Skills are Conscious Competence; acquired excellence, learned behavior. People who acquire their skills through study and practice usually make excellent instructors.
Talented people are tricky to manage. If you tell them what to do, they will do it to the best of their ability, but the outcome won’t be nearly so wonderful as it might have been had you simply inspired them instead.
To inspire a talented person, describe – in abstract terms – the impact you desire. Fill your description with similes and metaphors, such as, “I want people to feel springtime and butterflies and the first kiss of puppy love. I want them to feel new beginnings, forgiveness, fresh hope, and a clean slate.”
Your talented person will then surprise you with something you never imagined.
I stumbled onto this technique by happy accident in 1980 when a start-up needed a logo. Pennie and I had recently met a graphic artist at a church event, so I contacted him for guidance. When it came to shapes and colors and symbols and signals, Jim Collum lived in a world of his own.
He was tentative, reclusive, and moody. But I can speak those languages.
Have you heard of Portals and the Twelve Languages of the Mind, the class on multidisciplinary communications at Wizard Academy? I can trace the beginnings of that class back to the 5 or 6 conversations I had with Jim Collum 39 years ago.
He agreed to design my logo for $500, exactly the amount I had budgeted. My new problem was that I had to tell a professional artist who was twice my age what I wanted, and I had no idea what I was doing.
I was swimming in waters too deep for me, so I did the only thing I knew how to do; I gave Jim a list of metaphors and asked him to design a logo that communicated their common denominator.
“Jim, have you ever played Monopoly?”
“You know the guy on the cards with the top hat and the monocle?”
“The Monopoly Man doesn’t have a monocle. You’ve got him confused with Mr. Peanut.”
“Okay, imagine the Monopoly Man wearing the monocle of Mr. Peanut. To me, a top hat and a monocle say, ‘generations-old money’. A dark grey Mercedes sedan. A diamond tie tack. An ivy-covered country club. Safe. Established. Zero-risk. Exclusive. Like a Swiss bank account.”
“Got it. Come back in a week.”
Somewhere in the detritus of my disorganized life I have a copy of that logo. I wish I could find it for you. It was a perfect square made of 4 smaller squares that were separated by a narrow, void margin: an intersection graph.
Three of those quadrants were a darkish, silvery-grey, but the upper-left square was black. And the lower-right quadrant of that black square was 24-carat gold; the glint of light off a monocle. A diamond tie-tack.
It was a purely abstract logo that communicated everything I had said to Jim. Everyone who looked at it saw, ‘old money… safe, established, zero-risk, exclusive, like a Swiss bank account.’
That golden square was just one-sixteenth of the logo but it commanded all the attention. It was the upper-left quadrant of an invisible square you perceived at the center of the logo.
It was the glint of light you see at the edge of the pupil in an eye.
Jim never explained any of this to me, but I saw it immediately and so did everyone else.
I believe everyone is a genius. Everyone has a superpower. Every person has a hidden talent.
Your job is to uncover that talent and inspire it. We do this for our children and grandchildren.
Perhaps we should also do it for our co-workers and our friends.
Indy is waiting for you in the rabbit hole.
Roy H. Williams
Clorox Bleach is 6% sodium hypochlorite and 94% water, the exact formulation of most generic store brands. Yet Clorox consistently commands 65% of U.S. bleach sales. According to Lindsay Pedersen – who oversaw the Clorox brand for The Clorox Company – Clorox is an “ironclad” brand, one of many she showcases in her new book. Lindsay, who has helped build ironclad brands for Starbucks, T-Mobile, and other Fortune 500 companies, believes a company’s brand is a crucial driver of value creation, and it needs to be developed and supported by every employee in the company, beginning with the CEO. The Wizard of Ads calls this process, “Communication Alignment.” Listen and learn at MondayMorningRadio.com