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It’s pretty basic: We celebrate success and deconstruct failure. Our culture tells us that success equals smiles, alcoholic drinks and relaxing by being surrounded by your own genius.

Failure equals long nights, deconstructing each moment leading to the results and doubt in your own capabilities.

If we deconstructed success and obsessed about each detail, success could be as much of a learning moment as a failure. But we rather celebrate. How about doing both?

 

 

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Last night I had to deal with a credit card company for almost 2 hours. We were disconnected 3 times, they never called back and I had to start the process four times from scratch. They always greeted me as a valued customer and every call started with the usual ‘Your call is important to us.’

Not important enough to call me back once we were disconnected. Not important enough to document my request and not ask me to start from the beginning four times. Not important enough to assume I’m okay with wasting 2 hours of my time on a Friday evening.

The more often a company calls out my value and communicates how much they care about me, the less they value and care about their customers.  Actions prove why words are meaningless.

 

 

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Is there free will? It might just be an illusion.

Clear is, we act based on how we see the world. Based on parenting, education, geography, physiology, and other factors. If you would see the world through my eyes, you would act the same way I do. Every. Single. Time.

Understanding the story of others is hard work. That’s why most people skip that step and project their stories onto others.

Empathy is a virtue. And, when you see the world through the eyes of others, it’s a pure miracle.

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Children have this wonderful ability to experience pain without being dragged down by the memory of it. They cry one moment, running around laughing the next.

It happened. No big deal. Let’s move on.

When it comes to adults, we tend to accumulate baggage. We remember the pain of certain experiences and try to avoid them at any cost. The baggage drags us down and we lose the emotional and intellectual flexibility to recover and move on quickly.

When it comes to brands, we call this institutional knowledge. It’s an important part of the history of an enterprise, provides useful data and insights. But it also limits flexibility and agility. The elephant memory of a brand can be very challenging in these transformative times. Brands are better off having a goldfish memory (not as bad as you might think). Learning from past experiences and history is vital. But it shouldn’t limit your options.

 

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I worked with a few car companies. One unnamed firm focused solely on performance marketing and deals. There was always a sale, there was always another new feature they wanted to communicate.

We told them this might work in the short run but at one point they need to make people actually like them and put the overall experience at the center of their communication. They didn’t and they suffered mightily through the last recession, almost didn’t make it out.  Now they put the brand first and are doing fine.

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The list is endless. Autocrats and market monopolies always end up dealing with revolutions. I worked with agencies that were beloved by clients. They might not deliver the best work, but the likability factor was so high that even mediocrity kept the agency around. And I worked with agencies that were brilliant but most of the leadership were jerks. When they made a tiny mistake, the client looked quickly for a new agency.

That’s why tech companies are investing more and more in emotional branding campaigns. Disruption gets you far but only that far. Everybody messes up and users have the choice of sticking with the brand or moving on to something new. If you are beloved, they will stick around. If not, they will abandon you in a second.

The current wave of DTC brands is about to learn this lesson, too. Actually, they are learning it as we speak. In the beginning, it’s enough for people to buy you. But there will be a time when people have to like you to buy you.

Precision targeting, conversion, and your MarTech stack will only get you that far. At one point, someone will have better data, better technology, and better persuasion methods. Your best weapon is not better technology and data. It is the likability factor.

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Yesterday, I came across this interesting saying and insight:

“Venture capitalist Albert Wenger shared a close friend’s wonderful saying, ‘You never know when you had a good day’. In his words –

“In my first startup, an internet healthcare startup, we brought in a very experienced management team. I thought that was a great day. Subsequently, it turned out that team, which was very experienced, made some decisions that ultimately led to the demise of the whole thing. It turned out not to be a good day. Conversely, when the deal to buy a software company fell apart, I thought I had a terrible day. I had worked intensely on something for 2 years and it fell apart. That, though, turned out to be one of the best things – I wouldn’t be here doing this with you if the deal had happened. I would be in Cleveland working with that company.

