What Maurice Sendak Taught me About Great Context and Customers (It’s a “Wild Thing”)

by Leah Komaiko I got a call from a young, growing but frustrated company today with a big problem as they saw it - really nice content not getting the response they hoped for. After all they asked, “Isn’t Contentstill King?”

Hard to declare with all Content’s  current competitors who is still King.  But I do know this:  None of them matter without Context. If Content is King then Context is surely Queen.  And she's underneath it all - holding it up and together.

Context for our businesses and books starts with what do you know about them? What background do you need to fill them in on?  Context sets the stage for what you’re interrupting their moment for andasking them to step into next.  So did they feel like you just sat them down in the middle of the play thinking they'd somehow still get or care about the plot – or you?

Context sounds like something so obvious.  But getting it right is not always so simple. Because on top of everything else you keep in your headabout your product or service, context requires your dedicated thoughtfulness.  About them.  That's who it's all about.

So here’s my story I shared with my callers today:

Enter Maurice Sendak, a little boy named James and a lovely day several years back when I hadthe privilege of being with both of them at a Sendak book signing.

To put this in context, if you don’t know the children’s book author,  Maurice Sendak, ” (“Where the Wild Things Are")  an autograph from Sendak is like  getting a nod  from the Pope.

James had been prepared to meet a famous  author but not prepared for what that author would do.  All he knew was what he was taught to not do before at home with his own books.  And that the line he was in now was really, really long.

Until finally his turn.  And here comes young,  quiet James. .

“What’s your name?”  Sendak asked him.

“James.” he answered softly.

Sendak  began to write in the book until a horrified James yelled, , "Don't!  You’re ruining it!”

And then the moment of understanding masterful context was revealed.

Sendak didn’t laugh or smirk or explain or give the embarrassedmother a look.  He didn’t just rip out the page or scratch it out and hand it back to James to save his own book sale.

He listened to James, tossed the ruined book in the garbage, took a fresh bookfrom the pile, placed it in James’ open hands and said like he was speaking to any other adult, “James, please accept my apology.”

Sendak actually had an unwavering genuine respect for his audience.  He knew them. That respectwas always his context.

And that is the always the context of what makes a business rule.



My thanks to you for reading and sharing with others you think might get value.