The Art of Blog Marketing

This is a story about building relationships online through blogging and how connecting and sharing is about the art of marketing. For this post, we will leave science aside, except for the technology required to blog.


Over Memorial Day weekend, a group of us met in NYC to honor CK and her recently passed momma, Sandra J. Kerley, with a tree planted in a corner of a Spanish Harlem family garden. The spot is a haven of green among the concrete, brick, glass and steel setting. Five of us gathered with CK, but many participated in the celebration through their generous donations. Some who could not join us called to speak with CK.
In the group were Drew McLellan,
David Reich,
Luc Debaisieux,
Valeria Maltoni, and me. Drew and his family flew in from Des Moines, David drove from the ‘burbs, Luc came all the way from Belgium, Valeria trained from Philadelphia and I took the commuter line from New Haven. If you want to read more about the event, each of us posted or you can click here to read my post and see the photos.
The gathering made me think about what brought us and so many of you together. The tool was blogging but the strategy that connects us is that of relationship building. Each of us believes that life and the part of it we call business require the art of connection to grow. Anyone can blog. It doesn’t require either great technical or writing skill to do so. But among the bloggers who I have met in-person and online, a sense of sharing, connecting and getting to know others is inherent within us. And that is a basic principle in marketing.
At the end of the day, marketing is not about products, services, technology, advertising, public relations, or traditional tools. It is about creating connections, what some of us may call experiences. Successful marketing gives people a reason to care about us. In business we may call the “us” our brand. That is also true in life.
Why did we gather in New York City, a group of strangers, some of whom had previously met, others who had never met face-to-face? We cared about each other. We had connected. We wanted to be part of the brand experience (honoring CK and becoming friends). This may seem a strange analogy. To some it may seem a bad and heartless analogy, as we are talking about a friend’s loss. But to clarify, I am talking about love for a friend and caring for her. I am talking about what we gained through CK’s loss.
And that’s what customers feel about brands that they are loyal to: Harley-Davidson, Starbucks, Apple, VW, Coke or Pepsi. Those companies have connected with their customers. They share their human sides, build relationships, and become friends to and with their customers.
They do so by telling stories and touching our emotional sides with those stories. The 40-something accountant who loves the rumble of a Harley. The 30-something mom who cherishes her escape to Starbucks Third Place Experience. The Mac lovers who hold onto their minority but special status.
These things don’t just happen. They happen because of the art of marketing. That same art applied to our personal lives and our businesses is producing enduring relationships, more sharing opportunities by writing for other blogs such as the Daily Fix, and work opportunities. All because of relationship building. Like me, I suspect most of you have a similar story.

Management Thoughts : Do you want a Hanuman in your team?

Give wings to Hanuman’s imagination

Hanuman plays an important role in the Ramayan, yet in the epic itself, he does not hold any great position. He is just one of the many monkeys Ram encounters in the forest. He is not Sugriva, leader of the monkey troop. He is not Angad, who is told to lead the band of monkeys searching for Sita. He is not Jambavan, the bear or Nila, the monkey, who are given the responsibility of building the bridge. He is projected as an obedient follower who, through his intelligence, strength and courage, wins the admiration of Ram and emerges as one of the most revered characters of the tale and a god in his own right. But at no point does Hanuman make any attempt to steal anyone’s glory; while in his own temple he stands powerful with mountain in hand and feet on a demon, in Ram’s temple he is most content sitting at the feet of his master, hands in supplication.

Who would not want a Hanuman in his team? One who is very good at his work, one who will do whatever he is told to do, one who will never seek either reward or recognition and one who finds validation in obeying his master.

If we go to Raju’s auto repair shop, we will find that all the work is done by his Hanuman: Amol, a young boy, who has been working with Raju for three years. Amol is a natural, able to fix the most complex of problems. Raju knows he can totally rely on Amol. No job is too big or too small for Amol. He is as happy changing a tyre, as he is fixing the brakes. He does not boss over the juniors and does not feel slighted if the seniors ask him to fetch tea. If there is a problem that eludes a standard solution, everyone knows that leave it to Amol – he will, like Hanuman crossing the sea, find a way.

Yes, it matters greatly to have a Hanuman in our team. One who will not question you. One who will do exactly what you tell him to do. One who delivers no matter what the odds. One who is loyal and devoted. But is that really good?

The following is a folk story of Hanuman: Hanuman once narrated the entire Ramayan to his mother, Anjani. After the narration, an impressed Anjani sought a clarification. “You are so strong that with a flick of a tail you could have destroyed the whole of Lanka, killed Ravan and rescued Sita. Why did you not do so? So much effort and time would have been saved – you would not have had to build a bridge to Lanka, you could have avoided the war. Why did you not do that?”

Hanuman replied, “Because Ram never asked me to.”

