Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? In Business & In Life?

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

“This is what the future of work (and the world) looks like. Actually, it’s already happening around you.” -Tony Hsieh, CEO,

In bestsellers such as Purple Cow and Tribes, Seth Godin taught readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. But this book is about you-your choices, your future, and your potential to make a huge difference in whatever field you choose.

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a th

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Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? In Business & In Life?

Understanding sponsorship

The answer to the question, “how are you going to pay for this project?” is turning out to be sponsorship more and more often. If you don’t know why organizations want to sponsor things, though, it’s likely a long, hard road to find the sponsorship you seek.

As the number of media options continue to explode (blogs, books, conferences, tattoos, speaking engagements, film festivals, stadiums, entire websites…) it’s worth thinking a little bit about why organizations buy sponsorships.

1. It might be a substitute for advertising. How many people see it? How much does it cost per person? (this is the cpm, but instead of cost per thousand page views or magazine readers, it’s cost per thousand impressions, which come in a myriad of ways). I think this is the film festival/book fair model. It’s a reasonable way to reach a hard to reach, high value group.

2. It might be a bragging rights thing. This means that the sponsor isn’t focused on tonnage, but instead wants the affiliation that they can mention to others. Sort of a reverse endorsement. The thing being sponsored isn’t a media outlet, then, but a license by affiliation. An example of this might be sponsoring a speaker coming to town. Clearly, the 500 people in the audience don’t constitute a useful CPM, but the fact that you did it gains you authority with those that notice what you did.

3. It might be a chance to influence the organization being sponsored. This would explain why big corporations are willing to sponsor political conventions.

4. It might be a useful way to inspire and focus your internal organization. When the people who work for you see you sponsoring a worthy charity or a thoughtful opinion leader, it changes how they do their job or how they focus their efforts.

5. It makes the CEO happy and earns the organization a seat at certain sorts of tables. I think this is the model for sponsoring a sports stadium, an act that has never been shown to have any value at all as a mass media choice.

Because there are so many ways to come at this, valuing a sponsorship is difficult indeed. If you’re a bank sponsoring a bike sharing service, how do you compare that to five-hundred full page newspaper ads (about the same price over a certain period of time). Of course, you don’t. You can’t. Instead, you must be really clear internally about what it’s for.

In general, if you’re clear about which of these five things you’re shooting for, most sponsorships are a screaming bargain compared to traditional media buys, particularly if you’re trying to reach an elite or elusive demographic.


"How to be Successful With or Without a College Degree"—CEO of the Diversion … – PR Web (press release)

"How to be Successful With or Without a College Degree"—CEO of the Diversion
PR Web (press release)
A college degree does not assure financial stability and having less than a college degree does not assure financial ruin. In a new book titled “How to be Successful with or without a College Degree,” Carlsbad Collins teaches the principles of success

and more »

Happiness is found in doing — not merely in possessing.

It’s true: money can’t buy happiness. Most of us are motivated by aspirations of the lifestyle we desire for ourselves and our families, not by the physical possessions — homes, vacations, automobiles, etc. When you recognize this fact, you will know that you must constantly “raise the bar” to encourage yourself to reach higher goals. Your goals should include the possessions that you desire, but as former Apple Computer chairman and CEO John Sculley said, “Success is a journey, not a destination. Make sure you enjoy the trip.”

Don’t ask your employer why you are not promoted. Ask the person who really knows best — yourself

There is only one person who is in charge of your career progression, and that person is you. Lee Iacocca is said to have written his entire career plan on the back of a business card. On it were the promotions he expected to earn and the dates he expected to receive them until he was named CEO of the company. Successful people know that they must create their own opportunities and be ready for them when they arrive. Some organizations have clearly defined career paths while others are more informal in their approach, but if you study the senior people in the company, you can quickly identify the kind of education and experience you need to advance. If you are with the right company, one that excites and enthuses you, identify the career moves you’d like to make and get to work making yourself qualified for the job you want.

Choosing to be formidable

You’ve met people who are an accident just waiting to happen. What’s the opposite of that?

What we’re looking for in a boss, in a CEO to invest in, in a business partner, in a candidate, is formidability. Someone to be reckoned with. Not someone with all the answers, because no one has all the answers. No, we want someone who is magic about to happen.

This is the electricity that follows the star quarterback around. We aren’t attracted to him because he’s a stolid, reliable, by-the-book playmaker. No, it’s the sense that he has sufficient domain knowledge combined with the vision and the passion to create lightning at will. Sarah Caldwell was the same way, bringing a sense of imminent possibility to the work she gave us.

