Marketing is Psychological Molestation

True story: I was waiting to collect an award at the 2007 Inspirational Bloggers conference when a marketer walked straight up to me and, without warning, punched me hard in the face, just to demonstrate what his new energy drink felt like.

Traditional marketing has no relevance in the modern world.

Let’s say that I’m a rabbit that makes happy with another rabbit, which makes happy with five other rabbits, each of which makes happy with five more rabbits. That’s how the modern equivalent of marketing works.

In contrast, a marketer would capture all the rabbits and thrust frosty artificial insemination devices up their backsides.

The entire concept of marketing has been turned upside down. These days, everyone blogs, everyone tweets – everyone is a brand. The only way to stand out from the crowd is to take the opposite approach and vigorously protect your obscurity.

Ideally, the fewer people that know about you the better: the most successful companies today are those that nobody has ever heard of. These companies shrewdly use blank business cards and re-direct website visitors to their competitor’s websites.

You don’t have much time to use this tactic – it won’t be long before everyone becomes aware of it. In fact, I predict that in the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.

Just like the magician’s rabbit, it’s time to disappear.


The Thin White Duke

Oh, you enjoy “socializing with friends” do you? And “long hikes in the country”?

Why do people insist on putting banal personal interests on their résumé? It’s so blindingly obvious that they might as well say, “I enjoy having sex and I dislike pain.

We don’t accept résumés. Instead, we’ve developed a straightforward employment process.

It’s widely known that people adopt the characteristics of the things that they spend significant time with. Most notably, pets and their owners look alike. Babies and their parents look like. Some people tell me that this latter example is due to genetics, but if that is the case, how come a baby looks increasingly like the parent as they spend more time together? It’s not like a baby is born looking like a miniature version of them.

If we want good software developers, we need to find people who look like good software, so that we know they’ve spent quality time together. This means:

  • Simplicity. No glasses that add complexity to the face. Or facial hair, for that matter. And certainly not people with different colour eyes.
  • Iterative Development. They need good breeding, so that they have genetically evolved passed the beta release. Ideally we’re looking for nobility.
  • Web 2.0 Style. That means curves, rather than angles. Fat rather than bony.

The great thing about this process is that we can automate it. Upload your photo to our website, and we give you an instant response.

The high and low scores for the tool are calibrated with photographs of a fat albino duke and David Bowie.


Follow The Herd, End Up As Mincemeat

I’ve always appreciated the simple monochrome palette of cows, but I’m ashamed to admit that as a young boy growing up in rural downtown Chicago, my best friend and I would partake in cow tipping.

Dave and I would lay dormant in a ditch, waiting for one of the hue-less beasts to snooze, which they would occasionally do standing up. We would then rush the unsuspecting grayscale dreamer, give it a shove, and it would tumble gawkily to the ground. As we used to quip: it would hit the hay and then it would hit the hay. We’ve always been good with words.

Where’s this story going?” you might ask, to which my initial reaction would be, “Stop interrupting”. After recovering from your insolence, I would explain that there is a lesson to be learnt from this charming, beautifully recollected anecdote.

You are the cow.

There you are all day, doing the same thing, occasionally glancing up to see the rest of the herd with their heads down, so you put your head back down and get on with it. Eventually, the tedium of it all sends you to sleep. And you know what happens when you sleep? Your competitors sneak up and shove you over.

See that pile of steaming dung behind you? That’s what you’ve got to show for all your hard work.

Your software is literally bullshit.


Ban Keyboard Cat From The Bedroom

The best businessmen have affairs. Not with colleagues, but with their work.

Your work ought to feel like your mistress. You should enjoy spending time together and you should frequently enter a focused zone where you become incredibly intimate with her.

A colleague who interrupts you when you’re in the zone might as well walk in on you making love. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to get back into a rhythm once someone has walked in on me going at it, only to find that they wanted to discuss the latest Keyboard Cat video.

Women, unsurprisingly, are the main cause of interruptions, thanks to their extraordinary capacity for inter-female gossip. To prevent this productivity killer, a smart company like 47 Seagulls employs a maximum of one woman. Furthermore, we believe the government should subsidize businesses that adopt a Binary Female Employment policy – it has been an incredible challenge to build a web software company with mostly men.

