Influence people

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Godly Rule

Boosterism is taking a back seat to Puritanism as politicos in many states pass laws denying civil rights to women and LGBTQ citizens.

Legislators are passing anti-woman and anti-LGBTQ laws by the bucketful in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The laws may seem godly, but those that permit overt discrimination are particularly scary to business executives, as customer-facing brands increasingly embrace corporate social responsibility.

George W. Bush's former media advisor, Mark McKinnon, has called his state's anti-LGBTQ "bathroom bill," for example, "divisive, discriminatory, and unacceptable to Texas businesses."

Lawmakers who pass such bills are beholden to backers whose religiosity outweighs their business sense.

"During my 40 years in Texas, if you were a Republican, you were most certainly a pro-business politician," McKinnon says.

"But today, many in the state's GOP leadership are moving away from, even ignoring, the business community. That is surely not their intention, but it surely will be the result."

History shows "godly rule" usually has unintended consequences.

In 17th century England, following its victory in the Civil War, a Puritan elite tried to impose godly ideals on the rest of the country.

The Puritans restricted alcohol and coffee consumption, dancing, and the wearing of colored clothing and makeup. They outlawed travel on Sundays, closed down fairs and festivals, and shuttered all theaters. They criminalized cursing, and banned gambling, soccer, horse races, wresting matches, and erotic art. They made prostitution punishable by flogging and deportation, and adultery punishable by death (but only for women). They removed Easter from the calendars. They even abolished Christmas.
But fun-loving aristocrats and commoners wouldn't have it. Parliament restored the monarchy after a decade of godly rule and scrapped the Puritans' laws.

To close the loop, the king commanded that the body of the Puritans' leader, Oliver Cromwell, be removed from its crypt in Westminster Abbey and put on trial for treason and regicide.

Cromwell's body was found guilty and hanged from the gallows. His head was cut off and put on display, and his body thrown into a trash heap to rot.

Pushback is inevitable.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Things Happen

Why is autobiography the most popular form of fiction for modern readers?

— Jill Ker Conway

Memoirs fascinate because the best ones read like novels. We all want our lives to have a through-line, and memoirs provide one. They also confirm how unseemly and accidental our lives are.

Things happen.

Critics dislike memoirs' exhibitionist quality; but not me. I love them.

I find reading a memoir much more rewarding than, say, sitting in a coffee shop and peeping at other people's laptops (the woman beside me is Googling "how to deal with a cheating husband") or eavesdropping on other people's phone calls (the guy behind me is going to quadruple his prices, but not tell customers).

Soldiers', statesmen's and victims' memoirs I could care less for; but artists' memoirs I find irresistible. I recommend those of Errol Flynn, Ernest Borgnine, Sammy Davis, Jr., Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Carrie Fisher, Steve Martin, Tina Fey and Martin Short.

And then there are the memoirs of artisans: I recommend those of Alfred P. Sloan, Katherine Graham, David Ogilvy, Ed Catmull, Maryalice Huggins, and James Rebanks.

If you like heady, try writers' memoirs: those of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Henry David Thoreau, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Elie Wiesel, Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, Gore Vidal, Herman Wouk, William Styron, Willie Morris, Pete Hamill, Frank McCourt, Mary Karr, Richard Russo, Bill Bryson, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Augusten Burroughs.

Novelist Richard Ford has just published a memoir and is completing a book tour (he recommends Frank Conroy's Stop-Time, by the way).

Ford said last week on The PBS News Hour the memoir's purpose is "to remind us that, in a world cloaked in supposition, in opinion, in misdirection, and often in outright untruth, things do actually happen."


Monday, May 22, 2017

Defense of the Indefensible

In our time, political speech and writing are
largely the defense of the indefensible
— George Orwell

As powerful as threats of violence, authoritarians wield words, Orwell taught us.

They dress up their psychotic plans in stale metaphors, hoping to make us fear things that aren't dangers, and dismiss things that are.

