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74 posts categorized "Global Thinking"

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Sexiness of Statistical Insignificance

People love numbers. We respect #1 best sellers. We believe in a product if four out of five dentists like it. And every week there is new Presidential election polling in the US to give the media real time numbers to spend hours "reacting" to in live talk shows. In today's world, numbers are used to prove anything to anybody. Why make an argument when you can find a number to do it for you? If a picture is worth a thousand words, the right number seems to be worth a thousand pictures.


This fascination with numbers, though, has led to a rather predictable problem. Many of the numbers we see used to make arguments on behalf of people and brands are actually statistically insignificant. A few weeks ago as I traveled through India, I saw the billboard above, which was meant to promote a brand of men's deodorant. In a country of a billion people, how significant are thousands of men agreeing on one product?

Amitabh-Bachchan-Facebook-PageThat same week, Bollywood's most famous actor - a man named Amitabh Bachchan, 69, finally started a Facebook fan page for himself. He gained more than 800,000 followers in 30 minutes and just passed 2 million fans in less than two weeks. In a country of a billion people, THAT is significant. As more and more numbers become readily available from apps that tell us how many calories we burned walking down two flights of stairs to deep analytics on every click you make while using the Internet - the challenge we all face is finding the significance in numbers.

Sexy-little-numbers-445x445Today a colleague of mine named Dimitri Maex just released his first book titled Sexy Little Numbers which focuses on exactly this topic. In it, he shares real world lessons of how finding the right data and insights can lead any organization to be more successful. It is not an overstatement to say that numbers indeed have become sexy. We all want to use them to make a point and influence others. The real trick is to go beyond "sexy" to uncover the numbers that have actual significance - and then use them to tell your story.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Olympics Newsflash: Social Media Isn't The Problem, YOU Are The Problem

OlympicSpoilersIt is just Day 5 of the "Social Olympics" and already social media has taken center stage in good and bad ways. For anyone who hasn't been as Olympics-crazy as me, over the past few days we have seen athletes thrown out of the Games for racist comments made on Twitter, Olympic level whining about tape delays from coverage in the US, people choosing to stay off social media in order to avoid spoilers, and indignation from social media believers about limiting social media usage by athletes in any way.

For all the complaints, though, here's a few facts to consider:

  1. Over the next two weeks, NBC will broadcast more than 5000 hours of LIVE competition online and on multiple television channels.
  2. Athletes are actually ENCOURAGED to use Twitter and social media to share their experience, as long as they don't promote brands or personal sponsors (which has led to a justifiable #wedemandchange uprising), but it certainly doesn't prevent them from sharing their excitement or real experience of the Games).
  3. Prime time in the US is still the time when the majority of working people have time during the week to watch the Olympics (even if it happens to be on a time delay).

Despite this coverage and access - many people are complaining about the many ways they feel the Olympics are being "ruined" by marketing, or social media, or NBC. Sure, some of the complaints are valid.  But what if none of these things are the real problem?  What if the real problem is you?

Well, maybe not YOU specifically - but "socially savvy people" in general. Socially savvy people are used to sharing every thought and impulse in real time. They expect content online to be free and always available. Everything must be open source, or else it isn't worthy of respect.

Sound familiar? You know people like this, I am sure. So do I. The problem is - their oversharing sometimes ends up poisoning all of our lives. Their desire to turn every one of life's moments into a status update means they may be missing the very moments they focus on capturing. Their steady stream of updates clog our life feeds and keep us from connecting with our more important but less active friends. The real danger of social media is the people who abuse it. It is no wonder some of the most respected people in social media are openly calling for an end to the nastiness with a single day of positivity in social media on August 14th.

So as the Olympics continue, instead of turning to social media as a convenient place to vent about your disgust for why swimming finals are broadcast on a time delay - how about following Athlete twitter feeds to read about their experience of the Games?  Or what about spending your lunch hour watching a great Olympic table tennis match on a live stream? 

