So, this is embarrassing.
Sometimes I get things wrong.
Not all the time. Not even most of the time, I think.
But sometimes I’m wrong.
Today, I’m going to talk about a couple of things that I was really wrong about, why I’m perfectly ok with being wrong about them, and why being wrong isn’t the end f the world.
“A Picture Isn’t Worth a Billion Dollars.”
That’s the name of a post I wrote one time. I wrote it because Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars and I, along with a lot of people I might add, thought this was ridiculous.
It turns out, I was wrong.
I thought that there was no way you could leverage a platform of pretty pictures into serious revenue.
It turns out, I was wrong.
I thought that this would be the failure that would put an end to ridiculous valuations and insane acquisitions. I thought this was the pin prick for the next .com bubble.
It turns out, I was wrong.
At the time that I wrote it, there was no real monetization in place. A few people were making a little bit here and there, but I worked out the following formula;
Instagram profits x2 = purchase price.
Well, in my mind, it was as much about Facebook MAKING that money as it was about someone else not making it. I know this isn’t a sound financial equation, but it’s what was slapping around inside my head. And I’m still ok with the formula. I just didn’t get the numbers right…like…at all.
It’s not the first time I was wrong and it won’t be the last.
Here are some of my more epic wrong opinions;
Ryan Leaf will be a better quarterback than Peyton Manning.
Gary Vaynerchuk is going to be disappointed when he realizes his YouTube success was a fluke.
Instagram is not worth CLOSE to a billion dollars.
Tim Ferris is a hack and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Todd Van Poppel will be the next Nolan Ryan.
Sandwiched between these epic sporting predictions gone wrong are the three dumbest things I’ve ever believed, as it relates to business.
Let’s start with why I thought each of these things.
In the case of Instagram, it was a lack of content.
I simply hadn’t used the platform enough to understand it. I couldn’t see the value because I wasn’t the user. I was in my own little world at the time and since I didn’t use it I didn’t understand it and since I didn’t understand it I didn’t see the value.
We see this all the time with social media marketing.
Businesses say, “we don’t need social media marketing because we’ve never used social media and we don’t use social media and everything is fine.” But the business is not the user and the user is spending their day on social. In the case of Instagram, almost ¾ of their users long in at least once a week, ½ log in daily, and last year they had a half a billion dollars in mobile ad revenue.
In the case of Gary Vaynerchuk, it was a lack of context. I looked at a guy who’d build his success through YouTube and thought, “ok fine. But people are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year letting people watch them play video games on YouTube. So big deal.”
The big deal was not THAT he’d blown up on YouTube. It was WHEN he’d blown up on YouTube.
Gary Vaynerchuk had an insane YouTube following when no one understood what it even was. It wasn’t that (as I had previously assumed) he’d stumbled across something at the right time. It was something very different.
Gary Vee saw the green code of The Matrix. He recognized that it didn’t matter what skin you laid over top of everything. People are people and they do people-type things and if you understand THAT, then the tools and the interfaces and the apps and everything don’t matter. They just don’t.
People matter. And he build a $400 million dollar agency off of those two words; people matter.
In the case of Tim Ferriss, it was a lack of comparability.
One of the things that I push in my blogging coaching and training, and content marketing as a whole, is the idea of related ideas. And yet, here it was right in front of me and I couldn’t figure it out.
What Tim Ferriss pushed was the idea of the 4 Hour Workweek. I thought it was an infomercial. I thought it was slapchop. I thought it was someone who didn’t understand, telling people how to live a life they couldn’t possibly live.
I saw Ferriss’ work as entirely irrelevant because when I read it, I worked a “normal” job and I couldn’t do what he said to do.
Well, I could. But I didn’t.
What I failed to do was understand how to use the pieces of Tim’s work that were possible for me. Instead I just said, “this idea only works for a very few, very select, very lucky group of people, and this guy is selling snake oil.”
Now, I read everything that Tim writes and use what I can where I can. His work has made a fundamental difference in my life.
In all cases, the real problem with my perspective was that I wasn’t ready.
In the case of Instagram, I wasn’t in the field. It’s like hiring a mechanic and telling them what’s actually wrong with your car, when you don’t know how to put in windshield washer fluid.
In the case of Gary Vaynerchuk, I wasn’t ready to put in the work. I thought he was talking about tricks when he was talking about processes. And I wasn’t ready to put in the work that was required when it came to the process.
In the case of Tim Ferriss, I was straight up jealous. I didn’t realize how helpful he was being. I didn’t know his story. I didn’t understand his purpose. I didn’t know how much effort Tim had spent mastering…well…everything.
Here’s the thing.
It’s ok to be wrong.
But be wrong fast.
If you spend your time beating yourself up because you were wrong, you’re going to lose.
If you spend your time trying to make sure that you’re not wrong and in doing so, never actually make a decision or a move, you’re going to lose.
And I you don’t pay attention to how you lost, you’re going to lose.
Being wrong is not the end of the world.
In many cases, it’s the beginning.