Hey You, Omar Da Terrror Little

It’s Lewis a.k.a. Nerd #2.

One of my favorite quotes I’ve come upon recently is that of…

“Wisdom comes from multiple perspectives.”

Gregory Bateson

When you can only learn from people who are like you and see the world exactly the way you do, or would like to someday, you’re severely handicapped when it comes to seeing the broader picture. 

This doesn’t mean you spend significant amounts of time with people who aren’t on your wave length but when you embrace the idea that wisdom comes from multiple perspectives, you can at least shut the fuck up for a second and see things from another person’s perspective and THEN seek what’s valuable from their point of view and assimilate it into your own thus enhancing your ability to make wise decisions.

Now the person I want to introduce you to today, who I believe has valuable insights to impart on you is a fictional character.

He is the entrepreneur Omar Little (Man pictured at the top of this post wielding the sawed off shot gun) from the HBO hit series “The Wire”.

If you’re unfamiliar with this show, very quickly, here’s what 5 of the nations most respected critics, who collectively with 16 others, gave this series a total of a 98 out 100 on the site Metacritic had to say about it . . .

San Francisco Chronicle | Tim Goodman

The breadth and ambition of “The Wire” are unrivaled and that taken cumulatively over the course of a season – any season – it’s an astonishing display of writing, acting and storytelling that must be considered alongside the best literature and filmmaking in the modern era.

Entertainment Weekly | Gillian Flynn

The best series on TV, period.

USA Today | Robert Bianco

Brilliant, scathing, sprawling, The Wire has turned our indifference to urban decay into a TV achievement of the highest order.

Variety | Brian Lowry

When television history is written, little else will rival "The Wire," a series of such extraordinary depth and ambition that it is, perhaps inevitably, savored only by an appreciative few.

Time | James Poniewozik

They have done what many well-intentioned socially minded writers have tried and failed at: written a story that is about social systems, in all their complexity, yet made it human, funny and most important of all, rivetingly entertaining. 

You can go to Metacritic yourself to see all 21 of the critics praise. Or to the International Movie Data Base site (IMDB) where it actually outscores the epic series, “The Sopranos”, and see the 9.5 out of 10 review that’s composed of 68,793 users and 62 critics gave to it.

The Wire, summed up in one sentence is . . . “The Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers, and law enforcement.”

Street Smart Small Business Marketing Strategy #1: Stand For What You Believe In

Now that I’ve given you some perspective on what made this show a smash hit, I want to shed some light upon what you can learn from my favorite entrepreneurial character in the show, Omar Little.

With the help of some brilliant writing, the creators of the show turned Omar Little into one of its most righteous characters.

In the following dialogue from the series, you’ll be properly introduced to him just as the jury was being introduced to him during a scene that takes place in a court room where Omar is on the stand…

STATE ATTORNEY ILENE NATHAN

And what is your occupation?

OMAR LITTLE

Occupation?

STATE ATTORNEY ILENE NATHAN

What exactly do you do for a living, Mr. Little?

OMAR LITTLE

I rip and run.

STATE ATTORNEY ILENE NATHAN

You . . .

OMAR LITTLE

I rob drug dealers.

STATE ATTORNEY ILENE NATHAN

And exactly how long has this been your occupation Mr. Little?

OMAR LITTLE

Well, I don’t know exactly. I venture to say maybe ‘bout eight or nine years.

STATE ATTORNEY ILENE NATHAN

Mr. Little, how does a man rob drug dealers for eight or nine years and live to tell about it?

OMAR LITLE

Day at a time, I suppose.

Even though Omar robbed for a living one thing that makes him righteous in my mind is a scene/event that occurs prior to this where Omar is talking to the lead detective on the case he’s testifying in court for above . . .

DETECTIVE BUNK MORELAND

So, you’re my eyeball witness, huh? (Omar nods) So, why’d you step up on this?

OMAR LITTLE

Bird trifflin’ (scandalous), basically. Kill an everyday workin’ man and all. I mean, I do some dirt too, but I ain’t never put my gun on nobody that wasn’t in the game (selling drugs).

DETECTIVE BUNK MORELAND

A man must have a code.

OMAR LITTLE

Oh, no doubt.

One writer says of this interaction . . .

This is perhaps the most quoted line from The Wire – “A man must have a code.” It expresses the moral center of the entire show – that a man must have a personal code of conduct that transcends the law, and any traditional or makeshift authority or set of rules. It’s an acknowledgement from Omar that there is indeed a “game beyond the game”.