Banalities like fake news and job killers are used to discredit problems, while canards like innovation, fair trade and healthcare access masquerade as solutions.

Fake news. "The fake news media is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people," President Trump repeatedly says. In reality,
Macedonian teenagers and other black hats generate fake news; The New York Times does not. But by declaring all news "fake," Trump can in two words cast doubt not only on unwelcomed news reports, but on poll results, census data, economic studies, and scientific findings.

Job killers. Trump labels all government regulations "job killers" without regard to data from the
Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows only two tenths of one percent of job losses result from regulations. Job losses, in fact, result from long-term and seasonal business declines, financial mismanagement, and changes in ownership. But by rescinding "job killers," Trump can assist scheming real estate developers, hedge fund managers, chemical and refinery company owners, and Fortune 100 CEOs.

Innovation. "The government should be run like a great American company," Trump insists. That means stripping non-defense programs and outsourcing activities like public education, prison administration, drug addiction treatment, and veterans' healthcare. Trump ignores the fact that a lot of private-sector innovation is bolted onto government innovation. He's appointed his son-in-law to run his vulture fund, the "White House Office of American Innovation."

Fair trade. “I’m not sure that we have any good trade deals,” Trump has said, and plans to cancel or renegotiate every deal he thinks is "unfair" to the US. But "fair trade" is merely a euphemism for protectionism, the enemy of free trade. Research by the US International Trade Commission shows our membership in the World Trade Organization, for example, has doubled trade, creating new and bigger markets for American exporters and cheaper goods for American shoppers. But Trump ignores that.

Healthcare access. Trump's system to replace Obamacare would force people with pre-existing conditions into "risk pools." Healthcare premiums for those people would cost considerably more than everyone else's. The fact remains, while risk pools would lower premiums for well people, they'd make sick people's premiums unaffordable. They'd enjoy "healthcare access" in the same sense poor people can enjoy views of the greens by gazing through the fences around any Trump golf course.

What's the best defense against ready-made drivel?

Periodic reminders of your humanity.

As Orwell's contemporary Aldous Huxley said, “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Content Marketers: Are You Running a Greasy Spoon?

I don’t have an audience; I have a set of standards.
― Don DeLillo

Content Marketing Digest describes the difference between the work of an SEO consultant and that of a brand journalist as "the difference between a greasy spoon diner with a broken dishwasher and a five-star restaurant."

You not only handicap, but harm, your brand when you make SEO your content marketing goal.

Feeding your tribe Michelin-star morsels should be your goal.

SEO-focused content marketing tarnishes your brand, says content marketer
Roman Kowalski, because the consultants who practice it consider content "just a wrapper to contain the backlink." That mindset "leads to the creation of articles that don’t measure up to journalistic standards."

Consultants who focus on SEO are also hoodwinking clients, Kowalski says, by pretending they can still just swipe other brands' content; have a student in India rewrite it; run the keyword-stuffed abomination through Copyscape; and generate Google juice. The 
days when that tactic worked have passed. Google is wise to it. The best you can hope for from the tactic are for a few backlinks to appear on some bottom-feeder's website. And you'd better pray no client reads your content.

More effective, Kowalski says, is to create original content customers might read―and enjoy. Like case studies, research reports, how-to manuals, insight papers, or opinion pieces.

Most effective is old-fashioned PR―the creation of well-researched pieces that would pass traditional editorial oversight by mainstream and trade media outlets.

"Creating this type of article is far beyond the domain of the SEO consultant," Kowalski says. "It requires the unbiased eye of a trained journalist who also has the mind of a marketer.

"The goal isn’t just to drive traffic―it is to provide useful content and to engage the audience.

"As search engine algorithms grow more sophisticated every year, marketers will have to continuously adjust their strategies to shift from simply capturing eyeballs to capturing mindshare."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Milestones (Post Number 1000)

Yesterday is not a milestone that has been passed,
but a daystone on the beaten track of the years

— Samuel Beckett

Milestones matter.

