How To Use Status To Create (Or Destroy!) Value

First, as a rule, if you tell people “look how organized I am,” the universe will then throw a proverbial wrench into your gearbox and howl with a laughter only the cruelest of taskmasters can howl.

Last night, after a marathon of calls and busyness, I was making dinner and remembering I still didn’t write a post for tomorrow (or any said date in the future. crap.).

I went to Spotify and scrolled the podcast feed, stopping dead at Will Storr’s appearance on the Making Sense with Sam Harris podcast discussing “Status Games.”

This is one of my most favoritest topics, and as a fan of Storr too, I don’t know how I missed this work existing.

So as you see, being a procrastinator was already paying a dividend.

Storr makes the point, “You can’t separate status and identity,” and I want to highlight why this is so important AND so useful.

Status is the way we see ourselves relative to others, and the way we perceive other seeing ourselves compared back to them.

Self = identity, and relative to = status, aka more or less of some adjective (good, bad, cool, hot, ugly, etc.)

We, as creative business people, are in the practice of helping our clients lift their status via the value our work provides.

Our work starts with their identity, not ours, and how they view themselves relative to others.

We only win when they feel a status shift higher in how they perceive themselves relative to others in some way.

We lose if they feel no status shift at all, or worse, a status lowering.

Whatever product or service we are providing, we can always reverse engineer it back to an interpretation of a status game.

A real-world example:

I needed a spatula.

I went to a big box retailer whose name rhymes with Paul-Tart.

I asked an employee where to find said spatulas (which in my mind, like a pair of shoes, I felt that I needed to “try on” for fit and feel first before purchasing).

If the employee wanted to boost my status, he’d have said, “right this way sir,” led me to the spatulas and thrown in, “these are all fine, but this one over here? Best g-d spatula I’ve ever flipped an easy egg over with if you know what I’m saying.” I’d pick up that spatula and think, “what a couple of super-cool spatula nerds we are. This is great.”

If the employee wanted to lower my status, consciously or not, he’d give me the IRL shoulder shrug emoji treatment, coldly gesture, “that way, I think?” and go back to stocking adult diapers.

Even in the act of buying a spatula, status alters the experience.

Listen to Storr’s interview and check out his book, The Status Game. For more on status and status games (including other books, podcasts, and more I’ve highlighted previously, click here).

Bonus: for all your spatula needs…

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