And suddenly we wonder if this was opportunity lost. Hanuman was asked to discover Sita’s location; he did that. Hanuman was asked to fetch the mountain of herbs that would save Lakshmana’s life; he did that. No one asked him to destroy the Rakshasas and rescue Sita. Why he did not do that? One common explanation given for why Ram never asked Hanuman to kill Ravan and rescue Sita is that it was Ram’s duty to rescue Sita, not Hanuman’s. Ramayan is about Ram, not Hanuman.

In the entire epic, Hanuman proves his capability time and time again. On his way to find Sita, he displays his extraordinary power (crosses the ocean), brain (outwits the snake-demon Surasa), brawn (kills Simhika) and integrity (not resting on Mandara mountain). And yet, while everyone admires this, no one seems eager to take full advantage of it. Was this refusal to take advantage of Hanuman’s abilities a divine decision or merely a oversight?

Yes, Raju loves Amol’s work. Yes, Raju admires Amol’s work. But is Raju harnessing the full potential of Amol? Is his contentment with Amol’s obedience preventing him from seeing all that Amol can do, proactively, creatively, independently, if he is given the freedom to do so? Ask Raju and he will say, “But I don’t stop Amol from doing anything.” He does not stop Amol from doing anything, but he does not encourage Amol from doing something either.

The greatest danger of having Hanumans in our team is that his actions are limited by our directions. Maybe we fear that if Hanuman thinks for himself, there will be chaos – he is a monkey after all. Maybe we fear that he will overshadow us. Hence, ultimately, only we decide the goals, we define the vision, we declare the mission and state the objective. Our Hanuman will help you realize all this. But, maybe, the goals could have been greater and grander, if we had let Hanuman do more than merely obey.

Amol once had given Raju a suggestion. “Sir, if we park our cars perpendicular to the wall rather than parallel we can keep more cars in the garage?” Raju ignored this suggestion. “Do your work,” he snapped at Amol without giving his words much thought. But the message he implicitly gave Amol was that – ‘I only want your obedience, not your intelligence.’ Amol immediately complied. And that marked the end of Amol’s creativity that would have perhaps made Raju’s auto repair shop a much greater success.

This is the danger of over compliance and extreme obedience.

We prevent followers from thinking and contributing.

It makes good sense therefore to take a closer look at the Hanumans in our team; we just might find in their hearts a Ram waiting to be coaxed out.

Source: Corporate dossier, Economic Times.

Lessons Learned from Reading Over 200 Books

It kind of made me wonder: what did we really learn from all the books we read? Are we smarter than we used to be? I started to wonder, and this is what happened. 140 characters per book, for 200 books… 200 things you may not know.
Are you curious? I sure was when I started. Here we go.

A Walk in the Woods

The Appalachian Trail is a trail in the woods that’s over 2000 miles long. In 1990, Bill Irwin became the first guy to ever walk it– BLIND.

The Millionaire Next Door

Those that are wealthy are not those who ACT wealthy. Those that look wealthy are usually in just debt, while the rich tend to act broke.

Blink

“Sometimes we’re right about things– especially when we’re experts. Other times we’re wrong.” With a bunch of examples.

How To Succeed in Anything by Really Trying

The three A’s of careers are Ability, Ambition, and Attitude. If you have those three down, you’re good.

The No BS Ruthless Management of People and Profits

If your employees suck, nobody is happy. So fire them– fast. Stop being so bleeding-hearted about it.

The Dip

The real rewards come to those who can outlast the competition. If you can do that while staying unique, you win.

The Little Red Book of Sales

People do business with people they like. So if make it easy to be someone they like, you’re a big part of the way there.

Crash Proof

The US is carrying massive amounts of debt. This may or may not reduce the value of the dollar over time, so invest to compensate for it.

On Writing Well

Simplicity matters. Clarity matters. “Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it.”

The Little Teal Book of Trust

Trust matters, but more importantly, Jeffrey Gitomer is a master salesman, and it is always possible to write a new take on an old subject.

Everything Bad is Good for You

Even culturally “stupid” things like reality TV can have lots of value. In fact media is getting more complex over time. Don’t dismiss it.

The Myth of Multitasking

Do one thing at a time or you’re wasting your time. Man, I could still really learn this lesson. So could you.

What Would Google Do?

Companies that embrace Google-like qualities win over “closed” companies. Free, open, etc. wins.

Old Masters and Young Geniuses

There are two ways to success. Either be young and have a huge insight, or get older and gradually improve.

Pow! Right Between the Eyes

Surprises create emotion. Emotions create memories. Information has nothing to do with convincing someone.

Emergency

Learn practical skills or you’ll regret it when you need them. Being useful matters.

Lance Armstrong: Every Second Counts

Persistence is everything. Ignore detractors and push forward no matter what.

Problem Solving 101

It’s easy to sell a little book to a bored guy in Chicago O’Hare airport… yeah, that’s all I remember.

Talent is Overrated

Work matters more than talent– this is like a much better version of Outliers. Focus on the work, always.

Culture Smart:Japan

There are at least 5 ways to talk to people in Japan, based on their status and yours. In America, we’re lucky to have social mobility.