The point is, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the global spectacle of the Olympics without spoiling it with your social media outrage and oversharing.  With the US Presidential election just a few months around the corner, why not save your criticism for the political ads and campaigns?  At least they deserve it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Best And Worst Of London 2012 Olympic Marketing Roundup

NOTE - To see a full visual roundup of the best and worst marketing, visit my London 2012 Olympic Marketing - Best & Worst Pinterest Board.


IMB_savethesecretAs the world turn its attention to the Games in London today, I'll have to indulge my Olympic passion from afar this time around.  I've been a lover of the Olympics since I was in college in Atlanta during the games in 1996.  They were a big reason I moved to Australia in 1998 and I was in Beijing in 2008 helping manage the Lenovo Voices of the Olympic Games program where we had 100 Olympic athletes blogging their experience in a pre-Twitter world.  So yes, I'm an enthusiast.  

This time around, I am going to share my passion for Olympic marketing with a platform that I haven't yet used all that much - Pinterest.  As I spent the last week looking at some of the most interesting marketing efforts from around the world - I saw everything from P&G's emotional "best job in the world" video to British Airway's unexpected campaign to encourage Britons NOT to fly.  One of the best early stories, to me, was the #savethesecret campaign launched to encourage people not to share the details about the Opening Ceremonies so people will still be surprised in watching it - a worthy challenge that I accept (and so you won't find any spoilers in this blog post).

Throughout the Games, great marketing stories will continue to emerge ... and so I plan to collect and share them through my Pinterest board - London 2012 Olympic Marketing - Best & Worst.  Over the next three weeks, if you see any great marketing examples, I would love to see you share them there as well. In the meantime, let's all get ready for the international spectacle of the Olympics ... there really isn't anything else like it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

12 Big Trends Transforming The World Of Retail Right Now

Last week I had the chance to deliver a keynote presentation at a merchandising event put on for some of the largest retailers in the US by the trade association  I shared some trends built upon consumer behaviour and incorporating some startups that are getting a lot of attention right now.  I don't share many of my presentations as they are often custom created specifically for events that I participate in, but this is one of the few that I can open up to a public audience.  So below you can see the full presentation embedded from Slideshare (and you can visit my Facebook page to download the PDF).  I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How Nelson Mandela Used Likeability To Succeed

IMB_nelsonmandelaJuly 18th isn't really a holiday all over the world, but perhaps it should be. It is the birthday of Nelson Mandela, and our team out of London is supporting an initiative to help this iconic South African leader get the recognition he deserves. So today, you can join people like Desmond Tutu, Eddie Izzard, and Jamie Oliver to make your own pledge for global good in the official pledge book.

Our team is also encouraging poeple worldwide to devote time (specifically 67 minutes in recognition of his 67 years of service) community service to pay tribute to the anti-aparthied icon. To help support the intiative (beyond taking the pledge), I thought I'd share an excerpt of Nelson Mandela from the Introduction of Likeonomics. When I first started to write a book about the power of likeability to inspire others, he was near the top of my list of people to write about. Once you read the story and see some of the wonderful work to support his recognition, I think you'll agree. He wasn't just a likeable and inspirational figure ... he truly changed the world around him.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
—Nelson Mandela

The first time I experienced the powerful influence of Nelson Mandela was from the front seat of a taxi cab riding down the streets of Jo’burg (as the locals call Johannesburg). Mandela’s picture was on billboards along the highway to the city even though he was no longer president of South Africa, and my driver was speaking about his influence and how he had inspired the nation. That story started nearly 20 years ago.

In 1993, tens of thousands of Afrikaners (white South Africans) were preparing for war. Three years earlier, a man named Nelson Mandela had been released after 27 years in prison. He was no hero to this group. They saw him as the founder of a terrorist organization who threatened their way of life and belonged in jail. They were ready to fight.

As reporter and biographer John Carlin wrote, that was the moment where Mandela began ‘‘the most unlikely exercise in political seduction ever undertaken.’’1 He invited the Afrikaners leaders over for tea and listened to their concerns. Then, he persuaded them to abandon their guns and violence. The battle never happened.

