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Season 3 Episode 3
May 13, 2024

[DECODED] Polymaths and Philosophers

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was much more than Isaac Newton's rival. He was a polymath who dabbled in everything from music to metaphysics and embodied the spirit of true deep generalism. Modern marketers can connect the dots, even if you didn't know they exist, by studying continual change: from calculus or clicks.

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this episode sponsored by

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was much more than Isaac Newton's rival. He was a polymath who dabbled in everything from music to metaphysics and embodied the spirit of true deep generalism. Modern marketers can connect the dots, even if you didn't know they exist, by studying continual change: from calculus or clicks.

"Absorb what's useful, reject what's useless."

  • {00:10:04} - “A lot of people think that there are these tried and true tactics for this and that and the other thing. And there's just so much nuance to our businesses, and then there's so much nuance to the scale that you're at. There's so much nuance to the context of the company.” - Rabah
  • {00:19:38} - “Every part of a digital experience, perhaps your website, every product recommendation, every marketing message, could be tailored in the future to reflect the unique needs and desires and the context of the individual consumer. What Leibniz teaches us through monadology is about our interconnectedness: to a brand, to a purchase, to a product, and each other.” - Phillip
  • {00:34:27} - “The way I define or bifurcate marketing from sales is marketing is selling one to many. Sales is selling one-to-one. And now you're seeing a blurring of the lines with technology. Now I can market almost one to one, not in the actual literal sense, but in that persona, jobs to be done, where that person is on their customer journey, and what I know about them.” - Rabah

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Phillip: [00:00:12] Welcome to Decoded by Future Commerce, presented this season by FERMÀT. Today, we're tracing invisible threads that connect ideas and rivalries across continents and centuries. Rap battles, turf wars, and diss tracks aren't 21st century ideas. In fact, one of history's fiercest disputes and one of its most prolific diss tracks comes out of a rivalry between the grade school hero that you've learned about Isaac Newton, and the subject of today's podcast, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. These two giants of science and mathematics were embroiled in one of history's fiercest intellectual duels, over the invention of calculus. Their rivalry is a tale of genius and a quest for credit that has reshaped our understanding of the universe. But Leibniz was so much more than just Newton's rival. He was a polymath, who dabbled in everything from music to metaphysics, and he embodies the spirit of true deep generalism. In today's marketing world, specialization often takes the front seat, but Leibniz's story reminds us of the power of broad curiosity. So today we'll talk about how you can gain an edge in understanding the world by having polymathic tendencies and making sense of chaotic journeys of the modern consumer. You can connect the dots, even if you didn't know that they exist by the study of continual change, whether it's calculus or clicks. Ok, Rabah, I want to tell you about a new person that nobody cares about, and he's been dead for 400 years. Are you ready?

Rabah: [00:01:59] Yeah. Can you throw in some OG beef or, if you will some rap battle ness?

Phillip: [00:02:05] Oh, my gosh. Yeah.

Rabah: [00:02:06] That would be perfect.

Phillip: [00:02:07] Okay. Great. Because it's this perfect tee up because that I want to talk about, a dead white German guy, he has the greatest OG beef of all time, which I think, you know, actually turns out really affected the way that we understand the universe, which is pretty cool. Also, it ties into something I think you're really into. You love a nonfiction business book.

Rabah: [00:02:33] Yes.

Phillip: [00:02:34] You dig those?

Rabah: [00:02:34] Yes.

Phillip: [00:02:35] Dig those. Did you ever read Range?

Rabah: [00:02:38] Yes.

Phillip: [00:02:39] Range is one of those business books I feel like you read one or two chapters, and then you kinda got it. What David Epstein makes the argument about in there is that having lots of range and having sampled a lot of things makes you profoundly good at one. Right?

Rabah: [00:02:53] Yeah. I think there's definitely a there there. I think there are two different tracks there, though. I think there is a proper generalist. And then I think there's t-shaped talent. And then I think what we're gonna talk about today with Leibniz is there are polymaths where, like, there's almost, like from the t shape, they're like a column where they can just go so deep.

