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17-books-for-2017

17 Must Read Books For 2017

1. How To Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams

creativity-is-allowing-yourself-to-make-mistakes

Counterintuitive thinking on how one attains success. It’s a fun read, he’s a cartoonist so you can imagine how much fun Scott has in a book. My favourite part was the first time reading through, he gives you some piece of contrarian advice and then follows it up with “remember, you are the one taking advice from a cartoonist”. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself.

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Keep Thinking Different

Keep Thinking Different

A recent addition to Netflix “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” is a new look at the fascinating life of a change agent. Inspiring stories, interviews with people that worked with him, and the negative side to being a visionary. They don’t beat around the bush, people admitted that at times he was a tyrant, but those same people also talk about how much they learned while working for Jobs.

It’s an interesting watch, I hope you do! We all need a little inspiration every now and then, this documentary reminds us that we need to keep thinking different.

Pokémon a Go-Go? or Pokémon a No-No? | Eps 54 #InTheLab

A couple weeks back I got to interview Greg Moore from Look Agency here in Regina.

I love Greg’s opinion on marketing, he’s a genuine nice guy and tends to disagree with me a lot (that’s why get along so well).

Today’s topic: is Pokémon really a thing? Greg’s here to tell us why.

I love what he says about some things don’t need a goal, a monetary outcome or a defined purpose, Pokémon is such a popular thing to a wide variety of people. Sometimes it’s okay not to know why. Sometimes these fads come for a reason, we need to learn that reason and make the proper adjustments to our own organizations.

Here’s what Greg taught me: everything doesn’t have to have a defined “why”. Just because you don’t Ike something doesn’t mean others will follow. No matter how you feel about things, the crowd will always show you some truth to your idea.

As always, thanks Greg!

a good brand vs a bad brand in action

A Simple Demonstration of ‘Good’ Brand in Action Compared to a ‘Bad’ Brand

In the Edmonton airport trying to make a connection I ask an Air Canada desk, by accident, where my gate was. The response? “The Westjet counter is over there”, slightly annoyed pointing in a vague direction.

He could have helped me, I mean the question wasn’t difficult (unless it was that employees first day in the Airport which is highly unlikely) but Air Canada’s “brand” isn’t about helping or going to extra mile at all. I think their brand is more like “unless we know you have money, we don’t give a flying frog about you!”

I find my gate, as I’m going thru I over hear an Air Canada passenger ask the same question I did to a Westjet employee!(Oh the irony, I wonder if they’ll give the same response?) Not surprisingly the Westjeter just answered the question.

I waited and congratulated him on being “human”, you know just helping people? It’s kind of what makes us human. And its not hard.

Whatever you do in business you’re going to have an opportunity to say a version of “oh that’s not my job”. Make it your job, take the initiative, be a human.

I can’t imagine that Air Canada fellow has much fun only helping certain people, that’ll make you a grumpy Gus.

human-first-everything else later

Happy building in portland

Portland Oregon: A Lesson In Purple Cows 

Have you ever had a Blue Cheese and Pear Ice-cream cone? How about a Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper Ice-cream cone? Or maybe you have tried Carrot Cake Batter & Pralined Hazelnuts Ice-cream? That’s not a typo, Salt & Straw has been making Ice cream like this since 2011 in Portland Oregon. And people freaking LOVE it. 

You must be asking now, why the hell do they sell such weird Ice cream? The answer is simple, because people LOVE it. They don’t “like” it, most people “like” Ice cream. But if you are going to travel across the city, pay for parking, wait in line, there’s something special about the Ice-cream. People who go to Salt & Straw LOVE Ice cream and they can hardly wait to try the next crazy concoction the Ice cream gods can think up.

I’m telling you about Salt & Straw because every time we past one in Portland there was a lineup outside the door 15 minutes long at the very least, an hour long at peak times. The Ice cream was priced reasonably, $3-10 cones and bowls. That was the most unique quality that we saw again and again; businesses don’t charge an arm and a leg for unique products in Portland, they’d rather charge an honest price and create mass amounts of demand.  After all, a lower allows many more people to try your creation!

