March 26, 2013


Decisive WRAP
Every book by Chip and Dan Heath is worth reading. They’ve show us ways to make messages memorable (Made To Stick) and make difficult changes (Switch). In Decisive, they tackle the way we make decisions.

Decisive goes on sale today. I saw a webinar with Dan Heath yesterday and listened to a podcast with Chris Brogan. I saw Dan on the tour for Switch.

The Decision Process

Here is the four step WRAP process:
  1. Widen your options
  2. Reality-test your assumptions
  3. Add distance before deciding
  4. Prepare to be wrong
We’ll focus on widening options. This is difficult. We have limited time. Considering many choices is a recipe for indecision or substandard decisions. We also suffer from the confirmation bias.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is probably the biggest problem in business, because even the most sophisticated people get it wrong. People go out and they’re collecting the data, and they don’t realize they’re cooking the books.
— Dan Lovallo
Which headline do you want to believe?You likely have opinions on
  • the existence of global warming
  • the attention spans of kids today
  • the merits of fluoride in drinking water
  • the need for guns at home
  • whether iOS beats Android
We have our world views and find data that supports our thinking. Our blinders impair our thinking and decisions. We might not see what we're not looking for. In a recent Harvard study, 83% of radiologists failed to see a gorilla waving a fist in a stack of CT scans (Toronto Star, Feb 2013).

Thinking “outside the box” isn’t easy when we are the box. One way is to build a diverse network or team and consider differing opinions early in the process.

An Example

I've found there are strong opinions about the merits of social media marketing. For instance, “YouTube is now averaging 1 billion monthly users who are streaming a stunning 4 billion hours of content every month” (Forbes, Mar 21, 2013). Is that a call to create video or remain on the sidelines?

The ROI question also arises. Coca Cola finds that online buzz doesn’t lead to online sales — even now, television is more effective (Ad Age, Mar 18, 2013). That’s a “stunning admission” for the #1 brand on Facebook with 61.5 million fans. What conclusion do you draw? Are the results meaningful for what you sell? Is there a trend?

What we want to believe may not be what what's comfortable or true. For years, we’ve been told to Question Authority. Now it’s time to Question Biases too.


I’m confident that Decisive will have solid, practical content that’s easy to apply. It’s on my reading list.


PS You might want to read Switch first.

March 19, 2013


man on laptop screen 500x335 Photoxpress_1371969Your favorite songs: did you first hear them live in concert or as a recording? Your favorite  actors: did you see them live or on a screen?

Maybe your first impression was negative. Songs like Bohemian Rhapsody and Stairway to Heaven might take time to grow on you.

Repetition overcomes initial reactions. As your familiarity grows, doesn’t your desire for a live encounter grow too? The liking starts building trust even though you’ve never met.


Just because you want to meet someone doesn’t mean you’ll ever get the opportunity. Maybe you’d like to chat with Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Mark Twain or Steve Jobs. They’re gone but live on because we still see what they did. And what they did mattered.

Easier Than Ever

These days, it’s easier than ever to reach out to people who were inaccessible before. We can follow them on Twitter and if they follow us back, we can send direct messages that might get a response. If they blog, we can leave comments, get known and start a private conversation. Maybe someone in our network can make an introduction.

“Regular” people are easy to reach via a quick web search.

The First Impression

Michael Apted’s Up Series (Wikipedia) says that if you look at a child, you see glimpses of the adult too. The past leaves clues about the future.

When you first meet someone, you see their public face. You can’t trust them unless you’ve seen them online before and they’re congruent with your expectations.

You can have an impact on others in the same way: create an advance expectation that you match in person. To do this, you need content online that improves with time. The visible evolution is important.

Your Body Speaks

Your visible body of work speaks for you when you cannot. If you're invisible, you're at a disadvantage to someone who has the courage and foresight to put themselves on display even when they knew they weren't perfect.

If and when you do meet your “pen pal” in person, you already “know” each other. There’s anticipation and more to talk about. Doesn’t that help solidify a relationship that already started?


PS Live encounters are important but expensive and limiting.

March 12, 2013


I attended the Tech Leadership Conference for the first time. I went primarily to see Seth Godin. Overall, the sessions were worthwhile. The day was an excellent value ($199 for nonmembers, including lunch and a reception). Thanks sponsors!

Each session had time for questions. There was plenty of time for networking too. Here are highlights.

Thorsten Heins at the Tech Leadership Conference 2013 (photo from Communitech on Facebook)Thorsten Heins | Blackberry | President & CEO

Blackberry had the most to gain from a solid presentation. Thorsten Heins spoke well. but I couldn't understand why Blackberry matters when we have iOS and Android. His message was too technical, focusing on solving problems we might not really have.

Blackberry 10 is bringing us mobile computing but lookup that term on Wikipedia and the photo shows a Google/Samsung Nexus.
Mobile computing = Galaxy Nexus
No one I asked was wowed by the content. A Blackberry user said she was waiting to upgrade but after Thorsten's talk decided to switch to Android. See Blackberry's confusing message (a more detailed review) and three ways for a laggard to beat the market leader.

