Category Archives: change

Donating my birthday to charity: water

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.

charity: water 2010 September Campaign: Clean Water for the Bayaka from charity: water on Vimeo.

 

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.

You can read all of the details on my campaign page here.
http://bit.ly/letsdrillawell

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:
http://bit.ly/letsdrillawell

Thank you.

2 sites to upgrade your e-cards

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.

Someecards
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.

Story People
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?

Reducing friction

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.

Think of the loads of friction in a typical primary care doctor visit. My friend Jay Parkinson is completely reinventing health care delivery, and he’s doing so by removing friction from the process.

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?

How TED got even better

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 contact@ted.com with “Best of the Web suggestion” in the subject line, and a link to where the talk can be seen.

Keynote For A Cause – Help Haiti

Taking a cue from Joseph Jaffe’s idea and Mitch Joel’s post, I’m auctioning off a keynote presentation with 100% of the proceeds going to the Red Cross / Haiti Relief.

In addition to the keynote, the winning bidder will also get 100 copies of Seth’s Godin’s new book, Linchpin.

My reserve is set at $5,000.

If you want to put in a “bid”, DM me on Twitter (@clayhebert) or e-mail me: clay [at] tribeswin [dot] com.

I’ll update any bids on this post.

Bidding ends Friday, January 22nd at midnight.

Travel outside of NYC would be over and above.

Step up. And while you’re at it, text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 or text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 via Salvation Army (in Canada).

Thank you.

[photo credit: hiddedevries]

8 Reasons Why Conan Should Go Direct

There is an important lesson in this whole Conan vs. Leno debacle.

No matter how famous you are or how many fans you have, if you work for a huge corporation, they own you.

NBC wanted to put Conan’s show at 12:05am. Technically, that’s not even The Tonight Show. It’s The Tomorrow Show.

Conan is so frustrated, he just put the show up for sale on Craigslist.

Sure, Conan could make $40 million over at Fox and probably kill in the ratings but you can bet someday, some rube network exec would move his time slot in favor of The Sarah Palin Variety Hour. Then Conan would completely lose his marbles and he would spend the rest of his days walking around Central Park mumbling like Rain Man…

“……should have had the 11:30 slot…..18 pigeons, definitely 18 pigeons……I’m an excellent comedian…….23 times funnier than Jay Leno……definitely deserved the 11:30 slot…….”

Here are 8 reasons Conan should go direct.

1) Full creative control over his own content

Now he writes a lot of his own stuff but imagine if he wasn’t censored at all. Look out.

2) Not working for Jeff Zucker

3) Not working for anyone

4) Online video worked well for Gary V. and the Monty Python guys.

5) Never having to worry about ratings again
Let Leno have the “ratings” on NBC. His demographic is not Conan’s anyway, so why try to fight for it. It’s sort of like Newhart and Family Guy jockeying for position.

6) Any format, any device
Conan’s demographic consumes content differently. He could make videos of any length that his audience could consume and stream anywhere. iPhones, iPods, Droids, iSlates, other tablets. Design the content to be snackable and sharable and we will snack and we will share.

7) Watching a show at its original time slot is obsolete
I’ve seen plenty of clips of Saturday Night Live in the last few years, but never on Saturday night. My social network does the filtering and the best and funniest clips bubble to me on twitter and Facebook.

8 ) Your own channel means your own audience and unlimited bandwidth
You don’t see Chris Brogan and Seth Godin arguing over timeslots, do you?

It’s your world, Conan. Step out from behind the network execs and own it.

Tools Tuesday: S2H Replay Watch

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.

Switch To Health Relpay 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

Community & Tribes
On S2H.com, users can post challenges, view leaderboards and join teams.

Imagine the long-term health benefits if an entire school district adopted S2H and designed specific exercise and reward programs around it?

Simplicity
No cables. No software. Anyone can upload the simple code at S2H.com in any browser.

What Can You Do?

Please spread the word and check them out at S2H.com and on twitter and Facebook.

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.]

Launching Untemplater

From when we are young, most of us are taught that there are a few specific templates to follow to a successful life.

Template 1

  • Get into a good college
  • Study hard
  • Get a good job at a big corporation
  • Work hard for 35 years
  • Retire and collect pension and gold watch.
  • Template 2

  • Get into a good college
  • Study hard
  • Meet and marry someone who will follow Template 1.
  • Not only don’t those templates work anymore, they aren’t very fun. How many people do you know who can’t WAIT to get to their cubicle every Monday?

    I bet you didn’t run out of fingers.

    Enter Untemplater.com.

    Launching today (they just opened the doors a couple hours ago….if you hurry, there should still be doughnuts and coffee), Untemplater is a unique site that helps you shatter the template lifestyle.

    Unlike similar sites and books (like Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Work Week) Untemplater isn’t a retrospective of someone who escaped and is now looking back and telling you how they did it.

    They are, in their own words:

    …real people who are in the trenches, working hard to live the life that we want to live. It’s not easy, nor is it glamorous. Untemplater was founded by six twentysomethings who’ve done it: Jun Loayza, Adam Baker, Cody McKibben, Monica O’Brien, Carlos Miceli, and Andrew Norcross. You’ll see our pain, struggles, successes, and failures as we create an existence that we are proud of and enjoy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    We are MBAs; we are husbands, wives, and fathers; we are scrappy entrepreneurs, authors, and freelancers. We live all over the globe. We’re a small group of unconventional folks who hope to build a thriving community for anyone who ever sought more out of life—and we hope to help you learn how to sidestep the traditional life to find the career, relationships, and lifestyle that makes you come alive!

    Sound interesting?

    Download the free Untemplater Manifesto

    If it speaks to you, check out the site. Join Untemplater on Facebook and follow them on twitter.

    If it doesn’t……enjoy your gold watch.

    Asking why

    When phones were first introduced into workplaces, there was widespread resistance by management.

    “Why should everyone have a phone? They’ll just call home.”

    When FAX machines were introduced, there was a great deal of skepticism.

    “Why do we need a FAX machine? We’ll never use it.”

    When email became available for enterprise organizations, it was not quickly adopted.

