17 Nov 2008

Lisa’s PubCon Takeaway: Avoid Paralyzing Perfection

I know I’ve written about this before over on the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog (I can’t find the post, sadly), but I need to write about it again. If not for you, then strictly for myself.

Last week at PubCon I ventured out of my comfort zone and attended the Effective Affiliate Strategies panel. In three years of liveblogging and conference going, I had never once attended an affiliate session before. This year I decided to give it a shot. One of the speakers on that panel was Elizabeth Archambault, a woman whom I did not know before the conference, but someone whose words now will not leave my mind.

Elizabeth shared many words of wisdom with the audience. She talked about a woman who’s always buying books and reading the words of marketing gurus, but yet has no active sites on the Web. She spoke on the importance of building your online presence to make yourself attractive to suitors and not spreading yourself too thin. But most importantly, she gave me the following words to type, print out and paste next to my office set up at home. She said:

[Gently paraphrased since I was liveblogging, but not at all inaccurate.]

“You need to balance the goal of striving for quality and avoid paralyzing perfectionism.  Something that is second rate but up and running and getting traffic will get more traffic than the perfect idea still on your hard drive.”


That right there was my biggest takeaway from PubCon 2008. It wasn’t how to buy links under the radar, this years social networking darling, or how to sabotage your competition. It was far less sexy than that. The best lesson of the show for me was to get the hell over myself and just act. It was a much needed kick in the butt.

But action is hard. Our attention is split and unfocused. There are too many distractions and too many frivolous activities fighting for our time that we lose sight of what really matters. Those who know me know that I am the unofficial daughter of Rae Hoffman. That means I get more lectures from my dear SEO mother than I’d care to share, but one of the biggest lessons she’s tried to instill in me is to stop  investing time in things and conversations that don’t matter. Instead, focus on what does. Focus on the activities, the conversations and the people that are going to help you get where you need to be. I don’t often listen to everything she tells me, but that’s advice you can live by.

Could I have gotten all hot and bothered over last week’s liveblogging debate? Oh hell yes. When I first read that thread I wanted to shove several people through a plate glass window (gently, of course!), but what is that going to do for me (besides the links Jim would get from the arrest)? It’s going to get me all worked up and upset and take my attention away from the things that are actually important. Like finishing up the two sessions I still had to liveblog that day.

Could Motrin have spent another 3 months talking to moms and perfecting their ad campaign? Yeah, they could have and, arguably, should have. But they didn’t. Instead they released an ad campaign and gave everyone a headache and something to spend their weekend making insanely over-the-top videos about. People said they felt alienated and offended and hurt and achy all over in response to the ad. But to be honest, that ad probably isn’t going to hurt their sales or their brand. What’s more likely to happen is that thanks to the Twitter momfia that spent all weekend writing death threats to Motrin, the ad got five times the attention it would have had all on its own. And in a week, when the crazy has died down, all people will remember is that Motrin released an ad that everyone was talking about. Props to Motrin for at least engaging in social media, even if it did come back to bite them.  At least they acted.

I will totally admit to suffering from a paralyzing need for perfection. Blog posts take too long to write because I over analyze everything. I turn down opportunities that I may fail at and I drag my feet on ventures that I fear I won’t be able to do perfectly. And in doing that, I hurt myself and my brand.

I’ve received a few emails over the past few weeks asking if this was mine. I’ll probably get more now that Virgnia Nussey linked to it from Bruce Clay’s 100th Friday Recap (apparently she no longer loves me enough to hold my secrets.).  Yes, that site is mine, though I didn’t give it that God awful tag line. And, yes, I realize that there’s no content on it even though I promised one of my many industry parents that I’d get on it. I promised that I’d pay attention to it and that I would get over my fear and finally blog as me, for me.

And a year later, I still haven’t.

But I have lots of good reasons for that, of course. I don’t know what to blog about. I have too much “real” work to do. I’m always traveling. I just moved into a new apartment. No one wants to hear from me anyway. Jack Jack ate my blog topic.

And at that rate, lisabarone.com will never be born. Because there will always be enough distractions and “real” work to keep that content buried on my hard drive. There will always be enough insecurity inside to keep it a pipe dream. Motrin may have failed, but at least they acted. How many of us have even done that?

So my big takeaway from PubCon was just that.  Things don’t have to be perfect. Avoid the distractions, and just do. I’d encourage all of you to join me in that. Stop participating in the vapid stuff that doesn’t matter. Instead, apply that energy to something greater.

And who knows, maybe I’ll find the courage to take my own advice and give you all something to read about on lisabarone.com. If not, then I blame Virginia Nussey for outing me.


  1. Kenny Hyder November 17, 2008 at 11:35 AM

    I say, you should rock the kubrick theme on lisabarone.com and just start writing! If you have content, a design will come soon enough, who cares! Listen to Elizabeth!

  2. Jill November 17, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    That is indeed great advice for any conference goer, book reader, or business that pays for consulting of any sort.

    How many people spend (or is it waste?) money on those things and never implement a thing? We as speakers, teachers, consultants and book writers WANT you to implement what you learn.

    I’m sure that not being able to do it perfectly does stop some people (like Lisa), but for others it’s inertia or maybe just procrastination. Nike certainly has the right idea with “Just DO it!”

  3. Monica Wright November 17, 2008 at 12:03 PM

    Lisa, I say go for it, fill it with RSS and Flickr feeds and whatever you want – who knows what the outcome is, it’s the experience that counts. I can assure you I’m no professional blogger, I work my butt off at an agency, and have 2 kids to raise. I get intimidated by thought of posting something completely ridiculous and the criticism I would endure. But taking action is better than no action at all. We’re all friends in the long run. Do it!

  4. Virginia Nussey November 17, 2008 at 2:58 PM

    Lisa! I love you – and your secrets! If I helped encourage you to build out lisabarone.com, I have no regrets! Clearly I’m not alone here…

  5. Mark V. McDonnell November 18, 2008 at 8:15 AM

    Another, canonical quote on this topic comes from General George S. Patton:

    “A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week”

    Enjoying the snow? 😉

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