Monday, August 31, 2009
When he bangs on a keyboard, people listen louder.
Perhaps the most influential marketing expert of the 21st century, his is the Number One business blog in the world. With nine bestsellers to his credit, Seth has changed the way millions think about the way we buy and sell in the new millennium. He is also the creator of many catchphrases now entrenched in our everyday business vocabulary, including ideaviruses, purple cows and meatball sundaes.
If these terms are foreign to you, there is a lesson in itself.
Seth's new catchphrase for 2009 and beyond?
As Seth explains, "A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). Now the Internet has eliminated barriers of geography, cost, and time. All those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more important, they're enabling countless new tribes to be born - groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming".
Traditional marketing - radio, TV, newspaper ads - has focused on yelling to crowds. Today, people and companies that succeed won't be yelling. They'll create and lead far reaching tribes that become longer lasting and more powerful.
Would you rather yell and sell to a crowd or nurture and nourish your tribe?
There are no shortage of examples where the latter is gaining traction in the digital age, including New Jersey-based wine expert Gary Vaynerchuk, the builder of a devoted following while growing his family wine business exponentially. Another is Texas-based Wizard Academy, the only 21st century business school of its kind; attracting students from among the world's most successful and forward-thinking educators, scientists, inventors, journalists, ministers, artists and authors. Located on a 30-acre spread outside of Austin, Wizard Academy is also home to the open-air Chapel Dulcinea which has created another interesting "tribe" of its own.
Seth Godin believes tribe building begins with your desire to change the way things are done, the ability to connect members with each other and your willingness to lead. There is plenty more to be discovered about "Tribes" as Seth explains in this recent interview:
If you want to dig into this subject deeper, here is Seth at a TED conference earlier this year, explaining "Tribes".
Barack Obama leveraged Tribal Knowledge and wound up in the White House as John McCain struggled with e-mail.
Arianna Huffington is building the most popular blog in the world around her tribe as major newspaper conglomerates continue to hemorrhage red ink.
Tribal Knowledge also explains why "Cheeseheads" spread from Wisconsin, "Red Sox Nation" becomes a New England export and "Hulkamaniacs" dutifully followed through with their prayers, training and vitamins. Tribal Knowledge is also the common denominator that fosters Trekkies, Oprahligion and the KISS Army.
Harley Davidson, Apple, Starbucks and the Running Room are flourishing tribes for the very same reason. They offer a chance to be part of brands that matter.
The only way to create a tribe is to lead it.
Like Canadian real estate mavericks PropertyGuys.com
If you are serious about leading your company or fashioning the career of your dreams it means you need to challenge the status quo and start connecting with people who can actually make a difference. If you can't pull that off, don't whine about everything that is wrong with your business, your non-profit or your career.
Are you prepared to play the role of the heretic? Ready to ruffle some familiar feathers and risk sacrificing some all too sacred cows?
Ignore what "Tribes" is saying and a bigger risk may present itself.
You could fall in line with other "sheepwalkers" - fighting to protect status quo at all costs, and missing the enormous opportunities Tribal Knowledge has to offer.
"It's not for you to somehow beam your message to strangers and convert them, because you can't convert strangers anymore. Not one major new consumer brand built in the last five years was built on the back of advertising. Google and Facebook, etc. are built because one person brought another one by the hand, not because someone bought ads on the Super Bowl"
Originally posted February 12, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
You live in a world where you are told in many different ways to chase success.
That being said, any definition of success is a personal one.
So to, is any decision to pursue what you would consider to be success.
But, if you have made a decision that success matters, you are probably aware your level of success is a byproduct of what many refer to as the "Law of Attraction".
For centuries, LOA has had many teachers, including Dr. Deepak Chopra who uncovered the "secret" in 1995 with "The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success", where he explains achieving success is governed by the same laws that govern all of nature; which is to judge nothing and be grateful for everything. As Chopra puts it, "I tell friends to just put your attention in your heart and think of all the things you're grateful for. If you just do that, you can't have ego and gratitude at the same time".
Could it be that simple?
Feeling a sense of gratitude.
Does finding success go hand-in-hand with your level of G-Force?
If nothing else, a feeling of gratitude beats the hell out of feeling lousy. If you want to split hairs and get academic about it, there is no shortage of data to dig into. Research shows grateful people have, “higher reported levels of positive states of enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy ”. Psychologist Alice Isen of Cornell University adds, expressing gratitude triggers a release of dopamine, the chemical in the brain associated with happiness. “It activates the parts of the brain in which complex thinking and conflict resolution are thought to be headquartered.”
Today on TSB we are grateful to share another perspective on the G-Force with Matt and Brad who have taken this message to heart.
And to their feet.
Out on the street.
Their high-energy, powerful teachings of “Living the GratiDude Way” have been sweeping the planet like wildfire. Matthew Ashdown and Brad Morris, otherwise known as, “The GratiDudes" believe G-Force is the key to unlocking SOUL-utions to many of our challenges.
The GratiDudes have toured North America speaking to thousands of people, in classrooms and conferences. They’ve also appeared on "Good Morning America" and hosted one of the top online radio shows on Voice America in 2008, called “Manifesting Awesomeness”.
They made the video in the summer of 2007 in Victoria, B.C. How did they find the dancers? As Brad explains, “We told them it was International Gratitude Day so they would feel obligated”.
As it turned out, only half those asked felt “obligated.”
Millions are grateful that they did.
What has you feeling a sense of gratitude today?
“You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices"
Originally posted April 3, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
In the mid-eighties, when hair bands ruled the world, a young man named Malcolm leaves Canada and heads south to the U.S. to give journalism his best shot. Thanks to an uncommonly clear writing style and keen eye for a story, Malcolm quickly climbs the career ladder, landing a job at The Washington Post. After less than a decade at The Post, he reaches the pinnacle of literary journalism, The New Yorker. There, he becomes a rock star, writing articles full of big ideas about the hidden patterns of ordinary life, which then become centre stage for not one, not two, but three #1 best-selling books.