(Yes I spoke with a women who got the Blue Cheese and Pear combination, she loved it, weird.)

Salt and straw portland

But it wasn’t only Salt & Straw that had a completely ridiculous lineup every time we walked by, the famous Voodoo Doughnut was just as bad.

The famous Voodoo Doughnut was a very unique experience. We waited in line for 20 minutes, finally at the front we look at the menu expecting you know, $10-20 maybe? Like you know what you’d find at a fancy Doughnut Delicatessen? Nope, most were under $2 other than the fancy ones.

How peculiar! Any MBA worth half their education would say, “Raise your prices! You could be making WAY more cash money!”. The obvious response to the MBA: “then it wouldn’t be special anymore!”

The reason Voodoo Doughnut is so good is that it isn’t easy to get. You can’t just go buy one from any old store. You must wait in line. But the price point is so anyone can afford it! A brilliant concept, charge an honest price, do something amazing. 

The best part about the entire experience was the box (shown below). The box is a piece of art you want to put on display. You don’t pay extra for it, everybody gets one and as soon as you leave Voodoo it turns into a Social Object (people talk about it).

Voodoo Doughnut Portland

“Good things come in pink boxes”.

Next was the advertising. Some amazing displays of creative work, travelling through Portland will have you kinking your neck a lot. The Lyft billboard shown below was a monstrosity in downtown Portland, our Uber driver pulled over so I could take this picture!

The elephant in the road

Portland is going through a change. You don’t see a lot of super cars. You don’t see a lot of suits or people looking down their nose at you. It’s a very laid back, friendly, west coast vibe. They like to have fun and businesses are not afraid at using humour in their messaging. See below.

Marine Layer Portland

Marine Layer is a clothing company started on the coast. They have fun (like this sign), staff is really friendly and “it’s an Airbnb. (seriously)”. My favourite part.

Welcome to “Nike Biketown USA”

Nike Biketown Portland

A week before we arrived in Portland Nike and the city had arranged a $10 million bike share program in the downtown core. You sign up online or on the app, connect a credit card, and you have a bike for $2.50 per hour. What a brilliant idea! They have stations all over so you don’t have to return your bike to the same place you rented it. Amazing.

I believe they stole this one from Europe, what an amazing service. 1,000 bright orange Nike bikes are all over Portland.

The vast majority of these weird Purple Cow places had several things in common

  1. The best ones had a unique characteristic (Superpower) that they are now known for
    Unconventional Ice-cream, best chicken and waffles, completely original doughnut flavours, and entire library full of whiskey.  
  2. They weren’t expensive
    The restuarnts that had a wait time (Mother’s, Pok Pok, Voodoo Doughnut, Salt & Straw) were very affordable if not considered “cheap” price point to other establishments close by.
  3. They were inclusive; you see all walks of life frequenting the best places
    One of our Uber driver summed it up for us; “you don’t see many suits anymore, people don’t care about the money, they would rather be comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, big money isn’t looked up to here.”

So what did this little ol Canadian from the prairies learn? Location isn’t an excuse. Portland has never been a major tourist destination until the last decade. They are forward thinking with government policy (this attracts the young people). Without the young people you aren’t growing. But the to attract young people it has to be affordable, Portland is. And finally if you want to be a world renown place, company, or even Airbnb, find your superpower. Embrace your superpower.

All the best places in Portland had something special about them, something weird.

Now go find your Purple Cow, your social object or superpower, whatever it is don’t be afraid to be different.

How do you pick a website domain name

How To Pick A Website Domain Name

How do you pick a website domain? 

Two words: chat roulette 

Kidding!

YES, finally someone answers all those questions we’ve had over the past two years about domain names and best practices for picking a URL. It’s changed so much because of how competitive search engine results have become.

At one time you could have bought the domain name “www.ReginaWebsites.com” and you’d get all the organic traffic for people search for websites in Regina. Times have changed. You can’t just “get” to the front page by setting up a keyword heavy domain name. Yes there will be exceptions to the rule and if you’re on the front page of Google with very little work it won’t last long.

