Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Story of Garrett Morgan and Edward Bernays: Inventor and Propagandist

Lessons for a First time Founders
In November 1923, Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light…..can’t help but ask myself what his inspiration for the idea was back then? What problem do you think he was solving? Did he think his stuff would become so huge some day? What was on his mind then? Did he also know Edward Bernays [a crowd psychoanalyst + pioneer in PR and propaganda]?
In the 1930s Bernays lied to men that cars were a symbol of their sexuality & status and went ahead to teach big corporations & bankers how to connect their products to our emotions to ensure people buy things they not only need but desire like cars.
In 1929 he organized the Easter Parade showing female models smoking in public [His press release said they were carrying "Torches of Freedom']. After that historic public event, women started lighting up more and smoking socially acceptable for the ladies.
In short, Bernays convinced industries that the news, stories, ‘content’ etc, not advertising, was the best medium to carry their message to an unsuspecting public.
Why tell this story:
If you’re the nerd, inventor+ dev + creator type of guy you need people like Bernays. [They're the writers, marketers, bloggers, politicians, lobbyists| crusaders~[influencers], sales people, customer service saints].
To do their job well, most of them are LIARS but their work helps a few people and industries run this world and decide like in Gareth’s case who goes first.
So what do you do if you’re starting out:
You don’t have to hire them at the beginning but you can build something together:~ or maybe just watch them, listen to what they say, buy them beer and keep them posted…….then make it cool so they’ll be happy to talk about it or endorse it. When you think of starting something, focus on spotting key trend lines, rather than getting distracted by current headlines dictating what the hot opportunities are. Think in terms of where things are going in the near future, rather than get stuck on where they are, who is doing what and how.
What can these fellas really do:
People who understand & deploy Barney like tactics mercilessly recently got Kenyans into Quail farming and were the among first to make fun of the birds + their eggs, write about the dwindling fortunes and analyse the quail-economics on talk shows. In short when these guys talk….some of us make or lose money, win or lose, scale or grow, close or lose a deal–somehow.
Bottom line:
If you’re Garett kinda person, don’t get another Gareth to be your co-founder…..look for these other guys who complement your skill set, externally look at what industry stakeholders are doing and what your key publics are saying about it.
The idea that ‘Build a cool thing that users| customers need and they’ll come doesn’t work always~ someone has to talk about it, make them want| crave for it, proud to be associated with it and make it available to them and ensure it works properly.
MuthuriKinyamu writes for TheHuntersBlog and Tweets while on the grind.

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