Category Archives: Being Human

see the forrest and the trees

My catch phrase this week has been “Think like a Marketer, Act like a Salesperson”

A colleague went to raise $16M with a cunning plan. Two investors told him his plan was stupid, not cunning, and he pretty much threw his pitch in the bin.

See the forrest and the treesAnother colleague deployed some new infrastructure, based on market research for the demand. He blew his dough as it turned the research wasn’t nuanced enough. There was no demand for the new version of offering.

Now I have been a marketer and a salesperson, and what I have noticed is that most people have a tendency to think like a salesperson, and act like a marketer. However, success in business development tends to come from operating the other way round. What do I mean?

Sales people operate at the coal face, consequently their intuition and insight into how customers feel is excellent  – they are constantly altering their behavior based on feedback. However they tend to wear their hearts on their sleeve. If three customers in a row hate a new product, they will give up on selling it.  They don’t see the market, they only see the prospects. (Just see the trees, but can’t see the forrest)

Marketers have a much more dispassionate view of market places. They may estimate, as in the case of Encyclopaedia Britannica, that only one person in a hundred has demand for their product. Therefore logically, 100 people need to be approached to make one sale. However, they are always abstracted from customers, relying on research rather experience. After a while their gut feel becomes so disconnected, that they can be convinced that jumping into the fire is a good idea, if the data supports it.  (just see the forrest, but not the trees)

So, if you think like a marketer “I will have to speak to 25 investors to get one interested (a 4% response rate) then act like a sales person “I notice they wince every time I suggest it will only take 12 months” you end up doing the hard slog, but learning and refining every step of the way.  A winning strategy.

I think its an handy mental framework when trying to develop new business around new products and markets.

When you compare yourself to others

There is a line from the poem Desiderata that I find myself quoting quite often to founders of small innovative businesses.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

DesiderataBut like most quotes that sound worthy, I like to dig deeper to the algorithm beneath.  My starting point for this was the Johari Window  a tool for gathering insight about yourself and your  relationships.    But I have tweaked it a bit to specifically deal with making comparisons.

Information about you

I would assert that there is three types of information about you that friends, colleagues, strangers may come across.  Basically:

  1. The Good stuff – eg you are a skilled cartoonist
  2. The Bad stuff – eg. you were once charged for being in a drunken brawl.
  3. The indifferent stuff – Information about you that is neither good nor bad eg. you prefer spaghetti bolognaise to spaghetti carbonara.

There is also three levels of intimacy of information about you.

  1. The Public stuff – Everybody can discover it .  eg. You live in Melbourne.
  2. The Private stuff – Only people close to you know – eg. You have a sensational pair of leopard skin pyjamas.
  3. The Secret stuff –  Only you know this. eg. You once saw  a  car being robbed,  but didn’t intervene or tell anyone.


  Secret Private Public
Good eg.  You have a sensational pair of leopard skin pyjamas  eg. Skilled Cartoonist
Indifferent eg. you prefer spaghetti bolognaise  eg. You live in Melbourne.
Bad  eg. You once saw  a  car being robbed,  but didn’t intervene or tell anyone.  eg. You were conce charged for being in a Drunken Brawl

Now we are generally pretty happy for the good stuff to be public, in fact most artists employ publicists, to get the good word out and to make sure the message is right.  Conversely, we try to keep the bad stuff secret.

The problem is of course, when we compare ourselves to others, we are brutally unfair.  You see most of what we know about others is the public stuff, and occasionally the private stuff.  And as we had just seen, this is much more like to be the good stuff.  However when we compare ourselves, we compare the complete picture of who we are, including very much our weaknesses and failings.  This of course leads to misplaced feelings of despair, jealousy, failure etc.

On occasion we also witness bad stuff hat would normally be private or secret about others.  This then leads to us feeling superior and vain.

We are terrible and childish in the way we do it, but once you realise whats actually happening, it can ease the pain and make us a bit more humble.

The next paragraph is Desiderata helps me keep perspective.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.