Believe in the product, then believe in the vision

Every day many of us find inspiration in the words and ideas of Seth Godin, Gaping Void, Guy Kawasaki and many others. Great minds make it sound so easy. With a little confidence, a strong vision and some connections you will be drowning in VC money and prepping for the big payday. Your product, company or service will change lives and your customers will follow you anywhere. If only it were that simple.

Vision is a powerful thing. It’s alluring, seductive and captivating. We attribute great vision to the leaders and builders who have created amazing things. Working with people who truly possess vision and can deliver on big dreams is a thrilling experience. But few really have the gift of vision and even fewer can execute on it.

Yes, we don’t all get to follow our bliss or do what we love. We can’t all change the world. Our bliss needs to be something people want and will pay for or our bliss won’t pay the bills. We need to be the best at doing what we love or someone else will get to do it. I don’t mean to discount the power of vision, but dreams without a great product won’t cut it in the real world.

I have worked for true visionaries who built amazing companies and incredible products. Through foresight, tenacity, force of will and luck, they were able to deliver on their promises. This success demanded a willingness to disrupt, transform, iterate and invest time, money and resources.

But I’ve also worked with a company whose leader had an incredible vision for where he wanted to take the organization. It was bold and daring. He wanted to create a best in category product that seemed revolutionary. I was hooked. Sign me up and let’s make it happen!

However, there was already a clear, well-resourced leader in the category. Plus, there was little willingness to devote the time, creativity and resources crucial to challenging the leader. You can insist to your staff at a conference table that your product is the best all you want, but until you are willing to execute on your dream you’ve got nothing but an empty vision and a crappy product.

In the end people don’t buy vision, they buy awesome products, they use remarkable services and they love extraordinary companies. Vision may add marketing power and strength to the brand, but it’s all about the end results. Deliver on your vision and your customers will reward you. If not, they will go somewhere else. What do you think?

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