Saturday, August 21, 2010


Todd Schaefer

TAKING a step into the unknown always forces us to stretch ourselves a bit more, even if we are confident with our craft. When we decide to take something good and make it better, we sometimes hit that mental “ceiling,” or the point which we hadn’t gone past before. If we want growth, expansion, healing, or whatever — we need to just take the next small step. I’ve discovered the need for taking non-limiting steps with my writing in order to bring it to the next level for my development. In the passing of my limitations at this step, I’ve discovered that much discomfort has subsided and all that remains is a whole bunch of joyous steps that I can take in any direction with the publishing and writing process. My mind continually says, “Wow! I can do this and this or even this now!” Lots of possibilities unravel themselves when we choose to keep taking steps forward because we know we’ll feel better when we do...

So often, we wish for success or we see it in another, yet what we’re seeing is the desire for us to make it a reality for ourselves. We don’t do this because we haven’t yet taken the step for ourselves. Or we’ve taken some steps, but not all of the ones that we could. There is always some step that we can take in courage. This makes us feel good. Sometimes, we need a friend to help us see that we can take that step and that we are worthy of taking that step. This is different from convincing or fooling ourselves that we are taking a step. Do you see the difference? This could apply for anything: career, relationships, you name it. In the bottleneck, we make excuses.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Intellect And Intelligence

Swami Parthasarathy

We spend a lot of time acquiring intelligence at the expense of developing intellect. Intelligence is built by gaining information, knowledge from external agencies, from schools and universities, teachers and textbooks. The intellect is developed through your individual effort by exercising the faculty of questioning, thinking and reasoning. Not accepting anything that does not admit logic or reason. Know the difference between the two.

The intelligence acquired from external agencies is much like data fed into a computer. Consider, a computer charged with a complete knowledge of fire extinguishers, firefighting and fire escapes. All the knowledge stored in its memory cannot help the computer act on its own. If the room catches fire, it will go up in flames. The knowledge you acquire is of no use to you without an intellect.

You need a powerful intellect to put the knowledge, intelligence gained, to practical use in life. That explains why among millions of doctors graduating only a few have discovered lifesaving procedures, cures and remedies. So too, among millions of engineers only few design something unusual like the Panama Canal or Eurotunnel. It is their intellect that renders their performance outstanding. Besides hindering success and progress, intelligence without intellect could destroy peace and happiness.

Not realising the importance of the intellect in life, people make no attempt to develop their own. Instead, they merely indulge in acquiring intelligence through surface reading of others’ periodicals and publications. Education has lost its meaning and purpose. For generations human beings have turned into intelligent robots and are traversing through life without awareness, much less enquiring into the meaning and purpose of life.”

The world today is in a state of chaos due to the perversion in human development - all intelligence and no intellect. That explains why even highly educated businesspersons, professionals and scholars become alcoholics, are short-tempered and succumb to worry and anxiety. It is the mind that craves alcohol. It is the mind that loses its temper. Again, it is the mind that constantly harbours worry of the past and anxiety for the future. When the intellect remains undeveloped and weak, it is unable to control the vagaries of the mind. Those having developed a powerful intellect, with or without academic distinction, can hold the mind under perfect control and direct action to spell success and peace in life.

The educational systems the world over must be held responsible for the debacle of the intellect. It is their primary responsibility to strike an equable balance between acquiring intelligence and developing the intellect. Only by maintaining this essential equation can governments be run, businesses conducted, professions practised and families live in peace and prosperity.

Abstract from Governing Business and Relationships by Swami Parthasarathy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Wisdom of Crowds - Collaboration, co-creation, crowdsourcing: it's all about opening up and letting the people in to engage with your brand.

Marketing can seem more fashion- parade than a firmly grounded and principled discipline – a neophile's paradise.

Wave after wave of latest things – the newest, shiniest technologies, media or routes to market – come racing towards us, each heralded by a gaggle of vendors demanding a complete rethink of everything that we thought was best practice.

No wonder many of us feel slightly giddy: we're torn between holding on to what we know and trust, and jumping on the latest thing lest we get left behind. Yet, in all too many cases, the latest thing is soon forgotten, along with the exhortations of those who proclaimed the end of the world as we know it.

