Pool Rules

If you go to a public swimming pool, somewhere you’ll see a chlorine bleached sign fastened to the wall, which lists their code of conduct.

They’re a no bullshit expression of how we do things at this bathing establishment. They’re rules! Stuff like, no diving, no bombing, and no pissing in the pool.

There is no room for doubt or misunderstanding. We like that.

We have some hills we’ll die on. They’re beliefs which we will defend no matter who challenges us.

We call them our Pool Rules.

If our beliefs are not shining through in the work we do, we aren’t doing it right. That’s how good Pool Rules work.

Here they are:

Rule #1

No-one gives a shit about you (or your product)

Damn you Narcissus.

No one gives a shit about you or your product. People care about themselves and their own problems.

It's fundamental. It's the hardest rule to accept and the easiest to ignore.

Break this rule and the others become irrelevant.

The is Rule #1. It will always be obeyed and it supersedes all other rules.

Rule #2

It's all about the message

It is unequivocally...



Always about the message.

It is never about the product.

If in doubt see Rule #1

Rule #3

"That's enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think about me?"

You are expressly forbidden to talk about:

Your qualifications.

Your awards.

Your achievements.

Your fucking TED Talk.

And that ridiculous string of letters after your name. Seriously. You're embarrassing yourself.

See Rule #1

Rule #4

There are no customers in No Man's Land

If your messaging doesn’t ruffle feathers, no-one’s talking about it.

If no-one’s talking about it, you’re stuck in No Man’s Land.

There are no customers in No Man’s Land.

Just bland, mediocre messaging and a million failing founders crying into their mocha choca lattes.

Rule #5

Harden the fuck up

It's not for the faint hearted.

Bold messaging attracts bold criticism.

It also attracts raving fans.

You can't have one without the other.

Suck it up buttercup.

Rule #6

Don't be afraid to offend the right people

There's always someone ready to be offended by strong messaging.

Ignore them. They'll never be your customer.

It doesn’t matter how many people you offend, as long as you delight enough.

The trick is not to offend everyone.

Rule #7

Welcome controversy and confrontation with open arms

Traditional marketing says avoid controversy and confrontation.

We say send it a gilt edged invitation.

Make the bed up in the spare room.

Pour it a large gin and tonic.

Wait by the front door to welcome it.

Always keep a place at the table for controversy and confrontation.

Rule #8

Stop trying to convert everyone.

Messaging isn't about trying to persuade people they're hungry.

It's about finding hungry people.

And giving them a big juicy steak to focus on.

Rule #9

An average product with great messaging will always win against a great product with poor messaging.

How do you think products like:



And Grant Cardone survive?

Rule #10

If you really believe it, plant your feet.

Everyone has a hill they'll die on.

Something they'll stand up for. 

And defend like a tiger.

No matter who disagrees. 

If you’re willing to defend your hill.

Without worrying about who you offend.

Regardless of who attacks you.

People will fix bayonets and die alongside you.

One of those people might be us.

Rule #11

Don't be better. Be different.

You don't beat the market leader by doing what they do.

You beat them by doing what you do.

Rule #12

People don't buy products. They buy a better version of themselves.

Don't promise a better camera.

Describe a better cameraman.