I recently finished Switch – How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the new book by the ever brilliant Chip and Dan Heath. It’s a really amazing book (my review coming soon) and it transformed the way I think about leading and enabling positive change.
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need…
Mick summed it up for us, right there in the chorus.
Seth pushed us each to look deeper into our goals and get to the “why”.
Crystallizing the “why” not only allowed us to tweak and better define our goals but to determine the ‘need’ behind the ‘want’.
I ‘want’ to build and scale and organization that paints stars on the ceilings of every child cancer ward in the United States but Seth pushed me to learn that I ‘need’ to do this for many other reasons:
a) I need to learn the skills necessary to start, plan, scale and execute this idea to make it a reality.
b) I need to feel the personal satisfaction that, in some small way, I made some painful hours slightly less painful for a lot of children.
c) I need to prove it to myself that I can pull this off, so I can make the jump to larger and more difficult ventures.
For a few years, I’ve known that I ‘want’ to do this but have made very little progress. In a 15 minute discussion, Seth and the rest of the group helped me define what I ‘need’ and as a result, I feel like I am much closer to realizing this goal.
Thanks, Seth. Thanks, group.
And thanks, Mick. Wherever you are.
When is the last time you drank clean water? Probably today. Certainly within the last 24 hours. You showered and brushed your teeth with clean water this morning.
There are 1 billion people on the earth who don’t have access to clean water.
charity: water is changing that. Please take a few minutes to watch the following video.
Here’s the deal. In four days, on September 20th, I turn 34 years old. I don’t need any more “stuff”. Most of us don’t. The U.S. storage unit industry does over $20 billion in annual revenue. So I’m donating my birthday to charity: water.
I’m also donating my dad’s birthday, although he doesn’t know it yet. You see, we share a birthday. I was born on his birthday back in 1976. I didn’t come gift-wrapped but he kept me anyway.
Our goal is to raise $5,000, which is enough for charity: water to build a well that will provide a village of 250 people with clean water for years.
$5000 buys a well. And it is an attainable goal. What is $5000?
$5 from 1000 people.
$10 from 500 people.
$20 from 250 people.
$50 from only 100 people.
We can do this.
On charity: water’s site, you can download photos, watch and share videos, blog banners and twitter backgrounds. I just updated mine. (Free marketing lesson from charity: water – make it easy for your tribe to share your message.)
So please, donate. Spread the word. Email friends. Tweet it. Post it on Facebook.
If you have a September birthday, start your own campaign.
The short link is:
If you’re sending someone a card, whether physical or digital, the goal should be to trigger an emotion.
Isn’t that why we send cards?
If that’s not the reason, it’s just a selfish act on the sender’s part to communicate that they did remember the recipient’s birthday/graduation/Bat Mitzvah.
So if triggering an emotion is the goal, why do so many cards fail to do so? Between physical stores and e-card sites, there are tens of thousands of card options, yet maybe 1% are written well enough to trigger an emotion?
99% look something like this.
Really? Who sends cards like this?
(To be fair, I guess this card does trigger an emotion with me, but it’s not the desired one.)
Well in my never-ending quest to serve you, my brilliant and attractive Daily Sense readers, I have researched and found two sites to use to permanently upgrade your e-cards.
This site is brilliant. The humor is often sarcastic and crass, something you would expect when one of the co-founders is a former writer for The Onion. Not all cards are safe to send to grandma, but it’s easy to find the perfect card to remind a friend or significant other of that inside joke or funny memory.
One of my favorite things about someecards.com is that users can customize their own cards and submit to the site. Leveraging the Wisdom of Crowds, The Editor’s Picks in the User Cards section are often some of the best.
This is the site of artist Brian Andreas. Story People is much more than e-cards. Brian has built a nice little empire out of his inspirational snippets and whimsical artwork. You can browse the entire collection, creating your own e-cards by combining any of the text with any of the images. You can also order the physical prints for framing and other products.
The Story People cards are often amazing and emotionally moving.
[The full “Hi, Mom” disclaimer: My mother originally introduced me to Story People and she’s been a fan for a long time. As always, all credit goes to her.]
Use these two sites to save you from ever sending another forgettable e-card.
I’m sure there are more than just these two. What other sites have emotion-triggering e-cards?
(Seth Godin’s new book, “Linchpin – Are you Indispensible?” just hit the New York Times bestseller list. It’s an amazing, life-changing book and my review is coming soon. If you don’t know the term Linchpin yet, you will. Until then, read this. Now, on to Vinny)
You don’t have to be an artist or a musician or a creative to be a Linchpin.
