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Ahhhh, Startups in DC, the red-headed, bastard, stepchildren of the startup world. For instance, the other day, I read a quote by a guy. In terms of DC Startups, this guy is a successful founder with a good company, and a real, verified, not glitter-traction, exit under his belt. I like and respect this guy and his current company.  Yet, the quote was a perfect example of the ridiculous, over-the-top, kind of sound bites it takes to get ink or bits in the startup press in the wastelands of Startups. This quote inspired me to pick on all the pronouncements and predictions from DC’s “prestigious” prognosticators.

Here’s the quote that inspired me,

“We have the DNA of a billion dollar company”

I have the DNA of a Neanderthal (2.7 % of my DNA, to be precise), but that doesn’t make me a caveman. Nope, I’m a caveman because I have failed to evolve. So to the CEO of the double-helix DNA company, you have the DNA of a decent company, but you aren’t the next Uber of Uber. On the other hand, you aren’t Trustify of Trustify either… which is a good thing. In defense of the quote, it is interesting, unique, and obviously quotable… even if it’s filled with a dose of unwarranted hubris.

This got me thinking… yes folks, for the second time in my life, I had a thought.

The need for personal branding and Content Marketing, or as one local “Guru” recently exclaimed as if this was the marketing equivalent to the theory of relativity,

“content marketing should just be called marketing”

wow, that’s deep. Anyway, the results of the pressure to brand oneself, one’s company, and to keep pushing out content results in.

  • armies of  absurdity

  • a plethora of pointlessness

  • a profusion of pontification

  • plentiful unprovocative provocateurs

  • a bevy of bloviators

  • numerous numbskull nitpickers

  • a deluge of delusionators

  • a superfluity of supercilious superficiality

  • legions of loud ludicrousiosity

  • an overabundance of orators of the obvious

  • a dizzying downpour of documentary douchebaggery

  • a multitude of the mundane

  • a preclivity towards predigous proclamastions of precarious prognostiagions

I believe everyone, well, almost everyone has something interesting to say… but once they’ve said it, it’s time to sit down and shut up. Look, even exceptional thought leaders like Seth Godin run out of new ideas and fresh content. The wisdom of smiling Guy Kawasaki gets old. When it comes to DC Startups, our local, minor,  celebrities (me included) are not great minds. Some are smart good people. Many have something to say. And yes, as The Donald once said, there are good people on both sides.

Yet, once you published the one deep thought you had that did not suck, it’s time to put away the microphone, stop the tape, shut down the camera, and move away from the keyboard. Once you’ve said it, you’ve said it. You can stop continuing to scream that which you have to say and that which is no longer worth saying.

And just because it felt good when you unleashed that one pearl of wisdom that was more of a pebble than a pearl, even though you basked in that one moment of minor glory, don’t continue to try and recreate that moment by standing on your Twitter soapbox shouting little new nothings in our ears at the top of your lungs. Got that? If you have nothing interesting or new to say… please stop saying what you don’t have to say.

Realize, all of us are not Daniel Pink or Simon Sinek. Few of us, if any, are great storytellers like Malcolm Gladwell, the highly entertaining,  purveyor of junk pseudo-science. And it is for this reason  I say, once you’ve made your mildly amusing point, once you said it… sit down and shut up. Don’t mistake a smirk as a standing ovation or of crowds yelling ENCORE!

Content marketing and demand generation, coupled with platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, drive these content marketing geniuses to feel like they must continuously fill the bit-erverse with an overabundance of the obvious.

So let me illustrate my point by quoting some of the “Greatest Minds,” Startups in DC.  I will not call them out by name but see if you recognize them.

“content marketing should just be called marketing”

Advertising should just be called marketing, PR should just be called marketing, and marketing should just be called marketing. Heck, Bob should just be called a guy; men should just be called a people. The next time someone asks you what type of food you want… don’t tell them Sushi or Italian, because Sushi should just be called food.

“Live your life like a startup.”

In other words, make ridiculous commitments you have no ability to meet. Convince people to give you money so you can live beyond your means until you go bankrupt in the hopes that you can sell yourself into slavery someday. Eat ramen for the rest of your life. And run from former friends and family who funded your dream.

As a response to the question, “I need advice about where/how to meet/pitch angel investors in the DC metro area?”

“Most VC’s contact info is very public and easy to find.”

That’s right, VCs have a special key on their keyboards that starts with a D, and they use that key to respond to unsolicited, non-warm introduction, email pitches.

Someone piling on to the answer above, “second this. Just email them. They have an obligation to spend that money.”

Do they have an obligation to spend money? Not just no, but HELL NO! They have an obligation to invest in people who are strategic, non-lazy, hustlers, and not idiots who just send a blithering blind email.

“The further and further away you get from the customer, the less deep understanding you have of them.”

On the other hand, the closer and closer you get to your customer, the more you better pray they bathe regularly and the higher the probability that your about to be me too’d #MeToo

“What if we encouraged more startups to see themselves as media companies that might make a product in the future?”

