Do You Move With The (Dumb) Herd?

High Angle View Of People forming and arrow on the street

A quote from Mark Twain: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to reform (or pause and reflect).” This aligns with a similar sentiment I learned from Earl Nightingale. Earl said that whenever you are trying to get a result or hit a goal and you don’t know what to do and have no working models to follow, just look around at what the majority of people are doing in that particular area and do the opposite. Chances are you’ll be headed in the right direction.

That’s because the majority of any population is almost ALWAYS wrong (80/20 rule). If you want to know how to eat healthy, just look around at the majority of people walking around. They are grossly out of shape, overweight and in poor health. Maybe you don’t know what to do, but at least don’t do what they do, which is often a hefty diet of fast food, snacks, sugar and empty calories. They aren’t eating kale salads and steamed salmon.

That’s why most do-it-yourself stock market investors (and sadly, many professional fund managers) lose money. They follow the herd, stampeding when spooked – and all herd movements are made up of dumb animals.

This is also why so much time and money is wasted on unproductive online advertising. Well, EVERYONE is on Facebook…or ALL the cool kids are doing Instagram. Everyone advertises this way, so it must be right. Maybe. Why is it real estate people all have their pictures on their business cards? Does it improve response? Probably not if they’re ugly – but they all do it because that’s what everyone does in their industry. Maybe they shouldn’t even have business cards. Who knows? Does anyone question it? No, they just follow along with the herd.

If you move as one with the herd in anything and don’t see the dumb, smelly animals, grab a mirror. People love to think they are free thinkers and are strong enough to stand against the “norms,” but still act in total opposition to that sentiment. In the MSP world, nobody does what I advise, which is to START by selecting a target market and then deeply understanding THAT specific client, their needs, problems, frustrations, way of operating…and THEN work backwards to create a service that specific customer would want to buy. Instead, they look around at the herd of MSPs and what they’re offering, delivering and charging and mimic it. Is it any wonder they struggle?

This herd mentality is the same reason you need to make sure you are in a peer group that is productive. The majority of successful CEOs aren’t on Reddit getting advice. They’re also not on Facebook asking their peers for financial, customer service and marketing guidance. To be clear, I’m not suggesting advertising on social media is bad (after all, we do, and we sell the services). What I AM saying is that you ought to question everything you see the majority doing to make sure it fits YOUR business, YOUR goals, YOUR purposes. Breakthroughs don’t happen for copycats, only for those willing to make a RADICAL shift from the norm. Seek NOT to fit in. Even a “good” kid in a bad crowd will end up smoking, stealing, with a DUI or worse. They move with the herd, and rarely does the good kid influence the others.

In business, there are a LOT of opinions, assumptions, popular ideas and beliefs – and then there are hard data and facts. Often the #1 value I can bring to a new client is to challenge the beliefs they hold dear to them, like a religion, and get them to supply the factual evidence that supports their beliefs, actions and assertions. Often they can’t. The dumb ones refuse to even question such things, get annoyed for being challenged and point to “everyone else” as evidence that something works or doesn’t work, is the right way or the wrong way.

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