Happy New Year: Top Blog Posts for 2010

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: 

Poor Communication can Scuttle Effective BI, Your Personal Brand, and a Simple Bus Ride 


Top 3 most popular posts added in 2010:

1.  Not All Interruption Marketing is Bad 

2.  Play the Product Marketing Game Like a Chess Grandmaster

3.  Animal Metaphor Farm: Don’t be a “Gorilla” or “Eagle” in Business … Be a Crow


“Everything I Know About Business (and Life) I Learned From…Poker? Or Maybe Slaying Dragons…?

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.

In the clever category is “Everything I Know About Business I Learned from Poker,” written by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, an idea appearing in the What Matters Now e-book (compiled by Seth Godin), which I just wrote about here. Tony Hsieh provides a clever explanation how poker has taught him about financials, strategy, education and culture, excerpted from Tony Hsieh’s excellent blog.  (As I have mentioned before, any company whose CEO is writing an informative, thought-provoking blog has a competitive advantage in leadership).

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.

For that I wish to honor Chad Henderson of Oklahoma City: Everything he needs to know about life he learned from…Dungeons and Dragons. (Thanks to BoingBoing for their original posting on this.)     Continue reading

What Matters Now: “Glittering Paragraphs” of Bright Ideas

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

Photo by: cayusa (Flickr CC)

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 too Connected:

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…

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Poor Communication can Scuttle Effective BI, Your Reputation, and a Simple Bus Ride

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.

Remember Ralph Kramden? The bus driver I dealt with was the Anti-Kramden.

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.

The way a person communicates is a major component of their reputation and personal brand.  And I believe the vast majority of communication problems are caused by the personal baggage we bring to the table when communicating, known in psychological terms as confirmation bias.   Continue reading

“Balloon Boy” Fiasco Teaches a Personal Branding Lesson

Remix from Flickr photo (CC) by Salim Virji: http://flickr.com/photos/salim/

Remix of Flickr photo (CC) by Salim Virji: http://flickr.com/photos/salim/

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.”

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A Tale of Two Polar Opposite Managerial Styles

UMBC President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski (photo: Bb World)

In 2010, I was remote director of marketing for iStrategy (now Blackboard Analytics) based in Maryland. The company hosted its first-ever iStrategy User Conference that year, hosted at Loyola University. It was a pleasure to meet so many smart, enthusiastic data warehousing customers I had been collaborating with on case studies and webinars, highlighted by a fantastic keynote presentation by UMBC President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski.

Flying into BWI that September and back home in October on AirTran (a nice airline that I miss, btw). I had happened to read the September and October issues of Go, AirTran’s surprisingly good in-flight 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:

On Leadership:

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.”

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Want Business Success and Avoid Depression? Be Willing to “Wear the White Belt”

Photo: Mirandala (Flickr CC)

Photo: Mirandala (Flickr CC)

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”?

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