Spiky point of view: Let’s get a little controversial

A spiky point of view is a perspective others can disagree with

Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

We live in a noisy world. Whichever industry you’re in, there are thousands of other people like you trying to get noticed.

Unless you distinguish yourself, you’ll never get a chance to show how different you actually are.

To stand out, you need to develop what I call a “spiky” point of view.

What is a spiky point of view?

A spiky point of view is a perspective others can disagree with. It’s a belief you feel strongly about and are willing to advocate for. It’s your thesis about topics in your realm of expertise.

Each person has a unique way of seeing the world.

Its what separates you from everyone else. It’s the culmination of your experience, skills, personality, instincts, and intuition. These factors have molded you into the person you are today.

Your spiky point of view showcases how you approach your craft. It shows why you make the decisions you make. It shows you’re thinking rigorously and interpreting what’s going on around you.

A spiky point of view is almost impossible to imitate. It’s unique to each person, which is why it’s such a powerful competitive advantage. It’s rooted in your conviction and authenticity.

The best part?

You already have this in you.

How to bring out your spiky point of view

Here are the key elements of a spiky point of view.

✅ A spiky point of view can be debated.

Others should be able to disagree with your spiky point of view. If everyone agrees with it, it’s too middle of the road.

A spiky point of view teaches your audience something relevant they don’t already know.

Don’t just summarize information. Don’t only ask questions. Offer a point of view that makes people see their problem in a new way.

You want them to say, “Hmm I hadn’t thought about it that way but this is so true. This is making me rethink a lot of things.”

A spiky point isn’t controversial for the sake of it.

There’s nothing more irritating than a contrarian who just wants to stir the pot. Don’t be that person.

A spiky point of view is rooted in evidence, but it is not a proven fact or universal truth.

Your perspective should be defensible. You should believe in it enough to advocate for it. But you have to be okay with people disagreeing with you. If you wait for 100% consensus before you say your spiky point of view out loud, that day will never come.

A spiky point of view requires conviction.

You have to be brave enough to advocate for what you believe in. It’s not a passive regurgitation of information. There’s a stance of advocacy and a bias toward action. You’re trying to convince someone of this spiky point of view because you genuinely believe they’ll be better for it.

Examples of spiky points of view

To get you started, here are a few of my spiky points of view for inspiration:

  • Launches aren’t a one-time event. Most companies do a ton of work for the launch, but don’t spend enough time on what happens after. A successful launch means sustaining the momentum once the confetti settles.
  • Stop learning how to give feedback. Focus on learning to receive it. Most people are terrible at receiving feedback, so you only need to be a little better to win.
  • There’s a trade-off between brand and performance marketing. Brand marketing means better long-term brand equity, but worse short-term conversion. Performance marketing is the opposite. I call this The Law of Brand vs Performance Marketing. ( I’ve talked about this for years in client workshops and I’ve heard great feedback from many of you, so I’ll write more on this soon.)
  • Prototyping is unnecessary in 90% of cases. People think a 5-day sprint is fast but I think it’s way too slow. Instead, take 30 minutes to scenario plan. Pretend you already decided to launch your new product. Now what? You’ll realize logical gaps fast. You can prototype, but don’t jump straight to it.
  • Start with why has done more harm than good. It’s given a generation of professionals the permission to indulge in navel-gazing. No one cares about your “why”-they only care about how you can help them.
  • Experiments aren’t free. They cost a lot in terms of set up and maintenance. Don’t do them unless you know how the results will change your future behavior.

Spiky points of view are intensely personal, so come up with your own

Spiky points of view are shaped by your experiences, and therefore authentic to each person.

In other words: Don’t copy other people’s spiky point of view.

Why? Your spiky points of view should be hills you’re willing to die on. When you parrot someone else, your energy level and sense of conviction won’t be the same.

When your enthusiasm is contagious, your customers will perk up. That energy in itself is electrifying to be around.

This is an opportunity to say the ideas you care a lot about, but are afraid people might push back on. Try it anyway. You’ll be surprised how people gravitate towards and appreciate your willingness to take a stand.

So stay alert for examples of spiky points of view out in the wild. But ultimately, come up with your own. It’s worth it.


Now it’s your turn…

Questions to develop your spiky point of view

1. What are 3–5 spiky points of view you have about your field?

2. What’s something you believe that others might disagree with (that your audience would find relevant)?

3. What’s a spiky point of view you have that you wish more people understood?

These questions are intentionally similar, but phrased differently to spark a response in you. So you can answer all of them or just the one that resonates.

Some of your initial answers might not be spiky enough, but that’s okay. You can refine and iterate based on customer feedback.

You’ll know you have a great spiky point of view when your audience’s eyes light up. (I call it ELU. Eyes Lighting Up. But we’ll save that post for another day…)

Marketing | Product | Strategy | Prev: altMBA, Seth Godin HQ, Flite (acq by Snapchat), Gap Inc. @wes_kao | weskao.com