This lecture from Seth Godin is around 2 years old, but the ideas still resonate strongly, especially in the wake of recent discussions about Chris Anderson’s new book Free and the concepts of Freemium and Freeconomics. If you’re currently writing a book, or thinking of writing a book one day, you should get a lot out of this. The core concepts to keep in mind as you’re going through this are:
Books are souvenirs (give ideas away and people buy)
Permission is your only asset (relationships matter)
Conversations are (the best) marketing
Make words for readers, not readers for words (ideas that spread sell, so get the order right)
Blogs work (and continue to pay off over time), and
It’s not about selling books (it’s about spreading ideas)
I get a kick out of this Intel commercial every time I see it. Geeky? Sure. But it’s brilliant. It doesn’t just tell us that Intel values people with innovative ideas, it encourages us all to rethink what kinds of people should be worthy of rockstar status in our organizations.
Of course, this commercial is funny precisely because we don’t expect people to be falling over themselves to get Ajay Bhatt’s autograph, but maybe if more organizations made the effort to celebrate star performers on a regular basis it wouldn’t seem so abnormal…
What does your organization do to celebrate it’s own Rockstars?
Audiences are skipping TV spots with their DVRs and learning how to ignore ads on the web. Instead, they’re talking (bluntly) about products and brands on Twitter, chatting about them on Facebook and searching for the reviews and opinions of other customers on Google before they buy. Armed with free, easy-to-use tools that allow them to ask trusted friends what they think or give an unsolicited opinion to hundreds in an instant – it’s word of mouth on fire. The truth is, as people are increasingly empowered by social media, marketers are losing control.
In a lot of ways these trends are great news for the world because more customers are getting the real story and finding out from each other which products and services have real value, and which ones don’t. But where does this leave the people who’ve build honest businesses being experts in push strategies that used to work? A lot of them are scratching their heads wondering “How the hell are we going to make money now?”
If you’re one of the ones scratching your head, here’s the good news…your clients are about to need you more than ever. The bad news…in order to consistently deliver measurable value to your clients, you’re going to have to shift the way you do business in a major way.
Timing is everything. Making “amazing” look easy isn’t just about talent and practice, it’s about being in tune with the environment. The surfers that really wow us and capture our attention repeatedly when the big waves come aren’t just getting in the water more than average, they’re watching weather patterns, studying the beach and trying to anticipate where the perfect break will be so that they can position themselves in just the right spot to get the best ride when the conditions are right. From the beach, seeing a great surfer catch that perfect wave seems effortless…but only because they were in the right place at the right time and were paddling like hell when they saw the wave coming.
This Building43 video is a goodie. Robert Scoble does a quick 2 minute interview with Isaac Mogannam, the owner of Phat Philly Cheessteaks in the Mission District in San Francisco, CA. If you’re a restaurant or small business owner trying to figure out how to make the web work for you in your local area, this short video is worth your time.
According to Isaac, since opening a little less than a year ago, Phat Philly Cheesesteaks has gotten around 275 mostly positive reviews on Yelp and he says that it’s had a major impact on his business. He estimates that around 40-60% of his new business is driven by Yelp (woah!), and because of the size and popularity of the site, people searching for food in their local area usually find his restaurant (and everyone’s reviews) on Yelp before they find the restaurants website. That’s an important insight for any small local business – people are using the web to find out what’s good in their area and, because of the way search works, their first interaction with your brand online is often NOT your website. Instead it’ll be the popular social sites where all the chatter is happening, so you can’t afford to ignore what people are saying about you online. Because people’s first impression of you happens where the chatter is, ignoring the conversation is a big mistake.
In this interview, Isaac talks about how he’s embraced Yelp, started listening, joined the conversation and used it to his advantage to quickly build a local (and loyal) customer base. Not surprisingly, he says he did it “one customer at a time”.
Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think and business as usual needs a new system of operating that’s more closely aligned with human nature. That’s Dan Pinks argument in a nutshell, and I think his case is strong. For those of you with some time, I’d highly recommend watching the full video. For those of you with only a few minutes, I’ve highlighted some of the main takeaways below. Enjoy.
The Three Elements Of The New Operating System
In this TED talk, Dan argues that there’s a mismatch between what scientists know about motivation and how businesses today reward their workers, and that if we look closely at the data gathered from studies on what truly motivates people it’s clear that we need a new paradigm. Here are some of the best nuggets…He says:
“…too many organizations are making their decisions, their policies about talent and people, based on assumptions that are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than in science…if we really want high performance on those definitional (cognitive) tasks of the 21st century, the solution is not to do more of the wrong things. To entice people with a sweeter carrot, or threaten them with a sharper stick. We need a whole new approach
….the scientists who’ve been studying motivation have given us this new approach. It’s an approach built much more around intrinsic motivation. Around the desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, because they’re interesting, because they are part of something important. And to my mind, that new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
(1.) Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives.
