Inertia: 100% That Bitch

Inertia can be a bitch. 

“Inertia is the tendency of consumers to adhere to their existing habits or actions even when presented with a superior alternative.” 

To anyone selling anything they genuinely believe in who has been smacked down by the inertia of the people across the table – you know the pain. 

Here’s some comfort, gathered by Jamie Catherwood, via smart people making reasonable-sounding, but with the benefit of hindsight pretty terrible calls when paradigms were a shiftin’:

Erasmus said of the printing press, “Is there anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of new books?”

Dr. Lardner said of the railroads, “Rail travel at high speed is not possible because the passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.”

The President of Western Union told Alexander Graham Bell, “After careful consideration of your invention (Ttelephone), while it is a very interesting novelty… it has no commercial possibilities… What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”

The founder of Warner Brothers said (of movies with talking), “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”

Paul Krugman said, “By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.” 

Maybe your product or service isn’t a complete rewiring of your prospects’ brains, but the big examples can give us clear insights into what does drive change. 

Inertia represents all of the reasons somebody doesn’t want to put the effort into changing. 

They can be very smart, logical, and authoritative. 

But they can also be wrong. And that’s where the opportunity lives. 

It’s up to us to figure out what motivates a person enough to stand up and move to whatever we’re offering. 

Ps. especially if you’re in finance, you’ll also want to read Jamie Catherwood’s full piece on what they’ve been up to for the past few years, “Paradigm Shifts: Commodification to Personalization.” 

Pss. 100% that Lizzo. And yes, I’m still bragging about how I was a fan of her and this song before you (check the date here).