    “Why would anyone need their own email account? They’ll just email their friends.”

    We’re seeing the same thing with social media. Some companies are embracing the new channels and opportunities and learning how to use them to improve their business.

    Many are still stuck asking why.

    Those who can, teach

    I can see

    This is often how I feel.

    When I work with clients, I try hard to teach them about marketing, about customer engagement and how to listen and participate in the social web.

    Some consultants prefer to do instead of teach. They are worried that if the client learns how to run everything on their own, they wouldn’t need the consultant anymore.

    I would welcome that.

    If I can teach my way out of a job, that means the clients are engaging with their customers and running a more successful, more social, more human business.

    How can that be a bad thing?

    The Space Above

    Storage Unit

    Having moved five times in the last six years, I’m no stranger to temporary storage units. They’re all pretty similar. You pay a monthly fee and get access to a small space to store your belongings.

    When you purchase a storage unit, they are always quoted in width x depth. A 10′ x 10′ space might cost $120 / month or a 5′ x 10′ space might be $80 / month.

    Here’s a little secret. The value is in the space above.

    The height of the storage unit determines how much you can store. A 5′ x 10′ unit with high ceilings can store as much as a 10′ x 10′ with low ceilings. Now I always pack my items in sturdy, stackable containers.

    Think about your own business or relationships. Is there ‘space above’ that you’re not utilizing?

    On that long drive, instead of listening to the music, you could listen to a great audio book or catch up with that relative or old colleague you’ve been meaning to call.

    On that plane ride, instead of watching the in-flight movie, you could write the business plan for your new idea or draft the first chapter to that book you’ve been meaning to write.

    At home, instead of watching House reruns, you could start a blog for yourself or with your child.

    Space above is everywhere. Look for it and use it.

    [photo credit: merfam]

    Impact Wrench

    impactwrench

    What did you do today?

    Did those things have a direct impact on your goals?

    (You do have goals, right? And you have them written down?)

    Zig Ziglar has a great framework for defining and documenting your goals:

    * Physical (appearance, exercise programs, medical/dental checkups, weight, nutrition).
    * Family (listening habits, forgiveness, role model, supportiveness, shared time, respect, love).
    * Financial (earnings, savings, investments, budget, insurance, debt).
    * Social (Humor, listening habits, confidence, manners, caring).
    * Spiritual (inner peace, purpose, prayer, Bible study, faith).
    * Mental (imagination, attitude, education, reading, curiosity).
    * Career (job satisfaction, effectiveness, training, understanding, purpose)

    If the things you did today didn’t have any direct impact on your goals, why did you do them? What could you have done instead?

    What are you going to do tomorrow?

    Personally, I’m going to revisit my list of goals using Zig’s great framework and then focus on actions that directly impact those goals.

    An Empire State of Mind

    NYC

    New York.

    There really is no city like it in the world.

    Last January, when I moved from the paradise of San Diego to New York for the Seth Godin Alt-MBA program, I thought it would be six months, then right back to palm trees and surfboards.

    Now I’m not so sure. The city grows more on me everyday.

    If you put the whole world in a blender, dumped it out and charged $3,000 a month rent, you have New York.

    Still…I love it.

    As a tribute, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite pieces on this amazing city. Someday I hope to write something more profound myself, but until then…

    Enjoy.

    [NSFW WARNING: The Edward Norton scene from 25th Hour, a very underrated Spike Lee Joint, has language that is not safe for work or little kiddies.]

    Jay-Z and Alicia Keys singing Empire State of Mind

    I Lego NY by artist Christoph Niemann.

    The rest of the set is here.

    01paper

    Edward Norton as Monty Brogan in 25th Hour

    A few cartoons from the brilliant and incomparable Hugh MacLeod.

    I Have NY_gapingvoid

    Random NY

    I Like Difficult - I like NY

    What are your favorite tributes to NYC?

    [Photo credit: Thomas Hawk]

    The Hustler

    Gary Vaynerchuk

    This one has made the rounds but in case you haven’t seen it yet, there is so much truth here.

    Every time I watch Gary, I feel like I didn’t do enough that day, which I think is part of the point.

    Get out there and hustle, people.

    Everything is changing and will continue to change, but if you put everything you have into doing what you love, nobody can take that away from you.

    You’re just like Tiger Woods

    Tiger Woods

    I’ve never been very good at golf. I’ve always played different sports and I could usually pick them up fairly easily and be adequate without a great deal of practice.

    Not golf.

    I would play a couple times a year. My friends would call when their 4th player canceled or they were desperate. They knew I was a hack and was likely to spend as much time in the woods as on the fairways.

    I recently decided I wanted to get better at golf. My uncle John talked very highly of a golf instructor on Long Island named Victor Romano. John insisted that if I was serious about improving, that I drive out to Long Island and take lessons with Victor.

    Victor is a wizard. In the matter of only a few lessons, he has helped my swing immensely and has fixed some major flaws. I still have a long way to go but I’m starting to see improvements.

    Victor has a metaphor for golf improvement he calls “moving the bell curve”.

    The metaphor is one of a 100 golf shots. Every swing a golfer takes, they reach into this metaphorical bucket and take out a ball. Ball #1 is the best shot they could possibly hit that day, given their skill level. Ball #100 is the worst. Plot those 100 shots and you get a representative bell curve of that golfer’s current skill level.

    When you’re starting out, the bell curve is very wide. The #1 shot is probably OK and the #100 shot might be a complete whiff.

    Bell Curve

    As you gets slightly better, the #1 – 5 shots are quite a bit better but the worst #90 – #100 shots are still embarrassing shanks.

    As you continue to improve, the #1 – #5 shots get even better, the medium shots get a little better and the worst shots aren’t quite as bad but #99 and #100 are probably still ones you would rather forget.

    This is true for me and it’s true for you and it’s true for Tiger Woods. When Tiger Woods shoots a 76 (a terrible day for him), he hit some of the worst shots possible on his bell curve.

    After working with Victor, my best shot (my #1) is almost as good as Tiger’s worst shot (his #100). That means the best shot I can hit out of 100 is comparable to the worst shot Tiger Woods hits.