Is it chance or circumstance that helped place Malcolm in the spotlight?
The author of "The Tipping Point" and Blink" has taken the study of successful people to a new level with his latest book, "Outliers". In it, Malcolm Gladwell opines how people like Bill Gates get to rule Microsoft, the "Ethnic History of Plane Crashes", and why NHL players are overwhelmingly born in the first part of the year. In other words, what other factors besides passion, hard work and persistence explain why a chosen few in any profession or discipline achieve uncommon levels of success while many others fail to achieve their potential or worse, crash and burn.
Gladwell’s wildly popular and provocative theories about modern life have turned his name into an adjective. "Gladwellian" is used to describe concepts and catchphrases such as "thinslicing", "connectors" and "mavens" that originated with his widely read earlier work.
Today, in true Gladwellian fashion, Malcolm shares his thoughts on "Outliers" with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
Several months ago, while addressing a business audience in London, the follically-endowed Gladwell expanded on what he discovered through the writing of "Outliers", by dispelling some "rumours" about a success path followed by some classic rock icons.
Does Gladwell's research on success make sense with respect to the 10,000 hour investment?
This topic has surfaced before on TSB, (Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Talent - October 16, 2008), however, Gladwell has taken it in a new and different direction with "Outliers".
Does Gladwell make you re-think what is required for you and the people around you to become truly remarkable?
"When you're rich and famous you are the dominant force in a relationship, even if you try hard not to be. I've talked of sacrificing everything for Fleetwood Mac, but I realize now that it is simply the only thing I've ever wanted to do"
Originally posted February 17, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Fiddling with knobs as you exceed credit balances and relationship speed limits on the Highway of Life, you struggle to dial in a radio station called Opportunity. Signals fade in and out, crackling voices barely audible. Before long you give up. Your thoughts turn elsewhere.
Your tiny attention span has timed out. You can't be bothered any longer.
You’re in a rush.
The very next day, you bump into an old friend and spend the next half hour or so transmitting Life’s frustrations, the various maladies, obstacles and people who stand in your way. You wonder why the “breaks” haven’t gone your way, silently cursing that lousy bastard called Opportunity who still hasn’t had the decency to pound loudly on your door.
Your emotional backlash registers.
Your pain duly noted on a timeless wavelength of "want".
One day, you may be lucky enough to discover Opportunity operates neither randomly nor heartlessly. One day, you may even begin to adjust your settings from “transmit” to “receive”, and tune in the gentle vibration of Opportunity, incessantly whispering in your ear.
Occasionally, those whispers are draped in a dark cloak, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. Only an investment of stillness, reflection and preparation will allow you to “see” the light of Opportunity and experience what those around you refer to as “good luck”. Rarely does a successful person “luck” into things as much as you'd like to think they do. Good luck is merely the residue of Reflection & Preparation meeting Opportunity step by step, creating great friendships, families and/or fortunes. Put another way, dumb L.U.C.K. seems to happen whenever we Labor Under Correct Knowledge.
But, will you sit still long enough to tune in?
Tired of waiting for extraordinary opportunities?
Then find a way to slow down, relax and recognize the faint signals which offer hints of greatness - and then do something about it! The way Eckhart Tolle explains it, "Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live".
The timid, the talkers and the tuned-out will always drift aimlessly; waiting and hoping while you join the intrepid and insightful who continuously make their own breaks. As Edison once stated "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work".
But, first you will have to learn to put life in neutral - if only for a moment. Allow your inner voice (the critic) to fall Silent and discover how the "Secret" to listening is truly hearing both the "Words and the Music."
Emiliana Torrini learned to listen to the whisper years ago while working as a waitress at a well-known Italian restaurant her father owns and operates in Iceland. You can discover how it worked for her at http://www.emilianatorrini.com/
For the record, there are also physiological reasons why it is difficult for any one of us to re-set our dial from transmit to receive. Science confirms our human brains are just too fast for our own good. The average person speaks at about 125-150 words/minute but we can listen and comprehend up to 600 words/minute. The result is a listening channel usually underutilized 4 to 5 times its capability. Counteracting that requires a conscious effort on your part.
The whisper of Opportunity only registers with a still mind and quiet spirit.
Are you taking enough time to pause and pick up the signals?
Is there an Opportunity closer to your heart, whispering to you now?
“Invisible airwaves crackle with life, bright antennae bristle with the energy”
Originally posted September 8, 2008
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Few presentations are as riveting as Roy H. Williams at Wizard Academy in Austin, TX, illustrating a phenomenon that happens every 40 years where society's attitudes gradually shift in a direction that counters that of the previous generation. In case you missed it, Roy's Monday Morning Memo of December 15, 2003 predicted this current shift would happen, simply by studying patterns of history and connecting clues left by Elvis and Eminem.
In other words, the Wizard of Ads knew six years ago that a pudgy, overpaid veteran slugger called "Hammerin' Hype" was about to go down swinging to a 98 mile-an-hour fastball served up by a skinny, media savvy, left-hander named "Genuine Gen Y".
Few things are more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
In their book, "Generations" William Strauss and Neil Howe contend each generation belongs to one of four types, and these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern spanning between 80 and 100 years. The cycles rotate, starting with an idealist generation, to a reactive one, then a civic-minded generation and finally an adaptive generation, that leads back into an idealist one.
Currently, the Forty-Year Pendulum is taking us from an idealistic society where it was OK to dream, to a more civic-minded world where getting things done is more important. Just don't expect traditional marketing and advertising messages to work the way they did with previous generations.
"Genuine Gen Y" relates to no bullshit, zero hype messages that mock big feeling impostors or weak-kneed, vanilla corporate sheep. They tune out advertising messages that spew "white noise", such as, "Friendly & Knowledgeable Staff", Locally Owned & Operated", "Huge Selection." "Top Quality." "Everyday Low Prices." and "No Obligation, No Money Down and No Salesman Will Call".
