This week Eddy and I are talking about perspective. Why do we trust designer? What do create professionals see that others do not? What’s so special about having taste?
Trust your designer
There’s a reason they are a designer, they have perspective. Trust them. Any creative needs some free reign over what they’re doing, they are artists after all. Don’t micro manage any creative process, that’s a great way to create something extremely mediocre.
When ever someone says “I’m too busy” I’m always reminded of a story I heard about from a Volleyball coach I look up to. In grade 11 leading into grade 12 I wanted to get better at Volleyball. I told my coach I wanted to play pepper (simple volleyball drill) more and he offered to come in the morning twice a week to play pepper at 7:30 in the morning. We did this for a couple months and I really think it helped my Volleyball skill in the long run. But more importantly, he was willing to volunteer MORE of his time to make me better. That’s dedication.
The most underrated thing you can do for your life is exercise. There are so many positive side effects to physical activity that it’s almost insane how we live our lives sitting at a desk for hours on end. We learned that in school, businesses thought it was a good idea too, “hey put everyone in cubicles!”. What a terrible idea that was.
Every time I speak I get some interesting questions, this one really got me, “you said when you’re in a bad place, you had some books you recommended, what were those books?”. It caught me off guard, they were obviously not in a good place and were looking for help. With little deliberation I came up with my top three books you have to read (specially if you’re in a bad place).
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
Robin Sharma also wrote the amazing book The Leader Without a Title. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a tale that I believe everyone needs to read. The story of the big hotshot lawyer who wakes up unhappy too many days in a row. He had to make a major change.
Going through highschool and university money is a big thing. You can’t argue that money gets you a lot in life. It’s the goal for most coming out of school, make money, money, make money, money. But the only rap song that tells the truth about money is Mo Money, Mo Problems.
There’s something bigger in life to focus on, something that will make up much MUCH happier than money ever can. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is like a secret weapon, to put the odds in your favour. You’re going to be more confident, less argumentative and you’ll be able to reflect on what you really care about in your life.
Life’s about something big, something you’re going to do. Read this book, it’ll help.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
A magical fable about following your dream. A worldwide bestseller, Paulo Coelho takes you on a journey through finding your life’s purpose.
I read this book when I was on the fence about what I was to do with my life. After reading the Alchemist somewhat of a peace came over me, I knew what I had to do.
“When you’re doing your life’s work, the universe has a funny way of helping you.” When you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing the star align. When you follow your heart it can be risky, when you risk it all to follow a dream, there lies a potential reward in your decision. This book is about those tough decision in life and why you should follow your heart.
This would be a perfect book to read in grade 11. By grade 11 you know what you like and you have one year left to change your horrible habits. Read the Alchemist, start brainstorming what you should be doing with your life. Then spend grade 12 preparing to do your life’s work.
Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Everyone has bad days, everyone has bad weeks, no one has a perfect life and no on has completely no control over their life. You always have, and will have control over your attitude no matter what.
Viktor Frankl wrote this book before he went into an Auschwitz concentration camp in World War two. There, he survived, unlike many of the people around him. He made it out and rewrote the entire book. It’s a remarkable account of how powerful the human mind can be, and what we humans are truly capable of.
In life, we’re governed by triggers and responses. No matter how bad the trigger or how terrible your response, there is always a moment in between where you can decide how to react. We always have a choice.
Do you know how powerful that is to a child? No matter what, they can remain positive in the face of extreme adversity. They just need to hear it from people who had it as bad as they do, or in Frankl’s instance, much, much worse.
We all have bad days
It’s never about the bad day you have, it’s about what you do to make tomorrow better. It’s always having that growth mindset that no matter what, tomorrow will be better. Reading will help you through the tough times. Another thing you have to start doing that will actually manufacture happiness is volunteer. Well, not just volunteer, help people, the more people you can create a positive impact for, the better. Start small, make one person feel awesome every day and I guarantee you’ll be a happier person.
