October, 2011

Think Better: The Best Stuff I Read This Week – October 28, 2011

Ain’t Exactly Clear – Mike Metzger – Doggie Head Tilt

A critique of last week’s New York Times article “Something’s Happening Here” by Thomas Friedman. Friedman posited that there were two approaches to looking at the Occupy Wall Street movement and other things that indicate “something’s happening here” – “The Great Disruption” and “The Big Shift.” Metzger has three main points:

  1. Our common definition of capitalism is sourced by Karl Marx, so any critique of “capitalism” doesn’t really address the way the economic system is intended to work. (I will pause to note that the best way to solve a debate is to define terms)
  2. “The Great Disruption” takes an incorrect assumption about the role of capitalism in its fundamental argument, and “The Big Shift” takes an incorrect assumption of the role, power, and opportunity that individuals have
  3. Friedman incorrectly posits that the only two ways of looking at this issue are those of disruption and shift. There are more possibilities at hand than Friedman’s dichotomy.

Selling Is Not About Relationships – Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson – Harvard Business Review

New research shows there are 5 distinct types of sales people: Relationship Builders, Hard Workers, Lone Wolves, Reactive Problem Solvers, and Challengers. Surprisingly, the least effective type is the Relationship Builder. The research notes that this is because, while professional and enjoyable, this type doesn’t really help their clients achieve their goals.

On the other hand, the Challengers are the most successful sales type. They challenge their customers to think differently, they push them forward, and they take relational risks. They sell solutions. These findings, while they make sense, were very surprising to me. This article (and the upcoming series from HBR) will be very instructive and insightful.

Anomaly – Roy H. Williams – The Monday Morning Memo

  • “Your brain is hardwired to notice the exception…”
  • “Islands are made larger, paradoxically, by the scale of the sea that surrounds them. The element which might reduce them, which might be thought to besiege them, has the opposite effect.… The sea makes islands signficant.” – Adam Nicholson, Sea Room
  • Discoveries are often made by accident. Discoveries are the signature of adventure. Take more adventure.

Seeing Red: To Write is to Edit – Josh Ritter – Wall Street Journal

A personal look at how acclaimed singer-songwriter Josh Ritter learned to write. It was all because of the red pen marks and edits of his father, and his father’s insistence on asking questions that forced Josh to get it just right.

Does Hollywood Need Its Own Brand of Moneyball? – Patrick Hruby – Washington Times

Major movie studios are reducing the number of films they release every year and seem to have their entire financial model wrapped up in releasing home-run blockbusters. That, however, is incredibly risky due to the budget requirements of creating these types of films. By contrast, there are plenty of movies made with much smaller budgets that become very profitable. Paradoxically, the risk makes studios less likely to want to “hit singles” because they don’t know how to operate in this way. It’s basically a mess in Hollywood right now. Funtamentally, it’s even harder to create a computer model that predicts the success of movies than baseball teams.

Arguing With Success – Seth Godin

Failure has already failed. Question success if you want to keep getting better.

When Is It Ok to Start Worrying? – Seth Godin

Worry is a useless, unproductive response.

The Full Walter Isaacson/Steve Jobs Interview from 60 Minutes


The Arrogance of Our Abilities

We can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. That’s it. Those are the only physical ways we can experience the physical world.

Imagine if we could never taste… if no one in all of human existence could ever taste anything. If this was true, we wouldn’t have the word “taste”… we wouldn’t be able to know the experience. We would be ignorant of the ability to taste.

This is important: we wouldn’t even know to ask about “taste.” It would be fundamentally foreign to us, not within any realm of possibility because we couldn’t imagine it.

Proof: imagine another sense. We can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. Come up with another one. We can _____.

It’s tough, right? When I think of everything I have the ability to do, it’s still shrouded in the metaphors that we already have. It would be cool to have x-ray vision… but that’s still sight. Being able to fly would be rad, but that’s not a sense – it’s an ability. Other animals can sense things we can’t; they can hear other frequencies of sound and see other wavelengths of light… but they are still hearing and seeing. We are bound by these metaphors.

We simply cannot even think of other ways to experience reality.

Which brings us back to the point that if we could never ever taste, for instance, we would never ever know the difference. We would not – we could not – even long for the ability to taste.

Yet the ability to taste exists. It’s possible. Even if we never knew about it, it is metaphysically possible.

So, what else might be real and possible that we simply cannot experience and cannot give language to?

It could be nothing. It could be infinite. We simply don’t know. And to rely on our five senses to tell us everything about reality is something that scares me.

