very specific outcome.
You know this sets you up for disappointment, frustration and failure.
Instead, attach to nothing other than your belief that you can be the best at getting better, adapting and solving complex problems that others avoid. When you hit a wall, go around, over or under it. This sounds simple, but how often as a business owner do you throw your hands up and surrender?
“My employees won’t do it, my patients or customers would never appreciate or respond to that, my town is too small, my town is too big, people here just want what is cheapest, the competition is too difficult, etc.” I’ve heard these excuses for years and they tell me everything about the person who makes them and their expectations in life.
I’m not kidding when I say that I wake up every single morning expecting something or someone to massively disappoint me.
This way, everything that goes well is just a bonus. It’s icing on the cake.
Before I learned and honed this skill, employees that quit, referring colleagues that dumped on my practice and even the smallest bump in the road or business disruption used to distract and frustrate me for days. Now, I give myself about 90 seconds to be disappointed and upset and then I get back to work. Literally. 90 seconds.
AuDExperts membership is up 48% year-over-year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have clients call and cancel their membership from time to time. Years ago, this would frustrate me to no end. “How can this doctor be so stupid?” I would say to my team. “Do they have any idea the pile of gold they’re sitting on with access to my best stuff? Do they have any idea how hard and expensive it was for me to create, test and then share such powerful and profitable marketing templates and actual campaigns that work all over the world? What are they smoking?” I would rant.
Now, I operate entirely differently because I’m not attached to a specific outcome. I put my head down and do my work. I create more value than any other advisor or consultant on the planet and I have the results to show for it. If someone cancels, that’s on them. This is still a democracy. They have the right to be wrong.
The same goes for your patients, employees and referring colleagues. How attached are you to achieving your results in a specific way, with a specific outcome in mind? Money doesn’t really care how you acquire it, only that you do it with honesty and integrity; building and delivering more value than your competition, for all stakeholders involved.
It’s fine to keep them high, but don’t be attached to any one particular way of achieving the outcome. If you do, you’ll be perpetually frustrated and disappointed in life. Learn to separate your intentions from your expectations and your results will soar. Be open to all possibilities and have faith in your ability to seek them out, receive them for what they are and always, always move the ball down the field.
Doctors and small business owners who don’t fundamentally grasp and deeply live these principles are going to be steam rolled by the new economy, algorithms, AI and intense competition.
Now is the time to take this seriously.
There’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal today about NFL coach Andy Reid, who is taking the Kansas City Chiefs to Super Bowl LIV in Miami this weekend.
The author, Andrew Beaton, focuses on two of Coach Reid’s unique abilities. He thinks like an outsider and he doesn’t have an ego. He’s been a head coach in the NFL for 21 years and made the playoffs 15 times.
Those familiar with him say the reason he’s successful because “he’s willing to incorporate unusual, often unpopular perspectives.”
I never played football and I know enough to watch and enjoy the game, so I can’t add anything to the conversation about his unique offensive style, how he hired college coaches with playbooks that were not only unconventional but often mocked in the NFL, etc.
Beaton says, “Reid didn’t just tolerate these newfangled ideas. He actively sought them out and learned them better than almost anyone in is position.”
In your professional practice, how willing are you to embrace new ideas and learn them better than anyone else in your niche? How obsessed are you at being the best at getting better?
How much of your practice is about you? Whom do you really serve? It’s inspiring to see other doctors around the world embrace this same philosophy, sometimes word-for-word, and I take no credit for its inception. My team and marketplace helped forge our purpose. Shelfing my ego meant allowing the market and all of the stakeholders in my business to tell me what it wanted.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, isn’t known for having a small ego. This is part of his persona, but he said, and I’m paraphrasing, “It doesn’t matter what I want. It doesn’t matter what the players want. The only thing that matters is what our fans want. Their vote is the only one that counts.”
Cuban shelved his ego when he said this many years ago, and he’s right.
When you consider the top-performers in any industry, profession or niche, they are people who are capable of shelving their ego. They look for new ways to kill off some of their best-loved ideas. They embrace new things and learn faster and better than the competition.
Sure, there are examples of CEOs, athletes and success stories in every niche where larger-than-life personalities make it big and have egos to match. Yet, they almost never sustain a two-decade career at the top and remain liked and respected by others.