Even though these statements may be true in the mind of the person who hands over a check to a media rep, "Genuine Gen Y" stopped buying several years ago. But, cliche-ridden adspeak isn't restricted to the marketing of products and services. Some of the worst offenders are job ads trying to sell "dynamic and rewarding career opportunities" with proclamations of offering "a challenging, fast-paced, results-oriented environment, ideal for positive, self-motivated and energetic multi-tasking team players with pro-active problem-solving abilities, strong communication and computer skills, able to work independently while exceeding customer expectations".
The choice of language has a way of planting seeds of expectations that allow posturing between employer and applicant to begin. Owners, managers and HR professionals who care about attracting top talent will be the leaders who figure out how to speak a new language in much the same fashion as this British consulting firm.
Having been choked by a steady diet of hype, your customer or future employee hungers for statements they can actually believe in. They crave hearing words and feeling emotions that seamlessly link your brand promise to something that actually matters.
Understanding this societal shift is good news for forward thinking visionaries who apply this thinking to their own brand. If you are that type of person, and ready to spend some batting practice to research the implications of the Forty-Year Pendulum, you improve the chances of making solid contact with your customers - both internal and external. Failure to do so and you'll swing and miss with alarming consistency.
Expect more curve balls and high hard ones from "Genuine Gen Y".
Is your brand ready to learn this new language and step up to the plate?
"You can only milk a cow so long, then you're left holding the pail"
Originally posted September 22, 2008
Monday, August 24, 2009
Managing inbox inventory, juggling meetings, appointments, kids and customers. Staying on top of bills that need paying and messages begging for a reply. You wish you had more time to think, plan, refocus, but there is always so much to do.
"Gotta FedEx that package to Toronto before noon".
Anything that ain't solving a problem or making you money, gets mentally tossed aside.
You ignore ordinary stuff.
But you wish your business had more customers.
Today, you have come to the right blog because there is someone who understands your biggest challenges when it comes to getting your brand noticed by other time challenged people who have been ignoring you. Seth Godin is the author of 11 best-selling books, including "Meatball Sundae", FREE Prize Inside", "All Marketers Are Liars" and "Purple Cow", a concept Godin defines as offering a product or service that is remarkable. Some of the world's top companies pay a guy like Seth hundreds of thousands of dollars to help shape their vision and marketing strategies to be aligned in a world where the balance of power has now shifted 100% to the consumer.
In less time than it takes to shower and change, you can vividly see where your brand fits into this new brand world, with some help from one of the world's best at what he does.
And, best of all, you get this valuable insight for FREE!
Godin maintains the only way for an idea to earn buzz is by being remarkable. And therein lies both the problem and the opportunity.
Few companies, fall into the "remarkable" category.
From where TSB sits, it's less than 10%. Maybe less than 5%.
There are only four slots in any business category and your brand will fit into one of the other three, unless you happen to be one of those rare five percenters who has invested time, money, energy and emotion to create something remarkable. For the record, these other three slots are decided by the way consumers spend their money each day. They are as follows:
1. "Better than average" - a few good ones, truly good at what they do.
2. "Average" - the mushy majority you can take or leave.
3. "Mediocre" - the fakers and takers who just scrape by.
If you operate a small to medium-sized business, the top slot reserved for those who are "remarkable" is well within your grasp since it is usually marked "vacant". However, that slot will be filled by someone else once they hear about blogs like this one and plug into what people like Seth Godin are saying.
By definition, being remarkable means your brand is somehow noticeably different from all the rest. In order to be "heard" above the crowd, you will need to do something to separate your brand from the "herd" in your category.
In what remarkable way are you doing things differently?
And will other busy people care enough to spread your story?
When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.
MEG WHITMAN, CEO, e-Bay 1998-2008
Originally posted September 18, 2008
Friday, August 21, 2009
The journey of a million clicks often begins with a single step.
For Jud, it was as simple as putting one foot in front of the other - with a slight twist.
Nothing about his background suggests Jud would emerge as a global phenomenon. How does working on a cruise ship, serving as a summer camp counsellor, being a certified aerobics instructor, or a gig as a part-time auctioneer prepare one for worldwide notoriety?
But, then again, why not?
It was 2002, when Jud started working on a routine while having a little fun amongst friends.
Just for kicks and giggles.
His friends told him, "Jud, you're pretty good, you got something there".
Thousand of hours of rehearsal and performances later, Jud is on an Oklahoma stage where colleges decide which artists they want to invite to their respective schools. His "routine" that day was anything but.
The video-taped performance hit YouTube in 2006.
The rest is history.
Judson Laipply of Bucyrus, Ohio, is now in heavy demand as a motivational speaker and comedian who can boast having the #2 Most Viewed Video (All Time), and the #1 Most Favorited (All Time) Video, with over 101 million views as of October 13, 2008. He has appeared on CNN, The Today Show, Oprah and believes "going viral" is the next step of evolution as far as branding is concerned.
To learn more about Judson, visit www.evolutionofdance.com
Interesting world we live in where otherwise normal people with a special talent, share it with others, shoot a video clip and upload it. Think of the impact on your personal brand and the possibilites that present themslves when it spreads through cyberspace 101 million times.
Apparently if you have a unique talent and you're prepared to sweat, shake, rattle and roll hard enough to perfect your craft, you just have to take that first step.
Who knows where that step might take you?
Is this a great world or what?
"Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears all the rappers, they're doing my dances and they're making billions doing my dances. When they do that little thing they do with their hands that's The Fly and The Pony" CHUBBY CHECKER
Originally posted October 24, 2008
Thursday, August 20, 2009
And what is your customer really buying?
Would you believe the answers to those questions has little or nothing to do with the actual product or service you sell?
Think about it.
