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August 16, 2007
Cut the Crap and Just Jump into Risk

In Punk Marketing, which I coauthored with brilliant, odd-talking Brit Mark Simmons, we endlessly babble on about the Manifesto. Those are 15 articles you might consider following in order to succeed in the modern marketplace.

The first article of this manifesto is the most powerful rule in marketing—and in business. Simply put, it is Avoid Risk and Die. Some of our greatest successes as a country and as a people have been achieved based on our ability to take big risks and realize gigantic rewards.

Now we’re not saying to go out with your profits from this quarter and buy thousands of lottery tickets (indeed that’s risk). Calculated risks on clearly defined project parameters, goals and potential looming disasters present a strange and wonderful opportunity for success that outweighs potential for failure. Failure, however, can be exciting.

How many times have you seen a new product or service or slice of marketing only to think, “I thought of doing that once… but I didn’t because [insert lame excuse here]? Oh well, I guess it was a good idea. At least that makes me feel good that I thought of it. Blah, blah, blah.”

This shouldn’t make you feel good. It should make you feel just awful—or at least worse than good—because if you had a tremendous idea and you let [lame excuse] get in the way of making that happen, you gave up opportunities because of [lame excuse]. You lost the opportunity to get yourself and that beloved business ahead; you dropped potential business; you mislaid prospective customers… Does that really seem okay to you?

It seems like it does to most business people because it was only potential. But let’s say you walk into your boss’ or client's office tomorrow and say, “I had this tremendous idea, but I was too [lame excuse] to bring it up at the development meeting. I wanted to let you know that X company is doing it and it seems to be working really well for them.” So in other words, “Listen to me next time I have a terrific thought.”

And, uh, what do you think the boss is thinking? How much is that so-called potential worth when it’s working for someone else?

Ideas are a dime per 12. It’s work and execution of said idea that means something. It's summoning the guts to get up and express an idea even under the looming presence of scary “potential.” Because potentially, yep, people could laugh at you. They might say you’re dumb. Your idea could be tried and flop. It can actually ruin your standing in the company. But until you recognize that avoiding risk will absolutely have the same consequence, you are always going to be squelching the best, most creative things in your head just because you [insert lame excuse here].

Now, do you want to be the kind of person who lives by the rules of the excuse mentality, or do you want to be purely Punk?

Do you? Do you really?

For more on the above, visit the site, call up the Manifesto (it’s free there, damn it) and have a good day.

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Richard Laermer is CEO of New York's RLM pr, representing, among others, e-Miles, Epic Advertising, Yodlee, Revolution Money, Group Commerce, Smith & Nephew, and HotChalk. He was host of TLC's cult program Taking Care of Business and speaks on trends and marketing for corporate groups. You can read Laermer on The Huffington Post and on the mischievous but all-too-necessary Bad Pitch Blog. For more like this, follow him on @laermer.

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