That said, some things have proved to be game changers: the explosion of the internet, digital technologies and communications tools; the rise of behavioural economics; the 'social' hypothesis that sees human behaviour as a function of our social nature, not humanity as thinking and calculating independent agents; and the explosion of new kinds of research and analytic technologies that move beyond simple ask answer models of the past.

The rapid rise of what we're calling 'collaborative marketing' – of marketing that does things with (rather than to) other parties (be they consumers, competitors or suppliers) is one of these game changers.

Indeed, the wide extent of the spread of collaboration into every dark corner of the marketing forest (as the other articles in this Admap Focus suggest) underscores the importance of this to today's marketer.

The fact that it seems to be part of a bigger social and cultural trend ('reality TV' is surely nothing more than the act of making viewers into TV stars; phone ins a way of recruiting the audience into the show – while at the same time offsetting some of the costs of production) serves to demonstrate that this is no mere short- term fad confined to marketing geeks alone.

So what exactly do we mean by 'collaborative' marketing? There are many different ways in which collaborative marketing is evidenced, but they all share the same fundamental stance of trying to do things with, rather than at, or to, people.

Part of the drive behind this – as Procter & Gamble's AG Lafley highlighted – is that even the best companies are no longer capable of creating value on their own at the required rate or standard; they need to seek help from the outside.

Allied with this is the acknowledge ment that the world is rather more complicated than our traditional company based models have suggested. People are far more interested in each other than they are in our brands, our stores and our advertising.

Certainly, the new media landscape makes it much more complicated to launch or maintain brands compared to some years ago.

Equally, while much of marketing science equips us for marketing and advertising in the 1990s, our knowledge about social influence and diffusion, how they work and how to optimise them remains patchy at best.

Finally, it cannot be coincidental that the rise of collaborative marketing activities is occurring at a time when both hardcore science and mainstream technology are emphasizing our species' social nature and our profoundly collaborative wiring: we're getting increasingly comfortable talking of social networks and of memes, spread and the like.

The old assumptions of human life as an essentially competitive experience are being overturned in front of our eyes by cognitive and behavioural scientists: we are a 'we' creature, not a 'me' one.

Collaboration takes many forms in modern marketing. For simplicity I have divided them into four, not mutually exclusive, strands:

1.Collaborative communications – communicating with and through people outside the company, rather than at or to. At its simplest, this might just be an acknowledgement of the profound truth that 'it's at least as important what your audience does with your advertising as what your advertising does to your audience'.

Generations of account planners have touted this wisdom in conversations with researchers and advertisers who are interested in 'per suasion' scores and the like. Now, the insight becomes more relevant than ever: for many would be 'viral' creative pieces, pass on and reworking rates ('mashups') are almost always at least as important as traditional communications research metrics.The teams behind the Honda 'Dreams' and
Cadbury's 'Gorilla' ads explicitly refer to these kind of metrics in demonstrating the effectiveness of their efforts.

Equally, with the rise of word- of- mouth marketing, what the audience does in response to the communication is clearly going to be more important than how it impacts on them or what it says to them.

Creative work which seeks to harness social influence is clearly going to have to work 'with' and not 'on' or 'at' – at least, the heavy lifting will be done through 'with'.

And, the rise in user- generated content (UGC) is further evidence of the same thing: increasingly, the democratisation of access to both film and other production and distribution technologies is allowing consumers to make their own content (and not just spoofs of 'proper' advertising).

Dorito's has used America's advertising showcase, the Super Bowl, to provide consumers with a platform to do this, with great success.

2 Co-creation – collaboration in the development and delivery of products, making things 'with' and 'through' folk outside the company and its orbit. Increasingly, marketing is looking to create and develop products together with outsiders.We are all now familiar with fashion retailers' collaborations with famous designer or model names that seek to bring perceptions of quality and interest to the retail offerings.

Then there's the fashion for celebrity music remixes to boost interest and attention in new music.

The software industry's 'beta tests' are similarly collaborative: they are rooted in the practical realisation that it is only by working with users and key clients that software and the services that depend on them can be debugged and tailored to really meet today's users' needs and expectations – these things being just too complicated to get right otherwise.