    The point of Victor’s metaphor is this.

    Golfers always make excuses for the way they played a certain hole or a certain round. If they shot a great score on the front nine but played poorly on the back nine, they blame it on exhaustion or the fact that it was getting dark. If they hit a huge slice into the pond, they blame it on the fact that they pulled their head or that new wedge that they just haven’t figured out yet.

    They’re wrong.

    Their skill level is at a certain point. On a bad day, they hit more balls from the higher end of their bell curve.

    The purpose of practice, in golf and many other endeavors, is to move the bell curve.

    Chris Brogan and Seth Godin write new blog posts every day. Some posts are better than others but their last 100 are significantly better than their first 100. Through practice, over time, they have dramatically moved their blog quality bell curve. Following their lead, that’s what I’m trying to do as well.

    Pick a skill in your business or personal life, what is your #1 ball? What is your #100?

    How can you improve and move your own bell curve?

    [Photo credit: Paul Gallegos / PR Photos]

    Customer Engagement at the DPHA

    Axor Starck

    On Saturday, I finished up a two-day presentation / workshop gig at the DPHA conference, the annual conference for the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association.

    Decorative plumbing and hardware includes luxury hardware for bathrooms and kitchens: high-end faucets, shower heads, sinks, bathtubs, lighting, mirrors, tile, etc.

    The DPHA is made up of three primary groups:

    1) The hardware manufacturers (like Hansgrohe, Rohl, Kohler and others)
    2) The independent reps, who sell the manufacturers’ product lines to…
    3) The dealers & showrooms, who sell to architects, builders and the end consumer, the homeowners

    Everyone from the DPHA was extremely nice and generous.

    Everyone from the Broadmoor, the beautiful, luxury resort where the conference was held was amazing.

    Just one example of the Broadmoor’s outstanding service:
    My good friend Al Pittampalli was also speaking. Al is a nutrition expert and he is testing a unique new diet to control the pH of his bloodstream. As a result, he needed lots of avocados and lemon. The Broadmoor concierge brought up 12 perfectly ripe avocados within minutes of Al calling. I can’t usually find 12 perfectly ripe avocados at Fairway Market or Whole Foods.

    My presentation outlined how customer engagement is the new marketing and covered the three components that make up customer engagement:

    Company Culture
    Having spent two days last week inside Zappos, I confidently said that customer engagement is only as good as the company culture behind it. Every employee must be respected, empowered and inspired to make each customer interaction a delight.

    Customer Experience
    Stores like Stew Leonard’s, IKEA and Apple provide unique and remarkable customer experiences. In preparation for the conference, I had toured a few high end showrooms. While they were very clean and professional, they weren’t extremely remarkable. During my presentation, I proposed some promotions that could increase the ‘story’ factor for the showrooms:

    “Halloween Light Night” promotion
    Stay open two hours later than usual. Hire a local author to read ghost stories to the kids while you take customers on a tour of the lighting section of your showroom with all of the other store lights off, creating a dark, Halloween atmosphere but showing off your best product in the conditions they would actually be used in.

    “Come Shower With Us” promotion
    Sounds like something dreamed up by Hugh Hefner, right? That’s exactly why people would talk about it. Setup portable locker rooms and let customers pick out which shower heads they want to test. This would also give showrooms an opportunity to demo new product lines of high-end soaps and bathrobes that many are exploring.

    At the very least, it would be a story that spreads and as we know, stories that spread, win.

    Carpe Defect
    As I explained in an older post, Carpe Defect (Seize the Defect) is a term I came up with for taking a bad customer experience and making a customer for life. This blog and many books focus on providing amazing customer service, but we’re all human and mistakes happen. Customers generally understand that and don’t expect perfection, but it is in HOW companies deal with those errors that determine which story gets told.

    A big mistake isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is an opportunity to make a customer for life. Instead of just making the customer whole and fixing the problem, you need to go over and above so that the customer has a positive story to tell.

    Social Media
    As instructed by the DPHA executive committee, I only briefly touched on social media near the end but attendees seemed very interested. Many had open ears and open minds and wanted to better understand how social media and customer engagement can help their industry in what is currently a difficult market for luxury goods.

    I would like to thank the DPHA for having me and thank the Broadmoor for outstanding customer service.

    Most of all, I would like to thank those attendees who asked questions about how to improve their corporate culture, their customer experience and Carpe Defect. You can’t control the luxury spending trends but you can control how you make the customer feel.

    [NB: As requested, I will be posting my slides from the presentation on SlideShare soon.]

    More or Less?

    Abacus

    More
    Some industries are becoming more fragmented. A lower barrier to entry is resulting in more new players with no end in sight.

    More authors (blogs, Lulu & self publishing tools).
    More charities (Charity Water, Acumen, Kiva).
    More musicians and more songs (iTunes, last.fm).

    Less
    Some industries are consolidating – a few dominant players are capturing more and more of the market.

    Less bookstores (Amazon).
    Less search engines (Google).
    Less pharmaceutical companies (mergers & acquisitions).

    Is your industry becoming one of more or one of less? How are you preparing? Does your story match the trend in the industry? Should it?

    Zappos Insights – Day 2

    TonyHsieh-225x300

    After a fun dinner at CEO Tony Hsieh’s house last night, today was another amazing day at Zappos headquarters.

    My tweet-summary from Day 1 is here.

    For more, check out the hashtag #zapposlive.

