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Does Slow & Steady Win the Race?

turtleIt seems in many disciplines of business we are schooled to “remain consistent”, whether in management, sales or marketing.

Consider this: what do you know that’s extraordinary, beautiful, impactful AND consistent?  An artists’ work?  Snowflakes?  Sunsets?  Typically each is quite unique.

Is consistency foolish?

Is consistency the comfort zone for mediocrity?  Essentially, if we are on a path we’ve travelled before, we know where we will end up.  Therefore, with the outcome known we are not required to challenge ourselves, stretch our imagination or test our boundaries.  Is that a cop out?

Or is it safe?

There’s something to be said about slow and steady.  Like investing, it’s risk vs. reward.  Innovation and disruption don’t live in slow and steady, and that’s ok.  You plot your course and you arrive exactly where desired.

Is unpredictable astonishing?

Arguably, the mind of the entrepreneur that chose to challenge the status quo and break consistencies is probably not described as ‘predictable’.  A great recent example is PR Guru (and genuinely awesome guy) Peter Shankman

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In March 2008 Peter started a free Journalist-to-PR pro “matchmaking” service, HARO (Help a Reporter Out).  Three times each day PR-type subscribers receive an  email that countain journalists’ queries.  Everybody wins.  Journalists get the info they need, and PR types get to tell their stories.  

In short order Peter has built his subscriber base to 1,600,000 million double-opt-in, requested emails every single month.  Net net: ad sponsor revenue of nearly $1m in 1.5 years.

“Why didn’t I think of that?”

Maybe you think consistently?  Peter’s thinking isn’t consistent.  It’s searching.  It’s disruptive.  While I don’t pretend to know what initially motivated his development of HARO, I imagine it started with “There MUST be a better way to do this”. 

Trapped in consistency?

Great companies and the great people that run and support them seem to constantly grow and evolve through inconsistency, despite the pressure to “stay the course”. 

So, are you on course, or making it up as you go?

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Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Bill Lublin

    September 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Beautiful and bright –
    Sometimes disruption is the harbinger of the future- great post- and great story..

  2. Ken Brand

    September 17, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Hmmmm…..now that you mention it, “consistency” sounds a lot like “mediocrity”. I think “consistency” has it’s place. For example, it would be smart to be “consistently” reinventing, recreating, connecting, curious, rebellious, motivated and any thing that shoves you out of the Comfort Zone you describe.

    Thanks for the reminder. Amen. Cheers.

  3. Bob Gibbs

    September 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    You really need to look at whats working for you and get rid of the things that aren’t. I believe that when you actually put a plan together which is in alignment with your vision and goals, that you owe it to yourself to take consistent action against the plan. However, there must be some check points where you have an opportunity to review progress against objectives, and if need be either make a change of revamp ythe plan.

  4. Brandie Young

    September 17, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Bill – Thanks. Coming from you that’s a great compliment.

    Ken – I agree! Consistency has its place … as long as it doesn’t morph into complacency.

    Bob – thanks for the note. I agree with checks and balances, particularly as a point of measure. That said, every now and then maybe you just throw it all out the window, say what the heck and color outside the lines to be astonishing!

  5. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    September 17, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Ahhh. The joy of having a creative mind. It is the rare individual who continually sees the world through a different prism, unfettered by peer pressure and years of habit. I agree that it’s good to be wild and crazy…as long as it also works.

  6. Brandie Young

    September 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Hi Ken – can you have it both ways? Can you be wild & crazy AND be sure it’s going to work? If so, I want that secret recipe!

  7. Elad Kehat

    September 18, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Slow & steady doesn’t win the race – fast & steady does.
    The problem with unpredictable and inconsistent is that they’re, well, unpredictable and inconsistent in their results. You’ll fail far more often than you’ll succeed, and most people find that prospect very hard to deal with.
    But even when you have that great innovative idea that does succeed, you have to start working steadily, consistently, on making it big. Innovation may happen in leaps and bounds, but once you invent something new a new race is on, and hard steady work is what it takes to win it.
    So again, “slow” is probably not a good idea, but once something works, “steady” is a must.

  8. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 18, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Doing the same as everybody else (status quo) will net you the same result as everyone else.

    Trying to outperform everybody else, using the same methods but only a little more-better, might get you slightly higher results than everyone else. Might.

    Thinking outside the box and coming up with something that nobody else ever thought of, makes you a leader, market dominator and the ONE that seriously outperforms all others.

    Let’s take this SEO stuff for example. In most cases, all the page one people for ultra competitive KWs are the ones that have been around the longest and were the first to think outside the box and came up with blogging strategies, linking strategies, etc., etc. People trying to crack onto page one now days are basically just repeating this. Probably not going to work. The existing sites have been doing it for 5 years already.

    So the question is, what’s the NEXT thing that will propel you to the top of the rankings. And, if you discover it, how long can you do it before the rest of everybody finds out and starts copying it?

    I hope I have not gone too far off your topic with this reply.

    Rob in ATL

  9. Brandie Young

    September 18, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Elad – thanks for your thoughts! I hear you. At some point we need to be calculated in our efforts ongoing based on the results of something we’ve done. Deploy, measure, adjust, redeploy – right?

    Hi Rob – you’re not off topic at all, and I appreciate your feedback. I think the illusive “next big thing” is something most people wonder about … I’ve noticed when it does occur, it can be such a simple thing we wonder why we didn’t think of it.

  10. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 18, 2009 at 10:57 am

    You’re right. Very simple. Just not yet utilized.

    I remember back in the early days of the internet, there were “companies” (normally just a guy or two) that did nothing but buy URLs and resell them at auctions, or hoard them.

    I thought that was so dumb back then. Plus then it cost $70 to register one. What a real bunch of dumbxxxxs!

    It was a very basic premise but they had the foresight to know what was coming with the internet and if they played their cards right, are all now wealthy.

    I recently inquired about the URL AtlantaRealEstate dot com and the owner said “don’t even bother talking about anything under $100k..”

    I dug further and found out he has thousands of URLs registered.

    This makes me mad but am I mad because I can’t buy it, or just mad because I didn’t think of it first.

    LOL.

    RM

  11. Missy Caulk

    September 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Nothing wrong with being consistent IF it is working, systems work because they are predictable.
    But…unpredictable and remarkable also work as your story illustrated.
    Can’t the two work together in different aspects of our business? I think they can.

  12. Ken Brand

    September 18, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Brandie – I think you MUST have it both way. You have to have detail orientation and consistency in order to execute your reinventions. If detail orientation and consistency isn’t a strength, then a person should partner or hire it.

    Your post has inspired an article on this very subject. I’ll post it in two weeks – The title will be something like: “Wanna Succeed In Sales? You Need a Moon-Walk Mind-Set AND a Fed/Ex Skill-Set.”

    Thanks.

  13. Brandie Young

    September 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Rob – yeah, those folks had some foresight. That said, I think now there are some rules around squatting on URLs. Not sure what they are but I do remember reading on legal actions around it.

  14. Brandie Young

    September 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Missy – I honestly don’t know how they can work together in your business – or a service based business?

  15. Brandie Young

    September 18, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Ken – I inspired a post? Yay. I’m flattered! I can’t wait to read it!

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