When Not Knowing is the Right Attitude to Take – Like Now!


Is the idea that you know what you are doing a bluff?  After all, we want to be confident and assured that you, unlike ourselves, are in control, know what’s up, and can do the right thing.

Yep, sure, keep drinking that Kool Aid! I was reminded of this by a mentoring student who put together a video I did in 1996 covering the customer in control, building relationships, and affiliate programs…all things relevant today.

Yet the real reminder is at the end, the Tom Peters quote that I cover in this video…

Why Not Knowing  Rules – Because…

When you think you know everything, be afraid…that’s your ego talking. And it stops you from listening to other people, and most of all, from listening to your customer.

It’s an issue of control and no longer are you in control, nor can you afford that illusion.  It gets in the way of the truth, that customers are in control. Just like giant TIVO players on the Internet, people are interacting via mobile phones at a huge pace, smaller screens using Twitter and Facebook to fill in the gaps, the down times…they are not glued to PC’s all the time!

What bothers most people I know in marketing is the fact that the customer is in control, especially with social media becoming less about specific sites and more about how and when people use media, and interact with the Internet.

Face it, so far the Internet has been based on direct marketing, which is all about clicks and conversions, convincing customers to leave what they are doing and go elsewhere.

In the old days when there wasn’t much to do but read and visit web sites, this worked, and it’s not going away but it is leveling off.

That’s why understanding branding, how it works, and how you can still lead people from branding driven by awareness, credibility and consideration may take a little patience, but is the inevitable shift from the media controlling everything, to the person being in control, and choosing what to do…

What Tom Peters Said Back Then, and

Why It’s Still Important

Reviewing the video above, I am taken by the quote that I found from Tom Peters back in the day, just as the Internet was rising:

  1. I’m putting everything I have into the Internet.” Even though he didn’t really  understand, nor did anyone, where this was going, he saw the power. That power is now growing exponentially, and it is still the place to play.
  2. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” This attitude is so crucial now; of course you need confidence and plans, but what we are all doing is adapting to change, pivoting our businesses based on trends and results. Not knowing is crucial, because it leads you to an attitude of discovery, research, and trusting the audience and their reactions to guide you. Instead of a self-driven, I’m a genius approach, surrender to the one true genius on the Internet, your customer.
  3. That’s the best attitude to have.” It is so true, because it is an attitude, built on experience and the crumbling of the old ways of doing business. Remember when people had 10 year business plans? That seems insane today, because we can predict and adapt better than every before, because we are tied into the pulse of this amazing, growing audience every day.


So when is not knowing the right attitude to take? Every day, and instead of being afraid of what you don’t know, be afraid of being stuck in what you think you know.

Every day is another chance to follow, listen, and adapt to the needs of your audience. And this is as true in 1996 as it is today.

Knowing is a temporary gig; exploring is the way of life in new media. Let me know what you think, because after all…I don’t know!