Keeping Your Spirits High

People’s perspective has always fascinated me.  When I listen to people talk, I try and understand not only the context of the situation or thing they are telling me about but also the one under which they are operating at the moment.

Let me give you an example to clarify.

Say that someone is telling me about an event that transpired in their business.  For the sake of this example, we’ll say that it’s a recent sale that they made.  Now imagine this person is telling you about this sale and they are disappointed that the margin on the deal was low and so they didn’t make much from it.  They might say that they were under pressure to do the deal and this was the best they could get.

In isolation, you’d contextualise that story by saying that this person basically needs to make a deal under less than spectacular terms because, for some reason, they were back into a corner.  All up, you come away from that thinking that is wasn’t a great deal.

But what about the context under which they are retelling that story?  What if the person is struggling with their business as they tell that story?

That would certainly colour the way they tell the story.

I always try and view things that people are telling me through that particular lens – take them at face value with what they say, but understand the pretence under which they tell it to me.

Then there is the fact that some people are just naturally more optimistic while others have a tendency to be more pessimistic.  In and of itself pessimism gets confused fairly regularly with cynicism.

Lastly, we come to the often self-proclaimed “realists” who think they have found some inner zen thing that allows them to have a more clear, focused perspective.  Normally, in my perspective, these people are stupid and lack imagination.  They can’t foresee problems and aren’t open-minded enough to understand the opportunity.

I probably don’t fall into either camp – I’m not an optimist because I’m a bit too cynical for that and I’m not a pessimist because I tend to see potential and am hopeful.  I consider myself a “tempered optimist” – I look at the upside, but I am always looking for the potholes.

As I’ve spent more and more time online doing business I’ve needed to really work on that because it can become quite easy to get cynical and pessimistic.  You see the same mistakes being made by people repeatedly or in many cases the same scams getting pulled over and over again.  Of course, there’s also the idea that things are getting more crowded and it is becoming harder to succeed as time moves on.

What I’ve learned is, those mistakes and scams that are getting pulled are actually my reason for optimism, particularly when it comes to debunking the last point about things becoming harder and more crowded.

Hear me out.

The reason why you see people falling for things that you’ve seen hundreds of people fall for in the past or the same mistakes being made repeatedly is that there are so many new people flooding online in a more meaningful way.  More mindshare from average people is being devoted to online properties and the internet that the market is still growing at a phenomenal rate.

Which in part covers the last point about things getting crowded.  For sure, some markets are locked down.  If you were to try and say, start an online book retailer right now, you’d be wasting your time for obvious reasons.  But if you think about it, it was only 2010 when Uber took its first paying customer in beta and only formally launched the app exclusively in just San Francisco a mere five years ago!

The internet hasn’t even scratched the surface of what it can become.  I saw a woman the other day who had to be in her 80’s take a selfie, post it on Snapchat and Instagram while sitting on a park bench.  I arrived home on Friday night from work via Uber X and as I was walking in my neighbour was collecting his family’s dinner from Deliveroo.

This is transformative technology and it is creating a vastly wider potential audience and marketplace while making it stupidly easier for you to do business on a global scale.  Today I was talking with a Casual Marketer subscriber about how to use Stripe to collect payments in US dollars, anywhere in the world online and within 7 days it will be in her Australian bank account.

When I think about the opportunities, it becomes very easy to be hopeful about the potential and that’s the thing that ultimately drives good entrepreneurs…


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