Refining our belief system and to constantly question, has to be part of our overall strategy for our businesses as well as on a personal level.
In a recent Marketing Homebrew podcast, Ian (Rhodes) and myself discussed the topic of ‘should you practice what you preach?’ (this was show eight, why not listen to it here). Looking into this deeper after the show, it has been on my mind all week. I think I have to hold my hands up, be honest and state that I don’t necessarily ‘practice what you preach’.
The weekly podcast also becomes a journey of learning too. I came to the conclusion that you have to live your words as well as living what you believe in. It is all about having an attitude and a mindset that can enable others to have a purpose. There is no point in educating others, if you aren’t doing the same. My biggest take-away from the show was that others won’t believe a word that you say, until they believe what you do.
This is the point that leads on to a bit of deeper reflection. There are two things that I believe in, one is that businesses can build an audience by focusing on an owned media mindset (controlling channels they have control of to engage and retain customers) and do it in a transparent way that represents honesty and is genuine.
Now we’re getting closer to the ‘do I really practice what I preach’ confession.
Lets break it down into bullet points:
- curate content with an owned media approach
- deliver the content in an honest and trustworthy way
My book, The Content Revolution, is currently being printed and scheduled for release at the end of April. Exciting times and a project I have dedicated much of 2014 to. This is where I can be considered a hypocrite and what I now question.
If much of what I stand for is for businesses to take ownership of spaces that are theirs, from email, to websites, to blogs, even to podcasts, then shouldn’t I be including self-publishing within this bracket? I didn’t choose this route, what I decided was to work with a traditional publisher for the Content Revolution project. I am effectively using a channel created by someone else, rather than utilising every aspect from my own hands to publish via sites such as Lulu and Createspace. The process today is a lot simpler than it ever has been.
Does This Make Me A Charlatan?
When it comes to standing for businesses to operate in a true, honest and transparent way then products and places that I consume aren’t necessarily operating this way. Lets take it even further if I am now a hypocrite. I eat my bowl of Cornflakes on a morning, use Google throughout the day, pop into Starbucks on an afternoon, buy everything from Matcha tea to books via Amazon (I’m even an Amazon Prime subscriber) and even listen to the Arctic Monkeys. Every brand (and band) mentioned has been funnelling profits overseas to avoid tax. Are these honest and trustworthy businesses?
Tax avoidance, whether illegal or not, the price to pay is damage to public morale, with one rule for some and one for everyone else (it makes me think, is there such a thing as a truly ethical company, John Lewis for example?).
If I were true to my every word, then I would boycott all those mentioned above. If only life was that black and white. We all face grey areas, it’s how we refine our belief system that helps us make decisions.
What I’m trying to highlight here is that it can be easy to say that you ‘practice what you preach,’ but there are moments when you are presented with choice. It’s the compromise we make that shapes our thinking, approach and attitude.
So, What’s The Answer?
I now believe that we can’t be righteous about everything, every decision we make tests our principals and belief system. If the choices we make don’t follow a strict governance of morals and our ultimate goal is kept in focus (and is ethically sound), then we can modify. Sometimes we have to take different routes to achieve the same thing.
Coming back to the book and the dilemma that I now ask myself of, ‘do I really practice what I preach?’ it all comes back to the vision for the content property that I have created.
There are a number of reasons why I decided to work with a publisher (here are 18 reasons I chose not to self publish). One of the main beliefs now looking back is working with someone who has better experience than myself in terms of recognising the PR and marketing opportunities. This has the potential to add a totally separate tier to what I can bring to the table. The ideas and support can potentially deliver a wider impact, rather than complete responsibility being on my shoulders. This is the answer, I acknowledge that I have made a compromise, but the end goal is to educate others and to help build my audience with the intention to connect with others (far more so than doing everything myself).
I cannot say that when I write another book that I will still go with a traditional publishing route. I have learnt a lot through this process, perhaps I will self-publish. All that I know is that when I entered the arena called ‘writing a book’ at the beginning of 2014, I just wanted to write a book that other people will read and if that means someone will think slightly differently, then that is the reward.
To Sum Up
It makes me realise that it is easy for anyone to say vehemently to say that they stand for something, but there are going to be moments when you come to a crossroads. The ultimate decision is that it doesn’t dilute your overall objective, so making compromises are part and parcel of the journey that we are all on.
Coming back to the brands that I mentioned in the shape of Amazon and Google and having a belief those companies need to operate in an honest and truthful way. I think I now have an answer as to why I continue to buy/use them. The compromise is the capability of each brand to its audience. These are brands that are capable of getting it right every time and seem to be untouched by the other options that are out there.
When the end justifies the means, as long as the decisions that we make are true to our overall objectives, we will always face moments when we have to take a look at ourselves. We have to look a bit differently and adapt from an ardent, ‘practice what you preach’ to perhaps ‘practice what helps you achieve your goal.’
The Content Revolution will be available at the end of this month (April). If you would like to read the mythical story that puts everything into context for the whole book, why not download my story of the kingdom and the farmer, click here (or the illustration above).