There are too many people who are average at what they do and are confused by their average results. This is because the vast majority of people tend to play the middle—they focus on the vague minutiae that doesn’t matter. They’re focusing on the wrong stuff.
Two things can happen if you’re too focused on the middle:
- You’re only successful to a certain level and then hit a plateau
- You get stuck in one of two extremes: you get stuck either because you become too romantic on ideals and neglect the skills you need to execute or you get tied up in minutiae or politics and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Instead, you need a healthy dose of those extremes: the clouds—the high-end philosophy of what you believe—and the dirt—the low-down subject matter expertise that allows you to execute against it. Forget about everything else.
Know the philosophy, know the details, and ignore everything in the middle.
This business philosophy is how I’ve built and scaled my companies and it’s what I’ve always lived by. Focusing on what’s important is what allows me to execute and succeed as well as I have.
Here are my clouds right now as they apply to VaynerMedia: I believe that social media has a better value proposition than other marketing tools because it has the growing attention of the modern consumer. Moreover, it has the targeting capability to reach the the right demographics at scale with diminishing spoilage. My philosophy is that social media marketing works, so long as you know how to do it. Those are the clouds. I have fully bought into the ROI here; I don’t need Nielsen, or reports, or seven years of research, or the political approval of my boss.
And the dirt? The dirt is what you’re reading right now. I’m putting out content and making my employees the best practitioners. I spent the time to figure out Vine and Meerkat when they were first released. I understand how Twitter and Snapchat work and where they’re going. I know the details of how video is playing an important role on Facebook and YouTube. Put simply, I put in the work that allows me to know my shit and bring my companies to the top.
At VaynerMedia, I tell my staff that 99% of what we deal with every day in business doesn’t matter. The politics, the process, and all the crap that doesn’t matter. The clouds matter and the dirt matters and nothing else.
I know my scope is a big one, but I think everyone has their own definition of clouds and dirt. The idea is to understand the “why” that is up in the clouds, and then be obnoxiously proficient at the “how” that is down in the dirt. That’s how you win.
If there’s one bit of advice I can offer you it is to start pushing on both of those edges. Raise the bar on your philosophies and dig deeper into your craft. It’s a recipe for success and I urge you to give it a try.