Pat and I really need to get down to business. As independent publishers we’ve got eleven books in print, and it’s time to start making money off them. A friend of ours, John J. Walters, was kind enough to send us a book to get started: Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed, by Patrick Schwerdtfeger.
It’s an excellent book, and we’re eagerly squeezing it dry for ideas. That said, we have a not-so-small bone of contention beginning in Chapter 2 and continuing throughout the book. “In today’s information society,” Schwerdtfeger declares unambiguously, “you need to carve out a little slice of the universe and claim it as your own. You need to decide what your specialty is and become an expert in that field.”
It’s the conventional wisdom, of course. If you want to do business these days, you’ve got to have a platform. Now, that’s easy enough for hedgehogs (see previous post). But how do unregenerate mutant foxes like Pat and me “carve out a little slice of the universe”? Big slices—yea, even whole universes at a swallow—are more our thing.
Business gurus often wag their fingers at us, scolding, “You’re living in a world where foxes need not apply! Stop being stubborn about it! Learn to be flexible!”
Ay, flexibility. There’s the rub.
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr famously said. Or, to put it in good old official hedgehoggian English, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
But that strikes us as palpably wrong.
Corrected, the aphorism should read something like, “Plus ça change, plus ça change”—“The more things change, the more things change.” Evolution, mutability, flux, the Heraclitean river that you can’t step into twice …
… those are fundamental facts of reality …
… or so it seems to Pat and me.
And this leads us to the neofoxian paradox: We foxes are flexible to a point of inflexibility; we are too flexible to stand still and let ourselves get pinned down and pigeonholed. It’s our very nature to keep changing our very nature.
So where does that leave us in today’s information society?
Schwerdtfeger refers to the Internet marketing phrase, “go an inch wide and a mile deep.” It’s a well-founded slogan. During the great era of paleofoxes (Hypatia, Hildegard von Bingen, and Benjamin Franklin among them), it was possible to go a mile deep all over the cultural landscape, across all areas of thought, creativity, and study. But since Thomas Friedman’s 2005 discovery that the world is flat, such multidisciplinary depth has been recognized as a geographical impossibility. Hence the sad extinction of the “true fox,” the paleofox.
However, we’d like to address a certain unfortunate assumption about the mutant fox, the neofox.