The key to spreading your ideas

Blue Tit

In last week’s episode of his Akimbo podcast, Seth Godin tells a story about blue tit birds.

You can listen to it from approx 5 mins in via the player below, but here’s the abridged version.

Blue tits can’t drink milk, but they do like cream.

Somewhere along the line, the birds realised there was cream at the top of the old-fashioned milk bottles that got delivered to people’s doorsteps.

They’d land on the bottles, stick their beaks in and gobble up the cream. 

Over time they learned when the milkman arrived, then how to remove the metal lids humans added to combat them, and then which bottles’ colored lids hid the most cream.

This wasn’t limited to one place, or one bird. It kept happening, and kept spreading.

At the start, there were some birds that invented the technique, and a few of these were good at training others.

The trainers would fly off elsewhere, and do the trick so other birds would learn from them. These birds would go off and do the same thing.

Seth’s point is two-fold: good ideas can spread; and we need people to help teach and share them.

We’re usually more aware of the first point than the second. 

The second point is not about just teaching others in the topic we want to share, but teaching and training them in how to teach and train so even more people can benefit.

This is often hugely overlooked.

You’ll sometimes hear this called ‘Train The Trainer’. It’s what’s helped companies like Soulcycle to grow in the way they have.

But it’s not limited to milk bottles or fitness studios. 

It’s a powerful, generous, and underrated force that can get behind all sorts of good ideas that deserve to spread.

It’s what helps the cream rise to the top.

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