The Eternal Folly of Ageless Wisdom

I ran a quick poll recently where I asked people to fess up and admit whether or not they read business email on Sunday. The idea came to me while reading work email on a Sunday afternoon and over 80% in my quick poll said they did, too.

Knowing something and not acting on it a waste of knowledge so I used what I’d learned and sent my next monthly column on a Sunday – with encouraging results.

There’s a well-worm mantra that the worst possible time to send commercial email is after mid-day Friday through mid-day Monday. Contrary to that conventional wisdom, response to my Sunday-delivered email was higher than normal.

In his book Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness, Dan Zarrella cites a bit of research he conducted on a scale MUCH larger than my little poll. After looking at click-through rates for more than 10-billion emails sent through MailChimp, he found “messages sent over weekends had click-through rates twice as high as messages sent during the week. And messages sent on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday had the highest unsubscribe rates.

Zarrella also shares counter intelligent data about the frequency of Twitter and Facebook posts that suggests updating less often can earn you greater influence.

So, what about other bits of ageless wisdom that are really just garbage? I’ve come up with a couple, you can add to them as you see fit:

The customer is always right

No, he isn’t. I know this because I am often the customer and I am often wrong. In fact, I appreciate it when a sales clerk educates me about their product or service, guiding me to the right decision.

If you’re buying from me and I let you make a decision based on inaccurate assumptions, I’m stealing from you. You may not like to hear what what I tell you, but it’ll be the truth.

You can do whatever you put your mind to

Can you think of anything more frustrating than being told the key to succeeding at something you can’t do is to keep doing it? Does anyone really believe this? We trot it out to inspire people and we end up making them feel inadequate.

The politically incorrect truth is that there are some things – a bunch of things – you can’t do no matter how hard you try. Stop wasting time hacking away at them and use your time more wisely in pursuit of those things you really CAN achieve.

Change is inevitable

This one’s a tricky little bugger, and you can almost agree with it. Change is a part of life. The existence of time makes the future different from the past, but change isn’t an absolute nor is it non-negotiable.

Change nearly always involves a choice of some type. And while one element of something might change, not everything about it will be different. Some of my friends in the publishing business are witnessing incredible change in the way their products are delivered and consumed, that’s change. But they’re still delivering published content, that’s a constant.

The point is: we take things for granted far too often, accepting tired old bromides as truth and moving through our days on auto-pilot.

Here are two things I want you to do for yourself (and me):

1) Gather your team together, read this article, see how many of these rusty old saws you can come up with and then send them to me.

2) Make a personal effort this week to watch for situations or decisions where you might be relying on cruise-control to get you through. When it happens, make a mental note to be more engaged the next time.

© 2011 – 2014, Jim Seybert. All rights reserved.

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