Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The (Un)Conventional

Convention is a comfort zone.

Convention is status quo.

Convention is recognizable. It's familiar.

Sometimes convention is only a probability.

* * *

Everytime i come to New York, i ponder the wisdom of convention.

So many new successful acts, concepts and ventures lack convention. Some new things might invent a new way of fusing convention. But for the most part, the lack of convention is what resonates.

In life, i often get advice - business or personal. But i often wonder if i accept it, is it because i like it, i am comfortable with it, or if someone less entrepreneural requires it.

I always wonder, will it even work?

The proof is not in the pudding. Magic works more often than convention.

More often than not, convention doesn't apply to everything or everyone. Convention doesn't work. It's merely a language we understand.

* * *

I see when convention works. It stabilizes, it communicates, it carries logic, it applies in theory. But convention doesn't stand out. Convention is stale.

It's statistical, to think, it might work, in this situation. But convention is not a guarantee. Not even in a game of baseball where there's a fixed set of rules. You can't always count on it. The unconventional needs to help a team win.

* * *

The loudest voices in life often carry the sound of convention. It makes what is unconventional truly refreshing. I think we felt this with Obama.

Voices of convention can also sometimes be voices of discrimination. When what people understand is the only way - it doesn't work for people who are different.

Convention might be made to rule. But rules might not apply to you and I. Rules apply to the rulers. People like them.

Voices often say things only applicable to them.

* * *

Convention is copied. Copying something already done. Something someone else did. Something you once did.

At its best, it can only be trendy, with an exciting new interpretation...perhaps you perform convention better than before...well, maybe now you're bordering on an unconventional cover song.

In a technology business, i often get sent links to read. It is amazing how this once formed one third of my inbox as a CEO. I've had to tell people i dont read links of what someone else has already done. I used to...but it never helped.

In my life, convention has never worked.

It's the unconventional that breaks through. It starts to get dangerous for me with investors and customers. They only understand convention. Convention means less risk to them.

But as someone who steers a ship to go somewhere new, i know deep in my heart, convention only causes a new venture to stay put. It brings nothing new, or exciting, to fans we depend on for success. It's stagant. It might not even be fully functional.

But when money is at stake, so much convention is expected to minimize a dire sense of risk. Music labels start to like formula. Reality shows start to grow like weeds.

* * *
Convention is lazy. Convention avoids what may be true, what may need to be done. Convention is what someone else says is your self-help.

The unfortunate thing is that not everyone benefits from convention and it's hard to measure who does. It's a format off-the rack, tailored for specific types of people.

i argue criminals are more successful than authorities who base things on convention. Criminals are forced to be unconventional to survive. Successful criminals aren't caught when authorities think conventionally. They have to think outside the box.

* * *

Some people are more privileged in the status quo to bear more fruit from convention. Some people are more resourced for conventions. Some people are more accepted with conventions.

But convention doesnt make you think, it keeps the status quo. Convention keeps you where you are.

In New York, there is always something new someone didn't think of, something that works, that makes you say, Cool.

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