Being Successful in Procurement Connections in San Jose: Only 2 Days Left to … – (прессъобщения) (press release)

Being Successful in Procurement Connections in San Jose: Only 2 Days Left to (прессъобщения) (press release)
Only 2 days left to register for the “Procurement Connections & Holiday Season Networking Reception” that will be held on December 12 at the San Jose Marriott Hotel in San Jose, California. The event, hosted by the US Pan Asian American Chamber of 

and more »

Being Successful in Procurement Connections in San Jose: Only 2 Days Left to … – PR Web (press release)

Being Successful in Procurement Connections in San Jose: Only 2 Days Left to
PR Web (press release)
Being Successful in Procurement Connections in San Jose: Only 2 Days Left to Register. US Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation (USPAACC) presents procurement connections; don't miss this networking opportunity. Share on 

and more »

Heroes of the revolution

Isn’t it odd that the US had so many statesmen during the late 1700s?

What a coincidence that so many great jazz musicians were born in the 1920s and 30s.

How come so many of the attendees at the 1927 Solvay Conference went on to win the Nobel Prize in physics?

It seems like we had tons of genius graphic designers working in the 1960s, then, somehow, the well ran dry.

Of course, this is silly. We didn’t get the rock of the 1960s or the Miles Davis Quartet or the design revolution because there were a bunch of gifted artists standing around. No, those artists showed up and shared their best work precisely because there was a revolution going on.

Rapid change exposes the work of outsiders, neophytes and most of all, those attracted by the chance to grow, fast.

Rapid change sweeps aside the status quo and those that defend it (the stuck former geniuses and the stuck bureaucrats). It replaces them with those willing to leap.

Revolutions make heroes at least as much as heroes make revolutions.


Culture and selfishness

One person selfishly drops a piece of litter on the ground, the other selfishly picks it up.

Everything we do is done because it’s better than not doing it. “Better” is the complicated term. Better might mean, “gives me physical pleasure right now,” for some people, while better might mean, “the story I tell myself about the contribution I just made gives me joy and satisfaction.”

Society benefits when people selfishly choose the long view and the generous view. The heroes we look up to are those that sacrificed to build schools, to overcome evil, to connect and lead–even though it didn’t necessarily help them in the short run.

Culture, then, provides the bridge between childish, naive instincts to only do what feels good now, to only help ourselves and maybe our kids. Culture makes it too socially expensive to brag about not giving money to charity or, to pick an absurd example, to kill the infirm and the less fortunate. We reduce sociopathic behavior by establishing norms and rewarding those that contribute while shunning and punishing those that don’t.

Marketers have a huge role in this, because we are the amplified culture creators. When we sell people on quick satisfaction now, is it any wonder that people buy it?

In the US, today some people will give thanks for what they personally have. Others will focus more on what has gone right for family and friends. And others will dig deeper and think hard about what they can do to take an even longer view, and to create a platform where even more people will be thankful a year or a decade from now.

Sure, we’re all selfish, but our culture rewards those who take their selfishness to the long-term, to the narrative of leader and caretaker and gardener, not merely self-interested consumer.

One of the greatest things to be thankful for is the fact that we live in a culture that pushes each of us to be thankful and generous. It didn’t have to turn out that way, and I’m glad it did.


Q&A: Tribes and the reality of worldview

Our series continues with my book Tribes. It’s nice that we’re featuring it on Labor Day, a holiday in the US that celebrates some of the most impactful tribal behavior in recent history.

It’s easy to gloss over the key points of the book, because for some, it’s frightening to realize that each of us has the ability to find and lead like-minded people to make real and powerful change that matters. Lead, not manage. Like-minded, as opposed to converting those who have no connection to us, to each other or to our goals.

As we shift from an economy dominated by mass marketing of the mass produced, this ability to lead is fundamentally transformative.

The selfish nature of the industrialist (hey, I made this, how do I get people to buy it?) hasn’t gone away. Whether it’s a small coaching service, a non-profit, a local window cleaning business or a big company, the most misguided assertion is, “I have a tribe, how do I make it bigger?” In fact, you might very well have customers, but it’s unlikely you have a tribe, not if you haven’t intentionally worked to engage at this level.

So, the question… “One of my favourite passages from Tribes is:   

People don’t believe what you tell them.  They rarely believe what you show them.  They often believe what their friends tell them.  They always believe what they tell themselves.   

My question – what is the best way to join the conversation that is already taking place in the minds and hearts of your tribe?  What is the best way to seek out members of your tribe that have the same beliefs as you?” Thanks to Giovanni Marsico for the question.