    @ZapposInsights 10:15:01 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: @zappos_alfred talking about difference between information and wisdom (insights) Discussing all sorts of growth. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:20:14 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: How do you grow bother personally and professionally? Can’t grow professionally unless you invest in yourself and grow too. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:22:04 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: The typical planning process for business growth metrics ends up with the same results. Need to involve more ‘How’ and ‘Why’. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:22:59 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: What are going to be the ‘Inputs’ that will help make your company successful? Typical strategies are mostly ‘Outputs’. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:24:01 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: You can’t necessarily control the ‘Outputs’, but you can definitely control the ‘Inputs’ to guide the way. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 10:26:37 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Most companies plan to grow all areas of the company, except they forget to plan to grow their company culture #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:28:39 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Building teams that have all three types of people, can help make any process/goal become a reality. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 10:35:47 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Three type of people on team to build successfully – visionary, artist (creative), scientist (numbers) #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:29:55 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: What is your Vision? Zappos started with selection, then service, and eventually found that culture was a big part of the vision #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:30:35 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Delivering happiness is overall vision. Your vision can evolve/grow, too! #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:31:56 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Focus on the core, the mix of 1) what you can be the best at, 2) you are passionate about, and 3) drives your economic engine. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:33:59 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Get Alignment. Get everyone to row in the same direction. Over-communicate by 10-20%. Make sure everything is explained in full #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:36:06 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Have a higher purpose. Fight for a cause/Find you calling. Make sure everyone in the company understands the purpose. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:38:25 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Large meetings work for communicating certain things, some are better suited to a smaller setting, to make it personal. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:44:26 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Come up with whatever metric makes sense, then be willing to change it over time. Can’t use the same measurements over time #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:58:38 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Daily sales report is sent to all Zappos employees, and 1500 brand partners. Open communication benefits all parties. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 11:03:41 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: When we hire people, we want to raise the bar for the team. We look to find people who can really make the team better! #zapposlive

    @Scott_Allison 11:17:10 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: http://twitpic.com/lmlyx – Advice from @zappos_alfred CFO/COO. Really understand your talent & fill any gaps with your team. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 11:26:38 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Dave @dave337 www.atlantarefrigeration.com INC 500/5000 speaking how he got “zapped” #zapposlive implemented culture in his company

    @ZapposInsights 11:27:01 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: ‘Virtual Bench’ of non-hired potential employees who keep in touch with company because the culture blew them away. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 11:31:57 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: @dave337 is talking about dropping cash bonuses and putting together a 101 dreams list. Employees help each other meet goals. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 11:35:35 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: @dave337 switched to all google apps to make it easier to connect with everyone #zapposlive www.google.com/apps

    @ZapposInsights 11:40:55 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “It all kind of snowballs once you get a few people on-board with it”. @dave337 on growth of culture at ARS. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 11:40:57 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: @dave337 talks how Faceball one way to create fun in the office http://www.flickr.com/groups/faceball/ #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 11:44:12 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “Official site” on how to play Faceball http://www.faceball.org/ #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 12:05:05 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Help Desk is our ‘Concierge service on Red Bull’. Want to make sure all interaction here is as enjoyable as it can be! #zapposlive

    @Scott_Allison 12:12:49 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Watch this amazing video which describes how Zappos grow and develop staff and the company for the future http://bit.ly/AnNUr #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 12:24:48 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Roger: We want everyone to realize what it means to really be a service company. Everyone does 40 hrs on phones. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 12:27:04 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Maura: Everyone is trained on the phones, everyone helps on phones for holiday/busy season (even Tony!) No seasonal hiring. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 12:31:08 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Hollie: Performance reviews are always evolving. Half of review is based on core values. Technical performance is other half. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 12:34:26 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Maura: QA and Metrics. We score calls – a lot is put into PEC (Personal Emotional Connection). Customer-facing time . #zapposlive

    @jessicalawrence 12:43:21 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Zappos hires less than 1% of all candidates who apply. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 12:47:51 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Roger: Make sure the values are evident in everything that you are doing. Make sure they are incorporated in it all. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 12:51:17 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Dave: Allowing team members the freedom to say ‘Lets try this….’ can really push them to succeed, their input is valued. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 14:26:25 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Lots of WOW! in action. @zappos_drob is explaining how we are going to keep in touch and try our best to help after #zapposlive events!

    @ZapposInsights 14:37:25 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Up next: Leadership training with Dr Vik. – Pygmalion effect.. People are only as good as you expect them to be. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 14:41:56 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: http://drvik.com/?page_id=32 Dr. Vik is explaining how to ‘Spin it and Win it’. Take a positive approach to any situation. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 14:43:27 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Benefits of coaching. Employees have a positive attitude, are acknowledged and recognized, resist negativity and are empowered. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 14:50:41 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: People can talk their way around a situation and work out good solutions, just by having a place to discuss it and work it out. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:10:46 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “How can we get a coach on-site without having the extra $$?” – Just do it. Find someone who is trusted in the company. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:11:27 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Coaching can be spread out between a group of people in the company. It doesn’t have to be a single coach. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:13:24 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Next question – “How can you afford NOT to get a coach?” What line item is more important than the growth of the employees? #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:14:44 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Coaching position will pay for itself from the productivity of the employees who are empowered and growing. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:30:36 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Leadership vs Management: No one likes to be ‘managed’ or bossed around. We prefer to manage business and Lead the people. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:34:54 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Leadership at Zappos sits in the open. Many people can walk up to key leaders and bring ideas/have discussions. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:36:13 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “The time we are here is not just to get emails cranked out and work on projects, it’s to be open and available.” @zappos_fred #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 15:37:14 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: via Fred Mossler – Zappos keeps flat level biz, Sr Execs sit among all other employees because that’s where best ideas come from #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:38:02 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: 68% of relationships are broken because? One word. Indifference. Customers come back because of the personal relationship and service. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:41:24 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Customers dictate what your brand is. Take them very seriously. Brand and culture are two sides of the same coin. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:42:54 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Even though roughly 95% of new orders are placed online, customers will contact us at least once in their time with us. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 15:43:54 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: You can no longer hide behind marketing campaign in this transparency world customer determines your brand via Fred Mossler #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:44:27 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: “We don’t tell people what to do, we just let them know what needs to be done.” -Dr. Vik #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:45:18 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: There are a lot of things that exist that were never planned. We give the employees the freedom to pursue their passions. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:47:29 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: In 2006 UPS trucks saved 28,541,472 million miles and 3m gallons of fuel by reducing the number of left turns taken. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 16:17:08 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Have you ever told the person (who’s name you wrote down) and told him/her the impact they made in your life? #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 16:27:58 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Talking about Tribal Leadership: Explaining different stages of company culture. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 16:28:12 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Stage 1 – Life sucks. Stage 2 – My life sucks. Stage 3 – I’m great. Stage 4 – We’re Great. Stage 5 – Life is Great. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 16:28:48 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: What stage do you think you are in? You can only upgrade one stage at a time. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 16:30:16 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Tribal Leadership – Most organizations never make it to Stage 5 – Life is Great! need to help people move up one stage at a time #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 16:33:34 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: What keeps people from reaching goal? Fear of failure, Not enough time? Lack of a sense of urgency. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 16:35:19 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Sense of Urgency: It Must be done. It must be done NOW. Gets things done. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 16:39:33 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: If you could talk to yourself about your goals in a month, what would you say? You can! Go ahead and write yourself a letter. #zapposlive

