Thursday, September 30, 2010

Intentionalism, Limbic Advertising, and the New Workplace

This post includes: four (4) book recommendations, including one I haven't even read yet, two (2) embedded videos, and three (3) interrelated topics. Set aside something like half an hour if you want to absorb all of this content at once.

I'm not even sure where to start, so I guess I'm going to start with: why. Simon Sinek, last year at a TED conference, gave the following talk, entitled "How great leaders inspire action". You can watch it now, or just read my discussion of it below the embed.

His big premise is this, which he repeats several times: People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The major scientific underpinning of this idea is that people make decisions in their limbic brain, which is not in any way responsible for the production of language. The emotional core is best accessed by appealing to that emotion, by explaining why you are doing what you're doing and selling to your kindred spirits.

For a more in-depth exploration of this idea, go read William Gibson's Bigend novels: Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History. I recently described these books as, "like sci-fi, only take out the hyperdrive and put in viral marketing." There's really no other way I can put it. From Pattern Recognition, mischievous bazillionaire genius Hubertus Bigend, on "knowing something in your heart":

You “know” in your limbic brain. The seat of instinct. The mammalian brain. Deeper, wider, beyond logic. That is where advertising works, not in the upstart cortex. What we think of as ‘mind’ is only a sort of jumped-up gland, piggybacking on the reptilian brainstem and the older, mammalian mind, but our culture tricks us into recognizing it as all of consciousness. The mammalian spreads continent-wide beneath it, mute and muscular, attending its ancient agenda. And makes us buy things.

Back to Sinek, whose conclusion is that to have thriving organization, we must have a purpose, and make that purpose the primary talking point. We can't just produce something that no one else produces, we must be something that no one else is.

Which brings me to Rework. The short text by the founders of 37signals, creators of web-based business efficiency software, turns the traditional model of American business on its head, proclaiming that the customer is not always necessarily right, meetings are a necessary evil at best (just plain old evil at worst), demanding work ASAP is poisonous, and working long hours is actually detrimental to one's output. The phrase "highly recommended" does not cover even a small part of how I feel about this book. I have a copy. I'll mail it to you, if you promise to return it. Jason Fried, one of the authors, about meetings: (link here but click around the site and listen to more of his stuff).

The 37signals crew is buying into intentionalism wholeheartedly, preaching that you don't sell things that you believe in, that you do things you believe in, and then you can sell what results from that. With a big enough world, with varied enough tastes, there's probably a market for whatever you are obsessed with.

Which brings me to this blog. I'm pretty obsessed with new ideas, and the way the world is changing. I believe in making the best new ideas accessible to people who wouldn't normally come in contact with them. I can't do it alone, really, especially with the micro-audience this blog has. Um, who wants to write with me? Seriously, email or comments section.

No comments:

Post a Comment