I knew it was wrong the first time I heard it. Social media expert So-and-so says, “Social media is bringing everyone together; the key to success is to be amicable, social, friendly”. On the surface, I guess it makes sense. You don’t go to someone’s house and tell them that their baby is ugly…especially if you want to make friends at that party. But something still didn’t sit right with me. What in the world could it be? Oh, yeah, that’s it:
I’m kind of an asshole.
See, I have hard edges; and those hard edges don’t always align with society’s PC box, online or offline. Now to make things even worse, according to some pundits, I’m destined to fail. Well, I can deal with that, but I’m not worried about myself. I’m worried about the thousands of business owners who may have a similar disposition, who now post inspirational quotes on Twitter (That’s how you get re-tweeted!), or add useless blurbs of garbage on Facebook posts of people they hate (Its engagement!) because that’s what the social media experts tell them that they should do to be successful online.
They’re lying to you. Plain and simple.
Why? Well, contrary to popular belief, being a jerk isn’t a negative in the Digital Age. In fact, having hard edges around your beliefs and ideas is a positive right now. Think about it. What happens when you’re in a crowded place and someone knocks something over, breaks a glass, or makes a loud noise? Plain and simple…
They get noticed.
If you’re familiar with the Bell Curve, you’ll know that it has two low ends, and a fat hump in the middle. As an entrepreneur, you’re already on one of the ends because you take more risks than the average man. But many entrepreneurs force themselves back into the fat part of the bell curve by curbing the hard edges of their personalities to blend in with a more “friendly” or acceptable ideology of business.
Looking at media, it’s easy to see who gets the attention. If you’re the best, like an all-star basketball player, a world-famous championship golfer, or a high-grossing actress, you’ll get media. People want to see the best of the best, or the higher part of the bell curve.
On the other hand, when there is a disaster, you see the worst of the worst. On your local news, you hear about the worst things that have happened in your particular city that day, and if you’re an athlete or an actor, going broke will get you on the news for sure. Why? Because even though we like to see the best of things and get the most positive news…
We REALLY want to see the negative perspective.
All of that is fine, but what’s the point? Jerks are the best at one thing more than any other group. They polarize people, like most folks only dream of.
Jerks have hard edges. When they like something, they like it; when they dislike something, they dislike it – and they say it right away. It your baby is ugly, they say it. If your car stinks, they say it. If you look fat in that dress…well, you get the idea. The point is that jerks have clear beliefs, and clear edges that make it very easy for people to decide if they want to be involved with that person.
If not, they make a quick decision to walk away.
But the magic really happens if they decide to stay. Because they become more than just a run-of-the-mill friend – they become an advocate. Being friends with a jerk isn’t a part-time job. The nature of their demeanor requires you to be a fighting friend; someone who supports their actions, which you usually believe in.
This is the lesson to take away for small business owners.
Keep your hard edges. Tell someone that their baby is ugly, if that’s the real you. Only do whatever you really believe. Sure you’ll turn a few people off, that’s a given. But what you’ll find is that those who you attract are willing to go to war for you, unlike those lukewarm “friends” that you keep around because you’re too bland to make a decision on.
Am I advocating being a jerk? Only if that’s really your personality. Mostly, I’m advocating being an individual. Too often entrepreneurs with hard edges try to smooth themselves out to fit into society’s box, whether that society is in the real world, or on a platform like Twitter. The question comes down to this: Which group would you rather have behind you? A group of cordial friends, who always say please and thank you; and have connected with you because you’re just about as nice as everyone else? Or, a group of polarized, brand-raving lunatics who identify with you and your hard edges and are willing to yell, claw, and scream at anyone who challenges you or your brand?
Don’t believe me? Go tell an Apple lover that their Mac sucks. Let me know how that works out…
Was there a time that you had to shave down your “hard edges” to fit into a business situation? Trade stories in the comments below!