(2.) Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters.
(3.) Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses.”
After presenting the findings of studies performed by leading scientists and economists at the London School of Economics, Dan sites some examples of how this new work paradigm is being put into practice in leading firms:
Worker Autonomy, 20 Percent Time and Innovation
“20 Percent Time…Done, famously, at Google. Where engineers can spend 20 percent of their time working on anything they want. They have autonomy over their time, their task, their team, their technique. Okay? Radical amounts of autonomy, And at Google, as many of you know, about half of the new products in a typical year are birthed during that 20 Percent Time. Things like Gmail, Orkut, Google News.”
Results Only Work Environments (ROWE)
“…an even more radical example…something called the Results Only Work Environment. The ROWE. Created by two American consultants, in place at about a dozen companies around North America. In a ROWE people don’t have schedules. They show up when they want. They don’t have to be in the office at a certain time, or any time. They just have to get their work done. How they do it, when they do it, where they do it, is totally up to them. Meetings in these kinds of environments are optional.”
What happens? Almost across the board, productivity goes up, worker engagement goes up, worker satisfaction goes up, turnover goes down.
I find myself coming back to nuggets on Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Corner frequently. These two, taken together, are like a motivational one-two punch if you’ve got entrepreneurship in your blood. Randy is right on the money. In the first video, he warns against the concept of a deferred life plan, when people put off what they really want to do for what is expected of them. He says that deferring life is when you are deferring your sense of excitement and passion for what you really care about and points out that working hard is not inconsistent with the deferred life plan, but doing so for a product that you do not have interest in is.
In the second video Randy points out that most entrepreneurship in the world is not mission-driven, but inspired by necessity and he challenges the audience with the idea that fostering a strong culture of entrepreneurship can provide a surrogate notion of empowerment and democracy (that we are lacking). So what do you love to do? Wanna change the world? What are you waiting for?
A Cautionary Word on the Deferred Life Plan
Embracing A Value Driven Culture of Entrepreneurship
Here’s some practical advice on how to use online social networking tools to generate more traffic in your brick and mortar business. In this video, Sara Morris talks to Aimee Hitchner, who runs the high-end Ginger boutique in Winter Park, Florida, about the ways she creates and leverages in-store events to create online buzz through her blog, Facebook and Twitter.
I came across this awesome 128 slide presentation from the CEO of Netflix today (below). The presentation is meant to be read, rather than presented and offers a quick-fire reference guide on the values, behaviors and skills Netflix upholds in the effort to create a culture of freedom and responsibility for their business. Regardless of your position in your current organization, these slides are worth spending some time absorbing – they represent a massive (and necessary) shift from the values and thinking that define rigid cultures of control and process adherence to those that create cultures that set the appropriate context for workers to form nimble, effective teams who constantly innovate, share ideas and challenge and learn from one another. At it’s core this new cultural framework requires a simultaneous top-down and bottom-up infusion of values. Making it work is about getting managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people, as well as about building teams of self motivating, self-aware, self disciplined, self improving people who take ownership and responsibility and are willing to work cross functionally when challenges arise.
The full presentation is embedded below for you to flip through. I’ve included a break down of the 9 behaviors and skills that the company highlights as most important to their culture:
You make wise decisions (people, technical business and creative) despite ambiguity
You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do.
You smartly separate what must be done well no, and what can be improved later.
You listen well, instead of reacting fast, so you can better understand
You are concise and articulate in speech and writing.
You treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you
You maintain calm poise in stressful situations
You accomplish amazing amounts of important work.
You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you.
You focus on great results rather than on process.
You exhibit bias-t0-action, and avoid analysis paralysis.
