Maybe You Don’t Know Something You Think You Already Know

It may be that you’ve always known it. Or that you once did the research, and thoroughly educated yourself. In any case, now you regard yourself as an expert on the subject.

You’re probably wrong. It’s the areas in which you consider yourself most knowledgeable that there may be an Achilles’ heel.

Unbiased, in-depth research is a great tool to uncover what you don’t know about an industry, company or management team. Chances are good you’ll learn something of value that you assumed you were already smart enough to know.

True intelligence is knowing what you don’t know, and learning independently what you thought you already knew, but didn’t.

Mountain Lion Roars, Apple Snores?

The masses used to await each new Apple announcement with an anticipation approaching Beatlemania. Steve Jobs was great at creating excitement around every new product his company released. He did this by withholding just the right amount of information until the very last moment, and then revealing something new and amazing with his signature “One more thing.” That “one more thing” was a product of months of research and planning, leading up to a casually tossed-off moment of pure marketing muscle.

Without Jobs’s presence, Apple has its work cut out. Today’s announcement of a new operating system, Mountain Lion, for the company’s Mac computers, was met with a combination of praise and collective yawns. Yes, Mountain Lion, is an improvement over its predecessors — for one, it creates a more seamless environment for those using iCloud. For those who don’t already use it, iCloud is amazing. It syncs your calendars and other information across all your devices. It works on non-Apple devices, but Mountain Lion works better if you’re an all-Apple kind of person. So some critics are saying that it forces you into an Apple-only universe. Those are the same critics, in some cases, who are cackling about the fact that Apple missed its revenue estimates for its latest quarter by around $2 billion, with lower-than-expected iPhone sales.

None of this matters. Apple remains a technology powerhouse. And while Steve Jobs was a marketing genius, the company can still capture the kind of attention he often did if it just put the same amount of research and planning into each new product announcement as Jobs did.

Lots of tech companies produce pretty amazing products these days. But very few release them in a way that shows they understand the complete environment into which they’re launching them. Great technology speaks for itself, but in today’s cluttered information universe, that’s sometimes not enough. You have to build drama, tell a story, remind people why they should be passionate about what you do. That requires understanding which stories they thirst to hear, and telling them in a way that grabs them and makes them sit down and listen. That requires gathering all the relevant stories out there and making sure yours is the best, most gripping and most relevant. Sometimes “genius” just refers to those who are willing to dig deeper to find the thing, the idea, the most relevant piece of information, and deliver it at just the right moment to just the right audience. That’s what breaks through and makes it all come together. And one more thing…..See what I mean?

The Truth Matters, Still

The truth isn’t always easy to determine. If it were, people would probably pursue it more avidly.

As it stands, discerning what is true and what is hearsay often takes hard work. But even in a world where many forces conspire to manipulate hard facts, the truth carries great value. Think of the recent controversy over alleged manipulation of the LIBOR rate by Barclays and other large banks. Many parties regarded those rates as accurate, even as others knew they weren’t.

Funny thing is, the truth has a way of filtering out eventually. Those who already know what is verifiably true, thanks to their own independent due diligence, hold a distinct advantage.



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