Thank You and OK!

Even Zen Buddhists can be messed up. No single path will make you perfect.

The Way of Zen

Japanese Daruma dolls are really cool symbols for persistence. Keep real objects around you that remind you of your purpose.

Stumbling on Happiness

The stuff we think will make us happy usually doesn’t. We need to be clear on what those mistakes are or we waste a lot of time.

Not Always So

Enlightenment is about the practice, not the talking. You can’t intellectualize insight.

Walden

Simplify your life and you’ll appreciate what you have more. Yes, it’s that simple.

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die

Most of the answers to happiness have been figured out by old people. Ask them, they’ll tell you.

Nudge

Simple environmental changes can radically alter behaviour. It’s how change happens. So don’t blame yourself or your weaknesses.

The Game

Girls like confidence, and confidence is hard to fake.

How To Sell

Girls apparently like jewelry too. But not as much as confidence.

Six Pixels of Separation

Mitch Joel is an under-appreciated asset to the whole social media community. This book has secretly outsold every single other social media book out there, by the way.

What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Frankly, this was not memorable. If you are reading a book and can’t come up with any significant quotes or ideas from it, you should probably stop. Trust me.

Mastering Your Hidden Self

Do yourself a favour and don’t read books about spirituality. They’re usually crap and are trying to sell you on something.

Man’s Search For Meaning

Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that space lies our growth and our freedom. (This was the largest inspiration for my book The Flinch.)

Feel the Fear… And Do It Anyway

If you feel fear in non-dangerous situations, you should just go forward anyway. It’s rare that bad shit happens.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Low competition means it’s easier to win. Always search for the easiest, least competitive way.

What Should I Do With My Life?

Follow your passion or you’ll regret it. Speaking from experience, this is true.

Enough

Stuff doesn’t make you happy, but you’ll never stop thinking it will.

She Comes First

Lol. I can’t believe I’m admitting that I read this. It was good though. You should read it.

Purple Cow

Being remarkable means your customers will notice, and being noticed is the first step on the way to being successful.

50 50

Doing the impossible is often easier than you think. Most people don’t try to find the real limits– they just trust what others say.

Presentation Zen

Stop putting walls of text on your Powerpoint slides. Everyone knows this now, don’t they?

Getting Things Done

Having a system in place is necessary to facilitate completing lots of tasks. Otherwise, you get lost. But if it’s too complex, the system itself gets you lost.

Open and Shut

The Canadian government never would have let Obama win, or even run, because he’s an outsider. This stifles innovation from the Canadian system.

Rules of Thumb

Any lesson is easy to learn… but applying it is hard.

When I Say No, I Feel Guilty

Saying no to something is actually very hard, so learn social “techniques” to help you say no when it matters.

Crush It

Fact: It’s possible to talk into a microphone and have it be made into a bestselling book.

Status Anxiety

It’s programmed into our brains to seek higher status, and when we can’t do it, we feel like crap.

The Architecture of Happiness

Our physical environment is important. How we feel in a place influences our behaviour in it, so try to create a space you love.

Connected

Even if people are outside your social network, you influence them. In other words, humans aren’t like wolves, we’re like bees.

The Cluetrain Manifesto

Hyperlinks subvert hierarchies. (This sounds simple but it’s in fact very profound.)

Gambling Scams

Amazing book. Crazy stories. Most scams are about getting the mark to feel like they’re getting away with something, not the other way around.

Zen and the Art of Archery

Reading short books helps you get ahead on your reading list. Don’t underestimate this. 🙂

The Numerati

The world of the future will be controlled by those who have, and understand, the numbers. Intuition is no longer good enough.

Vagabonding

Traveling full-time is easier than expected. You, yes you, could probably do it… just not as you are now.

Hagakure

If you have trouble with a book, persevere anyway. It’s worth it.

Your Money or Your Life

Your spending habits are changeable. Stop letting them direct your life. What seems “essential” usually isn’t.

Of the Dawn of Freedom

Black people had it really bad, you guys. We are all lucky to be alive when we are right now.

Drive

Motivation from inside gets you moving. Motivation from outside stops you dead cold.

The Social Contract

There are implicit and explicit “contracts” that occur between people all the time, without people even talking about them.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Working on things (vs, say, ideas) is rewarding, because you can see the results of your work and how it improves the world.

Escape From Cubicle Nation

Quit your horrible job. ASAP. Trust me.

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Unfortunately, all work sucks at least a little. But life is still good, so don’t worry about it too much.

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Amazing things will happen, and terrible things will happen. Deal with both in the same way.

The Paleo Diet

Removing sugar and grains from your diet is one of the best things you can do for your health.

7 Days in the Art World

Art is all about personalities and technique is no longer that important. Often, big artists don’t even make their own work anymore.

Switch

Change is about working with three things: intellect, emotion, and environment. Get all three and change is easy.

Linchpin

I read this while in Cuba. This is the book I wish I had written. I was both impressed and upset when I read it because it was what I had wanted to do.