Think of radio waves, the things that make radios and cell phones work. They are completely invisible and indiscernible by humans unless we have the right tools to measure and create them. Radio waves don’t exist… that is, until we discover them.

Which only makes me wonder what else might be out there that is equally as real, but simply not known by my experience.


Think Better: The Best Stuff I Read This Week

“Breathing Life Into Business” – John Seel – Doggie Head Tilt

Once again, even the most basic things in life, like breathing, serve as metaphors for how to view and experience the whole of life. People and businesses alike cannot succeed merely by hoarding (i.e. “preparing for a raining day). You can’t just inhale. Likewise you can’t just exhale, and give all your money away. Sustainable societies and business are built on wealth creation. Wealth creation comes by trade. Trade requires everyone be inhaling and exhaling. Jesus himself commends us to make a profit out of our talents.

“There’s Something Happening Here” – Thomas L. Friedman – New York Times

Are we in the middle of “The Great Disruption” or “The Big Shift”? Disruption: We’ve reached out limits, growth-obsessed capitalism is failing, and inequality is growing. Shift: Technology, access to everything, and massive opportunity can solve whatever ills us. Fundamentally, both can be optimistic as it forces societies to have to figure it out. Stress/tension in this is a good thing. Can birth renewal. The question is, though, why are the two options Friedman presents the only two options in analyzing the situation. In the song by Buffalo Springfield, he has a little more humility: “There’s something happening here // What it is ain’t exactly clear.”

“How Starbucks Transformed Coffee From A Commodity Into A $4 Splurge” – Debbie Millman – Fast Company

This interview summarizes most of my theory and approach to brand development (without noting “people don’t by what you do, they buy why you do it.”). Brands are about: customer experience, customer emotion, and customers seeing themselves in the brand’s story. What to build a brand? Focus on experience, emotion, and story. I know I was just completely redundant, but even huge international brands like Microsoft just don’t seem to get this at all.

“Dropbox: The Inside Story Of Tech’s Hottest Startup” – Victoria Barrett – Forbes

My life and business run on a Mac… that runs my Dropbox. This article is just a in-depth look at how the company started, grew, andeven turned down a purchase offer from Steve Jobs himself. Sure, I’m a bit jealous, but I think what these tech startups have to do to win (have no life for years), and what they are responsible for (millions of people’s wedding photos) might not be things I’m willing to have as a part of my life.


Steve Jobs as Hero (a Personal Reflection)

My brother Greg texted me, “Steve Jobs died?” immediately after it was announced. A quick check of Twitter and confirmed the news.

I mourned. I submitted my own several tributes to my Twitter and Facebook followers. I read everyone else’s. I kept tabs on which news outlets updated their home pages fastest. I read all the news stories. I stared at my iPhone for hours, refreshing Twitter, reading blogs. I stared into the eyes of the man whose portrait was on Apple’s homepage. I was in shock. Later that night I wrote a post on why my company Blue Ocean Ideas would not exist without Steve Jobs.

The next morning I cried. This was confusing until I realized exactly why I was sad: I was scared.

As soon as I thought about how fundamentally different (read, worse) my life would be if there never was Steve Jobs, I became afraid at how my life might not improve now that there is no more Steve Jobs. I know this is practically unreasonable, but it was the emotion I was feeling… and still feel.

With Steve Jobs in the world, I knew that something great would come. Essentially Steve had given me a promise of hope, and he always delivered on that promise. I trusted him. More than Apple the company, I trusted that Steve the man would make the world a better place. I trusted he would make my life better, too.

And, with every keynote sermon, Steve kept making it better, over and over again. He had the position and the talent to hold out this hope. Who else can do this? Who else will protect me in the ways that Steve did?

I hope we don’t forget the magic – everything we take for granted now: the touch screen, the predictive typing, the mouse, the iWhatever software, the fact that there are different fonts on a computer, music in my pocket. Do you remember your first time with those things? It was magical!

So, we wait for the next magician. We can be sure he won’t be anything like the last one. There will just be another name in the list of Gutenberg, Da Vinci, Galileo, Edison, Jobs.

While we wait, let’s remember the other magic we take for granted. The sunrise. Conception. Stars. Laughing. These are cliché things, but so is the iPod these days.

I miss Steve. I’m afraid of a future without Steve. But, perfect love casts out fear. Ironically, none of Steve’s technology can offer the very thing I need in light of his passing: love.

A collection of the best tributes I’ve seen is below. I encourage you to read them all.