A year later, he was sworn in as president of South Africa and vowed to make reconciling the racial tension between whites and blacks his number-one priority. Somehow he had to overcome decades of hate and convince people ready to die for their causes to see one another as brothers. In one of his first acts as president,Mandela invited Francois Pienaar, the captain of the South Africa national rugby team (Springboks), to have tea with him. That afternoon he struck an alliance, asking Pienaar to help him turn rugby into a force for uniting all South Africans.

During the Rugby World Cup in 1995, Pienaars led the mostly white players of the Springbok team in singing an old song of black resistance, which was now the new national anthem, ‘‘Nkosi Sikelele Afrika’’ (‘‘God Bless Africa’’). It was a powerful demonstration that the players believed in having a united South Africa. Inspired, the team fought the odds and made it to the finals against New Zealand.

On June 24, 1995, minutes before the final match would start, Mandela went on the field in the middle of the stadium wearing his Springbok green shirt to wish Pienaar and the team good luck. The crowd, made up of mostly white South Africans, was stunned. For many years, that green shirt had been seen as a symbol of only white South Africa. For a black man to wear it was unheard of.

The crowd erupted in cheers of ‘‘Nel-son, Nel-son’’ and everyone across South Africa celebrated. Mandela would go on to lead the racial reconciliation both during his presidency, and then after as an ambassador to the world for South Africa. In 2004, the country was awarded the world’s largest stage to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is now seen as a likely future Olympic destination, as well.

This story of South Africa’s triumph was chronicled by Carlin in his book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation. It was so powerful, it inspired the Academy Award–winning film Invictus by director Clint Eastwood.

Why People Believe in Likeability (and Why They Don’t)

The fate of South Africa is linked to the story of one man’s personal charm and likeability. This may seem like an extreme example. After all, not many people have the gift that Mandela has. Yet, his experience does explain the very fundamental role that likeability can take in inspiring belief and changing our world around us. People didn’t follow Mandela because of the ideas; they followed because of him. When he invited you over for tea and listened to your concerns, and then spoke, you couldn’t help trusting his vision.

Support the pledge here -

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Unselfishness: The World's Most Ethical Company & Why Collaboration Works

NOTE: This is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of my new book Likeonomics all about Unselfishness, the 3rd principle of Likeonomics. I hope you enjoy it!

IMB_JimSinegalThe biggest clue that Jim Sinegal is not your ordinary CEO came in an article in The Seattle Times a few months before his retirement. The headline read: ‘‘Jim Sinegal takes pay cut in last year as Costco CEO.’’

If that seems like an extraordinary thing for a CEO to do, it’s not all that makes Sinegal and the members-only warehouse retailer Costco unique.

Costco has a rule that no branded items can be marked up more than 14 percent and no private-label brand item more than 15 percent.  In contrast, some of their competitors markup as much as 50 percent for products such as fashion items. The policy comes directly from Sinegal’s belief that the path to building a successful company is passing savings directly to customers. He is fanatical about it.

As Costco fresh food buyer Jeff Lyons once explained, the store managers used to dread the monthly budget meetings with Sinegal for a single reason: ‘‘Our margin goal is 10 percent, and there’d better be a very good reason you did better than that. Otherwise Jim will say, ‘Well, why didn’t you lower prices?’’’

As if a CEO taking a pay cut and a limit on profits wasn’t enough, Costco has also built a reputation as one of the most generous employers in the retail sector. Their standard employee salary of $17 per hour is more than two times the federally mandated U.S. minimum wage and nearly 50 percent more than their closest rival. In addition, the full health and 401(k) benefits are perks that have helped Costco maintain an extremely low employee turnover and low theft rates (a common issue for other retailers).

You might be tempted to think that with all this generosity toward employees and customers, Costco would be lucky to break even. They are certainly no darling on Wall Street, as Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Dreher once complained, ‘‘Costco continues to be a company that is better at serving the club member and employee than the shareholder.’’ Sinegal, though, takes this whining criticism from money hungry Wall Street analysts in stride. ‘‘We think when you take care of your customer and your employees, your shareholders are going to be rewarded in the long run. And I’m one of them [shareholders]; I care about the stock price. But we’re not going to do something for the sake of one quarter that’s going to destroy the fabric of our company and what we stand for.’’