    @Zappos_DRob 19:50:46 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Had an amazing time with the Zappos Insights LIVE crew this week! It’s a new batch of culture gurus ready to change their world. #zapposlive

    @rachelcosgrove 20:05:40 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Thank you @zapposinsights! Awesome two days of letting us get infected by your culture. Learned lots & met some amazing people. #zapposlive

    @jessicalawrence 18:25:11 Friday, Oct 16th 09: One major takeaway from #zapposlive? Remarkable marketing won’t make up for an unremarkable product. Thanks @clayhebert!

    @KillerChef 20:26:19 Friday, Oct 16th 09: Thanks to everyone on the #zapposlive team for their hospitality and openness. Looking forward to our 1st class reunion. (hint, hint, hint)

    Zappos Insights – Day 1

    Zappos_Shoes

    Wow. What an amazing day. My head is literally spinning. Anyone who has followed this blog knows I’ve been a big fan of Zappos for a long time but today I got to experience it in person, through the Zappos Insights program.

    Zappos Insights is a live event where people can come and learn about how Zappos built their culture and company and values. I learned so much and am really looking forward to Day #2.

    Here is a tweetstream of consciousness of the top takeaways from Day #1. For more, search the hashtag #zapposlive.

    @jessicalawrence 23:40:38 Tuesday, Oct 13th 09: Who’s at #zapposlive ? The founder of this company: http://bit.ly/wiAkU The author of this book: http://bit.ly/9UrDe And more!

    @ZapposInsights 09:58:52 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Great Start! Teams are presenting their super heroes and powers. Team Foresight, can see 1 minute into future. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 10:01:42 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: team Mucho Oreja’s power is to be able to hear what all the customers are saying about them. #zapposlive

    @clayhebert 10:24:54 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Learning Zappos culture (and dancing) at @ZapposInsights #zapposlive (@ Zappos HQ in Henderson) http://bit.ly/4jabMF

    @ZapposInsights 12:27:55 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: http://bit.ly/QsUqt #zapposlive – Showing off their mullets!!

    @ZapposInsights 12:30:42 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: “You can talk about culture all day long, but to really feel the vibe, was really cool” – Paraphrase. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 12:35:42 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Zappos tours Mon-Thurs Jan-Feb did 200 tours,haven’t toured this incredible company, you’re missing a major Vegas attraction ;-) #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 12:38:28 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: People get emotional seeing on the zappos tour an actual company with real culture is a reality here #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 12:44:37 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Tony learned through lesson at Linkexchange that culture is #1 priority so you still enjoy going work when biz grows #zapposlive

    @jlajoie 12:45:51 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Tony giving us the story at #ZapposLive http://yfrog.com/2tnkpj

    @eldridge2m 12:48:05 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Great book via Tony Tribal Leadership Free download http://www.zappos.com/tribal.zhtml #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 12:50:21 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: What’s the larger vision and greater purpose in your work beyond money and profits? – @zappos speaking at #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 12:53:54 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Zappos Tony against bonus plans, it creates wrong results – HR studies rank money as #4or5 is easy but not best way to reward #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 13:07:24 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: @zappos explains that field of ‘Happiness’ says that people are very bad at predicting what will make them happy. #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 13:16:19 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Zappos goal: employees want to be working there ten years from now, helps them grow both personally & professionally #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 13:16:19 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Zappos will offer a class for employees on the Science of Happiness. @zappos talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 13:18:55 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: 3 types of happiness: Pleasure (Rock Star), Engagement (Flow) and Being part of something Bigger (Meaning/Higher Purpose). #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 13:20:05 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Rockstar is very short-lived happiness. Flow is second longest, Meaning/Purpose is longest lasting type of happiness. #zapposlive

    @Zappos_DRob 13:24:11 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: What % of your time do you spend learning about the science of happiness? What will make you happy? Study. Learn. Grow. Be Happy. #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 13:34:56 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: @zappos If you hire people who’s values are aligned with the company’s values, there is no need to change people’s values. #zapposlive

    @heif 13:40:08 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: @zappos tony says amzn acquisition will be like having a new board of directors (& a board that understands retail) #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 13:57:09 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Zappos Core Values established 2005 http://bit.ly/D0bzd #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 14:04:26 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Core values become a blueprint for employees to use when making day-to-day decisions. #zapposlive

    @clayhebert 14:24:30 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: @Zappos_Service Having a blast! I didn’t know I could hula hoop at all. I guess I can (a little). Thanks! #zapposlive

    @clayhebert 14:27:22 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Just listening to Tony Hsieh ( @zappos ) explain HOW to develop core values. Should be an essential exercise for any company. #zapposlive

    @clayhebert 14:31:16 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: “Don’t chase the paper. Chase the dream.” P-Diddy to B.I.G. in Notorious (as told by Tony Hsieh @zappos) #zapposlive

    @clayhebert 14:33:26 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: “Don’t worry about MOTIVATION of employees v~fear or money. Focus more on INSPIRATION, then motivation will take care of itself” #zapposlive

    @clayhebert 14:36:51 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: A happiness framework from Tony Hsieh @zappos 1) Perceived Control 2) Perceived Progress 3) Connectedness 4) Vision/Meaning #zapposlive

    @clayhebert 14:38:07 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: “Are you committed to your core values? Really committed? Are you willing to hire & fire people based on them?” @zappos #zapposlive

    @Scott_Allison 14:54:23 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: RT @eldridge2m: Great book via Tony Tribal Leadership Free download http://www.zappos.com/tribal.zhtml #zapposlive

