Monday, April 30, 2007

Don't baby your employees

Many are talking about the dumbing down of America. I don't think people are getting dumber. I believe, media, politicians, educators and companies try to treat us as dumb people because it makes their lives so much easier.

Most of the new business books read like 'Management for Dummies', and too many managers treat their employers like they treat a 2-year old toddler at home.

Why the dumbing down of organizations? At the heart of it you'll find risk aversion. Help centers read off scripts, infantile rules are applied to organize the working space, and seminars have to be attended to protect employees from any unpleasantness emerging from ordinary work relations.

Work differences have to be worked out by Human Resources and managers, instead to be handled by the employees themselves. Part of it is our litigious society. But, more importantly, if you treat your employees like toddlers they will run to mama if they will feel mistreated. And, by supporting this kind of behavior, we don't interact openly with each other, censoring our speech and ideas.

Rules are important and some behavior needs to be handled by management and Human Resources.

But employees need to be encouraged to work out their own conflicts and differences. Conformity and predictability are enemies of innovation and change. And the growth of your brand/organization.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Don't assume - ask!

Isn't it interesting how often people do assume failure, disinterest or apathy in getting what they need without even asking for it?

I happens too often.

People don't like to ask favors, try to find a new job or negotiate a good price/salary. They are either fearful, pessimistic or don't have the initiative to change their life.

When you're the VP in an organization, you should have constant access to C-level executives. Even as a middle management employee, you should have access to the CEO.

Whenever I end up in the horrendous world of phone banks with nowhere to go, I always end up writing the CEO.

All I did was try.

If you want to achieve something, if you want to get what you need, and you didn't ask the right people, you should never complain.



And, you better execute, once they agreed to your course of action.

Social Networking - Old Hat

Our brains were wired 2,000,000 years ago when we were hunters and gatherers. We sat around the camp fire, exchanged good and bad experiences, tried to keep the other tribes out.

The old media model allowed for brands to interrupt this human need and ensure that the age-old conversations were disrupted.

The fall of the TV empire and demise of mass media altogether allows people to go back to focus on their needs and desires. And Web 2.0 is just the catalyst to make it easier for customers to talk about brands/products and allows for a quick connection to a brand/product.

All the Web 2.0 of this world won't help your brand if you don't build your brand correctly. Web 2.0 supports the brand. It doesn't build it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Scratch Yourself

I discovered a new service called It's a simplistic flash application that allows you build a lottery-style card that you can send via email or embed on your site/blog. Above scratch card pays homage to my favorite act of Coachella 2007.

A rather attractive solution for advertisers with low media budgets to engage consumers with their brand. No, not interesting as a conversation tool. But it interesting way to spread your message/images around.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Information vs. Entertainment

You can explain the DSG Gearbox with diagrams, product demos, technical mambo jambo. Or, you can come up with a creative execution that says more than any product information. People don't buy for rational reasons. It's all about emotions and how to connect with consumers.

Observations from ad-tech

- There was almost no talk about mobile marketing. My guess is, everybody assumes mobile will be a player in the near future. No reason to hype it anymore.
- Interesting role reversal: The Chief Creative Officer from Publicis defended the Status Quo of the outdated distribution model. Managers from P&G and Motorola were passionate about social media and didn't believe the old agency model is sustainable.
- WOM was the hottest session. The room was filled 20 minutes before the session started and the line outside was 100 people deep.
- Best remark of the conference: Media Plans should be designed for optimization.
- As expected, best session was about Conversational Marketing.

Summary: ad-tech has run its course. There are better events out there, this has felt stale for a while. It's been good to know you.

Thursday, April 26, 2007 - now 2.0 compatible

The first automotive site with an abundance of Web 2.0 tools. Search is at the center of the site experience, a tag cloud displays the top searches and the tools are out of this world.
The Build and Price advances automotive tools to a new level and Compare-o-tron is just plain fun.
Sure, the site is slow and the navigation needs a lot of work. But, that's what happens when you launch an innovative site.

One of my co-workers said it feels more like a consumer site and less like a brand site. I'm sure that's what they were gunning for.

Invitation-based Marketing

Lou Gerstner, CEO of IBM, says: "Management doesn't change culture. Management invites the workforce itself to change the culture"

This made me think of our current permission-based model. Shouldn't we strive to change this model to invitation-based marketing?

'Inviting' is such a beautiful word. It implies mutual respect and a mature relationship. There's a huge difference between being permitted to have a dialogue or being invited to have a conversation.

This conversation would focus on connections, empathy, caring, discussions, breaking down barriers, creating, sharing. Sounds very 2.0 to me. Exactly what we need.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fear is overrated

When I grew up in Germany, many coal mines were closing. There were month-long strikes, fist fights with the owners and a lot of doom and gloom in the media. Even when I was young, I never understood why miners would fight for their lousy job. Why risk dying young because of accidents or, if you're lucky, die in your 40's because your lungs give out? Clearly, they were afraid of change. They saw the world in black and white: Either the mining job or unemployment line.
25 years later, the old coal mines have been replaced with a German Silicon Valley, the area is booming and coal mines became museums.

There will always be a coal mine. Chinese companies will threaten the current US economy. Outsourcing will eliminate jobs in the IT world. Changes will happen, in nature as in business, in science as in politics, in art as in manufacturing. Change is as inevitable as tornadoes, earthquakes, rain, sunrise and sunset. Change will allow us one day to travel to the Moon, cure addicitions and in the future we will not use fossil fuels anymore. The leading industries of today will be history book chapters in the future.

Your choice: Become part of the change, a catalyst. Or be victim of change.

Either you change the game or the game will pass you by.

You better face this fact right now or you will be obsolete very soon.

Apple changed the world. Google does. Yahoo used to and, hopefully, will do soon again. Einstein. Jeff Bezos. Nike. Fox. MySpace. Facebook. Joost is trying to change the world right now. In a few years, some of these brands won't be around anymore. They will have settled for mediocre and safe. And we will have moved on to something else.

We all are fearful: Terror, Global Warming, Recession, Housing Market, 2.0 Bubble, our health, our marketing approach.

Fear is overrated. Fear won't change anything. The coal mines continued to close. The Chinese are still becoming a powerful economic force. Fear doesn't advance. Fear protects the Status Quo.

Either become part of the change or retire. Clean out your desk now if you're not willing to embrace change.

Think. Envision. Create. Lead. Create your own course of change. Become a change agent. Invent new ways. Trash them. And invent new ways immediately.

