Think big but communicate small

“O’Reilly Insights: The Importance Of What You Say” by Scott Berkun (Forbes.com, 15 December 2009). A friendly but necessary reminder in the vein of Chip Heath & Dan Heath’s “Made To Stick” (Random House). Of course the idea is important, but if it can’t be communicated such that others can understand it then it’s no idea at all. The biggest take away I got from “Made To Stick” was to take care to describe your new idea (that you want to be understood) by referencing something that is already understood. I believe the example in the book was that the movie ” Snakes On A Plane” was described as Diehard With Snakes.  Got it!

A more current example is Google describing Wave as, “If email were invented today”. If you’ve used Wave you’ve probably realized that tag line is an over simplification. On the other hand, it is a bite small enough to consume without fear or confusion. Doubt, confusion, lack of comfort, etc. will kill a sale every time.

The key is to not be self-absorbed (as so many entrepreneurs are) and not to assume that everyone “gets” your product/service like you do. You have to step back and have some empathy. Success without empathy is rare. Think big but make sure when you have to communicate your ideas to others your genius is small enough for them to grasp. You don’t have to dummy it down, just keep the bites chewable.

Common sense-anomics

“On My Mind: Measuring Good-Cause Effects” by Raymond Fisman (Forbes, 10 December 2009). As the holidays get closer and resolutions are being made for 2010, doing well by doing good is probably on quite a few to-do lists. If that sounds like you, then give Mr. Fisman a few minutes of your time, please.

Now before you jump to conclusions, there is one bit (in the third from last paragraph) that is not fully explored but seems rather intriguing:

Interestingly, in the months after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005, there was a big boost in sales probability and price from Giving Works for all Ebay sellers, young and old. So, when a national spotlight shines on particular causes, it may be possible to do well by doing good.

Possible conclusion? Be specific, and possibly current, about the cause you’re supporting. Just saying, “we do good” and “a percentage of sales goes to charity” might not be enough. Makes sense since most people would want to know exactly where their money is going. Don’t you prefer clarity and transparency over vague and mysterious?

The truth about Apple

“Apple The Outlier” by Rich Karlgaard (Forbes.com, 21 October 2009). In response to Mr. Kalgaard’s blog post the following comment (below) was submitted. Maybe you’ll find it entertaining, so it’s also being shared here.

While I didn’t read every comment in detail, with all due respect, I think the essential point has been missed… When it has been more successful, Apple has been the tortoise. There are plenty of cases of Apple and/or Jobs falling on their face. How many of you are using a Next computer :)

On the other hand, where Apple has done really well, is when it slows down while others rush in. The ipod and the iphone both being great examples. Neither were new ideas. What they were were still developing ideas done a bit better and more importantly, rolled out *after* “the tipping point”. Apple doesn’t feel the need to be first to market, they’d rather get it more right their first time. They’ve come to realize the value in learning from others’ mistakes.  If there is an irony, it’s that Apple really isn’t a technolgy company (i.e., technology for technology’s sake). They understand that they are a solutions and services company, and that’s what they focus on providing.

When they get it right, Apple doesn’t waste resources trying to get to the tipping point, they let others do their bidding. In the meantime they’re using their resources (time and people) to build a better mouse trap as well as come up with the marketing spin to make it look new and exciting. I am not trying to belittle the iphone, I am only suggesting it is not the cure for cancer.

There is no doubt, Apple is a great outfit. But the reasons for that success are too often wrong and/or overstated. They have a great formula – look how their growth and market share has nudged up year by year (i.e., like a tortoise) – and at the moment it’s working quite well for them. But a smart competitor could duplicate their formula quite easily. Provided that competitor isn’t blinded by the hype, or fearful of a beast that isn’t even there.

Dude, where are my files?

“Digital Tools: Forget Disruption. Dive Deep Instead” by Lee Gomes (Forbes Magazine, 2 November 02, 2009). True, there are a number of solutions similar for DropBox (www.DropBox.com). On the other hand, there’s something to be said for being vetted by Forbes and Mr. Gomes. As Lee mentioned, simplicity can be a beautiful thing. A free account of 2 GB is available so it’s certainly worth a look.

While the means is different, there can be times when Adobe’s online suite of Acrobat (Acrobat.com), BuzzWord (BuzzWord.com) and/or Photoshop (Photoshop.com) comes in handy. One of the nice things about BuzzWord is that it uses a secure https connection. Whether the others do or not, I’m not sure. I’ll have to check on that. That being said, what’s more likely to happen, someone breaching your internet connection, or you losing or  temporarily misplacing a USB drive?

Chocolate & wine

“Sweet Talker” by Nicole Perloth (Forbes Magazine, 24 June 2009). We hope to be partnering with an organization in a semi-similar space and want to share this short & sweet (pun intended) kiss of inspiration.

Also, we also bumped into another article on Wine Library TV’s Gary Vee. “GaryVee Uncorked: Wine Library TV’s Gary Vaynerchuk” by Troy Dreier (StreamingMedia.com, 5 June 2009). If you passed over the previous post on Mr. Vee please accept this as a must-open inspirational gift.

Someday your computer might sing, “If I only had a brain…”

“When Computers Are Not Really ‘Brains'” by Lee Gomes (Forbes Magazine, 11 May 2009). Just something “fun” to ponder in your free time.

Let there be growth, and there was growth

“Thriving in the Downturn” Edited by Brett Nelson (Forbes Magazine, 13 April 13 2009) is actually a collection of six articles on six small business that are still going strong.  The common themes: they all seem to love what they do; they have niche and they’re well known (via word of mouth) within that niche; and most importantly their focus is on quality not quantity.

Which raises the question, if the majority of the country is employeed by small and mis-sized companies why is all the bailout money going to the big dogs who actually carry less of the load?

Commit this story to your vision

“Wings Like Eagles” by Rich Karlgaard (Forbes, 13 April 2009. Forbes.com). Note: You’ll have to scroll down a bit to get to this part of Mr. Karlgaard’s “Digital Rules” column.  While mentioning / reviewing a new book on the battle of Britain (“With Wings Like Eagles” by Michael Korda, Harper, $25.99) Rich says:

The British managed to turn back the Luftwaffe’s superior might with intelligence and strategy, based on a new invention called radar and a deception brilliantly executed by Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding. He tricked the Nazis into underestimating the number of British fighter planes and thus drew the Luftwaffe’s bombers into a deadly war of attrition.

True, the business as war analogy is cliche. But in those 50 or so word are: intelligence, strategy, innovation, technology, execution, leadership and the defeat of a what was assumed to be a superior foe. One would have to presume there was some passion in the mix too.  If that’s not worth commiting to memory, what is?

It’s not what you say, it’s what they see

“Watch Your Body Language” by Anita Raghavan (Forbes Magazine, 16 March 16 2009). There’s little doubt we’re all looking for tools that will give us an advantage when we’re on the business pitch. Your body language might just be the key to that next essential negotiation. It’s difficult to agree with Luntz’s, “it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” Xince there are also non-verbal communications in any face to face encounter it naturally makes sense to:

1) Be aware of what your body language might be saying to the receiver

2) Try to “listen” to what the senders body language might be saying that’s not in concert with their words

In the end, it’s transparency and authenticity that rule the day. If your “brand” is out of sync with your message – verbal, visual or action – then people are going to pick up on that.