What is an insight?

According to Wikipedia, it’s the understand of a specific cause and effect in a specific context.

If you’re in my line of work and immersed in information about advertising and marketing, the definition is based around some advertising superstar, a Klout heavy hitter or somebody you saw at a conference. They are tasked to give us insights, to have deep thoughts and understanding.

This is not a bad thing when it sparks your own thoughts and insights.

Unfortunately, that’s not very common. More often than not, people just repeat thoughts from the Clay Shirky’s, Mitch Joel’s and Chris Brogan’s of this world. And, unless you spoke at at major conference, write a highly visible blog, publish a book or have major Klout, your thoughts are not considered insights. They are just thoughts. Insights are reserved to the advertising VIP’s behind the velvet rope. Over time, insights become smaller nuggets of wisdom because real insights and creative solutions emerge out of relationships: It’s the tension between different ideas and perspectives and so it is risky to keep the focus on just a few.

The most interesting insights come from the masses. Not some elite.

It comes from the cab driver than can you tell more about the real economy than any pundit on CNBC. It comes from maids that can tell you more about men’s sexuality than any psychologist. It can come from a fellow plane passenger telling me the history of Singapore in 20 minutes, history you can’t read about it in books.

I’ve said this many times before and I’m sure many others have this natural curiosity that drives them to explore areas outside of our echo chamber. This is not a new insight, it’s just worth repeating:

If you’re looking for insights, look beyond the echo chamber, experts, blogs and conferences.

Now, get on with your life, leave this blog and find real insights.