Does a future husband really buy a diamond ring or is he buying the expression on her face? Do homeowners really buy fertilizer, or are they buying green grass? Do mom and dad really buy four bicycles, or are they buying good health and family togetherness? Do media salesmen sell “spots” or "ad space", or do they deliver an increase in store traffic?
In his landmark Harvard Business Review article, "Marketing Myopia," Theodore Levitt stressed the need for businesses to define themselves not in terms of the products they sell, but in terms of the customers they serve. "Marketing Myopia" can be avoided when you start asking two simple questions:
1) "What business are we REALLY in?"
2) "What is our customer REALLY buying?"
As an example, Levitt suggested back in the early 1960's that railroads stopped growing because they assumed they were in the "rail" business rather than the transportation business. He contends if they had seen themselves and their customers in a different light, they might have been able to own the technology created by the Wright Brothers and kept existing customers through owning the development of aviation. Instead, the new technology inspired competitors to jump in and take customers and market share away from the dinosaurs of rail.
Businesses that rely too heavily on the rational value of their products/services alone (features and benefits) wind up on a one-way a track to obsolescence. Once you recognize what your customer is REALLY buying - your marketing job and future prosperity becomes much more manageable.
As an example, decide for yourself if this company is really selling a "product" .. or something else altogether.
This MSN Video campaign delivered significant boosts in some key brand metrics:
- 74% of viewers watched the video in full
- 9% increase in message association among men
- 8% rise in purchase intent among men
Does a deeper understanding of what their customer is REALLY buying help explain why this brand outsells the next three men’s fragrances combined?
If you are "take no-prisoners" serious about elevating your brand to the next level, you don't need to be a Harvard professor to answer to these questions:
What business are you REALLY in?
And what is your customer REALLY buying?
"Any damn fool can put on a sale, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand"
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Jim is used to wheeling and dealing, but sometimes life has a way of handing you stuff that ain't easy to deal with.
This is one of those times.
What can you say when you hear two of your employees have been killed in a car accident?
The usually upbeat Jim Gilbert's Wheels & Deals used car dealership is in a state of mourning following a tragic triple fatality this past weekend in Fredericton, NB. A Pontiac Firebird veered off the road in the wee hours of Sunday morning, plunging into the St. John river and taking the lives of 23-year old Jesse Schur, 20-year old Matt Swan and 19-year old Joe Bourque. A fourth person, Leah Clowater managed to escape through the Firebird's T-bar roof and has since been treated and released from the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital.
Shur and Bourque were Wheels & Deals employees and owner Jim Gilbert admits his staff are having a tough time taking the loss of their two co-workers.
"We are a small business, so everyone knows everyone and we are just shocked. I have read 100 business books and listened to 100 speakers but there is not one line that teaches you how to deal with this. I feel really bad for the mothers of these boys. It is just so tragic."
Schur worked as a mechanic, a job he only started about three weeks ago while Bourque drove the customer shuttle and washed cars. Jim Gilbert was only starting to get to know Schur, but considered Bourque a great employee and a wonderful person.
"Joe came right from Leo Hayes, and he was in one of those work programs and stayed right on afterwards. Everybody loved him. He was a fantastic kid and he never questioned anything."
It's difficult to watch friends or family struggle with the death of a loved one. You want to express your sympathy and regret, finding the right words to bring them comfort is often a monumental challenge.
The best words of comfort you can give is to tell or write about your memories of their loved one. Those memories will be treasured more than you can know.
Upon his return from Joe Bourque's funeral, one of his Wheels & Deals co-workers offered this:
"If he was my son I would have been a proud father. Joe was a good kid, out having a good time and wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nobody can ever find the right words ...words are just words, but we're talking about a life that was cut way too short. Joe had so much to look forward to. He and Leo were having a blast restoring a 1985 Chevy half-ton. He was always going to the gym with his Dad. It's really too bad there wasn't more like him. The world would be a better place."
Ordinarily, Wednesday's on this blog are dedicated to "Motorvationally Speaking", the Internet TV show that Jim Gilbert conceived as a way to showcase dreamers and achievers and focus on all the things that are right in the world. As you can appreciate this is no ordinary Wednesday.
Today on TSB we fall silent, honoring the memories of Jesse Shur, Joe Bourque and Matt Swan.
Our thoughts, hugs and prayers are with those they have left behind.
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal"
From a headstone in Ireland
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Useful as in allowing you to live in a healthier, more vibrant and successful fashion, depending on how you measure and define success.
But, if Marty's right, can optimism be learned?
Whether or not that is possible would depend on a number of factors but Marty might make you think again on this subject. Martin Seligman is the former president of the American Psychology Association and director of clinical training at the University of Pennsylvania, who found a way to rank individuals on an optimism-pessimism scale. In a longitudinal study of school children, those scoring highest for pessimism were most likely later to suffer depression. High scores for optimism predicted excellence in everything from sports to life-insurance sales (a finding that saved Metropolitan Life millions of dollars in personnel selection).
Optimism wins votes as well. Typically, the more optimistic candidate wins the race if you think back to presidential campaigns such as Clinton vs. Dole. Bush vs. Dukakis, Reagan vs. Mondale, Carter vs. Ford and Obama vs McCain. Analysing campaign speeches for the prevalence of optimistic words and ideas, Martin Seligman predicted the winners of the 1988 presidential and Senate elections more accurately than veteran political forecasters.
"I used to be an agent of both truth and happiness,but research is increasingly challenging that view. Optimists have a set of self-serving illusions that enable them to maintain good cheer and health in a universe essentially indifferent to their welfare". Seligman adds, "Optimists are more resistant to infectious illness and are better at fending off chronic diseases of middle age. In one study, we looked at 96 men who had their first heart attack in 1980. Within eight years, 15 of the 16 most pessimistic men died of a second heart attack, but only five of the 16most optimistic men died".
Seligman believes depressed people may need to adopt the same self-serving illusions most normal people hold. He reasons that since we can choose how we think, styles of thinking can become habits as we learn to control our thoughts as we would our muscles.