Make it brand-able and pronounceable

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I can

There Are Only Two Types of People In The World: “I cans” and “I can’ts”

Which one are you?

When a new challenge comes along do you jump on it? Do you tell yourself you can do it instead of the opposite? Good, I like you.

Or…

When someone asks you something to do and you’re unsure of, do you immediately say “NO”?
When someone asks you to do something uncomfortable do you try to avoid it?

You could be creating very detrimental habits that are going to affect your life in the future

When someone asks you to do something and you say “I can’t” you’re doing terrible things to your brain on multiple different levels. Your conscious mind likes the decision because you don’t need to try anything new, staying the same is easy. If all you do is seek out and perform tasks that are “easy” you’ll never learn.

Doing what’s easy or safe affects your subconscious mind too. Your subconscious mind thinks that any task you say “no” to is now something you can’t do, just because of your attitude not your ability. You’re creating a precedent for your mind to say, I can’t, I shouldn’t, I’m no good at that. Think if that was your attitude as a child? You wouldn’t have learned very much at all! In the long run “safe” doesn’t help anyone.

The Elephant and the Rider: your Conscious and SubConscious mind

Chip and Dan Heath from the book Switch tell us to be wary of what we tell our subconscious mind.

The now famous Heath Brothers compare your conscious and subconscious mind to that of an Elephant and a person riding it. Your conscious mind (the rider) in the grand scheme of your brain is quite small and relatively powerless compared to your subconscious (the Elephant). The catch is the Elephant (your subconscious) doesn’t choose what to focus on, it simply listens to the conscious mind. Hence the “power of positive thinking”, affirmations, goal setting, all have the same goal in mind, to tap into the power of your subconscious. 

Be very careful what you ‘tell’ your brain

A coach at a volleyball camp when asked to do an underhand serve said those horrible, horrible words. I CAN’T. Basically saying “I have no courage, I can not even fathom doing this incredibly difficult task you have given me!” ANY volleyball player can do an underhand serve, let alone a coach!!!!

Then I realized I couldn’t convince her otherwise. She’d put up a wall to learned new things. Whatever her conscious mind told her she couldn’t do, her subconscious believe through and through. This is why this attitude is so bad for anyone.

When you say ‘no’ you’re telling people not to ask you ever again

As much as you probably don’t believe the Hollywood Blockbuster “Yes Man” movie, it’s a brilliant thought experiment. Saying ‘yes’ to as many opportunities that come your way is a great way to show others you’re willing to try new things, that you’re spontaneous, and that generally fun to hangout with.

When you say %22I can't%22 it's like you've given up, it's a defeatist attitude. And people don't want to associate with defeated people

When you say “I can’t” it’s like you’ve given up, it’s a defeatist attitude. And people don’t want to associate with defeated people.

NO MAN! NO MAN! NO MAN! NO MAN!

The opposite is that one friend you have had that never wanted to try anything new, that never would join the group or try anything new, every time you ask they have an excuse as to why not. Get far, far away from these people they are toxic and you don’t want to learn any bad habits from them.

Big Idea Camp 2.alright alright alright-regina

Big Idea Camp 2.Alright Alright Alright

Last year’s Beta version of Big Idea Camp blew our expectations. The participants, the companies involved, and the sheer creativity these students brought to the camp was inspiring enough to grow it even bigger.

Enter Big Idea Camp 2.Alright Alright Alright!!! 

4 days, 8 competitions, 9 corporate sponsors, 2 teams going head to head in the wildest, most creative business competition in North America.

All the fun starts August 2nd and goes till August 5th. Thanks to Cowork Regina for the office space they generously donated for the week. Some of what to expect for the week:

  • The Carmichael Outreach Diaper Challenge. Who can acquire the most amount of Diapers and donations for Carmichael Outreach!
  • The Creative Options Regina (COR) Postcard challenge. Who will design the winning postcard that we’ll print for COR on behalf of you! 
  • The What The Food Truck Downtown Regina challenge. Who will win the Chop style “cook-off” in the park for lunch! 
  • The Capital Auto 30-second spot competition. Which team with create the commercial that Capital Auto actually uses for their marketing material?!? 
  • The Association of Regina Realtors Snap Chat Challenge! Who will complete the Snap Chat Scavenger Hunt first?! Get your filters ready!!!! 
  • The #PulseCity Challenge. How do you sell an amazing superfood that widely unknown but a staple in our local farmers fields? 
  • Financial Friday! A trip to Conexus Credit Union for several competitions with the topic being financial literacy! How well do you know #FinLit? Test your teams knowledge not only on financial literacy but also teamwork and creativity. 

