Michael’s View – In Pursuit of the Remarkable

11 Aug Michael’s View – In Pursuit of the Remarkable

The pursuit of the remarkable is one of the most interesting ideas of the marketing guru Seth Godin. Remarkable, Godin says, is not just about being brilliant. It is, in the more literal sense, about being remarked upon. Getting noticed. Sparking conversation.

For a taste of why this matters, think of a single ad you read in a newspaper today? Scrap that. Did you even read a newspaper today?

The fact is, we are tuning out in our droves from organised forms of conversation and communication. In a world where many things are available in unprecedented abundance, the one thing in absolute shortage is our attention. We just don’t have enough to go around.

This drought brings a central problem for those who seek your approval, who want your attention, who want you to remark upon them. Wonder who these people are that seek to metaphorically knock on your door? Brands, leaders, charities, politicians. In fact, anyone with a product to sell or a message to communicate.

And it’s getting a lot more difficult in a world where less is fast becoming a lot more. We are being asked to believe more, but in fact we trust less. We are being asked to absorb more information, but retain less and less. One American study found that the average human attention span has declined by a third since the year 2000 and is now less than that of a goldfish.

In a world where anyone can in theory speak to anyone, more and more are learning a bitter truth. They are reaching no one – a one-way conversation with no one listening. A catastrophic build up of communication clutter that has clogged up our minds. The 21st century equivalent of Munch’s The Scream.

Quantity of communication is no replacement for quality. Language should be a thing of beauty to be lovingly crafted and used to put forward a strongly held point of view. Addressing the needs of those you want to reach. What will make me want to remember? Make me want to act? Make me want to feel?

It is why the pursuit of the remarkable matters. Why those who seek a different way are onto something.

In our book, MISSION: How The Best In Business Break Through, we chart why a big part of the answer to this conundrum rests in purpose. If you believe that you have something to say, your conviction might well be a crucial step in creating an audience that wants to listen.

For the entrepreneurs and business campaigners that we met while writing the book, this was often be found in a driving goal to change the world. And it’s a point we will make in a talk we are giving at the London School of Economics this week. Mission matters.

Who isn’t listening to Travis Kalanick at Uber or Elon Musk at Tesla? The audacity of the goal, the scale and scope of the ambition. It provides the big bazooka. Come in mission control, we are listening.

But of course, some of us might have somewhat humbler goals than world revolution. Yet, hold that thought, for you might be a lot closer to Kalanick and Musk than you think. For we are all, in one way or another, involved in the pursuit of the remarkable.

Take a humble Facebook page. We all have one. We all build a story through it. We all curate a certain type of image through it. Think you are merely communicating information? Think again. You are more likely than not creating that sense of your better self through what you write and what you post.

Same applies to your Twitter account, surely the frontline of the remarkable. The goal, the follower, the retweet. Information worth sharing, tribes worth building.

One of the people I work with is Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones. Consider this. He is just about to reach one million followers on Twitter. The Times, has a mere 491,000. Think of that. A single person with a greater following than one of the country’s most powerful media outlets.

It’s part of the reason why traditional logic is being turned on its head. People more powerful than brands. Populations losing trust but seeking belief. A world where what you feel can be as important as what you know.

A world where getting noticed is both harder and more important than ever. A world made for the remarkable.

Michael Hayman MBE is co-author of MISSION: How The Best In Business Break Through and co-founder of Seven Hills.