This week, with the holiday slowdown, I am catching up on a bunch of stuff from the list of which would bore you. One that I don’t think will bore you is results and findings from the survey we launched a couple months ago. There were close to 100 respondents with the vast majority being from outside our firm. Thank you all for responding and congratulations to Elizabeth Titus (NEEP) for winning the cash prize drawing.
What’s it about?
Two primary objectives of the Rant include attempting to set the record straight and provide opposing views.
It should be of no surprise to anyone reading the Rant that there is a lot of oversold stuff hitting the marketplace and bureaucracies. Oversold stuff can include savings claims that are far greater than is typical, policies that are thought to work far better than they really do (energy codes), or poor analogies (power storage is the next cell phone / wireless).
As far as opposing views are concerned – raise your hand if you have ever read that good managers, leaders, sales people, and others should listen rather than yammer about their greatness. This is a problem in our industry. If we want to win and do it ethically, we need to be correct, and we must understand the opposition and the downsides of what it is we are selling or promoting.
There is a downside to practically everything. Risk, cost, and meager benefit/cost ratios are just some examples.
Finally, I am reminded of something I told a colleague recently – I enjoy watching almost any NFL game, provided it is a well-played game. If it is a poorly played game, no matter who is playing, I will turn it off. The same goes for what I read. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree. Is it well-written and fair? Is it easy to read? Is it funny without being mean?
I don’t claim to be the following, but they say one of the great qualities of an entrepreneur and a leader is delayed gratification. Therefore, we will examine the positives of the Rant after the negatives.
The first chart categorizes the negatives into the bins shown. The “Nothing” category includes “It’s good the way it is”, “Keep up the good work”, “None; it’s great”, and plain old “none”.
The most common actual negative is it is too long. There were eight of these, but there were four responses that said it was compact, short and to the point, or even too short. To this point of length, it is between 800-900 words 80% of the time. Of the remainder, more are probably just over 900 words with a few that are just under 800 words. Why this length? It is the same length as weekly opinion columns from news outlets.
The positives reflect the verbal feedback we get frequently at conferences and other social events that include readers – it is liked because it is different. Readers find it funny, provocative, honest, and thought provoking. In a call to honesty, that is what we want.
Random Thoughts You Don’t Want to Skip
Finally, I understand that people might be offended or squeamish about some things. Typically, the things that are thought to contain squeamish or “offensive” material require imagination (to contrive something that is not there), no sense of humor, or taking oneself too seriously.
See the gray slice of pie above? I have a very strong suspicion that the reason people find things witty and interesting, and the reason there are diehard readers, is because I don’t attend the church of can’t say that. To remind readers of this, we moved the overview of the Rant to the top of the Rant home page and the top of every Rant email. It says this: “This is a satirical and at times humorous but critical commentary on energy efficiency issues of the day.” Satire is a critical element of its success and growth. I am reticent to alienate 99% for 1%.
One comment was the Rant could use better consistency – and that the reader could tell the writer rushes some weeks and not others. True; not every Rant is AAA rated. Not true; I hurry through some. In fact, I am sure some of my better posts are the ones I write the fastest, not because I am in a hurry, but because some subjects are just easier to write about.
People like honesty and vulnerability – putting it out there. Readers can post comments; they can also find my email and phone number. It is set up to go both ways.
 “Mean” varies a lot, but to me it includes personal attacks and attacks on what people believe or how they think.