Tuesday, November 29, 2016

B2B Marketers: Should You be Festive this Holiday Season?

This December, should your content go all-in on the normal holly-jolly? Or should you just skip the festive look and feel?

Bear in mind, more than half your customers are despondent. Should your company pretend otherwise?

I have six suggestions:

Dial back the ho-ho-ho. Would you wear a sequin cocktail dress to your brother's funeral? Leave the snowmen and candy canes in storage this year; they'll be an eye-sore to many. Stick instead with your year-round branding.

Step up your social outreach. B2B social media users spend more time sharing in December, so beef up your posting, social advertising and social selling. But avoid syrupy stuff. Provide value.

Make it personal. Personalized messages will help you stand out from the automatons deaf to the nation's mood.

Re-gift your best content. Republish the year's best content. Package a blog-post series as an e-book; an article as a year-end checklist; customer research as a white paper. 'Tis the giving season.

Align with sales. Alignment with sales is critical every December; maybe more so, this year. Create content sales can use to close deals—data sheets, testimonials and case studies.

Ask for wisdom. Don't just eschew frivolity; promote serenity. In 1963, when LBJ lit the National Christmas Tree a month after JFK's murder, he urged Americans to turn from "things false and small" to "things true and profound." He went on to say:

We have our faults and we have our failings, as any mortal society must. But when sorrow befell us, we learned anew how great is the trust and how close is the kinship that mankind feels for us, and most of all, that we feel for each other. We must remember, and we must never forget, that the hopes and the fears of all the years rest with us, as with no other people in all history. We shall keep that trust working, as always we have worked, for peace on earth and good will among men.

NOTE: Opinions at my own.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Don't be a Blabbermouth

No matter the forum, choose your words wisely.

That's the advice of 17th century Jesuit Balthasar Gracian in The Art of Worldly Wisdom.

"There is always time to add a word, never to withdraw one," Gracian says.

So be prudent when you speak, particularly when your audience doesn't agree with you; and, when it does, speak only "for the sake of appearance."

"Talk as if you were making your will: the fewer words, the less litigation."

And make good use of everyday conversation, because every encounter is another chance to rehearse for "more weighty matters of speech."

Blabbermouths don't have much future, Gracian says. 

"He who speaks lightly soon falls or fails."

PRUDENT DISCLAIMER: Opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

CMO, Want to Avoid Extinction?

No CMO wants to be left on the sidelines. Sidestepping the confines of traditional marketing to deliver a more relevant and integrated customer experience will ensure the future of the CMO on the digital playing field.

— Accenture White Paper

Dear CMO:

Afraid you'll be banished to the North Pole?

Ready to declare every conventional marketing tactic passé?

Well, be warned: your rush to "embrace digital" is abominable.

The reason's simple.

Just like people who use an online dating service, B2B customers use digital to eliminate you from consideration. They don't use it to start a relationship.

Relationships come from face-to-face.

And relationships are the wellspring of growth, the most valuable off-balance-sheet asset your company has.

So why on earth would you "sidestep" face-to-face?

Do you want to avoid extinction—or accelerate it?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

In Praise of the Short Sentence

Want to release a powerful idea?

Use a short sentence.

The short sentence gains its power from its adjacency to long ones, which comprise the bulk of most any piece of writing.

Long sentences, says writing teacher Roy Peter Clark, "bring clarity, create suspense or magnify emotion."

Short ones pack punch. They're pithy, truthful, Tweetable.

Consider how our world is the better for these bantams:
  • Hunger is the best sauce.
  • Good is the enemy of the great.
  • A little learning is a dangerous thing.
  • No man is great if he thinks he is.
  • Be sincere, be brief, be seated.
  • You can’t always get what you want.
  • Eighty percent of success is showing up.
  • Easy does it.
  • To finish is to win.
  • Do, or do not; there is no try.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Stranger Things

While heading the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover spied on many left-leaning artists.

James Baldwin, Ray Bradbury, Albert Camus, Truman Capote, Charlie Chaplin, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Gene Kelly, John Lennon, Dorothy Parker, Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger and Orson Welles all crossed the G-man's radar.

But Hoover's strangest suspect, without doubt, was French Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre.

Hoover distrusted all philosophers (particularly French ones) and in 1945 asked, "Are Existentialists just Commie shills?"