Without them, we might quit the project, drop the course, abandon the diet, go off the wagon, turn around and go home.

But Sam Beckett was right: milestones are actually daystones marking our yesterdays on a well-trodden path.

The journey's more about how far we've come, than how far we have to go; more about where we've been, than where we're going; more about fellow travelers, than ourselves.

Today's is Goodly Post Number 1000.

A daystone.

Thanks for your yesterdays.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What Comes Naturally

Certain readers resented me when
they could no longer recognize their territory.

— Jacques Derrida

French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the most influential thinker of the past fifty years, twice failed his university entrance exams.

On his first attempt, he turned in a blank sheet of paper.

On his second, he turned in essays the graders called "unintelligible."

Above one of Derrida's essays, the grader wrote, "You seem to be constantly on the verge of something interesting but, somewhat, you always fail to explain it clearly."

Above another, the grader wrote, "An exercise in virtuosity, with undeniable intelligence, but with no particular relation to the history of philosophy."

As it turned out, Derrida's writing never became any easier to comprehend.

Whatever the audience's reaction, you might do better just to be yourself.

DID YOU KNOW? Judy Garland was cast as Annie Oakley in the 1950 film Annie Get Your Gun, but was fired (as was director Busby Berkeley) two months into production.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Yours Truly

Tonight and every weekday night, Bob Bailey in the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed expense account, America's fabulous free-lance insurance investigator...

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

Serial proved crime pays—and that podcasting deserves every marketer's attention.

One in five Americans listens to a podcast every month, according to Pew Research, and broadcast-quality production has never been easier (or cheaper) since Tascam introduced MiniStudio Creator at The NAB Show last month.

"Time-shifted radio," podcasts attract loyal followers and forge rich connections.

Podcasting on a regular basis (as content marketing expert
Mark Schaefer does) is a brilliant way to enrich a blog; and podcasting from live events will amplify any brand's presence.

The podcast-listening experience is unique in social channels: audio is intimate in a way video and images are not.

Content literally lodges in your head—the spot where brands want to be.

Marketers, furthermore, can enhance their podcasts with supplementary content and commentary, and track leads from specific podcasts by including custom URL callouts.

Still not sold? Consider three more facts:

  • Podcast listeners spend an average of 4 hours a week listening to podcasts, according to Edison Research;
  • 70% of podcast listeners are Millennials, according to Nielson; and
  • Podcast listeners are twice as likely to follow your brand as the average social media user, according to Edison Research.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Heads Up

Repeat customers produce 41% of revenue, according to Forrester.

Yet B2B marketers spend nearly all their money on
lead gen.

Jay Baer at
Convince & Convert calls it a Ponzi Scheme.

The fault lies with senior management: it makes lead gen marketers' key performance indicator.

Baer hopes "all B2B marketers muster the courage to look beyond the monthly and quarterly sales-qualified leads numbers that dangle over their collective necks like a guillotine."

You should spend more marketing money on retention.

Just a heads up.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Section 8

Citing the president's conduct during recent media interviews, opinion columnist Paul Krugman says Donald Trump may be coming unglued.

"Senior moments, when you can’t remember a name or phrase, or misremember where it came from, happen to many of us," Krugman writes.

"But that Economist interview was basically one long senior moment—and it wasn’t very different from other recent interviews with the commander in chief."

Trump indeed looks long in the tooth, and thus vulnerable to senior moments.

My parents—both dyed-in-the-wool Democrats and World War II veterans—would have sided with Krugman and called Trump a "Section 8."

During that war, servicemen and women battling psychiatric problems fell under Section 8 of
US Army Regulation 615-360. Anyone who merely hinted he was cuckoo would be evaluated by a "Section 8 board" and discharged. His fellows would call him a "Section 8."

If Trump looks old, know that the phrase "long in the tooth" is even older.

It comes from 16th-century animal husbandry. Sheep's and horses' teeth, unlike humans', grow longer with age, so a breeder could tell an animal's age from the length of its teeth (and still can).

