Thursday, May 30, 2019

Show me.

As much as sports were a big part of my life for a long time, I learned at a fairly early age that there was something about sports that annoyed the hell out of me.

Sure, I always enjoyed the challenge of hitting a round ball with a round bat. Or trying to bend a pitch past a batter. Or the excitement of beating a peg from the outfield. Or making one to catch a runner rounding third just before he scores. But despite all that, even when I was just twelve or ten, I knew that playing games was, for me, fundamentally empty, a waste of time and dumb.

I remembered where I was when I reached that conclusion. I was playing tackle football in the twilight hours after school let out. We were on a patch of scrubby grass--one of the last in the neighborhood that hadn't been concreted over so a Toyota City or a Home Depot or a Sizzler could set up shop.

There were just six or eight of us playing back-and-forth on the hardscrabble and, and this happens any time a game is played, an argument broke out. (As my old man would Borscht Belt, 'I went to a boxing match last night and a hockey game broke out.')

In any event we were arguing heatedly about a first-down or an interception or some fantasy infraction and I realized that when playing sports it doesn't matter having the best athletes on your team. If you want to win more than you lose, your safest bet is to have someone on your team who has a very loud voice and who argues indefatigably.

You win the arguments, you get the calls, you win the game. Right or wrong hardly ever enters into it. Good or bad even less so. To re-write Ecclesiastes, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. It mostly goes to people with the loudest voices."

The world, and of course our industry, is infected by the same imbecility. Or, should I say, I am infected (and affected) by it. 

Every day I see and hear dozens of pontificators shouting solipsisms about platitudes and falsehoods about truisms. My reaction to these onslaughts of bombast and bluster is usually: "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know what you mean by things like:"

a) We're employing a vectored hybrid strategy to energize the ecosystem

b) Our agile customer-centric approach will deliver long-tail benefits in the short-term

c) We are a team of digitally-savvy makers reimagining the role of content in content-free content marketing

Usually what I wind up thinking to myself is two things:

1) Why don't you speak a language I understand? 

2) Barring that, why not show me what you mean, what you've done in employing a hybrid strategy

I guess what frazzles me is that the world today--our business today--seems to be ruled by the loudness of assertive know-nothings. They shout, they pontificate, they spout at this conference or that and they're empaneled up the Yin-Yang, doing what? Shouting, pontificating, spouting.

They have an Amen-Chorus around them. They speak no known language and win more and more applause, promotions and money. They're on 30 under 30 lists. Fast-rising stars. 40 under 40. Strategists for a new tomorrow, today.

They are modern alchemists. Three-card Monte men playing with two cards. Purveyors of snake-oil, bunk, smoke and mirrors, all sizzle, no steak. I couldn't eat anyway. They make me lose my appetite.

The whole world is too timid to say what we're supposed to be say, "Yeah. But what have you done? Don't tell me how smart you are. Show me work--not trumped-up case study videos, not powerpoint slides, not made-up metrics--show me the work that worked.

I'm tired, very tired of flim flam. Bull shit. Crushing it. Killing it. Hustling the hustle in the non-stop bustle and using your muscle.

Do good ads. As good as the ones below.

Then let them speak for themselves.

No comments: