Breakable Ideas

You just had an idea. Should you search the Internet to validate that it’s unique – or to validate that it’s not unique? 

Conventional business wisdom argues for the latter in the case of your business, service line, or product. It’s good to have competitors – at least a few. It means you’re on to something. Good positioning isn’t unique.

Of course, your brand messaging should be 100% unique – and there’s a difference between brand messaging and positioning. Take the case of Australian business consultant Anthony English.

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While his positioning is: “Helps independent consultants and solopreuneurs in Australia with business development”, his branding messaging is colorful: “I help Rachels. I help Rachels halve their frustration in finding clients.”

And why not be quixotic if the end-goal is memorable? Humans confuse formality with seriousness of purpose. But as Anthony’s co-antipodean, Aldous Harding says:

 “I don’t have to be sad to be serious. I don’t have to be serious to be serious. Like when I jump around at the end of The Barrel – I’m serious. But I’m seriously happy. And that’s as strong as any other place that I have been.”

Anthony’s messaging doesn’t have to be serious to be serious – and strong.

Yet it took a while for Anthony to arrive that messaging. Positioning by itself is a formula dissecting humanity into a group small enough you can overwhelm it with understanding and good intentions; market to it efficiently. Other business coaches had similar positioning, forcing his to grow, to give birth to something new.

This is how ideation works – when you have a great idea, you’ll know it’s good if someone else has already had it, already owns that domain name, has already written that book, that article. Rough. But this is the challenge you need to let your idea evolve into something greater than itself.

In his book Antifragile, Nasim Taleb opens by asking readers to consider the opposite of fragility in the context of shipping a package. When you see a box marked “Fragile”, whatever is in it will break when the UPS driver drop-kicks it out of his van. A china vase, a Faberge egg, a batch of imported coconut macaroons. So what’s the opposite? Robust? If it’s robust it won’t break; it’ll retain its state. 

But the opposite of breaking isn’t staying as is; the opposite is breaking is growing, flourishing, transforming into something better, or at least different.

Therefore evolution is antifragile, argues Taleb. And this is a useful way to set up his Black Swan theory according to which he predicted the 2008 financial crash – and like thousands of others ignored by the current administration, the COVID pandemic.

Like evolution, ideation is antifragile. So put your ideas out there into the market – or subject them to research – and let them take a beating.

Have a good week ahead,