I like that point of view.

In the professional tough guy criminal business turning snitch to the cops is a death sentence not only on your life but worse . . . your self esteem.

But Omar marched to his own beat. He had the opportunity to do the right thing according to him and he did it. Making himself even more unpopular and endangered in the process.

And this leads me to the first small business marketing lesson you can learn from Omar . . .

When you’re marketing, it’s always a wise idea to hitch your financial aspiration to a noble purpose or mission or code of conduct and stand up for it and sing it loud and clear.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Chick-Fil-A did this with taking an Anti-gay stand and polarized the fuck out of their list, driving away people who don’t agree with them and garnered massive support from people who see the world the way they do and are in more in love with this company now than they could ever could be had this not happened and will pledge their allegiance to them until they die or this belief of theirs dies.

And Chick-Fil-A did this knowing full well they were walking into a shit-storm that was the press would fuel gleefully.

One of my favorite sayings is . . .

“A business that’s for everybody, is for nobody.”

I think the same premise can be spun like this, “A personality that is for everybody, is for nobody.”

Wishy washy people are ignored. Wishy washy people are pushed around. Wishy washy people don’t respect themselves because they are always at the mercy of other people’s preferences.

Keep in mind that any form of communication that the public sees is marketing – articles, interviews, newsletters, salesletters, etc.

This means that within your marketing it is a wise idea to let your audience know what you stand for and where you get to the biggest bang for your buck is when you are seen putting your beliefs into action as Omar and Dan Cathy did. This lets you walk the talk. 

It’s counter-intuitive, but never the less it is wise to do if you want customers for life.

Street Smart Small Business Marketing Strategy #2: Have An Enemy You Seek To Outwit Or A Challenge You Intend To Overcome

Anything of consequence that has ever been accomplished has at first been met with fierce resistance.

And as an entrepreneur, court is a place you may have to do battle and defend your way of living like our friend Omar is in the example below where he’s testifying against the Shit Bird named Bird and is being questioned/attacked by Bird’s scuzzy attorney about a previous incident in which he’s addressing in an attempt to lower the credibility of the prosecution’s witness . . .

OMAR LITTLE

That wasn’t no attempted murder.

MAURICE LEVY

Then what was it, Mr. Little?

OMAR LITTLE

I shot the boy Mike-Mike in his hind parts, that’s all. [jury members laugh] Fixed it up so he couldn’t sit right. [Judge Phelan chuckles]

MAURICE LEVY

Why’d you shoot Mike-Mike in his, um… hind parts, Mr. Little?

OMAR LITTLE

Let’s say we had a disagreement.

MAURICE LEVY

A disagreement over . . .

OMAR LITTLE

Well, you see, Mike-Mike thought he should keep that cocaine he was slingin’ and the money he was makin’ from slingin’ it. I thought otherwise.

MAURICE LEVY

You are amoral, are you not? You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You’re stealing from those who themselves are stealing from our city. You are a parasite who leeches off —

OMAR LITTLE

Just like you, man.

MAURICE LEVY

–the culture of drugs… Excuse me, what?

OMAR LITTLE

I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It’s all in the game though, right?

“There’s always two sides no matter how thin you slice it.” Spinoza

Like Eben Pagan says, “There is no right and wrong. There are only perspectives. And the best we can have is a partial perspective.”

But the majority of people you encounter in the world are hardly tolerant of anything they’re not programmed to approve of and are not coming from a peaceful and open-minded stance.

I’ve heard it said that as a society, we incarnated into world that is in love with drama. For the feminine it’s the dominating drama of their lives is some variation of, “Am I loved enough?” and for the masculine it is, “Am I successful enough?”

This manifests in what you see play out in the scripts of Hollywood movies and TV shows that absolutely crush it – like the Wire. The themes of “Defying insurmountable odds” and “up and down, on then off, break up then make up romance stories make the billion dollar entertainment industry go round and round.

Why not take advantage of this?

When it comes to marketing, rallying against an enemy as the ambitious underdog who’s trying to make a dent in the universe against all odds and persecution from “Them” is an extremely advantageous and inspired position to come from. 

In, The Wire, everyone on the street knew that Omar’s enemies were any drug dealer who didn’t yield to his request or that were coming after him to put his career to an end.

