“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
— Charles Caleb Colton
I was asked to serve as an adviser to a company a while back. My initial reaction was that there were more than enough actors in the field. Why should this company even bother?
Well, they had a niche that wasn’t being represented and that was about all they had going for them. As other more established companies grew and understood this need they would sooner or later swallow their clients too.
Also, automation and alternative energy would become a huge issue in the coming decade so the lifespan of these companies unless they evolve into something else will be quite short.
However, their services are needed now. Those willing to jump in and take a chance will have a tremendous learning experience in a condensed period of time.
That’s also a bit of a problem.
You see, this being the rules of the game right now I wonder if they’ll get an appreciation of the fact that they need to be looking at the long game. Sure, 5–10 years is a long period. What I mean is creating a sustainable company that survives and thrives for decades to come.
It seems like it’ll be their next challenge. I’m kind of glad it is, because the growing pains they’ll experience here will come in handy on whatever project they pursue in the future.
I don’t know how to feel for the investors though. Some of them are probably not going to see the ROI they’re hoping for. Neither do I know of what else they’re investing in. Hopefully none of them are putting all their savings into it because, even though it’s a good idea, I don’t see how this “Me-Too!” company is going to survive in the long term.
Enough with the negatives, let’s look at what they’re actually bringing to the table:
- Fulfilling a niche need that isn’t currently being served in the field.
- Highlighting a social problem.
- Challenging the established companies while also riding their coattails.
- Creating jobs and opportunities for others.
Not everyone is going to be on top. Not everyone is going to build a company that stands the test of time. That doesn’t mean that the Me-Toos can’t serve a purpose.
While we’re looking for ways of colonizing other planets, there is plenty of work that needs to get done right here on Earth.
The truth is that despite companies being huge they can’t be everywhere. They can’t serve each and every single individual in need of their kind of services.
For me I’m focusing on bring out the best in other people, focusing heavily on unleashing their creativity.
In her book “Daring Greatly” Brené Brown (pick up her new book “Rising Strong”, it’s a great read!) gave me pause when she wrote the following:
“One reason that I’m confident that shame exists in schools is simply because 85% of the men and women we interviewed for the shame research could recall a school incident from their childhood that was so shaming that it changed how they thought of themselves as learners.
What makes this even more haunting is that approximately half of those recollections were what I refer to as creativity scars. The research participants could point to a specific incident where they were told or shown that they weren’t good writers, artists, musicians, dancers, or something creative. This helps explain why the gremlins are so powerful when it comes to creativity and innovation.”
— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
This is why I do what I do. This is why I don’t mind being a Me-Too in the field of creativity.
Let’s overlap these numbers with the population of Earth which is 7,379,734,118 right this minute. Keeping it simple at a cool 7 billy.
This math will be far from perfect (mathpeeps, please correct me!), it might also give some idea of the challenges we’re facing globally. Caveat out of the way!
Say that about 80% (approximate percentage of people over 15 who can read and write) of people receive an education of some form. We’re left with 5,6 billion.
Out of those 5,6 billion 85% will experience shaming that’ll alter the way they view themselves as learners. Now we’ve got 4,76 billion people.
About half of these peeps will have some kind of trauma related to creativity. This means that about 2,38 billion people will perform far under their creative potential.
Brené Brown’s most popular TED-talks and videos have been viewed about 33 million times. If we’re insanely optimistic and assume that those are individual viewers who are all in the bracket of those suffering from creative trauma, then she’s helped more than 1% of those people. That’d be AMAZING!
Is she going to be able to help the remaining 99% (2,35 billion)? Nope. Some of them? Yup.
Then we’ve got other great people working on it (directly or indirectly) like Sir Ken Robinson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativeroom4talk, Steven Pressfield, Elizabeth Gilbert, Austin Kleon, David Kelley, Julie Burstein, John Cleese, Simon Sinek, Mason Currey, Brian Grazer, Kevin Ashton, Hugh MacLeod, Stephen King, Carol Dweck, Daniel Pink, Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Malcolm Gladwell, Amanda Palmer, Anthony Robbins, Shane Snow, Alain de Botton, Julia Cameron, Seth Godin, Scott Adams, Edward Slingerland, Greg McKeown and countless people who will never write a book, make a video, post on a blog or receive any recognition whatsoever for their contributions.
Everybody’s got something to offer to the people who need it the most. Writing someone off as a Me-Too in a derogatory way is not only doing a misservice to that individual but those who would’ve benefited from their work.
We need to stop looking at these people purely as competitors. We need to invite and encourage more Me-Toos to step up and share in the responsibility for solving the problems we’re facing.
Every little bit helps.
Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!