You will fail. Over and over again. And then fail again. That's the price you pay when you try to explore new paths. Success is based on failures.

Nobody should be afraid of failures. Things happen. As long as you make them happen, success will follow.

Don't act like a coal miner. Unless you're happy becoming part of a history text book.

How not to plan

Follow these 10 important rules and your campaign will certainly fail.

1) Everyone has time to talk, nobody has time to listen

2) We talk about 'target audiences', not people

3) Research just supports your point, doesn't make new points

4) You mention the word purchase funnel

5) You have information, not insights

6) You use the word rational when talking about purchase reasons

7) Only creatives have ideas

8) The client is always right

9) The client is never right

10) The 'brand' is owned by the other agency

And, here's the bonus rule:

11) Incremental improvements are good

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Get ready for the newest buzzword

My good deed of the day: Sound cool and cutting-edge by using the newest member of the buzzword family: Video Snacking.

What does it mean?
Basically, marketers don't expect people to watch a Hollywood movie of 90 minutes or so on a small LCD screen. What all mobile marketers are banking on is that people will be more inclined to watch short clips - video snacks - of up to 10 minutes.

Mhm, possible. The Video iPod showed us that people like to watch shows, videocasts or even movies on a very small screen. Still not sure if people feel the same about the third screen (Buzzword alarm).
Marketers continue to jam outdated models into new devices and communication channels. It might work for a short period of time, due to the curiosity factor, but it won't last. There's an urgent need for marketers to come up with ideas how to connect with consumers on mobile devices. Banners? Won't do it. Textlinks? Whatever. Repurposed Video? Not really.
We need new thinking for new channels.

For now, Video Snacking is just another buzzword. Use it at your own risk.

We need it

Seth Godin writes about the importance of personalizing the consumer experience. Definitely the way to go. The example is where all brands should be. But I warn against going further.

I've been observing the behavioral targeting space for a while and I'm getting concerned we're going too far with our 'one-to-one marketing'.

To be very clear: Behavioral Targeting has nothing to do with 'one-to-one marketing'. It's just another way of repurposing the old media distribution model in a more efficient way. I'm a big fan of Behavioral Targeting in the short term if it's non-intrusive, non-creepy and benefits the consumer. In the long run, today's Behavioral Targeting is pretty much doomed. It's just another arms race how to get intrusive messages in front of the consumer. And the consumer found their own weapons of cookies rejection and cookies deletion to fight back.

Where does this leave us? Instead of trying to continue on the old, beaten path, we need to develop behavioral targeting tools that consumers can control. They need to be in control of their experience and they need to express the desire to receive targeted messages.

Monday, April 23, 2007

When will they get it?

Are we residing in an ivory tower? Are we so removed from reality that we don't really know how to implement our 2.0 vision? And execute it?

Most people that read my blog understand the importance of conversational marketing, the necessity to listen to the consumer and revise all existing marketing strategies.
But most brand executives don't read blogs. They think kids and nerds read blogs. They don't believe in Social Networking. They think teens and weirdos are on MySpace. They are in their 40's and when we talk to them about the importance of conversational marketing, they just answer "That's all nice and dandy but I need to sell products."

I can show them research, case studies, white papers - the whole enchilada. But what they say is: 'Get me on as many homepages as possible.' Back to the old distribution model.

Sure, we don't have to fight Online ROI fight anymore. But most brand managers are stuck in 2001-2002 and they are scared to move along. Corporations tend to reward mediocrity and that worked for many decades. But, as we all know, mediocrity will lead to bankruptcy or a brand on life support.

I realize there's a tidal wave of blogs, articles and columns about the changing marketing landscape. But where are the real-life implementations? Where are conversational web pages? Brands still think they know what consumers want and how they want it.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not doubting the change that's happening right now. And I don't doubt that only brands that adjust to the age of conversation will survive and prosper.

I'm just worried about some brands who are not even close to making a change. They will be left behind. And I will miss them.

More change.

Tom Asacker's motto is borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut: "I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center."
Tom is a business speaker, author, marketing guru and blogger. A few months ago he published an article, discussing the need for change in marketing. Just as a warning: You will encounter many metaphors. Trust me.

Below is my favorite part of the article:

The Masses Have Left the Tree

"The marketplace of old resembled a mass of caterpillars hanging around the tree of traditional media,venturing down the branches of mass distribution, and consuming the offshoots of brand advertisers. No more. The masses have escaped their pupae, spread their distinctive wings, and are fluttering around fields blossoming with an abundance of colorful and succulent offerings. A fleeting glimpse is all one usually gets of them. So what’s a marketer to do in this chaotic environment of abundant products andservices, fast-flying consumers, and a rapidly changing landscape?

Will Rogers once remarked, “Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction.” Orderly inaction describes today’s ineffectual, status quo marketing. Chaotic action is the new marketing imperative; to wit:

1. Be wherever and whenever your audience is most receptive to your message (verifiable metrics be damned). Like butterflies (okay, enough with the metaphors), consumers are best observed when they are “feeding.” With some experience, you’ll quickly learn to find "hot-spots" of butterfly activity;

2. Get their attention by being unique, relevant, and authentic. Bright, plastic flowers may attract butterflies from a distance. But once they get close enough, if it’s the wrong species or devoid of aromaand taste, they’ll quickly flit away to something worth engaging with;

3. Deliver value in exchange for their time, since the key to long-term marketing success (read: ROI) is toget them to come back for more, and to bring all of their friends; and

4. Keep notes on what you observe regarding the habitat, the offering, the way the butterfly moves and communicates, and other matters of interest. And you can leave your nets at home. You’re not trying to capture anything.

The marketing times they certainly are a-changin'. Unfortunately for us marketers, that's about the only thing we can be certain of today."

Makes me think about 70/20/10 rule. Should companies only invest 10% in experimental marketing even though we know that some part of the 70% is wasted because we're not able to connect with consumers anymore? Or should it be rather 40/30/30? The latter will offer more opportunities for rapid improvements. 70/20/10 might be too conversative for these progressive times.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The $15 Martini

Have you ever sat a dive bar, a $5 beer in your hand and thought, "I could have had a six-pack for the same price."
Why does this thought never occur when you have a $9 beer at a hip bar? You might think that you're drinking an overpriced beverage. But you don't think for a second you could get the same experience at home.