To find the answer, Hoover assigned a team of agents to spy on Sartre, who was visiting the US in April of that year at the Office of War Information's invitation.

Hoovers' agents applied routine FBI methods—surveillance, eavesdropping, wiretapping and theft—to find the answer. But the agents were stymied. One stole notebooks from Sartre's personal effects, only to inform Hoover "this material is all in French." Their findings, in the end, were inconclusive (a lot like Existentialism's).

Twenty years later, Hoover again focused on the philosopher, tagging him for a co-conspirator in JFK's assassination, because Sartre had belonged to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, of which Lee Harvey Oswald was also a member. That investigation never quite panned out, either.

PHOTO CREDIT: Victor Romero (a tad suspicious himself).

Thursday, November 24, 2016


B2B marketers who want to build trust among customers should try theme-based marketing, says Corey Olfert, head of content marketing strategy at GE Digital.

Most marketing focuses on the brand; theme-based marketing focuses on help.

It lionizes customers, by helping them navigate change.

"Theme-based marketing forces your business to put your audience’s needs and their challenges at the center of your marketing," Olfert says.

Done right, theme-based marketing:
  • Builds trust in your company by showing you have perspective on today's issues and can provide concrete guidance;

  • Lets customers learn about you while they self-educate; and

  • Gives you a "True North guide" for all your marketing content.
So how do you identify a theme? It's easy:
  • Interview a cross-section of customers, your company's top executives and salespeople, and your biggest channel partners, Olfert says. Be sure to segment your interviews by region. "What’s important in the United States may not be important in France, South Africa or China," he says.

  • Read industry analysts’ forecasts and trend reports in your space and look for potential themes. You can also ask the analysts to identify the hot-button issues their clients obsess over.

  • Monitor media coverage and social media conversations about issues.

  • Study competitors' theme-based marketing—and go in a different direction. Choose an issue that will still be relevant in two years, vet it with a few customers, and "make sure your perspective on the issue, and the guidance and recommendations you’re providing, are differentiated and true to your business," Olfert says.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Brits Battle to Conquer Black Friday

Until recently in the UK, Black Friday referred exclusively to the Friday before Christmas, when everyone boozed until blacking out.

That changed in 2016, when a UK-based subsidiary of Walmart tried to import the Yanks' version of Black Friday.

It didn't quite take.

Brits' brick-and-mortar shopping on Black Friday has proven so tepid traditional retailers like John Lewis, Primark, Oasis, and Argos have downplayed the yearly shop-a-thon, or bagged it altogether (ASDA since 2016 went out of business).

The winners of the UK's version Black Friday?

Amazon and Alibaba.

To compete with these online giants, UK retailers need to get serious about web selling, says digital marketer Simon Williams. He urges them to:

  • Prepare their websites for a bevy of shoppers
  • Identify the most profitable social platforms and use them to promote discounts
  • Make videos a key part of social content
  • Create a dedicated hashtag, and
  • Simplify the online buying process
Lack of preparedness is costly, Williams notes. Last year, John Lewis lost £75,000 in online sales when its website crashed for 60 seconds.

BLACK FRIDAY BONUS: Check out Simon Williams' extraordinary infographic, The Winners and Losers in the Battle of Black Friday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Corporate Wedding Planners Strike Back

An "aspirational" ad campaign of the late 1960s proclaimed, "You've come a long way, baby."

It took event planners a while to catch up.

But they assuredly have, as made clear by Kerry Smith and Dan Hanover's 200-page Experiential Marketing: Secrets, Strategies, and Success Stories from the World's Greatest Brands.

No longer "corporate wedding planners," experiential marketers in the 2010s have become marketing kingpins—the drivers and integrators of all the marketing "silos."

"Live experiences have ignited a marketing revolution in which brands around the world have committed to upgrading their marketing strategies, budgets, and platforms," Smith and Hanover write. "And that revolution has driven a much-needed evolution of the marketing channels and silos used by brands for 50 years."

The heart of the book lies in Chapter Four, "Anatomy of an Experiential Marketing Campaign," where the authors describe the 11 "Experiential Pillars" underpinning the channel.

"As with a great recipe in which the ingredients are blended together to create a unique flavor, these pillars work together to optimize engagement and will allow you to achieve the brand-building, value-creating, clutter-braking power of experiential marketing," they write.