    @jessicalawrence 15:01:49 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: #zapposlive Great morning. Love Tony’s interest in happiness research. New book on “to read” list: Happiness Hypothesis

    @ZapposInsights 15:12:57 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Make sure your values are action-able. How do you set values that can become verbs? no cookie-cutters here. #zapposlive

    @jessicalawrence 15:13:33 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Zappos cares about your pee: http://twitpic.com/lj8ci #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 15:15:24 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Values. What do values look like? Generosity: Sharing, selfless, kind, giving of time.. How do we make that actionable? #zapposlive

    @clayhebert 15:53:23 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: No scripts. No call times. Taking the phones with Holly at the @zappos call center! #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 17:03:02 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Great WOW service sitting listening in with Josh on Zappos CLT, he ROCKS! Best customer service in the World!! @zappos_service #zapposlive

    @ZapposInsights 17:15:30 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: @zappos_drob really likes matching handbags to shoes, apparently…. ‘it has to fit my wallet, my cell phone and my gun….’ #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 17:36:34 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Dr. Vik’s daily blog http://blogs.zappos.com/blogs/coach – employee’s look forward to the daily coach keeping them grounded #zapposlive

    @eldridge2m 17:17:49 Wednesday, Oct 14th 09: Zappos reps rarely ever have to go to manager because it wouldn’t be good customer service, reps are empowered! #zapposlive

    @knacion 00:38:07 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: First it begins inside your heart. Something moves. Then opens. Then frees itself. A rhythm breaking its silence. This is good. #zapposlive

    @magazines_jay 09:00:44 Thursday, Oct 15th 09: Great dinner last night at the home of Tony Hsieh of Zappos. Not only great with customer care, but also great with hospitality! #zapposlive

    More coming tomorrow!

    Book Drips – I Love You More Than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss

    dog-book-sm

    What make companies like Zappos, The Container Store, Harley Davidson, Netflix, Rackspace, Umpqua Bank, LUSH, Threadless, USAA, Trader Joe’s, Apple, CD Baby, Southwest Airlines and many more so beloved by their passionate fans?

    Jeanne Bliss’s new book explains exactly how.

    In her new book, “I Love You More Than My Dog“, Jeanne reveals the five key decisions that beloved companies make to drive customer loyalty. The book isn’t even out until Thursday (you can download the first chapter and pre-order here) but in a moment, I will tell you how to get a copy FREE.

    Jeanne devotes a chapter to each of the five decisions that companies make to become beloved by customers. She ends each chapter with an excellent summary of the necessary decision and challenges companies to analyze themselves on that axis, hitting on the questions below.

      1. Decide to BELIEVE.

      Do you believe:
      – In the good judgment of the people you hire?
      – That trust is reciprocated by customers?
      – In the truth of your customers’ words?
      – That trusted and prepared employees grow the business?
      – In more trust than rules? In more training than policies?
      – How would your customers describe your trust in them?
      – Would your employees say you honor them?

      2. Decide with CLARITY.

      Do you have clarity about:
      – The memories you want to deliver?
      – The type of people who belong in your company?
      – How to steer decision making?
      – The experience you are all working toward?
      – Are your decisions directed toward executing tasks or achieving a purpose?

      3. Decide to BE REAL.

      Do you:
      – Touch a cord with customers?
      – Encourage personality and creativity of employees?
      – Communicate personally, without the corporate veneer?
      – Make decisions by envisioning customers in their lives?
      – How would customers describe who you are as people?
      – How do employees describe your company personality?

      4. Decide to BE THERE.

      Are you there for your customers?
      – Do your customers’ lives inform and inspire the behavior, the actions, and the operation of your business?
      – Is your operating plan based on your priorities or customer priorities?
      – Can customers easily tell the story of the experience you deliver?

      5. Decide to SAY SORRY.

      When you apologize:
      – Are you genuine?
      – Do you restore confidence in being associated with you?
      – Do you honor those impacted and resolve their problem?
      – Do you deliver your apology swiftly and with humility?

    I love examples, so I love that Jeanne fills each chapter with very specific, concise examples in one-page vignettes of how each company chose to decide using a consistent format that explains each company’s

      1. Decision Intent
      2. Motivation and
      3. Impact.

    If you have customers, you need to read this book.

    If you are a customer, Jeanne is your advocate.

    Read more about Jeanne and watch videos of her on her website, CustomerBliss.com.

    Jeanne was kind enough to give me three copies of her new book to give away. To get a chance at one, you must take the following two actions:

    [full disclosure: I borrowed / stole this “comment + tweet” idea from my friend Michael Hyatt. If you don’t already read his blog, I highly recommend it.]

    1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you want this book. Be creative.

    2. Tweet a link to this post. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.

    On Thursday, October 15th, I will select three winners, whom I will email directly. If you don’t hear from me, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

    Question: Why do you want a copy of this book?

    Unexcused absence (Daily Sense is back)

    Unexcused Absence

    I’m sorry.

    I’ve failed you, my readers.

    I promised a post per day and until July 26th, I was doing well.

    I have no good excuse. Sure, I’ve been busy. I founded and am building my social media consultancy, Tribes Win. I’ve moved. I’ve also undergone a lot of personal change recently. But I’m not any busier than Chris Brogan or Mitch Joel, or Gary Vaynerchuk who are traveling around the country on their respective book and speaking tours. Those guys are swamped and still manage to deliver quality content all the time.

    You are all very busy as well and I appreciate the attention you give me. I know that attention is scarce and I appreciate yours.

    My hiatus is unexcused and I apologize.

    Thank you to all of you who asked what happened to the daily drips and inquired if I had moved the blog. You know who you are.

    My promise to you is this.

    1) I’m back.
    2) I’ll be posting daily again.
    3) As my way of trying to rectify my recent absence, I’m going to work harder to regain your trust and your confidence. I will try to make some of my upcoming posts exciting and I will have at least two upcoming giveaways.

    (If I get time, I’ll try to go back and make up for the daily posts that I missed. I’m not promising this but I’m going to try.)

    Thanks for sticking with me.

    -Clay

    A smarter Clay

    Check out this excellent TED @State talk from the smartest Clay I know.