So far, the philosophy is working. Since its founding in 1983, Costco has grown at about 15 percent every year with $88.9 billion in revenue for 2010. They are the biggest seller in the United States of fine wines and the average Costco store generates nearly double the revenue of an average store from their closest competitor, Sam’s Club. It is an impressive result for a company described by the media as the ‘‘Anti-Wal-Mart,’’ as they refuse to charge their customers more or shave the benefits and salary of their employees. Yet, as Sinegal (who is retiring in 2012) is painfully aware, Costco seems to stand alone in their unselfish behavior. Why don’t more companies adopt this approach to business if it works so well?

One popular argument why they don’t is the view that businesses (and people by extension) are inherently selfish. There is a wide body of research and thinking to support the argument that at a basic level, people always focus on themselves first thanks to the natural human instinct for self-preservation.

What about the Selfish Gene?

IMB_TheSelfishGeneIn 1976, an evolutionary biologist named Richard Dawkins wrote a book called The Selfish Gene. In it, he elaborated on his research that suggested people were genetically predisposed toward a sort of ‘‘social Darwinism’’ in which we each would look out for ourselves first. His theories were centered on looking at people through the lens of a biologist. As a result, his theories predicted that there may be selfish behavior in nature out of necessity, but the alternative was also true. He would go on to write that this idea also explained what you might call ‘‘biological altruism’’—the instance that explains moments like when bees commit suicide using their stingers to protect the hive.

Author Mary Midgley posited another theory in her book Evolution as Religion, saying, ‘‘People not only are selfish and greedy, they hold psychological and philosophical theories which tell them they ought to be selfish and greedy.’’

All of these were shades of the theory that author Ayn Rand also popularized by calling ‘‘rational egoism’’ or rational selfishness. Her philosophy was that any action was rational if it maximized one’s self interest.  In 1964, she published a book on the topic called The Virtue of Selfishness, where she argued that one’s own happiness should be the highest purpose in life.

IMB_BowlingAloneFor decades, this argument persisted. In 2000, Robert D. Putnam delivered what should have been the knockout blow in favor of the selfishness argument. His book Bowling Alone profiled what he called the collapse of community, where large groups of people ‘‘began to join less, trust less, give less, vote less, and schmooze less.’’ The cover of his book featured the powerful image of a man bowling alone, a sport that Putnam noted only five years earlier was usually done with others and seen as a social activity.

But that same year something fundamental had started to change.  The dot-com boom was just beginning, and the Internet was offering a way for people to connect with others around the world. The Internet didn’t change people overnight into more selfless and altruistic people.  It hasn’t really done it over the long term either. But it was one of  several factors that started to expose that perhaps we aren’t quite as selfish as some thinkers and scientists have made us out to be.

Wikinomics and the Rise of Collaboration

The first time I read Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, I expected the opening story might be about the rise of Wikipedia. On any level, it is the most significant global example of the power of unselfish collaboration, with millions of editors and over 4 million content pages created without any financial compensation.

Instead, they told the story of Goldcorp, a traditional gold mining business that realized great success in March of 2000 by issuing their ‘‘GoldCorp Challenge,’’ where prize money was offered to anyone who could help GoldCorp calculate the best places to dig for gold in one of their mines.

Their biggest risk was to share all of their proprietary data about mining sites online and invite anyone to contribute—a move that was unheard of in their closed and secretive industry. Suggestions for digging locations came in from around the globe, and more than half were for dig locations that GoldCorp themselves had not identified. Much to their surprise, more than 80 percent of those suggested locations resulted in ‘‘substantial quantities of gold.’’9

As Tapscott and Williams went on to conclude, the Internet has allowed some of the most fruitful collaborations in modern history, even more significant than digging up lots of gold. From scientists working together to map the human genome to new open source programming platforms like Linux—the positive examples of unselfish collaboration are all around us.

The power of mass collaboration goes far beyond just Wikipedia.