Sometimes all it takes is a waffle.
My client Altec Lansing is based in Milford, Pennsylvania and when I’m there, I stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Matamoras.
There is a self serve breakfast buffet just like at every Hampton Inn & Suites. Except this one isn’t like every one. And Vinny makes it so much more than self-serve.
I’ve only met Vinny three times but it only took once to realize what kind of guy he is. He waits on you hand and foot, transforming the experience from a self-serve breakfast buffet into a four-star restaurant.
Every time, Vinny enthusiastically lets me know what the hot dish of the day is. Sometimes it’s pancakes, sometimes it’s a eggs on a bagel sandwich. Vinny sells it and somehow, I’m always convinced it’s a good choice to start my day.
Vinny makes small talk if you’re interested but it’s never probing or bothersome.
Vinny insists on making your waffle for you, even though the machine is self-serve.
Vinny bustles around, making sure every item at the buffet is stocked completely at all times.
Vinny always wishes everyone a wonderful day but it’s his actions that ensure they start the day delighted.
Vinny doesn’t do his art only on good days. He does it every day.
It’s pretty clear Vinny doesn’t do this job for the money. He does it to give a gift and because he enjoys making people feel special.
To be a Linchpin, location doesn’t matter. Neither does title or how big your office is.
If Vinny can be a Linchpin working at a Hampton Inn & Suites breakfast buffet in Matamoras, what’s stopping you?
If you’re building something, it’s critical to thrash early. The biggest and loudest changes should be vocalized early on.
Everyone gets heard, opinions are out in the open and the design gets refined from there.
If it’s done right, there is little to no thrashing at the end and the project ships on time and on budget.
Here are two resources that will help if your project involves any kind of prototyping or wireframing.
is a really neat online tool for creating and sharing mock ups.
If you’re more of a hardcopy person (I sometimes use both), Geek Chix has a super handy list of sketch templates you can print for wireframing.
Ship on time.
Beantown Web compiled a neat list of lists of the Best Business Books of 2009.
I’m following Julien’s advice and trying to read one book a week in 2010. I am currently on track and have read some absolutely amazing books in January.
Reviews coming soon…
[photo credit: blu blue]
There is a lot of friction in buying a new house. Agents. Lawyers. Notaries. More agents.
I recently helped design a social media campaign for a client. The campaign was less successful than it could have been because there was too much friction. The process to participate had too many hurdles and some people abandoned it before completing.
One of the most effective things to do to improve your business (not always the simplest but the most effective) is to remove as much friction as humanly possible.
Then remove a little more.
I know a lot of companies that ‘secret shop’ their competitors. Many should secret shop themselves first, with an open mind and a critical eye toward removing friction.
Mint.com beat Intuit’s Quickbooks because it was web-based, but they weren’t the first web-based money management system. A tool called Wesabe was around first. But to use Wesabe (back then), users had to download a .csv from their bank’s website and upload it to their Wesabe account. (I can’t fathom the meeting where that level of friction got approved.)
Friction killed Wesabe.
The lack of friction made Mint.com millions. $187m to be exact.
Netflix took share from Blockbuster by removing friction. With Blockbuster, you had to drive to the store. With Netflix, you just had to go to your mailbox. (Blockbuster quickly followed suit.)
Redbox is taking share from both by removing even more friction. With Redbox, you don’t need a mailbox or even an account.
Think of the amount of friction in a typical Verizon store. Now think of the lack of friction in an Apple store or a Chipotle or a Starbucks.
The simple act of not having to sign certain credit card transactions under $25 removes friction and saves both the retailer and the customer time, saving companies like McDonald’s and others millions of dollars.
Most airlines did a decent job of removing some friction with online check-in and handy touch-screen kiosks. Unfortunately, they stopped there.
I can stop by my local dry-cleaner, leave my shirts on the front counter and smile and wave to the owner in the back. In three days, I come back and my shirts are clean with light starch.
If he can remove friction from his business, you can too, right?
Do you constantly hang out with the same people?
The concept of Dunbar’s number is an interesting one. Recently, I have seen more discussion on it and how it relates to social connections.
In short, Dunbar suggests there’s an upper limit to the amount of relationships we can maintain. That number, for the record, is 150.
You can read much more about Dubnbar’s number at Wikipedia.
Mashable wrote about how it relates to Facebook.
Jacob Morgan wrote an interesting piece on how Dunbar’s number is irrelevant and the importance of weak ties.
Chris Brogan talks about beating Dunbar’s number.