The phrase "dyed in the wool" also comes from the 16th century, when wool-production was England's largest industry. When wool is dyed before it's turned into yarn, the color becomes fixed and unyielding.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Breakout at Tiffany's

Will brands take stands?

Last week, Tiffany & Co. placed an anti-Trump ad in The New York Times. The ad broke the same day on social media.

Two days before the company ran its ad in the Times, Tiffany joined Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other brands to run a comparable ad in the paper.

I predict we'll see more brands take stands as Trump's extremism escalates and his standing in polls plummets.

Business and politics normally don't mix.

But "normal" is up for grabs.

POSTSCRIPT: In related news, Trump is now calling his daughter Tiffany by the name "Cat."

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Braggin' (or How to Blow Up Sales)

Folks got no use for braggin'.
— Jimmy Shirl

Playing with adjectives is like playing with dynamite.

You can blow up potential sales.

The copy pitching National Retail Federation's annual convention ("Retail's Big Show") illustrates the hazard:

The three day event offers unparalleled education, collegial networking with 34,500 of your newest friends, and an enormous Expo Hall full of technologies and solutions.

Do the adjectives make the nouns that describe the event more vivid?

You decide. In my view:
  • I understand the unparalleled education isn't a geometry lesson; but—besides being without peer—what is the attraction? Is the education useful? Practical? Advanced? Intensive? Digestible?

  • Collegial networking sure sounds more attractive than its opposite (adversarial networking). But, practically speaking, how do you network with 34,500 people in three days? That would require—provided you never slept, ate, or took potty breaks—speaking with each attendee no more than 7.5 seconds. That's a tough way to make newest friends.

  • An enormous Expo Hall also sounds more attractive than it opposite (a puny one). But how enormous is it? Bigger than Dallas? Than Ben Hur? Than a breadbox? And does every attendee equate vastness with productivity and time well spent?
It's safe to say the adjective-slinging copywriter strove, not to sell, but to please her client. Whatever happened to modesty, restraint, sincerity, dignity and good taste?

Here's the same copy adjective-free:

The event offers education, networking, and an Expo Hall full of technologies and solutions.

That's certainly clear, more sincere, and less preposterous. But does it sell?

The answer: it doesn't unsell.

Adjectives like unparalled, collegial, newest and enormous unsell, because they lack credence.

Nixing the adjectives and substituting stronger nouns and verbs would improve the copy's salesmanship:

Retail's Big Show arms you with insights, enriches your relationships, and introduces you to hundreds of technologies and solutions.

If that's not to your liking, substituting specifics instead would strengthen the copy's salesmanship:

Retail's Big Show equips you with a choice of over 125 educational sessions, countless opportunities to network with colleagues, and access to technologies and solutions from 490 providers.

And if that's too dry for you, using emotionally laden adjectives, instead of bombastic ones, would work:

Retail's Big Show outfits you for survival, delivering three full days of trend- and strategy-sessions designed for tomorrow's retail winners... countless opportunities to widen and renew your professional network... and nearly 500 chances to test-drive the tech innovations your competitors are considering—this very moment.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Young at Heart

Fairy tales can come true, i
t can happen to you, if you're young at heart.

— Carolyn Leigh

A former association executive's dream comes true this week when the American Writers Museum opens in Chicago.

The museum is the brainchild of Malcolm O’Hagan, who ran NEMA—the National Electrical Manufacturers Association—from 1991 to 2005.

The museum treats visiting littérateurs to a smorgasboard of great American writers, from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Harper Lee, Mark Twain to Maya Angelou, Billy Wilder to Bob Dylan.

O’Hagan undertook the project eight years ago, after a trip to the Dublin Writers Museum.

He left the Dublin museum wondering why there was no equivalent among the 17,500 museums in America.

Within a year, he started a nonprofit, whose board would eventually raise $10 million to found one.

Raising that amount was no cakewalk.

