The Gamification Revolution
I am trying to get my youtube video
to go viral so would appreciate any sharing, comments, likes, Tweets etc.
A friend of mine wrote an interesting article on BlackBerry 10
. Worth reading.
I do not believe in video games.
One of my investment thesis is not to invest in them (although Canrock does have a small investment in Willpawn4food
). My theory is picking a hot game is like picking which movie will be hot - tough to do.
I do not play internet games except chess and at one time, I played some solitaire, tetras etc.
I do believe in gamification. I actually have a patent on using gamification in a business environment. So I read with interest The Gamification Revolution - How Leaders Leverage Game Mechanics to Crush the Competition
by Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder.
I know that people actually go out of their way to play games. So combining games in loyalty programs, learning, and jobs is a way to keep people engaged and interested naturally.
One way to do this is with prizes - as in goods and cash. But interestingly enough, it can be done with much less tangible things like points, awards, titles etc.
I am fascinated by the "why people do games". There is a psychological component that is important. Much of that is about challenge. And the ideal challenge is one that is difficult but not too difficult. People get satisfaction for solving challenging problems.
Gamification can be a great way to engage staff and customers.
This is a great book that explains the why and the how of gamification.
And a great time management quote "When you play, play hard - when you work, don't play at all" Teddy Roosevelt.
From Smart to Wise
Prasad Kaipa and Nvi Radjou wrote "From Smart to Wise - Acting and Leading With Wisdom
I have long sought wisdom so jumped at a chance to read the book. One of my favorite expressions is "wisdom is learning from other peoples' mistakes".
Wisdom is like corporate culture. It causes right decisions to be made. It allows for superior insight.
The first chapter seemed unnecessary. It talked about why wisdom is important. I suspect people who do not know that would not be reading the book (although that is true of many things). People who need to know something are the last ones to seek to learn it.
It did point out that all of us have wisdom and can develop more of it. It is not some mysterious spiritual or religious thing that only a few can approach.
The second chapter spoke of connecting with your noble purpose. When put that way, it empowers us. Wisdom comes from acting with that higher purpose in mind.
There was a chapter on "know when to hold and when to fold". Knowing what is important enough to fight for vs what is not.
The final chapter was on finding your wisdom. Find your wisdom logic.
One wisdom I knew was reinforced by the book. Hire people with good character and teach them skills. People with skills and poor character are very difficult to change and lead.
Smartness is important but is increasingly insufficient. Ethical clarity and authenticity are needed to thrive.
My suggestion if you seek wisdom - read the book.
Back from Morocco
I am just back from a week in Morocco. Beautiful country. A mix of modern with ancient.
I hurt my knee running the first day but did manage a 5 mile hike in the Atlas Mountains. But then did no workouts. So I feel bloated
(there was lots of food of course).
But as with all travel, I always feel behind when I return. So I use an email management technique
to ease my email stress. It is based on the old time management principle - touch each piece of paper only once.
What I do is allocate 2 minutes maximum per email (most take less than a minute). If I can complete it in less than 2 minutes, I deal with it completely. It requires focus on just one at a time. Working with a full email in box is a bit like working at a messy desk - everything is screaming "do me, do me".
In busy times, I also sometimes spend 10 minutes doing emergency scanning. For this, I allow only 5 seconds per email. This reduces stress because I know nothing is burning.
By the time I spend even half a day, I will have weeded the emails that take more than 2 minutes down to only about 40 emails - much less daunting than before I started.
I was at a YPO event yesterday morning. The speaker was prolific author Richard Barrett.
He wrote a number of books including The New Leadership Paradigm - Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading an Organization and Leading in Society
His company has done extensive research and come up with tools on how to measure individual values and beliefs and company values and beliefs. He has impressive statistics on the success of companies that are high alignment compared to others.
He talks about a hierarchy - similar to Maslows from basic needs through goals.
One thing Barrett said that made sense to me "Company culture is to a company what character is to a person".
Barrett is a passionate speaker.
I read Leaders Ought to Know - 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership
by Phillip Van Hooser. I love books that distill everything down to a finite number of rules.
I have long thought that common sense is not very common. So perhaps a book to lay it all out makes sense.
Each chapter covers one rule. Explains why it is a rule and how to live and thrive with is.
For example, rule one. "Leadership is a choice - reinforced by individual effort". Essentially, anyone can be a leader, they just need to choose to do it and choose to do the work required to learn, grow, try, practice, study etc. I know I believe anyone can be a leader and there are not born leaders.
Rule 7. Leaders Can't Predict Followers Behavior - so they need to figure out what motivates and how to inspire that motivation that is within everyone.
I know one mistake novice leader make is to think everyone shares their motivation. This is simply not true. Everyone is unique.
