Polarising People: How Far Is Too Far?
This video above is one of my favourites — by Apple Fellow, AllTop Founder and experienced startup entreprenuer Guy Kawasaki. The presentation is called “The Art of Innovation”, which contains a number of steps that I have adhered to for years now, and found them all to not only be true, but to be foundational truths that have taken me further than I would’ve gone without them.
One of Guy’s points is “Polarise People” — something I’ve talked about before. The idea is you want people to love you or hate you, but never to feel ambivalent about you. Jim Collins talks about this in From Good To Great (affiliate link) when he says that “good is the enemy of great” — meaning in today’s competitive market, having something that is just “good” is your enemy — you have to make it great.
My concern though, is that not all innovation polarises people. Let’s take bloggers like Chris Brogan, Amber Naslund, Olivier Blanchard and Trey Pennington. They are writing innovative content, doing innovative things, and Chris in particular has a massive following who retweet any and every thing thing that he says. But Chris and the rest I’ve listed here don’t polarise people so much.
In fact, if you look the blogs that top the AdAge Power150, you’ll see few there polarise people at all. These are very popular blogs with big audiences — but I don’t see this polarising principle at play so much here.
The reason why I’m thinking about this is I received an email at the end of last week welcoming me to the Power150, which was a wonderful surprise only bettered by seeing a pingback to my blog from AllTop, where I’ve been added under the Innovation category. I’m really thrilled about this, and it’s really nice to have recognition from my peers and bodies like AdAge and AllTop that stive to bring the best together.
But will I succeed on those forums? Because I’m a polariser: any regular here knows I’ve got critics, have had criticism in the comments many, many times, and that I welcome it because I often write in a way that pushes people to love me or hate me. And I’m fine with that. But do I have to face the reality that this kind of behaviour means I will never top any of those lists and have those audiences?
Don’t get my wrong — I’m not changing. But I am keen to test this truth against your experiences and really see if it stands.
Your Leading Thoughts
- When has polarising people worked for you?
- When has it not?