Ryan Seys

Show People

“The truth is generally seen, rarely heard.” — Baltazar Gracian (1601-1658)

Recently I’ve been thinking about Shopify’s mantra “Do things, tell people” and it makes me wonder more about what catalyzes success. Here it is discussed that these two things are all it takes to be successful. But I have to ponder, is it simply doing stuff that has the largest impact on success? Or is it telling people about the things you do that is more impactful? I have come to reason that of those two, what is most often overlooked is telling people. But it still might not be enough.


Make to Show

People have no problems making things, cool things for that matter, but if nobody knows about it then what good is it? I have written numerous software projects, open sourced them, but have never first hand told anyone about them, and their “success” (or lack there of) can be attributed to this fact. I started thinking that success is defined by how much you tell someone about something, but as I thought about it more there was a finer distinction between telling someone something and showing them it.

Showing involves both doing stuff, i.e. making the stuff you want to show, and then interactively telling someone about it. Demos are a great way to show off your work. As an example, what do you think would be more effective: telling someone that your cheese is the best cheese in town or giving out free samples to show them that it is the best? Apple claims its products are a joy to use, and then they show the devices to their users so they can try them out and judge for themselves. Telling people about your idea is easy, but if you believe in an idea then you should turn it into a real thing and show it off.

Show to Persuade

Showing people is also a very strong way to persuade people to your point of view. For example, rather than telling someone they should do something because it’s more efficient, show them. Show them by doing, and if it actually is more efficient, they will naturally follow by example. They may not even realize it and think they decided all themselves. Law #9 from the book 48 Laws of Power is Win through your actions, never through argument. A great point is made with this law: showing people through example is much more effective than simply telling them or arguing your point of view. “Demonstrate, do not explicate.”

Showing should be seen as an extension of “Do things, tell people.” You should continue to do things, tell people, but also show people. Show people why they should use your product. Show people why they should help you. Tell people why by showing them why.

Persuade to Succeed

WinFriends How to Win Friends and Influence People, a timeless classic and highly recommended book by Dale Carnegie talks of influencing people to gain your point of view. Rule #3 in the book can be summarized as “Arouse in other people an eager want.” Carnegie makes a very good point in saying that the only way to get someone to do something is to make them want to do it. “Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was performed because you wanted something.” Carnegie also states “So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.” Yes, show them.

I challenge you to show someone something today. Whether it be a new lifehack you’ve recently learned, a side-project you’re “almost done”, or even that new recipe you’ve been dying to try. Just show people.

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Disclaimer: Please don’t take my advice too far and get yourself arrested for indecent exposure.

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