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Why professionalism sucks..

And why you should avoid it in business..

Youngling Research
4 min readFeb 27, 2017


Professionalism; the competence or skill expected of a professional.

Professional; belonging to a profession.

So professionalism is what is expected of a person in a certain profession.

But what is expected of you can not be original.

The more clearly you lay out what you expect from someone the less creativity you leave them.

So what you end up is that the more professional you present yourself, the more you’re converging to the mean.

Another way of saying that is the most professional person is the most average. Not exactly a compliment. “You’re more average than most.. you’s extra!”

If you are dependent on someone for the time being (making some money so you have the capital to do your own thing).. then by all means go with it.

But if you started your own business , I think it’s a huge mistake (we all make at some point).

If you do what everyone else is doing, then put yourself in the shoes of the user, why should they choose you over a competitor?

I don’t think you should compete.

It’s much better to stand out. And you do that by removing things such as professionalism, until you’re left with you and your values.

I believe you wanna optimize for honesty and empathy.

Honesty; free of deceit, truthful.

Empathy; the ability to share and understand the feelings of another.

Think about it.. why does so much marketing suck so bad? Because it’s dishonest.

“Free X”.. but they don’t wanna help you, they want something in return, your data or you as a lead to later up sell etc.

How many times do you see an ad where they’re blatantly lying or exaggerating benefits.

It’s never how can we make our users happy. It’s how can we maximize the amount of money we extract out of their pockets into ours. It’s legal (non-ethical) robbery.

And with the current law you can push it surprisingly far before it becomes illegal. Advertising to kids (who’re easily influenced) to get parents to buy for example.

But out of honesty and empathy, principles such as authenticity and compassion flow naturally.

Authenticity; the quality of being genuine, original, not a copy.

Which is just being honest about who you are and who your business is.

Compassion; concern for the misfortune of others.

If you try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you just can’t help wanting what’s best for that person.

I believe the businesses who start to build theirs on honesty and empathy will win this century.

Last century was the century of asshole companies.

They abused information asymmetry to line their own pockets at the expense of the user.

But now in the age of the internet and cellphones, that advantage is gone.

We don’t trust salespeople/businesses anymore, and rightfully so.

We do our own research, read reviews from our peers, watch unboxings and reviews on YT.. so the businesses who win can’t sell shitty products/services anymore.

You have to genuinely want what’s best for your users.. you do that by trying to understand them as best you can (empathy) and you attract the right people by being honest.

If professionalism means being average and attracting average.

Honesty and empathy (and their corollary principles) mean being outstanding and attracting outstanding.

You don’t wanna attract everyone, and even if that’s your ultimate goal you shouldn’t start that way.

You start with a small group of users who LOVE you. Who’d be extremely upset if your business went away. By definition this is impossible to achieve if you’re average. To be average (do what everyone else is doing) there need to be other businesses. So if you went away, your users could go to your competitor.

So what’s the takeaway?

I think you should avoid doing what everyone else is doing. Try to be the same person you are to your friends and parents. Be honest and empathetic.

If you’re empathetic, that puts you in a great position to find a problem you can solve for users. And if you think something sucks about how the current industry is.. speak out.. don’t be afraid to upset a few users.. you’re not trying to attract everyone..

You just want a few users who deeply love you.

If you liked this.. check out Circle And Dot. I help aspiring founders get started :)