Published in Online Spin, February 27 2015
You know those old chestnuts: Accountants never get around to doing their own taxes. Advertising agencies don’t advertise. Plumbers have leaky pipes. And now, there’s Facebook, the No. 1 social media platform in the Western world. For obvious reasons, the company doesn’t use competitor channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. But according to a recent study by Investis, Facebook execs also fail to use their own channel well. “Facebook's investor relations page fell well short of best practice,” says the press release, “For example, it does not use videos or hashtags and it does not appear to have responded to any of the posts left by users.”
Published in Online Spin, February 20 2015
“We’re running a clinical trial on the use of Google Glass in a hospital setting,” said the young man across from me, excitedly. “This could change everything!”
“Oh,” I replied. “But didn’t Google just cancel the Glass program?”
He looked deflated. “It’s not so much about Google Glass,” he backpedaled. “It’s more about, you know, wearables, and how they affect doctor-patient behavior. What we’re learning is applicable across the board, whether it’s with Glass or some other technology.”
Published in Online Spin, February 13 2015
Back in 2009, I attended a conference called X Media Lab, designed for startups in the creative and tech industries. At the time, I was the CMO of a startup virtual world for kids. On the opening day, we got to have 20-minute sessions with a few of the speakers, to get their input on our fledgling companies. We sat down with a guy named Nat Torkington, who’s been involved with the Web since it was born.
“Go check out Startup Lessons Learned,” he advised us. “You guys need to start using a lean methodology.”
We checked it out -- and found it to be a revelation for our business.
Published in Online Spin, Februray 6 2015
The world has changed, they said.
Creative industries have been democratized, they said.
There are no more gatekeepers, they said.
I call bullshit.
No, you no longer need a big record label in order to be discovered
Published in Online Spin, Janurary 30 2015
I love Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal.
I love his writing style, his drawing style, and the fact that he has all this technical skill and yet chooses, in his words, to “make my living from drawing fat, frog-eyed, stick-armed oval people.”
From him, I have learned about mantis shrimp and angler fish. I’ve laughed at his description of the Web design process and been surprised about how much cats actually kill. But all of these things are just my baseline measure of appreciation for Inman. Below are five times he blew it out of the water.
Published in Online Spin, Feburary 23 2015
I know, I know. Hyperbolic clickbait. But bear with me, OK? ‘Cause I genuinely believe this to be true: One simple habit can completely transform the way you behave, how effective you can be, and how others perceive you.
If you want to be a highly regarded powerhouse, all you have to do is be a chaser, not a chasee.
First, the definitions. The chaser is the person who is following up. “Let me chase him for that quote.” “I chased her for the specifications this morning; she said they’d be here by this afternoon.” “I’m calling to chase up on the invoice from three weeks ago. When can we expect payment?”
Published in Online Spin, Janurary 16 2015
It’s generally accepted that childbirth is painful, right? I don’t have any personal experience with it, but the consensus seems to be bipartisan enough that I have no reason to doubt it. And when you ask mothers of two or more kids how they can go through it again, the answer is pretty consistent: Because you forget. You forget how painful it was, you forget how much you were hating life in the deepest, darkest moments, you forget how you begged for the epidural or the laughing gas or the morphine, because any level of druggedness was preferable to the agony in which you found yourself. The most excruciating experience you’ve ever had -- and you forget.
Despite being commonly perceived as a negative, the ability to forget has tremendous value.
Published in Online Spin, Janurary 9 2015
In 2004, Patagonia published an essay titled, “Don’t Buy This Shirt Unless You Need It.” The following year, the company launched the Common Threads initiative, to make every piece of clothing it manufactures recyclable. In 2011, Patagonia took out a full-page ad in the New York Times with the headline, “Don’t buy this jacket,” alongside an image of the company’s R2 coat.
Strange, no, for a manufacturer/retailer to encourage us away from buying its products? But Patagonia’s reasoning was simple and compelling: We have too much stuff already, and when we buy stuff we don’t need, we waste money, destroy the environment, and contribute to a culture of disposable consumerism that has yet to offer any benefits to society or the planet.
Published in Online Spin, December 19 2014
On whatever day of Christmas we’re currently on, my inbox gave to me 47 emails.
47 people reaching out. 47 collections of words waiting on my response. 47 miniature jobs to do.
Some of the 47 are new. Some are old. Some have been there so long that surely they’re no longer relevant.
I know a Zero Inbox is easy. The most common strategy is tripartite: respond immediately, throw away, or star-for-later-follow-up. But star-for-later-follow-up feels “easy,” the way cleaning the house is “easy” if you just shove all the junk in the closet. On the rare occasions I do clean, I like to clean, know what I’m sayin’?
Published in Online Spin, December 12 2014
Nearly every week for the past two years, my colleague Geoff Brash and I have coached people to deliver five-minute pitches. We’ve seen people pitching for money and for customers, for staff and for beta testers. We’ve seen pitches that are persuasive, funny, compelling, vague, wandering, insecure.
With each one, we learn. We learn more about what works and what doesn’t. We learn more about what resonates with us and what turns us off. We learn more about exceptions to rules. And we thought it was time to share some of it. Without further ado, here are the five essential elements of a good pitch