"There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who ask, "What happened?"
- Casey Stengel
2008 probably brought out all three of these people inside each of us. Many I've talked to would like to just tune it out and move on. Others are still struggling to discern what it is they saw. And a precious few are embracing it and moving forward. It's been fascinating for us to take a look back and see just how big a gap in expectations there has been from the beginning of this year to today. Two extremes standout to me right now:
Sandhill's the Year in Review for Software cited that at the beginning of 2008, 59% of Venture Capitalists expected the IPO market to strengthen. So far this year, it's produced 6! In a year of chasing the wrong outcome, this one may have topped the list for those pursuing the 'exit quest'. M&A alternatives haven't faired much better. And then there are those who refuse to look at alternatives at all, like Yahoo, and see their valuations fall 66%.
The financial analyst community is struggling to reshape forecasts that had the Dow growing to 15,000 by year-end and stifle pundits like Peter Schiff who was a lonely voice of reason for more than two years about the reality of the financial crisis looming. Discovering reality and embracing it is the hallmark of a tuned in leader. Schiff dealt with data vs. opinion and his customers are the better for it.
Irrational exuberance and rational pessimism wrapped into both of these. Such is the nature of prognosticating. We all had Obama winning the Presidency and the Giants over the Patriots in the Super Bowl last year at this time, didn't we?
When we waded in with Tuned In in July it was our intent to provide you with a fresh perspective about how to take all this nonsense of 'guessing what the future holds' out of the equation in any economy. We centered on six principles that had been proven to turn your business into a success by focusing on market alignment. The funny part about our book is that it focused on doing the opposite of what we've been told for decades. It's not the 'blue ocean' we should be looking for, it's 'the unresolved problems' that current buyers have. And slowly but surely, things have begun to change:
We found some remarkable success stories (more than 60 of them) where following this simple premise created a product or service that so completely solved a problem that people had that it simply sold itself ... even in today's market.
We found that businesses who focus on creating breakthrough experiences around their products by adding service to each and every interaction their buyers had with them gained a compelling differentiator in their markets.
We identified the pitfalls of continuing to align to the old concepts of selling vs. supporting the new buying environment authentically. Making yourself 'easier to do business with' is the new key to gaining an execution advantage.
We saw how powerful your social network has become as primary market marketing weapon that gives you leverage from a scale, cost and lead generation effectiveness perspective.
- We learned how pursuing relevance is your compass and strategic filter during this downturn. It's not about you, it's about building real and deep connections to what your buyers value most.
Thanks so much for your support. Our publishers tell us book sales passed 26,000 units through November. We're approaching 1000 subscribers to this blog. And, 100's of you have begun to tell us stories about how you are applying the Tuned In principles to win in a down economy. We look forward to telling everyone about your successes as we launch into the new year.
See you all in 2009. Stay tuned in and you'll find your resonator!