It is good, simple and inspirational and reinforces much of what I know about leadership.
Boston Marathon Cowardice
I am greatly saddened by the act of cowardice at the Boston Marathon. Any attack on the innocent and unarmed is cowardly but doubly so when there is no political agenda at the marathon. It is not even a target that could possibly be hated like some people might dislike Wall Street.
Thanks to all who asked about my wife, Elizabeth Waywell who was there. She is fine. She even had a spectacular run at 3:10 to come in 5th in her age group. But the terrorism overshadows all.
I have mixed feeling about even blogging and being positive as I usually try to be. I think it is best to do so though so the terrorists do not win twice. Normalcy must return.
I spoke at a TEDx last week. My part starts at about 6 minutes on this video
. I have done hundreds of speeches but a TED talk is different. Scripted and timed to the minute. No audience interaction. Exciting and I will do it again if asked.
Nice Companies Finish First
I am speaking at Tedx Times Square
next Wednesday. One of my fellow speakers is author and social media guru Peter Shankman. He has over 300,000 twitter followers! I had the opportunity to hear a preview of his speech and he is entertaining and interesting. Worth seeing.
I also happened to have just read his book - Nice Companies Finish First - Why Cutthroat Management is Over - and Collaboration is in
I loved the title. I have long thought of myself as a nice person and thought one of my company's values was niceness. I have known some business jerks who are highly successful so it is reassuring that this is not the only type that can win.
The main thesis is - the power of the press now lies with with customer. Social media like Twitter, facebook and blogs allow the consumer to influence many more people than they previously could. Any degree of jerkness or niceness is now amplified by the crowd.
Being a "nice" company is now the lowest cost way to market.
In speaking to Peter, he believes in being authentic. He also applies the niceness principle to life in general - not just business. In short - it is less stressful to be nice and you get just as much result so you may as well be nice.
This is one of those books that cites examples of companies going above and beyond for customers. I always find those inspirational.
And a quote used in the book:
"The most powerful leaders are almost always the role models for the change they seek."
And of course no blog post is complete without a picture. My grandson Josh and granddaughter Victoria.
What are you Thankful For?
People often say "How are you?". This sometimes opens up the chance for someone to lay out their aches, pains and woes. Asking "What are you thankful for?" invites a different reaction. Test it and see.
I have long believed in having an "attitude of gratitude". I have much to be thankful for.
My daughter Laura married her long time boyfriend atop of a mountain in Victoria, British Columbia last week.
I wish them a long a prosperous life together.
Victoria Ann Arrives
I am, once a again, a proud grandfather. Last night at about 8, Victoria Ann Mitchell was born. A sister for Josh.
Baby and mom are doing well.
People are asking me how much she weighs. To which I reply "She is a baby, she can't weigh much". I alway thought it was rude to ask someone how much they weighed.
She did weigh 6 lbs, 15 oz or 3.14 kg. This is more than 50% more than Josh who I expect will grow to be 6 ft tall so I expect Victoria will be 9 ft.
Likeable Social Media
Canrock had a guest speaker today as part of our ongoing training for all of our companies.
The speaker, Dave Kerpen was awesome. Charismatic. Good story teller. And really knew his stuff.
He has written a couple of books - Likeable Social Media - How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresitible Brand, and Be Generally Amazin on Facebook
and Likeable Business - Why Today's Consumers Demand More and how Leaders can Deliver
He started with a great slide with 3 points:
1 - Social Media is not free - it costs time.
2 - Results from Social Media are not instant.
3- Good Social Media does not make up for mediocre product.
I agree with all three of these points.
He made the point that the most important things companies can do is to have empathy - say "I am sorry" and "Thank you".
And he ended with a great analogy about social media. It is like a cocktail party - not structured, not perfect, not totally planned etc.
If you ever have an opportunity to hear Kerpin, I recommend him.
Inspired People Produce Results
I had an interesting conversation today about the Dunbar number
. This is the maximum number of people that you can have ongoing social interaction with. I suspect people who have a higher number, have more business success. So one goal should be to develop systems and process to increase that number.
Jeremy Kingsley wrote a book - Inspired People Produce Results - How Great Leaders use Passion, Purpose and Principles to Unlock Incredible Growth
I was hooked from reading the title. Intuitively, I know inspired people produce.
Kingsley has chapters on 10 leadership concepts that create the inspiration:
1 - What do leaders do - inspire. Things like having a plan and being an optimist help.
2 - What Inspires - Passion (and this is contagious)
3 - Purpose. I think this is important for people and companies.
4 - Loyalty. I am surprised how rare this seems to be these days.
5 - Caring. He related how Shackleton became such a great leader. It told of Shackleton allowing one of his crew who had terrible sciatica to use his berth on the stranded ship and how Shackleton would serve that injured crew member.
