Lesson Four: It’s Not About You

Being a wedding MC was a lot of fun, both times. I received a lot of compliments and was told by several people that I should be either a professional MC (I’m not sure that there is such an occupation, at least not for me around here) or a stand up comedian (more likely but still not probable). As my wife has said, “it’s a good thing that she’s around to deflate my ego after these events” because my head gets pretty big. But I think one of the reasons that I’ve been successful in those experiences is because of something that I came to understand and believe very early on. It’s not about me. It’s about them. 

For both of the weddings I’ve done, I was very careful and adamant that I talk to the wedding couple in order to figure out what they want. What sort of humor is/isn’t appropriate? Are there particular stories they want me to tell, or most importantly, are there particular stories that they DON’T want me to tell. In any case, it’s not about what I’d like to do. It’s about me taking what I know and moulding it into what works for them. I recently took a course called “Human Computer Interaction” which was a course on interface design. They had us take a basic issue that we wanted to deal with and then observe how people dealt with this particular “obstacle” But the really interesting part came with the feedback.

I had in my mind a very clear idea of the app I wanted to design for this course. I knew what I wanted it to look like and I knew what I wanted it to do. But the most important thing that this course taught was not “what makes a good design”. Instead it was “can you roll feedback into your design”. Many of the features that were, for me, absolutely indispensable never made it into my final design because the users that I was interviewing didn’t want/like/need them. And this taught me a valuable lesson. Unless you’re your own customer, why are you making a product for you?

It’s a common issue. Designers and creative personalities constantly build what they want without ever thinking to ask people what they want. These people seem to be wearing the same sort of blinders that you see on a horse. They don’t look around them. They move forward in a seeming blind fury, so focused on their idea that they don’t ever imagine that anyone would possibly have anything to offer their cause. This is a huge mistake. Huge.

And it’s a mistake we’ve all made. We’ve all made the assumption that our way is the best way but in business, at its core, it’s really not about you. It’s about your customers. It’s about your clients. Unless you’re rich, it has nothing to do with you. And if you’re rich, well then don’t worry about it.