The hipster bar enhances the purchasing experience. It adds value to your bar experience, to your life. A more enjoyable purchasing process will increase the value of your service. And, consumers are willing to pay for an enjoyable purchasing process. Ask Lexus. Or the last bar you gladly paid $15 for a Martini.

Friday, April 20, 2007

We have come full circle

Markets used to be places to do business. Customers walked by stands or shops, listened to the sales people, negotiated and moved along. The market evolved, driven by the Industrial Revolution. The term 'Market' changed into a verb, customer became consumers and conversations became messages. Consumers and messages became replaceable.

As Doc Searls said: " There's no market for messages." And so marketing became a war: We focused on target audiences, ran campaigns, considered competitors enemies and developed strategies to beat them. The war lasted for decades and people got tired of it. 60 years of war will do that.

And so consumers decided to become customers again, they didn't want to rely upon corporations for information. Instead, they rely upon each other.
The TV Industrial Complex looks back longingly at the last decades. The masses have moved on. They've gone back to the market, have real conversations with real people and they want the marketers to listen.
Problem is, marketers are getting paid to talk. In these times, we should get paid to listen.

Web 2.0 is all about the money?

In his newest article, David Lazarus discusses Web 2.0 and the implications of the DoubleClick acquisition.

Two observations:

1. The headline of the article and the first two paragraphs are completely misleading and utterly wrong.

"Web 2.0 is all about money

The Web 2.0 crowd totally cracks me up -- all this prattle about reinventing the wheel, as if networking and community building haven't been core aspects of the Internet since day one.

You want to know what Web 2.0 is really about? It's about who makes the most money off the largest captive audience since the invention of television. And nothing underlines the stakes of this contest like Google's planned $3.1 billion takeover of online ad agency DoubleClick."

I have no idea what the Google and DoubleClick acquision has to do with Web 2.0. Both are 1.0 (1.5 at best) companies trying to move into the 2.0 space. Google's and DoubleClick's mission is not to build communities or to try to connect in innovative ways with online consumers. And, yes, of course, the acquisition is all about money. Just not Web 2.0.

2. The rest of the article discusses a topic that most online marketers are trying to rationalize, brush aside or just forget. But it might become a huge problem for the online space. I'd venture to say that 99% of all online users have no idea what's happening behind the computer screen. They don't know their online behavior is being tracked and analyzed.

The online marketing industry has to seriously discuss the implications of Behavioral Targeting. We're trying desperately to connect with consumers in new ways and clients expect immediate results. But we track and analyze without the consent and knowledge of the consumer. Last summer's AOL PR disaster, when they released their search logs, should remind us that we're walking a fine line. We need to get input from the consumer to help us clearly define the line. What is acceptable? What is creepy? Too long we've been running the BT show without involving the consumer. We better do it soon or we'll have to pay a price. The last thing we need is another AOL disaster.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The scale of the universe

An amazing flash application that spans the entire scale of the universe. This is how Flash should be used.

Safe is too risky

When we pitch new business to a client, we are asking the client to take a risk. Some pitches feel like smaller risks. Others feel like business-threatening risks.
What we consider a minor risk, might change the brand proposition and affect their customers for decades to come. We have to be sensitive to this possibility.

As they said in my old agency: "Great ideas get you awards. Results of those great ideas pay the bills."

Clients are in a bind. Many of them understand that they have to take risks to survive in the 2.0 world. But that risk might threaten their career. Their mortgage. Their future.

But, on the other hand, life was never meant to be easy. If it was easy to take risks, they wouldn't be called risks. They would be called easy choices. It's important to advance your career, pay the mortgage, think about your future. But your mental health and your human spirit requires you take risks and try to be remarkable.
Understand your fears, fight them with accumulating as much knowledge as you can, and then trust your gut feelings. The old saying says that nobody on their deathbed ever wished they would have worked more. But many wished they would have taken bigger risks.

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."
- Michelangelo

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Best Google Maps Mashups

News Map

Select any country in the world and a live feed of relevant articles from Yahoo News pops up.

Flood Maps

Will you have a beachfront property once the glaciers melt? This site uses NASA topographical data to show how coastlines will look with each meter of sea level rise.

Mappy Hour

You can't stumble around online without hitting a bar guide these days, but Mappy Hour is very efficient at finding the shortest path from you to cheap cocktails.

Thanks to Wired for the list.

Crisis Management - Google Style

I must be ignorant but it took me until now to discover that Google has various blogs and, while exploring, I found Jen Bradburn's blog entry at The Google Consumer Packaged Goods Blog.
He offers advice to companies to consider when they are facing a crisis.
It's funny how we tend to forget about search in business-threatening situations.

Crisis and breaking news tend to increase searches dramatically and brands needs to react quickly in order to push consumers to the right information channels, aka Google Adwords. Or Yahoo!, MSN and Ask.

Here are Googles recommendations:

- Offical information needs to be available immediately. Route the press release and company statements accordingly.
- Use the right keywords to ensure you get heard.
- Leverage sight, sound and motion for impact - if you have video of the CEO talking about the crisis: Perfect. A press conference: Great.

Search is so much more than CPC and a monetizing scheme.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It just works

I'm about to buy a new dryer. The ones that I consider have an astonishing amount of features and drying combinations. I'm pretty tech-savvy but I feel the electronics and appliances industry has started this features war, that makes me feel like my mom with her VCR flashing 12:00 for years to come.

Will this eventually stop? I hope so.
Most web sites are starting to understand that too many choices are too much for the consumer. Consumers say they want unlimited choices. What they're really saying is that they want enough choices they can control. 500+ TV stations don't put the consumer in control. They overwhelm the consumer. 250 washing combinations on my dishwasher don't improve my life. They just make me feel inadequate.

Sometimes 'good' is the best way to go. I have other things to worry about than the 3 million features on my cellphone, camera or audio system. I just want something to work, look good and be maintenance-free. I don't always need the best, most innovative and glamorous.

Don't get me wrong: I'm a big advocate of excellence. But excellence doesn't equal complicated. In our cluttered times, simplicity often equals excellence.

Clearly, Craigslist could could look better and have more features. But it just works.
And 'it just works' is sometimes all we need.

Monday, April 16, 2007

We grow out of creativity

If you do have 20 minutes to spare, please take the time to watch this presentation from Sir Ken Robinson, making the case for revolutionizing the educational system by focusing on creativity instead of just mining the human mind.

Sir Ken Robinson is one of the best speakers I've ever seen and you will be highly entertained, laugh out loud and, in the end, be deeply touched.

