Most of us have experienced the difference between purchasing commodities and ‘finer goods’. The term ‘finer goods’ is often confused with ‘expensive’, but as we define the characteristics of finer goods, we see this isn’t the case.
Certainly, the act of engaging with the creators of finer goods can be more personal, enjoyable, refer-able, and long-lasting. All great things. What makes these things happen?
- Recognition. By reflecting the identity of the buyer, the item becomes about them. E.g. a U.K. customer receives a product sourced entirely from U.K. suppliers.
- Experience. By providing a memorable experience while engaging with you and your work, the process becomes about them. E.g. how jewelers let you watch them set your stone.
- Exclusivity. Rarity, by its definition, suggests that not everybody has it. This makes ownership about them: they get to have one. E.g. limited run items.
- Individualism. By tailoring your work specifically to them, your work becomes unique to them. It’s their name on the front, then yours, instead of just a logo. E.g. a suit being fitted to your body, or a purse having your initials on it.
To make a difference, your focus needs to be on the tribe you serve, and the difference you make. When making work that matters, consider how your work could benefit from being treated as a finer good.
What if you already had your pick of causes that desperately need your support?
What if you already had access to the strategies needed to take your work to market?
What if you already had access to the capital needed to make your idea a reality?
What if you already had access to the buyers needed to grow that idea exponentially?
What if the right people were already available, to recruit or to join forces with, ready to own the change needed to make it all a reality?
What if all you needed was the vision and creativity to put those pieces together?
What are you waiting for?
A box of free-range eggs only costs a few dollars. A Fabergé egg costs millions.
Their rarity, intricacy, and mystique make all the difference. And you can’t even eat them.
In a race to become an overnight success, we frequently observe the rapid commoditization of products, services, and brands. Many appear to prefer being a free-range business, rather than a Fabergé business.
How can you be the latter?
1. Be Different, because ‘rare’ isn’t the same.
- Do unexpected things. Fabergé makes precious few eggs, surely they’d want to sell more? Free-range thinking: ‘more’ doesn’t always mean ‘better’.
- Learn other markets. Most markets use the ‘rules’ of that market, doing things the way everyone else does them “because that’s how it’s done”.
2. Be Specific, because ‘rare’ isn’t wishy-washy.
- Get clear. How clear are people on the distinctive value of your offer before you present that offer to them?
- Choose your own market. And bake it into your marketing. Fabergé isn’t sold in supermarkets because that’s not where their target audience is.
3. Be a Leader, because ‘rare’ isn’t where everyone else is going.
- Write the rules. If a map exists, someone’s already been there, in the exact same way. Find a better way, and draw a new map.
- Forget all you know. And do it better, by instead questioning everything in your market, industry, and process.
4. Be Better, because ‘rare’ becomes more exquisite with time.
- Give back. Benefit a community, market or industry and make your venture bigger than yourself.
- Train, grow, let it show. The best are comfortable revealing their journey of growth. Others get a look at the precision of your work.
What would it to do your work if you accepted it’s not for everyone, and instead became a precious rarity for those you serve?
Why did you put that there?
Do you need that?
What’s it for?
What’s a better way of doing that?
How could that be easier to understand?
Does that fit in?
Could you remove that?
If you threw this in the trash, what would you do instead?
Am I doing my best work?
Can I ship it yet?
The more time you spend arguing with yourself, the better your work will become. Without these arguments, you’ll do standard work. You’ll ship later (or never). You’ll deny yourself opportunities to grow in your craft. And you’ll deny your work the opportunity to be great.
Become your own worst enemy and start doing your best work.
“A Players play with A Players. B Players play with C Players” – elitist chant
You’ve likely heard this quote before. It may even have inspired you to do better work. But it’s wrong.
It supposes you’re destined for a downward trajectory unless you’re already the best. And the best don’t get that way by accident. Let’s rewrite the quote:
B Players play with B players.
C Players play with nobody.
