A Surprising Detail

We must learn to cultivate surprise if we are to become skilled marketers. Start with the details.

A puzzling question from a famous author that most of you know: “how do you be pleasantly surprised?”

When someone presents you with mostly old but partly new information (a common formula), you can be surprised or be not surprised.

It’s a choice.

Don’t be the person that responds to partially familiar and partially novel ideas, questions, and facts with: “Meh, I already knew 50% of that – I’m not surprised”. 

Instead, think: “Ah, I didn’t know 1% of that! I’m surprised!”

Some assume that projecting expertise precludes being surprised. So they dismiss almost anything new. As if to shrug and say, “Ok, I pretty much know what you’re saying; there’s a new little detail in that question, but I’ve never considered so it must be unimportant”. 

That’s the ego speaking.

This is one of the reasons that software sucks – the entrepreneur fails to be surprised at new pieces of information brought to her by customers, her engineers, her designers.

The posture of hard-to-surprise also poisons your sales and marketing. If you host a webinar, conduct a product demo, or run a sales consultation, and you are not pleasantly surprised, at least once, you’re missing an opportunity.

To become a skilled marketer, be surprisable.

Start with the details

If your reaction to a seemingly detail-oriented question is to dismiss’n’scold (“now now, we mustn’t obsess over details”) that doesn’t make you seem big-picture. It makes you seem lacking in curiosity – because you are.

Mies van der Rohe said God is in the details, so how do you know that surprising insight isn’t trapped into the margins, the folder structure, or the spacing between your logo and your tagline?

“Cultivating surprise is an essential part of what it means to be a writer in this world, or at least a writer of ideas”
– Malcolm Gladwell

My best,


PS. I’m taking today off for Juneteenth but this newsletter is a labour of love, not work