So, Marty, what do you do when you're in a funk?
"My recommendation is to do something pleasurable that will distract you from your troubles; fun distractions because studies show, if you think about problems in a negative frame of mind, you come up with fewer solutions. And you're likely to spiral into deeper depression. By boosting mood and self-esteem, people with pessimistic tendencies can break that cycle and free themselves to think more creatively.It takes most people a few weeks to get the knack, but once the technique is learned, the less likely a relapse"
Someone who has been successfully applying and sharing the Seligman approach is a Massachusetts gal who has been delighting readers, live audiences, and TV viewers for more than 20 years with wacky and wise insights about life, love, and the insanity of the modern world.
And here she is now ... ready to shine a little more light on optimism on your day ... the one and only, Loretta LaRoche!
Loretta has been nominated for local and prime time Emmy Awards, has appeared on CNN, ABC and NBC affiliates and has authored 6 books including Relax: You May Only Have a Few Minutes Left, Life is Not a Stress Rehearsal, Life Is Short- Wear Your Party Pants, and her latest book Kick Up Heels Before You're Too Short to Wear Them. You can learn more at http://www.lorettalaroche.com/
What Loretta and people like her do is give us a respite from the same bad news we can get any day from the news media or hear from BMW thinkers that cross our path (Bitchers, Moaners, Whiners). Typically, the human brain will process about 50,000 - 60,000 thoughts per day, about 80% of which will be either negative or self critical. In other words, it takes a concentrated effort to block out crap that brings us down and focus on good stuff that ultimately makes a difference in what we do, how we do it and who we do it with.
Is your glass half-full or half-empty?
One could argue both perspectives offer value. The optimist may have invented the airplane but the pessimist thought about the parachute.
Perhaps, the question of learned optimism needs to focus less on what we already know but more so on what we are willing to explore.
Or maybe, there are days when we just need to give ourselves a good swift kick in the glass.
“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties"
HARRY S. TRUMAN
Originally posted November 6, 2008
Monday, August 17, 2009
Although legally blind with about 6% sight, Richard still has vision.
He can "see" more than most.
Despite his disability, Richard has a substantial track record in helping others less fortunate than himself, completing 17 full marathons in places like Boston, New York, Hawaii and Dublin while raising over $250,000 dollars for charity.
The athlete formerly known as "Blind Guy Running" has taken on a new cause. Richard is now on a cross-Canada trek, riding a tandem bicycle from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland, collecting pledges for athletes with disabilities.
Today, "Blind Guy Biking" wheels his way into Moncton, NB for a noon hour press reception at City Hall, where Richard will outline his plan to raise money for Special Olympians and support a new Blind Hockey organization which will allow the visually impaired to play our national sport.
Let's go up close and personal with "Blind Guy Biking" ... Richard Holloway.
Richard has been joined on his nationwide journey by nephew Aaron Matthews acting as his lead and ‘eyes’. These go-kart Mozarts left Victoria on June 7, 2009, and plan to hit St. John's on September 5, 2009. All told, their route consists of six legs of 1,650 kilometers each with a total distance of about 10,000 kilometres.
For more information, or to make a pledge through the Canadian Progress Club secure server, visit www.blindguybiking.com.
"You don't need sight to have a vision"
Friday, August 14, 2009
"Don't you feel it growin, day by day, people gettin ready for the news" ...
Can a single YouTube visit help you understand where an entire generation is coming from?
A 24-year old, Gen Y son directs a Baby Boomer father to check out an Internet video featuring, Grammy Award winners, Flight of the Conchords.
Few of us who were born in the 50's or 60's own any of their CD's or watch their hit series on HBO, but their brand of brilliance has generated global notoriety and international acclaim. New Zealanders Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement bill themselves as "Formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo".
To understand a generation, you need to understand their music. The musical roots of the boomers can be traced to Elvis, the Beatles and the Stones. Swivelling hips, moptops and mod clothing scandalized nations of fuddy-duddy parents who screamed outrage while clinging to their crew cuts and Bing Crosby records.
Today if you're a Boomer parent or a business owner, it might help if you could "get" where musicians like Bret and Jermaine are coming from and why your sons,daughters and their text-happy friends are buying what F.O.T.C. is putting down.
Bret and Jemaine were college flatmates, studying film and theatre before forming F.O.T.C. in 1998. Originally they attempted to write "serious" songs, but when their music was misinterpreted as parodies they read the market and switched to the comedy genre.
F.O.T.C. speaks to a 24-yearold Gen Y son who is part of a group more than 3 times the size of Generation X, and almost as big as the Baby Boomers at 72 million. Gen Y grew up on-line and grew up fast; witnessing corporate collapses, dot com busts and more than their share of family life disrupted by the devastation of divorce. As kids they were encouraged to speak up and got used to questioning their parents and challenging the status quo.
Marketers and Employers share similar challenges when it comes to "getting" where Gen Y is coming from.
It doesn't matter whether you are trying to sell to Gen Y or get them to work for you, this bunch is more jaded, irreverent and virtually bulletproof when it comes to being persuaded by traditional marketing gimmicks or bullshit corporate speak. They see right through any advertising that shrouded in mouldy, cheesy hype and they have grown up knowing there is more to life than just work - and life comes first.
Gen Y wants it real and irreverant. Warts and all. In real time.
What are you doing to plug in to a generation that is less than impressed by your "seniority" and judging you instead on "quality?" How many Gen Y's are you connecting with these days and have you taken time to study their heroes?
Do you know what inspires them?
And what messages can be detected through their music?
"What the people need is a way to make em smile, ain't too hard to do if you know how. Gotta get a message, get it on through, oh now, mama, don't you ask me why"
THE DOOBIE BROTHERS
P.S. ...Did you find it remarkably clever that Bret and Jermaine's video offered nothing in the way of foul language? Is it just coincidence that "Business Time" happens on a Wednesday, universally known as "Hump Day"?
