I bet at some point, you have done it — you hid from a salesperson. You did not want to be rude, but you also did not want to be bothered with the hard sell. The goal was to get done and be gone before they could harass you. This happened to me recently when I was test-driving a new car.
“Why do you care so much?” “Stop trying so hard.” You may have heard this from a well-meaning colleague or, even worse, from your own boss. But why would someone want you to care less?
My career will be defined by the prevalence of the internet. Yours likely will be too. And we are still experiencing an incredible acceleration of the use of technology. But one thing remains the same — we are human. We still crave personal connection, even when so many of our interactions are now made possible by technology.
Pop quiz: How many minutes a day do customers use your product? What screens do they visit most? How much data do they enter? These questions might have you dreaming of an analytics dashboard that would bring you nirvana. But beware — you will never fully understand your customers if you fall into the “data-only trap.”
Have you seen the real “real” news? A few well-known companies are behaving badly. They made some money in the short term and felt like long-term winners. People were celebrating their success loudly. And the companies themselves were banging their collective chest with pride — look at us. Yet when their lack of integrity and questionable tactics were revealed, all that hype was replaced by scorn. Sound familiar?
“Can we grab coffee on Tuesday or Thursday next week?” This is the sign-off on so many email pitches from associates at venture capital firms who are sourcing deals. Deals — yep, companies with real products and growing customer bases who are going places.
I once worked for a CEO who thought he was the next Larry Ellison. He was an early Oracle employee but did not go so far as owning a yacht or racing team. What he did do was adopt Ellison’s intense leadership style — ultimately creating a workplace of unhappiness and fear. He owned the company so he could do what he wanted. But he pushed out almost everyone who ever worked there.
If you are like me, the following has happened to you. And if you are lucky, it has only happened once — but that is unlikely.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Some people quickly answer this question with “yes.” But ask if they can pinpoint the very moment their affections blossomed and you usually get a vague reply. Something like, “We met in college at a mutual friend’s party.” That is because most love grows over time — there is no one magical moment.
“What is your product, really?” If you work for a technology company, you might think of it as the item you directly sell, the software that you ship, or the basic service you provide. But this is only part of the answer. Your product is actually the complete experience and relationship you and your customers share.
Rave reviews are unusual. For good reason. This kind of adulation is only reserved for the truly outstanding. Even artists who refine their craft for years may not be recognized for their genius during their lifetime — if ever. Product builders can find a lesson here. Complaints come fast and easy. Adoration, not so much.
You want to build something great. We all do. And we hope that customers will love our products as much as we do. But too many people cut corners simply because it takes hard work to earn that desired love. And when the shortcuts lead to a focus on product hype and bolstering company valuation rather than serving adoring customers, it can spell big trouble.
I hope that you do not hold it against me. But I love my job. And I think you should too. This is why I spent the last year writing words of happiness — words of love. I wrote them for me and you. Roughly 64,000 words laid out over 236 pages in a book. It is called Lovability. It launched today and I am humbled that it is already an Amazon bestseller.
Why do some people work so much harder than others? Some might say they do it because of martyrdom or the pursuit of accolades. But my experience has shown that those who do more than expected simply love the job and want to contribute to the team’s success.