…I’ve been warned to steer clear of controversial topics like Brexit.
“Keep your nose clean,” say the mentors. “Stay out of trouble.”
But the other night I saw the HBO movie Brexit and it hit me – if we can’t talk about these thorny issues then we’re missing some valuable life lessons. Business ones too.
It struck me when I saw Benedict Cumberbatch, the anti-hero, building his campaign for Brexit. He would play pool with ordinary people at the pub, go to their houses in deprived areas and ask questions.
‘What is it you don’t like about the EU?’
‘Why do you feel this way?’
All of these conversations were distilled and captured with a beautiful 3-word slogan…
…”Take Back Control”
It didn’t matter how many times the P.M. David Cameron said, “We are stronger, safer and better off in the EU.” He was appealing to reason.
Brexit appealed to emotion.
“They’re riding a wave of pent-up anger that’s been growing for 2 decades,” said the ‘Remain campaign manager in the movie. “How can we beat that?”
Of course, they didn’t.
And Brexit’s no isolated incident as you know.
In India, Modi just got re-elected. He was one of the first populists to spring up. He came way before Trump. And again, he rode on the untapped emotions of people who felt ignored.
When you look at your product or service, ask yourself: ‘what emotion could this reach?’
The most powerful emotions are:
When you appeal to the right one, you are far more likely to succeed.
And if you’re unsure, do what Benedict did. Get out and talk to people. Ask them, ‘What’s your biggest problem right now? What would it mean for you to have this problem solved?’
Listen for the emotion in their voice.
You can hear it if you listen.
But that’s enough being diplomatic – avoiding controversy with business lessons. What about Brexit? Was I a Brexiteer?
Well I left the UK for Canada, so maybe it’s not my place to say.
Having said that, anything which shreds the size of government is fine by me.
What carnage, though.