Friday, September 28, 2007

 

Nice is the new mean

Life's too short to be pissy. Too many people in our personal and professional lives seem to have a perpetual scowl, and go through life assuming others are out to get them.

Your business is competitive, and your rivals want to eat your lunch. Politics are at play in your office every day. Meanness is everywhere.

But life's too short to engage in that. And just because you decide to be nice, instead of mean, doesn't mean you're giving up competitive advantage of business opportunities.

Take Linda Kaplan, for example. Her ad agency is responsible for the AFLAC duck (like it or not) as well as the slogan "I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us Kid." Her ad agency is one of the fastest growing in America.

She's also the author of The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness. In it, she proves that a wholly different attitude in the office, with customers and clients, and even amongst competitors can not only be a powerful differentiator, but can also actually win far more business and success than you'd think. Look no further than Linda's own agency to find a great example.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

 

Why I love my new, 105-minute commute

Until earlier this month, I worked at an office just 1.5 miles from my house. It was three stoplights away. Last week, I took a new job in downtown Seattle - not significantly farther as the crow flies but a LOT farther from a commute standpoint.

So I'm a commuter bus rider now - 45 minutes in the morning, and close to an hour in the evening. And you know what? I love it.

OK, maybe I could make a list of things I'd rather do with those nearly two hours than sit on a bus, but the opportunity that time affords me is pretty cool. Some reasons and examples:

More Productivity
Rather than sit in my own car, using up fossil fuels and wearing out my break pads, I let someone else do the driving for me. That lets me focus on whatever I want to - read a book, edit documents, catch up on email cached on my laptop, etc. It gives me time to ramp into my day in the morning, and time to catch up on stuff that go away from me in the afternoon. And it lets me step off the bus in the evening ready to enjoy time at home.

Less Stress
Why bother with all that stop-and-go traffic directly? It'll only add more stress to my life. The bus is relatively predictable. I know when it'll pick me up, and thanks to carpool lanes it's highly predictable on the destination side as well. And all I do is sit back and do whatever I want in between.

More Discipline
If I want to be home by six, I need to leave the office at five. For me, that creates a significant level of discipline I'm not really used to. It also forces me to make smarter decisions about how to use my time in the office, especially as the afternoon wears on, and be ready to maximize that hour in the bus to get "leftovers" done before getting home.

What's interesting about my new commute isn't just what I'm doing with those 105 minutes each day. It's how that commute has affected the rest of my life. Because I have to catch a bus at night, I'm more disciplined and focused - and more productive - at the office. Because I can get more work done on the way home, I'm more apt to relax and re-energize when I get home (vs. just doing more work, not sleeping well, etc.).

So, sure, the six-minute commute was nice. But this new commute ain't bad either.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

 

Luck is the residue of design

I've always believed this saying to be both an overused cliche, but also dead-on accurate. Now, as Mark Andreessen points out, there's scientific proof to back it up.

Take the time to read through Mark's entire post on luck and the entrepreneur. It's work walking through the excerpts from James Austin's Chase, Chance & Creativity.

But if you're really in a hurry, skip to the end for Mark's summary of the four keys to capturing and leveraging "luck" for entrepreneurs. Well written, and very good advice.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

 

Who's influencing you (you're influencing who?)

According to Ed Keller's fantastic book, The Influentials, one American in ten tells the other nine how to vote, where to eat, and what to buy. As marketers, part of our job is to identify who those 10% of Americans are, identify when and for what they're actually influential, and gain leverage and influence with the influencers themselves.

And while Ed's right - that the masses are influenced by a persuasive minority - I don't buy that it's just 10% of us who hold all of the influence power in our world. Rather, I believe each of us has our relative circles of relevance and influence with those around us.

Sure, there are some people who generally have greater influence than others. Either they're knowledgeable and persuasive about a variety of topics, are particularly influential in a high-visibility topic, or are either in a position of power or have a particularly valuable channel through which to reach and influence a greater volume of people than the rest of us.

But the number of ways we're influenced every day, all day long, is numerous, and we can likely name just as man sources of influence that impact our decisions, opinions and actions.

That means that even the influencers are being influenced by others. It means that each one of you has influence over others as well.

How you choose to focus, leverage or accelerate that influence could hold the secret to significant personal and professional success and satisfaction, in your life and career.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

 

Every opportunity is important

Sit down at a white board today and write down a list of the ideal PR opportunities for your business. These are the ideal placements that you believe will generate the greatest return measured by exposure, sales and awareness.

Having that list is important, and should drive a majority of your proactive PR strategy, but the vast majority of the PR opportunities you face on a regular basis will be far smaller, and feel far less strategic. That doesn't mean they're not valuable.

Case in point from this morning's Wall Street Journal. Sarah Needleman wrote a piece about parking lot politics, and we were approached for a comment. As a result of just 20 minutes on the phone a few weeks ago, HouseValues is in this morning's Journal.

Sure, it's not a piece about the company's vision, or new products, or successful customers. But it's momentum nonetheless, it keeps the company highly visible, and I guarantee throughout the day today it'll generate phone calls and other demonstrations of interest that become something quite tangible and important to the business.

Ignore "less strategic" opportunities at your own peril. Yes, judge them against the amount of time they'll take to execute, but give yourself as many at-bats as possible, especially in PR, to generate momentum and visibility for your business.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

 

MoM Links for September 1, 2007

Innovation Comes From Within: Check out what this United Airlines pilot does for each of his flights to make his company (or at least his flights) truly buzzworthy.

Cycle of a Fan: Yep...

Does Your Brand have a Landmark?: What do customers see that immediately reminds them of you? If you don't have one, can you create one?

FriendRaising: Kudos to Ben for getting to the root of successful fundraising. Everything starts with relationships.

15 Ways to Make An Impression: They're all very quick, but they work.

Tell Me, Show Me, Involve Me: Don't just market to your customers and prospects. Get them involved, and get them more engaged!

Learn from Their Mistakes: If you practice any kind of media relations, study these bad pitches and do not repeat them.

 

Why blog reading is so valuable

I fell behind on my RSS feeds in mid-July, and literally hadn't followed them since. Until this week. After six weeks of not reading my favorite blogs (as the back-up got too intimidating to think about), this week I bit the bullet and dove back in.

I, of course, did plenty of aggressive skimming and saving of stuff to pay closer attention to later. But I also quickly noticed the sheer differences between NOT reading blogs for several weeks, and finally putting them back into my life.

The difference for me was noticeable. It included:

* More Innovation & Creative Thinking: I was quickly reminded that other smart bloggers give me fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking on a daily basis, including ideas that I can immediately and directly apply to my own daily work. Ideas spark other ideas, which have the power to ignite creativity in everyone around us. I wasn't giving enough credit to the spark my daily blog reading was giving me, both personally and professionally.

* More Active Networking: In the past week, thanks to reading blogs again, I'm back to sending FYI articles and ideas to friends and colleagues. Sometimes it's just to others within HouseValues, but it's often to folks throughout my professional network that I think might benefit from the article or idea. I'm also commenting back on other bloggers' work, which in turn is helping to expand my network even more. Important stuff.

* More Frequent Blogging: When I read more, I write more. When I'm inspired more, I have more to say. That constant flow of ideas, epiphanies and other inspiration fed my natural pipeline of posts for this blog. Without it, I was a far less-frequent contributor to this forum.

* More Newsletter Subscribers: With infrequent blog posts, my traffic went down, which also meant fewer new subscribers to my newsletter.

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