Every few months the drumbeat of tech news and Twitter chatter reaches peak noise levels during large events like SXSW.
The noise generated is dangerous to your startup as it:
- Lures You into Group Think: Memes’ get created and elevated to a “cool” status. Your product starts to chase these shiny new memes. Then we end up with a world of sixty mobile messaging and thirty mobile photo-video sharing apps.
- Pushes You into React Mode: Over-reacting to a few glowing articles and Tweets about a related startup is a recipe for disaster. Do this enough times and your startup culture becomes defensively minded, when you need to be playing offense on your terms. Have a strongly held point of view and product and marketing plan – and execute it. Then let your customers decide whether you’ve built something interesting.
- Clutters Your Mind: Your mind becomes cluttered with what everybody else is doing leaving little time for your mind to focus on what you want to do. A poor state of mind for designing and building innovative products.
- Tricks You into Thinking that Being a Startup is Enough: With all the excitement of the press, bloggers, and Tweets you start to believe that this is the goal. Stacey at GigaOM says it perfectly: “Somehow the act of creating a startup has become the goal instead of the building of a business.”
The best companies, entrepreneurs, and athletes learn how to tune the noise out:
- Apple doesn’t participate in most conferences nor does they blog or Tweet much. They announce products on their timeline.
- LinkedIn: Reid Hoffman never attended SXSW until this year (the year LinkedIn will IPO).
- Michael Jordan and other great athletes talk about getting into a ‘zone.’ Doesn’t matter how noisy the stadium becomes. They don’t hear it.
Do not construe my comments as encouraging putting blinders on. Do stay networked and aware of what is happening around you. Blogs, news aggregators, and social tools are designed to suck your attention, so you need to monitor consumption. Once you’ve consumed for the day, spend time synthesizing these small bits of information into macro trends. If you don’t, you’ll end up pulling at threads.