What Sam Rosen says in the intro to his guest post below is true… I’m really not so into accepting guest posts because this isn’t so much a “business blog” as it’s “that one asshole’s blog.” When that one asshole isn’t the person writing, it feels strange. (Drew Kime holds some incriminating info on me, which is why I ran his post recently. But hopefully those hearings will be over soon and the statute of limitations will expire.)
So the reasons I’m running today’s guest post by Sam Rosen are twofold:
1. Sam is doing this really interesting thing that I’ve never seen before — 60 speakers in 60 minutes giving their best tips on online influence — and you all will like it. (I’m planning to like it myself, actually.) It’s totally and completely free, so there’s no reason not to do it. I also don’t stand to benefit from it at all, which both irks me and makes me feel like Mother Theresa.
2. I needed a post, and it made sense to talk about Sam’s thing (because naturally, I’m in it… since I’m a whore). However, I had the choice of doing the hard work myself or saying, “Yeah, Sam, why don’t you write it because I’m going on vacation in a bit and don’t want to write it myself? Have it on my desk by 9am tomorrow. And by ‘my desk,’ I mean to tie it around a rock and throw it through my window. And by ‘window,’ I mean my email account. And by ‘rock,’ I mean virus.”
So what follows is Sam working and doing my job for me. Enjoy.
Recently, Johnny wrote that he rarely accepts guest posts. That’s not because he’s a cold-hearted, zombie-obsessed misanthrope who prefers hilarious chickens over fellow humans. It’s because he’s a pompous classist who only associates with Ivy League professors and captains of industry.
Okay, maybe not. If I added that biographical hue to Johnny’s non-existent Wikipedia page, I’d probably have at least 42 Truantians attempt to sue me for slander, including his biggest fan, Ann Coulter.
So why did he let me do a blog post?
It’s not because he has a penchant for Jewish entrepreneurs (JOHNNY’S NOTE: It’s not JUST because I have a penchant for Jewish entrepreneurs). I think it’s because my company, ThoughtLead, is doing something slightly unusual:
We’re putting on the shortest marketing conference ever. 60 of the web’s leading thinkers and doers (including Mr. Truant himself) will speak for 60 seconds each about how to increase your digital influence. On July 6th, at 6pm ET. It’s called the Influencer Project, and it’s sponsored by big companies (like HubSpot, Rackspace, and MarketingProfs).
How’d we think of the idea…and get so many people to join in on the fun?
We Questioned the Rules (Hmm… I like the sound of that. Maybe I’ll create an online course of the same title soon. Damn you, Truant! You win this time.)
You see, not too long ago, we launched another speaker series, called The Purposeful Product (which Johnny, Dave Navarro, and Chris Brogan are actually all speaking on this week). It got rave reviews. But it fell short of the buzz we had hoped for.
That’s because it wasn’t a disruptive idea. Despite the awesome speakers and content, the overall messaging was pretty standard. And, not surprisingly, it didn’t fly like we wanted it to (kind of like Truant’s chickens).
The Influencer Project, on the other hand, is different. It’s already spreading on Twitter, and people we don’t even know are blogging about it.
Frankly, we’re all a bit stunned, and that’s not just because Truant mailed us one of his chickens last night with the mysterious note, “She’s yours. Good luck.”
How to Think Disruptively
Truth is, we were tired of all the “me too” product launches, conferences, e-books, and blogs, and we wanted to do something radically different, something that created a lot of hoopla in a hurry.
So we questioned the rules, just like Johnny told us to (as well as getting a JBT apple-eating tattoo on our left ankles, which our parents weren’t too psyched about).
After recovering from the trauma of “inking” our ankles with Johnny’s admittedly dashing image, we endeavored to isolate five attributes of disruptive thinking. Here they are:
1. Think in terms of memes. “Question the Rules”; “Third Tribe”; and “Shortest Marketing Conference Ever” are all “repeatable” ideas that upend convention. They take schemas (rules, tribes, conferences) in the cultural zeitgeist and give them a twist. Think about Apple’s 1984 Superbowl commercial. It was 1984. The book 1984 represented all of the suits, the corporate meanies, the stodgy, uncreative bastards. They took that and turned it on its head.
So ask yourself: “Is this meme-worthy? Is this something that could spread?” If the answer’s “no,” you might be in trouble. If it’s “yes,” then keep going.
2. Create a collective ethos. If it’s just “your thing,” who cares? But if it’s about the community, if it’s an idea driven by people coming together and rallying around a cause, then you release a different kind of energy. We’re not lone warriors. We’re intersubjectively inclined human beings who, no matter how “big” we are, want to accomplish incredible things with others.
So ask yourself: are you facilitating a collective platform, or just worried about your own product, service, or idea?
3. Get other disruptors on board. The “influencers,” the people who are already in the public eye, are usually disruptors by nature. They think in different ways. They have styles that set them apart from others. They create memes. By making it easy for them to say “yes” (read: 60-second interview, plus a collective ethos, plus a meme), you not only begin to adopt their thinking—you become their partner in crime. (JOHNNY’S NOTE: I’ve had to decline a lot of interviews lately. “60 seconds” is EXACTLY what made me do this one — they made it easy to say yes.)
So ask yourself: are you making it easy and attractive for other disruptors to join you in the cause of innovation, and maybe even the creation of a new internet shoe empire?
4. Use language—creatively and memorably. When we were inviting A-listers, we used the sentence: “60 of the web’s leading thinkers speak for 60 seconds each about how to increase your digital influence for good and profit in the next 60 days, on July 6th at 6pm ET.” That grabs attention. We intentionally created a sense of rhythm, repetition, and repeatability (you might notice that I’m kind of into alliteration; like Johnny’s zombies, it’s an unhealthy obsession) so that it would “stick” in people’s minds.
So ask yourself: is your language memorable? Do you sound like a white heterosexual middle class religiously unremarkable man living in America, or does your idea have stickiness, repeatability, “memetic” mojo?
5. Create a pattern interrupt. For a long time, everyone selling information products online was using long-form sales letters. Then, one day, Frank Kern did one big video with a huge “Add to Cart” button underneath. Many others followed suit, but he was the disruptor. For a long time, everyone was blogging, and then Twitter made you turn your “logs” (ahem) into 140 characters each. Now there are “corporate micro-blogging platforms,” but Twitter was the disruptor. What do these examples have in common? They took a pattern we were familiar with, and interrupted it.
So ask yourself: are you just following the same pattern, or are you interrupting—disrupting—it, like Tony Robbins does at his seminars when he bucks the “cheerleader” image and starts swearing?
Okay, so by now, you’re probably starting to get an idea of the “disruptive thinking” mindset. And if you’re not, it’s probably hopeless. (Just kidding. I heard that it took Johnny like 10 years to have his first good idea.)
So here’s a question I’d like you to answer in the comments: How can you be more disruptive in your own thinking, without stealing my idea (I know a lawyer, Truant)? What examples of disruptive marketing have inspired you lately?
(JOHNNY’S NOTE: And also sign up to listen to the Influencer Project. It’s free, and it’s the only project of it’s kind. Fo real, yo.)