A Players turn B Players into A Players.
Because the best don’t sit in ivory towers. They lead.
Needs: We do these because we were asked to. We drink water because our body needs it. We deliver great service because we promise it to our customers and clients. We do these things because we Need to.
Musts: We do these things, not from need, but because we decided they’re important enough. They Must get done because they create a change we want to see in the world. We refuse to let these things remain undone.
Shoulds: We don’t do these. We didn’t Need to, and we didn’t make it a Must. Here lives bucket lists and promises we won’t keep.
Everything we do belongs to one of these three buckets. Choose wisely.
Perfection, in its usual sense, suggests the ultimate unattainable pedestal commonly used to excuse ourselves from starting something that matters. Or a romanticized ideal looked upon through rose-tinted glasses.
What if perfection meant something different? What if perfection simply meant that something does exactly what its supposed to do?
Rolls-Royce is often considered to create automotive perfection – the ultimate driving experience.
They perfected making you feel ‘special’.
They did not perfect making you feel ‘eco-friendly’. By that standard, a Toyota Prius is far more perfect than the Rolls. Should that mean the Rolls is lesser?
What if perfection were a journey rather than a destination? The pursuit of making your product do exactly what its supposed to do?
With that meaning, achieving perfection becomes a pursuit focused on our goals. When defined in that way, please, be a perfectionist.
“What got you here won’t get you there” – Marshall Goldsmith
The trouble with performing the trapeze act is, if you don’t let go of one swing in order to grab the next, you lose momentum and wind up going backward, quickly.
The other issue is, the second swing is the scarier one–it’s the one you’ve not got a grip on yet. Worse, not grabbing it will send you quickly downward. And you can’t hold on to them both at the same time, or you’ll go nowhere.
In a growing business, we often know what the next swing is in front of us. We see it as we hurtle toward it if our eyes are open. It may be a new skill, a new challenge, or a new opportunity within the business. But reaching it is a bit of a leap.
“I had no idea you could code” – a team member
How often do you hear phrases like this? If ‘never’, it might mean you’ve never let go–perhaps you’re happily swinging backward and forwards on your first swing.
What are you afraid to let go of? What will you need to let go of, to make the leap and maintain your forward momentum?
Last week, the FCC ruled against Net Neutrality, America’s fight for freedom of information. ‘The land of the free’ now lacks freedom of information.
Fascism aside, netizens (that’s us) are partly to blame for this centralized control of information.
We collectively voted to give our data and attention to a select few sites and services. The majority vote went to consuming rather than creating, following instead of leading, and reducing our thinking to 140 characters or less.
Turns out shooting fish in an ocean is much more difficult than shooting fish in a barrel.
The beauty of the Internet is everybody has a voice. Everyone can publish to their own corner of the Internet–and lead change–if they choose to. By simply getting out of the barrel, change is not so easily blocked.
You have a voice and you have the tools, Net Neutrality or not. Will you use yours?
‘New Years’ is dangerous. Everyone starts thinking about new things to try or to stop doing by way of a ‘resolution’. Baseless ideals that last for 28 days.
Perhaps what we need isn’t a new year. Maybe what we need is just a better, refined version of last year. Maybe what we did last year isn’t so bad, we just needed to be more consistent, or disciplined. Maybe there’s absolutely nothing new we need to ‘start’ at all.
- What should have done more consistently? If you did something that worked, intermittently–for whatever reason–perhaps all you need to do is be more consistent with that activity.
- What should we have been more disciplined with? For instance, if you wasted less time on social media, but still found yourself distracted from deeper thinking from time to time, perhaps all you need to do is be stricter with yourself by setting some disciplines.
This ‘New Years’ season, consider not doing anything new at all.
When Apple was done making the iPhone 6, what we needed wasn’t an iPhone 7. What we needed was an iPhone 6S – the 6, but faster.
Never mind 2018. Happy 2017S, everyone: like 2017, but better.