They don’t teach formidable in school. They teach compliance and rote and perhaps spin. They teach us to be on the alert for shortcuts and for ways to get away with less. Not surprisingly, the formidable leader takes the opposite tack in every respect. She’s willing and eager to take the long way if it gets to the elusive destination. She doesn’t need to spin because the truth as she knows it is sufficient.

There might only be two critical elements in the choice to be formidable:

1. Skill. The skill to understand the domain, to do the work, to communicate, to lead, to master all of the details necessary to make your promise come true. All of which is difficult, but insufficient, because none of it matters if you don’t have…

2. Care. The passion to see it through. The willingness to find a different route when the first one doesn’t work. The certainty that in fact, there is a way, and you care enough to find it. Amazingly, this is a choice, not something you need to get certified in.

Formidable leaders find the tough questions, and then, instead of being afraid to ask them, eagerly decide to seek out the answers. They dig in deep to the details that matter and ignore the ones that merely distract. They bite off more than others can chew but consistently avoid biting off more than they can (because they care so much, it hurts to admit that you’ve reached the end).

It’s not a dream if you can do it.

Paul Graham gets full credit for coining the term. “A formidable person is one who seems like they’ll get what they want, regardless of whatever obstacles are in the way.” A must-read for startup CEOs.


New Book Release: Coaching for Breakthrough Success

I am thrilled to announce the release of Coaching for Breakthrough Success, my latest book, co-written with Dr. Peter Chee. Dr. Chee is the president and CEO of ITD World, a multinational corporation for human resource development, and he has more than 26 years of experience in training and developing leaders from over 80 countries. 

Read More

The post New Book Release: Coaching for Breakthrough Success appeared first on America's Leading Authority On Creating Success And Personal Fulfillment – Jack Canfield.

Your call is very important to us

Rules for treating inbound customer calls with respect:

0. Spend a lot more money on this. Hire more agents. Train them better. Treat them with respect and they’ll do the same to those they interact with. Have a bright red light flash on the CEO’s desk whenever anyone, anywhere, is on hold for more than 5 minutes. If it gets to seven, have the call automatically route to the mobile phone of the CEO’s spouse.

1. Have a very smart and very motivated front line. “I’ll connect you directly to the person who can help you if you let me know what you need…” Don’t have these people pretend that they can help. It leads to long conversations and frustration.

2. 80% of your inbound calls are about the same ten things. First, eliminate those problems in future products, packaging and policies. The best way to handle these calls is to eliminate them. Second, put clear, fun and complete answers to these questions online where they are easy to find. And third, hire talented voice actors to record engaging answers to each, and offer them as a first resort as a result of #1, above.

3. Change your onhold music to Bill Cosby and Woody Allen records.

4. Whenever the wait is more than two minutes, offer a simple way to be called back, and then make sure it works.

5. If you’re closed, tell us the hours you are open and the relevant websites. Make sure the information is accurate.

Even famous companies get all of these wrong… Only one of the five steps is truly expensive, and yet all six are regularly ignored by companies that don’t care or act like they don’t.

(NB it’s just fine to make it clear that a call is not important to you. I’ve never built a company around amazing phone support, precisely because it’s so difficult to keep the promise. As far as I’m concerned, it’s fine for some industries to not do the phone well. Just be clear that this is the case by routing people off the phone or at least not lying about it).


The perfect crime

Sometimes, marketing enables a pickpocket to steal a wallet–and be thanked for it.

Marketers are responsible for what we do, it’s not an activity without effects.

Last year, just one of the big fast food companies made more than $1,300,000,000 in profit (billion with a ‘b’). They’ve also paid their CEO nearly $200 million in salary in the last five years. Sometimes, a big profit is the sign that you’re doing something right, creating real value for people able to pay. Sometimes, though, it means you’re exploiting a weakness in the system.

The big food companies are brilliant, relentless, focused marketers. Marketing works. It gets people to take action, to change their minds, and most of all, to do more of what they might have had an inkling to do in the first place. Sometimes a lot more. When the ideas of marketing (and the products are part of the marketing, optimized for high consumption) are weaponized like this, they are extraordinarily effective at achieving their goals.

