Whenever you see something that seems difficult in front of you, stick to the basics. Look for ways to motivate yourself and think positively about the obstacle. Keep track of your progress, so that you can clearly see that you are moving forward even if the path seems very difficult. Set goals and milestones along the way so that success can be reached on a regular basis. Focus on the fundamentals along the way - the little things that you know how to do well and the things that can “grease the skids” for the more difficult pieces.
Almost all of these wants are usually gratified…except 1. It is what Freud calls the “desire to be great” and Dr. Dewey calls the “desire to be important.”
Think about what this means on a fundamental human level. Compliments, asking real questions of other people, and paying deep attention when people are talking all drive towards making that person feel important.
Keep this in mind when marketing a product, designing an engaging online consumer experience, recruiting and building a team, and dealing with people every day.
“It is very difficult for a company whose processes, values and resources are tailored to compete in high-end markets to be profitable in low-end markets as well.”—The Innovator’s Dilemma in One Sentence
After working in a dry goods store in Watertown, New York, Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first Woolworth’s store in Utica, New York, in 1878. Pledging to sell “nothing that cost more than a nickel,” Woolworth packed his store with a wide range of goods, ranging from items for the kitchen to beauty products.
The store failed within a year.
However, a second store he opened on June 21, 1879 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, became a success. The rest, as they say, is history.
But wait…In 1997, F. W. Woolworth Company converted itself into a sporting goods retailer, closing its remaining retail stores operating under the “Woolworth’s” brand name and renaming itself Venator Group. By 2001, the company focused exclusively on the sporting goods market and changed its name to the present Foot Locker Inc.
Since jazz exploded on to the scene, music has always been at the forefront of societal change. It is therefore not surprising that the first industry to be traumatized by the Internet is the music industry. TV, newspaper, and film are following close behind. I want to briefly address the news business.
The Internet wrecks the old newspaper business model in three ways.
It moves information with zero variable cost so there is no barriers to growth
Anyone can become a publisher
With the 24 hour news cycle, news may well be out of date by the time the paper is printed and delivered to readers
Why do I subscribe to The New York Times print edition? I trust that all the biggest happenings of the previous 24 hours will be included in the paper, along with analysis, criticisms, and thought provoking questions. By reading the paper each day, stories spell themselves out in a slowly unfolding drama. Coverage of the booming housing market holding up the rest of the economy in 2006 clearly gave way to the current crisis we are now witnessing. Zimbabwe’s struggle for free and fair elections and the subsequent power grab by Mugabe reported next to a story about the US Presidential debate illustrates how fortunate we are to have a fair political process.
Talking about Twitter, NYTimes reporter Clive Thompson wrote:
"Each little update is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting."
I would argue that this is analogous to keeping up to date with the ever-changing news cycle. The narratives of stories from around the world, while perhaps trivial at a daily glance, are riveting when drawn out over long periods of time. The physical paper (along with Google Reader and Tumblr) is my medium of choice.
As I see it, the future of news is based on four concepts:
Trust: While it’s true that anyone can be a publisher online, readers still want to know that they are hearing from a reputable source. The New York Times has been in business since 1851 and its not surprising that millions of people turn to their online and mobile destinations.
Analysis: Everyone can watch as the stock market rises and falls. Good reporting is necessary to uncover the global actions that the market is responding to and the implications for the market swing.
Context: Nothing exists in isolation. Linking the current event to its proper place in a long series of historical happenings is difficult, time-consuming, and essential.
Curated Links:Drudge and Google have proven that sending people away from your site, and to other relevant web pages, is a powerful way to keep them coming back. Online news sources should link often and point readers to related online content, whether it is a competitor’s story, an amateur video on YouTube, an insightful blog post, or a discussion forum.
By following these four guidelines I don’t think any of the reputable news sources will disappear. The news business has always been ad-supported and will continue to be. Reporting staff will be more fluid, response times more rapid, but making sense of the abundance of available information will remain incredibly important.
