Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Never Stop Marketing Recommended Reading List

I’m asked at least 2-3 times per week, “can you recommend some books for me to read to get started in understanding marketing and social media?” so…image

Here’s is the “Intro to Never Stop Marketing” Reading List for Marketing 101.

First, of course, you need to read my stuff Smile

Then, MUCH more importantly

Book Title (Amazon link) Review Why?
The Cluetrain Manifesto Review Foundational to understanding the implication of networks
Here Comes Everybody Review How social software changes everything
The Anatomy of Buzz Review How to trigger word-of-mouth
Different Review Competitive strategy (on steroids)…one of the best I’ve ever read
Purple Cow   A classic on creative thinking
All Marketers are Liars   Redefining the role of marketers
Permission Marketing   Understanding relationships
Made to Stick Review How to create memorable stories
Switch Review How to create and sustain meaningful organization change
Influence Review Understanding mass social psychology
Drive Review What really motivates people?

Citizen Marketers Review The Power of evangelists/Raving Fans

There were more than a few that were really close calls, but at some point, you say “the list is long enough.”

For reviews to pretty much every book I’ve read in the past few years, see here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Think About Technology...

People, it seems to me, often feel overwhelmed by technology.
It creates too much choice. So many options.

Instead, try thinking of technology as a filter, a gatekeeper, a passport control for quality information.

You can use it to make sure that ONLY the highest quality stuff enters your brain.

You eat healthy, organic food, right?

Now, say...I can use technology to make sure that, for example, when I want to read, I read the best stuff around...not just the lame magazine in the doctor's office. Or, if I want to veg in front of the TV, at least it's with the best content around.

A small reframe, but could be helpful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Instantaneous Book Club

I really love my Kindle.

One of the features I enjoy is that I can highlight a passage and share it with people on Facebook on Twitter.

What happens next is pretty neat…an instantaneous book club is formed.

I’ve identified others who like it, have or will read it, and helped others find a good book to read.


Monday, June 27, 2011

How much can you afford to lose?

I’m reading a really fascinating book now called Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.

The title says it all, but one of the most interesting parts is the delineation the author makes between those with a “fixed” mindset versus a “growth” mindset.

In explaining this, he talks about how the calculation on an initiative is made in each of the two minds.

In the “fixed,” the question is: how much will I gain from this? If you don’t know upfront, you are less likely to make the investment (time, money, resources, etc.)

In the “growth,” you ask: How much can I afford to lose?

Sometimes, people ask me about how I’ve become adept at using technology and tools and I realize, that as far as tech goes, I have a “growth” mindset. Mind you, this isn’t true across the board.

For example, a few weeks ago, I became familiar with a concept of “flashing” an Android phone. Basically, wiping the hard drive and installing a brand new Operating System. There was upside (flexibility, features, customization), but also downside (I might ‘brick’ the phone and render it unusable).

However, when I thought it through, I said, “ok, WORST case scenario, I ‘brick’ my phone and I have to go to Sprint tomorrow and spend $200 on a new phone.”

Not ideal, but I figured the educational experience (for me) of playing around with it and trying to explore new frontiers was worth it.

Turns out, in this case, the risk was worth it and I have not only a better phone experience, but a far deeper understanding of how they work and of what they are capable. Both to these things, I believe, enrich my life and my business.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

163 million dead girls

Over the past week, I've seen a book referenced twice claiming that 163 million female fetuses have been aborted by (mostly) parents in Asia who want a son.

Here's one of the articles.

I'm generally pro-choice in my outlook, but can't help but recognize the strange twist that is the fact that a keystone issue of the feminist movement is being used to eliminate women.

The whole thing is just so sad...and this doesn't even take into account what the world will look like with all of these excess men.

Friday, June 24, 2011

From skeptics to believers…still skeptical

imageGrowing up, my dad would often propose or initiate a family trip/outing to some location (say Mammoth Cave, KY).

Especially as we got older, we would protest and resist, doubting the merits of the trip and complaining about something.

Invariably, a life memory and life lesson would be created.

In a weird type of “pay it forward” moment, I feel like I getting what I gave because my kids are starting to do the same.

For our second outing of this no-school, no-camp week, the “team” and I went to visit the National Arboretum.

My basically philosophy on these types of things is the same I had when I was dating: Do something I want to do anyway.

I’d never been there and, perhaps I am over-confident, but I believe I can make anything fun and educational for my kids.

As I explained our destination, I was met with resistance.

(Admittedly, it wasn’t the worst type of resistance…Tonka REALLY wanted to go to the National Gallery of Art Smile)

Being the Benevolent Despot that I am, I drove the agenda.

Within minutes of our arrival, we saw the Japanese Koi pond and all three of them (Nadia included) said, “This is sooooo cool!!!”