Phillip: [00:03:18] Oh, a hundred percent.

Rabah: [00:03:19] And so the generalist, I think there's a time and a place. If we wanna bring it back to marketing and startups, I think everybody at your start up, especially in the pre growth phase and the growth phase, you need to have generalists because you need people to wear a bunch of different hats. And then you want to transition into t-shaped where you have people that can go deep, but that could still sit across multiple things. And then as you get old and crusty and you turn into a value company, not a growth company, that's when I think you bring in specialists, optimizers. Because at that point, you're trying to eke out you know, you don't have lever pullers where there's the big gains are usually lost, and you don't need the big idea people anymore, or you need them to be in a room separate from the big org that's just churning out things at a more optimal and efficient rate. And so that's how I kind of think of those three people of the generalist, really important, but they're not gonna be able to get you those last 10, 5 points to get it to perfect. But they're gonna be great because they're gonna sit across a bunch of stuff. T-shaped people, you hire them whenever because they're game changers. They're incredible. They can talk to everybody, but then they can go deep in certain verticals.

Phillip: [00:04:27] Totally.

Rabah: [00:04:27] And then polymath is just, you usually don't find them, and it's very rare that they're gonna come work for you.

Phillip: [00:04:33] So I would even say there are kind of, I think, rare people just in the world. And the dude we're gonna talk about today is probably the greatest example of a polymath, and this series is littered with great examples of people that are special in their own right. But Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, in my western English or {with German accent} Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, is a dude who is probably the quintessential polymathic person. He was a philosopher, and he was a mathematician, an early example of sort of a mathematician's mathematician. Created calculus. We'll talk about that. And then also, weirdly, a musician, a poet, a person who just was creative in every area that he touched and then brought that creativity in his inspiration from other areas into deeper levels of thought. So I wanna dive into him. I think one of the first things that we can learn here is that his level of thinking was rare, but in his era, he wasn't the only one like himself. And so one thing I thought that would really, that our audience would jam on today is a lot of his work was in simultaneous inspiration where other people were working on the same problems and discovering solutions at the same time. And that feels really similar to a lot of the things that we've experienced over the last 10 years in our industry.

Rabah: [00:06:17] And just to build on your point, so he was alive when Newton, John Locke, Spinoza, Pascal, and others. I mean but that's the laundry list of the who's who.

Phillip: [00:06:29] Sure.

Rabah: [00:06:29] Which is absolutely incredible to me.

Phillip: [00:06:31] Yeah. That's like Diddy and Dre and...

Rabah: [00:06:33] Or even, even more near and dear, Paypal Mafia kinda thing where you're just like, man, that concentration of talent at one company is just absurd to think about.

Phillip: [00:06:46] Yeah. And to have these generational talents, people that, you know of course, their legacies living for 100 of years, I think, is something really worth noting. And it's really it's tough to know what people thought of them in that day. You know, one of the ways that they settled disputes was there were historical societies.

Rabah: [00:07:06] Yep.

Phillip: [00:07:07] We need a good commerce society. Feel like a society would be a rad thing to have.

Rabah: [00:07:14] Ooh. Rotary club kind of vibe.

Phillip: [00:07:15] Yeah. We need, like a fraternal order of commerce theory or something. {laughter}

Rabah: [00:07:22] I could be into that. Can we do something cool like skulls and bones, though?

Phillip: [00:07:26] Oh, oh, for sure. It'll definitely be problematic looking from the outside.

Rabah: [00:07:31] Yes.

Phillip: [00:07:31] You can definitely be, like, why does that exist? But no. You know, these societies would act as judge and jury in disputes. And the greatest thing that Leibniz is probably known for, outside of some of his philosophy work, which we'll talk about, is that he simultaneously discovered calculus at the same time as Isaac Newton, and then they had major beef over it.

Rabah: [00:07:56] Yes. Yes. Yes. Major major beef.