A blind boy sat at the steps of a building with a hat at his feet and a sign that said: “I am blind, please help.”
There were only a few coins in the hat. A man walking by dropped a few coins in the hat. He then took the sign, flipped it over and wrote a new message. He then put it back so everyone would see the new words.
Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy.
That afternoon the man who changed the sign came back to check in on the child. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the man who changed my sign? What did you write?”
The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.”
The rock band with the hit single that blew up overnight? They’ve been playing together since high school and touring in a van for the last 2 years. The Olympian that’s breaking records every event? She’s been competing since she was 6 and training 8 hours a day for the last 4 years. The business man all of a sudden making headlines? He’s on his 4th business (3 have failed) and hasn’t taken a vacation in 5 years.
There are no shortcuts to success. Invest time in yourself. Seth Godin recently posted about an effort diet. Find 2 hours each day to dedicate to personal growth. Here are some ideas:
Run for :30 minutes and do sit ups and pushups at the halfway point
Blog for five minutes about something new you are learning about
Map out personal goals for each week, month and year and start working towards them little by little each day
Learn how to program
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." This quote is as true as when it was first said by a Roman philosopher in mid-first century AD. Before or after work and on weekends, every single day, read everything there is to read about the field, hobby or area you are most passionate about. This is not easy! The easy thing to do is to come home from work and watch LOST (as Gary Vaynerchuk would say).
Almost every big success involves a certain degree of luck. Craft your own effort diet and start making your own luck.
Successful Products typically follow four stages of creation:
Requirements: gathered through market research, customer feedback, focus groups and usability testing. Best obtained through controlled interactions between designers and members of the target audience.
Design: the goal of this stage is to meet the design requirements, ideally in a unique fashion. Excellent design is usually accomplished through careful research of existing or analogous solutions, active brainstorming of diverse participants, ample prototyping, and many iterations of trying, testing, and tuning.
Development: the goal of this stage is to precisely meet the design specifications. Two basic quality control strategies: reduce variability in materials, creation of parts and assembly; and verify that the specifications are being maintained throughout.
Testing: the testing stage is where the product is vetted to ensure that it meets design requirements and specifications, and will be accepted by the target audience.
“Not long ago, designers were eclectic generalists. They studied art, science, and religion in order to understand the basic workings of nature, and then applied what they learned to solve the problems of the day.”—William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler (Introduction to Universal Principals of Design)
Email marketing is about ongoing relationships, not one-time blasts—take the time to build a good list. This means letting people sign up and unsubscribe easily.
Marketers often get over anxious to “get the word out” so they purchase email lists, “scrape” email addresses from websites, or collect emails from their local Chamber of Commerce. Big mistake. None of those recipients specifically requested email marketing from you, so all you’ll get is a lot of spam reports. Resist the temptation.
Apple has become quite the musical taste-maker. Things have certainly changed from the time when letting your song be used in a commercial would be called “selling-out.” Now a :30 clip in an Apple ad has the power to make a career.
“Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly…Let the other person save face…Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”—Dale Carnegie
As we move towards a consumer society that’s based more on experiences and in which, for many, time is now the only true scarcity—expect perks and privileges to become an integral part of every B2C industry and sector.
Half of US consumers now say that a lack of time is a bigger problem in their lives than a lack of money. (Source: Yankelovich)
The viral coefficient is a measure of how many new users are brought in by each existing user.
It’s a quick and easy way to measure growth: if the coefficient is 1.0, the site grows linearly, and if it’s less than that, it will slow down. And if the coefficient is higher than 1.0, you will achieve exponential growth.
Author’s aside: Virality (not a real word) is one of the most overstated and misunderstood concepts in the business world. There are very few people who truly understand it and I do not purport to be one of them. Zubek’s post goes a long way towards demonstrating how virality is part art and part science. Remember, “something going viral” is an outcome rather than a marketing channel to be planned.