When I'm in London, my daily walk takes me around a boating lake.

There are often people in the boats who have never rowed before. They get handed the oars, shown where to sit in the boat, pushed off from the jetty and then, quite understandably, row off in the direction they have been told to face: the back of the boat.

This means they have to work a lot harder, pushing the wide flat end of the boat through the water, while the pointy streamlined end of the boat is behind them.

Generally, after trying this for a while, they spot that most other people on the lake are doing it differently. The majority watch and learn. Then they start rowing the other way and finding it much easier.

But when I walked by last week, almost everybody on the lake was rowing backwards, with only one boat being rowed correctly. The backwards people were all looking at the odd one out, and I guess they were thinking "Ha! That guy is rowing backwards!" as his boat glided smoothly through the water. None of them changed to his method, they carried on doing it the hard way because they had social proof that that's how everyone does it.

You're smart enough that you don't need me to do the 'Thought Leader Pivot', like a Ted Talk, to explain the lesson we can all draw from this as agency leasers. I know that's the normal style for this sort of business newsletter — but just because I see everyone else doing something, it's not necessarily the best way, is it?

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If you'd like to read more about the thinking shortcuts that can be traps we fall into, like those backwards rowers relying on social proof, then my colleague Joe has written a summary of the book Thinking, Fast and Slow for agency leaders. It's available on the free membership level of Agency Radar, so you can get access just by signing up with your email, and it's a great thought-provoking read.


Our first podcast episode will be coming out this week. It's aimed at agency leaders who want to be more proactive and work on their businesses. Subscribe now in your favourite podcast app to get the episode as soon as it's out.


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