You better become T-Shaped

The Internet has come a long way: In the beginning were badly designed sites. They were replaced by visually exhilarating sites that scored no points in the usability category. Then designers discovered Flash and the whole game changed again. But all of this is coming to an end.

We're in the middle of a real revolution: We are about to combine rational and emotional benefits in order to create compelling experiences that users find useful, usable and engaging. And who will lead the revolution? T-shaped people.

Tim Brown, founder of Ideo describes it more precisely:

“People who are so inquisitive about the world that they're willing to try to do what you do. We call them "T-shaped people." They have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T—they're mechanical engineers or industrial designers.

But they are so empathetic that they can branch out into other skills, such as anthropology, and do them as well. They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need”.

What does it mean to all of us in the marketing world? The days of being a specialist are over. T-Shaped people have a core competency, but they can easily branch out. T-Shaped means being curious, empathetic and always questioning the Status Quo.

Look at your own team/company: Do you have employees that worked in different areas of expertise? This is very common in the advertising world. Look at my resume: Station Manager for TWA/United, Speech Pathologist, Law Degree, Copywriter, Creative Director, VP Marketing, Interactive Strategy. Sheesh, how did I fit all this into the last few years????
Look closely at employees who have experienced different mediums. Are they willing to put themselves in the shoes of others and throw pre-conceived notions out the window? Do they like to experience new things on an ongoing basis? Do they leave their comfort zones whenever they can? Do they make you uncomfortable or nervous once in a while? Do they question everything? You might have a T-Shaped person on your staff. Time to nurture them.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Check out this feature discussing the highlights of 8 automotive sites. I was asked to comment on one site I was responsible for ( and another site I admire. In addition, 6 additional sites are being discussed by 3 experts.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

You say you want a revolution

When brands are just nicely wrapped sales enzymes, as many are, they often just become another nice package that screams "I'm beautiful inside."

Life beyond the package
Quite a few brands get the packaging right, become cold icons and then go into retirement. And soon after generic brands compete with and pass them by without any effort.

When you build brands, you have to look beyond the packaging. Brands own an endless space. In this endless space we try to connect with customers in new and surprising ways. Yes, the packaging is important, but it's just a small part of the brand. The main focus is to find out where the brands directs the consumer in this infinite space.

A real brand causes a revolution.
A brand is part of a bigger idea. And you need the consumers to advance your brand. They need a mission, a vision, oppportunities to connect and some direction. They don't need anything else from you. They just want you to be the leader. Not the manager. And definitely not the micro-manager.
When you build a brand, your ultimate goal should be to lead a revolution. A change, an emotion, an idea that connects and expresses the consumer through your brand. The consumer energy drives the revolution and brand forward.

The revolution wins.
Leading a revolution should be your ultimate goal. Real brands care about the packaging. But they are passionate about how to revolutionize products. Markets. And, ultimately, the world.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Montana Meth Project

Powerful PSA from Montana Meth Project against the tidal wave of meth addiction. Created by Venables Bell and Partners and some of them shot in a single continuous take by Darren Aronofsky. Not for the faint of heart.

Explore the site and more commercials here.

Get out of the box

From Cafe Hayek:

"There are two kinds of people in the world. Members of the first group think of jobs as being rather like boxes, each of which has a monetary figure on it as well as a set of levers inside. A job-holder occupies a box, yanks on the box's levers, and in return receives pay in the amount of the prescribed monetary figure. Lucky workers are those who land in boxes paying big money and whose levers are easy to manipulate; unlucky workers are those who find themselves in boxes paying little money and whose levers are difficult to manipulate.

The second group of people in the world understand that real jobs are a matter of creating value for buyers. The greater the amount of value I create for others, the better -- or, at least, the higher-paying -- is my job. In markets, your job isn't a box that you get assigned to; your job is an opportunity to perform, to help improve the lives of others and, in return, to persuade these others to help you improve your life."

On a personal level, everybody should strive to work outside the box and convert their boxed existence into a meaningful opportunity. That's a given.

It becomes more interesting when you look at these two groups from a corporate point of view: Corporations tend to run like piles of boxes. Too many corporations are not interested in hiring talent out of the second group. They might at the Executive Level. They don't if it comes to the associate or middle management level.

If they supported the recruiting of valuable talent and mentored them up to the executive suite, it would change everything. But the majority of corporations still have too many lucky executives of the first group with big money and easy levers. Not too many incentives to change.

Corporations start to understand that change is not only necessary, it's mandatory. Those lucky executives with cushy jobs and no motivation better learn quick as well. It's about time.

My roof disappeared yesterday afternoon

Los Angeles experienced freakish winds yesterday: Trees fell on cars, debris caused accidents on freeways and my 2-months-old roof landed on the telephone pole. The winds caused a beam to disintegrate and made it easy for the roof to say goodbye to the house and find a new home on my telephone pole.

The roofer was called, he showed up very quickly, took care of the debris, gave a good explanation for the damage, offered to re-roof it for a minimal fee, topped this with another deal for landscaping work and other cosmetic upgrades on the house. Off he went, ready to go to work Monday.

When I had a moment to reflect, I immediately had the need to tell somebody about it. Why?

I don't gain anything from telling other people about my good experience with this roofer. You won't think better or worse of me. And I won't think I'm a better person if I tell somebody. So, why do I almost feel obliged to share this experience?

Often we do things without any selfish motivations or alterior motives. We just share our experiences because we like to share. Nothing more. Nothing less.

(BTW: Above picture was just used as shock value. I'm still living in a house with ceilings. Hopefully, by Monday there will be a roof as well. Thanks to Preezine for the image.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007

"When I think about my own death, I don't console myself with the idea that my descendants and my books and all that will live on. Anybody with any sense knows that the whole solar system will go up like a celluloid collar by-and-by. I honestly believe, though, that we are wrong to think that moments go away, never to be seen again. This moment and every moment lasts forever."

Design and Advertising

I'm a copywriter by trade but since I started in the advertising business, I've been working with designers each and every day.

The importance of copy has diminished in the last few years since the advent of digital media. Design is becoming more important from day to day in our advertising lives.

adliterate wrote a piece about the role of design in advertising. Here are a few excerpts:

"But anyone in advertising or design that has worked closely with the other will know that a truely collaborative relationship is not easy.

Part of the problem is that, just like the relatioship between the US and UK, advertising and design are separated by a common language.

I have felt this separation most acutely working with identity agencies but even working with in-house designers can be a challenge when the two of you think you are in agreement but mean something totally different.