Phillip: [00:07:59] But they didn't have Twitter, so they couldn't work it out in real time. So they had to write letters and sort of argue through published works at each other. That's not how we work out beefs and problems and disagreements in DTC for sure.

Rabah: [00:08:14] No. But it would be interesting because I think there's a certain I don't wanna say inefficiency, but there is a certain beauty to the inefficiency of having to refute or make an asynchronous rebuttal. Because then I can't... Because I find the challenge with debates or real time debates, like, synchronous debates. It's the most charismatic, awesome person that can sway an argument, but they're not fact checked. There's not any of this tethered to reality. It's pretty much who's the most, like, well spoken, popular, uses the right vernacular to really make you sound smart, etcetera. So I think in a weird way, it's kind of interesting, it is like the OG rap battle or diss track where you're kind of writing these things to each other, but waiting on the person to respond to then craft your answer. Where in DTC, it can become very real time. And I also think the challenge with DTC is it's such a ranging of terms where people will be talking about a company doing 500k a year, which, again, nothing wrong with that, but that's in a totally different place that needs totally different strategies and tactics and hirings than a company doing 25,000,000 a year. And that 25,000,000 a year is gonna be totally different than that company doing 50 or 75. And I think it gets lumped into it. And I think the fun part, but also kind of the interesting part where I think a lot of the irritation comes in is everybody can usually be right.

Phillip: [00:09:52] Totally. Well, there might be some truth in every person's individual experience and perspective.

Rabah: [00:09:59] Yeah. That's much more eloquently said. The too long didn't read, do what the ad account likes. And I think [00:10:04] a lot of people think that there are these tried and true tactics for this and that and the other thing. And there's just so much nuance to our businesses, and then there's so much nuance to the scale that you're at. There's so much nuance to the context of the company. [00:10:20] Are you capitalized? Are you not capitalized? That's gonna change decisions. What are your logistics look like? What are your fulfillment lead times? There's all these variables that everybody wants to mute and just say, it's in a weird way, you know, you wanna see people the same as a human, but at the same time, everybody's a unique snowflake, and I think that's the same thing as...

Phillip: [00:10:41] {laughter}

Rabah: [00:10:41] And for real, though. That's the same thing as DTC businesses. I've very rarely seen a DTC business be one to one to another DTC business. There's always something. There's a founder here or there's somebody that wants to get out or I have a bunch of money so I can spend it. I don't have a bunch of money so I can't spend it. And I think that's why you have to, the Bruce Lee quote, "Absorb what's useful, reject what's useless."

Phillip: [00:11:05] You're like a repository of amazing one line quotes. There's a really interesting lesson we learned too about his focus, Leibniz's focus, on so many different disciplines because he made such an impact on each of them. You know, this polymathic ability is, like, just not being satisfied at being good at one thing. I think we see a lot of people like that in marketing where they really want to explore possibilities and bring that marketing level thinking and analysis to lots of different areas. And sometimes that means that they wind up in these arguments or diss track. There are rap battles with people who are deep experts in one area and having to get on the level with someone whose entire life and being is in there. What they don't often have is in the case of, you know, Isaac Newton, in his rap battle with Gottfried Leibniz, the issue that arises is when Newton won, he then wrote a book basically celebrating his own win. What is really interesting about this particular record is that taking the victory lap is kind of in poor taste sometimes, but, you know, I guess when you're the champ it's within your rights to take the victory lap. But I think you lost with style. How's that? Leibniz lost with style.

