Eddy and Tina Swinging with the stars

How To Raise $100,000 In One Night 

You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose site of the shore.

Swinging with the stars

I met her a couple years ago, she was an outgoing student with a smile you could pick out a mile away. Kelsey Stewart is an inspiration to me, here’s why. 

Kelsey works at Hope’s Home in Regina. She came to us a few (just 4) months before the big event saying, “I got this idea…”. We instantly loved it. Though a bit courageous trying to pull it all off in such a short time frame. Why not wait till next year and plan out a “proper” event? Kelsey proved you DON’T need years to plan one of these events, you just need, well, Kelsey.

We had worked on Swinging With The Stars in Saskatoon. The firm we worked with spent two years planning their event, Kelsey had four months. FOUR MONTHS!!! The folks in Saskatoon had done it before, Kelsey and the Hope’s Home team have never tried it before. After our first meeting I still remember saying to Brandon that “she’s crazy and that’s definitely not enough time to pull it off!!”. That’s exactly why we wanted to help.

Parkinson’s Law

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UpliftingTshirts-a business,experiment and class

3 Reasons Why I Always Have Students Do “Real World” Projects In My Class

In our culture we tend to equate thinking and intellectual powers with success and achievement. In many ways, however, it is an emotional quality that separates those who master a field from the many who simply work at a job. –Robert Greene, Mastery

I’ve been teaching at a Sask Polytechnic for the past Four years and at a University if Regina for one. Since my second year I’ve always incorporated class projects that involve real world organizations, here’s why.

The back story…. I think I subconsciously want to teach using projects because the classes that included real works projects were the classes I found I learned the most in. Whether be Al Derges unconventional approach to the class or Lorne Schnel giving us real examples from the company he was running at the time. One of my favourite classes was one where we actually got to pitch an insurance company out of Toronto a new marketing strategy. I only remember that because our commercial was incredibly forward thinking and probably would have made them millions. Sadly they didn’t use the Idea. I didn’t care, I got to work on a real problem.

I had this idea of creating a learning moment by helping students “experience” entrepreneurship. By experience I obviously mean failing at something, learning, retrying, and succeeding. Here was the video I recorded before I started my first class project. Little did I know I was stumbling upon a gold mine of possibility!

Students need to work on real world problems, they learn more that way. At least that was my theory when I was in school, it holds true 10 years out. What an amazing conclusion!! The best way we learn inside or outside of school is by doing.

The “marketing apprenticeship” was born.

After your formal education, you enter the most critical phase in your life—a second, practical education known as The Apprenticeship. –Robert Greene, Mastery

My top three reasons why I always do a real world class project:

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“Sell Me This Pen” The Right Way

Last week Brandon and I had the pleasure of helping out at Campbell Collegiate with some mock job interviews. We were pared with students from grades ten and eleven and grilled them on their skills, interests, and experience as we attempted to find a student we would “hire” to work at Strategy Lab. Being the weirdo that I am, I asked almost exclusively out-of-the box questions like “Who do you think would win in a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear?” and “How would you describe the colour red to someone who’s never seen colour?”. One test I used for every candidate was the old-school Jordan Balfort challenge: “Sell me this pen”.

Traditionally this is used to develop persuasive, cold-call sales techniques which is more than a little sleazy, but there was method to my madness. At the beginning of the day we were given free Conexus-branded pens (thanks guys!) and as I handed one to each interviewee to sell me I was hoping against hope that someone would think big enough to use the Conexus brand in their sales pitch.

As far as TED Talks go Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” has been used to death in marketing circles to the point where it’s almost become a tired cliche. I stress “almost” because I think it’s truly timeless and I get something new from it every time I watch it. My interviews with these kids were the most beautifully perfect embodiment of the “Why-How-What” concept.

What?

The majority of the students immediately tried to sell me on the different features of the pen like the stylus, the grip, the ease of use, etc. The bells and whistles that made it a good pen among pens, but didn’t really make me want to buy it. I mean, if I already have a pen why would I shell out money for this specific one? They were trying to sell on the “what”.

How?

