Wise or clever

Not long ago I sat with a good friend in larger but good company. While enjoying some partly enjoyable catering (yes, it is possible to enjoy something that is not enjoyable!) he uttered:

“Andrej, you are too wise to make business.”

He later tried to soften the statement since he noticed that I did not really appreciate what he meant, but the worm was already placed. The message consists of two premises:

  1. One certainly needs some skills to do business.
  2. Wise ones do not poses skills for business.

The worm placed somewhere in subconsciousness sprang to noticeable dimensions when I received first shipment of hard copy of Brandlife. That came as surprise since so far I assumed that at least for books both skill and wisdom should combine to make a result. Writing (commercial) books is business, so according to my good friend only books that are clever sell and not those that are wise at the same time.

On the basis of such conclusion one could simply refute my friend’s statement. And rationally I knew and I know that his statement must have been wrong. There certainly are wise examples among all successful businessmen.  But on the other hand his claim was that wiseness is a kind of deal breaker. And this claim is in fact supported by many personal and told experiences. I was never hired as consultant for being wise, but for being a suitable and accessible solution in that very moment. Clients in fact got my real added value for them as something by the way and often even against their will and their check. They did not (do not) object afterwards, but most often I guess they are puzzled for not really understanding why something that I did for them worked.

And why then it was the shipment of Brandlife that evoked such depressing thoughts like Magdalen cookies in Proust In Search of Lost Time? Because I deliberately wrote branding handbook written against all laws of contemporary “how-to-to” books. I wanted to be wise while I was expected to be clever.

But then Haruki Murakami statement that I used as a featured image of this post came across. “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” This statement could be rephrased in a statement that was often repeated in business community: “If you only produce goods that everyone else is producing (commodity), you can only expect a bargain in return.”

I might not sell myself better as a consultant or as a writer for following Murakami values as much as Murakami might never win Nobel Prize, but I know that I cannot sell solutions that produce goods that everyone else is providing. Call this stupid. I take this as wise.

Andrej Drapal