TV ad: Lynx Twist - ChangesCreative from Xtreme Information

More recently, a number of brands have reached out to their users to go further and actually invent products with a small group of consumers: 'Twist', the latest Axe/Lynx fragrance, is the product of an
intensive co creation project.

Lego's revival is widely credited to the decision to work with, rather than shun, the adult users of the brightly coloured bricks.

They have become the beating heart of the organisation – the real owners of the brand. New recruits are encouraged to spend extensive periods of time at 'fan events'. Similarly, the online music service Spotify focuses most of its marketing effort on listening and working
with its community of music downloaders.

And features that Twitter users take for granted, such as 'RT' (retweeting) and the '@' sign to denote usernames, were created by the user community itself.

3 Collaboration
with other brands and organisations. Another, perhaps more familiar, form of collaboration is demonstrated when two different brands or organisations go to market together for mutual benefit.

Marmite's Guinness variant is just such a project. Brands that align themselves with particular charities also fall into this camp, but there is an important distinction here between mere co branding and

While the former might be just shared flags of convenience to reduce risk, the latter suggests that both parties seek to benefit from making something new and different together.

Indeed, many businesses are realising that providing a platform for other businesses is a good thing; a large part of the iPhone's appeal lies in the huge secondary market for iPhone apps.

4 Crowdsourcing
– resourcing ideas and products in a more open and, to some extent, collaborative way. This form of collaboration is essentially characterised by many individuals (hence 'crowd') or individual companies collaborating with each other on behalf of an individual buyer or company sponsor, either to solve complex problems together, or to offer alternative solutions to the same problems.

The idea is partly rooted in James Surowiecki's bestselling book, The Wisdom of Crowds, which describes the curious ability of 'we' to be smarter than even the smartest 'me' under certain circumstances.

A useful way of thinking about it is the blackboard in the movie, Good Will Hunting, which is left open for passing mathematicians to contribute solutions to problems posed there. The crowd uses this to create solutions together.

Crowdsourcing can range from the creative net of Asian electronic engineers that Apple used to create its iPod, to the community of tens of thousands of volunteer writers who have built Wikipedia. At a more parochial level, online help forums do a similar job for consumers of all sorts.

One of the big appeals of crowdsourcing is that it can reduce costs to the buyer – it's often cheaper for the crowd to solve a problem than to pay for a traditional business to do so.

Collaboration challenges a number of our ideas about companies and their role in the world.

In particular, as leading US marketing blogger Hugh Macleod points out, collaboration highlights the increasingly porous membrane that delineates the inside of a company from the outside. For those of us who like clear lines, and black and whites, collaboration presents all kinds of blurry emotional and practical difficulties.

Equally, it also serves to underscore the selfishness of received thinking styles inside companies, organised to optimise the company's needs, to maximise value for it. Collaboration, by contrast, looks for sustainable win win solutions for long- term mutual benefit.

Starting to do it is also scary. It can highlight how little we really know our customers. For all the millions of dollars we spend on market research and the longstanding and public commitments to 'customer orientation', I'm struck by how ill -at- ease most marketers still are in the company of the people they are supposed to understand and whose needs they, according to the traditional definitions of marketing, are supposed to focus on.

But above and beyond all of these, collaboration challenges us to see the company, and our
marketing, as part of a larger eco- system, as a participant in a larger dance. Collaboration is messy, often unpredictable and, with the exception of those who insist on retaining control, more fun than the old world. But to be honest, I'm not sure we have a choice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rethinking Marketing - Because companies can now interact directly with customers, they must radically reorganize

and to put cultivating relationships ahead of building brands.

  • Companies have powerful technologies for understanding and interacting with customers, yet most still depend on mass media marketing to drive impersonal transactions.
  • To compete companies must shift from pushing individual products to buying long-term customer relationships.
  • In this aggressively interactive environment, companies must shift their focus from driving transactions to maximizing customer lifetime value.
  • This may mean changing strategy and structure across the organization--and reinventing the marketing department altogether.
  • The marketing department must be reinvented as a ‘customer department’ that replaces the CMO with a chief customer officer, makes product and brand managers subservient to customer managers and oversees customer focused functions including R&D, customer service, market research & CRM.
  • These changes shift the firm’s focus from product profitability to customer profitability as measured by metrics such as customer lifetime value and customer equity
  • It means that product managers must stop focusing on maximizing their products' or brands' profits and become responsible for helping customer and segment managers maximize theirs.
  • Once companies make the shift from marketing products to cultivating customers, they will need new metrics to gauge the strategy's effectiveness
  • The shift from marketing products to cultivating customers demands a shift in metrics as well.
  • This organizational transformation will uproot entrenched interests and so must be driven from the top.

