The Power of Observation


The photo above shows a bowl full of very popular children's cereal alongside the cereal's longtime mascot, Toucan Sam.


Do you know which cereal it is?


I'm willing to bet you do.


Now, just to make sure... take a moment to spell it out.


F - R - U - I - T - L - O - O - P - S... right?


Wrong.


It's actually Froot Loops, intentionally misspelled to add a few more "o"s to the title. If you don't believe me, click here.


I can't take credit for this little bit of trickery; that goes to author Adam Grant, who posted this gem on his Instagram account last week:


But I thought I'd use his observation to talk about... the power of observation.


Here's a story: years ago, I was standing in line for a ride at Canada's Wonderland. I needed to know what time it was, but I don't wear a watch, and I had left my cellphone in the car. I noticed a teenager in front of me with an almost comically large watch on his wrist, so I said, "Hey bud, what time is it?"


What he did next was a surprise to me: he pulled out his cellphone, looked at it, and simply said, "four-thirty".


"But, but, ... you're wearing a wristwatch," I thought to myself.


Yet clearly he saw the watch as a fashion accessory and relied on his cellphone just as much as I rely on mine. Perhaps even more so.


Here's another story: a few weeks ago, I wanted to do some binge-watching, so I turned on my Amazon Fire TV Stick. We have them connected to all of our televisions, in large part because they have really easy-to-use interfaces that allow my kids to access all of our entertainment services in one spot.


Except this time, something was different.


This time, I noticed an advertisement on the homepage.


Big deal, right? Ads are everywhere.


Except I couldn't remember ever seeing any advertisements on the Fire TV homepage before. I wrote a LinkedIn post about it, and it turns out I was on to something; the post caught the attention of someone at Amazon, who reached out and offered to tell me more about these new ads the company had just recently begun making available.


Life is filled with "a-ha" moments like that... but only if you're paying attention.


If you're checking your emails while you walk down the street, you're probably not going to notice that new out-of-home billboard or that new store that just opened up, or the new style of clothing those crazy kids are wearing these days.


If you sit at your desk pouring over sales reports instead of visiting grocery stores to watch how consumers shop, you're likely missing out on some valuable data.


Your observations will fuel your insights, and your insights will fuel your understanding of the world.


Don't forget to fuel up.


- dp