They base the chapter not on hard knocks or gut feelings, but an analysis of the 1,000+ winners of the Ex Awards, the annual awards competition for live events they've produced since 2002. And the events they consider take not one form, but many, from PR stunts, in-store events and road shows, to trade shows, user conferences and sales meetings.

Reading Experiential Marketing tempted me to update my recent post, "My 5 All-Time Favorite Books on Marketing," because the book has the same quality as the "mind-blowing game-changers" I listed there.

No matter how much you've dabbled in event production, the authors give you a palpable sense while you're reading the book that you're on a path of discovery; that you're like one of those "Pioneers of Television" who's in at the inception of a powerful new medium with a yet-understood capacity to build large audiences and fundamentally reshape worldviews.

Buy it. Read it.

You've come a long way baby! by JustAnotherJester

Monday, November 21, 2016

Is Your Content Fat and Soggy?

Is your content fat and soggy?

A story memo can cure it.

Professional writers use story memos to pitch ideas to editors and producers.

The brief memos answer five questions:
  • Why does the story matter?
  • What's the point?
  • Why is the story being told?
  • What does the story say about the world?
  • What's the story about in a single word?
With answers to these questions, a theme emerges. That focuses the story, makes telling it easier, and serves readers a tasty treat.

Fat and soggy's fine, if you want to appear "content rich" to boobs, bosses and bots.

But crisp and thin converts customers.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Wasting Away

Not every artist is an addict, and certainly not every addict is an artist.
—Steven Pressfield

Getting wasted has wasted many an artist.

The list is long.

Scott Fitzgerald. Dylan Thomas. Jack Kerouac. Jackson Pollack. David Smith. Errol Flynn. Marilyn Monroe. Oliver Reed. Lenny Bruce. John Belushi. Chris Farley. Janice Joplin. Elvis Presley. Jerry Garcia. Amy Winehouse. And more.

Novelist Steven Pressfield thinks the path of addiction comes easily, but not inevitably, to the artist.

She can choose to get wasted; or she can choose to work.

"There are two ways to know if you’re taking the addict’s path or the artist’s," Pressfield says. "One, the artist’s way requires work. We have to sweat to find surcease of pain. And two, the artist’s imperative is to maintain self-sovereignty, not abdicate it. Her heart may surrender momentarily in order to hear heaven’s music, but her feet remain planted here on earth, where she will do the work to bring that song to human ears."

Work obsesses the most unlikely of artists, Jimmy Buffet.

According to his editor, Terry McDonell, Buffet has always worked—never for money, but "only because it was good for Jimmy Buffet."

It's why he's a success, with:
  • Over 30 albums (8 Gold, 9 Platinum)
  • Three New York Times best sellers
  • A branded-merchandise company with $1.5 billion in annual sales
  • 7 hotels, including Margaritaville, a 17-story resort hotel in Miami (8 more are underway, including one in Grand Cayman) 
  • A family resort in Orlando with hotels, a 12-acre water park, and 1,200 homes
  • 67 themed restaurants
  • A Norwegian Cruise Line offering named Margaritaville at Sea
  • A satellite radio channel
  • A suite of mobile games and videos
  • One of America’s fastest-growing craft beers
  • A line of branded liquors, and
  • A line of branded groceries, including iced tea, frozen shrimp, and tortilla chips
PS: With Jimmy Buffet's buy-in and enough financial backing, I plan to open the first Margaritaville-themed nursing home, Wasting Away, in Q4 2017. Call me now, to invest.

NOTE: This post does not constitute an offer to participate in any investment.

Saturday, November 19, 2016








First Amendment.

Your Trade Show Makes Me Sick

A trade show can amaze you or afflict you.

Most do the latter.

Consider how stressful shows are.

Exhibitors zip in minutes before opening, travel-worn, ill-prepared, and often resentful of the fact they're being denied time with their customers back home.

Attendees arrive in warmer spirits, happy to be away from the boss and harboring notions they'll be entertained. But they quickly discover the exhibit halls are about as navigable and hospitable as downtown Tokyo on a workday.

The trade show maze is the full catastrophe—and acutely stressful.

Research scientist Esther Sternberg has made a lifetime study of the connection between the built environment and the human brain's stress response.

In her latest book, Healing Spaces, Dr. Sternberg distinguishes between mazes and labyrinths.

