“Email killer”

There’s a lot we’d like to replace in our lives from material objects to our coworkers, jobs, lifestyles, you name it. But maybe there’s a better way.


Graffiti was a huge problem in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2008. The initial attempt to solve it was, like most things we do against something we don’t like, to replace it. Cover it up. Crack down on those who did it.

But when areas that attracted graffiti were locked down by police, graffiti artists just matriculated to other areas. Even worse, the cover up was incredibly expensive. And it didn’t work. New graffiti would show up overnight.

Then some folks in the Reykjavik government realized an unspoken rule about graffiti culture: respect. You don’t cover up art that is better than yours.

And so parts of Reykjavik embraced graffiti. Some became curators, letting the best of it remain. And some homes and storefronts, even the government itself, commissioned graffiti artists to create beautiful works of art.



Now, walls became more impervious to lower quality graffiti. Some destinations are even tourist attractions where visitors spread the word about its graffiti in their reviews.


There’s still plenty of back and forth conflict with graffiti art, police, property owners, and the government in Reykjavik. But replacing all of it clearly wasn’t the answer. By embracing the art form they’ve been able to incorporate it into their lives for the good of the whole community.


I used to get aggravated working with a magazine editor who wanted my writing in Microsoft Word. Afterall, I created the writing software Draft to overcome things that bothered me about using Word to write. But that’s silly. I’m never going to replace Word. Just like email and Excel, it’s free and ubiquitous. I can email someone a Word doc, and without yet another account and password somewhere, they’re editing it. Instead, I’ve just learned to embrace it. I can easily write in Draft, and export the result to Word to send it on.

Or I look at educating my 3 year old daughter who has taken a deep interest in playing pretend with her dolls. Instead of trying to replace that time to do something more educational, I’ve embraced that playtime and now we’ll pretend to be teachers giving her dolls lessons about reading and math. Some of the dolls have even taken an interest in neuroscience. 🙂

Or I look at how this applies to the things I create.

So many software tools today pitch themselves as the email or Excel killer. “They’re too complicated or messy. You need this new thing.”

But I noticed this recently about the CRM industry — as Software Advice found: “Almost three-quarters of our buyers are using manual methods (and an additional 5 percent are using nothing at all) to manage their CRM.”

We’ve been using software based tools for CRM since the 1980s, and still only three quarters of people shopping for one are even currently using one? Excel, email, even good old fashioned paper notebooks are already working. Just like Word, they’re close to free, ubiquitous, and have zero learning curve.

There shouldn’t be surprise then, that some surveys find 60% of CRM implementations fail. They’ve tried to replace what used to work with something else. But people fall back to the simple, easy stuff even if it isn’t perfect. So we try our best here at Highrise to help people keep using email or Excel to manage their leads and follow-ups and make those tools even more useful to people.


Stop with trying to replace and kill everything. It’s a waste of our money, time and effort. Instead find something that might not work the best, but use the opportunity to elevate it to where its awesome.

Don’t replace. Embrace.

P.S. You should follow me on YouTube: youtube.com/nathankontny where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life.

And if you need a zero-learning-curve system to track leads and manage follow-ups you should try Highrise.


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