I hope you have a very happy, healthy and successful 2011! Thank you very much for reading this blog, whether this is your first visit or one of many.
Here are the three most popular blog entries of 2010, with a new year’s resolution to write many more in the new year! Please enjoy.
UPDATE: Moments after tweeting my resolution to blog more often in 2011, I see I am being held accountable (!) by WordPress’ PostADay / PostAWeek Challenge. OK, WordPress, count me in … for the PostAWeek, that is!
The most popular post overall during 2010 was actually a 2009 post:
Quick! Think of a subject; any subject. Now think of any kind of game/pastime/hobby. Got it? You’ve just completed a Mad Lib:
Everything I know about [subject]
I learned from [game/etc.] .
You just might have a new best-selling book (or at least a blog post) topic now!
Ever since Robert Fulghum wrote that ‘everything he needed to know he learned in kindergarten,’ it seems like there is a lot of writing out there with a similar “Everything I know about…” theme – lots of it parody, but many clever writings, too.
Still, it’s easy to take the idea too far: unlike business, poker has a much higher level of luck that can’t be reduced through proactive strategic planning and creativity (think effective product marketing and management, etc.). Even after correctly speculating an opponent has an inferior hand, a bad final “river” card can do you in anyway. In poker, it’s often better to be “lucky” than “good”!
Today poker is very widely regarded as very “cool”, with televised poker champions playing their personas to the hilt.
That said, I have a great deal of respect for someone willing to share an “Everything I know…” insight using a game, pastime, hobby, etc. that is…well, let’s say definitely not perceived as “cool” by popular culture.
Anybody can have ideas – the difficulty is to express them without squandering a (stack) of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph. – Mark Twain
Thanks to Bruna Martinuzzi, author of The Leader as a Mench, for sending me just before the holiday break a copy of What Matters Now, a free e-book compiled by marketing author and visionary Seth Godin.
Over 70 authors, executives, and entrepreneurs each share an idea, using no more than a couple of “glittering paragraphs,” for you to think about and act upon in 2010 and beyond.
Among my personal favorites that are food for thought related to marketing and personal branding:
As much as I am an advocate for blogging, being networked on LinkedIn, etc., author and entrepreneur Howard Mann shares his idea on being tooConnected:
There are tens of thousands of businesses making many millions a year that still haven’t heard of twitter, blogs or facebook…Have they missed out or is the joke on us?…More megaphones don’t equal a better dialogue…
Several years ago I flew to and from a trade show via TF Green Airport in Providence, RI instead of Boston Logan Airport as usual. This small airport has (or at least had at the time) one large economy parking lot with shuttle buses.
You were supposed to give the bus driver the number of your bus stop near your car. Running late, I rushed to catch my departing flight and didn’t make note of the number, but I knew I had parked near a certain corner of the lot.
“Excuse me,” I said to the bus driver, “but I don’t have my bus stop number. Can you just drop me off at whatever stop is nearest to the far right corner of the lot?”
“What’s the number?” grunted the bus driver.
“I don’t have the number. But I know my car is near the far right corner of the lot from where we are right now.”
“What’s the number?” the driver again grunted, a little louder this time.
(What…?!) “I said I don’t have the number. I’m near that corner of the lot over to your right.”
“What’s the number?”
(Is this guy for real?!) “Look, can you just stop anywhere near the far corner of the lot?”
One of my colleagues from the trade show, a TF Green regular and just as annoyed with the driver as I was, shouted out a stop number he happened to know was close to my car. The bus driver, now given “The Number,” did silently agree to stop there, his eyes forward as I walked off the bus. Note that there was no language, cultural or hearing-ability issue with the driver. He was simply locked into his own way of thinking to a ridiculous degree: no stop number, no stop.
Without bothering with further commentary on the theatre-of-the-absurd “Balloon Boy” fiasco that also left the media bamboozled and humiliated over its national coverage of the hoax, there is a worthwhile lesson here for personal branders.
In this instant media age, it is more possible than ever to gain immediate attention. The question is, what are we going to do with that attention? Gaining attention for the mere sake of gaining attention is, in effect, the spectacle-seeker’s oddball way to merely say, “I’ve got nothing.”
October 2010 marked the first annual customer User Conference I attended hosted by my employer at that time, iStrategy Solutions [since acquired by Blackboard]. It was a pleasure to meet so many smart, enthusiastic data warehousing customers I had been collaborating with for case studies, webinars and in-person testimonials.
Since I traveled to BWI at the end of September and returned in early October, I had a chance to read AirTran’s September and October issues of its Go magazine. I found it interesting that the business author profiled in each issue so thoroughly and diametrically opposed the other.
George Cloutier, the founder of American Management Services, with a long record of successful business turnarounds to his credit, is the author Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing, profiled in the Go September issue. Meanwhile, the October issue of Go profiles the book ESPN the Company: The Story and Lessons Behind the Most Fanatical Brand in Sports by longtime consultant to ESPN Anthony F. Smith (scroll about halfway down each of these links to read each book and author profile).
How is this for disagreement, not to mention two very different personal brands, as summarized by Go magazine:
George Cloutier: I am Your Work God! You want your employees to do what you say, not what they think.
Anthony F. Smith: Avoid the myth of single-person leadership. “Leadership is really a shared phenomenon…(Each ESPN executive) needed to surround themselves with other effective people who could fill in areas where they were not as skilled.”
The VentureFizz website lets you “see what’s buzzing in Boston’s tech community.” The site includes links to a wide gamut of blogs by Boston entrepreneurs. One of the better blogs is Seeing Both Sides by Boston venture capitalist and former entrepreneur Jeff Bussgang, including his post, Should Entrepreneurs Be More Like Teenage Girls? As my wife and I are extremely proud of our two teenage daughters, this post easily caught my attention.
Jeff Bussgang’s post refers to an article from The Economist which suggests that the more willing a person is to give up on “unreachable” goals, the less likely they are to be depressed. Dr. Randolph Nesse of the University of Michigan suggests that just as pain is a warning you should stop you doing a damaging physical activity, so too low mood is a mental warning that you should stop doing a damaging mental activity – in particular, pursuing an “unreachable” goal.
The article goes on to quote a Canadian university study that may support Nesse’s hypothesis. The study measured depression and “the goal adjustment capacities” of 97 girls aged 15-19. It was concluded that the girls who experienced mild depressive symptoms could more readily disengage from “unattainable” goals and were also less likely to experience severe depression in the long run.
“Persistence is part of the American way of life,” (Dr. Randolph Nesse) says. “People here are often driven to pursue overly ambitious goals, which then can lead to depression.” He admits that this is still an unproven hypothesis, but it is one worth considering.
What concerns me is how one defines an “unattainable” goal. Is the goal in question really unreachable, or is it unreachable without a long period of new learning and practice? Is it a really a ridiculously futile goal, or is it what I called in a recent post a “Grit Goal”?