During the seven years required, O'Hagan sent over 39,000 emails to donors.

"When I embarked upon this mission I made a ten year commitment," O'Hagan says in an interview with Tin House.

"Nothing worth doing is easy if you want to do it right."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Content is Everything (or Why CMOs Fail)

Content is king.
— Bill Gates

CMOs tend to survive only a tad over two years.

There's a reason. While they're supposed to be leaders, most are overpaid closet organizers.

Instead of generating demand, they busy themselves with rearranging the company's "digital assets," so salespeople and customers can find them.

Big Data is their latest space-saving gadget. With it, they can go to town again rearranging the assets, this time in hyper-segmented, algorithm-based bins.

Meanwhile, salespeople still spend 40% of their time compiling their own deal-closing content, and 60% of customers think Marketing's content is crap.

CMOs, I have news for you: Marketing isn't logistics, or distribution, or document management. Marketing is content. And content is everything.

If you want to succeed, focus on quality content:

  1. Know the buyers
  2. Understand Sales' pipeline
  3. Create content aligned with both
What are you waiting for? Your next pink slip?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Scrapes on a Plane

It's National Etiquette Week—the ideal time to start a midair brawl.

Will the surge in incivility on planes and in airports dampen meeting travel?

It doesn't take much to do so.

The SARS epidemic clobbered tradeshow attendance in the early 2000s. (I can recall vividly that the epidemic was the sole topic of discussion at UFI's 2003 summer meeting).

Unlike SARS, incivility is a uniquely American disease.

When it comes to air travel, it seems we have two modes: fight or flight.

But there are other options.

According to Expedia's 2017 Annual Airplane Etiquette Study, the 10 leading causes of scrapes on a plane are:
  • Rear seat-kicking
  • Inattentive parents
  • Odiferous passengers
  • Audio-insensitive passengers
  • Intoxicated passengers
  • Incessant chatting
  • Queue jumping
  • Seat reclining
  • Armrest hogging
  • Smelly food consumption
How do American passengers respond? According to the study:
  • 62% alert flight attendants when provoked
  • 33% endure the offense in silence
  • 13% video-record the offender
  • 10% confront the offender
  • 5% complain on social media
  • 3% shame the offender on social media

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Women Who Work

Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
She ain't no lady; she's my wife.
Joseph Weber

Ivanka Trump's recent line extension into toilet paper has prompted me to wonder where we get some of the words we use for women.

Old English used the word wif to mean woman. (Other old languages—including Saxon, Norse, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, and German—used a similar-sounding word.) It's from this word we get wife.

Old English also used the word wifman, which meant spouse. It's from this word we get woman.

To denote a high-born woman, Old English used hlafdige, which stemmed from two words: hlaf, meaning loaf (as in bread), and dige, meaning to knead (as in dough).

The hlafdige oversaw a household of servants, the hlafaetas, or loaf eaters.

The lady, you might say, was a loafer

Which brings us full circle back to Ivanka (although she certainly doesn't need any dough).

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong.

— Ecclesiastes

Before you agree with
Solomon, consider: 50% of sales are closed by the B2B sales rep who's first to call back an online lead, according to CEB.

That's daft, when you think about it. Speed is more important to a lot of B2B customers than efficiency, effectiveness, professionalism, or product knowledgeable.

You snooze, you lose.

And lot of reps are asleep.

According to Harvard Business Review, B2B reps take an average of 42 hours to get back to an online lead.

That's crazy, HBR says, given that the reps who call within 1 hour are 7 times more likely to reach the lead than reps who take 2 hours to call—and 60 times more likely than reps who take 24 hours to call.

According to Salesforce, 87% of B2B customers expect a rep's text-message response within 1 hour, and 67% expect a rep's email response within 1 hour. According to Shopify77% of B2B buyers won't wait more than 6 hours for a rep to respond.

With that degree of impatience, it's no wonder the race goes to the swift.

Reps need to wake up and quit ignoring online leads.

They may not all be qualified, but they're apparently ready to buy.

