Reminder: this blog has moved! You will now find me at
Reminder: this blog has moved! You will now find me at
Folks, I am discontinuing my blog until the end of next week to make some changes. The experience has been great thus far but it would seem that a blog with topics as diverse as mine have been I keep catching the interest of different reader groups each time, which makes it hard to sustain a dialog, and impossible to follow a coherent topic.
So I'll drop some of the old topics in favor of more society / marketing related ones, and I want to do something about the somewhat bland layout at the same time. See you in a week then, if you have any suggestions for improving my blog site please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
At first glance, Seth Godin’s new book “Linchpin” is one for the self-improvement section rather than the marketing shelf. But then, marketing is all about interaction, communication and relationships. Each of Seth’s books is about the essence of marketing AND people at the same time, two things that are inseparable. This one just zooms in a lot more on you, the reader.
Written in bite size chapters like all of his more recent books it is easy to read, although the weight of Seth’s words suggests that you spend more time on each chapter than with the previous ones. This particular style of writing is common to quite a few authors these days, Americans in particular, and I am not a big fan of it, especially as the key phrases of the book are being repeated quite often, mantra style.
Just ignore it and you will discover a work of art that is an impressive humanitarian statement as well, a book containing much of Seth’s personal life experience, a book that comes across as very authentic and honest. I have the privilege of knowing Seth and experienced first hand that the generosity he describes as a key factor of life in “Linchpin” is part of his own nature as well. Seth is not only giving examples of his (and other people’s) success stories, he openly talks about his defeats, too. Examples of “art” are ranging from Richard Branson to a man few people know who is serving coffee at a restaurant, both of which are equally relevant.
You should further ignore scientific inaccuracies concerning the reptilian (“lizard”) brain which Seth urges us to switch off as it fights our efforts to move forward and leave the comfort zones of our lives. I am not a scientist either but this part of our brain is there for a reason; it warns us of danger and triggers basic decisions such as “run” or “fight” subconsciously. I don’t think we can afford to live without these instincts and would prefer a concept in which we acknowledge and respect our reptilian brain and seek balance with it, knowing when to listen and when to overrule it. This doesn’t take away from the book’s message, though: Seth is more generally speaking of the “Resistance” as the phenomenon in our heads we need to fight, and I can go with that perfectly well.
The word “happiness” is not in the book per se but that’s what it is all about. Its vision of our future is an optimistic one, it does actually give you the tools to become a happy person but it also holds you accountable for creating the roadmap to your individual happiness by yourself – there is no other way, and I am sure he is right. The beauty also lies in the prospect of receiving kindness and gifts from other people including businesses and companies of all sizes who will benefit from having Linchpins like you as employees, or fade into mediocrity. Uninspired companies make average products, commodities, which customers buy at the lowest price, forcing companies to cut cost and become even more average. Rather than pushing a rock uphill, there is a fascinating way for each of us to start from the top of the mountain, like an avalanche gaining momentum with every step.
“Linchpin” will be available in everywhere on January 26, 2009.
As much as 2010 is likely to be a good year, it started with very sad news. Carol Tyler, former president of the IPMI, passed away on December 27, 2009 after a long battle against cancer.
There isn't anyone at the IPMI who didn't like Carol who maintained her charming personality and kept her smile even at times when she was very ill. When she was elected president of the IPMI she said in her acceptance address that, while she was happy to be president she was disappointed because she intended to become Queen of the IPMI instead.
I liked Carol a lot and my chairmanship of this year's annual conference will be overshadowed by her early death. To say we will miss her will not do her justice: she is leaving a void behind which will be very hard to fill.
The other day I received this magazine in the mail, unsolicited, of course. If you don't see the problem off hand I congratulate you on your moral standards but suggest a quick Google search ("what is a mofo") before reading on. Go ahead, I'll wait... I would explain it here but it would totally thrash my profanity rating so you'll have to take the detour.
After studying the mailing in curiosity and comprehending that it is not a publication on "badass" urban lifestyle I noticed that the publishers have simply chosen the first two letters of their names, MOrrison and FOerster, to compose the title. The magazine is in fact on technology trends.
Doubtlessly these two gentlemen have opened the floodgates for ironic comments and mockery. Even if I decided to file the coincidence and get on with it the question remains: why on earth didn't they check?
I have to assume that a lot of time and money goes in a magazine like this. After all, they created, produced and mailed it to a lot of people without receiving a single dollar in return (there are no ads in there except for self-promotion which is probably the whole point of the mailing). Regardless: how many people will throw it away taking it for something it is not? Or, worse: how many people will NOT throw it away initially because it sparked their curiosity (like mine) just to then conclude that these may not be the best people to do proper research?
There is art in names, and a funny twist can be all it takes to make an idea stick, but this is not it.
Thanks for your time,
No, sorry, this is not about Mayor Bloomberg per se. Nor about his politics. What it is about is his sense of calling, duty, humanity, or whatever else it is that makes him throw millions of his own money into a campaign that - if successful - will yield a job that can only be called a poor return on investment in monetary terms. The same goes for a number of American and international politicians whose intention is predominantely to follow their calling rather than making money.
Come to think of it, in exchange for a few years of immense responsibility these people are subjecting themselves to complete transparency of their personal lives, the lives of their families and relatives, they may also sentence their children to a life under the protection of bodyguards and public scrutiny. Not to mention the task of trying to govern something as resistant to governance as, say, New York City. They do have my admiration even if I don't always like what they are doing.
