Fast Company

You're not cool - I am. What is cool & finding the cool factor.

I'm a firm believer in the fact that every single one of us thinks that we are in fact "cool". I think, err, know, that I am cool because of the clothes that I wear, my long hair is cool, what I do is cool, how I do things, etc. Everything about me is sheer and utter coolness! I live cool and I breath cool. I even bleed cool. I'll bet that I am way cooler than you. How do I know this? Well, because I am cool. Simple. Right!

You're probably thinking, what the heck is this guy talking about; 'I'm way cooler than him'. 'My coolness is scales above this guy'. Or, 'what makes this dweeb think that he is so cool?'. Or the ultimate coolness challenge to anyone - 'prove you are cooler than me'. Is there ever any downtime for being cool?


Here is the formula for Coolness (which is pretty close to the square root of pi, but then again trigonometry is pretty cool)


5% aspiration + 95% self-perception + 10% public awareness + 46% individuality + 15% actions + 22% verbal + 99% what others think about you.


Wait, this doesn't add to 100% - but I guess that is my point. Coolness doesn't add up to 100 either.


So, who is really cool and who decides what is cool. Is it all just about self-awareness? Is it just about our own perception and a look into our own little worlds, that each one of us, is supposedly the master? Who can judge coolness and how do we address the coolness chasm - for those who are decidedly not cool.


Being as cool as I am, I am going to go out on a limb ('cause that's what cool people do) and give you my hypothesis of ultimate coolness. Rest assured, the fact that I am stating my opinion makes me genuinely cool, but I digress momentarily.


There is no real tangible coolness. Coolness is what you think it is. Being cool is how you perceive your world. It is all about your perception. Want to test your coolness (and my theory)? Just go ask someone if they think you are cool. They will look at you kind of funny, quickly think about potentially losing coolness by admitting to themselves that the person asking is, or could be cooler than the person being asked. And of course give you an answer - BUT, probably indirectly, such as 'your socks or shirt is cool', or the purgatory of coolness - 'maybe', or 'depends'.


Now, imagine the potential coolness conflict here - a "cool" company, asks their "cool" users whether or not they are cool. Of course, not wanting to detract from their coolness, they then say that yes, such and such idea from this cool company is in fact cool. It should sell (not like hotcakes though, as hotcakes are definitely uncool) - and of course make everyone rich. Guess what - it doesn't always happen - does that then make these people completely uncool, or just out of cool job? What if a 5 year old says, 'hey grandpa, that cane is really cool', to which grandpa then says, 'I'm going to buy some stocks in this company, because my grandson says its cool'...


The neat thing about coolness is that, like I stated, it is all about their own world. Its about coolabilty - your inner most style and sense to become instantly cool. Making the choices that reflect what they are about, and creating a personal style. Whether they are 5 or 55, and everything in between (and beyond of course, as old people can be cool too), coolness is about them and their own personal self-perceptions.


This is where the new trends of individual design, personalization and customization is getting a foothold. Does everyone have an ipod - pretty close; does everyone have a cell phone - yes. Is it not decidedly uncool though to have the exact same one that everyone else does? This means that everyone has to admit that they are no cooler than the person beside them on the bus with the same ipod. Where is the individuality in these massive groups of people? Apple would make you think from their ipod ads that all it takes is a simple silhouette with a few cool colors thrown into the mix. I guess that with this in mind, what they are really saying is that it is ok to be the same as everyone else. Uncool, perhaps? But only if you think there is a coolness scale, with 6.7 billion human graduations, which I think is pretty much everyone of us.

 

There are a few companies who truly "get" this customer perceived self-induced coolness - the companies that work with everyone as part of the real long tail of customization, where everyone gets their own choices to be in their own coolness, including cafepress.com and mytego.com, to name a few.

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