I like Seth Godin’s writing and, I agree with many of his ideas. But I don’t agree with one of his stories.
In his acclaimed book “Purple cow. Transform your business by being remarkable” he urges us not to be mundane or dull, but different. He advises being “Purple Cow”. Why cow and why purple? Godin narrates:
When my family and I were driving through France a few years ago, we were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing on picturesque pastures right next to the highway. Then, within twenty minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what once was amazing was common. Worse than common. It was boring. A Purple Cow, though. Now, that would be interesting.
Sure, the purple cow can attract attention! And attention, as everybody knows, rules. It is so easy to make yourself atypical. You are taking a brush and paint and instantly you are one of a kind.
– Nobody else did the same! I am the first! Nobody has the same color. I am the only one. I am the first purple cow in the word! Totally unique!
A few years ago, I read the advert whose author announced: “I am the writer of first in the world 2book which revolutionizes the printing industry It is a great innovation that nobody thought of before”. Great, but fellow, who cares? It passed five years and you are not only first, but still the only author of your bizarre book.
“Be one of a kind” is the wrong advice. You can be different when you would go naked on Market Square. So what? Would you be remark-able or rather gossip-able?
Going back to the story of French cows. Common black and white cows are boring. It is the purple cow that attracts attention. But whose attention? American, excusez-moi Seth, shallow tourists with a very short attention span, easily bored with everything. Is it so important?
Let us consider it from a different point of view. Let us say you are a farmer rearing cows. Would color be so crucial indeed? I do not think so. You would be rather interested in completely other features of cows.
To be genuinely remarkable, you do not have to be astonishing. There is no need to do the things that nobody ever has seen, No need to be fresh new, one of a kind, extremely creative, different from others and so distinctive that anyone cannot help but look at you.
Standing out in the eyes of tourists is not so necessary. Much more significant is to be useful and have great value.
Most of the authentically remarkable things are ordinary and normal.
The remarkable computer is like the rest of the computers but working better. The remarkable restaurant is usually similar to other restaurants but with much better courses and preeminent service. The remarkable book is not a bizarre formatted book, but the book well written with useful content.
If you’re a French cow, don’t worry about bored American tourists, worry about the farmer who feeds you. And for him, color is not important. Stand out in what is indeed important. And these are the values you bring to the world.
You can be common and dull from outside and for most of the world, but still remarkable and noteworthy, because of these few ones which life you enrich.