Dance for beginners
Traveling circuses don’t have to appeal to everyone. They rode into town with elephants, bearded ladies and Tasmanian devils, and all who came came. Once the thrill-seekers were exhausted, the circus left.
Trouble begins when the circus becomes permanent. When companies want to scale. When the public market wants the organization to reach the masses beyond the novelty seekers.
Suddenly, the dance that used to work is a problem.
Tesla introduced the difficult-to-build and controversial Cybertruck a few years ago. It was a huge mistake for a public company, handing the most popular segment of the car market to Rivian and Ford the moment they could have introduced a boring, reliable electric truck that would have built significant and lasting market share. And the company’s overhyped FSD feature is now widely remembered, and half the big advertisers on Twitter are now gone. Public companies are not supposed to offer mass to early adopters They have to grow horizontally.
Dancing is a great technique for beginners if your scale is right. If you embrace your 1,000 true fans, if you organize and connect and challenge and interest a group of people who can’t wait for the caravan to return, you can build a successful practice.
Bob Dylan famously alienated fans of his Top 40 hits so he could return to his own circus. The Grateful Dead’s touring community was disappointed when they had their only hit, bringing in a new wave of ticket buyers who weren’t part of the tribe. It takes courage to say “no thanks” to the masses and go back to your circus.
On the other hand, most tech companies and fashion brands lose their mojo And Their mass when they try to be the regular type. They either make the product stale and dumb, or revert to making a circus, but this time full of compromises.
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