One of the things I have come to learn is that you shouldn’t get too depressed on the downside, or too excited on the upside – just keep plugging away. Eventually, good things happen.”

Labeling can be dangerous. Just move in the direction and things will turn out well.

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As the new year begins, the resolutions pile up: eat less, eat healthier, move more, complain less, be mindful. And the media ‘helps’ with their advice on how to transform resolution in actual change. A few years back, everybody was talking about cleansing, detoxing the body. And in 2020 we all should be in digital detox mode. Another nonsensical resolution.

Let’s begin with the term detox. One should cleanse their body and mind after the holiday feasts. As any half-serious dietician will explain, there’s no way to cleanse your body. Drink all the juices, water and supplements in the world, your body will not cleanse itself through these methods. You can take care of yourself by eating healthier, sleeping more, exercising, etc. It works but it is boring and not as cool and Instagram-worthy as a cleanse. The same is true for the digital space. Is each digital interaction poisoning your mind? If so, you have bigger problems.

Stopping a bad habit for a few weeks doesn’t change anything unless you stop it for good.

Plus, most of the digital detox advice is mundane: Smartphone out of the bedroom and dining table, take a break from the screens and look at nature, limit your notifications – do we need ‘experts’ for common sense?

Sure, we get how platforms and apps are trying to capture each moment of attention, how they try to overwhelm our brain chemistry with constant dopamine shots, how we have problems focusing because this blinky thing is always so close and so much easier than working or reading a book. Many people have problems sleeping, concentrating and being with others. It’s a real problem. But it’s nothing new. The Internet has been around for 30 years, smartphones for 12 and tablets for 10. We know about the traps and baits of Internet firms for years now, read about the inner workings of these attention-deficit creating companies. Ultimately, each user is responsible for their own behavior. Too many users act like people bitching about tobacco companies while lighting up a cigarette.

The term ‘Digital Detox’ is so fitting because it’s as useless as all the other cleanses and detoxes. Stopping a bad habit for a few weeks doesn’t change anything unless you stop it for good.

Ultimately, the power to change is in our hands. Literally. We can keep the phone in our pocket, leave it at home. Deactivate all notifications. Go back to real conversations and limit texts. We don’t need to detox. We just need to get our shit together.

Lending a helping hand. People helping each other and teamwork cEvery documentary makes a promise to the prospective viewer: Bridging a gap in their knowledge, world view or abilities.

The viewer expects to be changed somehow when the documentary is over.

 

Every non-fiction book makes a promise to the prospective reader: bridging a gap in their knowledge, skills or abilities.

The reader expects to be changed somehow when they turned the last page.

 

Your audience expects the same: what gap does your product or service help to bridge?

How will you change the audience?

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It takes a long time to master the monkey bars. Some kids take a few days, others weeks. For weeks, we went to the playground and my daughter was just hanging there, falling down, frustration building. I wonder how she persisted, urged me to go to the playground each day, blisters building and popping. Still, we went daily. The desire to master the monkey bars was even overwhelming the frustration.

Unlike many things in life, monkey bars are a binary activity. Before you master them, you have to deal with massive frustration. Nothing positive really happens, even the small steps feel like minuscule movements. One day. you are moving past that point and go from not doing to doing. Becoming a master within a few hours. Once you are a master, you enjoy the time with your friends, arms are getting stronger and soon you wonder what’s so special about those easy monkey bars.

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Call me a party pooper when it comes to New Year’s:  Amateur partiers acting like amateurs, dogs learning the word ‘panic attack’, wasted money left and right, silly resolutions that are broken by next week. And, terrible music shows on TV.

Still, even this overhyped day offers an opportunity. The chance to lead change. While the vast majority of people will go back to work in the new year just waiting to get in line and follow, a few will take this opportunity to make a real impact.

Nobody expects you to lead, everybody expects you to fit in. This is an opportunity to stand out and make a difference. This start day can happen every day but we attached a lot of meaning to New Year’s, invested a lot of energy in NYE, why not make today and the rest of the year stand out by leading and creating something matters? We need you.