Letter from the Editor
Let’s talk about how to talk about what you do for a living.
Mostly because I’m still working out how to do so. And, as much as I’m trying to find a better anecdote to articulate my trouble, only one leaps to mind.
(And I’m on a deadline.)
So, several years ago, during the middle of the night, one of my good friends was awakened by a string of phone calls.
He and his girlfriend had fallen out earlier in the evening.
In his mind, as is so often the case, he felt he’d done nothing wrong. So, without much further thought, he’d returned to his dorm room.
Naturally, she did not appreciate his callous treatment of the situation and wanted to speak with him directly.
In the middle of the night, during a brief reprieve of ongoing calls from his distraught girlfriend, he elected to answer a lone call from an unrecognized number.
Upon answering, he quickly realized the caller was his girlfriend’s mother. She’d gotten ahold of his number and, to his surprise, announced she was standing at the front door to his building.
Nervously, he went downstairs and met her mother at the front door, where they proceeded to chat for a few minutes.
She revealed that her daughter was deeply upset because he’d forgotten their three month anniversary. She’d not had too many serious relationships in the past and, as such, placed a great deal of emphasis upon celebrating even the most “minor” moments.
In an effort to rectify the situation, her mother had purchased a Tiffany’s necklace for him to give as token of reconciliation.
As he accepted the signature blue bag — still somewhat confused and disoriented — he was instructed to walk to the car and give the gift to his girlfriend.
She’d been sitting, awaiting this moment of approval throughout.
(The latter two sentences are rather strange, but I had to finish the story for effect.)
For all of this, I mean to highlight three things (because lists seem to be the thing to do now, right?):
One. Non-standard events — like the aforementioned three month anniversary — can mean a very great deal to some people.
Two. For others, they mean absolutely nothing at all.
Three. A third thing, because who on earth would dare to have a list with only two items?
It’s through this knowledge that I filter all of my thoughts, tweets, and ideas about Need.
When I open my Twitter app and begin to tap out a message of pride for my work, my subconscious has started to gently nudge me in the opposite direction. (Or, in my latest manifestation of guilt, I’ve started apologizing profusely when tweeting about Need.)
Although people certainly care about us doing well, the last thing they want is to exclusively hear a daily update as to how great everything is going. (Or not, as the case may be.)
The reality is that people care about people, not brands. They care about you doing well, but they don’t need you to become a small public relations outpost for your own successes.
And it’s an exceptionally fine line to walk.
As an aside, I urge someone to build an alternative to LinkedIn for precisely this purpose.
LinkedIn is a hell-scape riddled with the worst language, ideas, and means of communicating in the professional world. People don’t want to endorse, connect, or “InMail.” They want to meet other people, hear about their achievements in a dignified way, and then leave.
There ought to be a receptacle for professional achievements and accolades, where you can follow people you care about and can see updates to their portfolio, awards, fundraising moments, and so on.
Back to the main point, for all of this, I mean to say that no one really cares.
You can spew words onto Medium, Twitter, and Facebook about what you do, but the reason you’re garnering recommendations, faves, and likes, respectively, is almost exclusively attributable to people caring about you. Not your brand, company, portfolio, or otherwise.
At some point in recent years, we lost track of that idea. We began to engage in a collective bullshit parade around the notions of “connecting” and “networking” and (shiver) “synergy.”
The reality is that if you’re doing something fundamentally good, people will praise it on their own schedule and volition.
Of course, marketing and PR are important components of business. I’m just here to say that those must not rely upon the foundational team continually linking to themselves.
The best way to talk about what you do for a living? Be a human and talk about it when it’s prompted and when it’s relevant.
Why am I writing this to you, dear Need member? Simply put, if it’s not already obvious, I’m lending a great deal of brain cycles to the topic of communication and presentation.
I want to give Need the opportunity to present itself on its own terms, without clamoring for people’s approval.
Rather than sending innumerable emails, re-targeting, and so on, I want Need to be about people and fundamentally good product, design, and story-telling.
Which segues nicely toward the topic of Volume 2.6, Eclectic.
Simply put, we wanted to praise the notion of being your own person for the sake of being your own person. You might be wearing a white t-shirt just like everyone else, but, understanding the unique character and story that’s gone into that item of clothing, you’ll stand well-apart from the crowd.
We shot Volume 2.6 all across Dallas with help from our team, Jordan Laessig, Hannah Morrison, and Amber England. And special thanks to Jake Vines for being our model this month.
P.S., So many words. Apologies.