I’m hardly the first person to say this, but for some reason, it seems particularly resonant today. Whatever it is we are looking to achieve right now depends on us persuading ten people to engage in a conversation with us.
I mean a proper conversation about what they are seeing, what matters to them, sharing what we see and between us taking a step forward together we might otherwise not take. It’s not about re-convincing those who already agree with us, or those who we’d like to persuade who are not yet ready to listen, and for whom we would be an unwelcome interruption at this point. It’s about engaging ten people who are prepared to take time to have a conversation with us. Because those ten people will have their own ten people, and their ten people will have their ten people…..
Today’s job is to craft our message in such a simple, compelling way that it is easy and important enough for ten people to pass on. Everything we say has a vanishingly short half-life, and if our message is to make it to the third round, it has got to be good. It has to contain our signature, our originality and generosity and signal our intent so that those ten people become a thousand people. When that happens, we have a viable audience, and our work goes from persuading them to listen to delivering what we’re promising.
We can persuade ourselves that our message will reach thousands. It won’t. Getting ten is incredibly hard work, and we have to start there if we really want to do something useful.