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29 марта, 11:41

Nickels and dimes are worth less than that

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The real asset you're building is trust. And even though it's tempting to cut a corner here and there to boost profit per interaction, the real cost is huge. No one will say anything, no one will put up a fuss, until one day, they're gone. Those extra few dollars you made with some fancy footwork have now cost you tens of thousands of dollars in lost value. The opposite is clearly true: invest a nickel or a dime every chance you get, and the trust you earn pays for itself a hundred times over.        

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28 марта, 11:37

What if scale wasn't the goal?

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From restaurants to direct mail, there's pressure to be scalable, to be efficient, to create something easily replicated. Which is often used as the reason it's not very good. "Well, we'd like to spend more time/more care/more focus on this, but we need to get bigger." What if you started in the other direction? What would happen if you created something noteworthy and worried about scale only after you've figured out how make a difference?        

27 марта, 11:55

Unselling

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Getting someone to switch to you is totally different from getting someone who's new to the market to start using the solution you offer. Switching means: Admitting I was wrong, and, in many cases, leaving behind some of my identity, because my tribe (as I see them) is using what I used to use. So, if you want to get a BMW motorcycle owner to buy a Harley as his next bike, you have your work cut out for you. He's not eager to say, "well, I got emotionally involved with something, but I realized that there's a better choice so I switched, I was wrong and now I'm right." And he's certainly not looking forward to walking away from his own self-defined circle and enduring the loneliness as he finds a new circle. Which leads to three things to think about: If you seek to grow quickly, realize that your best shot is to get in early, before people have made a commitment, built allegiances and started to engage in cognitive dissonance (since I picked this one, it must be good). If you are marketing to people who will have to switch to engage with you, do it with intention. Your pitch of, "this is very very good" is insufficient. Your pitch of, "you need something in this category" makes no sense, because I'm already buying in that category. Instead, you must spend the time, the effort and the money to teach me new information that allows me to make a new decision. Not that I was wrong before, but that I was under-informed. Ignore the tribal links at your peril. Without a doubt, "people like us do things like this," is the most powerful marketing mantra available. Make it true, then share the news. We invent a status quo every time we settle on something, because we'd rather tell ourselves that we made a good decision than live with the feeling that we didn't.        

26 марта, 11:04

Toward civilization

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If war has an opposite, it's not peace, it's civilization. (inspired by Ursula LeGuin writing in 1969) Civilization is the foundation of every successful culture. It permits us to live in safety, without being crippled by fear. It's the willingness to discuss our differences, not to fight over them. Civilization is efficient, in that it permits every member of society to contribute at her highest level of utility. And it's at the heart of morality, because civilization is based on fairness. The civilization of a human encampment, a city or town where people look out for one another and help when help is needed is worth seeking out. We're thrilled by the violent video of the iguana and the snakes, partly because we can't imagine living a life like that, one where we are always at risk. To be always at risk, to live in a society where violence is likely—this undermines our ability to be the people we seek to become. Over the last ten generations, we've made huge progress in creating an ever more civilized culture. Slavery (still far too prevalent) is now seen as an abomination. Access to information and healthcare is better than it's ever been. Human culture is  far from fully civilized, but as the years go by, we're getting better at seeing all the ways we have to improve. And this can be our goal. Every day, with every action, to make something more civilized. To find more dignity and possibility and opportunity for those around us, those we know and don't know. Hence the imperative. Our associations, organizations and interactions must begin with a standard of civility. Our work as individuals and as leaders becomes worthwhile and generous when we add to our foundation of civilization instead of chipping away at it.  The standard can come from each of us. We can do it. We can speak up. We can decide to care a little more. We can stand up to the boss, the CEO, or the elected representative and say, "wait," when they cross the line, when they pursue profit at the cost of community, when they throw out the rules in search of a brawl instead. The race to the bottom and the urge to win at all costs aren't new, but they're not part of who we are and ought to be.        

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25 марта, 11:37

Holding your breadth

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It's tempting to diversify, particularly when it comes to what you offer the world. One more alternative, one more flavor, one more variation. Something for everyone. We get pushed to smooth out the work, make it softer, more widely applicable. More breadth, though, doesn't cause change, and it won't get you noticed. Focus works. A sharp edge cuts through the clutter.        

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24 марта, 11:02

Seriously vs. personally

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Professionals take their work seriously. The work matters, the impacts and externalities are real. On the other hand, we can't take it personally. When someone rejects an idea, or if a project doesn't succeed, we've learned a valuable lesson about strategy and about tactics, but it's not a reflection on our worth as a human.        