    The most important changes Clay highlights:

    “The media that is good at creating conversation is no good at creating groups. The media that is good at creating groups is no good at creating conversation.”

    “The internet is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversations at the same time.”

    “As all media gets digitized, the internet becomes the mode of carriage for all other media.”

    “Members of the former audience can now be producers instead of consumers. The same equipment lets you consume and produce.”

    And my favorite quote from the entire video:

    “The moment we’re living through, the moment our historical generation is living through, is the largest increase in expressive capability in human history.”

    The boldness of that statement is overshadowed only by its accuracy.

    A life changed

    Clay and Seth4

    The phone call

    It was December 1st, 2008. I was sleeping soundly, the cool San Diego breeze blowing through the screen door when the ringing of my cell phone woke me up. I rubbed my eyes and shook my head to dissolve the remaining fragments of my dream. I squinted at the clock and discerned it was 4:30am. I put my pillow over my head and let it go to voicemail.

    It rang again. I reached over and checked the caller ID.

    In the next 30 seconds, my exhausted frustration turned to excitement. My friend Paul had called to tell me that Seth Godin had blogged about an opportunity to change your life; an extremely selective six month MBA program in his office north of New York.

    Suddenly, I was very awake.

    The next two weeks were a blur. The process was (intentionally) very different than a traditional MBA. Applicants had to create a Squidoo lens answering some unique and open ended questions. Applications were due in only 14 days. I submitted my application a few days early and was thrilled when I learned that I had secured one of the 27 spots in what would be the only interview round. A flight to New York and a unique group interview later, my excitement had quadrupled. After the interview, I flew from New York to San Francisco and was still up at 3am when I found out that I was one of the ten selected into the program.

    My corporate job consulting with Accenture had taken me from Minneapolis to Boston to Philadelphia and I was finally putting down some roots in San Diego. None of it mattered. I took a leave of absence from Accenture and headed to New York.

    Inauguration
    Merriam-Webster’s second definition of inaugurate is “to bring about the beginning of.” Our first day of class was, fittingly, a day of change. January 20th, 2009. It was Barack Obama’s inauguration. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was our inauguration too.

    Nine best friends
    Over the course of the six months, I learned as much from the my fellow students, now lifelong friends, as I did from Seth, my longtime business idol.

    Abbey Road

    Al
    A mountain of a man with a heart to match, Al is as energetic as he is sincere. As evidenced by his daily early morning workouts at the health club in Grand Central Station, Al is extremely disciplined and always kept us on task. When we studied how to be a better salesperson, Al honed his already effective persuasion techniques and led by example for the rest of us. Al also crushed me in basketball and I might not sleep until I get a rematch.

    Alex
    The boy genius, Alex is the youngest of the SAMBA crew. Just out of Cornell, Alex brought a fresh perspective to the team. His edge never having been worn down by years of post-college accountability, Alex’s perspective was still razor sharp, and we needed that. Whatever Alex lacked in ‘real world’ experience, he more than made up for in raw intelligence. ‘Wicked smaaht’ doesn’t begin to describe the depths of Alex. Like a Spinal Tap amp, Alex’s brain goes to eleven. (That, and he’s seen everything on the Internet. You can test him.)

    Allan
    Always wheeling and dealing with big fish and big ideas, Allan was our resident connection to the world of venture capital and big finance. Having started a successful venture fund in college, Allan learned to write his own rules and taught us all that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. Occasionally, Allan would ‘miss’ class but soon we would learn of a huge meeting he orchestrated in the city or a big deal he was working on. Early in the program, I had a specific business idea and Allan challenged me that it wasn’t large-scale enough to be worthy of my talents, so I scrapped it and changed course. To this day, because of Allan, I always challenge myself to determine whether my ideas are big or worthy enough.

    Becca
    Always smiling, Becca would brighten the room just by showing up. If it’s possible to be too nice, Becca would toe the line. Always eager to help and to teach others, Becca brought a wealth of experience from the startup world and an energy that kept us on our toes. An absolute ‘connector’ in every sense of the word, it was natural for Becca to take the role of party planner, often connecting us with fun dinners and evenings in New York City. Wherever Becca went, fun was inevitable.

    Emily
    Our resident musician and chef, Emily could improvise a beautiful song as quickly as she could improvise a delicious lunch. Emily brought a creative perspective that was unique and invaluable. She challenged us and made us think, using a different lens to evaluate our ideas. Emily always came up with an angle we hadn’t thought of. Some of my favorite memories were sitting with Emily at night, drinking wine and helping her write the lyrics to a new song as she invented the melody on her Tacoma guitar. I secretly hope to be Emily’s roadie someday.

    Ishita
    I was fortuitous to get to partner with Ishita on a project for most of the program. Ishita is an amazing mix of compassion, insight and curiosity. Her sincere kindness and ability to listen and truly connect is unlike anyone I’ve ever met. She contstantly looks for the best in people and as a result, that’s exactly what she gets.

    Jon
    Having lived in England until age 12, Jon’s lightly British accent would occasionally appear when he said certain words. An inside joke quickly developed that Jon was ‘a little British’. Jon and I shared a sense of humor and a passion for social media. As a result, we bonded quickly over Flight of the Conchords clips and twitter and Ning best practices. Jon’s amazing mix of wisdom, generosity and drive continously set a bar I can only hope to achieve.

    Susan
    Known as the executioner, Susan “gets things done”. An interesting dichotomy, Susan preferred the rules to be well-defined, but even when they weren’t, she would flex her unparalled design chops to create a logo, brochure, e-book or website that puts the rest of the class to shame. Susan blend of experience, reliability and organization allowed her to overdeliver every time, often making me look woefully inadequate in the process.

    One generous teacher, who became a friend.
    Seth taught us more in six months than I thought it was possible to learn.

    Early in the program, he took us skate skiing. The only way to propel yourself on skate skis is to lean forward. Then you pick up one ski and put it in front of the other. Pretty soon, you’re gliding faster and faster along the snow.

    Lean in.

    The metaphor was clear.

