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Most people ignore this obvious insight

Posted in the following categories: Personal Development, Problem Solving
Silicon Valley is one of my favorite TV shows.

In one of the episodes, Richard, the founder of a tech start-up called Pied Piper, is chatting with Monica, a partner at the venture capital firm backing Pied Piper.

The company has just released a beta version of their app, and Monica hates it.

Monica’s reaction stumps Richard. He says that everyone else who’s seen the beta loves it.

“Who did you give the beta to?” Monica asks.

I gave it to a bunch of engineers, he says. These are “people who would understand what I’m trying to do, so I could get useful feedback.” Regular people, according to Richard, couldn’t possibly understand the genius of his product.

Monica’s jaw drops. She responds: “You’re trying to sell the platform to regular people, but you never actually put it in the hands of regular people.”

This seemingly obvious insight is ignored by most people.

Your perspective shapes and determines your reality.

We look at our products and services from our perspective—not the perspective of those we’re supposed to serve.

We refuse to see eye-to-eye with people of different persuasions—let alone see the world through their eyes.

We get lost in acronyms, processes, and PowerPoint decks, reducing our customers to faceless metrics and forgetting the human dimension in our creations.

The remedy?

Get out of your head. Close the distance between you and those you’re supposed to serve. Become genuinely interested in who they are and what would serve them better.

If you’re a CEO, answer the customer support phone line for a day, as Spanx’s CEO Sara Blakely does.

If you work in manufacturing, spend time walking the factory floor, engaging with the frontline workers who are closest to your products, as Elon Musk does.

If you want to improve a website or an app, watch real people using it and see when they cringe and when they lean in.

If you’re an airline executive, call the customer service line and endure the excruciating experience of pressing numerous buttons to escape the automated prompts, only to be rewarded with 45 minutes of hold music.

In the end, everyone is the leading actor of their own story.

It helps to put down your own script once in a while and pick up someone else’s.

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