In some cases, like the GoldCorp Challenge, people may contribute for the promise of a reward. But in many cases, they are simply sharing their expertise and passion online because they want to be a part of something.

This excerpt is from Chapter 6 of Likeonomics, all about Unselfishness - the third of the TRUST principle that I lay out in the book.  For a longer excerpt, please visit the book website at - and if you enjoyed the reading this, please consider buying Likeonomics today!

Monday, May 21, 2012

How To Be A Better Entrepreneur, Friend, Parent, Marketer & Human

NOTE FROM ROHIT: Likeonomics is now AVAILABLE - if you read my previous post and decided to wait to buy it because I asked you to, thank you!!

Please purchase your copy of Likeonomics RIGHT NOW!

About four months ago I was sitting at home during an unseasonably warm evening in late January. It was the night of the State of the Union address, and was feeling that unshakeable mixture of happiness and sadness that happens usually on the last day of an amazing vacation. That day I had just delivered the final manuscript for Likeonomics, but as I read the news online that afternoon I found a story that was still bothering me hours later. 

The media was reporting on comments from politicians delivered in something called a "prebuttal." A prebuttal (as opposed to a rebuttal) is based on the idea that you can talk about all the ways that you disagree with someone before they have even said a word. Welcome to politics in 2012. In fact, welcome to the world itself. 

I have written before about how we are in the midst of a very real believability crisis and to find our ways out of it and build a more trustworthy world will take a new philosophy.  Along the path to writing Likeonomics, I researched (and wrote about) many interesting nuggets from history, such as the moment when Microsoft almost bought Pixar to the moment almost exactly thirty years ago when two guys with a crazy idea started The Weather Channel. From the story of Nelson Mandela in South Africa to the surprising tourism policies of the Bhutanese government, the process of writing the book also took me to some unexpected places.  Ultimately, what I learned was about far more than marketing or even business.

Likeonomics is really a book about how any of us might become better people. How likeability might be the real secret to trust AND success ... and most of all how BEING more human could help any of us be better in every part of our lives.  

This week is launch week for Likeonomics. A chance for me to FINALLY share everything about the book with you. A chance for me to tell you NOT to wait anymore and to go out and buy the book and buy as many copies as you can! 

So every day this week I'll be sharing a different story and exclusive excerpt from the book here. Each day will be from one of the chapters featuring a different principle of Likeonomics:

  • Monday - This Post!
  • Tuesday - Truth
  • Wednesday - Relevance
  • Thursday - Unselfishness
  • Friday - Simplicity
  • Saturday - Timing

My goal is simple. The more I can share about the idea of Likeonomics and offer some value back to you and your daily life, the more likely you are to see what the book is about and perhaps decide to pick up a copy. 

To give you a head start, here is a password free, no-email-required, completely FREE download of the Prologue from Likeonomics, starting with the interwoven stories of a Lard Salesman, an NFL Agent and a YouTube Star:  

If your interest is peaked, or even if you are just up for doing something to support me and my efforts this week because you may have found some value in my blog over the years, PLEASE consider buying a copy of Likeonomics RIGHT NOW.  

Not only do I hope it will help you become a better entrepreneur, friend, parent, marketer and human ... but I look forward to sharing some real stories and lessons from the book with you throughout this week to show you exactly how!




Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 Things Deepak Chopra Can Teach You About Leadership & Marketing

The last thing I expected to do as I headed down to Austin last week for the SXSW Interactive Festival was to see a film. As a marketer, the fact that SXSW is actually a huge Film and Music festival is a point that I have often easily forgotten. Amongst the sea of startups promoting everything from "social weather" apps (that let you share your mood when it rains), to new indestructible iPhone cases - it is easy to get lost in the hype.

IMB_DecodingDeepak1But on Sunday morning at SXSW, I made my way out to the Paramount theater for a world premiere of a film that probably seemed a bit out of place at the festival anyway. A filmmaker named Gotham Chopra was premiering his new documentary called Decoding Deepak about following his father, spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, around the world for a year. I admit, I am personally connected to Gotham and his family so I probably would have seen the film regardless of how it was. You have to support your friends. The thing is, I didn't expect it to be quite so good. I didn't expect to takeaway the most profound marketing lessons I learned at SXSW not from any panels or sessions, but from a documentary. And I certainly didn't expect to see it twice in three days. But I did.