We just celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, and understanding how the organizers that led that singular event succeeded can help us understand how tribes work. They didn’t create this movement by merely organizing people who already believed in the urgency of the civil rights movement and were ready to march. No, they organized people who already believed in their community, who already cared very much about what their neighbors (not everyone, just the circle of people from their church, their town, their community) did and thought. Only after they organized were they able to embrace their shared understanding of the enormity of racial segregation and respond to the leaders who made the urgency of the moment so clear.

So they began with the bravest early adopters, the few who held the worldview that it was not only their responsibility to take action, but that taking action now was urgent. Early adopters have a worldview different from their neighbors. They ask themselves, “what’s vitally important and how soon can we start?” They gave these folks a path, coordinating and reinforcing their actions.

The next step, so critical, is that they amplified the social connections and media cues that would spread the idea of urgency to neighbors, to people less inclined to take action. “People like us do things like that.” It’s not an accident that the civil rights movement was lead by a Reverend, and that much of it was based in churches. Those churches were a natural nexus, a place where people were already coming to see what people like them were going to do next.

Worldview isn’t sufficient, and worldview isn’t impossible to change. But what worldview does is give you the bridge, the ability to engage people in the tribe, and then, and only then, do you have the privilege to change the conversation.

The goal isn’t to find people who have already decided that they urgently want to go where you are going. The goal is to find a community of people that desire to be in sync and who have a bias in favor of the action you want them to take.

A long blog post, but worth it I hope: You don’t build a tribe about the thing you want to sell. You don’t even build a tribe about the thing you want to accomplish. You build it around the community and experience that the tribe members already want to have.


Perhaps you could just make something awesome instead

Mass marketers love the promise of big data, because it whispers the opportunity of once again making average stuff for average people, of sifting through all the weird to end up with that juicy audience that’s just waiting to buy what they’ve made.

Big data is targeting taken to the highest level of granularity. It grabs your behavior across web sites, across loyalty cards, who knows, across your phone records… the promise of all this grabbing is that marketers will be able to find precisely the right person to reach at the right moment with the right offer.

[Worth noting that the flipside–the ability to reach the weird and offer them something that would never be practical otherwise–is a breakthrough just waiting to happen.]

And the rocket scientists are busy promising Hollywood that they can run the numbers on a script and figure out how to change it to make it more likely to sell. Add a sidekick to that superhero, perhaps, or have that demon be summoned instead of whatever it is that unsummoned demons do…

This rearview window analysis is anathema to the creative breakthrough that we call art. No amount of digital focus group research could figure out that we wanted Memento or the Matrix or Amour. Worse, it’s based on the flawed assumption that the past is like the future, that correlation and causation are related. By that analysis, every Supreme Court chief justice, US president and New York City police chief is going to be a man. Forever more.

We are going to get ever better at giving committees ways to turn your work into banality. That opens up the market even more for the few that have the guts to put great work into the world instead.


Change the culture, change the world

Plenty of marketing, particularly the marketing of social-change groups, focuses on educating people and getting them to make different (and better) decisions.

But most actions aren’t decisions at all.

In Reykjavik, shopkeepers keep their doors closed (it’s cold!) and if they were aware that in Telluride most stores keep their doors propped open (even in the winter) they’d think it was nuts.

In China, the typical household saves three to five times as much of their income as a household in the US. This is not an active decision, it’s a cultural component.

The list goes on and on. A practioner of Jainism doesn’t have a daily discussion about being a vegetarian, and a female graduate of Johns Hopkins is likely pre-sold on the role of women in the workplace.

If you ask someone about a cultural practice, the answer almost always boils down to, “that’s what people like me do.”

Powerful organizations and great brands got there by aligning with and accelerating tectonic cultural shifts, not by tweaking sales one at a time.

There are two lessons here. The first is that the easiest thing to do is merely amplify what a culture is already embracing. The second is that real change is cultural change, and you must go about it with the intent to change the culture, not to merely make the easy change, the easy sale.


Why do we care about football?

For someone outside the US, the visceral connection with football seems mysterious. You can understand a lot about the future (and past) of marketing once you understand how the sport turned into a cultural touchstone.

Tribes -> TV -> Money  -> Mass -> TV -> Tribes

Football as we know it started in colleges. It was an epic muddy battle, pitting one alma mater against another, a war-like, non-balletic battle that united (at a pretty elemental level) the tribes on each side. As it grew as a college sport, it became as much of a social event as a sporting one, with alumni and students finding connection around a game.

