I’m not an optimist. I’m a "possibilist." And, I’m betting you are too. What’s a possibilist? It’s someone who sees the world as it is and also can see a better future. More than that, they work to make that better future happen. And that’s a very good thing for you and for your business Why? Because we owe it to our customers to make their lives better. They expect it. They want it. They need it.
What else makes me hopeful about the future? What makes me so passionate about the possibilities that await us? That’s what this episode of Thinks Out Loud is all about.
Want to know more? Here are the show notes for you.
We Owe It To Our Customers to Make Their Lives Better — Headlines and Show Notes
Show Notes and Links
Here are this week’s show notes for Thinks Out Loud with links and news related to this week’s episode. Be sure to check out all the links that matter for your business once you’ve given the episode a listen.
- How to help victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida
- Quote by Hans Rosling: “People often call me an optimist, because I sho…”
- Is It Time for Digital Marketers to Move On to The Next Big Thing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 360)
- Jim Collins – Concepts – The Stockdale Paradox
- Revisiting You Get to Make it Better (Thinks Out Loud)
- Why Would Anyone Want to Work For You? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 337)
We have some free downloads for you to help you navigate the current situation, which you can find right here:
- Digital & E-commerce Maturity Matrix. As a bonus, here’s a PDF that can help you assess your company’s digital maturity. You can use this to better understand where your company excels and where its opportunities lie. And, of course, we’re here to help if you need it. The Digital & E-commerce Maturity Matrix rates your company’s effectiveness — Ad Hoc, Aware, Striving, Driving — in 6 key areas in digital today, including:
- Customer Focus
- A Modern Content Marketing Checklist. Want to ensure that each piece of content works for your business? Download our latest checklist to help put your content marketing to work for you.
- A Brief Introduction to Thinks Out Loud. As a bonus, we’ve also included this PDF document that highlights some of our core episodes to help you dig into what the show is about. We think it will help you capture the show’s essence while you’re working your way through the 300-plus episodes published so far. Download it here.
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Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks
You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:
Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud
Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.
Running time: 19m 03s
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Transcript: We Owe It To Our Customers to Make Their Lives Better
Well, hello again everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital information your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 361 of the big show, and I am thrilled to be back with you.
Hurricane Ian Update
I’ve got to tell you, it’s been a weird couple of weeks since the last time we recorded an episode. I live in Florida these days and we got humbled with a hurricane a week ago. And obviously for those people who are still dealing with the after effects of the hurricane, I cannot say enough how much I am pulling for you. And I will put a link in the show notes to places where if you’re listening and you want to help, there are credible organizations that can help you help those folks who need it. I’m very fortunate to be able to say that I and mine, me and mine are not those folks, and we were very, very lucky.
We had a little bit of damage, but nothing too terrible. So obviously, again, we’re pulling for all those folks who are in some circumstances right now and very, very thankful to be where we are.
I also very much want to say thank you to all of those people who reached out to me, whether it was text or call or an email leading up to the hurricane and after the hurricane to make sure that I was okay, to make sure my family was okay, to make sure my business was okay. It just meant so much to me to hear from you, and thanks so much for thinking of me.
Why I Believe in the Future
And in a roundabout way that leads to what I want to talk about today. And this is roundabout, I’m going to be very honest. I want to start by saying that I believe in the future, and when you look at the state of the world today, when you look at where we don’t always have the best headlines or there’s some terrible things going on in various parts of the world, there’s a war going on.
There’s people who can’t agree on basic facts. Sometimes it’s understandable. If you’re like, "Well, why in the world would you believe in the future? Why in the world would you be hopeful? Are you some sort of Pollyanna or something like that?" And the reason I believe in the future is because I believe in the great work that I get to see people do every day.
Remarkable Builders in the World: "Possibilists"
For instance, just the other day I was talking to someone whose company is legitimately working on a potential vaccine for cancer, which is mind boggling. It just fills me with such hope.
And I think that great marketers and great business leaders and great product innovators and great entrepreneurs are optimists to a point, but I prefer the term possibilist. I love this term. You’ve heard me mention it before. I got it from the book, Thoughtfulness by the late Hans Rosling.
What is a Possibilist?
A possibilist is a bit different than an optimist. As Rosling said, possibilist means someone who neither "…hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview. As a possibilist, I see all this progress and it fills me with conviction and hope that further progress is possible. This is not optimistic. It is having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are. It is having a worldview that is constructive and useful."
And I love that. Possiblist people who look at the world that way, recognize the reality of where we are. We know that things aren’t always great. You’ve heard me mention the Stockdale Paradox before. It’s in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, among many other places where James Stockdale, Admiral James Stockdale, was the highest ranking prisoner of war in Vietnam, who recognized that they were in terrible situations and also looked forward to a better outcome at some point. It’s a world view that is constructive and useful.
People who are possibilist aren’t afraid to try things. They’re not afraid to be wrong. Obviously you want to be right, but they’re willing to go out on a limb from time to time. It’s not blind risk. It’s about assessing where you are, assessing where you want to be in the future, assessing what might stop you and then moving forward to make that future happen.
Possibilists Build Positive Stories
Another thing that I think possibilists do, and this is very much aligned with Admiral Stockdale. When faced with a setback, possibilists don’t see that setback as the end of the story. We see it, at worst, as maybe middle. Sometimes it’s even the beginning of an entirely new story.
I’ll give you an example. A company I’ve worked with for years on and off recently closed its doors. They had a number of setbacks and as sometimes happens, realized that they didn’t have a viable path forward in their current form.
