Written by Shelley Plett Tuesday, 22 February 2011 17:05
“You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion.”—Garrison Keillor
I was reading a marketing blog after searching for something completely non-related to marketing blogs, because that’s how search engines work.
Since it was only seven paragraphs long and fate and Bing apparently thought I needed to read it, I did.
It was titled, “All things to all people,” and went on to explain why being “this” is unachievable. The author used a percentage that I’d heard somewhere before, the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of a businesses’ business comes from 20 percent of its customers.
I believe it and I think it crosses over to other things.
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of a book called “Committed.” She’s written articles like a man for GQ magazine, such as “The Muse of the Coyote Ugly Saloon” and books like a woman such as “Committed” and “Eat Pray Love.”
She has recorded and encouraged the honest strings of profanity coming out of Hank Williams III for the sake of the story. She’s also been about as girly as she could, spending three months feasting on gelato and cappuccinos in lingerie she bought only for herself, also for the sake of her story.
A story about Coyote Ugly waitresses dancing on top of bars probably won’t pull in the same readers as a story about riding her bicycle in a sundress through the streets of Bali. And those same readers may not agree with her views on marriage, divorce and definitely not same-sex marriage, that she tackles in “Committed.”
Through the controversy, she knows exactly what she wants to say, exactly who her audience is and then caters that info specifically to them. She is passionate, knows what she believes in. And like a friend of mine said after we saw Gilbert on her “Committed” book tour recently, that passion is contagious whether or not you agree with her.
Whether a person’s passion is spiritual, practical, occupational, legal or any otherwise is beside the point. It’s their confidence that earns your respect.
People like Gilbert spend less time, or maybe no time at all, worrying about what another person is doing or producing. If they did, how much would they actually accomplish? And how well-developed or believable would it be?
That marketing blog also said that marketers are “energetic folks who (truth be told) lean toward pleasing people.” That’s not exclusive to marketing people. We all do it, which is exactly why so many of us complain about having too much to do without enough time to do it in.
It makes me want to really chew on Liz Gilbert’s philosophy. Pick what you want to do or say and one person you want to do or say it for. The rest will have to go on the chopping block.
Then we can be left to do our thing in a way that doesn’t demean or belittle anyone else. On the flip side, it’s great to be nice, but not so nice we lose the passion. I think the successful ones—marketers, business owners, artists, telemarketers, or insert name here—remember their sense of right and wrong, consult with their outrage but still find a way to bloom from their passion.