Complexes such as hospitals are mazes, built to accommodate equipment, not alleviate illness. They trigger stress responses in patients' brains that make them sick, instead of well.

Complexes such as Disneyland, on the other hand, are labyrinths. They're built to help you walk about calmly and mindfully. They trigger floods of dopamine—the stuff that drives engagement.

"Labyrinths are calming," Dr. Sternberg says. "Mazes are stressful."

What's your trade show like?

A maze that afflicts? Or a labyrinth that amazes? 

HAT TIP: Bob Hughes inspired this post.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Art & Science

Art is I; science is we.

                       — Claude Bernard

At INBOUND last week, Gary Vaynerchuck told 20,000 B2B marketers to respect art and science equally, if they hope to succeed in the next 10 years.

Most are good at only one.

The problem persists, Vaynerchuck says, because, "We have people who lack self-awareness to know what they're good at and what they're not good at."

Focus on that at which you suck, he insists.

I agree.

I've encountered few marketing leaders who are dexterous at both art and science.

Many master and respect only one (they're true specialists); and many others, neither (they're simply shrewd self-promoters).

Marketing leaders should be Renaissance (Wo)men.

It's no surprise 1 in 3 will be fired next year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The 5-Finger Guide to B2B Marketing

B2B marketer, where should you focus?Mark Schmukler of Marketing Insider Group says you should master these five areas:

Your website.
All roads (whether email, SEO or SEM) lead to your website. It'd better be responsive. If it's not mobile friendly, you're toast right off the bat. Fifty-seven percent of visitors won't like you.

Your brand. Develop a brand guide and harmonize everything customers encounter, from business cards to brochures, email signatures to trade show exhibits. Your credibility is at stake, especially if you operate in a niche industry.

Search Engine Optimization. The key to SEO is content. Lots of it. Content is the way to gain authority with Google. And it needs to be placed all over the web, not just on your own site, so learn how to do PR.

Search Engine Marketing. SEM comes into play where SEO leaves off. Google Adwords puts you among the top four slots in Google searches. Why Google Adwords? Simple. Google owns owns 71% of the search market.

LinkedIn. Forget the other social media platforms until you leverage LinkedIn. Ninety-four percent of B2B marketers use it to distribute content, especially those who need to reach senior managers (half the world's highest earners are members). And sponsored content is awesome. You can target members based on 15 categories, including location, industry, job title, seniority, gender, age, and years of experience.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Looney Tunes

Maybe it's the "new normal" after 2016's presidential campaign.

The panelists at a marketing conference I just attended were unanimous: only "crazy" will capture customers' attention in 2017.

That goes for email Subject lines as well as all other content.

Sales trainer Ryan Dohrn recommends these 10 grabbers:

Subject: [Road Runner] recommended I get in touch

Insert a [peer's name] in your Subject line. Referrals are the best way to connect instantly.

Subject: I was just wondering…

This line can introduce an offer to meet.

Subject: May 29th?

Another way to introduce an offer to meet.

Subject: 3 reasons…

This line precedes a list of reasons the customer should engage with you. It's effective after previous emails have bombed.

Subject: Did something happen?

Guilt works after you've had a meeting or sent a proposal and received no feedback.

Subject: New idea for you

Effective right out of the gate when you want to arrange a meeting. Offer an idea that gives the prospect a slight competitive advantage.

Subject: Acme Anvils

Ruffle the customer's feathers by naming her competitor. Let her know how her rival is a step ahead.

Subject: Wrong person?

Use in your last-ditch effort. Ask the customer to provide information that will eliminate her from your list. But be careful: this line only works when you are emailing aggressively, not occasionally.

Subject: 20 minutes?

This line must be followed by a promise to solve a problem or save time and money.

Subject: I will respect your answer

It's not nutty to ask for a "No." When a customer feels like she can say "No," she'll at least reply.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Artful Dodgers

Open secret: B2B prospects are dodging salespeople.

It now takes 18 or more dials to connect with a B2B prospect over the phone, according to TOPO. Call-back rates are below 1%. And only 24% of sales' emails are ever opened.

The reason: reps put their own agenda above that of prospects, so prospects turn to peers for advice.

It's why 1 million B2B reps will lose their jobs to self-service e-com by 2020.

Two professors, Laurence Minsky and Keith Quesenberry, urge B2B reps to try "social selling."