Rabah: [00:12:35] Yeah. I mean, there are a couple of lessons, I think, for our listeners here. On, always brag on yourself. There's definitely a limitation to staying in the non douchey category, but that's one of the things that I tell people all the time on my team, and I try and do it personally as well where I'll write every couple weeks just a Friday update for marketing because you don't realize that all these other people have no idea what you're doing. Engineering has no clue. Product has no clue. And a lot of times, marketing is the cool kids in the organization. And so you wanna bring these people along and show them what's going on. And that just really helps accrue, for lack of better term, political capital within the company. Oh, marketing's doing all this stuff. So you definitely wanna brag on yourself. And the other thing too is there's just a certain aspect of man, when you do something great canonize it. There's something about when you put it into some sort of digestible that other people kind of what we were talking about with the whole South by Southwest event. People experience the world in stories. And if you can give these people a story to then tell their friends to then tell their friends, it's just gonna be a more impactful way to disseminate information versus trying to penetrate the academia with very crude, or not crude, but elegant equations, but without wrapping that in a story, it gets into a place of the vehicle is much harder to ship than what Leibniz just didn't do a good job of that, and I think you...

Phillip: [00:14:10] Yeah. Probably.

Rabah: [00:14:10] You should be your best fan and your biggest fan.

Phillip: [00:14:14] It could be the discipline of selling is often sometimes different than the discipline of creating.

Rabah: [00:14:21] Totally different.

Phillip: [00:14:22] Being very good at selling an idea, you know, sometimes is opposed to, in direct opposition to the type of talent that would be somebody who creates a new discipline of math out of thin air. Here's an interesting thing. Calculus itself, you know, if you were tortured in high school or in college with calculus, calculus at the root of what it is solving, it's the study of continual change.

Rabah: [00:14:53] Hence integrals, hence derivatives...

Phillip: [00:14:55] Right. And you have this really interesting hook at FERMÀT around sort of the way that you're naming various media properties that you've created the geometry of growth, for instance. Each one of these areas of mathematical discipline study a particular element of some truth. And this was a new thing in that actually there is something that has been undiscovered in that there is a science of continuous change. Now for him, for Leibniz, it was maybe area under a curve on a graph. But for our industry, the science of continuous change is that the marketing discipline never stands still. And there are things that need to be rethought over and over and over again, including the funnel, we could talk about that in a second.

Rabah: [00:15:39] Yeah. No. You're exactly right. But I wanna just jump back to that previous point where I think it's so important to distinguish between the creation versus the marketing and selling and branding because they are both really important. And one of the things that I think was so magical about Apple was that Steve Jobs had Wozniak, who was the creator but couldn't sell a glass of water to somebody dying of thirst in the desert because that wasn't his thing. But Steve Jobs also had this beautiful idea of never working from the technology to the customer, but working from the customer need, the job to be done to the customer back to the technology. And that's why Apple's products, I know you're a green bubble guy...

Phillip: [00:16:24] Proudly.

Rabah: [00:16:24] And objectively, Android's tech, there was I mean, even now, you could argue it's still better than Apple's, like, the actual tech. But the whole point is nobody really cares about the tech besides the actual people on the fringe, like the early adopters. When you get to the middle of the curve and then you get to the laggards, people care about the story. And that's one of the things that I thought Apple is just brilliant at. Because if you think of the retina display, Android had better higher resolution displays than the retina display when it went out. But who's gonna say x pixel by y pixel? Nobody.

Phillip: [00:16:59] Right.

Rabah: [00:16:59] But what can I tell you, Phillip? Oh, I got the new iPhone. It has the retina display. Right?

Phillip: [00:17:03] The branding of it.

Rabah: [00:17:03] And so being able to package the story is almost just as important. Yeah. And the brand is a story. So being able to package that story, but also be able to have the technological firepower to give you that because you can't put lipstick on a pig. You know what I mean? There's only so far that can go where, you know, there was a little bit lipstick on the pig at the early iPhone. But the way he branded it, it was so brilliant where when you can get to a place of marketing where you make every bug a feature, that's just God tier marketing, and I think that's what Leibniz was missing, candidly.