One of the reasons he could stay in business as long as he did was because through word of mouth everyone knew who his enemies were and there was a polarization created where you either loved him or hated him and the people who had love for him would give him the intelligence that kept him alive.

For Steve Jobs, back when he was running his company out of his parents garage, the enemy to overcome and out gun was IBM. When the company got rolling and he was launching the Macintosh, his famous 1984 ad was entirely focused on this theme.

And in the future, it was well known via interviews, speeches, etc. that Microsoft/Windows, Google/Android, and who the others were that Steve despised and was defending himself from.

Who are you fighting off?

Now like the 1984 ad, you don’t have to directly name your enemies but you want it to be clear to your audience that there are forces out there that you’re on a mission to dominate.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your enemies don’t have to be people or corporations. Two of my favorite enemies to do battle with are “doing business as usual” and “Stagnation”. Or better yet, belief systems that handicap people.  

People would rather root for a person on a mission (especially if they’re on a quest to defeat a real bastard of a belief or person) than a person on the path to just get by.

Let people know what you’re fighting for and I guarantee you that you’ll gain more support from your troops than if you didn’t.

Street Smart Small Business Marketing Strategy #3: Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

Steve Jobs said during the 1996 filming of “Triumph of the Nerds”, “We’ve always been shameless about stealing good ideas.” and in this same segment quoted the artist Picasso, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

While reading Walter Isaacson’s outstanding biography, “Steve Jobs”, I came across this wonderful story told to Isaacson by one of Steve’s programmers which sheds some deeper light on this topic…

“When Steve Jobs recruited Microsoft to be the first third party applications software developer for the Macintosh, he was already concerned that they might try to copy our ideas into a PC-based user interface.

As a condition of getting an early start at Macintosh development, Steve made Microsoft promise not to ship any software that used a mouse until at least one year after the first shipment of the Macintosh.

Microsoft’s main systems programmer assigned to the Mac project was Neil Konzen, a brilliant young Apple II hacker who grew up in their backyard in the suburbs of Seattle. Neil started working at Microsoft while he was still a high school student, and single-handedly implemented the system software for their hit Z80 card that allowed the Apple II to run CP/M software.

Neil loved Apple, so it was natural for Microsoft to assign him to their new, top-secret Macintosh project. He was responsible for integrating Microsoft’s byte-code based interpreted environment (which actually was a copy of a system used at Xerox that favored memory efficiency over execution speed, which was appropriate for the Mac’s limited memory) with the rapidly evolving Macintosh OS, so he quickly became Microsoft’s expert in the technical details of the Mac system.

By the middle of 1983, Microsoft was far enough along to show us working prototypes of their spreadsheet and business graphics programs, Multiplan and Chart (they were also working on a word processor, but they neglected to mention that, since it would compete with MacWrite).

I would usually talk with Neil on the phone a couple of times a week. He would sometimes request a feature that I would implement for him, or perhaps complain about the way something was done. But most of the time I would answer his various questions about the intricacies of the still evolving API.

I gradually began to notice that Neil would often ask questions about implementation details that he didn’t really need to know about. In particular, he was really curious about how regions were represented and implemented, and would often detail his theories about them to me, hoping for confirmation.

Aside from intellectual curiosity, there was no reason to care about the system internals unless you were trying to implement your own version of it. I told Steve that I suspected that Microsoft was going to clone the Mac, but he wasn’t that worried because he didn’t think they were capable of doing a decent implementation, even with the Mac as an example.

In November 1983, we heard that Microsoft made a surprising announcement at Comdex, the industry’s premier trade show, held twice a year in Las Vegas.

Microsoft announced a new, mouse-based system graphical user interface environment called Windows, competing directly with an earlier environment announced by Personal Software called "Vision". They also announced a mouse-based option for Microsoft Word. When Steve Jobs found out about Windows, he went ballistic.

"Get Gates down here immediately", he fumed to Mike Boich, Mac’s original evangelist who was in charge of our relationships with third party developers. "He needs to explain this, and it better be good. I want him in this room by tomorrow afternoon, or else!"

And, to my surprise, I was invited to a meeting in that conference room the next afternoon, where Bill Gates had somehow manifested, alone, surrounded by ten Apple employees. I think Steve wanted me there because I had evidence of Neil asking about the internals, but that never came up, so I was just a fascinated observer as Steve started yelling at Bill, asking him why he violated their agreement.

"You’re ripping us off!", Steve shouted, raising his voice even higher. "I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!"

