Want to innovate? 4 reasons why you shouldn’t chase popularity

2016 has been a great year for me and it looks like this year is going to be better. I met with Shubz who informed me that people are now willing to pay to put their courses on the website. We have also had requests for an API key for our online database by other developers for their mobile apps. As soon as we have coded them we will be selling them to developers so they can also show the courses on our database on their apps. I have also started a coding club for medics on meetup. Within two weeks we had over 50 doctors signed up and the group obtained it’s first sponsor, One Vision Health. Between all this I have had to turn away multiple opportunities due to time constraints. Clinicians are coming out of the woodwork left right and center with a whole range of ideas. Clinicians are sitting on a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped and turned into innovation but their environment is just not allowing it. One knee jerk response is the blame the government but this is a dangerous state of mind. People have innovated with far less than what the average clinician has at their disposal. Whilst one post can’t cover everything there is one thing that you can change tomorrow to get results and this is popularity. The easiest thing you can do right now is not chase popularity and here’s why:

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Being popular and meaning business doesn’t go hand in hand 

You will not propose solutions

If you want to use your social media presence to tell others how you don’t like racism or sexism?  Want to tell the world that you think government cuts are destroying the NHS? Get in line with the other thousands of people doing this. It’s understandable why people do this. You get several superficial likes and reposts by other people but this is all it is, superficial. Did you add anything? I mean sexism and racism is so disliked by the majority it’s illegal. Government don’t like losing votes and cutting services is a sure way to do it. You could argue that they’re in it for the money but a lot of politicians have good degrees from Oxbridge. They could go into banking or many other professions where they could earn mega bucks outside the view of the public. The politicians and the political issues are not one dimensional so what did your one-dimensional posting achieve? Vowing to find a cure for cancer is going to be a more popular statement to saying that you’re going to use stem cells to work towards a cure. When you start proposing methods to solve a problem you will start turning people off. One of my friend’s Dr Gyles has started putting on events for doctors who want to diversify their skills. He had to charge in order to cover the catering and the venue hire. He would have earnt more money doing a locum SHO shift. However, it didn’t stop doctors messaging him accusing him of taking advantage of “vulnerable doctors”. If you want to innovate you’re going to have to come up with solutions. You’re going to be less popular than the person who offers no solutions and constantly claims that everything is unacceptable.

You will not stand out from the crowd

As said in the previous section get in line with everyone else if you want to regurgitate popular statements. You can’t innovate alone. You need people and their skills to bring something to life. Although my coding skills are better than Shubz’s we wouldn’t have got where we are without the teamwork, his business sense and him working around the clock to secure partnerships, deals and spots at events was essential for the website. Even if you can excel in everything, you will not produce as fast as people teams who are working together. However, if you stick to chasing popularity you will not stick out from the crowd. Ever since I stopped caring about being popular several strong individual thinkers have come out of the woodwork. I receive messages from doctors all over the world who state that they find my posts refreshing. A recent message from a doctor in Zurich prompted me to write this post stated that:

“I find your posts so refreshing, because you’re doing something to build a better future, and the enthusiasm is contagious. So please keep on going!!!”

I still see moaning on my Facebook feed and I’d be lying if I said I never moaned however, my conversations are now with people who talk about implementing solutions. They are excited about the stuff they are creating or have created. They see opportunity where others don’t, they welcome challenge and see failure as a learning tool. The transition hasn’t been completely rosy, I also have had opposite reactions which leads to the next point.

Separating the wheat from the chaff

It’s inevitable, if you do something that will intensify positive responses from people you will get different intense reactions from others. There are people who will instantly reject non-popular ideas. I have been defriended, called names and some have even gone around telling others not to talk to me. Seems crazy, right? Sadly, they are not school kids but professionals however, did you really want them anyway? I myself never took it on myself to defriend or exclude anyone. Although they might smugly think that they are above you that’s why they are excluding you it’s their weakness that’s leading their actions. If they cannot hack disagreeing with your ideas how would it pan out if you disagreed with them whilst working on a project together? Some of the people who I work with and converse with have very different political opinions and different visions for innovation. This doesn’t hold us back from working with each other because we have a stronger bond, the desire to make the world a better place through action, not moaning. Some people ask me where I find the time. It’s simple. I don’t waste my time with time wasters and I don’t waste my time trying to figure out who’s a time waster. People who do nothing and just moan run distance themselves from people who don’t chase popularity.

Getting it right

Reality is counter-intuitive. When I went back to do physics and started reading economics in my spare time this became apparent very quickly. However, you have to read around a subject in order to unearth the counter-intuitive truth. This lead me to a starting point when coming across a new concept. If the majority of people believe something and this is a popular notion, then the chances are it’s wrong. Of course, this is a rough starting guide. There are well established facts like the earth being round. What I mean is that if there’s a hot issue that’s under debate then changes are that the majority are wrong (excluding situations like professional majority). It comes from the fact that reality is counter-intuitive. Everyone doesn’t have the time to read up around everything. Sadly, it takes less time to form an opinion on something than it does to read around. Let’s look at probability. You can’t simply add probabilities otherwise the chances of getting one 6 when rolling 6 dice will be 100%. Most people will not read up on calculating probability of multiple attempts but they will casually add probabilities in their head when looking at a situation. Same even goes for simple political facts. If you simply google the official figures for gender pay in the UK you will see that when excluding overtime women earn more than men between the ages of 22-39 [link page: 12]. However, politicians still casually say that it’s not right for women to be paid less than a man and they get a round of applause. I’m guessing they know the figures. However, they know the majority of people haven’t actually read the figures. The Monty Hall math problem is another example of how the majority misunderstand basic probability. If you want to truly innovate then you must base it on facts not popularity.

Turning my back on popularity produced amazing results. It’s not easy at first but the quality of people you converse with will improve in the long run. You will have people that challenge you, come up with ideas, want to act to bring about change and bring out the best in you. After all innovation itself isn’t popular, otherwise everyone would be doing it.

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