“In order to think we must speculate with images.” — Aristotle
It’s impossible to remember anything without seeing the image in our head first. With a little effort, we can activate our brains to become conscious recorders.
But the banality of everyday life tends to dull the senses. Blind to routines which automate thinking, we float by the external world without acknowledging its subtleties. Mobile phones further exacerbate attention; some people admit that the addictiveness of the rectangular glow makes walking harder.
We must force ourselves to look for distinctiveness. No one ever forgets a purple cow or rainbow zebra, even if it’s a figment of our imagination.
You can read all the reports you want. At the end of the day, the most insightful information comes from merely observing your surroundings.
If you’re a retailer, this could mean observing which bags your customers are carrying into your stores. Now you’ll know which businesses compliment your brand and which compete against it.
If you’re a social network, pick a place where’s there’s a mass collection of sedentary people and watch how they communicate on their phones. I can tell you right now from riding the train into New York every day that Facebook is still far and way the preferred way to share online, at least for adults.
Sight and vision are only as powerful as their activation. Things also need meaning in order to remember them. First you observe, then you snap and connect.
Everything around you has meaning. There are niche trends today that will be mass trends tomorrow. Data informs decisions but to see it play out live makes you smarter.
The other day I tried to buy a $25 gift card for my brother’s birthday. The coffee shop had plenty of cards in stock but they couldn’t add value to the card because the machine was broken. After trying for 10 minutes, they ended up giving me the card for free.
Sometimes you don’t know you have a problem until someone else asks. The request is typically new but it can just as easily be about something old that should already be working.
Anticipating the use of fundamentals is a key to success. If you don’t use your basic skills, you’re bound to drop the ball such as what happened at the coffee shop.
Sometimes the things that break are the most obvious. Check or practice often enough to ensure everything is still working. Nothing just works by default.