I studied political science in college and one of my professors used to always say, “As political scientists it’s our job to study the system from the outside. Like traditional scientists that study rats in a maze, we study politicians in elections.” I never really felt comfortable with that analysis, because it seems to me that when you study something from the outside you are missing all the details. Details that can make or break a campaign. During school and shortly after I worked in politics and quickly learned the difference between running and talking about campaigns. There’s a lot you can’t see by looking in from the outside.
But, the big picture is still extremely important. One of my daily frustrations is dealing with clients that don’t have a clear vision for the things I am building, but they know exactly what type of software language, feature sets, APIs, and platforms that are needed. The problem is that once the product is finished they have no idea how to sell it, because they don’t have that big picture vision.
Others focus on things like branding, and throw details like technical SEO by the wayside. Which means that their brand might have a strong name, but users might not be able to find it in search engines. Gary Vaynerchuk is one if these big picture guys that thinks SEO is just details, and quite honestly has shown significant ignorance of SEO in the past.
But, for Gary that doesn’t matter, because hes damn good at what he does. In my opinion he’s probably one of the best web video personalities of all time. Gary’s content carries his brand and business to a point where it doesn’t matter if he’s good at SEO or not. On the other end of the spectrum we have Demand Media who is building an empire on mastering the details of SEO. For Demand Media building an amazing brand with compelling content isn’t their top priority. Because they know that by executing the right SEO strategy, they can drive enough traffic to build a sustainable business.
So I guess the question now is, do you focus on the big picture like Gary, or master the details like Demand Media? I would advise neither. The truth is, the chances to find success by only focusing on one or the other is extremely slim. Gary and Demand Media are able to do it, because they are extremely good at what they do. The likelihood that you or I are going to reach the level they have in their respective areas is slim.
Instead entrepreneurs need to be equally grounded in both the big picture and the details. Let the big picture guide you on your journey and the details get you there.