Personally, I think it’s all very interesting, but since I’m not a Ph.D., I’m not going to add any scientific arguments to the fray. I’m going to bring it down a level.
If you always go to the same networking events, switch it up. Try some new ones. Meet some new people. Your current network won’t (really) exclude you and you’ll probably meet some new people and learn some new ideas.
If you have a big social network, go out of your way to meet some of them in person or “IRL” (In Real Life – a popular abbreviation on twitter). Often, some of the real-life contacts can introduce you to other real-life contacts.
I have a list of people I want to meet this year, in real life. Some are people I’ve connected with online, others I haven’t. Others are a handshake or two away. It’s an aggressive list but I’m confident I can get it done. To do so, I’ll have to pass on some networking events that are frequented by current friends. In the end, I think they’ll forgive me.
While I find Dunbar’s number interesting, I’m not particularly concerned about managing my 150. I’d much rather venture out and meet some remarkable new people.
Quick. Take 30 seconds and list your main competitors.
(don’t worry, I’ll wait)
Sorry, but your list is wrong.
Unless of course, you listed Zappos, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s, Netflix, The Container Store and Apple.
Your customers are doing business with these companies, who are constantly raising the bar on engagement and customer delight.
Every time your customer’s online order arrives earlier than expected from Zappos…
Every time your customer chuckles at a Southwest flight attendant who weaves humor into the emergency exit script…
Every time your customer feels a human connection with a checker in line at Trader Joe’s…
Every time your customer is glad that there are so many helpful colored shirts at the Apple Store…
It’s happening right now. Your customers are experiencing this kind of interaction (notice I didn’t say transaction) today.
The bar has been raised.
What are you going to do?
One of the best websites in the world just got even better.
TED.com recently rolled out a “Best of the Web” section, designed to be a “one-stop portal to the very best talks on the Internet”.
You can view some of the early selections at the TED Talks page here. In the ‘Show by Event’ selector on the left, scroll down to the bottom to “Best of the Web”.
Martin Luther King Jr.: I Have a Dream
Steve Jobs: How to Live Before You Die
Michael Sandel: What is the Right Thing to Do?
Robert Sapolsky: The Uniqueness of Humans
and the famous “last lecture” of Randy Pausch.
Wisely, TED is crowdsourcing new content for the page from their intelligent and connected tribe. If you find video worthy of TED’s new page, email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Best of the Web suggestion” in the subject line, and a link to where the talk can be seen.
One video, two lessons.
1) Never give up. (Which is different than strategic quitting, as outlined in The Dip.)
2) If you’re going to make ads, don’t drone on about your features, low price or celebrity endorsers. Tell a story. Make us laugh. Make it memorable and remarkable so we want to tell others (like I just did).
How many car commercials have you seen where the car winds up a curvy mountain road while displaying the latest price. Hundreds? Thousands?
Contrast that with this. It’s impossible to watch this video and not smile, laugh AND remember the brand message.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go order some Nolan’s Cheddar.
If you can’t see the video, click here.
When I first learned to snowboard, I fell. Often and hard. I fell on my wrists. I fell on my ass. I was black and blue and wet.
The second time, I got a little better.
The third time, something clicked. A light bulb went on and I realized the two things that make snowboarding easier.
Speed and edges.
Unlike learning to downhill ski, you need to build up a certain amount of speed in snowboarding for your edges to work. Starting on the bunny hill doesn’t work for snowboarding because it’s hard to build up enough speed to make a turn.
You’re always on your edges. This simple truth is the one thing I would tell any beginning snowboarder (and the one thing I wish someone had told me). The only time your snowboard is flat against the mountain is when you’re transitioning from one edge to the other. You go from heel edge to toe edge and back again. It’s only when your board is flat against the snow that it’s easy to catch an edge and fall hard.
The same is true in business.
Going faster is actually safer.
Speed begets speed and allows you to find and use your edges.
What can you do to go faster?
[Photo credit: Gatto Ashutto]
With the right temperature and a little wet snow, anyone can make a snowball, but my friend Jimmy makes them all day, everyday, in sunny San Diego.
I had another excellent call with Jimmy and a potential client today. After the call, a light bulb went on and I realized what makes Jimmy such a great entrepreneur.
He only thinks in snowball.
Every component of every deal has the capability to snowball. Everything has high probability growth potential. I can’t ever remember Jimmy discussing a deal by saying, “that’s what we’ll sell. That’s that and we’ll move on to the next deal.”
It’s always designed to snowball.