Simplicity

Simplicity is often harder than complexity, and often, there’s a lot of garbage that can just remain unsaid.

The Art of Eating In

If you’re doing it right, food in the house can be just as great as eating at restaurants. Take time to work on your cooking skills.

The Fighter’s Mind

People that fight intimately understand something that we do not.

The Greatest Salesman in the World

Mindset is everything.

The Creative Habit

One of the world’s most famous choreographers gets in a cab every morning to bring her to the gym to make sure she works out. In other words, high achievers have more than just “willpower” to make it happen.

Rework

Books that say a little are often way better than books that say a lot.

Do More Great Work

Getting people to do exercises makes them think about things more than if they just read about them.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Starting a cult is easy. 🙂

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Think about your life as a story. How would you make it worth watching? Also, a character is what a character does. This is very important.

Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate

Zen Masters are just normal people that sit around a lot. They aren’t saints. I spent a month in a Zen monastery in Japan, so I know this is true.

Global Citizens

Don’t downgrade your standards for books just because you’re getting on a plane in New Zealand. Just garbage.

Ogilvy on Advertising

People used to be very gullible I think. A wall of text used to convince people… wait, maybe it still does?

Tao Te Ching

This book made me appreciate Chinese writing. The fashionable thing is to like the Japanese, but honestly I think ancient Chinese philosophical writing is far superior.

Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography

History will distort what your message is, or it will forget you. Focus on making the people near you happy instead of your “legacy” or whatever.

All Marketers Are Liars

The story you tell yourself (and others) is really important.

In Defence of Food

If it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it may not actually be food. So never go through the aisles of a grocery store– go around the edges instead, where the fridges are.

I Am Not a Gadget

The web is making you into a commodity and narrowing your thinking without you knowing it.

5 Love Languages

Behind the things your spouse does is a way of thinking. Aligning yourself with that will help you understand them.

The Vegetarian Myth

I was a vegetarian/vegan for 10 years and there were lots of talking points I believed without researching them. So the lesson here is, read up on sound bites before repeating them.

The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King

Big bets either pay off or wipe you out. But even if they wipe you out, you can still come back from it.

A Brief History of Everything

Systems look very different from the inside than they do from the outside.

The Gift of Fear

Your instincts have been honed by millions of years of evolution. When your intuition tells you something, don’t ignore it.

Three Steps of the Ladder of Writing

In order for great art to emerge, you must suffer. (I have also experienced this firsthand.)

Se liberer du connu

Any habit, no matter how stupid, will end up with religious significance if unquestioned.

The Primal Blueprint

One book on the paleo diet is enough. Stop re-reading the same information over and over again. (This also applies to social media books.)

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

The French are best appreciated as a deeply distinct culture. They may have cars, McDonald’s, and shopping malls but they are not like you.

The Art of Non-Conformity

I could learn a lot from Chris Guillebeau. You can too.

UnMarketing

When things go viral, it’s because they touch upon emotion, not logic. This is actually a big message most web people forget.

The Happiness Project

It’s shocking how much this book has sold. I guess it goes to show what happens when you put “happiness” in the title. It’s good, but…

The Little Black Book of Connections

Your network is everything. Access to the right people accelerates everything you do.

The Paleo Solution

Another paleo book may not have been the right thing to do, but it does prove that presentation matters. This book is the best presented of all the ones I read.

Hamlet’s Blackberry

People have encountered new technology many times before, so looking to the past can help you understand how you should deal with it when it happens to you.

The End of Food

Unless it’s local and needs to be refrigerated, the food you eat had a terrifying ride to get to your plate.

Tactics

I think I’ve read enough Edward de Bono books. This was about success, but whatever. Why do I keep reading about the same things?

Maus

Old people have tons of amazing stories– but most of us don’t know them because we just don’t ask.

It’s Not Just Who You Know…

Pull other people up. Be considerate to everyone.

Good Calories Bad Calories

Native people all over the world, before being introduced to Western food, had significantly less chronic disease.

Making Ideas Happen

The productivity system you use must be available everywhere and give you your tasks only for today, not for next week.

Work the System

You should not be working inside your company putting out fires. You should be improving its efficiency instead. This book is like a better 4-Hour-Workweek.

Food Rules

When you name something a “rule,” everyone believes it even though it may not be true.

Foucault for Beginners

Michel Foucault was gay and came up with the panopticon.

A Treatise on Elegant Living

What you wear isn’t just surface– it also displays your personality and what matters to you.

Why We Get Fat

Science writers usually write a complicated book, and then a simple one after that. Always read one or the other. Never both.

The 4-Hour Body

Do the minimum possible to affect the largest possible change. Everything else is wasted energy (unless you want to master a discipline).

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

I was in Thailand while reading this. Skip it and go to Thailand instead.

What Technology Wants

Technology is a force and it’s going in a certain direction. If you work on the web, you need to understand what direction that is.

How I Became a Famous Novelist

Thailand again… this was the funniest book I ever read. It made me want to write other things than business books for the first time.