Monday, May 8, 2017


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

― George Santayana

After the Revolution of 1949, Chairman Mao erased nearly all public traces of China's past, tearing down thousands of ancient palaces, temples and monuments, even bulldozing Confucius' tomb.

Like their Chinese counterparts, the 1,500 Confederate memorials that pepper the American South today are fast disappearing.

Twenty-first century Puritans in places like Birmingham, Charlottesville, Louisville, New Orleans and Richmond are toppling Confederate memorials as we speak.

It's pure, unadorned desecration.

Yes, I get it: The desecrators feel like they're practicing a form of denazification.

But they're merely mollycoddling.

Yes, the memorials make you uncomfortable.

But, get this: the past was uncomfortable.

And the Mollycoddlers' desecration will backfire.

One day, Ben Carson will label African-American slaves "immigrants" and no one will know any better.

NOTE TO RACISTS AND OTHER CRAVEN HOMINIDS: Do not for a New York minute think you can justify your views based on my argument in favor of the historic preservation of our cityscapes. Nothing justifies your despicable views.

NOTE TO FOLLOWERS: Punch a Nazi today!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Want More Business? Activate Availability Bias.

Today, my business partner and I will send 43,000 prospects an email, something we plan to do every month.

We hope to land new business right away as a result.

But we're really counting on our monthly email, one day, to activate prospects' availability bias.

Availability bias is a flaw in thinking. We all have it. It's activated by a recent event that grabs our attention.

For example, we're much more likely to fear our kid will be groped by a teacher after learning about such an incident from the news. We overreact by overestimating a groping incident's probability. We remove our kid from school for a week.

Availability bias savaged air travel after September 11, even though the probability of a terrorist attack was miniscule. Availability bias is also the reason people believe vaccines cause autism, which of course is nonsense.

As a rule, we overweigh evidence that readily comes―that's easily available―and that has grabbed our attention recently. That's because the evidence is easily retrieved from our memory.

Essentially, we're all lazy thinkers.

In sending our email, my partner and I assume at least a few of those 43,000 prospects will need our magic in the next several months.

And when that thought crosses their minds, there our names will be―at the top of the memory stack.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

10 Must-Try Meeting Innovations

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race
has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential,
that word would be "meetings."

― Dave Barry

Why must attendees―and the rest of our species―stultify, when great meeting designs abound?

Meeting Design, Adrian Segar outlines 10:


An "elementary" meeting maps a familiar event onto the meeting. The familiar event―for example, a holiday dinner, a wedding, a court trial, an autopsy, a science experiment, or a club outing―functions like a metaphor.


A participant-rich meeting substitutes experiential learning for the "expert broadcast." Attendees interact with each other, rather than listen to a speaker. Popular variations include the affinity group, roundtable, fishbowl, pair share, seat swap, guided discussion, and World Café.


A participant-driven meeting lets attendees pick topics. Post-Its are distributed during breakfast that let attendees "crowdsource" topics. The impromptu approach may feel chaotic, but 25 years of research has shown over half the topics offered at conferences are irrelevant to attendees.

Small niche

The small niche meeting―the opposite of the industry convention―connects 100 people or fewer through a "micro event" where they don't waste a moment's time navigating crowds of strangers, or listening to motivational lectures they won’t remember in a week.

Short plenary

The short plenary is a TED-style or "lightning” talk. The format is doubly effective when paired with a follow-on breakout (or breakouts) with the speaker.

Learning and action

Adding a facilitated, end-of-day roundup to a meeting improves outcomes. It lets attendees recap what they learned, deepen connections with others, and find out what they missed. Popular formats include the "personal introspective" (attendees reflect on the changes they want to make as a result of what they learned) and the "group-spective" (attendees publicly evaluate the event's content and discuss next steps).

Sensitive topic

While a large meeting isn't a safe place for confidential discussions, small peer-groups can be convened to explore sensitive professional topics. Everyone must commit up front to the statement, “What we share here stays here,” and agree others have the freedom to ask questions and speak their minds.


