Use Controversy to Your Advantage

How do you make a splash and make people take notice of your operation?

Think about your favorite book or movie for a moment. What was it about the plot you found intriguing and still makes you revisit it from time to time?

You may have considered the characters, the excellent writing, maybe the awesome special effects? Perhaps, but the primary driver behind any good plot is ... conflict!

Conflict motivates the story to move forward. Without conflict there is no action, no surprises, no oomph. Without Voldemorte, Harry would have just been a bespectacled orphan with underwhelming magical abilities. Without the three ghosts of Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge would have just been an ill-tempered curmudgeon. These stories would have been no more interesting than everyday life, and let's face it, everyday life can be dull. Why else do we lose ourselves in books and films?

Okay, so what does this have to do with controversy?

Absolutely everything!

You see, controversy is a break from the norm. It's a way to set oneself apart from the humdrum of mediocre chatter. It's getting off the fence and taking a definitive side on an issue. Controversy creates conflict when someone dares challenge conventional thinking.

Now, it's important to be strategic about making controversial statements. T-Mobile CEO John Legere unnecessarily ruffled feathers when he drew a comparison between rape and cellphone bills. He credits the behavior to being himself, a man of the people, but that time he may've skated well past the line.

Consider these points:

  • What industry are you working in?
  • What are the unspoken rules of this industry?
  • Which one of these unwritten best practices has always driven you nuts?
  • Why have you never said anything about it?
  • Doesn't it feel like a good time to get it off your chest?

As a blogger, I hate the conventional wisdom that one should blog on a consistent schedule. I may elaborate on that rant another day, but suffice to say I think it's a load of bologna. One should take to blogging whenever they damn well please. Otherwise the writing comes off forced, haphazard and disingenuous. :)

So, I dare you to take a position that breaks stride from tradition. I further dare you to express that opinion on a public forum. Mind your manners. There's no sense in behaving like a donkey, but challenge yourself to express, and stick to, a position that reshapes the way your customers think.

In your opinion, what was the most controversial statement ever made?
What about that statement makes you remember it to this day? How will you use controversy to stimulate dialogue in your field?

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