"With social selling, salespeople use social media platforms to research, prospect, and network by sharing educational content and answering questions," they say in Harvard Business Review.

"As a result, they’re able to build relationships until prospects are ready to buy.

Social selling makes sense, because three of four B2B buyers rely on it to reach buying decisions.

A survey by Hubspot shows 72% of B2B reps who use social media outperform their peers, and more than half have closed deals as a direct result of social selling.

Reps can be sell effectively with social media by spending no more than 10% of their time with it, the professors say; but they need to be trained.

Marketers can provide that training, but often they don't want to.

The solution? Wrest social media from marketers and hand it to sales.

By providing a self-guided portal where reps can find marketers' content and share it with prospects on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, B2B companies can win over artful dodgers, the professors say.

"After all, social media is too important to be left to marketing."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Your Blog is Like Your 401(k)

Trust is built with consistency.
— Lincoln Chafee

Trend-watching corporate blogs like The Allstate Blog, GE Reports and CMO.com can lure you into mistaking your own blog for a newspaper.

But it's more like one of those ancient People magazines in mom's bathroom. Sure, the articles may be dated, but they're still worth your time.

More accurately, a corporate blog is like a 401(k). Each post is like a dollar invested. And regular posting is like the familiar investment strategy called dollar-cost averaging.

When you dollar-cost average, you stash a fixed dollar amount in your 401(k) every month. That money buys you shares at the then-current prices. When share prices decline, the money buys more of them; when prices increase, it buys fewer. But things average out—and you never need worry about "buying low and selling high." You end up with a ton of equity.

Key to dollar-cost averaging is consistency—your pledge to invest on a regular basis. You should make that same pledge to blogging. Publish consistentlyDon't worry about "timing the market." In time, things will average out. And you'll earn a ton of trust.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Marketing of Tomorrow

What's ahead for marketing tomorrow?

Writing for Forbes.com, Kimberly Whitler, a professor at the University of Virginia, asked CMOs for their predictions. 

She discovered:
  • "B2B influencer marketing" will become all the rage. CMOs will turn to popular business authors, speakers, podcasters, and executives with large followings and pay them to hawk their products.
  • CMOs will also begin to rely more on employees to spread brand messages through social, knowing they can speak more effectively than ads. And, because buyers hang out on many social platforms, CMOs will begin to think "multichannel first."
  • B2B CMOs will embrace "account-based marketing," but not without a struggle, because it's hard to influence every decision-maker on every buying committee. To that end, CMOs will begin to use a "recommendation engine" like the one used by Netflix.
  • Design will become the key brand differentiator, because big data is now just a "commodity." And educational content will become king. Unfortunately, CMOs will produce too much of it for buyers to absorb.
  • CMOs will quit focusing on new martech (although thousands of new martech products will flood the marketplace). CMOs will focus instead on cybersecurity. They're spending up to 25% of their budgets on social, and have made their companies targets for cybercriminals.
  • 30% of CMOs will be fired next year, because they lack the ability to drive results. Polish that resume!

Good Things

Good things, when short, are twice as good.
— Baltasar Gracián, The Art of Worldly Wisdom

The Jesuits taught me, if you use a lot of words to express a thought, you're not thinking very hard.

Or you're covering your ass.

As Polonius said, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

As Dorothy Parker said, "Brevity is the soul of lingerie."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Digital Natives: Getting Restless?

Evidence to the contrary, Millennials and Gen Zers want to communicate face-to-face, according to new survey findings from Randstat.

At least 4 of 10 do.

The company asked 4,066 of these digital natives to identify the most effective way to communicate.

Face-to-face took the top spot (39%).

Face-to-face was trailed by e-mail (16%), phone (11%), instant messaging (10%), text messaging (7%), social media (7%), videoconference (6%), and online portals (4%).

Lamentably, 6 of 10 Millennials and Gen Zers prefer tech to communicate.

"It comes as no surprise that technology is one of the biggest driving factors enabling collaboration today," the report states.

"However, while social and collaborative tools are intrinsically part of the picture, the study drives home the critical need for in-person communication and cooperation as a fundamental aspect for our youngest generations."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sunday Will Never be the Same

Sunday is the best day to publish a blog post, says martech provider TrackMaven.

The firm analyzed over 65,000 business blog posts published between September 2015 and August 2016.

