Yep, you read that right.
Over the course of an average day I am asked to provide oodles of advice to people, generally on subjects I am intimately familiar with. Whether online or off, my posture is always to be blunt and not sugar coat anything. There are practical reasons for that, of course, most important of them being lack of time to worry about phrasing. And then there is an inherent personality trait that I’ve struggled most of my adult life with – lack of filter. I seem to be utterly lacking the mechanism for self-censorship. Some people are born with it, and are inherently diplomatic. I am just not one of those people.
photo courtesy: by Bernt Rostad
Having spent quite a few years trying to trick my brain into developing that all important filter, I finally realized that it’s simply not going to happen.
I can’t bring myself to say something that I don’t fundamentally believe in, no matter what’s at stake, and that’s just the way it is.
So perceptions being what they are – I am a bitch. I am not proud of it, but I am not apologizing for it either. I’ll take it one step further and say that if you are looking for honest advice and opinion, it’s better for you to deal with someone who doesn’t filter what they say than someone who does when it comes to business strategy advice or marketing. Here is why:
In any business, your prospects will have some 30 seconds or thereabouts to form an initial impression of your business, service or products on first contact. They will have to do so without the benefit of filters of any kind, and in the largely online world of commerce and communication, you won’t know what effect any of the stuff you throw out there will have on that all important perception of your offerings’ worth or value.
Consumers don’t tend to send businesses notes saying that something or other in your branding, message or service left them cold. They simply walk away and go elsewhere.
If your advisers sugar coat when advising you instead of impulsively and honestly stating their reactions, you will proceed down the false trail under false pretenses. At the end of the day, your ego will be the only beneficiary.
So next time you see me state something publicly or to you in person that you think comes off a bit harsh, it’s not done out of malice or to deflate your ego. I am doing you a favor by putting myself into the shoes of your prospect and giving you unabashed commentary to help you navigate to the trail that is right for you, and to do so with eyes wide open. It also saves all involved a crap load of time that we can all spend reading to our kids or sipping a nice beverage with our significant other or doing nothing at all.
I’d like to do more of that last thing some day.
For now, if anyone wants to pick my brain in any forum, by all means, but please don’t ask me to take it easy on you, or to use gentler (or smaller) words, expressions etc. It’s too damn hard, and I’d rather spend my time helping those whose egos are not so easily bruised and who understand the value of unfiltered, honest commentary.
For the rest of it, I’d rather volunteer my time to places where it can make an actual difference.