May 22, 2013
This week, I’m going to write about how deficits, those times in our lives where we feel malnourished, depressed, overextended, can actually be a great benefit to future success. The truth is, there’s no better time to reevaluate your process than when things aren’t going well. We’ve all heard very successful people say they learned more from failure than success and there’s a reason for that. Because it’s true! The trick is to efficiently breakdown the reasons for your deficits, rectify them, and then utilize that knowledge so that when the surpluses come roaring back (and they will), you can manage that success with more efficiency and, hopefully, more longevity.
One of the most basic “deficits” that almost everyone faces, is time. We are all over run by obligations, by our schedules, by our calendars, that keep telling us we have a meeting, a new employee to train, a work lunch with a VIP investor, dry cleaning to pick up, etc., and the stress of these various duties can be overwhelming. So, how do we deal with 25 hours of need-to-get-done tasks when we all know we only have 24 hours to work with?
Here are a few ways guidelines that I’ve utilized in my life that have helped me manage my time deficits:
Do you have any tips on how to solve a calendar crunch? If I choose to add yours to the above list, I’ll send you a $15 Amazon gift certificate!Tweet
May 14, 2013
Recently, I realized that there's a big difference between our priorities and our values. Oftentimes, you set your priorities based on external requirements (what does the world expect from you?). Values are the criteria by which you allocate resources and make decisions. Your hold them high or low at a personal level. You act them out. You don't write them down in a bullet point list (like priorities). But it's your values that determine the actual order of priorities you follow in life.
So, instead of trying to list priorities in order, I grouped them into Top, Secondary and Elective categories. My tops are health and family. They give me my life, happiness and are the basis of my energy and effectiveness.
My secondary priorities are career and service. They are secondary because my top priorities are not dependent on them. Sure, if your career fails, your family suffers -- but you don't lose them. My elective priorities are sports and hobbies. I follow them when I have the time as they are luxuries to me.
After doing the exercise, I realized that too often, I've let a secondary priority trump a top priority, which risks killing the golden goose! I let career take a greater value than health in several situations, skipping exercise or traveling beyond my body's capability. Then there are the sacrifices I’ve asked my family to make for my career or my service to others. In some cases they are necessary and the family is up for it, but at what point am I getting it wrong?
Here's my takeaway. I'll never let my secondary priorities trump my top ones, unless it's a pretty extreme situation. Sure, we want them all to work out, but there will be times when you have to look at things over the long view and say, "No, my family comes first." You need to act like you believe, and find the time for check ups, proper exercise and time with family. Each time you say to yourself, "I don't have enough time," look around for a pesky secondary priority gone out-of-control. It's just waiting for you to put it in its place.
April 26, 2013
Last night I attended a fireside chat where Vince Thompson interviewed The Audience founder Oliver Luckett. His company manages social media from major brands including artists, athletes, entertainers and super-cool companies. (His co-founders are none other than Ari Emmanuel and Sean Parker).
Every month, The Audience reaches between 600million and a billion people with their branded content. He thinks of the company as a modern day Factory (think Warhol, not Demand media) that produces objects for brands to publish for their followers and key stakeholders. During his comments, a few nuggets of gold came out for any person, company or entity that wants to leverage social media to build deep and profitable relationships.
1. Marketers Should Think Like Publishers - His point is that marketers need to feed their followers content that resonates with them, so they will embrace/share it. They should not think of social platforms as a bullhorn to make announcements. Sure, at some point when you've fed your followers enough great stuff, you can interupt the content-banquet to let them know about an opportunity to interact with the brand (concert tickets for his musician clients, movie release dates for actor clients and so on.) Takeaway: Develop a content schedule that's consistent, well times, contains objects (pictures, videos, essays) that enrich the life of the follower.
