A Forgotten Approach — B.R.F.G.

Matthew Sweet
Jul 6, 2015 · 2 min read

It’s the foundation, the fundamental law. It’s the first prerequisite in every single thing that you do, and it’s becoming increasingly overlooked.

Be Really Fucking Good

The abundance of connectivity and social media has reversed the adage that “talk is cheap”. Talk is now a priority for most people. Every marketplace is ultra-competitive, and more often than not, he who shouts the loudest and in the most extravagant manner gets the cheque or signs the contract.

Despite the insanity of some marketing claims, we still fall right into the trap and go for the company with the most one-line testimonials, persuasive and lengthy sales copy and likes.

Part of that is our responsibility, as we fall for the same old tricks, again and again, refusing to stop and think for half a second. But the bigger burden lies with the multi-million pound ad agencies and companies whose sole job is to exploit our psychological biases and weaknesses . They’re connoisseurs of the psychology of persuasion, masters at manipulating data and experts at maintaining a heavenly appearance in the media.

With big business displaying such exalted moral standards, often those who start out in a craft or market dive straight into marketing schemes, networking tactics etc. Usually at the expense of time spent developing their actual technical ability.

Enter the BRFG Approach:

“There’s only one thing that will make them stop hating you. And that’s being so good at what you do that they can’t ignore you.” That line comes from Ender’s Game.

“Attitude is no substitute for competence.” A phrase Eric Raymond uses when describing the hacker attitude.

Giorgio Vasari shows us what happens when an entire culture dedicates their lives to pursuing perfection in the artist’s craft; the creation of the finest art in the world.

Tim Ferriss has built his career around meta-learning, on hacking the arduous path to achieving excellence.

Mark Twight, in a smash mouth series of articles confesses that despite his age, that he is still “raving, kicking against mediocrity”.

In 1992, George Leonard wrote possibly the simplest book on achieving technical proficiency, Mastery. Robert Greene also wrote a fantastic text of the same name, on the steps required to reach that lofty goal.

Paul Graham’s Y Combinator has, ironically for a company so influential in the tech industry, a completely underwhelming landing page. Pure functionality. No hyperbole. Just absolute excellence.
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We often forgot that the innovations that shook the world come not from great marketing and sales techniques, but from individuals driven by an ambition to push the boundaries of their abilities, test the limitations of the technology surrounding them and dedicate their lives to constant improvement.

This is a call to action, as well as a note to self.

Remember the first rule; be really fucking good.

Matthew Sweet

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