So I thought I'd record the differences (albeit from an advertising perspective) in order that an understanding of them will promote fraternal love and co-operation.

1) When advertising people talk about a brand we mean the set of associations that exist in peoples minds. While designers clearly think this is important for them the brand is much more about the mark or identity. Our brand is nebulous theirs is concrete - it's what the identity looks like and the values that it embodies.

2) As a result advertising people see themselves as shepherds marshaling brand associations over time, whereas designers prefer to see themselves as police laying down the law of the brand and then enforcing it, often using their favourite tool - the Spirit Book.

3) Advertising people prize originality above any other value (we are obsessed with things that have never been done before regardless of whether this is relevant to success) while design people prize control over any other value (the extent to which they can control every manifestation of their creation). That's why they like Spirit Books so much.

4) So when it comes to integration advertising people try to encourage strategic coherence across all channels and activities whereas design people like to see executional consistency.

5) Designers often create things that are permanent manifestations of the brand - the packaging, the retail facia, the staff uniforms and of course the brand's physical representation in the form of a mark. As a result they are very conscious that these things need to last and rise above trends and fads. Advertising people produce things that are instantly disposable, the temporary manifestations of the brand so they like to play with cultural currency and at best to contribute to it. Perhaps this is one reason why advertising people like things being funny and designers do not.

6) Advertising people burn up ferociously expensive media this makes them very conscious of the need for it to deliver results. Design people tend to use relatively cheap media in comparison. It is costly to re-badge every retail outlet but that investment will last a decade (unless you are Abbey). Indeed many things that the designer controls have to be produced anyway - like packaging or stationary, bags or uniforms. This leads to a fundamental difference in the urgency with which activity is supposed to work and often makes design more commercially passive when advertising seeks to be more commercially aggressive.

7) Having said that, design people are often more focused on solving problems (especially industrial designers) since their training is in finding and solving real problems in people's lives or with the status quo. This means that they are often asked to and can think more fundamentally about, how it should be solved. Take the problem of left handed people being unable to use a pair of scissors, advertising people would approach this by telling left handed people how to use the existing scissors better whereas design people would create a new pair of scissors.

8) And finally our ideas of quality are based on different criteria. The concept of Good Design is absolute, in others words there is a notion of good design and poor design and while design genius can not be taught, good design can - there are real principles upon which it is based. There is no such absolute concept of good advertising and a pretence that there is often leads to commercially irrelevant decision making. Good advertising is whatever works for this audience today, good design is eternal. This is one of the reasons that we still sit on chairs designed by mid-Century legends (like Eames or Breuer) but laugh at advertising from the same era.

Neither camp is right or wrong we simply come from different traditions that value different things in the work we produce and from the people that produce it. And the more we understand and appreciate this the better our attempts at collaboration will be."

Advertisers try to verbalize ideas. Designers tend to express their vision in a visual language. Clearly, our lives have shifted towards a hyper-visual world and verbalized ideas have become less effective and important.

What advertising, design, marketing and PR don't do well, or not at all, is the live conversation, dialogue, interaction, chatter, gossips, silly talk, water cooler chatter, reviews, recommendations, blog outpourings, etc.

Our tribe lives revolve around gazillion of things while design contributes some tribal art and advertising tries to spread shared stories and fairy tales. But the real conversation happens outside. Design and advertising have to develop a new language, a new art and new stories to connect with all of us. Or we'll be looking at them from the outside in. As paying customer of museums.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reach vs Connect

Advertising clutter has become a real problem. For consumers and advertisers. Everbody wants to break through the clutter, connect with the consumer and stand out. Many try to do this by utilizing new communication channels: OOH has become real hip because it's fairly easy to stand out and consumers don't seem to mind as much. Mobile seems to be on the rise and many marketers are licking their chops because they have found another channel they can clog up with their messages.

This doesn't lead us anywhere. Shouldn't we be less focused on channel selection and obsessed with creating content that's interesting and adds some value? Nothing against the 360 degree communication model. But isn't it more important to create engaging, valuable, entertaining messages that consumers want to connect with?

We need to focus on the content first. What content resonates with our target audience? Once we have created engaging and entertaining content, we should focus on delivering this content through relevant and resonant communication channels. That's the real 360.

The importance of reflection

I'm a big fan of Ira Glass (of "This American Life" fame). Presentation Zen posted a couple of clips sharing his insights into the art of storytelling.

One thing that made me think was the 'moment of reflection' - that point when we take a breather from the story, action or drama, and have a chance to reflect on what we are being told. Being interesting is not enough unless we can also make sense of it and understand why it is important.

I was reminded of this again a few weeks ago: My wife and I watched a few episodes of Lost. It was just too easy to click on 'Play' again and watch an episode after another. Even though I was completely into the story, I could not remember any of the details a few minutes later. In my mind, the storyline became a big mess and it was hard for me to make sense of it all.

This is another side of the a 'moment of reflection' and the need to make sense of a story: its importance for moving memories from short term to long term memory. Short term memories are registered literally (visually, accoustically, etc.) whereas long term memories are registered semantically - it is the association and the meanings that are tied to the memories - and without the opportunity to reflect and make sense, these memories become washed away.

That's why it's so hard to remember movies on planes - the movie is immediately followed by another form of entertainment: iPod, magazines, food, conversation. Because your stuck in a god awful seat in a god awful plane, you have no opportunity to reflect and consider.

What does it mean? The question for marketers is how often consumers have a 'moment of reflection' with advertising? How many ads truly provoke reflection? Is engagement without reflection enough?

On the other hand if it is important for long term memories how many pre-testing models take this into account?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My new title: Conversation Architect?

Will successful marketers become conversation architects? This is the insightful analysis from David Armano in his current BusinessWeek column, titled "It's the Conversation Economy, Stupid."

Here are some excerpts:

"Marketers are finding themselves in an increasingly frantic race to get people talking about their brands. The desire to produce something "viral" is nearly ubiquitous in the marketing world. But it's unclear who exactly "consumers" are these days. We don't even know what that word means any more. Can consumers be producers? Yes. Can they be users? Yes. Can they be active participants, members of niche communities, or even critics capable of effectively mobilizing others? Yes, yes, and yes.

