Believe This: You Have A Crushing Blind Spot, And It’s Your Greatest Threat.
The definition of a blind spot is that you can’t fucking see it.
So if someone tries to convince you that they don’t have one…run a mile. They’ve got the biggest blind spot going.
The fact is, every industry titan, every category king, every billionaire, everyone who has ever achieved anything of note, and every company that has died a shuddering death has suffered from a blind spot that has represented their biggest threat, the threat to their projects and ideas and existence.
I believe that blind spots come
For Blockbuster, that blind spot was the internet.
…which is a hell of a blindspot to have.
Here’s what their CEO said about the digital competition that were using the internet to their best advantage:
“Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition”
That kind of ignorance of the next trend, the next move, the coming transformation, is what led to the death of a multi billion dollar empire and the punchline of a hundred stories about hubris, arrogance and short sightedness.
Want more? Here’s the founder of 20th Century Fox talking about the pointlessness of the TV market:
“Television won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night”
I believe this goes to one thing.
It goes to personal bias and prejudice that obscures opportunity and creates damaging blind spots.
The bias is frequently a demographic bias. In not understanding younger and tech focused demographics, Blockbuster didn’t have a clue about where the internet was going to wipe them out.
In not understanding the demographics of the nascent TV audience, the good folks at 20th Century Fox dismissed it. They’re still around, but the lesson is no less effective.
If you look at the troubling and poor growth of platforms like Twitter, there’s a lesson in the feedback that trans women and women of colour have been openly providing about the danger and abuse that they experience on the platform, and that’s feedback that has been continuously ignored.
This is a quote from Dr. Kleikn on the diversity blind spot that is preventing Venture Capital firms from investing in women, trans women, and people of colour:
Despite the fact that 96% of investment professionals are White or Asian, and 1 in 10 investors are women, just 3% of venture capitalists surveyed by LinkedIn this year rated diversity as top concern in their business. Three percent! And again, this is among the group who self-selected to respond. What’s more – and also among this self-selecting sample – nearly 6 in 10 say that their firms do not support any D&I initiatives for founders at all.
This is a blind spot that not only runs these firms at risk of missing out on fantastic people, it runs the risk of missing the boat on tech innovations and opportunities that are directly related to the missing demographics.
I think the key is to constantly look for alternative and diverse points of view, to never underestimate and dismiss, and to always question yourself.
You’re never going to completely solve a personal blind spot, but you can hedge against it if you play smart. That’s what I try and do, and it’s what the smarter Angel investors, VCs, founders and creatives try and do. Ask as many questions as you can, don’t assume your answer is right, don’t get defensive, and invite other people to point the way.