Optimism Versus “Realism” by Rich

Every Pessimist calls themselves a Realist.

Personally, I’m one of the world’s greatest Optimists. I would like to explain why being an Optimist is both more rational and more realistic than being a Pessimist.

What does this have to do with marketing, you say?

Your attitude sets the stage for what you do. And it is a fact that Pessimism and Marketing are mutually antagonistic.

There is no better illustration of this than the experience of the last four months, of the Pandemic and how people have dealt with it.


I spoke the other day to a businessperson who, when the pandemic hit, stopped all their marketing. They operated in the red for four months. Now they are looking at going out of business if they don’t turn things around rather quickly. Now, they regret the decision to stop marketing.

You can summarize the attitude of the Pessimists (“Realists”) towards this period – and the months to come – as “hoping to survive.”

Many people have been, and continue to “hope to make it.” Hope their businesses don’t go under.

May I point out, ever so gently, that this attitude carries with it, and is based on, an assumption: the expectation of bad times ahead.

“Hoping to survive” is the same as “struggling to survive.” It’s a negative attitude. The belief that, all other things being equal, you are going to fall.

What chance does anyone have in ANY endeavor, with that attitude?

If you go into the big game, “hoping to win?”

How about going into the big game with a plan to win?

Do you sit down for a job interview, or go out on a date thinking, “This probably won’t work out?”

That businessperson stopped their marketing, at the point they recognized they were in for hard times. I wrote about this before. “Hunker down.” “Ride it out.”

More like “pack it up and go home.”


A “Pollyanna” is an overly cheerful or optimistic person. In other words, “unrealistic.” Supposedly. It comes from a 1913 children’s story. But what makes being cheerful or optimistic unrealistic?

If you can’t change an expected bad future, of course you are going to fail. One justifies cheerfulness and optimism by the actions one takes to bring about their goals and dreams.

Failing to plan and take action, because it looks hopeless, or you are discouraged, makes for a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Being optimistic and taking the actions that makes it happen is also a self-fulfilling prophecy.

At this moment, the future hasn’t happened yet. To be so discouraged you don’t even try, is to make unwarranted assumptions about the future.

So what should that business owner have done? A cold-blooded, honest assessment of what it would take to not just survive, but to thrive, would be a good start! Then do the actions to bring about that reality.

It should be obvious that marketing plays a vital role in this.


We’ve set the stage. But before we walk onto it, it would be remiss of me to not point out the role of what I call “contagious pessimism.”

Hordes of people – by some estimates 20% – actively spread pessimism, defeatism, and discouragement.

In World War II, in Britain, preaching defeatism was a crime. People went to prison.  “Defeatism” – defined as “acceptance of defeat without a struggle” is not Realism – as the Brits proved in the Battle of Britain. Go listen to one of Winston Churchill’s speeches from that time for a taste of “what is the opposite of defeatism.” I highly recommend the “This was their finest hour” or “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speeches – both from the Spring of 1940 when things looked hopeless to many. You can find and listen to those actual inspiring radio addresses, easily available online.

In times like these, it is easy to agree with a tide of pessimism, especially one being so powerfully spread by the media. But why give up without a struggle?

The truth is, many companies have done extremely well in the last four months. Many more will in the coming months and years. Why not be a part of that movement?


The thrust of my argument should be obvious by now. If you aren’t marketing, you’ve already given up. So it starts with a decision – that you are going to be an Optimist and take the actions to justify your optimism. A key part of it – maybe THE key part of it, is how then to effectively market what you have to offer.

It may be challenging, but the answers all come by starting with the idea it can be done, then working out how to do it.

You have to be willing to put in the effort. It can be a lot of work.

In 2007, my partner, who was supposed to be handling the company’s marketing, quit. At that time we had no functioning way to develop new business, and no funds with which to do so.

Discouraging, right? I could have thrown in the towel right there. Instead, I worked out what effective marketing we could do on a shoestring, and we did it. Not only did we survive, we grew. And the same methods of marketing we worked out at that time generate the bulk of our new business to this day.

So don’t tell me it can’t be done.  And don’t tell me you can’t do it. It can, and you can.

It’s up to you.

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