Can negative ever be positive?

October 25, 2017

Sidewalk sign displaying "Good Vibes Only" on Sunset Strip

I haven’t produced a blog post in ages.  In my defence, however, I have had a book published and I did disappear into the backwoods of California, Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia and Alberta for six weeks mental detox.  So, an article is long overdue.  However, I only seem to be motivated by things that piss me off – and worry that I should try to avoid coming across as negative.

Blog me happy

This bothers me, as blogging best practice, I suspect, has an unwritten rule along the lines of “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”  This seems to hold true for most of the posts I come across – they are just so upbeat, optimistic, reassuring, cheerful and downright helpful.

Here are some examples, the result of a five minute search.

18 Fun Corporate Team-Building Activities & Outing Ideas Everyone Will Enjoy

Throw Out Your Head Trash

How to Make Your Business More Referable

Content that’s a comfort blanket

These posts are obviously successful, and it’s easy to see why – they make people feel good, while giving advice that has every appearance of being useful.

What’s more, I think they are probably pretty simple and quick to produce – not exactly written to a problem-solution formula, but not far off either.  Most of the content, I suspect, has been curated (borrowed, rehashed, lifted, repurposed, plagiarised – choose your own term) from other sources.  Very little in the way of original thought is required.

The result is mental fast food, of low nutritional value, rather bland in flavour and certainly not surprising, challenging or thought provoking.  Like a Big Mac and Fries it just slips down nice and easy without really touching the sides.  All of which makes people feel comfortable about sharing this type of post – another big plus that helps the audience Go Large.

The line of least resistance beckons

So why am I unwilling to write this kind of easy-to-prepare/easy-to-digest/feel-good stuff myself?  It’s kind of dumb not to, isn’t it?  And the ranty, cynical, grumpy old git in a shed posts I’ve been writing up until now – who needs it, does it have any real value, how does it make the world a better place?

I’ve touched on this subject with a couple of my blog readers and told them I think it’s about time I started to move on from being Mr Nasty.  The trouble is I get the same response every time – “but I enjoy your blog, I like the fact you tell it like it is, it’s such a relief after all that PC stuff you get on other blogs…”

Who am I writing it for?

Hmmmm…   which brings me back to the key question every blogger is supposed to have fixed in their mind – who am I writing this for?  Initially, I was writing it just for me, as therapy, to vent my frustration with the way I felt the industry was going.  And that was a smart way to start, because I only had one reader – me!  However, I seem to have gathered up a few kindred spirits along the way.  And if they like it then maybe I just need to keep doing what I’m doing?

Why am I writing it?

What’s more, maybe this handful of loyal followers is right – there’s a surfeit of worthy, virtuous and well-meaning posts already, so why create more?  And being contrary, cussed, and critical is valuable, if only because it is a welcome contrast to all the happy clappy, you can do it, its easy-peasey, I believe in YOU, release your inner awesomeness gloop being squeezed out by members of the global content club.

At last – a sense of purpose!

Slowly it is dawning on me that what started off as a rant for my own sanity is actually developing a bigger sense of purpose.  What I’m trying to do is create change.

A process of change cannot start until someone admits there’s a problem.  Or, to put it another way, it’s impossible to get people to change when they are in denial.  So, if I attempt to shake people out of their cosy comfort zones, ask questions that may make others uneasy, say what I really believe, challenge people to think differently, highlight things that I feel are unhealthy or worrying, it might actually do some good.  In fact it might do more good than just going with the flow.  Looked at in this light being negative can actually prove very positive!

Bad blogger/good blogger

Right, I’ve given myself permission to continue being negative, but with a positive end in mind.  And I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll come up with the occasional bright and sunny post too!


You’ve read the post, now buy the book

I’ve recently had a book published – “The Authority Guide to Creating Brand Stories That Sell”.  It’s part of a series, entitled The Authority Guides”, so I’ve not appointed myself an authority!   A colleague read it and said, in surprise “You come across as really nice and human.  A lot of people are going to find this useful.”  That’s what happens when the publisher and editor get involved!  If you’d like to find out more, read a few sample pages and maybe even buy click here.


Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

  1. Paul Eveleigh October 25, 2017 Reply

    “but I enjoy your blog, I like the fact you tell it like it is, it’s such a relief after all that PC stuff you get on other blogs…”
    Hear, hear.
    Don't change your blog, Jim.
    Be a contrarian. Hasn't hurt Bob Hofman and Dave Trott. Both tell it like it is.
    And both have huge numbers of followers.
    Why? Because honesty builds trust. Plus their blogs are more interesting (and wittier) than most others.
    So please Jim, stick to being you.

    • Jim October 29, 2017 Reply

      Hi Paul, many thanks for the encouragement - I'll follow your advice!

  2. Bill Maslen October 31, 2017 Reply

    I agree, Jim, keep up the good (and witty – that's an important corollary of a popular 'grump old git' blog) work. Our new Marketing & Media Manager was immediately inspired when she read a few of your posts, so clearly you're appealing to a young, digitally savvy, but also fairly street-smart demographic who've had enough of the 'do this and you're saved' messages so many Messiah wannabes seem content to peddle (plagiarise, lift, copy etc.).

    I'm looking forward to the next negative moment!

    • Jim November 2, 2017 Reply

      Hi Bill, thanks for the words of encouragement - it's especially gratifying to hear that people a long way from "my shed" both geographically and in terms of age are enjoying the irreverence. I sent out a newsletter today, that you may have got or not (I need to update the mailing list) and got a few unsubscribes. I looked them up/their profile/websites and they are all people who take themselves and the industry very seriously - marketing is no laughing matter!

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