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  • Simon Boardman

Crush This

“Crushing It” has become part of our everyday language. Is it new thinking or just a re-tread of our entrenched masculine culture? A culture we have fooled ourselves into thinking had declined due to our enlightened thinking.

Apparently, everybody's out there "crushing it" these days. Moreover, if you're not, you should be. Crushing it here, Crushing it there…they're Crushing it everywhere. If we’re to believe what the B2B Sales gurus say (or shout) – that’s what it’s all about. I’m not sure WHAT we’re supposed to be crushing, but I don’t think that matters as long it’s getting crushed on a regular basis.

They make video's where they shout about crushing it. These are the guys who wear silly hats, T-shirts that say, “Sales Bad-ass” and cuss all the time. Cussing is an art form that they haven’t mastered (or crushed) yet. They will have you believe that people don’t have to like you to do business with you. I guess that’s all part of crushing it as well. These guys seem to go out of their way to make people actually “dislike” them (they definitely crush that). However, ‘cos they are such Bad-ass sales Bad-asses they still "sell” large volumes of whatever they sell and crush it anyway. Thereby apparently proving the point that you can be universally disliked, and still, crush it. Maybe being disliked is part of crushing it?

Origin of the Species

So where does the whole crushing it mentality originate? We are surrounded by it these days,. You must have noticed that it's no longer enough to win. You must crush it, and them no matter who "they" are. Moreover, maybe it’s nothing new. The quote “Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing” was originally spoken by UCLA Bruins football coach "Red" Sanders in 1950. Grind the competition into the dust, stamp on their throats. You have to win by five goals or 30 points. You gotta “go big…or go home.” It’s a personal jet or nothing. Its $50m or you’re a loser. There’s no “gentleman’s” competition these days where it’s about competing. As “Red” said, it’s all about winning. Even golf has become all fist pumping and chest bumping. All of this starts to look strikingly like a masculine culture. So, how does a masculine culture look? Geert Hendrik Hofstede the Dutch social psychologist, Professor Emeritus and the man who pioneered cultural dimensions theory has something to say about that, so listen up. "Masculine culture emphasizes things like achievement, ambition, acquisition of wealth. Where men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success. The social norms of a masculine culture include the following traits: ego oriented, money and things (possessions) are important, live in order to work and where failure is seen as disastrous." Sounds an awful lot like “crushing it” to me.

Old Wine in a New Bottle?

So, we’re living in a masculine culture. Tell me something I didn’t know? Is it innately bad? I mean women can crush it to – right? The “crushing it” philosophy is an equal opportunity offender and seems open to all. Masculine cultures are not anti-women (women are free to behave as badly as men in a masculine culture). Is that inherently bad business? Well, yes according to Bert Spector, an associate professor at Northeastern University. He maintains that "In such environments, stereo-typically masculine characteristics such as assertiveness, top-down control, overconfidence, daring, and competitiveness are held to be attributes of top performance, valued above all others. Winning is pursued as its own end rather than as an outcome of effectiveness." Some would argue it was those kinds of traits that led to the financial meltdown of 2008 – remember that? He goes on "cultural attributes such as trust, respect, and openness to diverse opinions are also important for long-term effectiveness." These tend to be devalued in masculine business cultures. It's all about winning…and you guessed it…CRUSHING IT.

In Your Face

Everyone has been liberated by technology to share their culturally masculine view – proving that he (or she) who can shout the loudest…can, er…well…shout the loudest. With everyone “speaking their piece” on Twitter or getting fifteen minutes of fame on YouTube what we're seeing, and hearing is pretty ugly. It seems that all we have done is propagate an existing masculine culture and embraced tools (the internet and social media) that expose more of “us” to more of “it". Our only other achievement is that we have proven that you don't have to be male to be masculine. We have liberated our business culture, so it provides the opportunity for people of all creeds, cultures, and sexes to act in boorish, macho ways. New media, social media, and the internet have served to legitimize this behavior. Look, people, just ‘cos someone does it on LinkedIn doesn't make it right.

The Verto Verdict

What's this got to do with Verto’s business of B2B consulting and advice (you might ask)? Well, there are two things we have to say.

  • Firstly, it is, of course, the worst type of nonsense. These ideas and behaviors act as a negative influence creating a less thoughtful generation of sales, marketing, and business professionals. If we didn't care about them, we'd be off somewhere else crushing it, but being as we do care, we feel morally obligated to take a break from crushing it and speak out.

  • Secondly, this type of thinking precipitates poor business leadership, causing inconsistent sales and marketing management. How so? Overly masculine management styles tend to see things as black or white, with no grey areas. Extreme views and behavior dominate the culture. Programs, campaigns, tactics, and activities become seen as either spectacular successes or abject failures. Expectations are too high, and timelines are too short, leading to chopping and changing tactics prematurely. Frustration and mediocrity prevail.

Ok – enough of this serious stuff…can we get back to crushing it? Maybe. Next time we’ll dive into another idea from the “crushing it” fraternity, namely that “you don't have to like me to do business with me." On that subject, we’ll leave you with a quote from my first boss for you to ponder while you’re out there crushing it, being massive, and going big or going home. He said, "I don't have to like you to do business with you…but it helps."

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