Originally posted October 7, 2008
Thursday, August 13, 2009
In your perfect world, you create a "Tipping Point"; that precious space in time when critical mass boils over, allowing your ideas, products and messages to spread in a viral manner. In his best-selling book, Malcolm Gladwell points to examples such as the rise in popularity of Hush Puppies shoes in the mid-1990s and the dramatic drop in New York City crime rates in the late 1990s.
You see examples of "Tipping Points" all around you - each and every day.
It helps to understand how "Tipping Points" are created since it explains how three guys from Colorado spread the word about the ugliest footwear ever made.
Scott, George and Duke knew they were on to something big when the fire marshal at the 2002 Fort Lauderdale, Florida, boat show started yelling about the crowd around their booth blocking the aisles. The trio was tossing pairs of colorful boating shoes at passersby, asking them to slip them on.
They did, and sold all 200 pairs of CROCS in two days.
From there, popularity mushroomed. Sales poured in. By 2003 CROCS had become a bona-fide phenomenon, universally accepted as an all-purpose shoe for comfort-seeking, suburban fashionistas.
According to Gladwell, the dynamics involved in generating a "Tipping Point" transcend all product and service categories - even more so in today's Facebook world. And while technology may be connecting more strangers than ever, certain fundamentals have not changed.
Will you stop for a moment and consider the implications for your brand?
Today, TSB explores some underlying factors you can apply to tip the sales in your favour.
Much of Gladwell's analysis as to why "Tipping Points" occur is based on the 1967"Six Degrees of Separation" study by sociologist Stanley Milgram. Milgram gave letters to 160 people in Nebraska, with instructions to send them to a stockbroker in Boston by passing the letters to somebody socially closer to the target. The study found that it took an average of six links to deliver each letter. Of particular interest to Gladwell was the finding that the three friends of the stockbroker provided the final link for more than half of those letters.
This revelation is what sparked Gladwell's theory that three types of people hold the key to unlocking viral forces that fan the flames of a wildfire brand.
CONNECTORS: These are the people who link us up with others. People with a special gift for bringing the world together. They know lots of folks.
MAVENS: Otherwise known as "information specialists", or people we rely upon to connect us with the latest and greatest trends and technology. They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others.
SALESMEN: These are the "great persuaders". Charismatic people with a powerful ability to influence in such a way as to make others agree with them.
In this video, some college kids in the U.S. take a creative, cheesy, crack at explaining these character types in more detail.
Since we rely so heavily on word-of-mouth information when determining what products to buy, which companies to trust and who to believe, can you see the advantage in having some of these "Tipping Point" characters included in your circle of influence? These three character types exist in every community and no doubt a few were strolling along the aisles at a Fort Lauderdale boat show when they saw something that caught their eye.
And all it takes is a few.
Another brand that adopted these marketing principles and put them into practice is Apple. Former Apple marketing and sales exec, Steve Chazin has identified 5 of the things that make the folks who brought us the iPod and iPhone such successful marketers. You can discover them in a little 8 page e-Book that Steve calls "MarketingApple: 5 Secrets of the World's Best Marketing Machine".
But as Steve explains, you need something worth talking about for your brand to go viral. In other words, word-of-mouth evangelism are gifts that your customers can give you, but first they must be earned.
It doesn't matter if we're talking CROCS or computers - the principles for generating word-of-mouth buzz don't change.
But, you must have something remarkable to offer, before it is deemed worthy of spreading.
What is it that you do or sell that qualifies as being "remarkable"?
If you can't put your finger on it, how can you expect to plug in to the connectors, mavens and salesmen surrounding you each day?
"I hope I have encouraged people in business to expand the way they make sense of human behavior"
Originally posted October 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
“And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover.
With no one runnin' by your side my blood brother”
Ken was looking for a way to make a few extra bucks while studying business at Atlantic Baptist University.
And one conversation with Jeremy changed everything.
"I kept seeing these orange and black 'For Sale By Owner' signs in the Greater Moncton area," Ken recalls. "I had a little bit of experience creating websites, so I thought, what if I put this website together for these people who are trying to sell their houses by themselves?"
It was the spring of 1998 when Ken LeBlanc shared his idea with Jeremy as the two sat in accounting class and decided to get things rolling. "PropertyGuys.com was launched on less than a hundred dollars," explains Jeremy. That was enough to buy a domain name. “Ken and I would go door-to-door and charge homeowners $199 to list their homes on an entry level bulletin board style website. It was nothing great to look at, but it allowed our early customers to beef up traditional classified ads with photos, descriptions and elements you couldn't have without spending a boatload of money."
More than a decade later, PropertyGuys.com is Canada’s largest and fastest growing franchise system, with more than 120 franchise locations across the country. The award-winning system allows homeowners to sell their homes privately, giving them the tools to perform the sale with a complete online presence. In effect, Ken and Jeremy created an environment where a real estate consumer can be their own Boss without having to pay the cost of high commissions.
Today on TSB, we profile a guy who has been there from the beginning, through thick, thin and everything in between ... Born to run as the co-founder of PropertyGuys.com ... Jeremy Demont!
"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we aim to inspire, educate and motivate.
"But the stars are burnin' bright like some mystery uncovered. I'll keep movin' through the dark with you in my heart. My blood brother"
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
And what's it worth?
Last month, Amazon.com purchased online footwear retailer Zappos for an estimated $928 million dollars. Under the leadership of Tony Hsieh, Zappos created a seamless brand, envied by many, for the way external marketing was linked to a unique internal culture. In other words, Zappos busted its butt to create great marketing from the inside that eventually got noticed and valued at close to a billion dollars on the open market.
Much like everything else they do, Zappos announced its acquisition by Amazon to its employees in its own style:
Why did Amazon acquire Zappos?
