People like Hank Williams would wonder why anyone would bother making music the way somebody else wants you to define it … why should you be any different? If you developing a new startup, you really need to AGONIZE about leadership, about creativity, about what you want your customers to BECOME?
You absolutely must reconceive and re-invent your customer … if you don’t do that, you’re just practicing … or worse, wasting EVERYONE’s time.
The NECESSARY agony involved in the birth of a startup is about creating a new WILL, inspiring emergence, becoming something unambiguously better.
Making happiness, making love, making life involve some pretty important questions … and you really only get one chance to define what your startup is going to be about. You cannot really remake an initial vision. It’s either awesome. Or it sucks.
Reconceiving your customers during the initial startup thinkering stages is the ONLY chance you get to do this for your company. Later on, you will need to do it for individual products, but you only can start a new company once.
Emergence is in the aspiring and getting, not in the having or defending. If you want to reconceive your customers, you need to think about thinking … think about the precursors to thought and creative work … it’s about providing the foundations … it’s really about how can we establish and promote mindfulness, nowness and intense DRIVE?
There a lots of things to draw inspiration from. Some of us often dismiss things merely because they are popular or familiar. We fail to listen to what we dismiss as ordinary or cliche. There’s an old article from 2011, about Jonathan Ive [Apple’s Chief Designer] at Steve Jobs’ funeral regarding Job’s intentional listening and his utter reverence for ideas:
And just as Steve loved ideas, and loved making stuff, he treated the process of creativity with a rare and a wonderful reverence. You see, I think he better than anyone understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished.
Say what you want about Jobs and sometimes tyrannical outbursts and his intolerance for people who were not on the same page as him or didn’t care as much as he did, but Jobs was better than most of us at worrying, caring, fretting, obsessing and LISTENING to ideas. Jobs did not waste ideas. Not listening to ideas is the WORST form of waste in America … and that’s saying a lot because Americans are inherently a very wasteful people.
If we want to reconceive customers, maybe we should expect MORE from them … maybe we should expect them to become better listeners, better at giving a damn. Maybe we should expect our customers to be routinely, ordinarily, tediously, tirelessly working at getting better and listening more intently … because SOME of them will be listening and those are the ones that matter. The few discerning, critical, tough-minded LISTENERS are the customers that we should design our products for … and that means cranking it up a notch and expecting the others to either follow along or get left behind … we should reconceive our view of our customers and aim a bit higher, because we are not doing a good enough job of serving the better ones when we dumb down our products so that the crappy listeners and people who will never get it can have more of the junk they want.