What Happened To The Bulldogs?

I consider myself a nice person. But as a nice person, I realize my shortcomings in business. For most of my career in advertising, I’ve hesitated to be tough, afraid of offending people. I assumed you only needed a better argument to sell something. Not so. 

People buy into arguments, but they also buy into attitude. The passion behind the argument. I’ve been keeping score for a number of years and it seems that the culture of nice is on the upswing. And the downside is, we’re being overrun by doves like me, who often lose arguments.

Doves can be too democratic. Too indecisive. Too easily manipulated. Too concerned about hurting someone’s feelings. Too prone to let problems fester. Sure, everyone seems to like them. But being liked is kind of empty if you fail to be effective.

Doves also suffer from poor leadership abilities. They try hard to please everyone because they don’t want to be hated. But you simply can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try. Toes need to be stepped on once in a while to get stuff done. Maybe even steamrolled from time to time.

I’m not advocating that we all become jerks. But we need more bulldogs. Friendly but tough. Nice but pushy. Brass knuckles in bubble wrap. 

If only we could find a nice balance of temperaments. A lot more great projects would get made. A lot more naysayers would be defied. A lot more innovations would be born.

Of all the things I love about doves, it's their tendency to be humble. That’s important. Humility says, “I’m not perfect,” and “I don’t know it all.” It leads to self improvement and greater awareness. 

At the end of the day, people respect bulldogs. They might not like them, but they respect them. Without them I think we’d be in a world of hurt. And there seems to be fewer and fewer these days. Maybe we need a bulldog bootcamp for doves tired of being doves. That’d be good.


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