2. Measure Everything - Oliver was a key member of the Disney marketing team, helping to launch movies like Toy Story 3 and building brands like Dory, who is now even more popular than Nemo! He learned that if you measure the effectiveness of each object you publish, you can improve future effectiveness by "orders of magnitude." For example, he learned that if you post a picture of rapper Pit Bull in a pink shirt, it gets shared by followers exponentially more than if you posted a picture of him in any other colored shirt. (Apparently, pink makes Pit Bull come off more sensitive and improves his carriage with female followers.) Takeaway: Test different versions of content, and mesure the results. It's not just about measuring likes, it about optimizing your content strategy!
3. Don't Tell Your Followers What To Think - When working on Toy Story 3 at Disney, Oliver noticed that declarations like "Isn't this great!" (captioning a movie poster) were often met with comments like, "No, it sucks!" When the content was reposted without a declaration, it was met with enthusiasm. While this was targeted at teens and young adults, the point is obvious: Don't sell people, serve them and let them sell you. Takeaway: Content doesn't need to have a call to action, it needs to resonate, excite and delight followers. You need to trust that they will reward you with loyalty and consideration.Tweet
April 20, 2013
Less than a year ago, I met Nolan Bushnell at a METal breakfast, where I gave a talk on "the Future of Publishing." He told me he had a few books he was working on, and was interested in talking to me about publishing them via Net Minds.
We met the following week (see above) and cooked up a third idea: Finding the Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Hire, Retain and Nurture Creative Talent. I had just read Steve Jobs (by Walter Isaacson), and was aware of Nolan's history with Jobs, and how he created a creative-friendly workplace culture at Atari. I knew that many companies today need a creative genius to reinvent their products, or perhaps their industry.
Nolan talked to me about all the changes he made, and how so many of today's companies are getting it wrong. They filter out the creatives, then let the naysayers discourage the few that get in. We both realized that this was the book he needed to write, so he joined Net Minds and we started the project.
Using the Net Minds network, we put together a team around Nolan's book that included editorial, design, marketing and media relations team members. On March 26, it was the first publication by our young company, and it was covered widely: AP, NYT, AllThingsD, Mashable, Fox and Friends and In the Loop on Bloomberg TV.
We got this book to market in less than 1/2 the time it would have taken through traditional means. We've already cut deals to license the book in Russia and Taiwan, with several foreign publishers on deck. Many of you have supported us by buying a copy of the book. It's a great read, and will help managers and leaders of all types attract, hire and retain creative talent.
The book is comprised of short chapters (Pongs, read on here) that give YRMV advice on how to change your culture, environment and process to be more creative-friendly. Here's what Walter Isaacson said about the book when he read it (on an iPad): "An absolutely invaluable book by the founder of Atari and the man who launched Steve Jobs' career."
We have a special offer for companies or organizations. If you'll buy a minimum of 100 copies, we can setup a Skype or webinar with Nolan as a priceless bonus (based on mutual availability). If you are interested, email me!
For those that are eBook friendly (maybe everyone has an iPad?), we have a special way of helping you buy them in bulk for your whole company. Here's what our partner BookShout did for one of Nolan's speaking clients.
Sweet, huh? Again, if you are interested in this, drop me a note.Tweet
March 08, 2013
So each day, I walk him up and down the Hollywood Hills. Some days, I've got a lot on my plate, and the thirty minute walks can make me a little frantic that I'm not getting work done. (Note: I don't believe in filling that time with phone-work.) Sometimes, since the hills are so steep, the last 1/2 mile of the walk tuckers me out.
Sometimes I'd turn right on the street just before ours, and climb a steep street that ends in a culdesac. It was an extra 1/4 mile of up and down walking. More often that not, I'd just look up that street and decide, "not today."
And then one day a few months ago, as I reached the culdesac street/home intersection, I thought of a Napoleon Hill quote from my youth: "A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits." Then I made an internal commitment: I'm going to do this last lap every time I walk the dog. I considered it a test of my ability to commit to an action, and do it even when I lacked time or strength.
