An argument for the slow hunch
We all want immediate gratification. It doesn’t matter whether we’re individuals or companies, we crave instant results right out of the gate, either in the form of traffic, visibility, revenue or at least venture capital. But it just might be possible that if we make those our only measures of success then we miss out on what Stephen Johnson calls The Slow Hunch.
I’m hoping the slow hunch materializes in the case of TNGG. A year and a half ago a few of us speculated that it might be a good idea to start a crowdsourced blog by and about Gen Y. It struck us that marketers would be interested in the next generation’s perspective and that young writers would rather express their own points of view directly rather than have some third party researchers speak on their behalf. It also seemed a good way for an ad agency to play around with consumer generated content and get a little better at social media.
Well I’m here to report that our trajectory hasn’t quite been that of the Huffington Post. We’re not flush with VC money. Nor have we received any offers from Murdoch. (We’d probably decline anyway.)
But we have accomplished something by being patient and by plodding along. This week TNGG will publish its 1500th article. Not bad for one paid employee and a community of volunteer contributors. Today seven talented and committed editors inspire and curate content from nearly 200 writers (some active, some less so) who generate 30-plus articles a week. Editor Alex Pearlman has become a sought after voice in advocating for Gen Y and community manager Christine Peterson has been singled out as a future leader by MITX.
Of course while all of that is nice, it doesn’t make for much of a business model. But that doesn’t mean the two ambitious 20- somethings who run TNGG aren’t working on it. In fact they’re about to close their first distribution deal as they slowly develop a model that will create new outlets for their content, generate more traffic, collect fees from media properties and provide pay for the contributors.
If we’d demanded that such goals be achieved in the first month, quarter or even year TNGG would be long gone. Instead this little experiment has yielded numerous lessons, gathered a valuable community, jump-started a good number of careers – at least 30 of the student writers who’ve come and gone attribute their first jobs in part to their bylined articles — and kept the possibility of that Huffington Post dream alive. It’s a slow hunch. But you never know, it may turn out to be a good one.
Working on something that’s long and slow but you hope might turn into something? Please share.
I'm so proud to say I've been part of this little experiment from the beginning. Alex, Christine, the editors and every last contributor has built TNGG into something so great. Can't wait to see where we go next.
I am honored to be working on this blog. Thank you Edward for the opporunity. Alex and Christine are the best and were so understanding during a low point in my time in the US. I wish TNGG the best when I I make my exit and that the voice of our generation continues to be heard because we are the NEXT GREAT GENERATION!!
Great post and you don't see enough of this attitude these days. I work at iWatchLife a company that is working on a better "event detection" algorithm that improved greatly on the simple motion detection you see in most of the other home surveillance or home video systems using. It hasn't been a short or easy path to develop this product and we feel we're slightly ahead of where the market is but we're being patient and trying to build the brand one step at a time.
iWatchLife Interestingly, some people bail too soon. It's not uncommon to have an idea that's ahead of its time, at least in terms of how many people are ready to embrace it. Digital, technology and social possibilities all exceed the readiness of the market to get on board.
@edwardboches This is spot on. I've written a couple of posts under the heading of slow social, arguing that the race for followers and other instant gratification goals are harmful (or at least not productive) in the long run. Glad to see you sticking with it and looking at the better, richer results that come with slow and steady.
Great post. And a great comment about exit strategies. Back in the dotcom era Steve Jobs observed it was sad that these guys were all running around solely to cash out and without building something to be proud of.
I started in aerospace, though. Our projects were often 10 years or more long because that's what it takes to do great things. Too bad so much tech is predicated on short. Yet, if we consider the iPad to be the Newtons successor, then the iPad resulted from 20 years of slow evolution.
I love this because I think business today is way too focused on exit strategies. I get it, if you want to make some money you need a way to sell, but still. The greatest joy is in the building, not in the selling. In fact, I would argue that this is why so many people who make a few bucks by working like a dog to build from scratch go right back and do it again. Making money ain't much fun, creating something that will last and that you can honestly say you care about is the greatest feeling in the world.
As for me, I would certainly describe my upcoming album as long and slow and I hope to hell it turns into something. Time will tell...
Best of luck with TNGG.
JeffShattuck Jeff, thanks. And bummer about losing your lyrics. I am so dependent on docs and Dropbox I am now alerted to the edit update. You are right that the journey is the joy. Of course, with an album you get to the end and it is what you've created. With TNGG there is the opportunity to non-stop iterate. Good luck with your album. Will come and listen to the rest of the tracks,.