In Jim Collins’ Great By Choice he tells the story of the famous discovery of the South Pole. Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott were both vying to be the first explorer to plant their country flag at the South pole. Amundsen did a lot of prep work. He learned about extreme cold, he lived with Eskimos to see how they deal with the cold, he researched the trip, he stashes much more supplies than he needed, just in case something happened along the way.
Your brand is a widely held set of beliefs and expectations of what you deliver and how you deliver it, validated by customer experiences.
Until communication was put on steroids thanks to the creation of this little thing called the Internet, “your brand” was just a set of beliefs and expectation of what you deliver and how you deliver it. Customers for the most part never talked. There was no Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon or Yelp. Back then your expectations of a product or service could be influenced by commercials, billboards, and other advertisements.
Companies (Brands) could change the way you thought of them based simply on a catchy tune played before a movie or during your favourite sitcom….
“My baloney has a first name…”.
“Everyone loves Marine land!”
“Don’t cha put it in your mouth…”
“Let’s go out to the kitchen…”.
Have you heard an amazingly catchy jingle as of late? Possibly the Charlie Bit My Finger kid or Susan Boyle would be the closest.
Back then it was much easier to get your message out to the masses. You really could create major awareness for your brand or product, and it worked. The problem now is we don’t have one channel we always watch, there’s several hundred. Also, because we’ve been seeing these ads since we entered the world it’s hard to differ the signal from the noise.
Back to the definition of a “brand”.
You no longer are in control of your brand.
Everyone else is. Your brand is what people say about you behind your back. Your brand is what I find when I Google you. Your brand is what your customers say about you once they’ve left your store. Your brand is what people think of you whether you like it or not.
You can’t control it. You can only influence it. Customer service can help it (think Westjet), advertising can grow it (think Tim Horton’s), a smart HR policy will enhance it (think Whole Foods), but it’s the combination of every tiny little thing you do. Every time you come in contact with a customer or potential customer they either like you a little bit more or a little bit less. If you still think people can be indifferent to your brand, they probably can, but that’s a recipe for a competitor to come in and steal those customers away from your mediocre organization.
You’re better off creating remarkable experiences with every touch point you have with customers. From answering the phone and e-mailing, to your business cards and promotional items. Everything communication tactic is a chance to show the world what your brand is made of. Hopefully, after coming across your innovative brand several times over, your potential customer says:
“aww shucks, who is this amazing company that keeps making me smile?”. Now you don’t have to sell to them, they already are sold.
1. I remind 8 year olds trying out Volleyball for the first time this very lesson.
ANYTHING you try for the first time is going to be hard, don’t let that discourage you.
Remember, you just need to stay in the game longer than everyone else and you’ll be the default winner. Keep treading water, keep above the water line. Another day alive is another day closer to your goal.
2. In Richard Branson’s “The Virgin Way” he tells a brilliant little story about the Bumblebee. For decades scientists have been stumped by the Bumblebee. When you take into account the size of the body compared to the size of the wing span, the Bumblebee on all accounts should NOT be able to fly. It is a scientific impossibility. Then Branson’s goes on to say that up until this very day, not one scientist has ever been able to explain that to a Bumblebee.
Don’t listen to people who use the word impossible. They live a shallow life and will never reap the rewards of amazing breakthroughs, innovative new ideas and groundbreaking discoveries. To the future on-word we march, into the crazy unknown.
From Richard Branson’s The Virgin Way he talks about the 7 most important words for leaders to use. “I’m not sure, what do you think?” puts your staff at ease, makes everyone around you feel like you aren’t a know-it-all and willing to implement other people’s ideas.
When you ask others for their ideas you get more options to choose from. You incentivize people coming to you with innovative solutions to organizational problems. Today’s best businesses empower their people to share ideas up the chain of command. As a leader, the less ideas you come up with to implement, the more champions you’re building up around you. Also, when you adopt your staffs’ ideas, you’re creating a very important incentive for your people to want to offer their ideas (very few organizations actually care about what their frontline employees think, let alone ideas they have).