But here’s the key. The snowball isn’t just for Jimmy, it’s for the clients too. He is a master at layering snowballs. Many deals involve three or four parties and Jimmy is particularly skilled at identifying each party’s needs; what they want and what they can give up without much pain. He sees multi-faceted win-wins like a Grand Master chess player sees so many moves ahead. And then he authentically articulates these win-wins so the clients see them too, which makes the sale that much easier.
How do I know Jimmy will be successful?
Eventually, a bunch of layered snowballs create an avalanche.
[photo by: nata]
Today, it seems irresponsible to post about anything except the tragic earthquake in Haiti. The death toll is currently estimated between 30,000 and 100,000 but could be much higher.
The two best sites I’ve seen for clarifying how anyone can help are:
Google’s Disaster Relief site (thanks to my friend Chris Czerwonka for pointing this one out)
It’s inspiring to see that the Red Cross has already raised over $800,000 by their text HAITI to 90999 to donate, program.
Alltop has a page with lots of links.
Boston.com has posted many photos from the quake.
I’m impressed by the way that America and other countries have rallied to help Haiti and I’m thankful for the social tools that enable the information and aid to spread and grow faster than ever.
Please help in any way you can. Thank you.
Adult and child obesity is a huge problem in America. The statistics are staggering and the future impact on healthcare costs is terrifying.
So what does the cure look like?
Years of nutritional education?
Mandatory Wii Fit summer camps?
Another complete overhaul of the food pyramid?
What if the answer is actually much simpler? What if it’s a colorful $20 rubber watch?
What S2H Replay Is
Imagine a Livestrong bracelet and a Polar heart rate monitor had a drunken tryst one night after the Ironman triathalon. The offspring would be the Switch To Health Replay Watch.
How It Works
After 60 minutes of physical activity (which doesn’t need to be consecutive), the S2H Replay watch displays a unique Reward Code. Users can go to S2H.com and enter their reward code to accumulate S2H Points, which can then be used to earn rewards such as movies, music and magazines.
Why It Will Work
Making It A Game
We’ve already seen the massive success Foursquare has had, turning going places into a game. S2H can do the same for working out.
Imagine the possibilities…
- Parents challenging children and children challenging parents
- Friends challenging friends (which we’ve already seen work with the Nike+ iPod model)
- Teachers challenging students
Imagine the long-term health benefits if an entire school district adopted S2H and designed specific exercise and reward programs around it?
No cables. No software. Anyone can upload the simple code at S2H.com in any browser.
What Can You Do?
If you’re a parent, buy a few and challenge each other. Make it a family thing.
If you’re an educator, figure out how to make S2H part of your curriculum or school.
If you’re a company, partner with S2H (they also make branded Kintetic Fit Bands) to help your employees or customers get fit.
Switch To Health is changing the game and really has the potential to increase fitness and decrease obesity in America.
Thanks for listening.
[Full Disclosure: I met the S2H founders and they sent me an S2H watch to demo. It’s my new favorite watch.]
Too many marketers focus solely on the first sale.
I was leaving Las Vegas today (Nicholas Cage was nowhere in sight) and with my stomach sensing that my culinary options would be limited once on board, I decided to grab lunch while at the gate.
My best option was Moe’s Mexican Grill. I had never eaten at a Moe’s but a burrito sounded good and it was very close to my gate. The next option was a Starbucks five gates away. Clearly, my first visit to Moe’s was one of impulse and convenience.
While waiting in line, I perused the menu.
The Homewrecker brought to mind a joke a friend recently made about about Gisele Bundchen.
The Jon Coctostan quesadilla brought me back to about 136 hilarious late night viewings of Fletch with my good friend Ben Lower.
Joey Bag Of Donuts made me think of the former Green Bay Packers center Frank Winters, who teammates would lovingly refer to as Frankie Bag Of Donuts.
Ruprict triggered memories of laughing uncontrollably at Steve Martin’s hilarious character in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. (Why is the cork on the fork?)
I physically smiled. A few funny item names on a menu immediately triggered happy memories.
Then something happened.
Moe’s workers seemed more upbeat than your typical airport food service employees.
Moe’s customers seemed happier and less haggard.
Moe’s burrito tasted a little better than I expected.
Was all this real or a placebo effect leftover from the menu that made me smile?
It doesn’t matter.
I won’t drive miles out of my way to go to Moe’s but if I’m hungry and they are an option, the choice is easy.
If I’m alone, I get to smile at the menu again (maybe they’ll have some new items by then – I would love to see an Underhill Steak Sandwich). If I’m with a friend, I get to share their enjoyment of the inside joke.
By having a little fun with their menu, Moe’s locked up the second sale.