    Skate Skiing2

    Last Friday, Seth took us out on the Hudson river and taught us a completely different way to canoe, facing backward with the canoe tilted on its side. The amount of control and power gained using this technique was astonishing. Another lesson…

    The obvious tactic is rarely the most effective.

    Clay Omering

    Those were the bookends. In between, Seth taught us about goal setting, sales, emergencies, game theory, pricing, shenpa, marketing, design, laywer eliminating contracts, the correct way to peel a banana, communication, cashflow, project management and countless other nuggets of business acumen.

    Seth was the mayor of Nuggetville, population: us.

    In addition to Seth’s own wisdom, he consistently brought in lots of his close personal friends and former colleagues.

    One afternoon, Derek Sivers explained to us how he ‘accidentally’ started CD Baby, selling CD’s out of his backpack and later sold it for $22 million (which he turned around and donated to The Independent Musician’s Charitable Trust, which will fund music education long after he passes away.)

    Talk about show & tell.

    When Seth wasn’t teaching us, organizing educational field trips or cooking us delicious lunches, he pushed us to overcome our fears.

    He showed us that the goal isn’t perfection, the goal is to ship.

    He inspired me to blog everyday.

    He taught us how to create our own business; and our destiny.

    He gave us all the tools to change the world.

    Now it’s up to us.

    The bookstore of the future

    EmptyBookshelves

    Imagine walking into your favorite neighborhood bookstore in a few years.

    Except there are no books.

    Behind the counter is a single, helpful employee.

    In the center of the store is what looks like an oversized copy machine. A magic machine that can create a brand-new, library quality paperback of any title. Even those that have been out of print for years.

    A 300 page book, printed, with a perfect cover, in under 4 minutes.

    Amazon has dominated online book sales (and will for the foreseeable future).

    The Kindle will dominate digital book (and magazine, and newspaper) delivery. (That’s Amazon 2, everyone else – 0 if you’re scoring at home.)

    The Espresso Book Machine or EBM for short will fill the remaining gap, reversing publishing’s existing business model from:


    print > ship > sell
    to:
    sell > print

    From the On Demand Books website:

    Supply is matched with demand at point of sale for the first time in the history of publishing, eliminating returns and giving life to “long tail” titles. No book need ever be out of print again.

    Publishers enjoy: Higher profit margins, greater unit sales, no more returns, monetized backlist, reduced inventories.

    Retailers enjoy: Higher sales per square foot, faster inventory turnover, more customer traffic, no more out-of-stocks, no more supply chain costs, freed-up shelf space for faster moving, higher-margin inventory.

    Libraries/Universities enjoy: Enhanced academic experience for students, more books available to patrons, new forms of revenue, the ability to print digital collections and perfect facsimiles of rare books.

    The bookstore of the future isn’t in the future at all. It’s already here.

    Venerable bookstores like the Tattered Cover in Denver will still exist but will cater to hardcovers, special editions and as hubs where tribes join to read & discuss books.

    Maybe over an espresso.

    If you could transform your company…

     

    …would you?

    Everything has changed.

    Customer engagement is the new marketing.

    A thousand die hard, connected fans are far more important than a million dollar advertising budget.

    The culture of your company now drives the bottom line instead of the other way around.

    If you aren’t familiar with Zappos, they are a customer service company that happens to sell shoes, clothes and accessories. They have built an entire company around their unique culture, specifically their 10 core values.

    Zappos Core Values

    Zappos publishes an annual Zappos Culture Book that is insightful as it is entertaining.

    Sure, you say. Culture is great, but what about revenue and profit? It’s always “show me the money.”

    How about this…

    In less than ten years, Zappos has gone from the glimmer in the eye of a frustrated shoe customer in a mall to over 1 billion dollars in gross revenue, doing something that many said couldn’t be done, selling shoes (and now much more) online.

    Back on May 8th, I posted that magic must be baked-in, highlighting companies like Zappos, Southwest and Disney and how their culture was omnipresent from Day 1.

    I’m not going back on that statement, but I will amend it slightly. Zappos Insights is offering two day “immersion” event two-day workshop that will allow you to dramatically strengthen your company’s culture.

    Please understand the magnitude of this opportunity. This is like getting basketball lessons from Michael Jordan or hours of private cello lessons from Yo-Yo Ma.

    The cost is miniscule. For $4995, you get to spend two days at Zappos world HQ in Las Vegas learning directly from the leaders of a company that has redefined both customer service and company culture (and an airport shuttle, accommodations, meals and entertainment).

    What’s the last thing your company spent $5000 on?

    Did it have the capability to transform your entire business?

    Please take advantage of this amazing opportunity. You can find more information here.

    The pace of possible

    What’s possible?

    In-flight movies

    iphone3gs_video

    Apple just released the 3Gs, an iPhone where you can take a video, edit that video and post it to YouTube, all in less than 2 minutes (I timed myself). My friend Jon immediately viewed it from 30,000 feet on his Virgin America flight.

    Unbelievable.

    Every newspaper, book and blog in your briefcase or purse

    amazon-kindle-books

    The Amazon Kindle magically fits 10,000 newspapers, magazines, books and blogs right in your purse or briefcase (you can even get DailySense on the Kindle).

    The pace of possible isn’t just limited to technology…

    A comfortable thong

    Gale Epstein and Lida Orzeck invented Hanky Panky, a comfortable thong (sorry, no picture or personal testimonial on this one but check the reviews).

    If this is all possible today, what will be possible in a year?

    Two years?

    Five years?

    Will you be ready?

    Costly inertia

    dunceThanks to Sandra for this USA Today article, and the McKinsey report of the economic impact of the achievement gap in America’s schools.

    The most amazing statistic?

    McKinsey & Co., recently ran the numbers, and found that if U.S. children did as well as students from nations such as Finland, our economy would be 9%-16% larger. This means our schools are costing us $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion every year. Just for comparison’s sake, as of late May, economists thought the recession would shave 3.7% from our economy.

    America is still the greatest country on earth, but our education system is very badly broken. How bad do things have to get before wholesale changes are made to improve education?

    We’re not lacking for ideas.

    We are lacking in execution of these ideas and it’s costing us dearly.