But if that’s all it was, today wouldn’t be the biggest day of the year for several industries. If that’s all it was, you wouldn’t be able to pick a fight merely by challenging the hegemony of football or the local team. We’d be spending as much time and energy on soccer or lacrosse or basketball, but we don’t.

No, it turns out that, quite accidentally, football, more than any other sport, is made for television. It’s better on TV than it is live. The combination of the play clock, the angles, the repetition and the opportunity for analysis all make it perfect to watch on TV. And perfect to run commercials on. TV and football grew up together, side by side. Instant replay and the thirty-second commercial, supporting each other. 

It’s not an accident that the commercials are as much a part of the Super Bowl as the game. The commercials represent both the cash component of football as well as the cultural souvenirs that go with our consumption of the game.

Fifty years ago, a coat salesman paid $4,000 for the rights to film a game, and NFL Films was born. The decisions Ed and Steve Sobol made over the years turned the sport cinematic, amplifying the tribal origins but taking them much further. They used sound editing and shot on film, all to transform a game into a spectacle.

Then, the second great accident occurred: As football became the official sport of television, it generated billions of dollars in revenue. This revenue led advertisers to push for more football, which led to more television, which led to colleges transforming football from a small sideline into a cash cow of some focus, despite the fact that it has very little to do with the core mission of the institution.

People justify the unpaid (and dangerous) labor of college football players by pointing to all the scholarships. But the scholarships aren’t for playing football, they are for appearing on TV. That’s what pays for the system.

The media-football complex drives deep into childhood, with many kids fast-tracked from a very young age into the game (not soccer, not baseball, not physics) at some level because of TV and because of money and because of tribes. If football is part of what we stand for, then of course we’re happy to have our kid be part of that. But what does it mean for football to be part of what you stand for?

No one stands for movies, or ice cream or double-entry bookkeeping. No, a sport has become a pillar of our worldview, a tribal and economic connection to our past and our future. We don’t want to understand the history and the money and the happy accidents. We just assume that this is as it was and as it will be. 

Going forward, no other sport will ever have a run like this, because the TV-cash part of the connection can’t be recreated. Mass TV built many elements of our culture, but mass TV (except for tonight) is basically over. 

The new media giants of our age (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) don’t point everyone to one bit of content, don’t trade in mass. Instead, they splinter, connecting many to many, not many to one.

The cultural touchstones we’re building today are mostly not mass, mostly not for everyone. Instead, the process is Tribes -> Connections/communities -> Diverse impact. Without the mass engine of TV, it’s difficult to imagine it happening again. So instead we build our lives around cultural pockets, not cultural mass. Our job as marketers and leaders is to create vibrant pockets, not to hunt for mass.

But for next season… Go Bills!

Sooner or later

Tomorrow is the biggest day of the year for charitable giving in the US.

The reason is clear: if you make a donation Tuesday, you have to wait a whole year to get a deduction. Make it today and you get it right now.

Of course, charitable giving shouldn’t be driven by the search for a tax deduction, but the knowledge that now is your last chance short-circuits the sooner or later decision.

So, today, before it’s too late, why not help build a platform for those that need it, a platform that generates a hundred or a thousand times more pareto-optimal joy. Not because there’s a heart-tugging pitch or an external urgency, but because sooner is better than later.

Room to Read, The Acumen Fund, Juvenile Diabetes, DoSomething, Afaya

Sooner rather than later. We’ll get there if we all head there.

I’ve been remaindered

The true story of the Seth Godin Action Figure: [Update: they may be all gone by the time you read this, sorry…]

It’s a joke. But it’s a real product, with tongue in cheek.

It was all for charity (the Acumen Fund gets all my royalties). An old interview with all the details here, including narwhals.

Years and years ago, I suggested this project to my friends at Archie McPhee because they’re brilliant and funny and I’m jealous of what they do all day. And they (after six months of trying to persuade other, better authors to say yes) agreed.

And now, years later, after thousands of these little guys were sold, we come to the end of the line. Action figures are falling out of favor, they say, and they need to make room for bacon mints and flying pigs. And there’s only a thousand left. Is your dashboard bereft? Here’s your chance.

You can get yours for about half price! Just type in the discount code: pokethebox when you order (they tell me this is only for US orders).

Thanks, guys. Archie McPhee made me small, plastic, articulated and delighted, all at the same time. Now I know how Mr. Bill feels.