Phillip: [00:17:40] Well, probably. I mean, especially, his particular brand of philosophy on its own kind of became known as a footnote because the people that learned and built on his ideas were the ones who became known as sort of the monster philosophers of the day, like Emmanuel Kant or Friedrich Nietzsche. These people are known as sort of the modern philosophers that changed the way that we think about the world. Leibniz was the one who inspired them with some of his own ideas, which really had a lot to do with this concept of abstraction. How do we take something that we can observe and theorize that it might be made of smaller truths? So, you know, something that's physical matter in the world might be made of smaller particles, and that was, like, really wild to think about back in the day. Leibniz is best remembered for his work in metaphysics, and he envisioned a world that was composed of unique indivisible units that reflect the whole in a unique way. Leibniz lived in a time before the discovery of subatomic particles, and he envisioned a world that was made of these small indivisible units. In a lot of ways, his metaphysical theories have been proven to be physical realities. But he goes further to say that it is the unique context in which we live that makes someone truly unique, not the indivisible units that reflect the whole. This idea extends to consumer behavior too, because every consumer interaction is no different from this monad, this indivisible unit, because the entire consumer experience is its own distinct individualized context. So what does that mean? It means that we have to take a radical approach in the future to not design for the masses, but for monadic experiences. [00:19:38] Every part of a digital experience, perhaps your website, every product recommendation, every marketing message, could be tailored in the future to reflect the unique needs and desires and the context of the individual consumer. What Leibniz teaches us through monadology is about our interconnectedness: to a brand, to a purchase, to a product, and to each other. [00:20:03] Just as a total aside, one thing that we credit Leibnitz with, which was the creation of binary counting. And so I'm actually, I don't know that I'm saying that exactly right. Let me say that a little bit differently. He's actually credited as the person who created the binary number system and sort of recognizing it as, like, canonically 0 and 1. And, by the way, this is wild. A really interesting book. You like nonfiction, but I don't know if you jam on mathematics so much. Great book to read is called Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, and it's by Charles Seife. I read it 20 some years ago. He talks about how people were called heretics for saying, "Oh, well, the world is round." The idea of 0 was itself a heretical idea at one point in time. So Liebniz, you know, kinda created all of these incredible thoughts and philosophies, but he has a branding problem. To your point, not great at the branding. So his idea of abstraction he called monadology.

Rabah: [00:22:55] That does not pass the sniff test of...

Phillip: [00:22:58] Monad.

Rabah: [00:22:59] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:23:00] Do you like saying monad, Rabah?

Rabah: [00:23:02] No. No. And I'm so surprised too because that's one letter away from almost, like, gonad and it's just not the path for me. But hey. You know, Maybe there's a sexier German word for that than...

Phillip: [00:23:17] I think that was German. I think that's the problem.

Rabah: [00:23:19] Oh that is German. Oh, well, yeah. German's is a hideous language. Great culture, cool people, amazing cars, and engineering, but not into the glottal stops.

Phillip: [00:23:27] Yeah. No. Monad. Monad, I think it was borrowed from Greek originally.

Rabah: [00:23:33] Oh that makes sense.

Phillip: [00:23:34] So having this idea of a basic or originating substance. His idea was you could keep breaking things down into their original, you know, most basic components. And for him, being a religious and learned man, Liebniz theorized that potentially there was, like, a God particle, a spiritual truth at the center of all physical matter. And so if you could abstract things away to their smaller, smaller and smaller scales and more essences, and, you know, it's funny as it took 200 years, but we realized, well, there are molecules and there are atoms and then there's a nucleus and it's made of particles and then we have quarks. And now you keep going deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. He theorized this before anyone else.

Rabah: [00:24:27] Yes.

Phillip: [00:24:27] Which I think is a really interesting thing because he was wrong until a couple 100 years later when he was right.

Rabah: [00:24:36] Yep. You know, that's usually the arc of things, to be fair, where there are just people before their time that, they just don't have the whether it's, you know, cultural headwinds, societal headwinds, etcetera, that is just not ready. Like, there's that old Buddhist saying the teacher will appear when the student is ready.

Phillip: [00:24:58] Oh. Oh. Yeah. That's deep.