The side effects of this marketing are obvious: both short-term satiation and long-term health degradation. Kids on little league baseball teams may smile with delight when treated to a post-game feast, simultaneously, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity all rise dramatically over time as a result of consistently consuming vast quantities of the products that these companies market. This is beyond dispute.

In some communities, 70% of the targeted population is now obese.

The challenge doesn’t come from one slice of pizza. No, the failing is in abdicating the responsibility that comes from industrial scale. Organizations at scale do far more than give people choices… they change the culture, and must accept responsibility for the changes they choose to create.

If your organization uses terms like share of stomach or hires lobbyists, you’ve already made a decision to market in a way that changes the culture to benefit you and your shareholders.

What’s fascinating is this: the marketing is so powerful that some of the people being hurt actually are eager for it to continue. This creates a cultural feedback loop, where some aspire to have these respected marketing jobs, to do more marketing of similar items. It creates a society where the owners and leaders of these companies are celebrated as risk-taking, brave businesspeople, not as the modern robber barons that they’ve become.

The cultural feedback loop can’t be denied. The NAACP, which represents a population that is disproportionately impacted by the health costs these products create is actually allied with marketers in the fight to sell ever more and bigger portions to its constituents.

The crime continues because the money taken by corporations that change our culture is used to fund campaigns that conflate the essential concept of ‘freedom’ with the not-clearly-articulated ‘right’ to respond to marketing and consume stuff in quantities that would have been considered literally insane just three generations ago. And we like it.

[I’ll write the previous paragraph’s point again here to be clear: we’ve decided that consumers ought to have the right be manipulated by marketers. So manipulated that we sacrifice our long-term health in the face of its power.]

We ban accounting that misleads, and we don’t let engineers build bridges that endanger travelers. We monitor effluent for chemicals that can kill us as well. There’s no reason in the world that market-share-fueled marketing ought to be celebrated merely because we enjoy the short-term effects it creates in the moment.

Every profession we respect has limits created and enforced by society. Doctors and undertakers and actuaries live with these limits because it’s clear that building for the long run benefits all of us. Sure, it might be fun or profitable to take a shortcut, but it’s not the right thing to do. The rules make it more likely we don’t race to the bottom as we cut those corners or maximize our profits.

The question is this: are you responsible for the power in your hands? If so, then we need to own the results of our work. If not, someone else needs to step in before it’s too late. No sustainable system can grant power without responsibility.

Just because marketing works doesn’t mean we have an obligation to do it. And if we’re too greedy to stop on our own, then yes, we should be stopped.

[It seems like you could make one of three objections to this line of reasoning:

1. Marketing doesn’t work, it’s not powerful, it can’t get people to do things not in the long-term interest.

2. Marketing does work, but marketers ought to have the right to sell anything they want, and they’re not responsible for what they do.

3. If we regulate the dramatically obvious bad cases, we’re on a slippery slope to regulating everything.

It seems to me that all three of these straw horses don’t hold up under scrutiny.]


Ping me when it’s broken

Here’s how a storekeeper makes sure the store is working: She sits at the register and watches.

If the line is twenty people long and folks start walking out, she hires another cashier.

If too many people pick up a new product and then put it back on the shelf, she asks for new packaging, or drops it from the inventory.

If there’s a line outside in the morning, she opens earlier.

Alas, the same feedback cycle doesn’t happen automatically online. You have to build it into your website–if you don’t, the silence may confuse you. If you have no idea if people are walking away in frustration, you can’t possibly fix it.

This gap is surprising, because the web is a direct marketing medium, and direct marketing is obsessed with measurement. When a direct marketer comes back from the post office, she knows precisely how much she spent, and how many orders ended up in the PO box as a result. The web can work that way (but only if you let it).

Consider the poor airline business, now generating almost all their revenue via online sales through websites that confound, frustrate and perhaps drive people away.

How much does it cost when someone can’t figure out how to print the boarding pass that may or may not have been generated? Or is forced to re-enter a form several times because the airline tried to upsell insurance without defaulting to ‘no’? Or has to do it all over again because the autoform feature is broken and the site isn’t smart enough to understand a zip code? Or my most/least favorite: because the buttons are the wrong size and the wrong shape and color?

It’s usually not the designer’s fault. It’s politics, committees and compromises made in the absence of daily, real world feedback.

What would happen if an audible bell on the desk of the CEO rang every time one of these things caused a ticket to not be sold, or a form to be needlessly reloaded?

What’s not working for you–that you’re not measuring?

We’re good at fixing things once we know they’re broken.