One Small Step Can Change Your Life

Large change is best done in small steps, because it doesn’t set off your emotional alarm system.

The Alchemist

Have a quest.

Program or Be Programmed

Most people on the web are writers, not programmers, and in so doing, they are less powerful than they could be.

As You Think (and other short books)

Writing down goals has power.

Poke the Box

Become a person that initiates. Others will follow.

What the Psychic Said to the Pilgrim

People give up extremely easily. If you don’t, you automatically win.

The Thank You Economy

Social media is all about basic human interactions, so being as human as possible means you have the most impact.

The Long Walk

All Stephen King books are about a regular thing that becomes evil. Carrie is a high school girl that becomes evil. Christine is a car that becomes evil. Cujo is a dog that becomes evil. The Long Walk is about a walk that becomes evil.

How to Get a Grip

Most self-improvement is in fact very basic to do. Stop kidding yourself.

Do the Work

Just sit on your ass and do it. It’s that “easy.”

Go Forth and Kick Some Ass

eBooks are quick to read and people will probably buy lots of them.

Against the Gods

Insurance companies (and others) understand risk in an extremely sophisticated way– but most individuals do not. They consider risky things safe, and safe things risky.

The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins is not nearly as much of an asshole as some think he is.

Five Little Pigs

Agatha Christie is the greatest fiction writer in the history of mankind. She is a master.

Rules for Aging

Amazing short book about important life lessons. Very funny.

The Places That Scare You

“Drop the storyline.”

Born Standing Up

Even if their movies are bad, celebrities usually aren’t idiots… especially the comedians. Also: read more biographies.

Born to Run

Marketing, especially when applied to things we have been doing for millions of years, can really screw things up. People with expensive shoes, for example, get more injuries than minimalist shoe runners.

The Dip

Wow, I read this twice! Well, this one was an audiobook, so I guess that’s different. Kind of like being on the Camino de Santiago with Seth Godin.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

After finishing this book, I realized that I should be reading it every single year. It’s that good.

A Whole New Mind

The mind necessary in the 21st century is not like the one we were taught to use. We need to learn to think and learn differently.

Getting Unstuck

Godin also recommended I read some Pema Chodron. He was right.

The War of Art

This is the perfect writing book. It’s so good it makes you never want to compete with it.

The Thing About Life is That One Day You’ll Be Dead

Sickness and aging happen very slowly, so you never actually notice it happening. Plan accordingly.

Your Dog is Your Mirror

Bad dogs aren’t bad for no reason. They have been with us for longer than any other animals, so they are uniquely attuned to our emotional states.

The Consolations of Philosophy

Most of our basic human problems have been solved a long time ago. If you start digging, you can solve them pretty easily.

When Things Fall Apart

Even though pain may seem catastrophic, it’s actually temporary. And again, “drop the storyline.”

Evil Plans

When you draw, you can say a lot with a little. I plan on drawing a lot of my work in 2012 and beyond.

Uncertainty

I read this because I was asked to blurb it, but it was actually a good primer.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting

Most time in offices is wasted. I heard the other day most people actually “work” around 2 hours per day. Meetings are partly responsible.

Purple Cow

When I read this for the second time, it was because I was trying to “distill” the Flinch. It worked.

Self-Reliance (Domino edition)

Always read the original.

The Power of Myth

Joseph Campbell, although not “undiscovered,” is still under-appreciated. The dude did things his own way in a time when conformity was the norm.

The 22 Laws of Marketing

Tim Ferriss was right. This book is simple yet awesome.

Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness

People who give you simple formulas are spoon-feeding you. Be skeptical.

L’art de la sieste

Some books are inappropriately titled. I thought this book was about napping, but it isn’t. It’s about people napping in paintings. No kidding.

End Malaria

The most easily marketed work is the one that is publicized collaboratively. In order to facilitate this, you should also write collaboratively. (See Godin’s What Matters Now for another example.)

The Pilgrimage

Universal themes in books never get old, and Paulo Coelho is a master. As he visited each town, I remembered how I felt while visiting them.

The Warrior Ethos

Throughout history, there have been cultures that have been hard, and others that have been soft. We are soft. The Spartans were hard.

5 Minds For the Future

The most appreciated people in the 21st century will be those who do the jobs that computers are bad at.

We Are All Weird

Find a little tribe that is like you, be yourself to them. Build yourself a business around it. (See also: 1000 True Fans.)

Accidental Genius

Freewriting unlocks ideas that your brain may never have otherwise encountered. Read this and try it for yourself.

Rum Socialism

I should go to Cuba again. You should too, probably. It’s going to change a lot soon. Foreigners just got the right to buy property there.

Falling While Sitting Down

You can radically change your writing and still keep a lot of your audience.

The Game Master

Yes, I still play Dungeons and Dragons. Yet there is little writing about how to write a game. This was a good one. You can download it here for a donation or for free.

