Bruce Lee is widely considered to be the most influential martial artist in history, transcending any of his multiple titles (martial artist, actor, philosopher, film director, film producer, and screenwriter) and becoming a cultural icon. You could learn a lot about business from Bruce Lee – read on to find out exactly what.
Discard What Isn’t Useful
One of the things that made Lee famous is that he didn’t use traditional martial arts just for the sake of using traditional martial arts. He used what worked, and discarded what didn’t. High kicks, for example – they might look really cool on film, but their original use was for infantry soldiers to fight back against soldiers on horseback. When two people on foot are fighting, they’re not very effective. So Lee didn’t use them that way, and he didn’t teach them to his students.
You can use this in your business, specifically in your website design. Make sure that your website design isn’t cluttered up with too many widgets on the sidebar (which are likely to overwhelm your readers), or with useless icons for social media networks that nobody uses any more (Google Buzz, anyone?).
This also works for product offerings. Do you have any products that never sell – we’re talking like, one sale in six months? Take them off the shelves. (Or, even better, see if there’s someone who would be interested in purchasing the rights to sell it to their audience.) Keeping them on the shelves is only going to serve to clutter up your online store, and having too many options can overwhelm potential customers.
Test Your Assumptions
Lee was quite the philosopher, leaving behind many quotes for others to read and learn from. One of them is this:
Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.
Obviously, this ties in with the heading before this one – discarding what isn’t useful. However, too many times, we assume that something is useful just because guru so-and-so or that expert over there said it is. The thing is, situations vary. Brands vary, and audiences vary. So what works for one audience or brand or expert might not work for you – and that’s okay.
The problem is, how do you tell the wheat from the chaff? You test your assumptions to find out what’s useful. Always be trying different techniques with your headline, writing style, email campaigns, etc., to see how they perform. When you find what works best and converts best for you, then stick with it – even if it flies in the face of common knowledge.
Another one of Lee’s famous quotes is:
Simplicity is the key to brilliance.
And he was more correct than he likely ever knew.
As Dan & Chip Heath say in Made to Stick, the virtue of simplicity is part of what helps ideas “
stick“. Simplicity is not the same as being short or as having a good sound bite. Instead, think along the lines of proverbs – short, easy to remember phrases that carry profound knowledge within.
See if you can distill your business mission and brand into a short and sweet phrase that’s easy for people to remember. When people remember you, they’re more likely to buy from you, after all. You want your brand to be “sticky”, like the ideas that the Heath brothers talk about.
Another line from Made to Stick is:
A successful defense lawyer says, “If you argue ten points, even if each is a good point, when they get back to the jury room, they won’t remember any.”
Make sure that you aren’t overwhelming your audience with multiple “
points“, instead sticking to two or three.