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19 posts from July 2010

The Glance for July 22, 2010: Guy Kawasaki says it's not how you start, but how you end

The Art of the Start, 2004, by Guy Kawasaki

You should always be selling—not strategizing about selling. Don’t test, test, test—that’s a game for big companies. Don’t worry about being embarrassed. Don’t wait to develop the perfect product or service. Good enough is good enough. There will be plenty of time for refinement later. It’s not how great you start—it’s how great you end up.

On the hard work of remembering to target your customers not yourself

For most of us, it's very hard to remember how different our customers are from ourselves. This recent article does a good job of driving the message home. I challenge you to create a snapshot of a customer who is VERY different from yourself and hang that in your work area. You have to satisfy that person before you can satisfy yourself.

Mediapost EmailInsider: Don't Confuse Your Personal Experience with Good Strategy, 2010-Jul-21, by Morgan Stewart

My eyes were really opened when I talked to a friend who runs a website for ranch and farm real estate brokers. He recently told me that every time he sends an email to his customers, his fax machine goes nuts with responses.

Talking to my colleagues in email marketing, it would be easy to believe average folk spend the majority of their waking hours online or heads down on a smartphone, receive a couple hundred emails a day...

Where I'm a broken record: creativity is an innate ability of all people, killed by other people

Whenever a company owner says he or she needs to improve the staff's creativity, I always know that the company is doing something to suppress it. People are naturally creative all the time until someone discourages them. You don't have to be making art or designing products. You are creative every time you overcome an obstacle.

Newsweek: The Creativity Crisis, 2010-Jul-10, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Overwhelmed by curriculum standards, American teachers warn there’s no room in the day for a creativity class. Kids are fortunate if they get an art class once or twice a week. But to scientists, this is a non sequitur, borne out of what University of Georgia’s Mark Runco calls “art bias.” The age-old belief that the arts have a special claim to creativity is unfounded. When scholars gave creativity tasks to both engineering majors and music majors, their scores laid down on an identical spectrum, with the same high averages and standard deviations. Inside their brains, the same thing was happening—ideas were being generated and evaluated on the fly.

The Glance for July 20, 2010: Ram Charan observes that choosing a great strategy is choosing one that's doable

Execution, 2002, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan:
Execution will help you, as a business leader, to choose a more robust strategy. In fact, you can't craft a worthwhile strategy if you don't at the same time make sure your organization has or can get what's required to execute it, including the right resources and the right people. Leaders in an execution culture design strategies that are more road maps than rigid paths enshrined in fat planning books. That way they can respond quickly when the unexpected happens. Their strategies are designed to be executed.

The Glance for July 19, 2010: Granovetter sees better method for job placement

Mark Granovetter's book, Getting a Job (1995), revolutionized how I saw the value of the people I've met casually. (Warning--the book is a sociological analysis, not a how-to guide). I was going to post a quote from the book, but then I found this wonderful speech given in the midst of our current unemployment agony.

The American Academy of Political and Social Science Blog: Mark Granovetter on The Need to Take Social Processes as Seriously as the Economic or Psychological, 2010-Jun-1, by AAPSS Staff

In normal labor markets, most people find jobs through personal contacts, and if you get skills and you get psychological counseling but you do not get connections to employers then you are still disadvantaged compared to those who are connected to the people in employing companies.

The solution obviously is to develop programs where some personnel are responsible for creating network connections to employers, gaining their trust, and brokering connections to their firms for clients they can vouch for because they actually know them. But this does not happen very often and one of the reasons is that training has often been identified as the province of clinical psychologists, whose conception of professional identity precludes the dirty work of traveling to factories, which are not very pleasant environments compared to the nice places where they do this training. So, the sociology of professions helps us see, I think, not only why the policy is misguided but also how vested interests create resistance to the kinds of changes we need.

The Glance for July 15, 2010: How to write so your reader can understand

Ten Principles of Clear Statement by Gunning-Mueller Clear Writing Institute Inc.

    1. Keep sentences short. 
    2. Prefer the simple to the complex. 
    3. Prefer the familiar word. 
    4. Avoid unnecessary words. 
    5. Put action in your verbs. 
    6. Write like you talk. 
    7. Use terms your reader can picture. 
    8. Tie in with your reader’s experience. 
    9. Make full use of variety. 
    10. Write to express not impress.

The Glance for July 12, 2010: Kevin Kelly on the necessity of letting go in order to succeed

New Rules for the New Economy, by Kevin Kelly, 1998:
In the highly turbulent, quickly reforming environment of the new economy, the competitive advantage goes to the nimble and malleable, the flexible and quick. Speed and agility trump size and experience. Fast to find the new is only one half the equation; fast to let go is the other important half.