My last blog was about the power of AND. Truly successful products, companies, and people aren’t able to rely on just doing one thing and doing it OK. For example, it’s not enough to put a movie out which is good or people will skip it or choose to watch it on video. It needs to look and sound awesome in the theater, enough to compel people to want to see it in IMAX 3D. I just saw Pacific Rim (a movie I really enjoyed) in my basement with friends and my kids. On BluRay with a big TV and a nice sound system, it was a blast and I may have enjoyed it there more than in the theater. Gravity in 3D IMAX is a whole other experience which just isn’t accessible in a house – or even on this planet. AND is real and it applies in everything. In products, in businesses, and in ourselves.
After I wrote that last blog, a good friend asked my what my personal AND was. It took me a week to get back to writing about the idea along with some thought and experiences at a sales meeting. I was also a little reluctant to do it because it sounds like a manifesto. That can be a scary thing which seems self-promotional. That’s against my DNA.
As a result, I’m calling this a mANDifesto and it’s harder to do than just keeping an idea in your head. Writing and speaking aloud always are. This was evident at my sales meeting where we’d learn a concept then people would stand up in front of a group of 200 and pitch it back. Another friend of mine in charge of part of the meeting recorded a totally clean and smooth version of him telling the story. When the session let out, he played us a blooper reel he’d made of all his failed attempts at getting the idea out on camera. It humanized the whole attempt, took guts, and just showed how difficult this can be – well done, Dewayne.
- To have the broadest and farthest possible vision. In my first job of 2000 (Yes, first. It’s my best mistake) I did some presentations with our startup’s product which cast it in a completely different light. It was the same toolset anyone else had, but the ideas were transformative. When we merged with another company, I took the ideas farther. It was so clear that when I reconnected with a colleague from that company a dozen years later on LinkedIn, he asked me how my “secret sauce”, as it was known, was going these days. Just at the sales meeting, another team member (thanks, Shetal) said we’re talking calculus while others in the room were discussing algebra.
Again, I’m not trying to brag here. I’m trying to convey a mindset. It takes effort to search out ideas, digest them, blend them together, and synthesize something greater than the sum of the parts. It’s terrific to know the guts of a system, debate, or process the best anyone can. However, that kind of expertise can lock you into a perspective which limits its value and keeps you from incorporating the next thing you can excel at. I strive to push the boundaries of the building blocks.
- To have an open source personality. Companies who expect to make money on open source products know that they need to provide AND. That AND has to be better service and added features which are apparent to all. The “norm” is what their AND surrounds and they need to push that norm as far as possible. Others will always expand their algebra and I feel the need to constantly push my own math. By having an open source personality, I’m embracing that core and promoting it. I’m doing it for essentially two reasons.
First, it helps others gain mastery over their skills. They grasp the core concepts they need to and, as any sports fan will tell you, the best players make those on their team stronger simply by playing around them and helping them get the most of their abilities. They’ll come to you and learn because they want to know advanced math. One person who sought me out as a mentor actually jokingly calls me sensei. Others at the sales meeting who’d never even met me tracked me down to talk AND. Talking in this kind of atmosphere also expands my core and ability to articulate what I do in the process. It makes me stronger too. Open source fuels innovation through community and the influx of ideas.
Second, AND is where differentiation occurs. Companies need to push their differentiators, and employees who can discuss this AND are invaluable. AND is where the interesting discussions happen. Companies battling over features and functions will always leapfrog each other as long as they can keep a decent product development pace. Those who can lead their customers to their own AND will always be able to excel. Simply put, AND is where it’s at and acknowledging the open source pushing of ideas keeps you challenging the status quo and at the forefront.
The more I think about it, everyone should develop a mANDifesto. If you’re into personal branding, you can call it a brANDifesto. The written part of my definition is critical. Write it. Share it. Live it. Expand it.