Those who are successful don’t become nice people after they’ve achieved some level of success, but rather they achieve and succeed because they are nice; because they don’t have an ego.
Reid illustrates this truth. His players and coaches love working with him. He doesn’t make anything about him, unless it’s taking the blame for something that went wrong.
There are too many sports analogies in life to list here. I could teach a semester-long course in the application of these principles both on and off the field. The big questions for you and your team remain:
I’m back from a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, where we hosted 50+ TC Boot Camp attendees, three private coaching clients, a quarterly planning meeting for two of my companies and a scouting trip for a few long-shot investments. In two of the three private coaching meetings, a common theme we discussed was systems management. I reviewed business systems through three lenses: communication, oversight and recalibration.
Everyone seems to enjoy talking about systems, creating systems, perhaps even training their employees on new or existing systems. Since the first mention of “business systems” in 1980 by McKinsey and Company and through the creation and adoption of Six Sigma, business leaders throughout the world have been obsessed with automation and systems, to help eliminate defects in any process.
Sounds great, right? Just like “running a marathon” sounds great, the problem arises in the distance between idea and implementation. We all want to be in great shape. Getting off the couch and running every day is another story. We all want our businesses to run smoothly with maximum profit and happy stakeholders and shareholders. Systems oversight and management is another story.
Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple yet effective business fable about adapting to change and overcoming fears. The book has sold more than 26 million copies and remained on the New York Times business best-sellers list for nearly 5 years. It offers very little in the area of systems development, but it diagnoses precisely why systems fall apart and why we need them in the first place: change.
Your top competitors in business today will not be your top competitors five years from now. The problems you solve for your customers, clients, patients or donors today will not be the same problems you will solve a decade from now. Your employees, shareholders, stakeholders and strategic plans will change. Everything, in fact, will change; and that’s precisely why clients consistently travel to me with challenges and frustrations in dealing with change; anticipating change and overcoming their fears in adapting to, circumventing and even enjoying the change in their lives.
This morning on your way to work, your car keys were probably right where you left them last night. In business, however, nothing is where you left it. Change is continuous and often compounding or confusing for you and your employees. For example, if you left your employee training systems where you last touched them, perhaps when you started the business, they are not where you left them. Your training systems have, for good or for ill, been changed, improved, strengthened, weakened, diluted or condensed, etc.
Your systems have either adapted to or been run over by change. When’s the last time you took a look at them? How consistently and effectively do you oversee the systems in your business?
Things are not where you left them.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was a brilliant general. In the Second World War, he devised the “Eisenhower Box.” This is a matrix that ranks priorities according to importance and urgency.
Eisenhower didn’t want unimportant things coming to him in an urgent manner. He also didn’t want important decisions to be made urgently if time wasn’t a factor. Many business schools actually teach the Eisenhower Box, even though it was originally intended to help make strategic decisions in times of war.
Think about how much information comes to your desk or device. How often do you react quickly to non-urgent items? How often do you treat urgent items with a level of importance they don’t deserve?
Eisenhower forced his chain of command to be strategic instead of reactive. He wanted his team to go a mile deep on what mattered instead of an inch deep on a million things that were inconsequential. He wanted everyone around him to understand the difference between what was urgent but not important. He wanted them to realize that the truly important things are often not time-sensitive at all.
I’ll spend my birthday weekend in the midwest with two sets of great clients who are making excellent progress in their practices. Throughout our time together, my job is to not only provide resources, tools and tactical advice, but to consistently tie everything together in pursuit of a 3-5 year strategic plan. In other words, to focus on what was really important and to agree that the long-game is not as time sensitive as we think; to keep the non-important urgent distractions at bay.
You’ve heard me say here and elsewhere that we tend to overestimate what we can get done in a month but underestimate what we can get done in a few years. The reason this rings true with so many small business owners is that we are reactive versus strategic; we fret urgently over that which does not matter and pay too little attention, remaining too shallow, on the things that are really important.
In preparation for 2020 (it’s a new decade, after all), this is an excellent time to sit down with your “chain of command” and define the 3-5 big items you’ll be working on each year for the next 3-5 years, so that the year 2025 holds everything you deserve.
