Got In-sight?

“How do we know what to pay attention to?” I was asked this question by a lead marketing practitioner who works for one of my clients, a global company with over 200,000 employees. We were discussing the company’s thought-leadership strategy and the importance of having insights that differentiate the brand through content that no competitors would create.

Consider all the life-impacting things we could pay attention to: the news, our industry, our chosen field or profession, our hobbies, our family, our spirituality, our world. There are so many inputs, so many things we read and experience. We can see the edges, filled with over-the-top headlines, fake news, celebrity-endorsed, 30-second, snackable, soundbite information candy. And sometimes we get to that creamy, thoughtful, educational or inspirational information center.

The question is, what do we choose to take in, and what do we filter out? If we filter out all the edge material, we may be deprived of inputs to lead us to better decisions. Sometimes we need that click-bait headline to lead us down the path of exploration that dumps us into the deep vein of the long, the well-researched, the carefully crafted, the well-rounded.

Input alone doesn’t lead to insight, though. Insight comes from the way you observe the input and the time you’re willing to spend with it. The philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti says, “The observer is the observed.” We can’t fully explore the meaning of that statement here. At its core, it can be read to mean that you (individually) bring your definition of what’s real to whatever you observe. You can’t help it. What you see is who you are.

Often, we look for shortcuts to insight. We want to read the best book, watch the best film, get the best business advice, learn from the best of our hobby’s instructors – we want insights delivered in easy-to-digest template form, the home version, a life-hacker special summed up in a half-hour podcast that we can listen to and master while we’re on our way to work. It’s like we’re searching for a way to mimic Neo in the movie The Matrix when he downloaded how to do Kung Fu in 30 seconds.

My answer to my client’s question was this: Slow down the inputs to your brain. Choose how much you allow in. Then pay attention to your own observing. Observations made in haste are often obvious. And obvious is the opposite of insightful (insight-full).

Here’s another way to make the point. Brand-differentiating insights come only in part from all those inputs that exist out there. What makes an insight an insight (in-sight) is the way you view those inputs. As Thich Nat Hahn says, “Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view.”

That’s something we can pay attention to.

Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS.

Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
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Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.