Are You Doing Business Like A Toddler?

My daughter turns 2 years old later this month. Right now, if you ask her what song she wants to listen to, sometimes she will say, “This one!”

But we have no idea which one is “this one.”

That’s because she doesn’t have a handle on “theory of mind.” She doesn’t understand that my experience and perspective would be different from her experience and perspective. She doesn’t “get” that she needs to provide more context if I’m going to understand what song is “this song” that she’s thinking about.

There’s an experiment that illustrates this, too.

Say that my wife, my daughter, and I are in the kitchen. My wife puts a toy in the cabinet. My wife leaves the room. I move the toy from the cabinet and put it under the sink. Then I ask my daughter, “Where would Mom look for the toy?”

You know that my wife would look in the same place where she left it; in the cabinet. Why? Because Mom didn’t see me move it.

My daughter, however, saw me move it so obviously Mom would look under the sink to get the toy. My daughter doesn’t have the computing power to realize Mom’s experience is different from her own experience.

My daughter doesn’t have a fully developed “theory of mind.”

Neither do most business owners.

Here’s the number one way I see it destroy businesses.

Every day I talk with business owners about helping them marketing their company.

And they say something like, “I don’t believe in ads. I’d never click on one, so I don’t think they work.

That’s why I say they’re doing business like a toddler.

The business owner thinks everyone thinks like they do. They make choices that make sense from the perspective of their own experience, while they ignore the perspective & experience of their ideal customer.

In a fully grown adult, it comes across as profound narcissism. “OF COURSE everyone’s like me!”

But, their customer might click on 5 ads a day. They might be desperate for anything that might help them out.

But, since the business owner lacks “theory of mind” and the ability to understand how their customers think, they make choices that undermine their own business.

When you realize what’s going on, you’ll see it everywhere.

How have you seen this in your own experience?

Best thoughts,
~Jonathan “mind reading is hard” Pritchard

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