Because the world needs more Trustifys, Communicliques, WeWorks, and Theranoses.

“It is easy to be mediocre. It is hard to be great.”

Doing easy stuff is easy. Doing difficult stuff is difficult. Saying the obvious and making it look great is difficult. Saying the obvious and making it look obvious is easy… that quote was easy.

“lunchables are just redneck charcuterie”

Okay, on this one, I’m actually going to source it; you have to follow Maxim’s Twitter feed… it’s busy, irreverent, sometimes thought-provoking, and never boring.  Follow Maxim at @round. DC Startups, man-about-town, Maxim is a voluminous and interesting tweeter.

On Tradeshow Advice: “whether your product is software, hardware, or a service offering, make sure that you have something tangible to show and share at the show!”

I guess that means an empty booth is meaningless. That’s deep! This advice is from a guy who has no product and has had a booth to show the product he doesn’t have for 5 years in a row at CES, and the company failed miserably after raising $20 million. My advice, if you don’t have something to show if you have nothing to sell… don’t go to the show.

“The future is…complicated.”

I have a crystal ball that makes the future simple and clear… the future of this pontificator is simple… grocery store clerk.

“Underpromise and overdeliver.”

This rocked my world; oh wait, that was someone else’s quote; this one was simply a cliche of a cliche.

And how about this noted arm-waving, pocket-square-flaunting, “Sales Guru” and “Keynote Speaker?”

“Powerful experiences, whether good or bad, can create lasting impressions.”

I assume the corollary is that a boring, non-remarkable experience is boring, non-remarkable, and forgettable.

“What you know is valuable. What you don’t know is invaluable.”

I don’t know whether this guy wears boxers or briefs, and yet I do know that knowing or not knowing the status of his undergarments has no value to me unless I wanted to buy him a birthday present (note: this response was inspired by a friend, and therefore I can’t take full credit for it, which reminds me of a good life-hack… never claim credit for others work.

“Life may have its failures but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit.”

This might be good advice, but this was tweeted by a guy who should have quit years ago. Before he was forced to quit by going bankrupt he lit $20 million of his investor’s money on fire.

Oh, and this one quote which is the most meaningful quote I came across while researching great quotes,

“If smoking marijuana leads to short term memory loss, what does smoking marijuana lead to?”

Finally, I’d like to end with these quotes from one “guru,” who is a master of the monotonous, a titan of tired thoughts.

Gems from one single source

Here’s a bunch from one dude! Yes, a literal plethora of mindless dribble, a literal gold mine, can be found in one Pundit’s 50 life hacks which include a few doozies!

“Develop an endless curiosity about everything.”

Really… everything? True fact, one day, this guy saw a cow take a dump. Ever since that moment, he’s boundlessly, endlessly, focused his curiosity, pondering and pontificating on bullshit.

“Always ask people how their day is going.”

Because there’s nothing more genuinely caring gesture than automatically saying to everyone you meet, whether you care or not, how you doing and hearing them say great, whether they are doing great or not.

“If you need to refer to yourself as an expert, you likely aren’t one.”

Expert advice from a guy who calls himself the expert Startup expert and never worked for, founded, or invested in a startup. My non-expert advice about that is, not calling yourself an expert doesn’t make you an expert, either.  Being an expert makes you an expert.

“When you move in to somewhere new and unpack, put your sheets on your bed first.”

Damn! If only my mother had told me this my entire life would have been different! #LifeChanging

“Compliment others for their achievements.”

I’m not going to lie…. okay, yes, I am going to lie… I’m going to take that advice… that’s some incredible shit you wrote there! See, I complimented his achievement.

All this BS reminds me of the great humorist Deep Thought Quotes of Jack Handy

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it’s made up of two separate words, mank, and ind. What do these words mean? It’s a mystery, and that’s why so is mankind.”

“I think the mistake a lot of us make is thinking the state-appointed shrink is our friend”

“I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it.”

“I hope that after I die, people will say of me: “That guy sure owed me a lot of money.”

“If there was a terrible storm outside, but somehow this dog lived through the storm, and he showed up at your door when the storm was finally over, I think a good name for him would be Carl.”

“It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.”

“One thing a computer can do that most humans can’t is be sealed up in a cardboard box and sit in a warehouse”

“To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there’s no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other”

“Broken promises don’t upset me. I just think, why did they believe me?”

“When I found the skull in the woods, the first thing I did was call the police. But then I got curious about it. I picked it up, and started wondering who this person was, and why he had deer horns.”

“Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.

How do you end anything after that? Here’s a great quote, I bet you never heard before,

“If smoking marijuana leads to short term memory loss, what does smoking marijuana lead to?”


Want to learn how to create a culture of high-performance teams? You can check out my new book, Intentional Leadership, available on Amazon, in Hardcover, Kindle, or Paperback by linking here.