We also saw the National Bonsai garden, the original columns from the US Capitol building and an herb garden.

A lot of walking, some beautiful scenery and we did it all in 80 minutes.

On the way home, I asked Tonka, “so, every time I tell you we are going somewhere, you tell me it’s not going to be fun. Then, you tell me, it was fun. Are you ever going to just believe me?”

“No,” she replied.

At least she’s honest.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Iwo Jima and the “Big Stick”…

After the recent article in the WSJ about Americans’ general lack of understanding of US history, I was motivated to take my kids (off from school and no camp this week) on our next DC outing.

To give them some perspective on life, we went to the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, VA, next to the national cemetery.

As we drove (fortunately, little traffic), I explained to them part of the history of WW II and (thanks to Wikipedia, I was ready), I shared some facts of the battle of Iwo Jima.

What was so inspiring was how involved, interested, and curious they were in the actual story. They kept asking questions and insisting that I continue. We were there for all of 20 minutes, but it was worth it.

Next to the memorial is something called the Netherlands Carillion. I had seen the sign for it thousands of time, but never (as far as I can recall) visited it. A gift from the Dutch to the US in 1960 after WW II in gratitude for the sacrifice, it has 29 bells from all over Holland. We had a snack there.

On the way back, we stopped at Theodore Roosevelt (who, as the kids will tell you, was the 28th President) and took in his statue.

It’s on an island and you approach it over the Potomac via footbridge. The kids loved that.

Bringing us full circle, we saw a compliment of Marines doing a training run.

A strong 3 hour round trip activity which all of us enjoyed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One I will NEVER understand…

I was visiting a friend of mine a few nights ago here in the DC area. He has a son who, shall we say, is far from a good student.

In fact, he got one F and one D in the previous trimester.

When I was at his house, the son was playing Nintendo Wii.

That one defied my understanding.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Parenting and the fear of failure.

I'm really struggling these days with helping Tonka (7.5) learn to overcome some of her fears.

  • going down slides at the pool
  • riding her bike down a small incline
These aren't ones that she SHOULD be afraid of and I recognize that it's OK to be afraid. What I want to teach her is that (after you've used sound judgment), you need to just DO it.

So far, my various approaches haven't worked.

Open to suggestions.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Since you're downstairs..."

The NFO said to me, "can you run downstairs and get me some cucumbers from the fridge there?"

I dutifully headed down.

While I was there, she hollers, "Hey, since you're downstairs anyway, can you get me some peppers?"

"Downstairs anyway? You sent me!"


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father Knows Best…about Marketing

In honor of the Father’s Day weekend we just had…
One of my dad’s key sayings is: “Integrity is not negotiable.”
He’s right, of course, but it came to mind as I recently listened to a podcast interviewing one of the leading marketing thinkers around, Don Peppers.
He says that the critical element for surviving and propsering in our new “social” world is “trustability.”
Guess my dad is a marketer as well Winking smile

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's not Information Overload...

As Clay Shirky says, "It's not information overload, it's filter failure."
Three times in a 24 hour period, I was asked the question of "I can't even read all of the good stuff I get from people, how does this play out?"

Needless to say, I don't know, but I think it comes down to a few things.
  1. Changes that we make in our behavior
  2. New and improved automated tools
  3. An increasing role and respect for the "curators" in our network.
The change in behavior is going to be the way we use tools and processes to decide what comes in and what doesn't.

Just like Amazon recommends books to you, your technology is going to get "smarter" suggesting what you should read, watch, meet all predicted based on your past behavior.

And, ultimately, you'll develop and be clear (combined with the tools) about WHOM in your network is the "go-to" person for whatever.

Now, if you're not the "go-to" person for something, I think it's going to be increasingly challenging to get people's attention, if you want it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Republican Presidential Debate...

Did anyone else watch the NH debate the other night?

And, if yes, did you find yourself thinking "oh, man, are we doing this ALREADY?"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I learned from Dirk Nowitzki this week...

Well, not really learned, but I was inspired by him.

On Sunday, I flew out to Seattle. Got in bed around 11.30pm PST with a planned wake-up at 6.10.

For whatever reason, I got up at 2.15 and, try as I might (and I tried a LOT of things), I could not fall back asleep. It was brutal.

I knew I had a REALLY long day ahead of me and, for a moment, I started to panic (particularly since I had to be 'on' for most of the day).

Then, I said, "wait, I'm here...there's nothing I can do anymore to solve this problem, so like Dirk with his 101 fever in Game 4, I just had to do it and not complain about it."

The client doesn't care if I'm tired. They expect value for their money.

So, I just said, "gotta do my job, like Dirk."

And, you know what?

It helped.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Balance and Being Present

Struggling a bit with this one at the moment. Feeling a lot of tension from multiple fronts (macro and micro) related and recognize that, for the things that are most important, I may not be as focused as I should be.