7 - Understanding. Get to know people. Ties to the Dunbar number I mentioned earlier.
8 - Patience - I have some of this but also a great sense of urgency.
9 - Communication. He told the cute story of Bubba and his friend went hunting. The friend fell down and was not moving. Bubba thought he was dead so called 911. The operator said "First - make sure he is dead". So Bubba says - hold on a second. Then there is a bang. Bubba comes back on. "He is - now what".
10 - Integrity. This should not be rare but sometimes is.
I liked some of the personal stories he spread throughout. It added interest and "personal" which added readability.
I loved it. Short and simple and every point was valid.
How to be Exceptional book review
How to be Exceptional - Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths
This is an in depth book that is likely to make its way into the classic leadership book category. It is research based.
I love and believe in their theory that leadership can be learned and involves a number of "learnable skills".
I have long believed focus on strengths is one of the best ways to succeed. I am a fan of the Marcus Buckingham approach he talks about in his book Now Discover Your Strengths
. The first step is to discover them. (I suppose CEO Time Management
might be one of mine)
The book starts with study data on the correlation between how good the leader is with staff satisfaction and in turn customer satisfaction. Good leader - happy staff - happy customers.
How to Be Exceptional spends quite bit of time on "Fixing Fatal Weaknesses" also. It really does not start talking about how to polish strengths until almost half way through (on page 93 of 217). But fixing a weakness really involves much of the same skills and focus as polishing a strength.
I loved the concept of cross training which the authors use in the context of leadership traits. They use multiple running analogies which I relate to. Speaking of running - that is the one exercise I love doing but I do elliptical and a bit of cycling reluctantly because my body cannot take the wear of only running. And I enjoy doing weights but find I scrimp on them if I do not push.
Although according the the book, I should not have any aches or pains yet since I am Gen X (not a baby boomer) according to their dates 1955-1976.
In cross training, they talk about companion traits that can be developed. They use a couple of examples and I am certain you could come up with a list for almost any trait.
One example of a strength might be "Inspires and Motivates". Companion skills that help that might be: makes emotional connection; role model; champions change; takes initiative; fosters innovation; collaborates and is a team player; develops others; good communicator; clear vision and direction; establishes stretch goals. These companion skills become the cross training.
One companion trait that helps leaders in almost all areas is public speaking. I am a big advocate of Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie for all leaders.
They had a good formula for sustainability. I think a leader can work to strengthen any of these:
Sustainability = Motivation X Goal Clarity X support X opportunities for Practice X Measurement.
Leading with Conviction
I am woefully behind in posting my book reviews. I was in the city today though so had train time to jot down some ideas.
I read Leading with Conviction - Mastering the Nine Pillars of Integrated Leadership
by Shalom Saadar Saar.
I like leadership books.
The author claims leadership can be learned. I heartily agree.
The first pillar is Self. Self knowledge is power. Saar has done hundreds of 360 evaluations so knows a bit about people's perception of themselves compared to self perception. I know the better I know myself, the easier life is and the easier success comes.
The second pillar is balance. And everything is a balance. Home-work, work-workout, fun-maintenance, sleep-exercise etc. Generally I think balance is overrated and think sometimes the guilt associated with the attempt at balance is less healthy than actually being balanced. I have also often seen great results from people who lack balance.
My favourite pillar was change. I have long believed change allows entrepreneurs to flourish.
The final pillar is results. (yes, I deliberately skipped pillars figuring people who want to know can read the book themselves). In the end, it is the results that count.
Leading with Conviction explains the pillars and the steps on how to achieve them. Good book.
Now with some of the scandals going on like mayor of Detroit
, Enron (ok so that is a bit old) etc, perhaps someone should write a book on Leading After Conviction.
Perfection vs. Speed
More companies fail from perfection than speed.
I like perfect but often good enough is good enough.
Often taking something from 90% to 100% takes as much time as taking it from 0 to 90%.
Often the users, readers, buyers, etc do not value the extra 10% and in some cases do not even notice it. This does not mean I believe in sloppiness, carelessness or shoddy work.
Just do it.
I read Leading Successful Change - 8 Keys to Making Change Work
by Greg Shea and Cassie Solomon.
Of course I know change will happen. And I generally like change because it presents opportunity. I believe in being adaptable.
- focus on behaviors
- foster the right environment for the positive to happen
- persist and repeat. It take persistence to bring good change.
The book talks about the 8 levers of change:
1 - Organization. Structure.
2 - Workplace design. Lay things out for success.
3 - Task - have the right processes
4 - People - select properly and coach, train and mentor.
5 - Rewards - people do what is rewarded.