Cognitive Surplus

When you free up a lot of your time, or give yourself many more options than before, your creativity and that of society is entirely transformed. Kickstarter and Sokap are great examples.

Willpower

Each fact in a book should be considered separetely. For example, Willpower says glucose depletion is a primary cause of making bad decisions. Not sure about that.

The Education of Millionaires

I should be going to more events. Summit Series, for example.

The Lean Startup

There is a methodology behind exploration of new concepts. Don’t just do it chaotically– have a method behind the madness.

Spark

Get advice from people who have been there before. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Sway

This is a kind of Gladwell-style book, but much more interesting. I also learned here that there are about a million books about psychological errors that people make.

The Power of Eye Contact

It literally took me a year to finish this. I started in January and finished in December. Anyway, eye contact is important for relationships.

Never Eat Alone

You are not networking as much as you should be.

Strong Enough?

Incremental change can make you amazingly strong. (This applies to all areas of life.)

Think Twice

We make cognitive errors all the time without knowing it. Correcting them usually means big rewards.

How To Be a Man

In an anarchist state, manners would become the main substitute for laws. So be polite.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Many famous and well-respected writers have copied, or translated, other people’s works. See also: Hunter S. Thompson.

18 Minutes

Set your phone to ask you once an hour whether you’re being productive. Watch massive change occur.

Grouped

Influence on the web comes from working with regular people, not “influencers.”

Spent

Almost all decisions we make are influenced by our biology.

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What The Next Five Years Will Be About

The next five years will be about direct relationships. Several years ago a leading brand contacted us (Twist Image) about a new business opportunity in the digital space. The brand’s reality was this: as the years wane on, the amount of retailers that they sell to were diminishing. As the major big box outlets continue to grow and as consolidation rifles through the retail sector, the bigger brands only have a handful of outlets to sell their wares. With these retailers’ size and growth comes another reality: they begin to dictate everything from quantity and terms to acceptable margins. For some businesses, this is a dream come true because it secures significant sales, but for others (like this brand), their business was becoming a game of diminishing returns. It gets ugly fast when you run the numbers: eventually this brand will only have their product on the shelves of one or two retailers who are constantly dictating and changing the terms of sale… and the brand has no direct relationship with the consumer. How do you win? The brand’s idea was to create a new e-commerce brand online that housed only their own brand name products. This was the last chance. This was the hope and prayer to save the business: start a direct relationship with the consumer… today. Notwithstanding how the major retailers might feel about this project, it was a smart and wise play. For a brand to truly shape its own destiny, it must lead the relationship with the consumer as well. This must have been a huge factor in Apple’s decision to build out retail stores and not work exclusively with the major consumer electronic retailers. How are your direct relationships? Some brands do this well… most fail at it with spectacular fashion. Is it possible to be so judgmental? It is. One of the reasons I still enjoy the conversation and debate about the efficacy of Social Media marketing is that the majority of brands that struggle with ROI are comparing it to traditional push advertising instead of treating it as an opportunity to have real interactions between real people. A consumer that hits a "like" or "follow" button is opening up the opportunity to have a direct relationship with a brand. If all the brand does is blast back offers and specials, we’re not pushing towards direct relationships… we’re pushing towards broadcast advertising (in a new channel). The opportunity is now. I’m often reminded of an event I took part in called, The Art Of Marketing (sidebar: I’ll be speaking at an upcoming Art of Marketing event in Vancouver on June 9th, 2011 – it will also feature Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, Avinash Kaushik and William Taylor). Also speaking on the bill was Seth Godin (Poke The Box, Linchpin, Purple Cow). Seth doesn’t hold any punches and made it very clear to the 1500 marketing professionals in attendance that this unique moment in time is not only a revolution in marketing – one that we will probably never again see in our lifetime – but that it was ours to either capitalize on or squander. The next fives years are going to be about these direct relationships. The next five years are going to about how well a brand can actually change the relationship from one that looks at how many people are in their database to who these individuals are and how the brand can make the connections and loyalty stronger. The stars are aligned. We have the technology. We have the data. We have the new media channels and platforms. We have the opportunity to publish whatever we want – in text, images, audio and video – instantly (and for free) to the world. What we do with this moment will be telling. It will also set the pace for everything that flows out of our marketing departments for the next decade. That big brand I talked about earlier? They never pulled the trigger on their e-commerce project and wouldn’t you guess it: they’re busy scrambling for "likes" on Facebook and are selling their products through the handful of big box retailers left. No direct relationships. No future.

Incompatible

Being like everyone else isn’t the answer. Being like no one else is the answer. You have to incompatible.

In this week’s, Six Links Worth Of Your Attention #18, Hugh McGuire (from Librivox, iambik and a co-host on Media Hacks) recommended that I watch the Bloomberg TV documentary, Bloomberg Game Changers: Steve Jobs, on Apple co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs. There’s no doubt that Jobs is an iconoclast, but what really struck me was when someone described him as "incompatible," and pushed it further by saying that’s what makes him so unique, special and creative. Guy Kawasaki went on to say that Jobs is so different from most other people, that getting him to even think like everybody else would be like trying to explain to a fish what it is to fly.