You learn rapidly and eagerly
You seek to understand our strategy, market, subscribers, and suppliers (factors that impact the business and customer experience)
You are broadly knowledgeable about business, technology and entertainment (you understand the various contexts the business operates under and the interplay between them)
You contribute effectively outside of your specialty
You re-conceptualize issues to discover practical solutions to hard problems
You challenge prevailing assumptions when warranted, and suggest better approaches
You create new ideas that prove useful
You keep us nimble by minimizing complexity and finding time to simplify
You say what you think even if it is controversial
You make tough decisions without excessive agonizing
You take smart risks
You question actions inconsistent with our values
You inspire others with you thirst for excellence
You care intensely about Netflix’s success
You celebrate wins
You are tenacious
You are known for candor and directness
You are non-political when you disagree with others
You only say things about fellow employees you will say to their face
You are quick to admit mistakes
You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than best for yourself or your group
You are ego-less when searching for the best ideas
In this keynote on Constructive Capitalism, Umair Haque reminds us that not all profits are equal. While some truly innovative companies are creating authentic “thick value” in the economy, others create profit through economic harm to others that results in “thin value” and (what he calls) a “zombieconomy”. How thick is the value you are creating?
This video was created for VINT, the International Research Institute of Sogeti. For more information please visit the following websites Methemedia or http://vint.sogeti.nl. You can also contact duivestein directly. For those of you that don’t have 45 minutes to watch the keynote, here’s a quick synopsis of the video’s content.
Razorfish released a report this month that’s worth spending some time with. The report has some valuable insights on how social influence marketing is shifting the advertising game on the web. A survey with 1,000 consumers plus six months worth of conversational data serve as the backbone of the findings. The sections are digestible, easy to scan and each contain an “implications for brands” bulleted summary that contain quite a few noteworthy nuggets. Many thanks to my friend Vada for seeing the value in this and and sending it along…
What The Fluent Report Covers:
The importance of social media in making purchasing decisions, and how brands need to develop a credible voice, socialize with customers and provide a return on emotion (ROE?) to their customers.
How traditional top-down branding will become increasingly impotent as social media grows
How (and what types of) Influencers Drive brand affinity
How influencers impact the marketing funnel, and what type of influencers matter most at different stages
How “herding” around top social networks and the emerging choices of people to focus on a few social networks (instead of spreading themselves thin on many networks) is leading to consolidation and heavy clustering around “winning” social media hubs
How social features are becoming integrated into online display advertising.
How social media is becoming both a paid and unpaid distribution mechanism for advertising content
This report touches on how Social Influence Marketing encompasses every part of marketing and every dimension of an organization. A survey with 1,000 consumers plus six months worth of conversational data serve as the backbone of the findings in this report. We also introduce the SIM score, a simple but groundbreaking index for the social web.
There’s a lot we can learn about best practices for creating and releasing software or web services to the masses from watching the video gaming industry. Successful video game companies know how important it is that they engage and immerse users quickly because they know they aren’t just in the software business, they’re in the fun business, and there’s nothing fun about sucking at a game. Recognizing this, they’ve developed innovative methods for getting complete novices engaged and enjoying the product as quickly as possible. I call this the “zero to fun” metric.
Getting a user from zero to fun as fast as possible isn’t just a gaming industry must. Everyone wants to enjoy the experience of using software and the web, and how much we enjoy the experience is largely a function of how adept we feel as users. Making a user feel like an expert is key to making their experience remarkable, and for that reason, giving a user that feeling quickly should be one of the primary goals of any company releasing software or web services to the world.
I enjoy following TED because it’s like drinking from a fire hydrant of amazing new ideas and stimulating discussion. The conference challenges some of the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers to give the talks of their lives (in 18 minutes) and what results from that challenge is consistently entertaining, informative and inspiring. This list of the “10 Commandments of TED speakers” came to me via an emailed ezine article by Dana Bristol-Smith. While all 10 in the list apply to presentations, I’d argue that the first 8 (with some minor language tweakage) could be called “The 8 Commandments for blogging and social media”…Enjoy.
Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.
Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion.
Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.
Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee.
I mentioned in a previous post that open-social development for products has been a getting a lot of press lately. Companies are learning that true customer insight starts by including customers and users in the development stage. Getting prototypes into the hands of your potential customers early-on, and iterating a ton based on the feedback you get, can pay huge dividends in the long run…but only if the feedback you get is good. One key insight can greatly improve your chances of getting what you want from your guinea pigs…
When it comes to prototypes, more is virtually always better.
One prototype is a solid start – it’s better than nothing, and has some value. The trouble, however, with showing someone just one idea and asking them what they think is that their answer is likely going to be tainted by what they think about you because you’ve presented an idea that you’ve (obviously) committed to. If they are a friend (or simply want to develop rapport with you) they’ll likely respond positively regardless of whether idea has true merit. The opposite is often true if you suggest a single idea to someone who doesn’t like you (for whatever crazy reason). What you’re likely to get is an unnecessarily negative response or no real feedback at all. In both cases, the person you’re trying to glean insight from is less likely to give you the kind of quality, objective feedback you need.