Eisenhower didn’t win the war overnight. You won’t 3X or 5X your business overnight either. If you go a mile deep on what really matters, however, you might wake up one day with a 10X practice. I’ve done it and helped many clients do the same. Everything you need to succeed is already within you. This is simply a matter of being strategic versus reactive.
The internet once promised complete information equality. Children in poor countries would have access to the same knowledge as a child in California. But, it hasn’t turned out that way.
Different countries have different ideas about the internet. China and Turkey censor their internet aggressively, while America allows disinformation, extremists, hate speech and pornography to infiltrate every corner of the web.
The Arabic language, for example, is spoken by more than 350 million people, but represents less than 1% of the information on the internet. The Spanish internet isn’t that far off.
In an absolutely brilliant and impressively in-depth report by Kevin Roose, Elizabeth Weil and Bill Wasik, contributors to The New York Times and Atlantic magazine, the argument is made and thoroughly supported that the free internet we were all promised has devolved into a cesspool.
I obviously agree and have been beating this drum for many years.
Today’s internet works a lot like the real world. “It has an income-based hierarchy in which everything, from cleanliness of the water to the quality of the schools, is determined by how much you can afford to pay.”
Look at the internet 10-20 years ago. Everything was supposed to be free. Hulu, a video start-up at the time, claimed the end for the era of paid television. You would be able to watch your favorite shows over the internet, “anywhere, anytime for free.”
The largest newspapers and magazines started pulling down their pay walls or not building them at all, giving way to the internet’s maxim that “information wants to be free,” a maxim that I’ve consistently challenged and have seen supported by smart people like Cory Doctorow.
In 2008, Wired magazine ran a cover story that said, “Practically everything the web touches starts down the path to gratis,” calling free services “the future of business.”
So, where are we today?
The average American spent over $1,300 last year on digital media. Even Hulu, the champion stalwart of “free” television, pulled the plug on their free tier of membership. The cheapest Hulu subscription is now $7.99 per month.
Watching YouTube videos has become nauseating if you don’t have a paid YouTube TV account, starting at $11.99 per month, unless you enjoy watching horrible ads for horrible products that pop up throughout the viewing experience.
From news and productivity apps and dating sites and even an incredibly popular email program, Superhuman, which costs $30 per month, the internet has clearly walled itself off into a neatly manicured garden for those who pay and a wild jungle for those who cannot or will not.
This begs the bigger question, what is the real cost of free?
If the free internet results in Facebook mining our data, Amazon and Alexa tracking everything you say and order, Google collecting personal health information and selling all of this to the highest bidder, countries like China and Turkey vigorously censoring their internet and extracting a heavy price (up to and including the rights to your intellectual property and trade secrets) in order to do business in their countries, then where is the internet headed in the next 10-20 years?
It’s an important question and is covered in the aforementioned report, which I’ll be sending to and dissecting for my private clients.
As a subscriber here, I’ll give you a few hints regarding the main takeaway points and lessons for your practice. I’m not shy about the paywall I’ve erected in this business nor do I undervalue the information I share and the power it holds for smart business owner who implement. It appears it only took 10 years for Hulu to catch up with me.
First, there will be more and more regulation and taxation on the internet, information and data.
Your ability to out-earn all of this and to maintain adequate margin in your business is paramount. Go back and look through this report to see where I’ve encouraged you to get better at asking what never changes. Relationship marketing, internal referrals, driving more revenue per employee and lifetime customer value – these all start with a sold understanding of human psychology and behavior.
The best firms on the planet are well-suited to this challenge.
Even World Wrestling Entertainment has over 60 data scientists who work tirelessly to protect their brand and the connection with their fans. It’s wrestling for crying out loud. I doubt the world’s best dental and medical associations have one-tenth the staying power for the next 20 years to help their members navigate the tremendous tidal wave of online regulation and taxation coming their way, and these associations do something a little more important than leg locks, atomic elbow drops, piledrivers, jackknife powerbombs or Stone Cold Stunners.
Second, you must learn to master this online opportunity for your business to attract and retain customers or smarter people will eat your lunch.
Marc Andreessen was right when he predicted a future where there will be two classes of people: those who tell computers what to do and those who are told by computers what to do. AI will quickly separate the smart marketers from those dragging their feet, thinning the herd and distributing more income to the top 1% faster and faster so that each industry and niche is dominated by a few top players in each market.