  1.  “Steve Jobs, the Secular Prophet” by Andy Crouch – a stunning piece examining the “meta” look at Steve’s impact on culture
  2. “RIP Steve. Thanks for Everything” by Tracey Halvorsen – a personal reflection on Steve’s influence in her life and work
  3. “The Night the Lighthouse Went Out” by Simon Sinek – a short article about Steve the inspirer
  4. (and for those interested) “Blue Ocean Ideas Would Not Exist Without Steve Jobs” by me – a survey of Steve impact, including my favorite quotes



“The One Minute Sales Person” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. & Larry Wilson – Summary & Review


Take the time to focus on: purpose, people, an the most beneficial parts of what you do.

Selling is always about helping people get what they want.

During the sales process, 1. imagine success, 2. build trust, establish need, show how you help, and find if there’s urgency, and 3. ask for referrals.

To establish need, ask “have” questions and “want” questions. What do you have now? What do you want? Establish the gap between the two and see if you can fill it.

Follow up with your clients often to make sure that what you sold them is actually helping them. This follow up reminds them of this help, and more importantly, allows you to fix things if they need to be fixed. Either way, you’ll be earning referrals.

It takes time to remember to do this and to actually do it. But it’s valuable.

Also valuable is taking the time to figure out what is most valuable – and then doing only those things. I’ll often think I need to do everything that’s worth doing, when in fact, I need to isolate the best of what should be done and do only this.

What I Learned (Or Was Reminded Of)

Being intentional with my time is a sure way to feel like I’ve accomplished what I meant to instead of feeling like I just need to keep going to do more. Focus. The emotional and physical results of this (completing strategically decided-upon tasks) are immense and stress-killers. This rest and focus can, in turn, help provide clarity in deciding the next set of actions to take to maintain the cycle.

Other Major Points, Whether I Agree with Them or Not

  • Take special note of when you do something right – even approximately right. Don’t just see what you’re not doing, or not doing well.
  • Goals begin behaviors. Consequences maintain behaviors.” Likewise, I need to self-manage myself to have consequences for my behaviors. Specifically, I ought to try to create a positive feedback loop for the things I do that I like.
  • Do the most important stuff.


The Search

  • [my margin note: selling is a transfer of emotion = inspiration]
  • “Marketing… was about doing research to learn what people wanted, creating the products and services that people wanted, pricing them competitively, and then making it easy for people to buy.”

The One Minute Sales Person

  • “Behind every sale is a PERSON”
  • “…start helping other people get what they want.”

Selling on Purpose

  • “What would you think of a person who sat in front of a cold stove and said, ‘As soon as you give me heat, I’ll put in some wood’?”
  • “…first fulfill their purpose and then they will make money.”
  • “…people  go on chasing goals to prove something that doesn’t have to be proved: that they’re already worthwhile. Of course, goals are very important in helping us get what we want. But too often we run around using them to get what we already have—our worth.”
  • “…the Tombstone Test…can help you figure out your purpose. … What would I like to have written on my tombstone?”
  • “The fastest ways to achieve your goals…is to stay on purpose.”
  • “…with a product or service you believe in, selling is inherently purposeful.”
  • “…it comes down to caring about your customers…”
  • [my margin note: It’s not what you say. It’s not how you’re saying it. It’s why you’re saying it.]

The Key Minutes Before the Sale

  • “…take a minute…to see the entire encounter running smoothly from beginning to end…The One Minute Rehearsal.”
  • “The first part…is A Walk in the Other Person’s Shoes—seeing things from his side. The second part is The Advantages—how the features of my product combine to solve his problem. And the third part, as corny as it may sound, is The Happy Ending—seeing the other person using and benefiting from what he buys—and feeling good about it.”
  • “Before I can walk in another person’s shoes, I must first take off my own.”
  • “…the key hero of your rehearsal is the other person.”