And since that day, I've done that last lap every time. As Stephen Covey Sr. said, "Inward victories lead to outward victories." This sense of comittment has spread to my work, leading to last laps I do everyday, even when it's late or I'm exhausted. I'm doing one right now, writing content for my readers at the end of a long day. When I'm working on a project, I consider that extra round of quality assurance and iteration the find lap of excellence. These all stem from a simple decision: Finishing is a practice, not an intention.
Do you have a last lap of commitment in your life?Tweet
February 07, 2013
Recently, I gave a talk on Relationship Power at a big conference that required quite a bit of research prior hand and nuance during delivery. I needed to create a one-of-a-kind talk to specifically help two groups come together, develop empathy for each other and collaborate. As an outsider, you can't wing this, or you'll easily step in a cow pie with the crowd.
And because half of my speech relates to their exact situation, it's brand new material for me. It is not in my treasure trove of advice bits, illustrations or signature stories. Which means that in many cases, even bullet point power point slides only serve as prompts and don't work like a teleprompter. (PS - I never use one. Makes me too stiff and disconnected with audiences.)
So, I rehearsed. Not in my head, or by flipping through my power point slides...I gave the talk. All. The. Way. Through. With my iPad serving as my countdown clock, I gave the talk at home in my studio the week prior to the talk. Taped it and listened to it on the plane. It was excruciating, as I started and stopped the opening five times until I had my legs underneath me.
Did the talk for the client the night I arrived in town, prior to having dinner. All. The. Way. Through. The next morning, I gave the first 20 minutes of it to my mirror at 6am. That was where most of the custom content was. How did the talk go? Fantastic! Felt at ease during the talk, didn't miss any key points, and used my examples without any bobbles or gaffes that could get someone's back up. Later, I received great feedback from members in the audience, as well as my sponsor.
If you are making a really important presentation, or doing some material for the first time, rehearse your talk. Outloud. All. The. Way. Through. You'll thank me later, when you tell me about how you "killed it."
What should you not rehearse? A crucial conversation. Frequently, we face situations when we are going to have a difficult conversation with someone about an emotionally charged situation. We might be mad at her. It might be a disagreement that needs an airing out. It might be a confrontation, where you are expecting answers from him.
The worst thing you can do is rehearse for this. Why? You are spring loading your negative feelings as you go over it in your mind (and sometimes outloud, especially as your brush your teeth or make eye contact in your car's rear view mirror.) The more you think or rehearse what you are going to say, the more your emotion's get spun up.
Also, when you rehearse, you frequently think about what she or he will say in their defense. At that point, you think of your follow up responses, and conjur up a debate or blowout in the process. Later, when you have your crucial conversation, when she replies to your charge, you'll loudly proclaim, "I knew you were going to say that!!!!"
And then it's on like Donkey Kong.
In this case, you'll do better to wing it. Let it play out without much pre-planning, other than to focus on what's really important in this situation. Are we trying to fix something that's broken, take care of a client or keep our word? Then that's all the conversation should be about. Finally, when we head into the crucial conversation, we need to remember: It's not a performance, it's an encounter.Tweet
February 04, 2013
Last night, Dodge's "God Made A Farmer" Super Bowl ad rocked me, and likely, millions of other people with its poignant message and eloquent deliver by Paul Harvey.
Today, according the Hulu, it's the highest rated ad that ran last night. Why? The ad was stunningly effective because it was authentic, pulled on our values and deceptively simple. The grainy sound was from a tape (yes, a cassette recording) of Paul Harvey's keynote address at the 1978 Future Farmers of America annual convention. No clean up, you can hear the hiss and the echo that comes with a tape deck setup at the back of the room (and not being directly fed from a mixing board.)
Instead of fancy effects, the ad features high quality pictures, to keep us tracking with Paul's narrative. The ad also works because, much like last year's "It's Halftime America" ad, it speaks to a crisis in our country that an underdog is facing. For farmers, they face less resources to do their job, at a time we need them more than ever. In the 4-Hour Work Week culture our kids live in, farmers work around the clock and are proud of it.