Therein lies the problem. A consumer can be any number of things—sometimes all at once. And that fact is driving marketers, businesspeople, and brand managers nuts. So what do we do? I propose we become conversation architects."
"It's the conversation economy, stupid. One of the engines that is driving "2.0" growth is the fact that communities are forming around popular social platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Ning, Twitter—the list goes on and on. These platforms facilitate conversation. Conversation leads to relationships and relationships lead to affinity.

Brand affinity, as companies such as Harley-Davidson (HOG) have proven, often drives communities to form around them. This is why anyone who plays a role in branding needs to become a conversation architect. Marketers, businesses, and designers must have an intimate understanding of how these platforms are evolving and influencing human behavior. There has to be an in-depth understanding of why some us of love to incorporate these services in our digital lives."
"Conversation architects move marketing beyond the idea of one-way messaging. Traditional marketing efforts were founded on this tried-and-true format and are still prevalent within the industry. Consider the example of a typical creative brief template, which usually says something like, "What are we trying to communicate?" Can you can see the old-world residue in the word "communicate"? It lacks the dimensions of experiencing something and having an ongoing two-way dialogue. "What are we trying to communicate?" implies a one-way conversation. Maybe we should ask ourselves: "How can we facilitate?"
"But is engaging people on their own blogs marketing? If you think of marketing as facilitation as opposed to communication, it is. My background is in design, and I like to think that at the core, design is about facilitation. We designers should stop talking and start designing conversations. We should convert from marketers and information architects to conversation architects. Information is a one-way street, conversation isn't.

The same goes for businesspeople—the new consumer class that can be anything and everything at once is looking for meaningful dialogue. Some brands and businesses are going out of their way to provide this. Some are going through the motions. And some are doing business as usual. Which camp do you fall in?"

I could write endless columns about this article, as it touches on many important parts of the evolving marketing landscape.
At this point I just want to focus on one point that really resonates with me:

"Marketers, businesses, and designers must have an intimate understanding of how these platforms are evolving and influencing human behavior. There has to be an in-depth understanding of why some us of love to incorporate these services in our digital lives."
I've seen too many marketers talking about and even recommending marketing on sites or platforms they've never used. How can you recommend being on Second Life, if you've never spend an afternoon as an avatar flying around the virtual world? How can you intelligently talk about blogs if you've never commented on one or even wrote your own blog? How can you recommend utilizing YouTube, Digg, Twitter, etc. if you've never used the service?

And, if you're in the more advanced group that does their due diligence, you have to work even harder because you still need to understand why your consumers utilize the services. What does Twitter do that AIM doesn't? Why YouTube and not Revver? Or why YouTube and Revver?

It's easy to put all these new services down as fads or hype them as the new revolution. As long as you never used and tried to understand them, you have no leg to stand on.

Customer Loyalty

Big brands love to talk about customer loyalty. Loyalty Marketing. Loyalty Life Cycle.

Little newsflash: Customer don't feel any loyalty towards corporations. And even beloved brands.
Customer prefer some brands over others for many reasons: iPod vs. Zune: iPod is still the benchmark, Apple is so much cooler than Microsoft and everybody else has iPod's. Lexus vs. Cadillac: Lexus models are more reliable, the service is exceptional and the resale value is so much better. Diesel vs. Gap: Diesel makes you look and feel so much cooler, their advertising rocks and you look like you belong when you wear them.

Customers are not loyal to brands. They prefer some brands over others. Period.

Looking at my life, I'm loyal to a few brands in my life. None of them is a corporate entity. None of them is listed on Wall Street. I'm loyal to my local videostore because I don't want my neighborhood to look like a giant strip-mall, and I don't want the store owner to end up as a Blockbuster manager.
I'm loyal to my local Farmers Market because they allow my kid to run around freely, taste new fruits and vegetables, and I know I support the local community.

Loyalty is local.
Loyalty is highly personal.
Loyalty is about relationships.
Loyalty is about responsibility.

Trust me when I say this: Consumers were and will never be loyal to a brand. Never.
They choose a brand over another brand because of A, B and C.
That's why it's so important to understand what these A, B and C's are.
Because the consumer will only choose that brand if the A, B, C's are taken care of.
That might keep you in business.

Want to grow your business? Take care of the basics and provide an experience your consumers want to share with their family and friends. Out of loyalty.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Would you miss Bank of America?

Does Bank of America provide such a unique product and customer experience that we would be saddened if it didn’t exist? Does Bank of America treat its employees so astonishingly well that those workers would not be able to find another employer to treat them as well? Does Bank of America forge such unfailing emotional connections with its customers that they would fail to find another bank that could forge just as strong an emotional bond?

This “would you care” question is a good one to ask of any business because it tells us how well they have formed relationships with customers. If a business has formed unfailing relationships with its customers, then we would truly care if that company went out of business. On the other hand, if a business hasn’t formed a meaningful bond with customers, then we wouldn’t care if that business ceased to exist.

Thanks to Brand Autopsy for this thought

If you talked to people

Or as David Ogilvy would say: "Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine."

Kudos to Gaping Void for this pearl of wisdom.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Sunday

Yes, it's time the for the traditional Easter Egg Hunt, the Easter walk (must be the German in me) and an afternoon watching the Masters.
All of that is an important part of my life but there's another, more important story that will start to unfold tonight: The final season of "The Sopranos".

To honor the last season of HBO's "The Sopranos," comes this fan-created montage of the show's previous seven seasons.

Paul Gulyas and Joe Sabia from Los Angeles distilled 77 prior episodes into a manic and hilarious 7-minute video and uploaded it to YouTube. It's a spectacular example of citizen marketing from non-marketers who have a special sense of humor.

The New York Times gave the montage a very positive review and even Sopranos' creator David Chase gave his blessings.
A good opportunity to catch up on the Sopranos and enjoy the first of the last shows tonight.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Accelerate. Now.

Dan Coughlin, Executive Coach, published a Manifesto to Accelerate: 15 Truths, explaining that great businesses are defined by their ability to accelerate, which he defines as the ability to increase the rate of achieving desired outcomes in a sustainable manner. These 15 applicable truths will enable you to take your company or career from 0 to 60 while optimizing your passion for your work.

Here's one of my favorite points:

"Acceleration Truth #7

To accelerate great ideas, say no.

One of my all-time favorite ads was a BMW ad that simply said, "No" in large letters. In the small print it basically said that BWM says no to a lot of good ideas so it can say yes to a few great ideas. That is tremendous advice! It's healthy to consider a lot of ideas, but don't run to the market with just a lot of good ideas. Keep searching until you find a few great ideas.