At the end of a long day, you’re heading back to your hotel room. Alone in the elevator, you push the button for floor 26 and want nothing more than room service and maybe a shower before working a few more hours. Before the elevator door closes, a hand slices past the sensor and the doors reopen.
Richard Branson gets on and clicks floor 27.
What do you say?
(Replace Branson with Steve Jobs, Marissa Mayer, Russell Simmons or the person you would most like to meet, either professionally or personally.)
This used to be called having your elevator pitch ready. The truth is, most people don’t want to be pitched, although Sir Richard may be the exception.
Still, it’s important to be able to make the most of this precious moment.
How do you introduce yourself? What do you say after that? Is it a statement or a question? Do you praise them? Talk about yourself? Ask them an interesting question? Tell a joke?
The doors just closed. What do you say?
Add your thoughts in the comments. I’m really interested in what you all think on this one. Don’t forget to include who you would want to meet.
photo credit: Chris Heuer
If customer engagement is the new marketing, customer experience is the new brand.
Brand in 2010 is the collective gut feel that customers have about your company. With the internet and social media, companies need to realize that they can no longer control their brand, as they have tried to do in the past, but instead they need to join the conversation and impact it by their actions.
When consumers think of most brands, certain words consciously or unconsciously come to mind.
Volvo = safety
Disney = imagination
Mercedes Benz = luxury
FedEx = reliable
Nike = sport
But in this age of being assaulted by brand messages all day everyday, brands also have what I’ll call aftershocks, brand thoughts that reverberate beyond the initial one like aftershocks after an earthquake.
While walking among the massive booths of the CES show floor on Day 2, I paid attention to whether the brands were living their aftershocks.
My client Altec Lansing’s brand is all about music. The aftershocks, the words that describe the gut feel we want to cause are “sound”, “fun” and “loud”. All day at the Altec Lansing booth, there was a huge Rockband contest with fun giveaways. Crowds formed, friends played against each other and everyone had a great time. Neighboring booths occasionally told us to turn it down a notch. At the end of the day, James Kyson Lee who plays Ando Masahashi on NBC’s hit show Heroes stopped by and jammed for a while.
In my admittedly biased opinion, Altec Lansing did a great job of living not only their brand but also their aftershocks.
Other booths that I visited that did a good job of living their brand and aftershocks:
Motorola – hip, fun, techy, useful
Intel – fast, cutting edge
Kodak – digital, new, capturing memories
Ford’s keynote was very impressive. They have not only reinvented their brand over the last few years, they have aligned everyone in the organization to live and breathe the brand and the aftershocks. Their SYNC and MyTouch technology will completely change the driving experience and it’s clear from listening to all of their keynote speakers that Ford’s brand is part of the fabric of the company.
What is your brand? What gut feeling are you trying to inspire in your customers?
What are your brand aftershocks? Are you living them?
Social media isn’t about the tools, it’s about the relationships and connections that the tools enable.
It’s the same with CES and similar conferences. They aren’t about consumer electronics or the sessions or the swag. The real value is in the relationships and connections (personal, business and both) that can be developed or rekindled.
Via twitter, I connected with Sarah Austin and attended the opening keynote with Ford CEO Alan Mullaly and got to learn about the amazing new technology Ford is putting in their cars. Think of a Batmobile designed for a digitally savvy James Bond. I never thought a keynote speech could sell me on a car but I really want a new Ford tricked out with all the latest technology.
While working the Altec Lansing (client) booth during the middle of the day, I met a bunch of cool people, including customers and other Altec employees I hadn’t met yet. I also met Cory, who dominated our Rockband contest and is better at that game than I am at anything.
At 3pm, I headed up to the Kodak K-Zone booth to listen to Chris Brogan, Jeff Pulver, Adam Ostrow and Daniel Brusilovsky do a great and fun little panel on what the year 2025 will look like. Afterward, I got to reconnect with Chris and meet Justin Levy and Colin Bower in person for the first time – both are super smart guys.
After wrapping up the booth, I met my good friend Donavon Roberson from Zappos for dinner and we both met John Bergquist, a good online friend, in person for the first time. I also met their three of their friends, who I will surely be keeping in touch with.
It’s great to learn about and enjoy the 3D TVs and underwater HD cameras but the gadgets will be different and new and shiny next year. Focus on the relationships and connections you make. They are what endures.
I wouldn’t trade the meetings & connections I had yesterday for any gadget at CES.
(Except a new Ford with the SYNC & myFord technology. Sorry guys, it’s just too cool.)
Enjoy CES and if you’re still here and want to connect, I’m here.