Rabah: [00:25:02] Yeah. It's deep.

Phillip: [00:25:04] In sort of the Liebniz view of the world, he had this idea too about equivalency. And you've heard the Ship of Theseus. Right?

Rabah: [00:25:17] Yeah. Of course. Yeah. So Bring the listeners along because I don't know if... It's a popular parable, but just to make sure everybody's having fun.

Phillip: [00:25:24] Yeah, the sort of Greek philosophical question about the Ship of Theseus that if over time, this ancient ship was replaced piece by piece, board by board, nail by nail, is it still the same ship, or is it a different ship? And Liebniz, in Liebniz's law would probably argue that there is no true equivalency, that two things cannot be truly identical, and I'm even drawing a false equivalency, you know, equating it directly to something like the Ship of Theseus. It's this idea that even if two things are identical even at their most spiritual level in this God particle idea they can never truly be equivalent because there is more than one of them. So they are identical, but they're not the same. And that is such an interesting thing because and this is what I wanna get you in here, it has everything to do with the perspective of the observer saying, "I can see two things. They can't be identical. They can be distinguished from each other." It has everything to do with your perspective.

Rabah: [00:26:31] That's exactly right. And I think you just broke everybody, all the NFT maxi's there because that goes against their whole thesis. But, yeah, so I think there are a couple of things going on here. One, it depends on where you derive identity. Do you derive identity from the physical or the metaphysical? Because if you derive identity from the metaphysical, then the materials are just a representation of that. And that's why it's such an interesting thought experiment because usually people have very vigorous... Nobody really goes, "Ah, I don't care." They're like, "No. It's not the same or it is the same." And then what gets really interesting is at what point? So is it 51%? Is it 70% of the ship replaced? Is it 1% of the ship replaced? If one plank is different, does that make the ship totally different? And so that's where I think it gets really nuanced where it's like, okay, if you do think that the ship isn't the same, at what point are you allowed or at what point does that identity get shattered? Is it the third plank? Is it the fifth plank? Is it when you replace the whole? And so I think that's what the beauty of the thought experiment is with the Ship of Theseus is that you get to really dive down into people's souls in a really interesting and meaningful way where you can see do they care about the metaphysical. Is this a thing of sentimentality of, like, "Oh my gosh. This means something to me, and this material is just a representation of an ideal that can never be replaced," or is it that the material is the thing? And if you're replacing the material, then that's totally different. And so I think that's what gets really interesting.

Phillip: [00:28:10] Let's put that in the context of business, and specifically the business of commerce. So when you're thinking about the ability to replicate success in one business to the next based on a handful of tactics and even maybe a makeup of the same stack of software. So what I see a lot of times is folks looking at one business, which maybe they are in the same category, maybe they even sell the same product, maybe they have similar packaging, and making an assumption that there is an equivalency of tactics and software stack that worked in one context that is directly transferable. It's identical. Right? It can be replicated in another context. And I think that there are some schools of thought that are like, "Well, no. There's just like a school of best practices where we can repeat success." There's a truth that's a truth that's a truth. There's a fundamental truth and that's that human behavior and buying things and meta's predictability means that we can replicate success from one business to the next. I think Leibniz would argue that there is no such thing as equivalency. It can't be identical because there are two of them. So you have two different businesses. They can't be identical. There are two of them. And that's where I want your input here. How replicable is success in the role of the marketer in deploying similar tactics, similar strategies, and similar software stacks? Is there truly a truth to be found in that?