This pushes well beyond what we would consider to be a visionary.

Think about what it takes to really breakthrough. Think about what it takes to truly be a visionary. Think about what it takes to actually change the game. It’s not easy. People are not going to like you, and odds are that you’re not going to be able to be exceedingly social, simply because you see things differently. Why does someone commit suicide? I have (sadly) known more than a few people who have taken their own lives. It never really makes any sense. The problem comes in trying to understand it. You can’t put a rational thought around a situation that is not rational. People who are incompatible don’t think and operate the same way that the rest of us do. Trying to see them as we see others is not rational.

What makes someone incompatible?

  • Change. Incompatible people don’t mind change at all. They try. They fail. They change. The don’t look back. They look forward. The only constant in their lives is that things will change, and this is fine with them as long as it leads to perfection.
  • Disruptive force. Most people see their actions as irrational. These people scream, yell and probably demand what seems to be the impossible out of people. They don’t work regular hours. They don’t care much for vacation. Their life balance looks nothing like our work/life balance.
  • Artist. It doesn’t matter if they’re inventing the iPad or a new irrigation system. Their work is not their work. Their work is their art. It is what they were meant to do and – in the end – it is art. Both in the creation process and in the final product. Incompatibles embrace the artist’s way and follow their muse. They don’t care much about market research or customer insights. They know better than both.
  • Revolutionary. The work they do isn’t just a few steps above the competition, they are – literally – revolutionizing their industry (and sometimes even creating their own industry). Everything they do is about causing maximum disruption to the way things used to be.
  • The reality distortion field. According to Wikipedia: "a term coined by Bud Tribble at Apple Computer in 1981, to describe company co-founder Steve Jobs’ charisma and its effects on the developers working on the Mac project. Later the term has also been used to refer to perceptions of his keynote (or Stevenote) by observers and devoted users of Apple computers and products. In essence, RDF is the idea that Steve Jobs is able to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bluster, exaggeration, marketing, appeasement, and persistence. RDF is said to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and makes them believe that the task at hand is possible."
  • Alone. There are only a handful of visionaries. The word may be tossed around to describe a whole lot of business executives, but there are only a few true visionaries. These people usually are very lonely. They are lost in their ideas and drive. It makes it challenging to navigate relationships and they feel that people either can’t understand them or don’t have the knowledge base to comprehend them. Yes, they believe others are stupider than they are.

Being incompatible isn’t a bad thing.

It’s easy to get all negative about people who are incompatible, but imagine a world without people who did not fit in? Imagine a world without people who knew there was a better or different way to do things? Ultimately, we have to accept incompatible people for who they are, and simply hope that enough people can get past their reality distortion field to help them realize what is burning so deep inside of them.

We need more people who are incompatible.

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Social Media Can Change The Corporate Culture

Most corporate cultures are what they are. Some have been around for decades. Others have had the same corporate culture for a century (or longer). Change is never easy, but change does happen. 

There’s this old trucker saying that goes: “if you can’t change people, you change people.” The truth is that not every competent individual is right for every company, and there are also some serious nincompoops who manage to stick with a company longer than anyone can fathom. Beneath the many layers of individuals, personal politics, power shifting and HR is a corporate culture. The brand’s raison d’être. It is not something that changes easily, but it does change. Mark W. Schaefer over at the Grow Blog doesn’t seem to think it’s possible. In his Blog post, Can social media change your company’s culture? I doubt it (September 22nd, 2010), he calls me out for saying that Social Media is changing corporate culture during our recent Podcast debate on Ghost Blogging (more on that here: SPOS #214 – The Ghost Blogging Debate With Mark W. Schaefer).

Social Media can’t change a corporate culture…

And, here’s why Mark thinks this way: “The idea that you could transform a company culture just because it needs to create a Twitter account or YouTube channel is probably fanciful. I believe the companies who are succeeding on the social web are doing so because they already have a company culture that would enable and reward that success. A well-managed, market-oriented company with a legacy of customer-centricity is going to do well with social media — and any other marketing innovation that comes down the line. If you look at a list of the most successful companies on the social web, there really aren’t any surprises are there? Their cultures are pre-wired to succeed.”

Social Media is not from within.

Mark is one-hundred percent accurate. A company that is customer-centric and open to innovation will probably be more successful in platforms like Twitter and YouTube, but that’s not my point. Take a look at Dell prior to Jeff Jarvis and his infamous Dell Hell post. What made Dell turn the corner was not a proactive decision to embrace Social Media. In fact, it was the total opposite. Social Media did not come from within. It came from consumers leveraging these powerful sharing and publishing platforms to speak their minds, and the net result of this content scared Dell’s top echelon enough to start re-thinking their corporate culture and how they connect with consumers. We’re all quick to cheer Coca-Cola for embracing their consumer-generated Facebook page, but let’s not forget how unhappy the company was when the Eepy Bird guys started mixing Diet Coke and Mentos for some volcanic fun. The company was not amused and reminded people that they would prefer if people consumed Diet Coke.