A handful of the interviewees told me all the things I could do with the pen. Doodle, write notes, draw pictures, you name it. They positioned the pen as a means to an end and something that would solve a problem I had. This went one step beyond just showing off the features because they were identifying something I needed to do and trying to sell me the solution, or the “how”. But I wasn’t satisfied.

Why?

One student out of eight took the bait. It’s my second last interview of the day. I hand her the pen and she thinks for a while, then turns to me and asks “Can I use the Conexus logo in my pitch?” Up until now no one had even seemed to notice the logo, so I start to nod excitedly. “Well I would probably ask you first if you were a Conexus member, then I’d tell you that by buying this pen you’d be supporting us so we can help more people”. I’m freaking out at this point. Finally, someone sold me the “why”.

Here’s the moral of the story. Modern marketing requires us to not only show off the features or solve people’s problems, but to actually connect with them and make them feel something. There’s a reason paid programming “As Seen on TV” ads seem almost laughable these days. There’s a reason the practice of trying to convince people buy something they aren’t in the market for seems inherently sleazy. Creating a belief or a community or a world-changing vision creates intrinsic motivation in your customer base to not only buy from you, but to love you. Once you have that, you’ll never need to market again.

 

 

what are you changing

What Are You Changing? 

 What are you changing?

who moved my cheeseWhere are you moving your cheese to? What a wonderful read Who Moved My Cheese is, a story on why change matters and will always matter. Just started getting used to it.

I was speaking to a grade 12 class and I was trying to give an example of how we resist change. I picked up a desk, moved it 3 feet over. I went on and finished the presentation, the bell rings, students start leaving and a few students start entering the class. Do you know what the first thing they did when they got into that class? Moved the desk back. 

With no prompt, no asking, no reminders, a student was so well trained they felt the need to put the room back to where they were comfortable. We’re taught to seek comfort at a very young age.

The problem is life doesn’t always give you perfect rows of desks. Life doesn’t let you plan things out perfectly. Life is rarely “comfortable”, I would argue life tries to frustrate us, push us, and test us to the point where we want to give up. Most people give up. Most people have to deal with so many desks out of place, at one point its not worth it anymore, and they give up.

Don’t.

Don’t be afraid when the desk is out of place, let it be. If you aren’t annoyed by the little things and embrace change, life gets better. The next time a desk goes out of place you won’t be so worried, you won’t be so over come with fears about the desks “looking” out of place. Embracing change early in life helps you deal with change later in life.

How are you keeping your mind fresh? How are you getting outside your comfort zone? That’s where you learn best you know.

How will you stay out of the monotony of routine

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whos your hero

Who’s Your Hero? 

When you were young up it may have been famous people, superhero’s, maybe Jesus, your parents, the Fresh Prince of Bell-Air? Maybe a grandparent, I thought my grandpa was a hero. My parents were hero’s, my brother was a hero most of my life growing up. A few teaches at a young age, Ms. Davis and Mr. Hall in elementary school made it possible to think outside of what was possible, they truly changed me as a person. They were hero’s.

Superhero’s are those special individuals that make the impossible possible. They do what others can’t conceive of. Sure sometimes they fly or turn green, but more often than not Superhero’s are the ones who’ve been through the most, they’ve been down and out, horrible things have happened to them, but still some how they survive. They’re resilient. Not indestructible, resilient. It’s the destructible nature that makes them a hero, the immense possibility of failure is the precise reason it creates greatness. Superhero’s are all around us.

Why do we forget about our hero’s at one point? Why do we just try to live life without striving to be a modern day Superman? 

I think we need to bring back hero’s. Life sucks some days, life REALLY sucks some days, if you have a hero, you’re subconsciously shooting for something, you want to be your favourite hero. Life doesn’t suck so much to the young kid dreaming about being Wonder Women. I say dream away, set a crazy awesome goal, trying to be something in the future builds confidence. Confidence leads to self-esteem, that’s very healthy.

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Sales is dead; long live sales-selling

Sales is Dead, Long Live Sales | eps 59 #inthelab


In school we were taught that sales is one of if not the most important function of business. Without sales you don’t exist. Sales people made the most money, had the best schedules and took the most time off. It was good to be a sales person.