Rabah: [00:29:50] I mean, it's a fantastic question. I think for me, I don't like to think in terms of best practices. I prefer frameworks, and then I can take pieces of those frameworks to then layer on to my business. Because again, there are nuances to everything. There's the great quote, "No man ever steps in the same river twice for it's not the same river and it's not the same man." And I think that's the exact same thing because when these businesses were... If you started a business back in the day when Facebook was ripping, you could build a whole business on Facebook. You didn't need anything else. Whereas now that's just not the case. You are not gonna take a business from 0 to 1 just on paid ads. And, candidly, you don't want to. The people that are really dependent on meta ads or paid ads in general that are buying revenue are having a really hard time right now. The people that have organic, the people that have community that are then augmenting those with paid ads are doing fine. And so I think that's the challenge is nothing's ever the same. There's just no... So this is kind of the thing of, like, that Ship at Theseus. Nothing's ever the same. However, I do think there are frameworks. There are first principles that you can adopt to give yourself a really awesome opportunity to then figure out which pathway to go where you can build a beachhead, and then you can understand where do I wanna go from said beachhead. But if you're just doing best practices or if you're just mimicking things, again, there's nothing wrong with that, but that's more of a dropshipper-style mentality where that's not a business. That's an arbitrage play where you just see an arbitrage in the market, and you're just trying to basically clear that market, and you take some money with that arbitrage versus building a brand and building a product that people know, love, and care about. Those are two just orthogonal thought processes. And I think that's where a lot of people get caught up where they say they're building a brand or a business, but it's really just an arbitrage opportunity. The other thing that I'll say too, and not to be too negative because I love entrepreneurship and I think people should try everything that makes sense to them, is that a lot of people are building features that are masquerading as businesses. And that's something that I see a lot where you just get a lot of buy-in, but you either end up a total addressable market is a really low ceiling. [00:32:00] There are just headwinds that you need to understand. This seed is not gonna grow into a forest. How can I plant more flowers that then the bees can come pollinate to then build this beautiful garden? Because if not, it's just too expensive to hire a gardener to plant to plant every time you wanna grow one. [00:32:18]

Phillip: [00:32:19] This actually brings us back to our original point about this idea of the polymath. At an early stage of a business, you have to, if not truly polymathic, but you have to be more generalist in the way that you approach problem-solving. You have to do all of these things. You have to be both the seed sower and the pruner and the garden planter and the water. You have to do all of those things. It's as you grow that you become much more prone to specialization. One of the lessons to learn here though too is on my journey to research more about Liebniz and for this episode, actually, I really liked his idea of monadology as sort of this idea of non-determinism and that's how I've kind of thought of FERMÀT is that my website is not your website. There is no equivalent website in the future. Websites can be something that's specific in the moment to a particular piece of creative that can live just for the context of what needs to exist to close the deal with that one customer and what they need at that moment. It's funny because that disrupts our idea of the funnel.

Rabah: [00:33:34] Does it? I don't think it does.

Phillip: [00:33:35] But it makes the funnel not a universal thing. It makes it specific in that moment to that one person. What is the funnel for that person in that moment?

Rabah: [00:33:44] Well, that's exactly right. So I think it's actually not breaking the idea of the funnel, but making the funnel instead of having the singular funnel that somebody has to go through, now you can make this highway of conversion pass where previously you had this one way to go, everything for everyone, and now the technology has now surpassed that ideal, so why don't we talk to people? I think it's more so in almost coming back to the monadic. Is that the?

Phillip: [00:34:15] Yeah. Sure. Sure.

Rabah: [00:34:17] Monadic ideal of we can now help you build conversion pass for all these different customers, which kinda breaks the idea. So I guess I see what you're saying. Because [00:34:27] the way I define or bifurcate marketing from sales is marketing is selling one to many. Sales is selling one to one. [00:34:35]

Phillip: [00:34:35]  [00:34:35]Yeah.

Rabah: [00:34:35]  [00:34:35]And now you're kind of seeing a blurring of the lines with technology. Now I can market almost one to one, not in the actual literal sense, but in that persona, jobs to be done, where that person is on their customer journey, and what I know about them. [00:34:48] So it gets into almost the OG when we finally could get targeting with Facebook. I think that's kind of where the marketing savants are gonna start to head to where it's like, man, instead of me having to think about this one universal theorem, what if I could think of 10 theorems or 20 theorems or 40 theorems that would encompass the whole customer base instead of having to reduce everyone to say, "Hey, this is Phillip. He lives in Florida. He has a VisionPRO." That's not meaningful. But if you find something around the idea of, "Oh, Phillip has this job to be done. He's at this stage of his conversion cycle. This is gonna be the most exciting pathway for him to get to a conversion or to get to value in the quickest amount possible." That to me is actually an extrapolation of the funnel, not necessarily a singularity of the funnel, if that makes sense.

