Show me a solution, not a slogan

Information, distilled to its simplest form and provided to me in a way that’s easy for me to consume, that’s my priority. I’m able to grasp the concepts without reading an email 7 times over.

This week, I’m been back in Sydney, working on a few collaborations and partnerships. It’s been a rough month in transit, with not a lot of time spent in my own home, which always puts a bit of a strain on my patience. Travelling drains me.

I miss some solid TV, I don’t get to hang out with people I want to see or go out for a burger, and I’m still powering through a few hundred emails on a regular basis. I’m working on replying to everyone, so if I’m not back to you yet, I will be soon — hang in there.

What I notice though, is that I’m a lot less forgiving the more time poor I get. When I’m sifting through the emails from startup founders and entrepreneurs who want my feedback on their ideas and their companies and products, I’m struggling more than I normally would.

There’s so little information being shared with me, and so many slogans that come across as being pretty meaningless. When I’m asked to evaluate an idea for a startup, and instead of seeing a simple Problem/Solution outline I’m seeing “Uber for X” or “The World’s First X”, it’s hard to formulate any kind of helpful opinion.

Generally speaking, I want to see solutions for problems. That’s what I want to talk about, work on, and write about. Slogans are of no interest to me, and neither are buzzwords or phrases. All of that is pure marketing, it’s not information.

Being a little brutal here, any idea that can’t be expressed in one simple paragraph or less than 5 dot points is an idea that you don’t understand well enough to be working on. You show me any successful startup or company, and I’ll show you a three or four line summary that tells you everything you need to know.

When I first started out, I wanted to complicate everything I did, to make sure people really understood how awesome my ideas are, and how groundbreaking their execution could be. Everything was pretty overblown and overdrawn.

I’m not like that now, because I recognize that most people are as time poor as me, and they’re faced with the task of constantly prioritizing and re-prioritizing their focus points throughout their day. The easier you can make it for anyone to help you or give you advice, the better they’ll be able to do so.

This Saturday, I’ll be waking up late, turning on G.I. Joe reruns and working through my emails. The stuff I get to first is always going to be the simple things, the messages and questions that are expressed really clearly. The people who can do that are always going to get the best of me.

Something awesome to try, incidentally. If you’re working on a pitch for your startup, take some time to look at companies you respect, and ask how you could cut an explanation or a summary of what they do into one paragraph or a few dot points. It’s an incredibly useful activity…

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