Here's to hoping that blogging about it will begin to help with the modification.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What if China sells?

Read a few fascinating articles recently speculating on what would happen to the US economy if China either stopped buying or started significantly selling US Treasury Bonds?

Here are the questions of the day:

  1. what would happen?
  2. how do you protect yourself against that possibility from an investment perspective?

Background Will China Dump US Debt?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tuition and Assistance

A march and rally organised by the UEA student...

Image via Wikipedia

There’s a growing sense of anxiety within my community about the rising costs associated with parochial school education.

Let’s assume, for a moment, that alternatives don’t exist and that it’s desirable for everyone who wants to have their child attend the school to be able to do so.

Tuition costs have risen pretty consistently over the past few years and with each raise, it becomes an additional financial stretch for an incremental number of families.

Obviously, there are families that have enough means to be able to absorb the impact.

Once you focus on the key issues like driving out inefficiencies, etc., you are left with the question of: how much should those who can afford tuition subsidize those who cannot?

That’s at the heart of our tax code and healthcare (regardless of whether it is gov’t or insurance companies who ‘pay’).

In discussing this recently, one friend of mine was shocked that someone she knew had said, “you should pay your own way and not for anyone else. If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it and you have to accept that as a fact of life.”

In my friend’s mind, the community has an obligation to help each other out.

I agreed with her, but still challenged her initial reaction.

“Until what point?” I asked.

“All your friend is saying is that she’s at the line where it doesn’t make sense for her and her family to support others in this respect. You have a line as well. Everyone does. It’s just REALLY uncomfortable to figure out what it is and put a price tag on it.

“If I asked you to pay $500 to help another family, you would do it.

“$5,000? Well, then you might have to think about it.

“$50,000? Then, you’d say no.”

Economics is about the study of choices. It’s not about money. It’s about deciding…would I rather send someone else’s kid to school or take a vacation? (or whatever the alternative is).

And it’s really, really tough to measure those.

But, there’s another side to this equation which came up as the NFO and I were discussing the whole issue of tuition and explaining it to Tonka and Paco.

The question is, for all of us, “once we accept money from the government or our friends, does that mean they get to question us about all of our other decisions?”

My friend, Jose, often complains that he can’t stand when “families who plead poverty and take tuition assistance then turn around and ….(go on vacation, get a new card, re-do their kitchen…whatever)”

Obviously, you can say “don’t judge a man/woman until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes,” but if your charity (and I guess this is the whole ‘welfare queen’ notion of a few years ago) is going to me so that my family has a  a place to sleep or food to eat, that’s one thing.

If it’s so that I can take my kids to the beach for a week, is that another?

I definitely don’t have the answer.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Make and Drink Authentic Ethiopian Coffee

My friend, Yak, has become a semi-connoisseur in the art of making Ethiopian coffee using traditional tools (with some modern touches thrown in).

It’s strong and good!

Here’s a video I did of him explaining how the magic happens. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

“You’re Wrong”

Jeff comes up to me the other day.

Doesn’t even say hello.

“You know, you’re wrong,” he says.

“Uh, what are we talking about?” I ask. “…and nice to see you as well.”

“You can’t let your son root for teams as a day trader. It’s precisely because sports are unimportant that it’s a good way to teach loyalty.”

Scott also had really strong feelings on the subject, as you can read in the comments to the post.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Riffing or Ranting?


Image by Hot Rod Homepage via Flickr

“Do you like Owen Wilson’s characters?” my friend, Joe, asked.

“Like ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ or ‘Wedding Crashers?’”

“More like ‘Wedding Crashers.’”

“Sure,” I said. “Why?”

“I thought of you this week while watching his newest movie. You definitely don’t look like him, but his characters always seem to go off on these philosophical riffs…they remind me of how you talk.”

“Do I riff or do I rant?

I kind of feel like a riff is positive. It’s what jazz musicians do. Rants…not so much.”

“You definitely riff,” he said.

So, the question is: how do you know if you are riffing or ranting?

How can you tell if someone else is riffing or ranting

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Developmental Inflection Point…

Calanit's art gallery

Image by jer979 via Flickr

We become who we are, in large part, because of our siblings (if we have them).

The other night, as Paco spent his first night in his new room, by himself, I thought about how, until now, his life had been very intertwined with Tonka’s.

Now, it takes a slightly divergent path.

Same with her (and Nadia, of course).

Just appreciating the turn in the road.

Monday, June 06, 2011

End of the Nursery Era…

Gotta love the Diaper Genie!

Image by SonnyandSandy via Flickr

Ever since we moved into our house, we’ve had one room that we called “the nursery.”

It had a pile of diapers, a diaper genie (which worked mostly well) and a semi-baby feel.

We always knew that, eventually, Nadia and Tikkanen would share a room and that Paco, being the only boy, would have his own room.

