yesterday in the subway i was listening to yet another amazing podcast via stanford’s ecorner (highly recommend checking this out) by marten mikos — former ceo of mysql and current ceo of eucalyptus… while there were many lessons that i took away from this affable fin, the one that stuck with me was the idea of the 70 ~ 20 ~ 10 rule.

broken down to its simplest form, for every decision you make in business (and life for that matter)…

  • 70% of the people don’t care… 
  • 20% of the people agree with your decision…
  • 10% of the people disagree with your decision…
but here’s the kicker…
  • the 70% cares how you treat the 10%!

having set out on a few entrepreneurial ventures of my own, i truly appreciate the 70% number.  after making what seems like a monumental shift in business, functionality, vision, etc., the vast majority of people go on as if nothing happened.  perhaps you’ve experienced this in a marketing role, or just life…  have you?

the 20% and 10% numbers seem about right, although from my experiences the 10% is often a bit louder than the 20%, and certainly louder than the 70%.  

however, it is the last bullet of this rule that i find particularly powerful.  you can see this in open source software, in politics, at the dog park, you name it…  the 70% is only indifferent (at best quietly in your corner) when you show openness and objectivity and compassion to the inevitable 10% who will be negatively affected by your decision.

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Authorjonathan hegranes