But Bill Gates just stood there coolly, looking Steve directly in the eye, before starting to speak in his squeaky voice.

"Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it."

Unfortunately, it turned out that while the agreement that Microsoft signed in 1981 stipulated that they not ship mouse-based software until a year after the Mac introduction, that ended up being defined in the contract as September 1983, since in late 1981 we thought that the Mac would ship in the fall of 1982, and we foolishly didn’t let the ship date float in the contract.

So Microsoft was within their rights to announce Windows when they did. Apple still needed Microsoft’s apps for the Macintosh, so Steve really couldn’t cut them off.”

“I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It’s all in the game though, right?”

Remember that – Omar spelling out for the lawyer that they were both exploiting the same market but from different angles?

What isn’t told in the story above is what Gates means by stealing from Xerox. He’s referring to the GUI, the Graphic User Interface technology that Xerox pioneered and showed to both Gates and Jobs.

When Steve Jobs looked at Xerox’s innovative Graphical User Interface (GUI), he was amazed . . . and he knew they were sitting on a gold mine and were complete idiots when it came to putting it in a package that was both desirable and accessible to the masses.

So he took all their awesomeness and shoved it into the beautifully designed Mac II with some improvements and with stellar promotion . . . SOLD THE EVER-LOVING SHIT OUT OF IT while Xerox fell flat on their face when attempting to do the same thing.

Gates didn’t become a billionaire creating and selling computers. He became a billionaire selling software that was modeled directly after his predecessors findings.

Both of these men became billionaires on the shoulders of a giant.

Bill Gates didn’t distort this reality. Jobs did. Jobs got all butt hurt and wanted to get on his pious high horse and in the moment, pretend he was god almighty creating things out of thin air.

Jobs never invented anything from scratch. But what he deserves full credit for is optimizing the fuck out of the ideas he concepts and making them a thousand times better than what existed before he put his team on it.

Here’s What Stops Most People Dead In Their Tracks

1) It’s my belief that fear of a confrontation like Gates encountered from Jobs is what keeps many a people from implementing smart ideas based on another idea.

The kicker is, people aren’t stifled by the likes of Steve Jobs coming at them but rather they’re easily paralyzed by some random stranger’s derogatory comment sent to them on Twitter.

This random stranger could be some broke ass redneck shit-kicker 18 year old in Montana living in a trailer park who’s got a rent-to-own lap top and is bumming the internet off their neighbors wireless signal.

Doesn’t matter.

This comment of “quit copying apple fagut!!!!!!! come up with your own ideas” from @jefromontan94 is enough to put a serious dent their ambition.

And if some company actually has the audacity to pull a Steve Jobs on them, they’d fold up the tent at warp speed.

Or they fear this (more likely to end the show than the prior) . . .

2) Being ignored and thus invisible because they don’t bring improvements on what’s been already to the table.

So when it comes to stealing TV sets, I like the way Thomas Stephen interprets Steve Job’s and Picasso’s taste in beliefs . . .

So, what does Picasso mean? In the briefest of terms: take old work to a new place. Steal the Google site, strip down what works (fast load, nonexistent graphics, small quirky changes that delight) and use the parts on your own site. Look at the curve of a Coke Bottle and create a beautiful landscape painting with it. Take the hairline pin striping on the side of somebody’s car, reimagine it on your print job. Find inspiration in the world you live in, where nothing is truly new so that everything has the potential to be innovative.

Conclusion:

I believe that if you . . .

1. Stand for what you believe in

2. Keep challenging overwhelming odds and overcoming them

3. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

. . . within your marketing, you’ll be well on your way to, as Steve Jobs put it, “Making a dent in the universe” and as I’ll put it, “Making a dent in your own personal universe” for those seeking to bring value to the world but not on a global scale, but rather in their own backyard.

The reason I trust this is possible by adhering to these three strategies is because once you act upon them they embolden you as they did Omar to defy the crazy high business failure odds that are stacked against the majority of business owners.

I honor you if you accept the challenge to think different than the herd. If you’re not ready yet, get out of the way of the rest of us who are.

Talk soon,

Lewis LaLanne a.k.a. Note Taking Nerd #2 a.k.a. L.L. Cool Nerd

PS. There are 28 other incredible small business marketing strategies that Dan Kennedy dives into that allow you to keep customers for life in his DNA Game Changer system. Click here if you want the 100+ pages of notes I took on it <—– 

Advertisements