Sally Hogshead – TRANSCRIPT
Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried online dating. Really? Hmm. Statistically, about a third of you are lying right now.
Let’s try that again. Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried online dating. Nice! Much better the second time.
Well, online dating is not as easy as it looks. You’ve got 26 million people competing for a prospective mate’s attention. And what I want to show you today, is that all markets are like online dating markets. All markets, whether you’re selling insurance, or you’re selling website design, or selling yourself in an interview, all markets function like online dating markets, because we need to be able to get people to fall in love with our ideas.
And I learned this over the course of three years. I was studying the question of why we become fascinated with some ideas and not others, of why we become captivated by some people and not others. And I’d studied neuropsychology and biological anthropology, but what I found, is that all the answers are actually right here in online dating. They’re all right here in match.com.
So, in order to do this little research of mine, I went online, and created an account. I remember being kind of excited. I got a profile, I got a fake username, and I was really excited to go online and see what it was that guys had to offer when they were being their most fascinating, when they were competing against 13 million other guys for a prospective mate’s attention. And here’s what I got. Let’s get it ON! Really?
So, for example, let’s take a look at this guy: “Hi.” Thirteen million guys he’s competing against: “Hi.” And what I learned in my research, is that “Hi” is actually a pretty common profile username. I mean, a status update. Because I understand, you know, it’s scary to put yourself out there, and “Hi” is safe, and it’s comfortable, and it’s neutral. The problem is that “Hi” is the exact same as everybody else out there.
So when somebody puts “Hi” up there, like this “Hi” guy–we’ll name him ‘Ed’– when Ed puts himself out there, he may be a great catch. In fact, let’s say Ed could be the perfect catch for one woman on this dating website, but in order for him to be able to connect with her, in order for him to be able to find his true love and his ‘happily ever after’, he’s going to have to captivate her, at least for a few seconds. And before this can happen, Ed is going to have to overcome certain challenges, that all of us have to overcome; and the first problem that Ed has, is that he has competition. He has a lot of competition.
Now, competition wouldn’t be so difficult say, if you were, the hottest guy on a website. I mean, if you are -The- in any category, you can afford to be boring. If you have -The- biggest budget or -The- lowest price, But unless you are -The- hottest guy on the website, you probably shouldn’t go with “Hi.”
Now Ed’s other problem that makes competition so difficult, it’s that he’s not the only guy there. I mean, even if you close your parameters down to Ed’s age, and geography, and his set of preferences, he’s still directly competing against 1,000 other guys in his area. But what if you could diminish that? What if you could lessen the options? What if you could make it 100 guys that he’s competing against, or maybe it’s just him? Maybe match.com would just have one guy. How would that be?
Well, the problem is that most of us aren’t operating in a monopoly. Most of us are not a category of one. And the lesson is this: It doesn’t matter how amazing a guy is in online dating, if nobody knows. It’s doesn’t matter how incredible your ideas are, if nobody knows. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re the most brilliant blogger, if nobody reads what you post. It’s doesn’t matter if you manufacture the best cars, if nobody buys them. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re the most brilliant politician, if nobody votes for you.
We don’t live in a vacuum. Creativity does not operate in a vacuum. We have to be able to share our ideas. And the second problem that we face is not just competition, but it’s distraction. Now, distraction wasn’t a problem a generation ago, or even, say, 100 years ago when we were living on the farm. Our attention spans were 20 minutes long, that was 1 minute for every year that we were old. But our attention spans have gotten shorter, and shorter, and shorter, and shorter, until now neurologists say that our brains are literally rewiring. They’re rewiring so quickly, that we’re not just learning to think faster, we’re learning to think smaller.