From Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (love this book):
From Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are:
“The true purpose [of Zen] is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes... Zen practice is to open up our small mind.”
"Everybody should be quietnear a little stream and listen."
I've been in the startup world for a little over a year now, and I've observed a very strange pseudoscience about people's specific "roles" and "functions." In general, this is what this bullshit sounds like:
In business, there's a concept called sales. This is very often viewed as the practice of convincing people to buy what your selling. When you think of a salesman, you probably imagine a dashing fellow with a quick smile, a sharp suit, and some magical lines. He ensnares people with his hook-line-and-sinker delivery. This mercenary is essentially just handed some type of product and told to go do his thing.
In business, there's a concept called marketing. This is very often viewed as the practice of showing people how desirable your product is. When you think of a marketer, you probably imagine an artsy extrovert with a penchant for pop culture. He wows the masses with well-produced, heartwarming campaigns. This visual maestro is essentially just handed some type of product and told to go do his thing.
In business, there's a concept called product development. This is very often viewed as the practice of pulling all-nighters to finish a new feature in time. When you think of a "product developer" (well,"software developer"), you probably imagine an incredibly awkward yet ridiculously misunderstood genius who probably eats Soylent. His ability to keep track of the entire codebase in his head makes him the glue of the company. He is essentially just handed some specs on what the product should be and told to go do his thing.
These three archetypes are myths. They are myths that people working in situations of high uncertainty (read: startup life) crave in order to feel like superheroes.
The competitive fist-bump types do sales like our mythical salesman above because it makes them feel like they have a superpower-- the Gift of Gab. Too bad this style (on its own) is largely ineffective.
The artsy outside-the-box types do marketing like our mythical marketer above because it endows them with a particular superpower, as well-- the Renaissance Man. Too bad this style (on its own) is largely ineffective.
And the nerdy quant types do product development like our mythical developer above because they like the idea of that superpower-- the Mastermind. Too bad this style (on its own) is largely ineffective.
In reality, these highly sought-after "superpowers" are mere appendages that grow from the same source. Before the sales calls and the marketing campaigns and the coding and design-work come the following questions:
- Do people even want this thing?
- Do you understand your customers at a level so deep that you know their needs better than they do?
- Have you tried?
- Are you spending most of your time having these conversations?
- Are you bullshitting your way through these conversations (you better not be...)?
No amount of wireframing, debugging, Excel modeling, prospecting, and Tweeting will change how essential these questions are.
In the startup world, a surprisingly large percentage of companies don't understand this. Actually, it's probably reached pandemic level in the entire professional world.
Why? Because "listening" doesn't really feel like a superpower. It's tiring, and most people don't notice it when it's done well.