In a recent event with Jimmy Nicholas, he and I unpacked and revealed for the first time the new A.I. his team has built with IBM’s Watson, in order to accurately record, transcribe and predict 99.8% of all incoming phone calls for our mutual clients. Jimmy and his company, Jimmy Marketing, do this nearly 60,000 times every single month.
He’s mining those data to help clients predict the times and hour of the day when they are most-likely to miss calls, resulting in a potential revenue recapture of nearly $25 million per year for our clients.
Jimmy runs the same predictive A.I. for our Google and Facebook ads, split-testing the best offers and calls to action, boosting conversion rate for one of our radio-to-web campaigns by 432% while simultaneously driving down cost per lead by over 3X.
Third, if you think you can figure this out on your own, as a small business owner, doctor, lawyer, specialist or audiologist, I urge you to put on your thinking cap.
Seek more clarity about where the web was 10-20 years ago, where it is today and where it will be 10-20 years from today, and run like the wind to see if your market is available to work with Jimmy and his team.
If you are already working with Jimmy and his team, your job is not done. I’m urging you to get on the phone each month with your marketing account manager in his office and set bigger goals, leverage untapped opportunities and invest like the big boys and girls who lurk in the shadows, waiting to eat your lunch.
This is a clarion call to action.
The cost of what the internet tried to be (i.e., free) is about to destroy anyone promising you something cheaper and less sophisticated than what we’re doing now and in the future with Jimmy and his team.
Get this done now, or please don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Five years ago, Nir Eyal wrote a book called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, which helped startup tech firms understand user psychology. He discussed the research on slot machines, which use variable rewards and pleasures that come at unpredictable intervals. If you haven’t read, Addiction by Design, it is both amazing and alarming.
In response to pressure from psychologists and child development specialists, tech industry insiders have blown the whistle at Google, Facebook and WhatsApp, becoming critics of the very tools and addictive apps they spent years developing. In his latest book, Eyal admits that there will be a movement to be “post-digital” in 2020. He says, “We will start to realize that being chained to your mobile phone is a low-status behavior, similar to smoking.” But, he does not think technology is the problem. We are.
Throughout the book, Mr. Eyal challenges the idea that technology is doing all of this to us. “These are things we can do something about,” he argues, “It’s disrespectful for people who have the pathology of addiction to say we all have this disease. No, we don’t.” Eyal says technology is something people overuse, which suggests we need to do something about it ourselves, but Tristan Harris, the former Google ethicist, argues the opposite. Harris speaks around the world, leading the movement to regulate big tech firms and require that they change how they develop tools and apps, putting the onus on them to make their devices and apps less addictive.
Although I don’t expect these two narratives nor their arguments on technology and behavior to be settled anytime soon, I do think there are some valuable takeaways for your business, when faced with any challenge or opportunity:
First, never forget, regardless of the narrative in your mind, there is always a counter-narrative. Make it your job to get better at seeking out the counter-narratives in your life and in your business. Work to understand them, whether you ultimately accept them or not.
Second, ask two important questions when you face any challenge or opportunity: “Am I sloughing off personal responsibility or reclaiming it?” and “What does my understanding about this issue, opportunity or challenge tell me about me?”
Eyal equates his stance on technology and personal responsibility to a time in his life when he was obese. The myriad digital detox crash courses he attempted were just like the 30-day fad diets he tried but were unsuccessful. He finally lost weight for good when he asked himself why he was eating.
The solution he advocates and the narrative he’s accepted on technology overuse is a slow process. “People often look at their phones because they are anxious or bad at being alone,” he says, “The phone-hooked need to figure out why they are so uncomfortable waiting in line without their screen and what they fear around them.”
This mental contrasting ability to hold two narratives in your mind is extremely productive and serves as a great tool in running your business.
In every corner of life and business, you’ll find those who cling to one narrative and those who can mentally contrast, play devil’s advocate, hold strong opinions loosely and let the best idea win. One road leads to success, fulfillment and happiness. The other leads to stagnation, frustration and peril. Here’s to taking the path less-traveled. Here’s to understanding all narratives and the power they have, for good or for ill, to help you or cause you to fail.