The mystery of jargon.

I love traveling. What I like the most about traveling is the discovery part. Uncovering new cultures, people, food, drinks, and different ways of doing ordinary stuff makes me tick. The trick is to assimilate. However, if you can’t speak the local language or dialect, you will stand out. The community will label you as a foreigner.

Years ago, I worked in the medical devices industry. More specific the cardiology sector. As with any specialized industry, it has its way of doing things. Let us call it a subculture that one needs to discover. Cardiologists have their way of communicating, their specific jargon. If you can’t speak the language, they will not invite you to the table. Luckily I am a fast learner. Some may call it fake it till you make it.

When looking at the start-up or entrepreneurial world, many may believe the same is true in this community. You will become an outcast if you don’t use words like agile, disruptive, or innovation. Furthermore, you won’t attract attention if you don’t use these words. Well, that is what the new kids on the block believe. 

Bottom line: Jargon is a trap. If you can’t back it up with action, you will become the emperor without clothes.

Assumptions, the downfall of success.

“TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.” – from a 1939 editorial in the New York Times.

Every day, leaders make decisions. Some flourish while other falter. Often we are caught within a hype of an idea, making ourselves believe it is a game-changer. In a perfect world, information is complete, and we all can make accurate decisions. However, we know that this is seldom the case. 

Regardless of the amount of information we gather. In the end, we use assumptions to guide our perceptions. Sometimes, we like to take the credit when we are correct, but the blame game kicks in when we can’t repeat it. So how does it happen that we still get it wrong, even with all the evidence and the best advisors?

Steve Ballmer assumed that the iPhone would never gain significant market traction. Well, Apple’s engineers based the design of the initial iPhone on several assumptions. However, they had a clear and well-articulated vision of where they wanted to go with the device. In addition, the Apple leaders provided a clear framework for the employees to challenge the status quo.  

Bottom line: Every action we take, every result we desire, starts with a decision. Leaders can take either a short or long-term view. 

Authenticity, the unicorn industry.

You probably know Warby Parker and Bombas. The first one sells glasses and the last one socks. Not what I will call groundbreaking products. After all, the eyewear and socks industries are well-established.

However, they think differently. Both companies are constantly challenging themselves to make a difference in the world that they operate. They showed that a company could scale, be profitable and do good without charging a premium. In addition, every time you buy from them, they donate to the less fortunate. Today, one is a unicorn and the other one on its way.

The fact is, they did not show up to sell only eyewear and socks. They’ve chosen authenticity. They aligned their brand and actions with their promise. For them, it is less about the glamour of the product and more about the impact of their business. And, for their customers, it matters, as well.

Bottom line: If you don’t have an authentic mission and an authentic message to match it, you don’t have much.

Keep an eye on the broken windows.

I am blessed to live close to some of the most fantastic wine estates on this planet. And above all, the owners are so generous. They are creating a tranquil environment for everybody to enjoy. To come and relax and regenerate. But, yes, I know, they are doing it for a specific reason, to attract the market. And, yes, they know their market.

On the other hand, our city parks once served the same purpose. Some still do. However, in many cases, vandalism, littering, loitering, and public drinking is at the order of the day—a state of total disrespect. And, according to the broken window theory, it will only worsen.

This theory may also be valid for the problems you try to solve, the products you market and the stories you tell. Because either you will create respect or become an object of scorn.

Bottom line: When taking short cust there’s only one way, down. While true stories resonate and create respect. And the stories are true because you deliver on a promise. The same holds for generosity. 

The significance of scarcity

We are all aware that Swiss timepieces come at a premium price. But most importantly, they are renowned for their intricate components and hands-on manufacturing processes, all leading to high-quality design. As a result, some see it as the ideal heirloom.

The value of these items is further boosted due to limited editions. The marketers create the notion of scarcity. The same is true for rare coins or stamps. They can become priceless if fewer of them are in circulation.

On the other hand, the most valuable companies globally focus on consumerism. Scarcity is not their thing. However, their value proposition lies within their promise.

Bottom line: The more you are seen, the more familiar you may appear. If you withdraw yourself for a moment, you may become the talk of the town. Therefore, know when to leave.

The importance of white spaces.

I love white spaces. I like how it guides your eyes to important content on the page or website. Somehow it gives me breathing space. It creates focus and, apparently, increases views and conversions. 

White spaces are those unused areas that form part of design elements. These spaces help separate text, graphics and different sections on your marketing material. But, most importantly, it allows whatever you do to look less crowded. 

The use of white spaces is an art in itself. And it comes in many forms and shapes. But, on the other hand, not using white spaces correctly is a user experience killer.

The same concept applies to speaking; sales, company and product pitches. In this case, we talk about verbal white space and allow the audience to process an idea or respond. But oh boy, how frequently is this overlooked and replaced with verbal tsunamis. 

The fact that you only have a few minutes to convey an idea does not mean you have to rapid-fire. The message will not land and may kill the impact of your pitch.

Bottom line: White space is an excellent tool in a designer’s bag. When used correctly, the impact is tremendous. The same applies to verbal white spaces. For you, it may feel weird, but the audience won’t notice.