Don't Confuse Your Personal Experience With Good Strategy

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

MediaPost Email Insider, 7/21/10

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my graduate advisor my first semester as a sociology grad student. I had scheduled a meeting to discuss my first big research project with him and made the comment, “Well in my experience…”

He stopped me mid-sentence, his eyes got large, and he took a deep breath. “Listen to me,” he said. “Your personal experience is irrelevant here. You are not a representative sample.”

Sasha Pasulka published a brilliant post on Seattle 2.0 recently explaining how she learned this lesson firsthand. As she Tweeted about her plans to launch a new email newsletter, she was mocked by a friend who replied, “Welcome to 2003!” Despite her skepticism that her readers would voluntarily provide their email addresses, people signed up “in droves.”

Her conclusion, “I should have done this years ago. I did not, because I was thinking like me, and not like my market.”

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