And yet, even as they were working through the process of winding down the business, when I talked with the remarkable builders within the organization, when I talked with the execs and the individual contributors alike, people who were committed to successful outcomes for this organization, they talked again and again and again about being disappointed with how things ended up, being a little sad, of course, and also about all of the things that they were looking forward to accomplishing next. They don’t see the company shut down as the end of a story. They see it as the beginning of an entirely new one.
Possibilists Make Their Customers’ Lives Better
And the reason that this fills me with such hope, not just about this company and not just about any company, but because they see their jobs as making their customers lives better, and they see this as an opportunity to do that, maybe not in the way they thought they would, but they still see plenty of opportunity to make their customers lives better. We owe it to our customers to make their lives better.
And by we, I mean you, right? We are all in this together.
We Don’t Tear Down; We Build
I talk a lot about content marketing. I talk a lot about how we create content to tell a story to our customers and the like. And you can make a great living on the internet with hot takes that stir the pot and get people all angered up, all fired up. I refer to it as the Takes Industry, somebody with a hot take about X or Y or Z, and that is built to find flaws. It is built to incite outrage and dissent. We know that nothing goes viral as far or fast as anger. So if you want to go viral, if you want to get a message out, go ahead and piss people off. You’ll blow up all over the place. But that’s not building, that’s tearing down. That’s destroying, and it’s not making people’s lives better.
Two Things Can Be True at Once
One of the reasons you don’t hear me bash the AGFAM, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft very often, or big tech, whatever you want to call them, more is because it doesn’t help necessarily. Now, I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna. We have to remember that two things can be true at once. Sometimes the AGFAM, the big tech players do terrible things and we should 1000% hold them to account when they do. If that’s your scene, if that’s what you’re into, the team and I are working on an episode about the future of search that you’ll hear in a couple of weeks, where we’ll say some things, I’ll have some things to say about gatekeepers like Google and Amazon that you’re not going to want to miss. But the point isn’t to just bash them, it’s to hold them to account while also acknowledging, hey, they sometimes do wonderful things. I mentioned a few weeks ago about some of Google’s new AR search tools like Search with Live View and their Lens AR translate.
Two things can be true at once. We have to hold both of these things in our head at the same time to say, "How do we understand where we are? How do we understand what problems we’re facing? How do we understand what problems our customers are facing? And then how can we make it better from them?" So when we talk about big tech, when we talk about the AGFAM, it’s about how we can work with them, where we must ignore them where we can, and make our customers lives better in either case. Way back when people used to refer to it as coopetition, right? As in "cooperate" and "compete," "cooperate" and "competition" put together, because that’s the world we live in. Digital makes that a reality again and again and again.
Possibilists Fight Problems, Not People
Now, you could call it knowing your enemy. You could call it picking your battles, but I would suggest that possibilists only fight where it’s truly necessary. And when we do, we fight problems, not people. Possibleists and entrepreneurs and creators aren’t about picking fights. They’re about solving problems. They don’t look at the world in terms of "either/or." We’re about "both/and."
How do we do those things together? It’s not about subtraction and division. It’s about addition and multiplication. And, if we get it really right, exponentiation. Getting exponentially better and making it exponentially better for our customers and for the people we care about.
By "We" I Mean "You"
And I said this a minute ago. When I say "we," I mean "you." I know you do this too. And sure, sometimes it’s tougher. Sometimes you’re facing challenges a la the company I just referred to or the hurricane I just went through down here, everybody has bad stuff happen to them from time to time.
I’ve known plenty of people who have had more than their fair share. And yet I remember a former boss telling me the story of if you got 10 people to stand in a circle and everyone could throw their problems in a pile in the middle of the circle and then ask those folks to choose which problems they’d want, most people would take their own back. One of my long time mentors, one of my dear friends, has dealt for years with a couple of very serious health situations, not just of his own, but also of family members. So he doesn’t just have to deal with his own problems, he’s watching other people he loves deal with these things. And some of them are tough for me to imagine how I would deal with it. And yet he’s also one of the most productive, professional and downright pleasant people I’ve ever known.
I’ve seen him create new ideas and drive them to completion. I’ve seen him build new companies. More importantly, I’ve seen him build up the people around them to ensure that they’re more successful in what they do. He inspires me every day and hopefully hearing about people like this or if you know people like this in your lives, they inspire you too. And as I’ve said, we’ve all had setbacks, I’ve had setbacks, I’ve had challenges. Of course, I can see things in the world that I want to change and that I realize there are things out there that are kind of terrible for many, many people. I totally get that.
I also fully realize how very lucky I am. I have friends and family and health and resources that not everybody else is blessed with. I get that. It’s not that I have no problems, it’s just that I think it’s unfair for me to add my challenges to your pile. You don’t want to be standing in the circle looking at my stuff and saying, "Why do I have to take that on?" Remember, we are here to make it better for our customers. We’re here to make it better for our communities. And so I try to do the same for you.
Conclusion: We Owe It To Our Customers to Make Their Lives Better
And that, at the end of the day, is why I believe in the future, because I’m pretty confident that if you listen to this show regularly, you believe in the future too. I believe that you believe that we owe it to our customers to make their lives better. You believe that you can see where things aren’t right today. You believe that you can come up with a solution and you believe that you can make your customers lives better when we get right down to it. That’s why I believe in the future. It’s because I believe in you, and I have to tell you, I can’t wait to see what you do next.
Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to timpeter.com/podcast.
Again, that’s timpeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 361.
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With all that said, I just want to say once more how much I appreciate you listening. It means the world to me. We are going through weird times. I said at the top of the show, I said throughout the show that the world is not perfect, and I recognize that your life day to day may have its ups and downs, and the fact that you take a little bit out of your very, very valuable day, your very, very valuable week, your very, very valuable life to listen to the show means more than I can say. So sincerely, thank you very, very much. With that sentiment, I hope you have a great rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I do look forward speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as always, take care.