Phillip: [00:35:42] What if I said it differently? I love the way that you put it because it's very practical. I think to put it in the monadic terms to your point is what if the funnel if we broke the funnel down and we said there is something there's a smaller particle than the funnel, what if we break it down and we find out there's actually a lot more funnels in there in the funnel? There are smaller funnels to be had, and we're in search of a very specific funnel that is sort of bound by time and space that just exists only for this moment, and it works for that customer at this time. And that's something that we just could not have actually delivered 20 years ago, which would be basically 200 years ago as far as technology is concerned. We just didn't have the technology.

Rabah: [00:36:34] Exactly. It was a technology barrier, and you just sparked something in me. I think what's gonna happen is the funnel goes away. And what happens is, so I got to go to this, long time ago... It was 5 years ago, 7 years ago. There's this guy named BJ Fogg. He's the Fogg behavior model, wonderful dude out of Stanford. But, anyways, there's a exercise he has in there called starfishing. And, basically, you would plot all the paths to a conversion. And so I think the funnel's actually gonna become eradicated, and you're gonna start to have this hub and spoke model where the spokes are all these different conversion paths that then terminate at the center, which is the conversion. I think that's gonna be a much more meaningful way to look at the funnel than this OG conversion consideration or awareness consideration conversion where now you can have all these different pathways for all these different people to come on a journey in all roads and in Rome kinda thing.

Phillip: [00:37:33] I love that. We talk a little bit about this in our Future Commerce Learning series. Shout out to Future Commerce Learning, futurecommerce.com/learning, where we talk about the loyalty loop as sort of, like, someone's always in the consideration process of buying something, and where you enter and exit the loop is the job today, and that's also made up of a ton of funnels. So there's a bunch of ways of thinking about this. You can talk about branding problems. The funnel itself, everybody can visualize the funnel. I love that there's a direct tie to the marketing funnel if you follow me backwards here. The marketing funnel was created by a guy who nobody would ever know by name. His name is Elias St. Elmo Lewis, who was inducted into the marketing hall of fame posthumously in 1951. It's a crazy story.

Rabah: [00:38:32] I didn't even know there was a marketing HOF, but let's go. First ballot.

Phillip: [00:38:36] How many times are you gonna hear a story like this? Nowhere else other than Decoded. No one knows where the idea of the marketing funnel came from. Although it is ubiquitous, and we talk about it all the time. This man came up with this idea because he was this calculator and adding machine salesperson, and he was trying to visualize the journey of a customer in getting people to get to adding machines. Do you know what the fundamental thing that made an adding machine work was binary digits? So the marketing funnel, we could trace it all back, to Mr Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the polymath.

Rabah: [00:39:16] Wow. That was hall of fame iie in. That was time is a flat circle kinda shit, Phillip. That was very impressive.

Phillip: [00:39:24] Thank you so much. Now you know how my brain works. And now you know a little bit more about the polymath Gottfried Leibniz. And man, this has been such a great series. I really enjoyed doing this with you, Rabah. Next time on Decoded.

Rabah: [00:39:44] Everything needs to be rooted in generating value for the end user. And so when people ask me how much I should post on social media, yada, yada, that's not the right question. The question is, how many times can I post while generating value? Dude, if you are freaking awesome at marketing but you hate spreadsheets, don't go and make spreadsheets your world. You don't gotta go be a banker. I will say you need to make those weaknesses nonexistential threats. They can't be existential threats to the system. But once you get them to that place, focus on what you're great at. Stay in your zone of genius.

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