I had lunch with a CEO of a $1.5 Billion business. He told me he was serving on 15 boards. I thought he meant he had served on those 15 boards over the course of his career, but I came to find out he meant he was on all 15 boards at that moment. He told me he simply couldn't say no to any of them. Later in the conversation he shared with me on the on-going struggles his company faced. Do you see a problem here? Are you able to say no to anything?
What have you said no to today?
What have you said yes to today?
How about your employees? What do they say no to and what do they say yes to?
Is it clear what opportunities and ideas your organization should say no to and which ones it should say yes to?

Keep generating ideas on how to accelerate your business, and keep sifting through them until you find the one to three great ideas you will act on. Don't try to do more than three great ideas because before you know it you've turned a great idea into terrible execution. Trying to do too many ideas at one is a sure-fire way to generate mediocre results.

Acceleration is the art of sacrifice. Be willing to let go of many good ideas so you can execute the few great ones."

If you haven't done so yet, download the complete manifesto now.

Friday, April 6, 2007

File under: Why didn't I think of it?

Seth Godin guided me to this innovative author site, marketing a new book by Miranda July.
Sometimes big ideas take not more than a digital camera, a whiteboard and a stove.

The Story of Hands

Interesting site from Guinness titled The Story of Hands.

This is the first time Guinness has featured user-generated content. Well done and the concept is fairly simple: You create your own film by choosing from 26 hand animations, all you have to do is create a smooth combination, pick your music, choose a title and then send it to a friend. The best clips can be viewed on the site. Take a look – it’s a fun way to spend a few minutes creating your own film.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The First Ever Wiki Novel

"Everybody has a novel in them, so they say. Wouldn't it be better, though, for a million people to club together to write one?"

This is the idea behind an initiative launched early February by Penguin Books, in collaboration with students at the De Montfort University in Leicester. Within 1 month they created the world's first 'wiki' novel. Nearly 1,500 people contributed to the writing and editing of A Million Penguins, over 11,000 edits were made. 75,000 people visited the site and more than 280,000 page views were recorded. As Penguin's Cheif Executive put it: "Not the most read, but possibly the most written novel in history."

Penguin's blogger, Jon Elek, summarized the experience in the A Milllion Penguins blog:

"I’d like to think that the wiki-novel in the end was self-referential rather than solipsistic. There are some great jokes (or “comic moments” may be a better way of putting it) in it about the process itself, which again brings us back to that old chestnut: the triumph of form over content. And this, I guess, is what people will say in the end: that it was an interesting experiment, shame about the writing. They will be neither right nor wrong. No, a community probably can’t write a novel, but I don’t think the question (which we posed, I concede) is of much use to anyone, especially since the words “community” and “novel” don’t cut much ice in a situation like this
Speaking of lessons not learned: the wiki-novel did not teach us either that a bunch of hacks with computers can all go write something on the same website. No, what’s been shown is that a bunch of strangers with both nothing to lose and nothing to gain worked toward a nebulous common goal. I guess its she sheer benevolence on display that amazed me most. Well done to all of you. Thanks for writing."

I read a few pages of the novel. Is it a good read? Definitely not.
But what do you expect without any engagements up front, no structure, no vision, no direction? The resulting novel is an awkward mix of styles and unexpected turns.
As any social experiment, the book had to deal with idiots, pornography and an obsessed banana fan. Yes, one 'writer' replaced all the storylines and characters with bananas.

Having seen too many movies with numerous screenwriters attached to it, we already know that a good creative product rarely evolves through involving as many contributors as possible. In the end,
it is still a matter of leadership: the vision and drive of inspired individuals eventually makes the difference between a creative disaster and a focused, innovative result. Maybe we need parameters, a crystal-clear vision and a leadership team to develop Wiki Creatives.
Or as Eric Raymond, chronicler of Open Source, put it: “I think that the cutting edge of open-source software will belong to people who start from individual vision and brilliance, then amplify it through the effective construction of voluntary communities of interest”.

Jonathan Haris continues to amaze me

Jonathan Harris, the genius behind We Feel Fine has created another masterpiece: Universe.

A short excerpt from the site explaining the philosophy behind this interactive experience:

"Universe is a system that supports the exploration of personal mythology, allowing each of us to find our own constellations, based on our own interests and curiosities. Everyone's path through Universe is different, just as everyone's path through life is different. Using the metaphor of an interactive night sky, Universe presents an immersive environment for navigating the world's contemporary mythology, as found online in global news and information from Daylife. Universe opens with a color-shifting aurora borealis, at the center of which is a moon, and through which thousands of stars slowly move. Each star has a specific counterpart in the physical world — a news story, a quote, an image, a person, a company, a team, a place — and moving the cursor across the star field causes different stars to connect, forming constellations. Any constellation can be selected, making it the center of the universe, and sending everything else into its orbit."

His take on modern mythology, the future of connectivity, and his drive towards new formats of presentation as well as story telling can be found in this exclusive video from Coolhunting.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Awesomeness - if that's a word

This Cayenne Site shows how it can done: An engaging retrospective of Porsche's racing history, narrated by Porsche's Trophy Girls. Developed by Firstborn and Carmichael Lynch, they created an immersive experience with believable connections to the Porsche Cayenne.

Given Porsche's history and their passionate fans, I would have loved to see social networking opportunities and more interaction options during the video. Still, a good step in the right direction.

El Creepo aka Uncle Ben

Full Disclosure: I like TBWA/Chiat/Day/Tequila's work, I know a few people who work there and I admire their corporate culture. But, I gotta say, I don't know what they were thinking when they created this abysmal website for Uncle Ben's Rice.
B.L. Ochman already blasted the creators and I won't even attempt to top that.
My main complaint is that I was bored within 2 seconds. The timer makes a lot of brand sense (Rice - timer, get it?) but it makes no sense in the interactive space since loading times are excruciatingly long and painful. Why does it take seconds to load a little diary entry? If I get a video in return I might forgive the loading time but a little diary page? What the hell? After reading Ochman's article, I was motivated to spend at least 5 minutes on the site but I left after 1 minute. There's only so much pain I can take.

What marketers don't understand about Second Life

I'm a big believer in Second Life and the future of virtual, social networks. But I continue to be baffled by marketers transferring their advertising techniques of real life to Second Life.
Second Life has quite a few problems but also many opportunities.

The problems:

1) Technology is not user-friendly. It takes too long to get acquainted with the controls and to be able to explore.