The Key Minutes During the Sale

  • “…people hate to be sold, but they love to buy.
  • “…people resist any salesperson.”
  • “People buy for their reasons, not ours.”
  • “Sales people exist to help buyers buy. But if buyers don’t trust the sales person, don’t feel a need for our service, don’t believe the product offers more help than a competitor’s, and aren’t in any hurry to buy, they won’t accept our assistance.”
  • “To help people feel trust, I remember my purpose.”
  • [example:] “Sir, in thinking about this call it occurred to me that most of the people I’ve worked with on the past have had some questions they wanted answered before we ever got started. They wanted to know the purpose of our getting together, the process they could expect if they chose to look into our service, and finally their payoff for the time they might invest with me. If those questions have crossed your mind, I’d like to answer them.”
  • **”I ask ‘have’ questions like ‘What do you like most about what you already have?’ And then ‘want’ questions like ‘What do you want that you don’t have?'”
  • “…I take a minute to summarize the key points, repeating them back to let them know I’ve listened and understood…I very clearly point out the difference between what they’ve got and what they want…”
  • “…tell them about another person, much like themselves, who benefited from buying what I have to offer…”
  • [my margin note: social proof, 3rd party story]
  • “…mention…specific feelings my customer wants and that another person experienced…”
  • “People don’t buy our services, products, or ideas. They buy how they imagine using them will make them feel.”
  • “If he feels he doesn’t have a need, I get out of the person’s office. I never create a need, since that is not in the other person’s best interest. It would also rob me of eighty percent of my time and get only twenty percent of my results.”
  • [my margin note: Do I agree? Create demand?]
  • “…it’s the other person’s fear that is the cause of ‘no hurry.’ The idea then is to suggest a course of action that will result in maximum opportunity for them to gain with the minimum risk.”

The Key Minutes After the Sale

  • “…the key minutes in a sale and the most important work I do come after people buy from me. These minutes pay the highest rewards.”
  • “…people don’t just do [referrals] for you, but because it makes them feel good to help their friends.”
  • ** [my margin note: DO THIS] “After people have bought, I telephone them several times. I let them know that the purpose of my calls is to find out if they are enjoying and benefitting from using what they bought from me.”
  • “After I’ve praised them, I tell them about a gift that I’m sending them. Usually it’s an inexpensive feature they could have bought but didn’t…”
  • “Then I ask them if they know other people who would appreciate my help.”
  • “What if the news is bad after the sale and things aren’t working?…First, I don’t see it as bad news. … It’s only information. …any information I get get gives me an opportunity to help…”
  • “These bad experiences usually provide my best referrals later.”
  • “After the Sale: A Summary
  1. I contact people after the sale to be sure that people are feeling good about what they bought and about themselves for buying.
  2. If they are not happy, I take the opportunity to help make things right for the other person.
  3. When they are pleased, I praise their buying decision and specifically point out something the did that helped that action come about.
  4. I exceed their expectations by providing some form of added value.
  5. When they are feeling good, I ask people for active referrals. I ask for the names of people they know whom I can contact, using the buyer’s name as a recommendation.”
  • ** “I frequently follow up to make sure people are actually feeling good about owning what they bought from me.”

Self-Managed Selling

  • “When people see that they are doing something for themselves, they are more apt to actually do it—and without being constantly managed.”

My One-Minute Sales Goals

  • ** “…about twenty percent of what I do during the day gives me about eighty percent of my payoff. // So, the first thing I do is sort out what that important twenty percent is , and then I concentrate only on that. I choose not to do the eighty percent—the unnecessary.”
  • [my margin note: important lesson for me. selling is not binary. (some is worth more than others)
  • “We become what we think about.”
  • I look at my goals. I look at my behavior (e.g. my appointments). I see if my behavior matches my goals.

My One Minute Praisings

  • Goals begin behaviors. Consequences maintain behaviors.
  • “The better I feel about myself, the better I work.”
  • “I’m afraid I spend too much of my time catching myself doing something wrong. Like thinking of what I could have said during the sale but failed to, or how I should be making more cold calls, or…”
  • “As soon as I realize I’ve done something I like, I tell myself specifically what I did right. …approximately right.”

My One Minute Reprimands

  • “You never reprimand your self. You reprimand only your behavior.”
  • “Do you want someone else to manage you? … Or do you want to manage yourself?”

The One Minute Sales Person Explains

  • [my margin note: Be Aware. Be Intentional.]
  • “One Minute Goals help reduce anxiety, one of the greatest causes of stress. Anxiety is simply fear of the unknown.”
  • “One Minute Praisings—catching yourself doing something right—reduce stress because they reduce fatigue.”
  • “…One Minute Reprimands…clear away your own obstructive behavior. …you rid yourself of a major source of stress.”
  • You don’t make the sale. They do.
  • ** “The didn’t sell a product; they sold what the person really wanted.”
  • [my margin note: This principle can be abused in advertising.]
  • ** “…you remember that effective ad because you have been thinking about what really works for a long time.”

A Gift to Myself

  • “…he didn’t experience the daily emotional and physical stress other people subjected themselves to. // He was living and working On Purpose.”