Sales rules all.

 sell me this pen!

Then it went overboard, movies glorified the best sales people, ABC! ALWAYS BE CLOSING! Don’t forget “Coffee’s for closers!” I would repeat lines from the Wolf of Wall Street but they’re far too vulgar.

Then something happened. These amazing sales people seem more like sleazy used car sales people than glorified titans of business.

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how to Save Money on Groceries and Drugs

How To Save Money On Groceries and Drugs

Stop Buying Brand Names!

Ten years ago as an angsty little marketer, I wanted to explore why I was leaning more and more towards “No-Name” Products, so I wrote this; The No-Name Strategy. You know the No-name brands, every supermarket has their “own”. At Superstore: No Name, and President’s Choice. At Safeway, Select (my Grand parents never bought regular pop), at Sobey’s it’s Compliments, at Costco it’s Kirkland. 

Almost every grocery store has their own brands which tend to be cheaper than their comparable branded counterparts. So why are we buying the more expensive one? Do you feel you trust it more? What bad stuff could be in the generic version?! For a long time I’ve bought generic pop citing that I still can’t taste the difference. Though teaching my first class I did divulge the fact that when I first moved out of my house and living with a roommate, we used to purchase no-name pop for the house but branded Coke or Ginger Ale if we were going to a party, why in the heck would we do such a thing?

It’s moments like this that I love marketing for, moments that make you feel so humble, so, well, dumb in moments of pure showing of ego. 

The fact that we didn’t want to be seen at a party with “No-name Cola” was a sign of where our confidence was at. After all, you know what the studies show, the larger the brand name on your chest, the smaller the ego. Or what the economics community calls Conspicuous Consumption; buying things to signal to others your wealth. Not a healthy practice to be into, I know because for the majority of my life I loved brands, wore brands, and had to have the new “cool” thing.

Buying quality products is one thing, refusing to purchase items because they are unbranded is silly. The problem with that is it’s not sustainable and teaches the wrong lesson. Life’s not about stuff. It’s about impact, experiences, and love. Things help you measure your status, but the moment you purchase something just because “you can” doesn’t mean you should. Humility goes much further than the person with the newest “thing”.

If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis

You aren’t in the in crowd unless you’re doing what the cool people do!  Who decides what’s “cool”? Since the dawn of time some people have just been better trend setters than others, those that understand it know what to look for. They easily convince us to buy the next iPhone, headphones, Xbox, TV, etc. The best brands are the ones to trust…..right? You can’t possibly buy the generic brand, can you?

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Why stratlab doesn't have a ceo president or formal boss

Why Stratlab Doesn’t Have a CEO, President or Formal Boss 

the starfish and the spiderWe at Stratlab are growing a “Starfish” organization, stolen from Ori Braffman’s the Starfish and the Spider, the story of leaderless organizations.

I don’t believe the future is in an organizational chart that dictates a clear divide between management and employees. The future is a leaderless organization. An organization that doesn’t need constant management, an organization where you’re free to make decisions on your own, we hope they are good ones but we know we can’t control that.

What we can control is how StratLab grows as a Starfish, by taking on bigger and better (more impossible) problems. To do this structure is a hindrance to true creative brilliance hence why at Stratlab we have as few rules a humanly possible.

The starfish and the spider

The current way to organize a business with Executives, Management and Employees dates back to the 1600’s

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Stop trying to make the biggest change possible and start making the smallest change possible

Changing The World Can Be Scary, Changing The Way You See The World Is Easy


Stop trying to make the biggest change possible and start making the smallest change possible. 

Change is far more about your attitude than possibility. More about leverage than it is about inputs.

As a kid I liked to sleep in. My oldest bother had taught our family that during the Summer months of the year, if you wanted to sleep in, you had to black out the windows in your room. This usually consisted of garbage bags taped to the window frame, layered on because everyone knew the Sun could get through one bag. What a waste of garbage bags. I had a south facing room so it was very bright in the morning.

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