To finish the thought: You can play ping pong with a clipboard – if you’re an expert. (Enjoy this clip of current world top 10-ranked player Dimitri Ovtcharov playing a decent round of table tennis with a standard-issue clipboard, taken at the 2013 L.A. Open: https://youtu.be/a7MdKQ4GIPE.)
Love the Skills, Not the Tools
Because beyond a minimum level, it’s the skill and execution that accomplish results – not the paddle (the tool). You’ll save money and heartache when you invest time and energy toward honing a process rather than acquiring a doohickey. For example, a powerful startup story has everything to do with pure storytelling, regardless of the (minimal) tools required to tell it.
This concept applies to WRITING, in that a better ________ [fountain pen, ergonomic keyboard, standing desk, snack drawer] may enhance your ability to accomplish the basic task, but good thoughts, a good brain, and good habits are the true essentials of the craft. The ultimate asset in writing – discipline – definitely cannot be bought on Amazon.
The idea applies to DESIGN, in that a better ________ [brush, tablet, software suite, coffee brand, snack drawer] might be helpful to keep up with industry standard effects and efficiency, but it’s the tangible and intangible qualities of good design principles that propel your work to the next level.
And it applies to CONTENT MARKETING, in that a better ___________ [CMS, publishing suite, analytics package, content library] gives you insight into useful metrics or uploading functionality, but cannot provide you with the creative spark and genuine spirit that propels truly moving material.
(Now don’t get us wrong: There are some kick-ass tools out there! Like these 5 Ultimate Content Marketing Tools. Just don’t expect them to build your content empire by themselves.)
Don’t Become an “EJ” (Equipment Junkie)
There are several ways that obsessing about tools of the trade (“EJ’ing,” in table tennis,) can get in the way of your positive momentum. Just a few:
- Blaming your failures or mediocre results on your tools: “Final Cut Pro 7 was so much better than this lame new release; it threw off my timing and the product launch video has a slow pace to it.”
- Trivializing another’s success by attributing it to her tools: “Must be nice having an adjustable standing desk. I’d be as productive as Jill if I could stand in my office while I researched our launch strategies.”
- Putting off starting on a new high-potential project while waiting for the perfect tool: “The new project management software is really going to streamline our go-to-market efforts in Q2. Let’s hold off on the new puppy sweater line until we can really leverage that advanced platform.”
Don’t EJ. Don’t try to buy the accessories to success. Build success with the accessories you were blessed enough to be born with: Eyes, Mind, and Fingers. And don’t forget the People around you: the human tools. Ok, that sounded weird. You get the idea.
Avoid the Process Prison
Lastly, avoid this productivity sinkhole. Turns out some “tools” are actually processes dressed up in fancy documentation. So that by adopting a new tool and process that comes with implementing it, you become enmeshed in a chore in itself that outweighs the organizational benefits of using it in the first place. You become an unwitting prisoner to a tool with an appetite mostly for maintaining the tool itself. Gathering inputs, gaining approvals, maintaining currency, distributing it, editing it, and reporting from it, all can take a toll on resources.
Like table tennis analogies as applied to digital marketing? Here’s another: Hit the ball, not your opponent (a content strategy analogy). Hit hard, play fair, and enjoy!