Perfection is highly over-rated.
That’s today’s message. And I really like today’s post because it links a legendary moment in rock history with a universal business lesson.
A quick shameless plug and funny story first. Brand Like A Rock Star has been showing up on the Amazon bestseller list for both “Marketing” and “Music”. I’m tremendously grateful for the support. If you haven’t bought a copy of the book yet, you are one click away from the paperback and Kindle versions.
If you’re a frequent traveler, look for it in Hudson bookstores in most major US airports. I try to sign copies on the shelves when I pass through airports. Unfortunately this week at O’Hare I attempted to sign a few copies, and the clerk at Hudson didn’t speak much English. I was nearly arrested for signing copies of my own book! Instead of reaching for the “Signed by author” sticker for the book, she was reaching for the security hotline! Crazy.
By the way, if you buy it for Kindle, make sure you ask me to personalize it using Kindlegraph. It is a cool new tool that allows me to personalize and sign digital ebooks. Just click here and make it happen!
Some of the most magical moments in music have been unplanned and unscripted. Mistakes. Imperfections.
Al Kooper is quite possibly the best example. Al was a session musician invited to the recording session for Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”. He was a guitar player, there just to watch and observe. However, as the session progressed he suggested that he had a “great riff” for the song’s organ part in his head. He admitted years later that he didn’t have one… he made that excuse up in order to play on the song. Heck, Al Kooper hardly even knew how to play the Hammond B3 organ!
Kooper sat down at the organ and started to play along, coming in an eighth note behind the band because he wasn’t even sure that he was playing the right chords. That beautiful imperfection became the centerpiece for the song that Rolling Stone magazine ranked #1 on their 500 Greatest Songs Of All-Time. Accidental magic.
In business we try to plan for every contingency, going to great lengths to make everything perfect. But we can learn from Al Kooper that perfection is not only impossible, it is also highly undesirable.
How To Make People Fall In Love With You
We crazy human beings fall in love with other human beings, flaws and insecurities and all. We don’t fall in love with perfection because it doesn’t exist in humanity. Perfection can only exist in inanimate objects, and we don’t (normally) fall in love with inanimate objects. At least not without a lot of follow-up therapy.
Great brands treat imperfections as opportunities, just like Bob Dylan did with Al Kooper’s erratic organ playing.
A customer is unhappy with the product? That’s an opportunity to demonstrate just how far you will go to make them happy, ensuring they are a loyal customer for life.
A recipe didn’t turn out as planned? Maybe you’ve stumbled onto an entirely new dish that could revolutionize your restaurant.
3M’s engineers created a reusable low-tack pressure-based adhesive in 1968, but couldn’t find any use for it until Art Fry, a 3M employee who knew about the invention, used it to place his bookmark in his church hymn book… and Post-It Notes were accidentally and imperfectly born.
Every imperfection is an opportunity.
Sure you should attempt to make your brand as excellent as possible, but smart brands realize that being “excellent” means having the freedom to go off-script from time to time, showing some of those wonderful warts that make companies feel human. Just like Al Kooper did.