There are three key reasons:
1. Zappos has tons of growth potential
2. Zappos is known for its legendary customer service.
3. Zappos has a one-of-a-kind culture that no company, even Amazon, can easily copy.
Without that culture, Zappos is just another company selling shoes.
But the investment in people has paid off as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos felt there was something in the Zappos story that reminded him of his own. Essentially, that's how this deal came together as Bezos explained the transaction to the Zappos rank-and-file in an 8-minute, low-budget YouTube video.
"Everything I Know," lays out Bezos' philosophy and guiding principles. Watching it gives you a glimpse of why Amazon has become a great company and why it would be attracted to Zappos.
Jeff Bezos chose YouTube and Tony Hsieh used a blog post to break the story of a $900million dollar transaction - skipping the P.R. flacks - and using the tools at hand to distribute information directly to their audiences.
Has this approach demonstrated a better way to communicate internally than the inter-office memo posted on the lunch room bulletin board?
Will the Bezos' video inspire other CEOs to follow his example and explain their own statements of purpose? How many front-line troops would become more engaged if they had a better grasp on why their company exists, what purpose it serves and where it is heading as opposed to hearing nothing other than a focus on monthly sales quotas?
Most organizations talk culture, but Zappos recognized theirs as a key driver, both financially and intangibly. Culture is not something Zappos gets around to “when we have time” or “if there’s money left over in the budget”.
Seamless brands like WestJet, PropertyGuys.com and Zappos "get it".
Culture is central to their success.
As a business and a brand.
"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well"
Monday, August 10, 2009
Feeling like he is all that - and a bag of chips.
Ten years in the business, earning a living as a full-time speaker with thousands of rave reviews can do that to a guy. But, something from an e-mail promo is telling him something else needs to be learned about his chosen profession.
From someone else who does it for a living.
So the speaker jumps into his car one day and travels three hours to join about 30 of his peers, to listen to yet another so-called expert and see what he has to say. At first glance, Doug doesn't wow many people with his physical appearance.
Skinny guy. Funny looking glasses. Hair a little on the wild side.
Brad Pitt he is not.
Brimming with confidence as Doug's seminar begins, the speaker, takes his seat and before long is slowly engulfed under a tidal wave of humility. The insight from this communicator from Colorado Springs is washing over the room in Poseidon-like fashion. Within an hour, the speaker turned student, feels like he is drowning; starting to question whether he really knows his craft as well as he thinks he does.
It is eight months later.
And a humbled Canadian is still grateful for the lessons he has learned and keeps learning from a dude named Doug, who many in the world of professional speaking refer to as a "genius".
He is the Edison of elocution. The Einstein of extemporaneous speaking.
To the best of our knowledge, Doug has yet to split an atom or invent electricity but he has come up with a winning formula to help anyone turn a nag of an otherwise ho-hum presentation into a thoroughbred worthy of Triple Crown contention.
Ladies and Gentlemen ... TSB is honored to present, the author of "Story Theatre Method", based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado ... and a man who can take your speech to the Winners Circle ...
The incomparable, Doug Stevenson.
Without props, gimmicks or powerpoint.
Just a compelling story and a way for you to present it.
If the delivery of compelling presentations is part of what you do for a living, why not study from one of the very best in the business.
You - and your audience - will be grateful you did.
"Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood" WILLIAM PENN
Originally posted December 16, 2008
Friday, August 7, 2009
First heard about SunPop on a trip to Austin in the summer of 2006.
Back then, I saw for myself, a glimpse of the future for on-line video.
The brainchild of Rex Williams, SunPop is a Texas-based production company specializing in unscripted, genuine and humanizing online videos. You might say SunPop has an appetite for destroying anything that smacks remotely of plasticized posing in front of their cameras.
Recently came across one of their latest projects and thought this 2:32 clip was way beyond cool.
Latest research indicates worldwide online video revenue is expected to quadruple over the next four years - leaping to $4.5 billion in 2012 from $1.2 billion in 2008. And SunPop is quickly carving a niche as being one of the best in this growing segment of the video production business.
It's so easy to see why.
Rex Williams recommends business owners to always be mindful of the end result they are striving toward when considering on-line video as part of their overall marketing mix.
And, most of all, keep it real.
"Slash sat me down at his house and said, You've got to clean up your act. You know you've gone too far when Slash is saying, Look, you've got to get into rehab"
Originally posted November 14, 2008
Thursday, August 6, 2009
For the first time ever, tens of thousands of Maritime Canadians have descended upon Moncton, NB, eagerly handing over cash and credit card info to soak up a re-charged version of a brand, essentially unchanged for the past three decades.
Australian rockers AC/DC have rolled into town, supporting "Black Ice", their fifteenth studio album released worldwide in October 2008. It's their first album since the release of Stiff Upper Lip in 2000, also marks the longest gap between AC/DC's studio albums to date.
Incredibly, the product remains relevant while the band refuses to compromise its winning brand formula:
- Angus Young attired in a school boy outfit doing the Chuck Berry duck walk.
- Brian Johnson howling the vocals, doffed with trademark flatcap.
- Malcolm Young and Cliff Williams supplying a stationary stage presence from the flanks, designed to keep the spotlight on the guys up front.
- Phil Rudd maintaining a rock solid beat - minus any drum rolls.
With AC/DC there are no concept albums, no keyboards, no disco, no ballads, no gospel choirs. And "Black Ice" is their best argument in years — maybe decades — that elegance and longevity can be discovered within simplicity. AC/DC discovered their strengths early, stuck to their musical guns and remain a staple in a world of constant change. Even when Englishman Brian Johnson replaced the late Bon Scott in 1980 on vocals, this rock and roll war machine re-tooled and kept churning.
And now the "Thunder from Down Under" has the Moncton area buzzing with unparalleled anticipation.
Hardcore fan Don Coleman captured the feeling when he and some of his Albert County pals got together and fused imagination with a video camera.