Huge thanks for all our sponsors who make Big Idea Camp happen. Conexus Credit Union, Association of Regina Realtors, The Home Expert Team, Carmichael Outreach, Capital Auto Mall, Creative Options Regina, Regina Downtown, Cowork Regina, and of course Strategy Lab. 

Want to learn more about the funnest week of Summer? Check out the Big Idea Camp Schedule here.

You Have Time, You Just Don’t Know It // eps 53 #inthelab

I was going to start this blog with a quote about how precious time is, but after a quick Google search for “time quotes” that seemed kind of unnecessary. Just about every majorly quotable person has said something about time and how we use it (or don’t use it) and it seems pretty clear that we’re all on the same page: Time is the most valuable, fleeting commodity we have and, much like Bill Murray movies, there never seems to be quite enough of it. We all marvel at that select group of high-functioning individuals who seem to be able to achieve so much with the exact same 24 hours afforded to us every day. Perhaps my favourite response to “I don’t have time” comes from Gary Vaynerchuck. There’s some language that’s a little NSFW, but the sentiment is real: Everyone has time, stop watching f***ing Lost.

Now, does this mean you should live your life like a non-stop automaton, never allowing yourself a second for personal growth or relaxation? No. But it does highlight the importance of taking real stock of how much of your time is spent inefficiently, probably without you even knowing it. Now I’ve never been a big fan of the “self help” mentality, but over the past few weeks I have challenged myself to follow three things to make better use of my time and so far I gotta tell you, they’re helping a lot.

digital marketing regina 2

1. Stop Procrastinating

As an avid, life-long procrastinator I know full well that this is easier said than done, but completing tasks immediately as opposed to letting them pile up can take a mountain of stress off your shoulders and save you time in the long run. Things always seem to take longer when you leave them until the last possible minutes. Start with small things. Wash a dish right after you use it. Make a phone call you need to make when you think of it, not a few hours later. You’d be amazed at how these small behavioral patterns will eventually form broader habits that will save you time.

2. Identify your “Peak Times”

I have never been, and will likely never be, a morning person. Between the hours of 9 and 10:30 am I might get a half hour of real work done on a good day. My most productive hours fall between about 7 and 9:30 pm after I’ve worked out and had a few hours to wipe my brain clean from the rest of the day. This is when I get the most work done, so this is when I work the most. It seems logical, but I’m sure you’ve felt it. The restless dread that comes from knowing you have the motivation to do something but convincing yourself that outside of your nine to five isn’t “work time”. Figure out at what point during the day you’re likely to achieve the most and DO IT. You’ll find yourself getting three hours of work done in one simply because of your mental state.

3. Make a Checklist

Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and actually writing out exactly what you need to get done in a given week is just what the disorganized monkey in your brain (don’t kid yourself, we all have one) needs to find a track and stay on it. The more detailed and step-by-step the list, the quicker you will accomplish the task at hand. Imagine you’re putting together Ikea furniture if that helps. With a few vague illustrations and a general idea of what the thing is suppose to look like, you’ll probably be able to put something resembling a dresser in a few days. Throw in some actual detailed instructions and you’ll have that puppy done in an hour.

Write yourself better Ikea instructions.

Well there you have it, my three ways of skinning the cat that is the average work week. I can’t imagine a point in the foreseeable future when any one of us will get more that our allotted 86,400 seconds in a day, but what we do get is to choose how we manage those seconds in order to get the most out of our day and ultimately, our lives. Time is precious and, much like change in the couch cushions, we typically have more of it than we think. It’s just a matter of believing that and knowing where to look when the pizza guy arrives.

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