April 23, 2014


The Global Change Initiative
Words like “global change” sound good but what lasting results are possible? We’ll find out at The Global Change Initiative, which takes place at Toronto City Hall May 30 – Jun 1, 2014.

The Curator

Dev RamsumairDev Ramsumair is leading the initiative. He has an impressive background and vast connections. For instance, here’s what Paul McCartney told him:
“I’m going to give you one piece of advice for the rest of your life: You need to go somewhere where there’s just wheat and trees and you’re going to be forced to create something that no one’s ever seen.” — Entrenomics interview
The Global Change Initiative looks like a result. I’m glad we won’t be meeting in wheat fields! Dev’s enthusiasm and energy are contagious.  He’s doing much of the work himself. Normally an event of this scale would require longer preparation and a larger team. 

We’ve yet to meet but have chatted on the phone. I got introduced by peer mentor Carol Roberts of Stellar By Choice Consulting. She’s a speaker. I got selected too. I’m talking about a win/win: how social justice (doing what’s ‘right’) boosts profits.

The Global Change Initiative supportersThe Supporters

The supporters already announced are quite diverse.
Besides the City of Toronto, MaRS and the Centre for Social Innovation, there are surprises like UNESCO and Reddit. And the Avenue Q puppets. How is that range even possible?

The Format

As with many other events, you’ll find multiple speakers for variety. The difference is that they aren’t crunched into an exhausting single day. The Global Change Initiative takes place over three evenings and two days. That allows more time for mingling and thinking — and a greater commitment on the part of the delegates.

The SpeakersThe Reach

How do you reach the people around the world who aren’t attending?

Many events have live tweeting. The Global Change Initiative has support from news sharing site reddit (“the front page of the Internet”). You may be familiar with the reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) where guests have included Peter Dinklage, Barack Obama and Harrison Ford.

I knew reddit was big but didn’t know the scale. According to Alexa, it’s the 60th most popular website in the world. In the last month, reddit had 114.9 million unique visitors  from 190 countries who viewed 5.4 billion pages (see current stats). I’ve opened an account.

The Vision

The goal of The Global Change Initiative isn’t just to create a stimulating event where life returns to normal by the time you get home. The goal is to create global change. When communities, businesses, institutions and governments collaborate, imagine the possibilities.


PS There’s nothing wrong with local change either.

April 15, 2014


For the sweetest deal in real estate, call me!
Part way through a coffee meeting, a real estate agent gave me a tiny box the size of a business card and the thickness of a deck of cards.

The page on top was more like photocopier stock than card stock.
It had two messages:
  • “For the sweetest deal in real estate, call me!” and
  • “Oh, by the way … I’m never too busy for any of your referrals!”
One business card was taped underneath. Below that was a small box that held three small football-shaped Lindt chocolates that looked nothing like the photo.

What Effect?

The agent’s intentions were good but was this approach effective?

Virtually anyone can use the same message: “For the sweetest deal in (fill in the blank), call me!” and who would refuse referrals?

If you get the sweetest deal, doesn’t the other side gets the bitterest deal? Maybe a sweet deal is better and leads to less cavities.

The Perfect Gift

The perfect gift is significant, personalized and unexpected, according to Robert Cialdini. Does chocolate qualify?
  • significant? No since we have lots of chocolate at home. Besides, I got a normal box of Lindt truffles at another event.
  • personalized? Partially since my name was added to a pre-printed sheet. I would have preferred a fully handwritten card.
  • unexpected? No since I saw the box the whole time and knew the purpose (best to hide it)
The chocolate was probably on sale at the nearby Lindt Factory Outlet. I paid for our coffees, which probably cost more. Also, I was spending something much more valuable, my irreplaceable time. I felt let down at what looked more like unsubtle manipulation than generosity.

The Ask

A tiny box of chocolates from an outlet is cheap. Real estate is expensive. How does one small gift lead to a big commission? Repetition helps but are we likely going to get chocolate on a regular basis. Do we even want more?

Besides, there are lots of real estate agents that look interchangeable. How do you pick one? Chocolate gives no indication of skill (e.g., in negotiating).

A Better Approach

Timely ongoing information makes a much more useful gift. The content could be about the area of specialty, real estate. Not the generic articles that come with the junk mail every month. But something original that shows a genuine desire and ability to help prospects. The value and name recognition builds with consistency.

Emailing information via a newsletter allows tracking and cost-effective scaling. Buying and delivering chocolate does not.

Standing Out

We've dealt with real estate agents for ages. Not a single gave such a small gift. Not a single one gave useful ongoing information either. There's an opportunity to stand out.

Asking for a referral when giving the chocolate is bold — too bold for a first meeting. Would small bait land a big referral?

How was the chocolate? I don't know. I gave it to a child who might appreciate something that small.


PS Another gift, is paying attention to what your clients are doing and helping them succeed.