6 - Measure
7 - Information
8 - Decision allocation. Who decides what.
The book is short (92 pages) and well laid out so it is more likely that non-readers would also read it. Great little book.
This is a picture I took on my Blackberry on Feb 27 while in Canada. Beautiful weather. I even like shoveling snow (I call it a useful workout
I am just back from travel. Too long of a story. Suffice it to say - major delays, more expense and basically a lot of hassle.
Interesting that while on the flight, I read a book called Empathetic Marketing
that talks about empathizing with your customers. One core emotional need they talk about is control and why this is such a frustration for travelers. Much of the travel experience is not in our control. Line up to get tickets, line up to make changes (or wait on hold), line up for security. Hope to get space in the overhead bin for luggage. All to be flown in a plane with no control.
What I do like about travel is the reading time.
I read a great book on transitioning from manager to leader called Leadership Conversations - Challenging High-Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders
by Alan Berson and Richard Stieglitz.
I did not like the title and thought it did not do justice to the book. It is more about "Becoming a Great Leader". They weave in the conversations part by talking about the different conversations great leaders need to have.
It starts early on with a list of 10 ways to Practice Great Leadership Conversations including:
1 - Know your people (and I know this one can be difficult if you get a lot of new people at once)
2 - Invest in people
7 - Set priorities
9 - Mentor and coach
10 - Set expectations.
I also liked their discussion of "leadership rules" like "people skills trump technical skills" and "be clear about your values".
I particularly liked chapter 15 on Recognition - Making it all Worthwhile. The chapter talks about how high self esteem people do a much better job than low self esteem people. And it talks of ways to create that (without false praise).
I view business life as a continuum from doer to manager to leader and see all of us with a bit of each of these. I know in my career, it was not clear cut if I ever transitioned from one to the next. This is partly because I started from nothing so did everything myself then got some staff, then more, then more until eventually, the only way to get anything done effectively was to try to lead rather than just do.
It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I highly recommend if for anyone who works a a manager who is moved into a new position of leadership.
Leadership and the Art of Struggle
I love early mornings. There are so many things I could do and want to do. At my desk in the office by 6:30 after a long workout. Perfect start to a day.
So why would I be thinking of failure?
I read a book last night Leadership and the Art of Struggle - How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity
by Steven Snyder.
I love success stories. And in a way, this book is about successes but those that are preceded by failure. Or as he puts it - being human. Leaders are often put on a pedestal and expected to be perfect. Or in the case of failure, held out to be complete losers.
We are all a bit of both. The key is to not get depressed or swamped by the losses.
Random snippets from the book(with some of my interpretation):
Use adaptive energy. Confront failure with proactive reinvention. Channel adaptive energy through self awareness. Reflect. Be centered. Adopt a growth mindset. Wake up smarter every day. Abilities can always improve. We can choose positive change. Just because we were one way does not mean we cannot be another. Winners are resilient. Prepare yourself. Rethink your vision. Have goals. Have passion (and figure out what gives you passion). Re-imagine. Pivot. Leap.
Snyder speaks of the challenges of many great leaders including one of my favourites - Anne Malcahy CEO of Xerox. When I was CEO of SYNNEX, I found her to be responsive, approachable and just a genuinely nice person (even though I think I only ever met her on the phone and email).
One of my expressions is "fail often, fail fast, fail cheap
". And having a failure does not make you a failure. And someone said "You miss 100% of the balls you do not swing at".
It is all about recovery. Picking back up. Learning. But mostly trying again.
It's Just Good Business
It is a long weekend so I get more time to read.
I read an awesome book on Predictive Analytics (yes I get excited by different things) and reviewed it on the General Sentiment blog
I read a short book - It's Just Good Business - the Emergence of Conscious Capitalism and the Practice of Working for Good
by Jeff Klein.
I dislike the title - It's Just Good Business implies that that only reason to do good if because it is good for business. I like the principle - the best donation is an anonymous one that is given without expectation. But the book is great.
It is very easy to read. Simple enough and short enough that I suspect it would even appeal to non-readers.
The gist of Klein's message is "Do good and succeed in business".
Klein talks about why. He talks about the power of purpose, the interdependence of business, and conscious leadership (doing good can be a choice).
It has a series of 2 page company profiles of companies that do good business. They highlight the things the companies do and their unique cultures. I was struck by how many of those companies profiled had written books about their culture (Zappos, Whole Foods, Motley Fool, The Container Store etc).
I reviewed one of Klein's other books "Working for Good
" on the Karma411 website. Karma411 is one of the Canrock Ventures investments that helps causes raise more money by using social media. I am helping Karma with some of their marketing testing
All of Klein's books are smattered with great quotable quotes, some of which I will use for my Twitter stream
. EG - "Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional and mental states" Carol Welch
For fun, last night, I went to the Melrose games (as a spectator). It is a track and field event that has all the excitement of a major league sporting event. The winning runners run almost twice as fast as I do. I best get up from my chair and start training.