Ten minutes of sitting slows blood-flow to the brain. Letting attendees move around mitigates the bad effects. Meeting facilitators can lead attendees in fast, frequent stand-in-place exercises; or conduct entire sessions standing up; or lead strolls around the room―or, better yet, through a beautiful spot outdoors (provided it's ADA-compliant).


A meeting where significant parts of the program surprise attendees will have better outcomes. That's because they're instinctively wary of new formats and may opt out of experiential learning. By surprising them, they'll discover rewarding new ways to learn and connect.

Solution room

A "Solution Room" runs 90 to 120 minutes. After an intro, attendees are asked to describe a personal challenge for which they'd like peer advice. They then gather at small roundtables and mind-map the challenges on paper. Seat swaps allow each attendee to get―and give―advice. At the start of a meeting, Solution Rooms help groups of six to eight people connect, and are good for introducing new attendees into a community.

Meeting Design is free―and well worth a look.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Self Aggrandizement and Puffery

You've heard of Catch-22. But Public Law 134?

The 1951 law says federal government officials can't engage in covert propaganda or spend public funds on it.

In the nearly seven decades since Public Law 134 was passed, government attorneys have vigilantly called for the law's enforcement, particularly its ban on self-glorification, which Congress calls "self-aggrandizement and puffery."

Those attorneys must be awfully busy.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Superman was a Content Creator

We often forget a significant fact.

When disguised as mild-mannered Clark Kent, the Man of Steel worked as a reporter for the Daily Planet.

HAT TIP: Thanks go to content creator Matthew Grocki for reminding me Superman was a content creator.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It's Offical: I am Not a Schmuck

The ever-vigilant voice inside my head has been silenced.


It turns out, I'm not a schmuck.

I'm a micro-influencer.

And I'm hot.

CMOs want me.

A "micro-influencer," according to word-of-mouth marketing agency Mavrck, is an everyday Joe who engages 500 to 5,000 followers around a topic.

CMOs want to curry favor with me, so I'll "co-develop" social media posts that steer conversations toward their products.

And in terms of ROI, micro-influencers like me are mightier than he-man size influencers. 

"Micro-influencers generally have the smallest reach, but also have the highest engaged reach," according to Mavrck. "More importantly, they’re generating authentic conversions among like-minded consumers, individuals with shared connections to the micro-influencer that are far more powerful than the superficial engagements and conversions you may get from a paid advertisement, blog or impersonal public endorsement."

Take that, Kanye West!

A CMO can incent me to co-develop posts by giving me the VIP treatment, showering me with gifts, discount coupons, or exclusive offers.

Every time I'm incented to act, on average, three of my followers become the CMO's customers, the company says.

"Micro-influencers are your best brand asset you didn’t even know about," Mavrck advises.

How about you?

Are you a micro-influencer?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Come, let us go down and confuse their language, so they will not understand each other.

— Genesis

Division is nothing new in our nation, but media was always a glue that bound us.

Its fragmentation comes like
Yaweh's wrath:

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language, so they will not understand each other.

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Hard and Sticky

But easy's like, who cares? Easy's like, how much is easy going to get you?
― Anne Lamott

How often have you been told to make your content easy?

Easy to skim, scan, and swallow.

Easy's best.

Not always, say two Princeton neuroscientists.

They've shown disfluency―the processing by the brain of hard-to-read content―increases the content's impact.

Adam Alter and Daniel Oppenheimer asked 3,400 subjects to take problem-solving tests and found the subjects repeatedly scored higher when the tests were disfluent (i.e., printed in hard-to-read typefaces).

"Disfluency led participants to adopt a more systematic processing strategy," the researchers concluded.

Additional neuroscientific evidence indicates hard-to-read content triggers an alarm in the brain that activates the prefrontal cortex responsible for careful thought.

The harder we have to work to understand a piece of content, the stickier it becomes.
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