Its new report, How to Build a Better Blog Than Your Competitors, claims Sunday is the prime day to publish. 

TrackMaven also says 3 pm Eastern Time is the best hour to publish.

We've long known blogging pays off. Marketers who blog get 67% more leads than marketers who don’t, according to Hubspot.

We now know blogging on Sunday does, too.

Remembering Sallie

May 1861. West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The men of the 11th Pennsylvania adopt a
Staffordshire Terrier as their mascot and name her Sallie, after a pretty girl who'd appear every Sunday to watch them drill.

After 11 months of training, the regiment is shipped to Virginia, where it sees its first fight at Cedar Mountain. Sallie accompanies the men into battle, dodging the fierce Southern fire and grabbing at spent bullets as they strike the earth around her.

She repeats that performance at Second Manassas, South Mountain and Antietam, where she receives a scorch mark through her hair from a Confederate bullet.

After the Battle of Fredericksburg, Sallie gets a chance to march in review with the regiment past President Lincoln, who doffs his stovepipe hat when he spots her.

At Gettysburg, she loses her regiment on the first day, and is trapped behind enemy lines. She returns to the spot where she'd become separated from the 11th, and lies there three days, keeping vigil over dead Pennsylvanians until a member of the regiment finds her, nearly starved to death. Friends nurse her back to health.

Sallie is again struck by a bullet in May 1864 at Spotsylvania, and left with a bright scar on her neck. But the dog is undaunted. She travels with the 11th to the trenches before Petersburg.

On February 7, 1865, Sallie's luck runs out. She is shot through the brain during a skirmish at Dabney’s Mill. Gravediggers bury her on the spot.

In 1890, when the survivors of the Pennsylvania 11th reunite at Gettysburg for the dedication of their battlefield monument, they find a surprise.

“The 11th Pennsylvania has a grand monument to mark their line of battle,” one veteran writes. “A bronze soldier on top, looking over the field, while the dog, Sallie, is lying at the base keeping guard.”

Please honor veterans this weekend.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he
can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.

— Steven Pressfield 

Henry Fonda vomited before every performance he ever delivered.

Nerves never leave some of us.

Nerves are normal.

Nerves can make us better players.

It's Morning in America

Educators and communicators are the lackeys of the American Way. They enslave the minds of the young and the young are willing slaves (but not for long) because who is to doubt the American Way is not the way?

Gregory Corso
, "The American Way" 

It's morning in America.

I can tell from Yahoo News.

Its lead stories signal a flight from stultifying politics, and a return to breathtaking normalcy:
  • A popular model's bustier threatens to fail at a Hollywood awards party.

  • The Mannequin Challenge is sweeping social media.

  • A bride's wedding photo reveals she has undetected skin cancer (bustier news again).

  • The entire plot of the new season of Game of Thrones has been leaked.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Build Social Strength

How often do you post on social media? Are you over- or under-posting?

If you want to build more followers, here's the right frequency, according to social media platform provider Buffer:
  • LinkedIn: 1 time a day
  • Twitter: 3 times a day
  • Facebook: 2 times a day
  • Instagram: 1 time a day
  • Pinterest: 5 times a day
BONUS TIP: According to Buffer, copy's cool, but visuals boost engagement 40 times.

I've Been Ayn Randed

Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged   

Three years ago, a state senator introduced a bill making Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged required high-school reading in Idaho (he called the facetious bill a "statement" aimed at Idaho's board of education).

I've met more than a few otherwise intelligent people brainwashed by Rand's callous twaddle.

The hour is long past due to shelve Atlas Shrugged with dusty gems like Malleus Maleficarum, Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race, and Mein Kampf.

Revered by aristocrats, Rand's 1957 book isn't merely some silver-fork novel. It's a monomaniacal screed pushing an elitist view.

My insuperable wealth means I'm superior.

And there's insuperable wealth behind the drive to foist Atlas Shrugged on American teenagers.

Since 2002, the California-based Ayn Rand Instituteunderwritten by oil barons, bank presidents, hedge-fund managers, and Silicon Valley CEOs—has shipped over 3.2 million free copies of Atlas Shrugged to the nation's high schools and colleges.

Aiming to "spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture," these friends of laissez faire have, in addition, shipped teaching lessons to 30,000 teachers.

Teachers, please don't fall for it.

Don't be Ayn Randed.

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