Growing up in a countercultural town, the presentation and packaging tactics of Madison Avenue and Hollywood, and the protocol of the diplomatic world seemed like subversive tools of the establishment. I often think of a brilliant local character known as a founding father of California’s rich architectural history who wandered the streets of Berkeley barefoot, his red beard and hair wild, beer belly protruding from a ripped t-shirt. Where might his speaking career — and wind of Berkeley’s astounding architectural heritage — have taken him, if he hadn’t appeared to be a vagrant?
Recently marketing futurist Seth Godin talked about the decisive role of cultural wisdom — or sophistication — in business, and asked why we don’t take it more seriously.
I polled my online contacts, asking Is poor presentation a death sentence for a good idea? LinkedIn said yes (66%), to be successful an idea demands professionalism. “Presentation is EVERYTHING!” effused one person. Facebook was split, debating what professionalism means and the harm of over-marketing, with craftspeople and small business owners shouting “Hell no!” Commitment ranked as the top factor in success. One pragmatic man observed “Professionalism works in dull markets,” while a fellow Berkeleyan admitted we have to ”be able to engage with the status quo enough to be able to transmit a new concept.” Here at WordPress, 50% thought if the idea was winning people would forgive a shaggy package and one respondent likened presentation to the booster rocket that gets the Space Shuttle in to orbit.
Is superficial accessibility superficial? Or are movements we think of as “fringe” on the periphery not just because their beliefs are minorly held, but because they refuse to persuade from within general convention?
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