Tip: Communicate to get into your audience's heart instead of their heads. Have real content (or repackage old content in a fresh, compelling way).

Seth Godin at the Tech Leadership Conference 2013 (photo from Communitech on Facebook)Seth Godin

If you want your idea to be believed, say Seth said it.

I've seen Seth several times already (e.g., see three lessons from The Linchpin Session or five presentations from Seth Godin). I've read his books and read his blog. In gatherings, I sometimes act has an unofficial interpreter: "When Seth said X, he was referring to Y, which is what he said in Z."

Most of the people I asked attended primarily for Seth. He met or exceeded their expectations. Kudos to Communitech for bringing him back after a four year absence. Seth's messages were counter to Blackberry's. A big company that hires 5,000 can fire 5,000 too. RIM did both.

The onus is on us to make our own futures. As Seth has been saying since Linchpin, we need to do what scares us. We need to ship our art. Even knowing and agreeing, few do.

Rather than asking what's next, Seth suggests we ask what's now (and then do something)

Patrick Pichette at the Tech Leadership Conference 2013 (photo from Communitech on Facebook)Patrick Pichette | Google | Senior Vice President & CFO

Unlike Apple and Blackberry, Google believes in open. I do too and use their offerings as much as possible. Patrick gave us insights into the company. I've seen the Canadian head several times (see Five Marketing Keys from Chris O'Neill).

The company believes in dreaming 10 times bigger (see Larry Page’s interview in Wired). Mere years ago, the world hadn't heard of Gmail, Chrome or Android.

Patrick is involved in the Google Fiber project in Kansas City. Users get a "true gig" of bandwidth (1 Gigabit downloads and uploads) with no caps on usage or bandwidth shaping. The price is only $70/month. Imagine having capabilities like that. A future of abundance. I'd love to have Google Fiber. Instead, we have high prices and restricted service. Time Warner Cable says there's no consumer demand for the speed. Really?

Lesson: Tear down walls and open new possibilities. That's what we want. That's what we'll (eventually) get. (Sooner please)

April Dunford at the Tech Leadership Conference 2013 (photo by Promod Sharma)April Dunford | RocketScope | Co-founder & Managing Director

April's session was the most practical. I've been too many sessions on marketing with content that’s weak or self-serving. April had real substance and knew what she was talking about.

Marketing has changed and small business now has the advantage. That's because big business can no longer interrupt us with mass media messages. They have trouble reaching us at all. We care less about what they want to tell us. We care more about the views of our network and people like us. I often look at IMDB or Amazon Reviews before making decisions. The vendor's website is les relevant.
"In times of rapid change, experience becomes your worst enemy."
— J Paul Getty
Knowing isn't doing. Big business is often stuck in yesteryear. Change takes place slowly. Execution may suffer. Who has a Dell MP3 player or Lenovo smartphone? Best Buy didn't become Amazon. Do you care if your smartphone has Intel Inside?
You can watch April's live session and get the slides from her blog. Take a peek and see what you learn.


Communitech hosts excellent events and the Tech Leadership Conference is another example.Some keynote presenters are gracious enough to allow their presentations to be posted. Dan Pink is an example (see video). Well worth attending.


PS If you're near Waterloo, consider signing up for the Communitech mailing list.

March 5, 2013


time for a coach?
You’re nimble and flexible. You can do much on your own — maybe more than you’d like to do.

Even if you have the time and budget, you can’t outsource everything. For example, you can’t hire anyone to exercise or diet for you. Well, you can but you won’t get results.

Say you want to build trust in our transparent world. You must do the weight lifting yourself. LinkedIn is an essential tool. I’ve shared my best tips via
That's plenty of help but may not be enough. Consider your own goals. You might need more support to reach them.


Even solid content needs adjustments to suit your specific situation. Otherwise, you risk looking generic.

You might not know what to do. You might want to save time. Maybe this is when to hire a coach. The right coach makes a big difference. Much of my learning comes from learning, thinking and experimenting. I’ve still used coaches over the years.


Habits take time to build. Bad habits take time to vanish.

You might need outside discipline until your new scripts are engrained. I participate in masterminds. A Pick Four goals group may help (and you can start one). A coach is another option.


When you’re paying for help, look for ways to limit the cost and duration.

As an example, we've been wanting to get physically fit for years. We couldn’t make sense of the conflicting advice and didn’t exercise consistently. At the end of a busy day, pizza has more pull than the gym. Our son is out of town, studying at my alma mater, Western University. He’s taken the initiative to get fit and he
  1. Developed a fitness plan for us
  2. Showed us the exercises
  3. Guided us during  the holidays
We’ve been following the plan regularly for three months. We now have discipline. We no longer need him — but he’s still welcome back home.

If what you’re doing isn’t getting you to your goals, you may need coaching until you’re self-sufficient.


PS There's no shame in using training wheels … as long as you take them off.