Nobody Cares (The Trilogy)

Steven Kneiser
8-minute read ⚠️ Work In Progress

  1. Nobody Cares About Certifications
  2. Nobody Cares About Complexity
  3. Nobody Cares About Cost

    So what do they care about?

Welcome to the series finale!

You did read the other 3 already,
…didn’t you?
…you did, right?

Required Reading Meme

The links were up there 👆
right at the top 👆

Alright let’s dive in

Who am I even talking about?

“Well what’s YOUR answer, Steven? You seem to think you know it all, having written a full trilogy.”
–somebody else reading this right now
(not you, of course: you’re special)

Yeah, great point: what got me feeling so all-knowing & self-righteous today? Keep in mind that this blog is specifically for early-career developers who don’t understand “the business side of things”

Their words, not mine

  1. Certifications
  2. Complexity
  3. Cost [savings]

These 3 early assumptions of mine
held me back for a long time

When I say “nobody cares”,
I don’t mean “zero people”, but rather…

the *ehm* more effective companies, executives, entrepreneurs, creators …whoever you’re trying to get the attention of, they don’t care/value these things nearly as much as you probably think

If there’s anything I can say for certain,
it’s that they don’t care about these 3
(cost is particularly nuanced)

So what do they care about?

This is the fun part. There’s no single answer, but you already knew that: we’re tempted by easy answers, but that corner-cutting is what got us into this trouble in the first place. Everyone likes to give you an easy answer as an easy out, because it’s easier to spread rigorous, data-driven half-answers, but I want us to stumble into the full answer:

discovering what they care about
is more art than science

Getting to know people & the worlds inside their head is an unbounded game. It’s the spice of life. It’s what makes everything so complicated (or simple & timeless, depending on how you look at it). It’s precisely the reason you’ll always have an opportunity to enter the market.

Job interviews may give the formal appearance of strict meritocracy, but résumés screens are anything but. Their budget for hiring talent is just like an advertising budget:

“50% of this marketing campaign budget goes straight down the drain. That’s expected. We’ll just never be able to anticipate which 50%.”

To any company not extremely in-demand, recruiting employees can feel absurdly innefficient & opaque, like a blurry shower curtain.

Let’s start with what we know

This is the part where I go on a diatribe about the only thing we know they DO have, which is problems. So many problems. So much pain in the world.

*sniff* *sniff*
Do you smell that?

“o p p o r t u n i t y”

“NO! mo-ney”

Problems. Opportunity. Same thing.

NOTE: “The Big Short” is a hilarious movie & an accessible breakdown of the 2008 global financial crisis by the way (you can see all the best movie clips on YouTube)

In our Technology™ Industry,
we’re proud of solving problems
…except there’s just 1 problem

Solutions almost never eliminate problems: they mostly reshape them

Does an umbrella STOP the rain?
or merely slide water to the side?
(& the sides still drip on you!)

Quickest way to clean your room?
…shove everything in the closet

If “solutions” often reshape problems, you always have an opportunity to get your foot-in-the-door helping anyone [if you care enough to figure out how]

But what do we know about them?

The uninformative but technically correct answer is simple:

People want more

But here’s where our
problem (pun intended) begins:

even if you have good reason to approach someone & say “I found a way to get you more time, money, & energy” …their BS meter instantly shoots up. They’ll at least subconsciously want to say what my parents would say when I, as a rebelious teenager, would start acting like an ideal child who only thought about how I could make their day better:

“What [the heck] do YOU want?”

Let’s be honest:
there’s rarely such thing as a free lunch

& even if you can offer one: when approaching a stranger, you probably don’t know with complete certainty that what you’re offering them will indeed be in their best interest

“You don’t know me!”

& they’re right
…so what do you do?

If almost everyone wants more time, money, & energy …but no one believes we can just magically make those universally desired things come true, what should we do?

Here’s the secret that only people who spend enough time in sales & marketing come to appreciate:

Sure, everyone subconsciously wants more time, money, & energy (some want it explicitly) …but most want those things only as a means to another end

When I’m deep in the middle of my daily work, I’m too zoomed in. I’m not thinking at the strategic level of “you know, if only I had more time, money, & energy.” I’m stuck thinking at a more tactical/operational level (e.g. “I just want to finish up This Thing™ in front of me so that I can move on to That Thing™ that I want to do”)

The burden of sales & marketing is communication: if our stuff can help you, how do we communicate that in your language (down to the exact phrasing & word choice)?

Let me be clear

I’m suggesting that one of your key opportunities to stand out is in getting uniquely deep under the hood of their work & their relationship with their work

This is precisely where some of your opportunity lies: in your ability to relate to that pain, to deeply understand & empathize with it (not in a performative emotional way either), & then the secret juicy part is when you put in all that extra effort to repeat it back to them: to prove to them that you DO in fact get them. It’s a very primitive thing: that we all want to feel heard & seen …which is why even when we’re aware of what people are doing, we’re so flattered that we can’t help ourselves.

Someone vibing with your struggle is very validating. It makes you feel less alone. It gives you hope. It might stroke your ego. It makes you feel at ease & loved & respected & admired. Most people go through phases of life where they don’t even feel 100% heard or seen by their spouse: this is a precious, ever-evolving need that is deeply human.

I’m not going to pretend like this is simple. In fact this is so blatantly done poorly by most people around you that enough well-focused effort easily puts you in an entirely different league.

But here’s a common mistake people who even make money to understand this stuff miss (that’s right: marketers, salespeople, & UX researchers): empathy is divergent! People will talk your ear off about “empathy is everything” …except that you don’t really “get good at empathy” because your ability to do this with one person doesn’t necesarilly correlate with your ability to do it with another.

If you could “get good at empathy”, then businesses would never struggle getting another customer or building better products. [Good] businesses are absolute “how can we be more empathic?” machines & most still suck at it. Salespeople wouldn’t need to pick up the phone & face as much rejection as they do.

Everyone has problems
…but different problems

There’s no guarantees. This isn’t your golden ticket knowledge that you graduate & move on from. I’m not saying that even 50% of people will find your effort charming/endearing/genuine, but that these are timeless principles that will help you get what you want, by putting in the difficult leg work to set up win-win relationships. Yes, it’s selfish but what isn’t? In some ways, being selfish is the most self-less thing there is: after all it IS in your long-term best interests to treat people around you with just as much integrity, dignity, & respect that you would prefer yourself.

What precisely should I do next?

I hate to do this
I really do

No 2 answers look alike

This drives to the heart & soul
of why I started Creators Who Code:
to discover & piece together that short answer
for anyone trying to get their foot in the door

I see so many people who are stuck:

Everything I do here is to help people like you rediscover that uncertainty, that chaotic frontier where the best windows of opportunities bubble up

For that reason,
my new answer is:

Submit your email below
if you want to read more from me
& get weekly behind-the-scenes updates

but only if you’re serious about creating your own answer

I don’t pretend to have all the answers
but I’ll help you ask better questions

⚠️ Full story: coming soon…

Is this very relevant to you?

Did I offer a clear next action?

Should I write more on this?

I love hearing your
comments & questions!

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