Coming round.

There are countless stories of major (and minor) corporate brands that over time have begun to understand how their brands now “live” because of Social Media and the brand ecosystem (Dell and Coca-Cola are just two regularly cited ones). A new Social Media marketing platform will not change a corporate culture, but enough voices in Social Media talking, sharing, creating and doing more is likely to get attention and force change. We have to remember that Marketers – if given the choice – would probably never want Social Media. They can’t control a message and they can’t keep others from speaking publicly about them. That’s scary, but Social Media is forcing this change in corporate culture. Whether brands are doing this proactively or because they have no choice is a whole other discussion.

Push beyond Marketing.

Look at LinkedIn. People are posting their positions. Peers and customers provide recommendations. Companies now have their own profiles. All of this information that used to be so closely guarded against the corporate chest is now open for the world to see. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in enough small, medium and large corporate boardrooms to know that all of this cumulative content (beyond Marketing and Communications engagement) and information is pushing corporate culture to change. From Real Estate and big pharma to financial institutions and law offices. Change is happening… and it’s happening at the corporate culture level. It may be happening slowly for some or at breakneck speed for others, but it is happening.

What do you think? Is Social Media changing corporate culture?


The Great Fuss About Facebook – News !!

You can’t poke a person you hardly care about without reading a complaint about Facebook and their changing/evolving privacy issues.

This is not a big deal and – on top of that – what did you expect?

Facebook can (and will) do what they want. They’re not a charity. They’re not an online social network established for the greater good. They are a business. And, like all businesses, they are trying to figure out how to make a penny (and then how to make many more of them). Facebook is also free to users around the world, so how did you think they were going to makes those penny’s?

It has to be more than advertising.

Sure, Facebook surpassed Yahoo! recently as the one online platform that has served the most banner ads, but in a world where everyone is a publisher, and the amount of content being published daily is staggering, it should come as no surprise that the value of banner ads (or any other form on traditional online advertising) is going to drop (both in price and people’s engagement) – with a few notable exceptions for the near future. In case you have not been playing along at home, the amount of people clicking on banners ads has dropped over 50% since 2007. On top of that, the inventory to place those ads is no longer limited (traditional advertising in print was always driven by the scarcity model – only a handful of places to get your message in front of a mass amount of people). There is plenty of inventory available on plenty of sites with plenty of choices in the Digital Marketing channels. It’s not like the "good old days" when a city only had one or two newspapers with a limited page count.

It never was about the advertising, because it was always about the data.

Facebook can tell you weeks in advance if your relationship is going to end (more on that here: The Slate – Facebook predicts your relationship is over). They can see if you are looking for a new mate simply by what’s you’re doing on Facebook (maybe you’ve been friending more boys or girls than you usually do, attending certain types of events, etc…). Robert Scoble of the famed Scobleizer Blog recently had a Blog post titled, Much ado about privacy on Facebook (I wish Facebook were MORE open!!!), which reminds me of Howard Stern’s frequent rap that those who are doing nothing wrong should have nothing to be afraid of if the government and police start recording our every move in public spaces (who cares what they’re recording if you’re not up to any shenanigans?). That’s one side to take (while many others are concerned about their privacy and the information that is being stored against them).

Resign your privacy.

That’s not a new concept. The crux of it is this: if you want to use Facebook, and it’s free you’re going to have to be very comfortable with the fact that your information could become public. On the latest episode of the Media Hacks Podcast, Chris Brogan (co-author with Julien Smith of Trust Agents and the author of Social Media 101) reminded us that everything we say and do online is being recorded and it’s forever, so you must guide yourself accordingly (it’s all public – from text message and emails to status updates and who you’re poking). As Facebook continues to look for more revenue streams, their only choice is to open up and make more of their content (or your information) public.

Let’s make a break for it!

On May 31st, 2010 there will be a groundswell of people looking to delete their Facebook accounts in defiance of Facebook’s current policies, terms and service agreement (it’s called, Quite Facebook Day). This seems silly to me. Anyone at any point in time can opt out of taking part in Facebook (or any other digital channel). No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head and forcing them to play Farmville. There’s even a new open source online social network called, Diaspora, being created for those who want more control over their online profiles.

Did everyone forget that you control what you publish… always?

If you don’t want Facebook to know something, why publish it? Granted, they have the trending tools to make some pretty accurate assumptions, but it’s pretty simple to not share on Facebook. What is the cost of not sharing? Therein lies the rub: the less you share, the less you connect, the less likely you will be to truly benefit from the Facebook experience (and other online social networks). In the end, if you’re a private person or concerned about your information, status, etc… there is only one option: don’t publish, don’t network and don’t connect.

Just be prepared for the consequences of truly being unplugged… and be sure to ask yourself if it’s worth it?