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Archive for May, 2008

Excellent post on Business Pundit earlier this month:

Grossing over $150,000,000 in its first two weekends at the box office, “Iron Man” has come out of the gates as one of the top blockbusters of the year. If you haven’t seen it – believe the hype. Bar none it is the best ‘hero’ movie I’ve seen.

Aside from being wildly entertaining, Iron Man serves up a number of lessons that can be carried over to business.

Lesson 1 – Diversify Or Die

Robert Downey Jr., or “Iron Man” in the movie, saw the writing on the wall. While his seemingly flawless company was an industry leader and the best weapons company in the world, it was built on a business model that was fundamentally unsustainable.

Long-lasting businesses function in good and bad economic environments. They morph over time to maintain profitability, growth and viability. Most importantly, they align strategically with the vision of those running it.

If your business is faltering, ask yourself: “What can I do differently”? Know what your core competencies are, find hidden avenues to leverage these competencies, and don’t be afraid of an evolving vision.

Lesson 2 – Build Your Company With People You Can Trust

The biggest lesson I’ve learned about business, and a good lesson from the movie, is that you have to trust the people you are working with. Businesses are built by people – so if you can’t whole-heartedly trust and understand the motivations of those around you, there’s a problem. Look at the key employees in your business. Are they the best individuals to build your company?

Lesson 3 – Build Something That The World Has Never Seen

Cooker-cutter products serve a place in business. However, it is the game changing ideas that lead to industry dominance and sustainable competitive advantage. You obviously don’t need to build a flying iron man machine to achieve unwavering success, but you should be solving an aching problem in your industry. Are your products/services game changing?

Lesson 4 – Know Your Motivations

A lot of people in business, entrepreneurs especially, have disjointed priorities. They are in it for the power, the money, the glamor. Unfortunately, these motivations don’t deliver happiness or strong companies.

Do some soul searching and find out what your life’s work should be. Does it match up with what you’re doing? If not, it’s probably time to change your focus.

If you are looking for some good business lessons or just wanting to kill a couple of hours watching an entertaining movie – check out ‘Iron Man’. It might just change how you think about your business.

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In a nutshell.

Hat tip to Francois Gossieaux, who grabbed the baton from Digital Demystified.


Update: Spike over at Brains on Fire just pointed out that the original source is Marty Neumeier’s ZAG.

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From Tim Coote‘s always brilliant and enjoyable blog:

“When people ask me how do you make it in show business or whatever, what I always tell them — And nobody ever takes note of it ‘cuz it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this — But I always say, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” If somebody’s thinking, “How can I be really good?”, people are going to come to you. It’s much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties.”

-Steve Martin.

All of the strategies and marketing angles will be trumped by this one piece of advice everytime – “Be so good they can’t ignore you”. If you’re catching balls in the end zone week after week or motivating people to do their best and it works week after week you will be noticed. People want to notice you because it’s why the world spins. It’s why people are able to get out of bed and go to work. Aspiring to greatness is the honey in the lion.

Damn, Tim. Well put.

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You can always count on Hugh to put it all in a nutshell.

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A post dear to my heart from Go Big:

Reminds me of this one.

Every time I hear someone use the term “viral marketing,” I cringe. I know it seems like just a word, but I think it’s a concept that misses the mark and perpetuates some half-baked thinking.

I hated the word “viral” the very first time I heard it in the mid 1990s, probably because it made Marketing sound like we were spreading a disease other people had no choice but to spread, too. At the time, the whole “viral marketing” thing got people excited because it used the Internet to cheaply spread crap like Burger King videos or Hotmail invitations. Dance monkeys, dance.

Now that we’ve all been bombarded on the internet, the notion of something being viral is no more special than any other idea or phrase that catches on. That’s just part of Marketing’s job. For over a decade now, Advertising Agencies all over the country have some sort of “Viral Marketing” as part of their plan to try to get us to ask their version of the Subservient Chicken to do something obscene and then laugh about it. We all get a bajillion invitations to try products and there’s an asston of bite-sized digital entertainment gimmicks you can sneeze all over your friends. No question, you can get the word out quickly but spreading your message is a small part of the picture.

I remember sitting in a Jive meeting when someone mentioned viral marketing and then in the very next meeting engineers were talking about the importance of product adoption. The word “adoption” struck me. Why is spreading Marketing a disease but spreading product usage like bringing in a stray dog? Shouldn’t we be pushing for Adoptive Marketing? Marketing that people want, that leads to products people want? Viral Marketing is merely the quick transaction of ideas. But if no connection is made to the product, the Marketing can (at best) only make an ephemeral nick in brand perception. Adoptive Marketing can be just as “viral” but is so closely connected to the product that if the idea catches on, so does the product. In fact, the product is built to be remarkable and to be the primary Marketing engine. For people to spread Adoptive Marketing it means that within the product and the Marketing they:

- Discover recurring personal significance
- Control their own participation
- Believe it improves their situation

People adopt things they have an emotional connection to. They like it and/or it helps them. Adoptive Marketing is dependent on the product. Ask any Marketer who has the best Marketing and the first company they think of is Apple. But Apple’s ads only work because their product and retail experience backs up the Marketing. Apple practices Adoptive Marketing. The Marketing is the product. The product is the Marketing. You want to talk about the iPhone. You want to use the iPhone. You want to watch the Ads. It’s a social object. You care. You choose. It improves your situation. It’s feels unique, even if it’s not. When you’re successful with Adoptive Marketing you’ve earned the right to be an Organic Meme. Screw being viral.

The problem is most products suck. If your baby’s ugly, go market something you believe in. Or it’s time to sit down with the product and service group and have a heart-to-heart. Yes, I’m sure it’s not that easy but we can’t fix it for you. Perhaps you can think around your product to create a social-cause initiative that makes people love your ice cream, batteries or dryer sheets. No amount of dancing babies or viral videos will cover up the fact your product is boring.

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From Change This:


John Spence: “There is no single strategy that will carry your company forever—just ask my buddy Tom Peters, who wrote the fantastic book In Search of Excellence back in 1982, only to watch more than half of the companies he highlighted go out of business! Markets shift, consumer preferences change, new competitors appear, technology advances—and so must you. Even though I can recommend which of today’s popular strategies I believe deserve your attention, there is no guarantee that these same strategies will still be as relevant in 20 years. I think they will, but no one can see that far ahead.

With all of that said, [these] are the six strategies on which all the great companies I studied were relentlessly focused.”

Go here and learn something.

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Je me souviens.


From Wikipedia:


Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (in 2008 on May 26). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.

This photo is of an American cemetery in northern France. Without the courage of young American men, I would have been born in a German-speaking France. Or not at all.

For me at least, Memorial Day is about much more than cookouts.

Thank you to all who serve.

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