Nobody cares

Pete Mockaitis blog article Nobody cares

A quick reminder to do a quick test.

Imagine: You had a brilliant idea for an event. Naturally, you and your teammates put in ample time, energy, and passion to make it awesome.

Three minutes before the event start time, only three people have arrived—your friends who came to support you. Your heart thumps in anticipation. Will others show? Will the whole thing flop? The odds don’t look good.

For all too many student leaders, this scenario doesn’t require much imagination. It happens all the time.

There’s a better way.

In my Student Leadership Podcast, the book guests recommend most often is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Ries’ book addresses entrepreneurs, but their struggle is similar. They put plenty of effort into building their ideas…only to discover too late that nobody cares.

The solution? Product validation.

Ries and Lean Startup adherents are all about testing, testing, testing. If you build something (i.e. an event, program, activity, or meeting) that nobody wants, it’s a huge bummer. What a waste!

At the core of their approach is getting a deep, ongoing understanding of the problems, needs, and wants of users.

With surveying, interviews, and small-scale pilots…you can learn what students want (and don’t want) and revise what you’re building along the way.

For example, Groupon originated as a website called The Point used to get folks together to solve social problems. Once they tried to solve a new problem of saving money by getting a group together for a discount. The rest is history.

By revising as you go like Groupon, you are much more likely to deliver something AWESOME that folks will attend and tell their friends about.

And there’s no need for elaborate statistical analyses. A quick, free Google form survey will do just fine.

To recap:

  • Bad validation: “I was so excited about this idea that I could hardly sleep.”
  • Good validation: “I surveyed 100 people on campus and 70% of folks said they’re ‘extremely likely’ to attend this event.”
  • Bad validation: “My mom and best friend told me this idea was great.” (BTW – those close to you often think everything you say is brilliant. They’re mistaken.)
  • Good validation: “I interviewed 12 members and they all independently identified this as the program they most want.”
  • Bad validation: “We’ve always done this program.”
  • Good validation: “91% of the people who came last year marked that they’d ‘definitely want to return’ to the next one.”

So, when it comes to your events, you can either roll the dice or stack the deck.

Your call.

May your offerings be optimal…and your attendance ample!

Credit // Author: Pete Mockaitis

Pete Mockaitis is on a mission to help students achieve greatness by sharing powerful knowledge they can put into action. Learn more about Pete’s highly informative, energetic, and humorous keynotes at