Step by Step

 

As Seth Godin advocates, it’s all about the slow, steady growth, like a tree. We live in the culture that everything has to happen now, at this particular moment. But actually, it takes time to build great things. “Overnight success” takes years.

I have been thinking about this over the whole weekend since the last few days were very exciting for me.

On Thursday my article about vegan leather has been published in Huffington Post. After few days it generated some buzz thanks to which it made its way to the homepage.

 

Even a bottom of a page can be very exciting!

 

Then on Friday, an article about Blackwood has been published in Independent.ie

Irish vegans, we are going for you!

I am fully aware, that there is a long way ahead of us, but after spending few months on working on Blackwood, it feels nice to reach some of the first milestones.  As Van Gogh said: “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

I feel happy to say that some of those small things are already behind us!

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Luxury – Show me, don’t tell me

Does a true luxury really need an explanation?

Recently I have seen lots of buses that had written ‘Luxury’ either on their side or on the front window. What struck me the most though was the fact that those were some old coaches that I would never consider as luxurious ones.

So it made me think…

WHICH BUS WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

I don’t know about you but I am surely going for the black one!

But wait, it doesn’t have the label “Luxury” so how can I be sure it is better than the other, which clearly says it?

 

I realised that you know a product is luxurious when you see one, no matter if it is labeled as such or not. And this is a beauty of luxurious products. They stand out and you know after looking at them that it is something special.

My belief is that we tend to overuse the word “Luxury”, especially in the world of new fashion brands who want to gain more customers and to justify their high prices. I don’t know if it works for them or not, but I personally think it is an easy path that too many brands follow which causes the deflation of the meaning of the world.

Maybe in the past luxury stood for high-quality. Nowadays, when everyone can use it without any consequences (because how do you define a luxury product? And also, to be fair, you are not going to sue someone for selling you a product that is labeled as luxurious but in fact does not meet your expectations) it is not enough to just put a label on it.

Even more, I believe it is counterproductive and you would be better off trying to show your luxury instead of telling me about it.

Think of a luxury brand. What comes to your mind? Prada, Louis Vuitton, Channel and others I guess. Then go to their website. Not a single of them will use ‘luxury” on their website (maybe very rarely).

Because they don’t have to!

Then go and check the new leather brands or fashion brands in general that were created in the last 10 years. My bet is that the more expensive ones, most of them, will use that label a lot.

But do they have to?

If their products are amazing, if they work hard and position themselves well, eventually they will hopefully break into the market no matter if they are called luxurious or not. If on the other hand, their products are not great, then they are just lying to their customers. Not good enough.

So, what would I recommend?

If you are starting or working on a fashion brand that aims to be the luxury one, prove me that you are worth the price, not just tell me about it by using “Luxury” in every second sentence of your website.

How do you do that?

Create amazing products and work on your positioning. How?

Here are few books that can help you with that.

Update 1: I am very excited to share with you that over the last few months I have been working on a luxury fashion brand and every day I had in my mind this article.

Check it out to see if I succeeded to stand behind my words: https://goblackwood.co.uk

Feel free to also have a look at my newest article about the sad truth behind the leather industry. https://goblackwood.co.uk/vegan-leather/

Photo Credits:

  1. Photo was taken from http://www.singaporemalaysiabus.com/luxury.html
  2. Photo was taken from http://www.vip-shuttle.com/details.html
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I cried all the way to the bank

Do you sometimes feel like giving up only because of the nay-sayers who constantly try to discourage you?

One of the most well-known quotes of Liberace is his response to the poor reviews of critics. He famously said that he cried all the way to the bank. I think it is a genius response.

Remember, there will be always critics undermining you. Look for example at imdb.com ratings. The best Oscar-winning movie is “The Godfather” with the rating score of 9.2/10. You would think that Oscar winner would satisfy so many people. Actually, look at the charts:

More than 33 thousand (!!) people gave it just one start. Yet still, the movie brought massive profits to the producers, the awards to the actors and timeless quotes used by so many on the daily basis.

Remember, you cannot satisfy everyone. And it is ok.

Knowing that, there are two things you can do. You can try to reach the biggest audience possible still caring what others are saying. That way you will never be satisfied. Although you won your Oscar, there are still 33 thousands people who hate your movie.

The second option is just to do what makes you smile and brings the results you aimed for.

Which option sounds better?

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Stone Soup

If you love old tales, surely you have heard the story of the stone soup.

Only recently have I found out about it and it struck me how great business lesson it is.

So brace yourself.

 

Few hungry travellers came to a village and asked the locals to borrow them ingredients for a meal.

As you could guess, nobody was willing to help.

Then the travellers decided to fill the pot with the water, stones and place it over the fire.

One of the locals became so curious that he approached the strangers. They told him, that they are making Stone Soup which tastes wonderful, but still lacks some garnish. He went and gave them few carrots.

