Influence people

Monday, January 23, 2017

Thrill Ride

Today, another ride begins.

David James and I launch our direct marketing agency.

Everyone who's tried the entrepreneur's path knows how it differs from a job.

A job is a merry-go-round; riders must wear a smile at all times.

Self-employment is a roller coaster; riders must wear a blindfold at all times.

As Seth Godin says, "Heads, you suffer; tails, you endure a journey filled with unpredictable outcomes."

Wish us fun.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

All Hands on Deck

We're sinking. Fast.

That's according to Edelman's newly released 2017 Trust Barometer.

Trust "is now the deciding factor in whether a society can function," says Richard Edelman, president and CEO.

And trust has a gaping rip in its side.

According to the survey, 53% of people distrust institutions;and 32% are unsure of them. Over 75% believe they serve only the rich.

"Trust in institutions has evaporated to such an extent that falsehood can be misconstrued as fact, strength as intelligence, and self-interest as social compact," Edelman says. 

The root causes are globalization and automation, which continue to eliminate jobs.

Can someone save our ship?

Edelman believes business, "the one institution that retains some trust," can.

But "business must get out in front and become an effective advocate on policy, moving away from lobbying toward direct public discourse that provides context on trade, immigration and innovation, outlining both benefits and disadvantages."

He also thinks social media can rescue us.

"Company-owned social media channels should supplement mainstream media to educate and to encourage dialogue. Business should provide citizens with platforms that invite them to help shape policy—giving them a positive outlet for their views and fears."

I'm not so sure. For my money, I'd bet our rescuers will be:
  • Entrepreneurs, whose aim isn't to shed jobs, but create them
  • Teachers, whose aim is to produce useful citizens
  • Writers, whose aim is to inform
  • Artists, whose aim is to inspire; and
  • Philosophers, whose aim is to help us distinguish truth from lies
Who do you count on?

Saturday, January 21, 2017


On Inauguration Day, I joined the thousands of "DisruptJ20" protesters massed in Washington for street demonstrations.

I hurried along with the vanguard of one group as it ran amok through the downtown streets. They used hammers and metal ramrods to smash plate glass windows, car windshields, and ATMs; hurled every object in sight through the broken windows or into the middle of the street; and set small fires inside trash containers and limousines. They endangered a lot of bystanders, who looked on haplessly and in shock.

You haven't lived until you've been in the center of a cyclone of armored police, spraying mace and tossing concussion grenades into the air.

But anarchists have no place in my world. They have no right to trash my home town and terrify my fellow Washingtonians. 

Call me a fogey, but you can count me out.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lunch Bunch

If you want your content consumed by one in three executives, serve it on Mondays and Fridays during lunch.

Grist asked top executives at 200 large companies when they're most likely to read, watch or listen to "thought leadership" content. 

More than one-third said 12 to 2 pm. More than two-thirds also said Mondays; and more than half, Fridays.

Executives' stated preferences don't jibe with most content marketers' belief that mobility means content is consumed "anytime, anywhere."

The survey shows it's actually consumed—by top executives, anyway—over lunch at a desk.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Set This House on Fire

In 1862, Northern soldiers torched Virginia's historic White House—where George Washington had married Martha Custis—merely because it belonged to the wife of Robert E. Lee. As they watched it crumble, the Yankee vandals thrilled to the feeling they were taking down the Southern elites.

One hundred fifty-five years later, we put a vulgar and vain man in our White House. What's the similarity? The same visceral joy that drove those Yankees in 1862—Schadenfreude. Only this time, the vandals aren't blue-clad Yankees; and the victims, Confederates. This time, the vandals are blue-collar workers; and the victims, Metrosexuals.

"Schadenfreude occurs when envied persons fall from grace," according to the authors of "When Your Gain is My Pain and Your Pain is My Gain: Neural Correlates of Envy and Schadenfreude."

The authors, six neuroscientists, studied the brainwaves of 19 subjects:
  • First, each was put inside and MRI and told a story about three job applicants. One of the applicants was competing for a job against the subject, and had much better qualifications. The more the subject reported feeling envious of the competitor, the more brain activity appeared in the region called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, an area that lights up when we experience pain.
  • Next, each subject was told a story about a reunion with the same three people a year later. This time, all three were suffering misfortune. The more the subject reported feeling joyful at the news, the more brain activity appeared in the region called the nucleus accumbens, an area that lights up when we experience pleasure.
  • Finally, the authors compared the spikes in each subject's brainwaves during the first and second stories. They found the more envy felt about a competitor, the more joy felt when that competitor suffered.
"We are usually motivated to maintain a positive self-concept, and we feel discomfort when our self-concept is threatened by others who outperform ourselves," the authors say.

"Envy is a condition in which information recognized by social comparison conflicts with positive self-concept. Experiencing discomfort motivates us to reduce it."

When we take down advantaged others, pain is reduced, and joy, induced.

Let's set this house on fire.

Opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lend Me Your Time

Content creators don't ask for much. They only want you to lend them your time.

It's unlikely you'll ever get it back, but, hey, what would you do with it anyway?

The Ancient Romans endured an era, known as the "Silver Age," that was not unlike our own.

The Republic had fallen, enlightened governors giving way to tyrannical emperors, and it was no longer safe to discuss many topics in public. Training in rhetoric—once the key to a career in politics—no longer had value, because public offices only went to emperors' cronies.

The Silver Age was the era of the "pointed style" in writing, which embraced careful wording and brevity. Writers of the era gave public readings, and were judged by their ability to win applause after every sentence.

The pointed style also embraced a conversational tone, and favored things like rhymes, puns, alliteration and storytelling.

The pointed style is the ideal one for our times—so much like those Ancient Romans'. We have to be on our guard—especially in the battle for customers' attention. 

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your time!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Department of Redundancy Department

As an extra bonus, she presented me with the free gift of a tuna fish.

— George Carlin

Comedian George Carlin once wrote an essay that challenged readers to "Count the Superfluous Redundant Pleonastic Tautologies."

As his title suggests, Carlin was spoofing the use of redundant phrases, or pleonasm (from the Greek for "too much").

Pleonasm is fine, if you're Shakespeare (who called Caesar's stabbing by Brutus, "The most unkindest cut of all").

It's not, if you're not.

A micro moment sounds silly, not brilliant. So does a digital app.

We don't see it as such, because pleonasm is so common in English.

Every day we encounter it in phrases like armed gunman, convicted felon, famous celebrity, head honcho, unsolved mystery, foreign import, backup copy, safe haven, ATM machine, PIN number, complete satisfaction, totally sure, exact same, overly paranoid and 100% right.

Silly as they are, we don't give those phrases a second thought.
Powered by Blogger.