When Get Becomes a 4 Letter Word.

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I’ve been asked the question in a wide array of contexts…

How do I get people to buy my stuff?
How do I get people to open my emails?
How do I get people to join my community?
How do I get people to sign up for my list?
How do I get people to promote my stuff?
How do I get people to take this action?
How do I get people to blah blah blah?

Here’s the thing…

You don’t “get” people to do anything!

The use of the word “get,” and the framing of the question signals a deeper psychology that is rooted in a mindset that elevates taking and control over generosity, delight and value.

When you lead with the word get, you always lose.

Even if you seem to “get” what you want in the short term, the motivation and manipulation behind it will circle back to bite you in the ass. Immediately following your “get” will be a wave of buyer’s remorse, followed by feelings of anger and betrayal. This is not how you want to build a living. It is not how you want to build a brand or a career. It is not how you want to build a life. Walking around constantly trying to figure out how to “get” people to do things.

A far better, more sustainable, conscious and elevating approach, one that is steeped in longer-term relationships, generosity and value, is about not “getting” people to do something, but rather creating an experience of such generosity, value and delight that they “yearn” to participate in it. To contribute, to connect, to consume, to share, to stand in the story you’re telling and help bring others into it.

Not because you “got” them to do something, but because you created something so appealing they couldn’t not do it.

So, when you’re writing copy for launches, subject lines for emails, brand stories for products, services and companies and descriptions for offerings. When you’re crafting positioning, marketing, advertising and sales. When you’re developing values, missions, visions, structures and process…

Take the word “get” off the table and lead, instead, with “give, delight, invite.”

By the way, part of the reason it’s fresh in my mind is because I realized that a small, but alarming bit of “get mentality” had found its way into my own creation and marketing efforts. When you’re creating vast amounts of language, launching new things and making decisions under unforgivable time-constraints, that tends to be when the siren taunt of “get” most easily lures you in.

It’s easier to yield to the pull of smallness when you’re in the distorting heat of the cauldron.

When everything’s on the line.

But, that’s also the moment it’s most critical to hold fast to your values. Because, the pressure of any given situation may not be optional. But, whether it deepens or dissolves your commitment to integrity, that’s where the work lies.

I just keep reminding myself, in business and life, in the way I contribute to the world, I want to live from a place of generosity and grace, not grasping and greed.

That’s my work. Our work. The work.

I hope you’ll join me.

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12 responses

12 responses to “When Get Becomes a 4 Letter Word.”

  1. Tim says:

    Great post and I think it’s connecting with something even deeper than the emotional negative “feelings” about the “get” mindset. Worth exploring even more, so maybe this is just the beginning. “Getting” someone to do something is sort of natural, but if you insert that idea into some dialogue of iconic peace/harmony TV shows of 1950’s/60’s, it seems dark. And of course there’s Tom Sawyer. It was like a subdued underside, like many things, that needed to stay there, even though it may be “natural” or seemingly “honest” to mainstream them. I shy away from good/evil constructs, but they are mostly shorthand ways of labeling what works (long term, for general happiness) and what doesn’t (long term, for general happiness). Not trying to say that’s always a simple evaluation! Again, great post.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Ahhhhh. Yes. As I read your post my whole body relaxed. I have been struggling to find my voice lately as I begin to launch my own studio. “Marketing” at its worst feels like the antithesis of authenticity. If, however, you can keep the goal pure –to create and share something truly valuable– then you can share from the heart, as you have done here, and it feels completely different. Thank you, I needed that reminder. 🙂

  3. I appreciate this so very much Jonathan. All too often I see and feel the desperation and “get” mentality in the communications of businesses or entrepreneurs who I follow and admire and it is indeed a turn-off as a consumer. It makes me feel used and question the integrity of that person or product. But when the framing is clearly a giving or sharing that is being offered in the interest of helping me grow then it really changes everything, drawing me in gently and naturally, attracting vs. pushing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea “pain points” for this reason too, it’s something marketing experts often advise to reference in communications but as a receiver of that sort of content it always rubs me the wrong way #justsayin 🙂

  4. Alice Bandy says:

    Fantastic post. So important. Thank you.

  5. Shauna Smith says:

    Yaassss… I appreciate the way you expressed this. I’m fascinated by the noise making. It has shown me how I do not want to express myself. The “get” vibe is easily discernible because I can feel the pulling at my energy. With others, like you, I feel my sovereignty being honored. I can make a decision for my best interest, which naturally becomes mutually beneficial. Thank you. I love your writing. 🙂

  6. Judi Holler says:

    Simple idea. HUGE POINT! I love this and it will help me change my framework around how I design copy and my day to day work. Thank you!

  7. LeeHamm says:

    I see this often, from a close co-worker, with the word ‘have’ too. ‘Can you have José do this…?’ It has the same meaning as ‘get’ in that there is an implied distant control. In this case, I am also [the one who is] crossing between two languages, so I can rephrase the request myself. I do not like the us/them implication that it produces. Thanks for highlighting it! I knew it bugged me and could not really explain why!

  8. Kara says:

    Jonathan, the thing I like most about you and your work is that you walk your talk. You aren’t afraid to look at yourself honestly and share your process vulnerably. This, to me, is a sign of true evolving wisdom and I greatly appreciate you always sharing so generously with us. xo

  9. Thank you for a great post! Good to be reminded that “getting” is (and should be perceived as) a direct result of first “giving”. As usual, your post is inspiring and (in a wonderful and positive way) humbling!

  10. Paz says:


  11. Wonderful post! Loved every word! 🙂

  12. Brian Robben says:

    Generosity and grace > grasping and greed. Super inspiring post that reminds me that the key behind an online business is giving.