Former Coke CMO Sergio Zyman once wrote that "good advertising is a service. It adds value when you consider, purchase or use the product." In this case Dodge hit a home run, even though I'll never likely buy one of their trucks. Even in non-consideration, my affinity to the brand increased, which likely has it's own long term value to Dodge.Tweet
January 28, 2013
Several years ago, via Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, I discovered the meaning of social media, including blogging. Be helpful. Not be flashy, noisy, tenacious or controversial - to be successful in social-for-business, you must help people enough to earn their attention (and maybe loyalty).
While that sounds easy enough, it's pretty easy to just talk about how you can help your readers via your product or service. This is the brochure approach to social that's offputing. You are really selling, not helping. You need to earn the right to occassionally be a little self-promotional.
Here's how to be helpful with your business content: Think like a trade association magazine editor. They don't just blow their horn, touting various assocation benefits or programs. They draw up an editorial calendar that considers their member's whole set of problems and then writes content to thoughtfully address them. Great example: MPI's One Plus magazine, the trade for meeting professionals.
During my recent speaking tour for Chase (How To Win Business Using Social Media), the owner of a CFO Technology Consulting company asked me how he could create a blog worth reading, and content worth retweating. My suggestion, based on the above, was to meet with his team and maybe a few customers to whiteboard a four point content strategy that solves CFO's problems, even the ones he doesn't address with this service.
I asked him, "What problems does a CFO have in her day to day job?" Of course, his first nomination was "Technology". Kind of reminds me of the Maslow observation: If you are good with a hammer, everything's a nail. I pushed him for something else they struggle with.
"The regulatory environment is a moving target, so that's definitely a problem area for a CFO," he added. I asked him if there were any experts he could interview, articles he could recommend or alerts he could set up. You could hear his wheel's turning.
"Two more problems, dude," I continued. He stammered a little, then finally said, "Politics at work. They are often in turf battles either because they said no to a request or cut budget." Turf battles, getting along and corporate tactics. That's a great category, I thought.
Finally, he suggested, "meeting other CFO's and sharing direct notes." Although many join LinkedIn, not all due to their high profile, and the regulatory issues about disclosure, etc. At this point, he had four things he could write about or provide solutions for. If he blogs on 1 or 2 times a week, this four pronged approach will supply him with ample content to grow his following and extend his reach.
I told thim that when you solve their total problems, even the ones you don't sell against, you produce surprise and delight, which positions you as a trusted partner, ready to add value. When it's time to announce a new product, you'll find them more than ready to give it a try. If you are really helpful in your content, like Triumverate Environmental is, just putting your phone number in your blog navigation will do all the selling you need.
Read Trimverate case study in this free ebook by Hubspot.
For more of Brogan and Smith's logic, read their book, Trust Agents.Tweet
January 15, 2013
I'm attending my 3rd conference this week as CEO of Net Minds. Sure, I've spoken at 200 conferences over the last decade, but that is not the same thing as attending one as a company team member. I've taken it for granted that I know conferences, but in fact, getting ready for this week has led to soul searching regarding my strategy.
After all, going to a multi-day conference (2 of them back-to-back) ruins an entire week of operational work and involved traveling on Sunday. I need to derive a high return on investment to make it worth my company's time (and mine personal time too).
To be successful this week, I've followed these steps:
1. Create a goal for each event that is measurable and attainable. In this case, it required doing some research as to who is attending and how they intersect with our business needs. In this case, I've determined six people per event I'm going to connect with, and in each situation, a deliverable that I'll tee up.
2. Pick out the content I want to absorb and get acquainted with the subject/presenter prior the event. Doing this gives me the ability to deeply listen to the presentation, and still be able to tweet during it or ask questions. I will not show up and spontaneously decide which keynotes or panels I will attend. I've also asked my team to nominate presentations I should attend.