21st Century Management
I read a book last night by Mats Lindgren - 21st Century Management - Leadership and Innovation in the Thought Economy
It is a book about how business needs to operate in the transparent internet environment.
It speaks about the future strategist. A high level person who knows and covers all disciplines. Although I never thought of myself in those terms, I do know, I was very interdiscipline. I think starting from zero means you have your hand in everything so as you grow, that still continues.
Lindgren is CEO of Kairos - a future strategist company in Norther Europe. So he should know a bit about future strategy.
Some of his approach is "consultant" like. He does try to frame a process around future strategy. Clearly anything that can be done to do that, adds value.
I like books like this one with lots of quotations throughout. I helps me fill my Twitter stream
The NY Times had an interesting article on "slow down - get more done
". Interesting idea (assuming I got the gist of it from speed reading it).
And of course no Time Management Blog
would be complete without a time management tip. The best way to clear snow is to hire the sun. And the sun is doing a good job today.
Beautiful Snow Scenes
We finally got a bit of snow. Even though it is melting today.
At least we had enough to make it feel like a real winter. I am grateful to have enjoyed it while it lasted. (one characteristic of happy and successful people is they are grateful)
And I was able to get a useful workout
in - shoveling snow for 2+ hours. Beats going to the gym and yes, I am appropriately "good" sore.
Malcolm Gladwell in his famous book - Tipping Poin
t talks about the 10,000 hour rule. Anyone can become proficient by spending 10,000 hours on something (although one of my karate instructors said "it is not practice that makes perfect - it is perfect practice that makes perfect".
So thinking Josh will be a great pianist.
Three Simple Steps
I have been catching up on my reading yesterday and today.
I re-read 168 Hours
. A book on time management. What it reminded me is "the greatest impact comes from doing then things you are best at". It also inspired me to start using my time tracker log
sheets again. My Amazon Review is here
I read "Three Simple Steps - A Map to Success in Business and Life
" by Trevor Blake.
He is highly successful and seems comfortable with himself which makes him easier to learn from.
His first step he calls mastering his mentality. This is controlling how he thinks of the world. Mastering his reaction to situations.
One of his steps is meditation or being still daily. He give numerous examples of the power of this. I believe in this step but knowing something is good and doing it are different things. I have tried this on an off but have not made it a habit (although I am thinking about it). Perhaps I will do that while I run or cycle.
And I could tell you the third step but it hardly seems fair to spoil the book.
Any book that can distill and simplify is a good book. For me, I always thought success came by having daily success habits
and hundreds of tiny micro things that I do. Simplifying does make it easier to remember and therefore easy to do. And in keeping with 168 Hours, does focus on the greatest impact.
I also read "Get Your Shift Together - How to Think, Laugh and Enjoy Your Way to Success in Business and Life
" by comedian switched to motivational speaker Steve Rizzo.
His thesis is success is being happy. So the primary goal in life is happiness according to Rizzo. Using that philosophy, he would say the reason I like the achieve is it makes me happy. Or the reason I like to see young entrepreneurs thrive is it makes me happy.
Much of his book is about shifting your attitude to reacting positively to what happens in life. Hence the title - Shift.
And being a retired comedian (who worked with the who's who of comedy like Ellen DeGeneres, Eddy Murphy etc), he suggests humour is part of the key to happiness and keeping the right attitude.
Two books - different approaches but both suggesting attitude and mastering mentality is what it is all about.
I am following closely the BlackBerry 10 release on my Daily BB10 reports
. I did notice the sentiment declined a bit (and so did the stock price). But overall sentiment seems good.
My son David with his nephew (my grandson) Josh.
BlackBerry 10 Sentiment
BlackBerry 10 launched today
There has been lots written about it so not for me to share anything new. Lots of apps, lightning fast surfing etc. The device looks like a winner - but will it be?
I think the next 90 days will tell. I often see products that sell lots in the first few week - this is normal early adopter. Then the sales either grow exponentially or fizzle. Largely depending on how well the market accepts the product.
I think RIM is either a $4 stock or a $100 stock and much of it depends on how BB10 does.
One of the companies Canrock Ventures has invested in in General Sentiment - a company that reads all of the internet - blogs, tweets, news, web pages every day and determines if people are saying good or bad things about a product or company.
They are doing a Daily BB10 Report
so active investors can see what the public is really saying.
It will be interesting.
