Why Be Disruptive, When You Can Be Generative? Friday Afternoon with MakeLoveNotPorn

by cv harquail on May 23, 2014

Some businesses aim to make money. Some businesses aim to disrupt their industries. The very best businesses aim even higher — to generate new opportunity for each and every stakeholder.


It was Friday afternoon clean-up-my-office time. That ‘end of the year, has it come down to this?’-moment of reckoning.

Maybe while I sort out piles and piles of student reports and teaching materials I should listen to an inspiring video? I’d signed up to attend Cindy Gallop’s recent talk at the Creative Mornings series, but I’d given away my ticket when a last minute work thing came up. Why not listen in and hear what I’d missed, while I tuck away a semester’s worth of paper trails?

Catching Up With MakeLoveNotPorn

Having heard Cindy speak before, I know she has a stock of topics, subtopics, examples, stories, and bold statements that she repeats from one talk to the next, always honing her core messages linking entrepreneurship, sex, and disruption.

And I also know that in each new talk, Cindy experiments with her next idea. Over time you can hear her messages moving from what she’s figured out to what looks like the next big breakthrough.

“What’s Cindy doing with MLNP now?”, I wonder.  I cue up Cindy’s talk, and face my file drawers.

Cindy’s talk, Changing The World Through Sex, is about disrupting the porn industry.

Disruption” is everybody’s favorite buzz word, and it’s usually applied incorrectly. People talk about digital businesses as being ‘disruptive’ when really all they’re doing is using online channels to distribute product or collect revenue.

Obviously, MLNP’s digital platform creates a new way to produce and distribute #RealWorldSex video. But unlike most online upstarts, MLNP actually has the potential to disrupt its industry.


They have designed their business model to transform relationships between product, customers, makers, revenue, community and society — and that’s how you make a business disruptive. But most business people can’t see past the ‘porn’ part to recognize the real disruptive potential of MLNP.

Twenty minutes in, as Cindy’s dismissing the conformity of the so-called competitive dynamics of the adult entertainment industry,  I’m thinking “I really wish people would grok just how transformational MLNP really could be.”

Then I hear Cindy ask:

CV, are you in the audience? ” [30:30]

“What?” A stack of Lean Startup Canvases slide from my lap to the floor. “You talkin’ to me, Cindy?”

No lie, she is. Cindy Gallop is talking about my blog post about her business, from the stage at Creative Mornings.   Well that explains the spike in traffic to my blog post.

sells social change

Cindy puts up a slide with a quote from the post:

It dawns on me that Cindy’s using my post to anchor and elaborate a point that too many people keep missing.

It’s the business model, not the sex, that makes MLNP so radical and so exciting.

And within 90 seconds, Cindy has acknowledged, affirmed and amplified the point I was trying so hard to make in my own post:

MLNP might not just disrupt its industry. MLNP might also disrupt what we think a business should contribute.

Disruptive Business Models Don’t Go Far Enough

Cindy and the startup/tech world call MLNP a ‘disruptive’ business model, but this label really undersells what MLNP does. Disruptive business models do things differently to satisfy customers, gain market share, and ultimately ‘change how things are done’ in an industry. But MLNPs disruptive potential goes far beyond the adult entertainment industry.

What makes MLNP’s business model special is that every single thing about the business – from its influence on individuals to its influence on its industry to its influence on financial services to its influence on how our culture addresses sex — not only challenges the status quo but also offers us something qualitatively different.

The design of MLNP offers each stakeholder a chance to grow and become healthier, more positive, more equitable, more affirmative, and more generative.

cm mlnp 2

MakeLoveNotPorn is disrupting its industry, yes. And it is also disrupting and re-creating what we think businesses can do.

Acknowledging, Affirming and Amplifying

Cindy and her team are taking advantage of the adult entertainment industry to be not just disruptive but also generative.  They could challenge themselves to shift from a good business model to a great one, creating a site that is fast, efficient, reliable, searchable, popular and profitable. But no, they want to blow their industry up, along with our assumptions about what a business can be.

So pick up that pile of Lean Canvases. Look again at the business model you’re designing.  Listen to Cindy’s advice, and then ask your team–

Do you want to be a disruptive business? Or do you want to be even more?

Take another look at MLNP. This time,

Let the business pique your curiosity, and let the business model inspire your imagination.