Friday, March 19, 2010

The Profitability of Insanity

“Of course you’re crazy – that’s why we hired you!”

When the president of a multimillion-dollar staffing company made that exact remark to me five minutes before I walked on stage to conduct a three-hour workshop with two hundred of her salespeople, I almost tripped and fell over the podium.

Finally, I thought.

My insanity was affirmed.
My craziness was commended.

Take that, every teacher who gave me failing grades on standardized tests because my responses were “not in the answer key.”

Ah, craziness. The most underrated weapon in your professional arsenal.

Sadly, the world is lightning-quick to confuse crazy with dangerous. Or stupid. Or unprofitable. Or mentally unstable. Almost like a reverse halo effect. As if being called crazy was a dangerous thing.

Which, in many cases, it can be. And I say that with the utmost respect and consideration for those who have suffered, are suffering or know someone suffering from mental illness.

Today, however, we’re talking about positive craziness.

For example, read the following list. Each person on it has two commonalities. See if you can figure them out:

Aurelius. Bezos. Buddha. Buffet. Carlin. Christ. Churchill. Clinton. Confucius. Darwin. Drucker. Dylan. Edison. Einstein. Franklin. Gandhi. Gates. Gorbachev. Hemingway. Jefferson. Jobs. Krishna. Kroc. Lennon. Lincoln. Mandela. Marx. Mozart. Newton. Obama. Orwell. Presley. Shakespeare. Teresa. Tolkien. Tolstoy. Trump. Tutu. Voltaire. Wilde. Winfrey. Woods. Yeltsin. Zuckerberg.

Did you spot the two commonalities?

ONE: They were all featured on Biography’s list of 100 People Who Changed the World.

Would you disagree?

Me neither.

TWO: They were all – at some point in their lives – considered to be “crazy.”

Would you disagree?

Me neither.

LESSON LEARNED: Success requires crazy.

Heaps of it.

Put your teaspoons away. If you really want to change the world – break out the shovels and start stockpiling your (positive) craziness.

Here are six reasons why:

Crazy means singular. Nobody notices normal, nobody buys boring and nobody pays for average. You know this. And being a needle in a stack of needles is an extremely costly position. The good news is, being crazy sets you apart. Being crazy puts an end to all those broke-ass, running-in-place, winking-in-the-dark days of entrepreneurial anonymity. Are you The Only?

Crazy means impatient. Nike was wrong. Technically, “Just do it” could mean, “just sit on your butt.” Because technically, you’d still be doing something: Sitting there. Yikes. Impatience, on the other hand, has a better slogan: Just go. That means (actual) movement toward your goal. Impatience isn’t just a virtue – it’s a victory. How much money are you losing by being too patient?

Crazy means risk taking. Sticking yourself out there. Pitching a tent in the campground of discomfort and devastating the landscape to the point of unrecognizability. Next time someone condescends you by saying, “This is crazy!” you respond with, “Yes! And that’s exactly why we should do it.” Is the strategy for sticking yourself out there equally as crazy as the subject itself?

Crazy means unexpected. If people think you’re crazy, they immediately discount you as a threat. Which means they let their guard down. Which means you have an opening. Lesson learned: The strongest player is the one nobody sees coming. As Donald Trump wrote in Trump 101, “It will always be to your advantage to be underestimated.” How do you sneak up on people?

Crazy means moving with great speed. Crazy invites momentum, and money has a crush on velocity. Think about it: Were any of the people on the aforementioned Biography 100 the type to live life in slow motion? No way. They moved, they made imperfect progress, and they left a muddy trail of urgency and desire. What gear is your craziness shifting your business into?

Crazy means nonconforming. That means nobody can predict you. Which means nobody can stop you. Which means you win. This, of course, is a choice. Pick one: Change the rules so you can win at your own game, become the exception to every rule in the game, or change the game entirely so there are no rules. How will you upset the status quo?

I’m sorry: Did I miss the part about crazy being bad?

LESSON LEARNED: Crazy is the new sane. Be out of your mind or be into the red.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you profiting from insanity?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

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