When I was a little kid, I LOVED Razzles. I mean, come on. It starts as a candy and ends as a gum. How do you not like that?
So, when I came across a pack for the first time in I-don’t-even-know-how-long at gas station down the street, I couldn’t resist. Never mind that fact that it was coated with dust and looked like it hadn’t been touched since 1992.
They were Razzles!
Excitedly, I tore open the pack and popped about five into my mouth at once. You know. Because gluttony.
And as I chewed and chewed, waiting for my childhood memories to wash over me, I realized that Razzles feel an awful lot like sweet chalk that turns into a hard, flavorless wad of chew.
And it occurred to me that maybe…just maybe, Razzles weren’t really designed as candy that becomes gum.
What if they’re just really crappy gum with very clever positioning?
I can picture the pitch.
“Yeah. Sure. It’s chalky and crumbly and it runs out of flavor fast. But what if we say it’s a candy and a gum?”
Of course, I don’t know if it’s the truth. What I do know is that the adhesive for Post-It notes was supposed to be an industrial-strength glue. I know that Swiffer was originally conceived as a bigger and better mop.
And what you never want to do is chase the kewl.
Chasing the kewl is chasing what everyone else is doing, so you can be part of the crowd. As Seth Godin says, people love being in the middle of the herd, because it’s the leaders who get eaten. Except, he explains, that was when then.
Now, leaders are the only ones who survive.
And the key is to find ways to see things differently.
When they say to do the opposite of everyone else (wise words), it doesn’t mean that you should really do the opposite of everyone else. If everyone is rushing to solve a problem, then it means there’s a market for it, and the need is there.
What it means is you need to find a different way to talk about your solution.
Most people don’t do that. They run the same ads. They talk about the same things. They build the same brands. And the market gets stuffed and full, until it finally collapses in its own gluttony.
All the time, I see people ask things like…
Does blogging work?
Does Instagram work?
Does Facebook work?
Do funnels work?
These are the wrong questions. It’s the type of question that comes up when you chase the kewl and think you should do what everyone else does. The thing is, while it’s the norm is to conform, the problem is the more everyone does something, the less the market needs it.
In other words, chasing the kewl isn’t just futility. It creates the futility.
The right question is how you use the tools out there so they work.
For the longest time, I wanted to be that person. The person at the head of the pack. And the harder I tried, the more invisible I felt, and the more miserable I became.
Because what I didn’t see is that the person at the head of the pack doesn’t get there by doing it like everyone else.
In fact, with every business I’ve run, success came when I said “Fuck it.”
It came when I started doing things the way I wanted.
So find your own edge. Ask what’s really you, and walk to that very limit, and allow yourself to topple forward into your own, personal unknown. That’s where you’ll find what makes your differences special.
As you do it, it may feel like you’re nothing more than chalky gum. But if you give yourself the room to breathe, the rest of the world will see you as Razzles.