I’ve just read the Kindle app sample pages for Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindstrom. It looks like a book with plenty of terrific anecdotes/stories/observations. Martin Lindstrom is a world traveler, and more importantly, a world-class observer. He travels the world, stays in people’s homes, observing their behaviors, especially their interactions with their “stuff.”
One fun story was of an 11 year old skateboarding wiz from a midsized German city. His prize possession was a pair of Adidas sneakers “with ridges and nooks along one side.”
“They were evidence…that he was one of the best skateboarders in the city…
Inspired by what an 11-year-old German boy had told them about an old pair of Adidas, the team realized that children attain social currency among their peers by playing and achieving a high level of mastery at their chosen skill, whatever that skill happens to be. If the skill is valuable, and worthwhile, they will stick with it until they get it right, never mind how long it takes. For kids, it was all about paying your dues and having something tangible to show for it in the end—in this case, a pair of tumbledown Adidas that most adults would never look at twice.”
Mr. Lindstrom used this observation to help LEGO regain its mojo. With this observation, LEGO returned to its original tile size, and then created kits that were more difficult to build than ever before. In other words, LEGO provided a means to bragging rights for the best LEGO hobbyist kids to display their expertise.
This lesson behind this is that people do have a desire to excel; at something, at the anything of their own choosing. Getting really good at something, whatever it is, provides a great sense of worth and accomplishment; simple but great pride in a job very well done, and a skill very well mastered.
This is where expertise comes from. A person likes a specific challenge, tackles it with great fervor and passion, and ultimately can then point and say “look at this!”
So, the obvious question for us all – what can we point to and say “look at this!” (“having something tangible to show for it at the end”), with the right kind of accomplished pride?
A great lesson from an 11 year old skateboarding wiz!