3. Be a reporter on the event. We are all in the marketing department these days, and tweeting or blogging about an event is a great way to gain new friends/followers and perhaps be a part of the event's schedule next year. TIP: End your coverage tweets with the official event hashtag #. It's a great way to "show up" at your event and start new relationships.
4. Don't stay any longer than is useful. In both cases, I'll be leaving prior the event's conclusion to get back to work or on to the next event. Why? These events are mostly frontloaded for me, where I'm getting most of my value in the first two days. (Why are events three or four days, with the end just being a wrap up?)
5. Organize my acquired contacts and follow up within a week. All the work we do at events is fruitless if we lose the connections due to latency. Next week, I'll be sending out a few dozen emails either confirming next steps or forging/forwarding my new relationships.
What are your conference prep tricks? Please tell me in the comments. If I use one of them in an edit to this post, I'll buy you an iTunes gift certificate!Tweet
December 31, 2012
What a great year (again) for new music and indie-rock! I've enjoyed dozens of full length albums in a world of iTunes singles. My method of discovering new music centers on CMJ's Charts, Pitchfork, my local record shop (Freakbeat) and serendipity. I buy the CD (yeah, usually the CD, if possible from my local store), then listen to it in my car and if I like it, via my Apple devices.
To me, a great album is glued together by at least a half dozen great songs and a cohernet sound. So, without any more windup, here are my ten favorite albums of the 2012:
1. Purity Ring, "Shrines" - This Canadian duo delivers a downtempo, trip-hopian record that evokes Portishead, Massive Attack and Metric. The production is innovative and the record has song after song to get in your head and make your ear buds happy.
2. Jack White, "Blunderbuss" - The best songwriting of the year IMHO. White combines the best of his White Stripes style with his evolving sense of humor and willingness to bend the Delta Blues to his liking.
3. fun., "Some Nights" - This is the cool-band-that-blew-up this year, rocketing to the top of the charts and making the leap from indie to pop sensation. When you combine Queen like vocal layers with Green Day like enthusiasm, you have an infectious sound. The title track, along with We Are Young, will go down as the anthems of 2012.
4. Ty Segall, "Twins" - This is my favorite hard indie record of the year, just beating out Metz and The Men. Ty fronted Orange County based Epsilon before branching off to his solo efforts. Think Nirvana's sound from Bleach combined with a male fronted Runaways and you've got it.
5. Passion Pit, "Gossomer" - If you mix four Berklee School of Music graduates with a dollup of MGMT's sensiblity, you've got Passion Pit. They have greatly improved with this sophomore release and their hit "Talk A Walk" is one of my favorite singles of the year.
6. THEESatisfaction, "awE naturalE" - This Seattle hip hop duo is one of Sub Pop's recent forays into alternative beat culture. They have the eloquence of the Fugees, yet a band like sound, much like the Roots. Great album to relax, dance or nod your head too.
7. Django Django (self-titled) - This London based quartet brought energy and vitality to bedroom-produced-pop with their debut album. If you love Franz Ferdinand or Kaiser Chiefs, you'll love this band too. After a half dozen infectious electro-brit-pop songs, the band settles into an instrumental-electronica section to end the record on a high note.
8. Grizzly Bear, "Shields" - In this album, the band matures into a songwriting force to be reckoned with. Likely, their tours with Radiohead influenced their work, adding structure to their shimmer. Each track adds to the choral rock energy of the album, delivering a consistent indie-rock delight.
9. Big Pink, "Future This" - This UK duo delivers two of my favorite things: Anthem & Electro rock. Their hit "Superman" will lift you off the ground, and likely be your psyche-up song for your next big challenge or performance in life.
10. Alt-J, "An Awesome Wave" - Taken from a Mac command, this band's name stands for "Slow Change." They combine what I like about Fleet Foxes with what I love about My Morning Jacket: Shimmer tones and vocal swirls. The track "Fitzpleasure" will hook you on the band, so give it a listen and prepare to buy their album.Tweet