Think Ahead While Cutting Back: Marketing Priorities in a Recession

  • No company can succeed by cutting expenses alone. But the practical necessity of today's world is cut, cut, and cut some more.
  • Yes, we all should have been smart enough to build sufficiently robust measurement capabilities before the dramatic assault on our budgets began. Yes, we should have put some water in that bucket before the fire consumed so much of the house that marketing built.
  • But we didn't. So where do we turn once all the "fat" has long since been trimmed and all that's left is muscle and bone? And how do we break the downward spiral of cut, cut, and cut some more?
  • Take a step back and define the objectives for making smart cuts:
      • Achieve the target reductions the CEO is asking for (most people stop right here).
      • Support the company strategy for competing successfully.
      • Conduct a thorough and unbiased analysis of all options.
      • Preserve your credibility. Live to fight again another day.
      • If you're not balancing all of these objectives, you'll suffer death by 1,000 cuts yourself.
  • Have you sufficiently reinforced your relationships with profitable customers? Now may be the time to invest in retention, as acquisition gets put on the back burner. Acquisition costs often require a period of time to recapture, and you may not have that luxury.
  • Your customers and their needs are probably changing in response to the economy as well. Is your research effectively capturing their evolving wants, needs, and value-calculus? If not, you may need to spend a bit more on this issue before you can cut back.
  • Finally, present your findings with passion, but not bias. The mantra of the moment is "having run many options by the good people in Finance and Sales, we all feel that the smartest course of action is..."
  • Now is exactly the time to begin building that measurement capability you really wish you'd had over the past few months.

Leadership Lessons from Abraham Lincoln -

  • Abraham Lincoln’s genius was to manage the ambitions and egos of his rivals to form a team that could confront the challenges of civil war
  • His ability to create a team was rooted in an extraordinary level of emotional intelligence. He learned from his mistakes, he shared responsibility for the mistakes of others, and he did not hold grudges.
  • Lincoln’s experience, like that of other presidents in times of emergency, gives hope that the United States and other democracies will weather the current crisis.
  • If the new U.S. president can learn from Abraham Lincoln so too can business leaders who are grappling now with similar questions of how to lead in turbulent times.
  • Lincoln came to power when the nation was in peril, and he had the intelligence, and the self-confidence, to know that he needed the best people by his side, people who were leaders in their own right and who were very aware of their own strengths. That's an important insight whether you're the leader of a country or the CEO of a company.
  • Those were the days of no television. Leaders weren't worried about cable news or their BlackBerrys. They weren't multitasking; they had time to reflect. It's a luxury many leaders just don't have today, and that's a real loss

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

You Need a Vacation
by Michael Dalton Johnson
You deserve a vacation....but not just any vacation. You need one that will restore your spirit, enthusiasm and energy.

Spend your time far away from cell phones, computers, newspapers, radio and television. These are electronic leashes which bind you to a complicated and stressful world. Simply leave them all at home. It's easier to do than you may think.

Get close to nature. Take walks. Enjoy sunsets. Sleep in. Read a good book. Nap. Laugh. Have a long soak. Go for a drive in the countryside with no destination in mind. Have a slice of pie. Smile. Breathe. Unwind.

Forget deadlines and obligations. Forget the clock. Eat only when you're hungry. Go to bed only when you're tired.

Don't stand in line. Steer clear of casinos, amusement parks and big cities.

People who have disconnected for a week or two describe the experience as heaven.

Dropping out of your workaday life is not only good for you, it's also good for business. When you return to your work rejuvenated, you will enjoy new energy, enthusiasm, creativity and far better productivity.

At first, Type A personalities (like myself) have difficulty understanding and accepting this advice. Anxiety rises in them just thinking about disconnecting. However, when they get past the anxiety and think a bit further down the road, they see a big business benefit. When they consider the possibility of perhaps doubling their productivity, it all starts making sense.