2) The subscriber numbers are a farce. Yes, more than 5 million signed up for SL but only 30,000 are exploring SL while I type this entry.
If you take subscribers online at any given point of time and Second Life square mileage, Second Life’s density is a mere 23,000 per square mile compared to 143,000 for Manhattan.

3) 70% of Second Life residents are disappointed by the branded experiences.

And here's the opportunity for a forward-thinking brand: Don't replicate your failed marketing efforts of real life and push them to SL. Explore your brand promise and experience, and truly integrate it into Second Life. If your brand promise is to be adventurous, offer an adventurous experience. Don't just put a cool building on an island and hope for the best. Become part of the community, become a real citizen in SL. The first wave of PR coups have died down and the buildings are a sad reminder of brands not getting SL and the changed consumer landscape.
SL is all about the consumer. Only if you involve the consumer will you be successful. I'm still hoping someone will get it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Think Pink

Nissan Japan defies conventional wisdom marketing their 11-foot long Nissan Pino by targeting a niche consumer category: young women. The Pino can be customized to your pink desires: pink bear-shaped cushions, seat covers with hearts, a CD case that looks like red lips and a colorful cover for a tissue box.

The Miami Herald Story remarks:

"And in most countries, experts tend to advise against making autos pink or adding other ''cute'' features to appeal to female drivers partly because that may smack of sexism and turn off women -- except in Japan.

Here, young women are extremely powerful in setting trends, and the culture of cute is so prevalent grown men aren't embarrassed about dangling little mascots from cellphones.

Also, Japanese consumers frequently use personal products to show off who they are, often buying designer-brand products to make a statement, said Kazuo Ikegami, marketing expert and professor at Rissho University.

''Product image is far more important for Japanese consumers than American consumers,'' Ikegami said. ``There's a much bigger element of personal identity in Japanese marketing.''

Even the advertising for Pino is tailored to women who are about 20 years old."

We are still in the beginning of marketing to women. Especially automotive companies are woefully behind some of the CPG brands. Cars are still marketed to men, even though all research clearly says that women are the deciding factor in the purchase process.

Marketing to a majority like women should follow the same rules when we market to minorities or niches:

A) Listen to your target consumer. Explore their wants, needs, hopes, desires, and dreams. And don't forget to try to understand their concerns, problems and issues.

B) Adjust your brand/product key messages and positioning to above wants, needs, hopes, desires, and dreams.

C) Surprise and exhilarate your customer by taking their wants, needs, hopes, desires and dreams and take them to unknown places. Extend their desires and connect those with your brand/product. Any surprising experience will become an instant viral hit. I do remember every time a brand surprised me, and I couldn't wait to tell my friends.

D) Explore more niches. The 'One-Size-Fits-All' marketing approach doesn't work anymore. Market to babyboomers, early retirees, empty nesters, etc.

An endless loop of Test, Analyze, Test, Analyze...

Supermarket 2.0

There's Web 2.0, Education 2.0 and now Supermarket 2.0.
Funny parody, a tad too long but the cookie joke is great.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Will there be a Web 3.0?

The moniker 'Web 2.0' became so popular for one main reason: It held the promise that Web 1.0 and all its bubble burst implications were behind us, and we could focus on the second version of Internet Revolution.

Web 2.0 has nothing to do with Ajax or other technologies that have changed the skin of the Internet. Instead, Web 2.0 is about:

- A different attitude
- Content is king. And the brand.
- We are living Beta. And we will never leave Beta.
- The user is king. And we trust the user to take care of our brand.
- Long Tail is not an idea. It's a philosophy.
- We believe in the intelligence of masses.
- We allow mashing, remixing, dubbing as long as the user respects basic copyrights and other legal limitations.
- Inform, as long as you entertain. Or vice versa. One without the other is a waste of time
- There is never a final product. Never.

Web 2.0 was useful for a short period of time. We need to coin a new phrase. Language helps define experiences. The experience has changed dramatically, let's make sure our language can keep up with it.

Monday Morning Inspiration

Steve Farber is preident of Extreme Leadership, Inc., a leadership consulting company. Below are some remarks he made on the occasion of publishing his recent book, The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership (2004).

Ultimately, the motivator of a leader is love. It comes down to the heart. It's love of something or someone. Love of the cause, of the principle, of the idea, of the future that you're trying to create, love of the people you're serving and the people that you're working with. That's really where the energy comes from.

On the subject of love, one of the characters in the book...says the the ideal is, "Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do." That covers everything as far as I'm concerned.

The first part "do what you love", is your own connection to your work. That's where you get your energy. How can you expect your customers to love doing business with you if you don't love your business yourself? People have a pretty sophisticated bullshit meter and they know when you're faking it. I'm not talking about the metaphysical "do what you love and the money will follow" hoo-ha stuff. If you're in love with your work you're going to bring more energy and imagination and creativity to it. And you're going to have the juice to work through the obstacles. But it's not doing what you love just because. The ethical context or moral context, or whatever you want to call it, is "in the service of the people."

Leaders should see themselves as being in the service of the people that they're leading. You're creating the best possible environment for them to do the best possible work. And it's also in the service of the people that you're selling to, essentially, and those people should "love what you do." That doesn't mean go out and only do business with the people who already love you. It should be at the core of everything that you're trying to create.

When you walk into the reception area of a company you've never visited before, you can tell within 30 seconds whether or not the place is exciting and cool, whether they're doing interesting work, or whether it's a morgue.
As an Extreme Leader, it's your job to generate energy in the environment and in the people around you.
There are people that get very energetic about - from the outside looking in - seemingly mundane things. There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal a number of years ago about how Gillette has managed to create an environment that's entirely energetic about razor blades. They are completely stoked about...shaving!
To hear people talk about the product of developing great shaving technology and how they get so excited about it is really inspiring.

"Extreme Leadership" is a redundant phase, because if somebody's really leading, what they're doing is already extreme. Leadership is the act of transformation. Taking nothing and turning it into something.

My favorite quote: "Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do." Truer words have never been spoken. There are so many leaders out there working for other leaders that don't love what they do. Time to move on, if that's the case. Underappreciation is the #1 reason for leaders to move on. Not salary. Not title. Not bonus. Underappreciation.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Exponential Times

Fantastic video focusing on changes in our world today and tomorrow. Watching it made me think how fascinating and inspiring our changing world really is.

The 'Talent imitates, Genius steals' blog recites Amara's Law: "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run." By Roy Amara, past president of The Institute for the Future.