What would happen, I wonder, if someone found his or her calling in launching a bank that is driven by the same spirit? Not a governmental bank, of course, but a privately owned bank run by a group of people with a sense of responsibility for their country's wellbeing that goes beyond profits. No annual bonus for executives, a modest salary and whatever other perks the mayor of New York City gets. A bank that aims at being self sufficient without the need to satisfy their investors in any other way than in making their customers happy? How would they proceed? Would they work with their customers more to determine their needs, and advise them on sound financial planning rather than maximizing loan amounts? What would their fee structure look like? Would people pay extra for a bank like this? How would they treat their employees?
So what would happen if someone like Mayor Bloomberg, after he has exhausted all means for re-election, eventually retired and started a bank instead? Or any other wealthy enough individual?
Thanks for your time,
Repair companies usually market their business by trying to be the first in the yellow pages. AAA or A1 used to be great names as they ensured you the top spot. I've heard of lawyers doing the same. Looking at our town's yellow pages the other day I noted that the level of desperation is increasing: four A's for one of the companies listed for appliance repairs. I didn't chose them. Just because of this.
All repair companies are expected to fix whatever is broken, to offer a guarantee for their work, be properly registered and insured. No point trying to set yourself apart in this area in your advertisements. So what IS it that customers are looking for? Well, how about fixed appointments? The repair company my wife called the other day announced that they would come "between 8 and 12" the following day. The man showed up at eight which was great, but he could have shown up at 11:45. A whole morning potentially wasted sitting there waiting for the repairman for most of us. I've never waited long at my dentist's and I wonder why repairmen can't do the same. It would win me over as a customer right away.
Next, leave something behind. People call repairmen when something is broken, which hopefully only happens every couple of years. Result: you're trying to remember whom you called last time. Our repairman had correctly spotted the issue, so he offered us a sticker with his name and phone number on it. That's right, he offered it, he didn't stick it someplace in our kitchen as he probably also senses that people might not appreciate it. Alas, that's a sticker prone to be thrown away. So how about a fridge magnet? An Outlook V-Card? I have wondered many times why people don't make use of V-Cards as marketing tools. A phone call half a year later, just to see if everything is fine? An oven mitt or ice cube scoop?
So if you are a repairman, don't even think of renaming your business to AAAAA. It's pointless. Give your customers what they want which is to spend the least amount of time waiting for you, and give them something to remember you. The good work has to be there, too, but it is expected, anyway.
Thanks for your time,
Just reading up on some older issues of "Cicero", a political magazine from Germany. Hermann Simon, management consultant and book author, contributed an article back in June on Germany's hidden champions.
Small companies that, for example, provide the glue that holds together 80% of the world's smart cards and 50% of cellphones; they produce 80% of all fish processing equipment in the world; 100% of large stage courtains for concert and opera halls, feathers for beddings, ... all in all there are 1,200 such small companies in Germany alone that hold the top spots in their niche markets.
What is it that makes them so successful? I am summarizing Hermann Simon by translating and commeting freely.
What is it they do differently from large companies? Answer: almost everything.
For once this would contradict Seth Godin who in a recent blog mused about why Amazon would buy Zappo's, a shoe company, at a price of $US 800M when they already had shoes on offer. He list the elements of Zappo's culture and concludes "These things are available to organizations of every size. If you want them and choose to work for them."
After reading the above article I strongly feel Seth is off. If an organization grows larger it will almost inevitably lose it's personality. Shareholders, bean counters, lawyers and unions take over, and that's the end of it. My take: Amazon bought a brand and it's image and it will bulldoze Zappo's culture. Small is indeed the new big, and the new form of art will be to remain small instead of getting bulldozed.
Thanks for your time,
An anniversary is usually the time when people say: "has it been a year already?". This one is different: has it been just a year?
Yes, it's been a year since Seth Godin launched Triiibes.com, an invitation-only online network of randomly chosen people who subscribe to his blog. I am lucky to be one of the so selected Triiibes members. My profile page is still as I set it up on day one, and what I wrote about my expectations was that I wished for a sounding board for marketing ideas, to play with good ideas and make them great. It is exactly what I found.
Triiibes is the best example I have ever seen at work to iteratively make a good idea great: people will chime in on a topic from hundreds of different angles which all add quality or eliminate aspects that the author hadn't thought of initially. The result in every single case is a unique concept or answer that goes beyond what the originator had started with. Plurality at work.
Moreover, our group is pushing into the real world, with individual meetups on different continents and - soon - conferences in the USA and Europe. Amazing.
What has Triiibes done for me? Hard to quantify but my business activities look better than in a long time. If this is the worst crisis in a century than I'd like more of it. I attribute this to a general change in the way I approach things. Tribes are part of my world view now, and it works.
What have I done for Triiibes? I enjoy contributing to fellow Triiibster's discussions but it never seems enough - know the feeling?
Thanks so much to everyone at Triiibes - you have given so much more than I could ever give you back. Seth used a similar phrase once and I thought it was nonsense: he has given us Triiibes, and within Triiibes he is giving us inspiration and motivation. We all do that for each other. And yet it is overwhelming to see what we as a group are capable of.
And to you, Seth: HAPPY TRIIIBES ANNIVERSARY. thanks for giving us Triiibes.
All the best to all of us,
Please klick the Triiibes birthday logo to get to the next blog.
If you don't know Seth Godin's book "Tribes" you should. Go get it - it might change your life.