Turning the Pyramid Upside Down
I have been in Toronto/Guelph/Waterloo where there is snow and a touch of cold weather. There is also some cool in Long Island finally. I love it and think it is healthy. Kills the germs and the bugs - or at least that is what I think.
I read a leadership book by Marilyn D. Jacobson. Turning the Pyramid Upside Down
It is a book about leadership. The gist of it is - the most important person is at what is normally the bottom of the org chart.
It talks about leaders inspiring people:
“How would you like to be lead?” The most overwhelming responses were more autonomy, empowerment, support, access to viable resources, opportunities to collaborate on projects, and the ability to fully use their skills.
When organizations are flatter and synchronicity is achieved, pyramids and hierarchies will be history."
The gist of this is - old fashioned command an control no longer work.
I have seen this in action. As a (partially) reformed micromanager, I have learned how inspiring it is for people to have autonomy. As I ran a larger company, I had to constantly tell myself - coach on culture but let others make decisions. Especially where they were competent to do so.
I developed a relationship with Mitchell Martin - President of SYNNEX Canada over time, where I trusted him to do a great job and tried to stay out of his way. And it worked. One of my mentors once said "what is the point in having good people if you do not let them do your job".
The upside down pyramid is particularly important in customer facing organizations.
It is a good read for any leader.
I was interviewed by Nadar Mahmoudi
from Coldad for his blog.
And of course the one and only Josh.
Yes, I mean marketing testing- not market testing. How do you know the best way to spend marketing money?
In my opinion - the easiest way is just spend it and see what works. The beauty of the online world is this can be done for hundreds or even tens of dollars. Buy a few Adsense ads on Google. Buy different words or phrases. Use different offers, colors and pictures to see which one gets the best return. Try the same thing on Facebook and Linkedin.
Track everything to figure out which ones work and which ones work the best.
Then just spend money on the ads that work. Spend if the sales/gross margin generated is more than the cost of the ad.
Clearly this approach does not work if you are selling big ticket items or things that people do not place the order right away for. And sometimes there needs to be some assumptions. For example, if you are signing up a subscriber who pays $10 per month and the cost to get a customer is $50 is this a good decision? It all depends on whether the customers stick with you for more than 5 months.
If you happen to hit a success formula, your business can scale very quickly. Keep tracking though since success can be fleeting. Things change all the time so keep testing and tracking.
And of course, I am a big advocate of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
(Canrock invested in a Long Island SEO company
). I read once that people click 7 times more frequently on natural search results than they do on ads. So once you know which words or phrases work to buy. SEO can magnify the result and can get the same traffic but often for less cost.
Tech Crunch published an article
by Robert J. Moore on the lack of statistical significance in many AB market tests. They also pointed out that over testing can cause analysis paralysis. (I agree heartily with the latter point)
At first Moore seems to be saying "do not AB test" but he is not. He is just saying "do not let it slow you down".
Success in business is often tied to velocity. Sense of urgency wins.
Happy New Years Purpose
I love New Years. Good time to rethink goals. Set new one. And decide what a few success habits
I can add to my routine.
Often good habits slip and need to be reinforced. I know I have slipped out to my blogging habit. Partly I blog for you - the reader. But partly I blog for me. I know I am more likely to be productive and use my time well if I am "reporting" on life. I think this is one reason I do so many book reviews. Knowing I am going to "report", I take the time to read a book. It becomes a positive loop.
One habit that is easy is the habit of being thankful. And I know I lead a charmed life. I have lots to be thankful for. I can write one of two things daily. It reinforces positivity.
When I spend time on goals, I take time to think of purpose. Purpose precedes goals.
I read a book - the Story of Purpose - the Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, a Greater Company and a Lasting Legacy
by Joey Reiman.
The book makes a point that successful companies stand for something greater. They have purpose. The goal can sometimes be internal - like Nike - Just Do It. Healthy shoes for healthy people. Get active. But the goals can also be linked but indirect - EG P and G invests millions in vaccinating people in developing countries.
I was taken aback that Coca-Cola was one of the companies cited with having purpose. Of course I was thinking there was not much virtue in selling sugar water.
Much of the purpose and value of great companies was to value the team and foster team spirit. The great purpose was summed up - put humanity back in business.
And the book pointed out the relationship between good purpose and company success.
It had a cute section on "places to think" which included in the shower, in the car with the radio off, the park etc. Ironic but we do need to be reminded to take time to think.
Anyways - though provoking and interesting book.
The Spirit of Kaizen
I like New Years because I like to set goals
. I know it is not quite New Years but it is close to holidays so it counts for me.
I read a book - the Spirit of Kaizen - Creating Lasting Excellence One Small Step at a Time
by Robert Maurer. The title says what kaizen is - the process of continually creating excellence or continually getting just a bit better.