Rather than try to summarize the film, I'll let you watch the excellent trailer below. Go ahead, I'll wait till you're done and then share a few of the marketing and business lessons I took away from the film below:

In a word, the film was brilliant ... on several levels. Not only do you get a sense for the real person behind the myth of the spiritual celebrity that Lady Gaga calls "the most influential person in her life," but you take a journey through what it took for him to become this icon. Despite it having been more than a week since seeing the film - some of the leadership and marketing lessons I took away from it are still fresh in my mind:

  1. Don't shy away from the truth. Every post-film question the audience asked after the premiere seemed to focus on whether Deepak felt the film did a fair job of portraying him. He wasn't always the hero, but the film was accurate and it was honest ... and to his credit, Gotham Chopra shared that his father didn't ask for any edits or revisions after seeing the final cut.
  2. Be a guide, not a dictator. The thing about a spiritual guru is that sometimes people expect them to live by example. Deepak, however, is not a vegan (or even a vegetarian), he isn't fanatical about meditation and sometimes he doesn't have all the answers. Yet if people want to live a more extreme version of life, he doesn't steer them away from it. His leadership helps guide without prescribing. In a world where plenty of people want to tell you what to think, who to marry and what to believe ... his powerful message is that you can believe what you want to believe.
  3. Go beyond your niche. The easiest thing to do with a film like Decoding Deepak would have been to launch it to a "friendly" audience of celebrities who already love Deepak Chopra and would easily tweet away about it to their millions of followers. That's the usual formula for something like this. Instead, Gotham Chopra chose to premiere the film in Austin at SXSW in front of a tech-savvy, mostly less spiritual, definitely less religious audience. It was a risk ... but if the film could stand on its own in front of a "real" audience, then the message could go far beyond Deepak Chopra's own considerable fan base.
  4. Share a personal story. Businesses in general are tragically bad at being personal or letting the personality of their people come through. In fact, many have policies in place to prevent it. In a film, however, telling a personal story is super important to have the audience invest emotionally. Throughout his exploration of his relationship with his father, Gotham Chopra takes us into his own journey as a father, his son and how his family which has grown up in the spotlight manages to still make it work. His struggles are human, and his journey is believable.
  5. Don't take yourself too seriously. Perhaps the most important lesson I took from the film was from a moment when Gotham and his father are in a train station in India. They are looking at a newsstand with several books and none of the more than 60 titles that Deepak Chopra has written are there. It is a brilliant reminder that even when you have amassed millions of followers and become a spiritual leader to the most famous and influential people alive ... you can't take yourself too seriously. In our world filled with outsized egos from people who are little more than Twitter-famous, this may have been my favourite lesson from the film.

During the Q&A session after the film premiere in Austin, Deepak Chopra mentioned that he was sitting near the back of the theater and noticed that no one left during the film. When the moderator asked him why he thought people might leave, he said simply, "documentaries can be boring." They definitely can - but Decoding Deepak is different.

Whether you are interested in learning more about the evolution of the larger than life spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, or just want to take away a few great insights to improve your business or your career ... this is one film I highly recommend actually going to see in the theater as soon as it comes to a screen near you. You might even want to see it twice.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

How MindValley Is Building the Next TED (Only More Useful)

IMB_TEDRobotThis morning I watched an amazing TED video of flying robots that can operate autonomously and collaborate with each other at the same time. It is exciting technology ... just the kind of thing you would expect to come out of a TED event. As I write this, the video (and its big finish where the robots play a song together) is rapidly going viral online, and I have to admit I love watching things like this. The only problem is, I'm not sure what I can do with this mind blowing example except to share it with friends. It is great to get me thinking about the world, but not immediately easy to apply to my daily life. 