The second one came and heard the same story. This time, the travellers told him, the perfect soup still needs more seasoning. He didn’t hesitate to give them some.

After a while, more and more villagers wanted to talk to travellers and help them with their soup.

Soon, the soup was ready. The strangers removed the stones.

Thanks to the contributions of the villagers, they prepared the delicious soup that was shared with everyone.

 

 

Although it is just a fable, I can see a massive potential in the idea the travellers had. I have been trying to come up with the ways you can embrace it. If you have something in mind, let me know at oscar@wewashere.com so that we can discuss that more!

 

 

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How much do you believe in your art?

In the second half of the 19th Century, few young painters didn’t make it to the most important art show – Salon de Paris. They were always overshadowed by those faithful painters who stuck to the norms and rules.

One of the young artists, Frederick Bazille, discouraged by the constant failure even wrote that he is never going send his paintings again to the jury of the Salon.

But as it is often the case for young artists, they decided to do everything needed to have their art seen by the public. They organised their own exhibition where a lot of independent painters were able to showcase their work.

Of course, the Salon wasn’t fond of that and did not advertise the exhibition. But the word kept spreading.

You may know the exhibition as The First Impressionist Exhibition.

Probably we would be unable to appreciate nowadays the pieces of art by Renoir, Pissaro, Monet, Cézanne, and Degas if it weren’t for the exhibition.

So how much do you believe in your art?

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How “The Dip” by Seth Godin Encouraged Me to “Fail”

I love Seth Godin, his books, and his insights.

Recently I have read “The Dip” and I am not afraid to say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. Surprisingly, it is not even a marketing book. I would definitely classify it as a lifestyle design guide that can change your approach and change how you make your decisions, especially the ones about quitting.

It has definitely opened my eyes and I believe it can work for you as well. That’s why I was very surprised when I stumbled upon so many negative comments about the book.

I believe it is because of the times we live in, where the notion of quitting being considered as a failure is common in our society. This is exactly what Seth Godin is opposing. He believes (and I do as well from now on!) that winners do quit and quitters do win.

I highly recommend you giving it a go. It has less than 80 pages. Not much time to waste and a lot to gain.

As my small review, here are 5 takeaways from “The Dip”:

1. “Quit the wrong stuff, Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other”

Simple yet so powerful.

How often do we stick with the wrong stuff because we are afraid that it will be a failure? Our society is saturated with the feeling that quitting means you didn’t work hard enough, you are a failure.

But, is doing something that doesn’t make you happy or doesn’t allow you to be exceptional really a success?

Have the courage to quit and do the right stuff only.

 

2. Be the best in the world

You could think that a person or a product that scored the first place is only slightly better than the second place.

But here is the trick.

People love winners. That’s why the first place will almost always have the rewards a few times bigger than the following places. It has been even called Zipf’s law and it applies to everything or almost everything. That’s why it is always good to be the best.

If you can’t be the best at something, quit.

Or even better.

Don’t start it at the first place.

 

3. The harder it is, the better for you.

We often tell ourselves how hard something is.

But have you ever thought about your competition?

Do you realise that it is also hard for them?

Are you going to quit because it is too hard? Maybe, however, you will overcome the hardship( while others don’t) and become a leader?

 

4. Can you go through the dip?

Seth Godin argues that every activity involves the dip – a moment after the first excitement when our passion strongly suffers.

If you are going to become the best, you have to use that dip to bounce back on the track towards the success. Of course, easier said than done.

That’s why you should assume the dip is inevitable and start something only when you know you can jump over the dip. If you know it is impossible for you to do it, why to waste your time?

How to overcome the dip?

Read the book 😉

 

5. Average is for losers. 

One of the founding ideas of wewashere.com was to help you avoid averageness (is it a word?).

Why?

Because average sucks.

Who says as a kid: “I want to be the average player” or “I will be the average firefighter?”

Then, why do we settle in our lives for the mediocre? What is responsible for that?

Schools perhaps?

So, when you have a choice to make, I believe you have to options: Quit or be the best in it. No average acceptable.

And this approach is taken not only by Seth Godin.

Derek Sivers in the podcast with Tim Ferriss  recommends that whenever the decision has to be made, you have only two choices to make. It is either Fuck Yes! or no. No average.

 

Those five points are only a tip of the iceberg that “The Dip’ is.

Not only do I recommend you read the book but also I would like to ask you to do it.

I don’t know if it will change your life but why not to try?

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Lesson from Chris Froom

Do you really want it?

Even if it requires running in the cycling shoes (if you have never tried it, believe me that heels are easy compared to that) after riding 100 km(as a triathlete I can assure you, that’s damn hard)?

We often say how much we want to be successful, to have an impact, to earn good money, to be the best.

But what do we do to achieve it?

Is it really 100%, all in?

Congratulations Chris Froom. You are the man.

 

 

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