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What one mental trait, what one mental gap separates out successful marketers and businesspeople from mediocre or poor ones? In the modern economy, I’d argue that the gap can be described in a simple phrase:

“I can figure this out.”

Why is this tiny mantra so important? The phrase separates out those people who are innately curious from those who are not. The phrase identifies those who are bold and willing to take a risk from those who are risk-averse.

Here’s an example. Suppose you’re reading the latest marketing or developer blog and they talk about a new technology you’ve never heard of, like a new kind of database. Yo Google the name of the database and find its website. It appears to have a free, open-source edition that will mean no cost to you or your company. What do you do next?

The risk-averse and the incurious nod their heads, close the browser tab, and return to whatever they were reading.

The innately curious say, “I can figure this out“, hit download, and see what the product does, even if they don’t necessarily understand the software or service. When the software downloads and they’re presented with relatively cryptic instructions, they say again, “I can figure this out” and Google for some more answers until the thing is running, even if it’s not functional. The curious read up on it until they determine that it’s not going to present a benefit or it will present a benefit that they can’t reap alone; they will need to collaborate with someone more skilled.

Why is this trait so important? In the modern marketing environment, one linked so closely with technology, there is a certain window of advantage for every technology. There is a certain amount of arbitrage you can leverage before the world catches up, before someone makes an idiot’s guide version and any competitive advantage is lost. The risk-averse are forever waiting for the case study to cover their asses, and they never get to savor those early victories. As I’ve said before, if you’re waiting for the case study of the industry leader, it’s never going to be you.

The innately curious screw up a lot. Things break. Things blow up. Things fail. But when you get a hit, when you find the next big thing long before anyone else, you laugh all the way to the bank.

I can figure this out. This is what will separate you from the pack and make you a marketing winner.


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