Based on earlier tour stops, here is what fans can expect tonight at Moncton's Magnetic Hill concert site once AC/DC hits the stage.
Rock n Roll Train
Hell Ain't a Bad Place To Be
Back In Black
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Shot Down in Flames
Shoot to Thrill
Dog Eat Dog
You Shook Me All Night Long
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway To Hell
For Those About To Rock
When the Young Brothers started in the early 70's, nobody knew who they were, yet they built their careers and their brand by sticking to foundational principles, clearly evident in "Black Ice", AC/DC's longest studio album to date. Some fans call it the bands best release since 1980's legendary "Back in Black".
But how do they pull it off?
In other words, why do legions of fans gobble up even more records, concert tickets and merchandise from a band that has not changed either its look or sound (for the most part) since 1973? How many other acts do you know that have gone this far by just sticking to the basics?
Is there something in the AC/DC approach that could amplify your brand?
"There are all sorts of cute puppy dogs, but it doesn't stop people from going out and buying Dobermans" ANGUS YOUNG
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Kevin has been a migrant worker since 1991.
Each August, he packs his bags, jumps on an airplane and heads to a foreign land to teach grown men how to play a boys game. And he does his job impeccably well.
For nearly two decades, Kevin has routinely taken over sad sack outfits, turning them into contenders, winning league titles, awards and packing arenas for wealthy team owners. After spending most of his career in Germany, the last two seasons have seen him working his craft in the 10-team Austrian Hockey League as coach of the Vienna Capitals.
A voracious student of the game, Kevin makes a habit of researching common patterns of greatness found in others; everything from tribal dynamics of the Samurai to the coaching practices of Lombardi, Bowman, Torre and Walsh.
Competing inside the naturally lit Albert Schultz Eishalle, near the Danube River, represents quite a change for a New Brunswick boy who grew up playing out of Moncton's Dud James Arena before going on to an impressive college career with the University of Moncton Blue Eagles. His story is one of an otherwise ordinary Moncton guy who exhibits tremendous work ethic in continually trying to take his game - and the players who surround him - to the next level.
Today on TSB, we profile one of European hockey's top professional bench bosses, the head coach of the Vienna Capitals ... Kevin Gaudet!
"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we aim to inspire, educate and motivate.
"Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate"
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Increasingly, you and your brand are being discussed every minute of every day in cyberspace.
My My, Hey Hey.
Wouldn't you like to know what people have to say?
And how it impacts everything you're doing to get your business noticed?
Lately, you have begun to realize how your best marketing efforts could be completely blindsided by a single incident uploaded, downloaded and unloaded on the masses. Even worse, is when these exchanges eventually wind up in mainstream media.
One of the best examples of why you want to pay attention to how social media levels the playing field between a single customer and a corporate giant is when Vincent Ferrari jousted with mighty AOL. Ferrari recorded his conversation with the customer service rep, posted it to his blog and the rest, as they say, is history.
Millions of marketing dollars invested by AOL were essentially flushed down the toilet by this single incident that generated hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits and blog posts. The company was forced to apologize and wound up firing the customer service rep.
But that hasn't stopped the on-line conversations about AOL from continuing:
"Companies generally enforce an attitude of 'you will keep this customer or else' so he was screwed either way. I feel slightly sorry for the guy"
"I freaking HATE AOL. I got rid of them last year, and they gave us a hard time, and over charged us and didn't want to give it back. and they were rude to us over the phone, I should have recorded it.now we are with Yahoo, and we are happy"
"Fuckers took it out on the employee like it was him and not their policies. They trained him to be a jackass"
This is not the type of brand flavour AOL - or any other company - wants served on-line or off.
According to Radian6 CEO Marcel LeBrun of Fredericton NB:
"Your brand is now the sum of conversations about it. Instead of marketers sitting in an office and saying OK, here is what our brand is going to mean so let's buy some ads and push it out there, they now need to be part of the conversation".
LeBrun and his Radian6 renegades are going where few software firms have ventured, rocking the on-line world with technology that helps clients monitor what's being said about them. More than 100 PR and Marketing agencies have jumped on the Radian6 tour bus along with companies such as Moosehead Breweries and Bell Aliant to discover what people are talking about.
LeBrun's New Brunswick-based firm has soared from having only a handful of paying customers and a few crazy horse employees working out of a one-room office in November of 2007. Today, Radian6 employs 36 people in two offices, with more than 130 customers, including the Interpublic Group of Companies, one of the world's largest marketing, advertising and public relations conglomerates. PR agencies were a natural fit since they were feeling the pain of having to monitor what was being said about their clients on sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The Radian6 software does the job in one neat, tidy package, giving users a chance to see things (like a Vincent Ferrari) unfold in the free world before it goes viral.
LeBrun is also a dedicated blogger with his "Media Philosopher" page http://www.mediaphilosopher.com/, keeps up with his growing legion of fans on Twitter, and as such has emerged as a figure who not only "gets" what the Digital Economy is all about but has some idea of where it is heading. As far as the "based in New Brunswick" strategy is concerned, LeBrun and Radian 6 walk their own talk. In a recent Globe & Mail on-line discussion, LeBrun explained, "I have built previous companies from New Brunswick as have the other executives in Radian6 many of whom have worked in global companies like Microsoft and Alcatel as well as tech start-ups. We need to have a global presence, regardless of where our home base is. For any Canadian company, the US market is several times larger and you just need to make sure you are present in that market and can serve the client's needs well. The really cool thing about working in social media is that geography becomes much less of an issue now that you can participate in customer conversations online instantly, globally".
As social media platforms expand so will the implications for your business and by extension your brand. Could it be that your brand - seemingly overnight -has become less about geography and more about "community" in the way communities are now being defined? And how your brand is being portrayed in community "conversations"?
Hey Hey. My My.
Social media will never die.
Are you ready to see more to this picture than meets the eye?
"You affect the world by what you browse" TIM BERNERS-LEE
Originally posted October 8, 2008