People often ask me how EMJ was successful. It was not one thing, it was a lot of little things. The focus was on many tiny competitive advantages which in total created a profitable company. The same is true of Kaizen. The focus is not on a complete change and makeover, rather it is just one tiny thing at a time. The book even cautions against "We need something bold and innovative" or trying to make sweeping changes (which is the temptation with New Years resolutions).
This is like the 1% Solution
. A tiny 1% change every day doubles in 72 days. I use that 1% rule when I work out. I just work out 1% longer. So my calculation is I will be able to bench press 3964 pounds in just 2 years by only adding 1% to the weight each day.
I have blogged many times about the power of success habits
. For me, most kaizen revolves around those. Just a few more tiny habits can create long term good impact.
The Spirit of Kaizen has a lot of little ideas for personal and business growth. EG - How to inspire staff in 3 minutes per day. And I liked the chapter on sales. Every sales person needs to practice Kaizen.
The Spirit of Kaizen is a great inspirational book that reinforces the value of small changes to create big results.
Good luck on creating your goals, resolutions and your future.
I know one habit, I have never been good at is stretching. But I am now battling a bad case of tennis elbow
(actually in the inside so it is called golfers elbow). So one habit I will be better on is stretching.
Have a great Christmas
Pioneers of Digital
Stormy night so no power this morning. Would not be a big deal but memories of no power for a week due to Sandy are still fresh.
I read a book by Paul Springer and Mel Carson called Pioneers of Digital - Success Stories from Leaders in Advertising, Marketing, Search and Social Media
. Of course I like success stories. One problem I see with news is it is often about the negative so I like books that are about the positive.
I really liked that this book was mostly about people I did not recognize. The people highlighted are successful but not famous. Any successful business is not the work of just one person. It involves many other great people. This book is mostly about these other great people. EG - Angel Chen from Olgivy One China, Malcolm Poynton - Dove Real Beauty campaign
, June Cohen (Ted talks). So not Steve Jobs or Bill Gates but important people who still make a difference.
I am always inspired when I read success stories. I can learn from each story. EG - one story on social media tells of a company with an email inbox for feedback with 80,000 unread emails. Of course the social media lesson - develop systems to deal with the volume.
The final chapters include one on Pioneering Places (hint - India, China). And one on lessons from Pioneers.
Great book. Easy read. Each chapter is stand alone so it is an easy book to put down and pick up again.
Have a great holiday.
The Perfect Day
I am having Blogger stress - the stressed caused by not blogging for a while.
One way to create a good life (nothing is ever perfect) is to think about your perfect day. So this morning, I am writing down the components of a perfect day. And at my stage, there is no reason I should not have more perfect days or days that are more perfect.
There is a big difference between what I am calling perfect and perfection. We are not aiming for perfection. If we did, the slightest hiccup could ruin what is the perfect day.
As one thinks about perfect days, it is also good to include how to make more of those components happen.
Today included part of what makes a perfect day for me. I woke early. I always love early morning and am highly productive. there are so many things I like to do in the early morning. But the problem with early rising is sleep. I need to go to bed early and I am not particularly good at that.
Other parts of a perfect day for me include exercise (although sometimes it is more the having worked out than the actual working out that I want) and eating right. There is no reason for these not to be every day for me.
I need some social interaction. I need some friend time. I need some outdoors (although I could do without the pollen). I need gratitude - appreciation for life and the world. I need a neat, clean and tidy environment. And the list goes on...
Try writing down your perfect day. It will help you have more perfect.
I love great companies. One of the ones SEO Pledge is working with is an email marketing company
(with permission of course). I find just being around good companies inspires me. Likely part of my perfect day.
Into The Storm
Since we are just off Hurricane Sandy
(and the damage is still everywhere), I am more attuned to the power of weather and mother nature.
Into the Storm
is a book by Dennis Perkins and Jillian Murphy (authors of Leading at the Edge
). This book is one that you cannot put down. Although it is a business book (Part 2 is anyways), it is the captivating story of of a sailing regatta - Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race in 1998.
In the 1998 regatta, 6 people died. The weather was horrific. The book tells of ships losing their masts, sinking, rescues. It also tells of crews that survived.
One of the ships in the race is Larry Ellison's from Oracle. I heard him speak live about his experience at a 1999 YPO event in San Francisco. I remember much of what he said then. Recalling that made the book that much more interesting.
I am not a sailor but still loved the book.
The gripping and chilling story of the storm is followed by a series of lessons learned. Sailing is a lot about teamwork so much of the lessons are about teamwork. It covered stuff like "prepare, prepare, prepare" , "deal with things that slow you down" and "relentless learning".
What I know is people learn best and remember best from stories. And I certainly do. I really liked the format - captivating adventure followed by lessons.