We just didn’t know when it would happen.

Recently, Lakkanen (aka Nadia) has been sleeping in the same room (on a mattress on the floor) with the older two.

Paco liked this…sometimes.

Other times, he didn’t.

Then, he said, “I want my own room…now.”

We told him…”ok, but if you do this, there’s no going back.”

He agreed.

So, we made the switch.

Just another milestone on the parenthood path.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

How to decide if you are making a lasting memory…

A typical Baseball diamond as seen from the st...

Image via Wikipedia

My dad took Paco to his first baseball game the other day. That was a great moment in and of itself.

Afterwards, profound as usual, my dad shared what could be the criteria for providing meaningful experiences to your kids.

“He will have a memory of this day when he’s an adult.”

Almost brought me to tears.

Almost Winking smile

Friday, June 03, 2011

“They think it’s a book…”

Another interesting airplane story, following up on the line jumping incident.

I was flying back from Toronto and noticed on the ascent (you know, when you are not supposed to be using any electronic devices) that the guy across the aisle from me was using his Kindle.

Now, I already had a negative view of this fellow because, ironically enough, he had completely cut me off when boarding the plane.

Then, on the descent, the announcement was made “anything with an on/off switch needs to be put away,” and he kept reading his Kindle.

So, I tapped him and asked, innocently enough, “hey, is there some sort of exception for the Kindle?”

He said, “the wi-fi isn’t on.”

"Uh, well, I thought it was ‘any electronic device.”

Then he says, “well, my cover for the Kindle makes it look like a book, so usually flight attendants don’t notice it and don’t say anything?”


Are we in 2nd grade trying to not get caught by the teacher?

I thought the point was to avoid electronic interference and follow the rules?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Recycling, the Smell, and our Future…

It was difficult for me to walk around the Montgomery County Recycling facility and not feel a bit MoCo Recycling Center Field Trip First Grade Calanit (14)guilty.

I was there as a chaperone on Tikkanen’s 1st grade class trip and while the science, process, and automation weren’t fascinating, I was a bit dismayed by just how much STUFF this one facility on this one day in this one place during this 10 minute tour was processing.

It was mammoth.

I certainly wouldn’t be considered to be a person on the forefront of the Green movement, but my awareness, starting with An Inconvenient Truth, has certainly been raised recently.

I compost (or try to), am investigating solar for my roof. I’m pretty good aMoCo Recycling Center Field Trip First Grade Calanit (2)nd diligent about paper/plastic recycling.

Still, I saw all of this…all the one use drink bottles and felt pangs.

Pangs for the world that our kids could inherit.

Pangs for the disregard/lack of knowledge we’ve had in the past for the environment.

As I saw somewhere once, “we’re on a spaceship with finite resources on an infinite voyage…we can’t afford to waste things.”

I just wonder if more people would have the same reaction going through there as I did.

One thing you notice is the smell…and this isn’t garbage, itMoCo Recycling Center Field Trip First Grade Calanit (4)’s recycling.

I saw the people who work there…4 days per week, 10 hours a day, moving our cast away stuff to help our future planet.

They had my gratitude.

Definitely a worthwhile visit and a perspective changer.

Here’s a video of the process.

“It’s Long Distance”

Remember the days (well, some might) when you would say “I’m on the phone long distance” and that was the trump card for everything?

Just reflecting this morning on how far we’ve come…

Already this morning, in a span of 10 minutes, for a total cost of about $.48, I’ve spoken with people in Russia, the UK, and Israel…all from my cell phone in a minivan.

I guess the next question is: What aspect of current daily life will be so thrown on its head in 20 years that we will no longer recognize it?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Rooting for Teams as a Day Trader

Paco and I were talking about the upcoming football season as he reviewed the schedule on the ESPN ScoreCenter app (I didn’t have the heart to tell him about the lockout).

He said, “I need to decide which team I am going to root for this year.”

Last year, I had given him a hard time because he seemed to change his mind about his “favorite team” every few weeks, depending on who was winning.

The ultimate “fair weather fan.”

Then, he shares his methodology with me.

“I am going to see which team wins by the most points on the first game of the season. Then, I will root for them.”

“But,” he went on, “if they lose 2 games in a row, I will find a new team the same way.”

At first, I thought, “this isn’t the way you are supposed to find your favorite team,” but then it occurred to me that his approach is how we look at many things in our lives.

If a stock is doing well, you stay with it. If it underperforms, you sell and move on.

He’s just bringing that same discipline to athletics.

We all know that corporate loyalty is dead in its traditional sense. Who says you have to stay loyal to a professional sports team?

It’s not like they love you back.

I think we might take this approach this year. Why not?

Besides, this way, we’ll have a team in the playoffs and a good chance that we’ll win the Super Bowl as well.