IMB_VishenLakhianiEarlier today on stage at the Underground Online Seminar 8, Vishen Lakhiani had a collaborative idea of his own to unveil. In a conference room filled with over 500 online entrepreneurs - many of whom have made their entire fortunes selling advice online - his announcement was unexpected, to say the least. As Co-Founder and CEO of a company named MindValley that publishes personal growth products, Vishen fit right in with the group of internet business owners packed into the crowded Crystal City hotel ballroom just a few minutes outside Washington DC. 

His company MindValley has a bold mission to help help people achieve their dreams through offering them the tools and resources to inspire them to get there. The products the company has launched are among the most popular and best selling in the personal development space. The company has won multiple awards as an amazing place to work, takes their entire 75 person staff on an annual retreat to an exotic island, and works with speakers and visionaries in many different industries.


When Vishen took the stage, he talked about a common problem that any online entrepreneur will recognize - that great ideas are quickly and shamelessly stolen and copied. For MindValley, that meant that everything from copywriting to the design templates were being ripped off by their competitors and used to get results for themselves. Instead of getting angry, or speed dialing his lawyers (as other entrepreneurs might do), Vishen and his team embraced the copycats. And then they made a big promise.

Starting today, MindValley will be one of the first companies to be completely devoted to sharing everything about their business in an open source model. This means every template, every meeting, every spreadsheet about how they run their business will be shared online. The website just went live about 8 hours ago, and the site is filled with videos, written articles, advice and tips. The site promises a treasure chest of information on everything from hiring and retaining great people to effective branding. 

Why would they release all this material for free? Unlike many others, the motivation isn't what I often call "karmic kickback" - a term that describes people who only do something for the expectation of some future return of positive karma. Instead, it is part of a bigger world view that Vishen and his entire team share.  He often speaks about "why happiness is the new productivity." The more you learn about MindValley, the most this announcement feels like the perfect fit for their mission of touching 500 million lives through their content by the year 2050.

In the months to come, it will be interesting to see how MindValley Insights evolves. For now, I highly recommend bookmarking the site and returning often to consume the great content there. It will help you hire better people to create a stronger business and find more happiness and fulfillment. Not to mention we'll need all the free advice and insights we can get just in case those autonomous collaborating robots finally figure out the nuclear launch codes ... 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

FinnAir, Republic Day & Why Celebration Is The Best Marketing Strategy

A few weeks ago it was my birthday. The day before on a Saturday morning, my two boys came leaping into our room very excited to wake me up. It wasn't so much about my birthday, unfortunately, as it was about getting ready to do their favourite thing on a Saturday morning: going to IHOP for pancakes. And when there is a birthday involved, it is an even bigger deal. Your birthday is a celebration there. They bring over at least 6 of the wait staff to sing their own version of the birthday song to you. You get ice cream for breakfast (what kid wouldn't love that?).

People love celebrations - and they love to be at the center of attention. Birthdays are easy. Probably any restaurant would do something special for your birthday. But what about the moments that people forget to celebrate? 3 days ago was the first day of the Chinese New Year. It is the Year of the Dragon. What did your business do to celebrate? Unless you happen to be Chinese, probably nothing. 

Life and culture gives us plenty of moments to celebrate, but often we let them pass without doing anything. If we could, however, it would be an unexpected delight. Today FinnAir offered a perfect example of that - as they filmed and posted a video on YouTube of their cabin staff performing a surprise Bollywood dance on a flight from Helskinki to India in celebration of India's Republic Day:

South Asians and anyone with a passion for India (or marketing) have been sharing this on Facebook and talking about it all day today. It is going what you might call "micro-viral." In other words, it is going viral among the exact small target community that a marketing team should care most about - people highly likely to travel to Southeast Asia. The timing is perfect too, as one of the things that many South Asian families start to think about at the beginning of the year is planning their travel for the rest of the year. And flights to India get booked far in advance.

So this surprise dance has a potentially beautiful marketing payoff - to get people who are considering travel to India later in the year to consider using FinnAir to get there. As of now the video only has a few thousand views. Perhaps it will never get a million or more. But by offering an unexpected celebration, they have positioned their brand as one that offers a connection to India (literally and figuratively). My guess is that it is already paying off.