This book is a page turner just like Driven to Succeed
and their previous book about Shakleton
. I am inspired to consider reading more adventure books instead of just the business books I usually read. Of course this one is the best of both worlds - adventure and business.
I am always trying to be healthier. So I have been experimenting baking with Stevia
- a super sweet plant extract that substitutes for some of the sugar in a recipe.
Works perfect so far (in banana bread and muffins)
I have also been making soup for the whole crew at the office. It all started with the storm and many people did not have power so I thought it was the right thing to do. And people liked it so I kept doing it many days.
The Laws of Subtraction
I am just off US Thanksgiving, Black Friday and now Cyber Monday. Much of it is about consumerism. So my answer - reading a book by Matthew E. May called The Laws of Subtraction - 6 Simple Ways for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything
I like to think I like simple but I do not live simple in many ways. The recent hurricane showed me my dependence on little things like power, internet and hot water.
The Laws of Subtraction is mostly about design - art and music. I apply much of it to life though.
May starts with a simplified version of John Maeda's (The Laws of Simplicity
) tenth law:
What isn't there can often trump what is.
The simplest rules create the most effective experience
Limiting information engages the imagination
Creativity thrives under intelligent constraints
Break is the most important part of breakthrough
Doing something isn't always better than doing nothing.
These become the 6 laws and 6 chapters of the book.
At the end of each chapter is a series of one page articles written by "guest authors" giving their view of the topic. I found these to be some of the best part of the book. Each author has their own gems of wisdom. By distilling them to one page, we get the best from each author.
Less is more in design. It can be more in life too.
I think it might be better in blog entries too.
Driven to Succeed
I just finished Frank Hasenfratz's biography - Driven to Succeed
. It is gripping.
The story starts in Hungary and tells of Frank (called Farec then) hiding while Russians overrun his village - stealing everything in sight and worse. He is then forced to leave his family home with only what they can carry and being re-settled in a much tinier house in an area they did not know.
I am thankful for where I was born and raised that I had such a relatively easy life - especially by comparison.
Frank escaped from Hungary after WW II and made his way to Canada with no money. He tool a job in a metal shop and eventually had a falling out with his boss over how to make parts efficiently. So he made a deal. He would buy a lathe and put it in his basement and make the parts and sell them to his former employer.
He then added an oven to heat treat. He added more machines and built a shed to house some of the machines. He hired a few people. Then a few more.
And over 35 years grew to $2 Billion in sales and thousands of employees. (His original vision was to "grow to perhaps 20-30 people).
In reading it, I am inspired to consider returning to selling real goods. There is something rewarding about selling tangible "things".
There is certainly a large focus on family business (sort of like Now Foods
- supplement manufacturer, distributor of stevia
etc.). There is a section how Linda worked her way into and up in the business and the hopeful note that one of her children might someday join the business.
I am sure I found it partly interesting because I know many of the players. Frank was a neighbour. I played bridge with him every other week for 15 years. He sat on my (EMJ) board for the 10 years we were public. I have been to his house many times and he has been to mine.
And I know many of the characters in the book like Jim Jarrel, Bob Young, Linda Hasenfratz etc.
I also have spoken one of the authors, Rod McQueen when he was writing a book on Blackberry
. McQueen is well known for writing Canadian business books. He is an excellent writer. I like his general positivity and objectivity.
It is a great - must read book.
The house across the street set out some storm debris today. I wish I still had a wood stove.
My brother Glen sent me an interesting article on global warming. There has never been a month for 27 years that global temperatures have been above average. 337 months in a row. The odds of that happening are ½ to the 337th power. We don’t even have a verbal number for something that small – it is 3.571 e—102.
I fear we may have more and worse storms in our future.
If you cannot lead yourself, who can you lead?
I read Self Leadership - How to Become a More Successful, Efficient, and Effective Leader from the Inside Out
by Andrew Bryant and Ana Kazan.
The title says it all - seems like what most leaders would want. I particularly like the More Efficient but the More Effective is the most important. This is the difference between leadership and management - leadership is about effectiveness, management is about efficiency. See my post on leadership vs management
"Self leadership emerges from self awareness which leads to greater self responsibility and behavioral flexibility, which in turn which in turn increases our ability to reach our goals."
I smiled at the title of one chapter - "Driver or passenger". The gist of it is - we decide.
The book is a comprehensive compilation of much of what is known in the self development field. I liked the suggestions on how to improve self discipline.
There is a great chapter on goal setting which of course I believe in. For many people, that chapter alone would pay for the book.
Life is back more to normal in Long Island. Still lots of storm evidence like the piles of stuff (like this piano) set out for garbage.
And of course the daily Josh is growing up photo.
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