23 марта, 10:26

The reason we need the FDA (hint: it's marketers)

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Here's the original ad for Coca-Cola: French Wine Coca is indorsed (sic) by over 20,000 of the most learned and scientific medical men in the world . . . . . . Americans are the most nervous people in the world . . . All who are suffering from any nervous complaints we commend to use the wonderful and delightful remedy, French Wine Coca, infallible in curing all who are afflicted with any nerve trouble, dyspepsia, mental and physical exhaustion, all chronic wasting diseases, gastric irritability, constipation, sick headache, neuralgia, etc. is quickly cured by the Coca Wine . . . . . . Coca is a most wonderful invigorator of the sexual organs and will cure seminal weakness, impotency, etc., when all other remedies fail . . . To the unfortunate who are addicted to the morphine or opiate habit, or the excessive use of alcohol stimulants, the French Wine Coca has proven a great blessing, and thousands proclaim it the most remarkable invigorator that every sustained a wasting and sinking system. (Thanks to Adam Alter's urgent and powerful new book). John Pemberton, who wrote this ad, was addicted to the cocaine in the product and ultimately died from stomach cancer, an addict, just six years later his son died from the same addiction. In a competitive environment, in which some marketers are rewarded for the short-term hit, the race to the bottom is inevitable. That doesn't mean it works, but it hurts. Self-regulation doesn't work in large markets that have easy entry, with many short-term competitive battles going on. Smart, ethical marketers understand that regulation actually helps them do their work. Regulation not only benefits the unsuspecting public, it benefits marketers, too. Without guardrails, they won't be able to stop.        

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22 марта, 11:01

To tell the truth

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Thirty years ago, Fleischmann and Pons announced that they were able to create fusion at room temperature. Scientists around the world began work in this new field, only to discover that they couldn't replicate the reported results. It turns out that the original researchers hadn't told the truth. Millions of dollars and countless hours were wasted. Science is based on honestly and accurately reporting what happened. Not reporting an opinion or a point of view as much as actual events and theories that fit those events. But the same thing is true of the results you got from the direct marketing test you did yesterday. And the efficacy of a new cancer vaccine or economic policy. We need people to report what's actually true, so we can work with it. The same thinking applies to whether or not your product made money last month and what temperature it was in Cleveland on Tuesday. On the other hand, we don't expect the truth in a poker game, in the negotiation of the price of a new car or even in the stump speech of a political candidate. We signed up for shadings and hyperbole and some gamesmanship.  The key concept here, as usual, is enrollment. If the scientific community is enrolled with you in hearing the factual results of replicable experiments, then it's on you to engage with that honestly. If your co-workers are enrolled to hear the truth about the culture of your organization or the results of a new initiative, the entire system depends on you keeping up your end of the bargain. Living without accurate reporting of results, when it's what we expect, goes far beyond the ethical problem with lying. Like the toxic loans that led to the financial crisis of 2008, when lies are mixed in with the expectation for truth, the system grinds to a halt. We have to spend time filtering instead of actually getting our work done. It's an incredible privilege to have a role where you are expected to tell the truth. Your colleagues are trusting you, letting down their guard and enabling you to contribute highly-leveraged work.  It doesn't take much to break that trust and to degrade the efficiency of the entire system. Let's agree, in advance, about what we're going to hear from you.         

21 марта, 11:58

Counting beans

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If you have to serve chili to 1,000 people, holding back just one bean from each person means you end up with a tidy savings, and almost no one is going to notice. If you run a call center and hire people who make a dollar less an hour, who are less supported, or less trained, or less caring, the impact on each interaction will probably seem pretty small. Of course, if you have a thousand operators, you just saved a lot of money. And, if you make cars and you figure out how to replace a bolt with a slightly less resilient one, very few drivers will notice, and if you make 200,000 cars a year, that might be enough to pay your entire salary. You've already guessed the problem. Some people will notice that the portions are a little skimpy. Some customers will be annoyed enough to switch to another company. And some people are going to die. When we add up lots of little compromises, we get to celebrate the big win. But overlooked are the unknown costs over time, the erosion in brand, the loss in quality, the subtraction from something that took years to add up. In a competitive environment, the key question is: What would happen if we did a little better?  Organizations that add just a little bit every day always defeat those that are in the subtraction business.        

20 марта, 11:24

Three simple and difficult steps

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Get smarter. Hurry. Learn something new and difficult and valuable. Learn it today and continue learning it tomorrow. Solve interesting problems. Ignaz Semmelweis saw the same problem that others saw. But he took responsibility and solved it (worth a read). Care. More. This takes guts because it means you'll have to do something. If you can invest in these three assets, what happens to your leverage? Your value? Your choices? There are people who can cut corners better than you, work more hours than you and certainly work cheaper than you. But what would happen if you became the person who was smarter, better at solving problems and cared the most?        

Выбор редакции
19 марта, 11:49

Showing up

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Some people show up when they need something. Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later, when they need something. And some people merely show up. Not needing anything, not in anticipation of needing something, but merely because they can.        

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18 марта, 11:42

Fear, failure and shame, oh my

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Fear runs deep. Fear used to keep our ancestors alive. Fear keeps you from taunting a saber tooth tiger. The thing is, most of us don't have to deal with tigers any longer. But the fear still runs deep. We still feel the same feelings when we face possible failure, but now those feelings revolve around shame. Losing a videogame in private is fine, but asking a stupid question in a meeting is not. Shame is the dream killer, because shame (or the possibility of shame) amplifies our fear of fear, keeps us from contributing and short circuits our willingness to explore. As soon as we give it a name, though, as soon as we call it out, we can begin to move forward. Fear of shame unspoken is fear of shame amplified. Be afraid of significant failure if you can quantify the downsides. But fear of shame is a waste and a trap.