Likewise, we employ only one person per country, and target countries that have a poor or unreliable telecommunications infrastructure, like the U.S.

Our popular collaboration software, InTents, has been specifically designed to eliminate face-to-face conversations and other personal contact, so that you can focus on your work and easily ignore others’ messages. In fact, thanks to the exceptional personal focus that the software brings, we were going to call it ConcentrationCamp, but thought better of it.

Don’t let your colleagues take you from important to impotent.


Fire Everyone, Then Yourself

Take a look at a kitten or Tom Cruise: small is beautiful. The same is true in business: a small company is beautiful, and will always defeat a big company. Place a single kitten in a room with fifty mice, and which do you think will win? It’s a fundamental law of nature.

The reason is communication overhead – the number of people that need to talk to other people – that increases exponentially with the number of employees. The mice spent so long discussing their escape strategy that they didn’t notice the kitten silently sneaking up behind them.

This is the most important factor of success for a business – as my company has single-handedly proven.

Lately, I’ve been wondering how I could further improve this.  It would certainly help if I fired everyone except for me, but I’d still have to communicate with customers and write things down so that I didn’t forget them. Then it struck me: I should fire myself too. With absolutely zero communication overheads, our operational efficiency would skyrocket.

Who knows how much better Apple would be doing now, if they had downsized to one or zero people. Can you imagine the burden of communication overhead their 30,000+ employees are causing?

As obvious as this advice is, Apple will never heed it, of course. It’s a traditional monolithic business that is stuck in its old-fashioned ways.

But be vigilant, mighty Apple mice – this kitten’s on the prowl.


Is That a Vertical White Line or a Prostitute?

I had an appendectomy in June 2003.

I wasn’t suffering from appendicitis, and I’d never had any health problems. I made the decision to undergo the procedure so that the scar would constantly remind me to always remove the unnecessary – to simplify.

People overcomplicate everything, even when they don’t realize it.

Pick up a pen and try to draw a circle. I bet that your shape is very slightly elliptical and the line a little wiggly. It’s not that you’re incapable of drawing a perfect circle – after all, it’s the easiest shape to draw – but your brain fights the simplicity and forces you to overcomplicate the task.

It’s amusing when friends show me the latest Grand Theft Auto video game and try to convince me that the lifelike graphics and 5.1-channel soundtrack somehow add to the experience. It’s so satisfying to flop out my old Pong machine and watch their delighted faces as they spend hours enthralled by the simple, horizontally challenged lines.

Sure, they’re probably imagining that the line on the right is a fleeing prostitute and that the slowly traversing white square is a bullet, but that’s fine. Simplicity empowers the imagination.


Use Paper in The Bathroom, Not in Business

I’m sure you’re aware of the Infinite Monkey theorem: a monkey hitting keys on a typewriter will, in due course, almost surely type the complete works of William Shakespeare.

Yes, that’s correct: a solitary, dim-witted primate can produce the same quality of document as The Bard. That should tell you everything you need to know about the value of documents in business: they’re monkey drivel.

It’s not just the written word, either: diagrams are equally gratuitous. The Boundless Wolf theorem states that if you give a wolf a Moleskine and a Sharpie it will eventually recreate Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man.

The only writing you should ever do is for your next best-selling business book, and even then it should only be the minimum amount necessary to officially call it a book rather than a pamphlet.

Without documentation, how do you communicate design decisions about your software? I’ll let you in on our secret weapon: Play-Doh. It’s completely malleable, so can adapt to changes in requirements. It comes in a range of pretty colors, which can be used for different parts of the interface. Most importantly, the attractive scent helps people engage with the task and encourages them to continually refer back to the design. A document, with no discerning smell, would have sat unused in a dusty drawer.

See this character: ? It prevents any chimp with a discarded typewriter from re-creating this article. Even if it happens upon a top-of-the-range iMac, there’s no power in the jungle to use it. That ape can bash away on those beautiful backlit keys as much as it wants – it will never plagiarize my intellectual property.

Didn’t think of that now, did we Billy-boy? Sonfried 1, Shakespeare 0.


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