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The Hidden Cost of Growth Hacks

David Sherry
2 min read

Hello from the other side. I'm East of San Bernadino today in the mountains, with tea and a window view of fog and sunlight heating the frozen mountainside.

There are no clear resolutions or goals for me, rather deeper dedication and commitments. One of which I hope to illustrate below, as you have the same choices as me to make.

This post is about what you will do with this microphone sitting in front of you.
The opportunity to speak, share and connect is constant. In your home, on social media, with your friends, on a stage, in the workplace...

And your voice, when you find it, has its own unique tenor.

It's own frequency that others are changing the channel in search of.

And sometimes that sharing causes us to sync. This is what a community is. We're synced up on the same airwaves, and it's started by someone who stands up and speaks first.
But this airspace, especially as of late, has become combative, and noisy.

In the race to the bottom for holding our attention, many choose to use this microphone not for expression and connection, but for power, dominance, and conversion.

It is easy to see how quickly those putting out media that is intentionally inflammatory are gaining a "voice."

That trolling, controversial claims for their own sake, or manipulated brands that act to be something they are not are getting attention.

These growth hacks do "work" in that they garner views and attention.

And so the tendency is to want to join them...

But silencing your uniqueness to replicate the status quo is mediocrity.

And the downside of fast growth hacks, quick hits, and shortcuts for views using these tactics is this:

You end up attracting people you don’t care for, missing the opportunity to find those you do.

You make content you don’t care about, doing work that doesn't push you to your personal edge.

And you miss the opportunity to build a product of substance, spending your focus on replicated tactics for conversion.

To be clear, sales, marketing, and data are not bad words.

Rather in my world, they are meant to help fuel a fountain from the microphone of a brand that springs such that people can't help but pay attention to or opt-in. It's using empathy and creativity with your microphone to find the others who care, and connect them.

And I admit, I have not always stayed on course.

I have not always respected or understood my opportunity with the microphone I've been given.

I work in an industry (media/brands/community) where many people are looking to others to know what to do next.

And when I speak with brands, I sometimes feel like an outsider. Because that possibility of what you can do next is exactly your opportunity. And it's one that can be filled by something new that only you can bring.

My direction, which I have chosen to pursue for better or for worse is to build community and products that attract the right people, and win on substance, relationships and idiosyncrasy.

So what's your direction? What's your boundary? What are you after?

There is no right and wrong here.

But it is something to decide for yourself, so as to not waste time and opportunity moving toward what you want.

I've chosen mine.

You don't need to compete when you've found your own voice.

Because at that point, the only thing others can do is... copy you.

Or join you.

xx David