When you ask others what they think, what you’re really saying is “I actually care about you and what you think of this organization”. As funny as that sounds, unfortunately most organization leaders don’t think their people are that smart, they’ve built up a facade that business is run by executives and the people who where suits to work everyday. When it really comes down to it, the best organizations have the best people on the front lines, and no, for the most part they don’t where suits.
I think we all can learn a lot from what Mr. Branson has taught us about business. Below are a few of my favourite quotes.
Every year in my class at SIAST (or Saskatchewan Polytechnic) we always go over Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick. One of the best breakdowns of why some marketing messages stick and why others don’t. The authors break it down to the “SUCCES” principles. Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories. Using this framework you can apply it to any campaign, message, or advertisement. Read the book if you want to actually understand the SUCCES principles.
I use a slide deck like the one above and ask the class to run the ads in the presentation through the SUCCES criteria. You’ll find an interesting correlation between the SUCCES principles and the best ads.
Could it be that advertising isn’t an art form but more of a science? Are the smart marketers using frameworks like the one from Made to Stick or the one in Jonah Berger’s Contagious?
As much as advertising is an art form, there’s more science to it than you think. The slide deck of the 99 most creative ads is to show you how many companies go about their advertising. These are the best of the best, for every amazing ad there are 1000 mediocre ads that just become noise in our world.
If you want to standout, if you want to create a truly remarkable ad than read Contagious(Jonah Berger)and Made to Stick(I already told you who wrote this book). They will at least give you a framework to work under to create the next viral sensation.
1. Be prepared for Non-Linear learning. Students don’t just learn the grade 6 curriculum and enter grade 7 with a predictable knowledge base anymore. Kids can learn about what ever they want thanks to services like The Khan Academy, iTunes U and other Massive Open Online Courses (mooc’s). The teacher may not be the smartest person in the room anymore (arguably never was) on certain topics. We need to be prepared for this.
2. We need to change curriculums faster. We need to help students learn as fast as the world is changing. Reviewing your curriculum is going to have to happen more often than once every five years (which is the default many institutions get stuck in). Our world changes at an incredible rate. If you think what you’re teaching to students isn’t that relevant anymore I bet they think it’s even worse. Determine the learning outcomes that you’re trying to achieve but leave it up to the professor to build the plan to achieve those outcomes. Stop micromanaging the classroom.
I love this video by Cameron Herold. He’s brilliant and he talks about some of the learning outcomes he’s focusing on as a parent, skills that are applicable in the real world (selling, dealing with failure, negotiations, teamwork, leading, serving).
3. Teach less and they will learn more. Why do we try to cover everything under sun in our curriculums? Do you think students remember everything that’s listen in the curriculum? Do you think they’re retaining the knowledge they are getting in each class? We forget 90% of what we learn in the classroom immediately after the class anyway. So why don’t we flip this around. What if every class had to find the 10% most important stuff on the topic at hand and developed a class around helping students retain that entire 10%?
Inspire them to learn more on a topic instead of trying to bore them to death on a subject that doesn’t interest them.
4. Stop using the text book. It’s to make money. We get it, that’s not going to fly in the future. No one learns from texts books once out of school, so why are we focusing on learning from textbooks while in school? I believe that all teachers should sign a hypocratic outh so this can’t happen any more. In the presentation I compare the textbook I’m supposed to use for my class and I compare three marketing books I want to use. The marketing books have many positive reviews while the textbook has a lone one. I think we need to take a serious look at this.
5. We don’t need teachers, we need leaders. I like to talk about my friend Jordan McFarlen who teaches Entrepreneurship at Campbell here in Regina. In the class the students have to start a company, create a product or service and go to market, all in the matter of months. With the tradition structure of a business, the students learn how to (and sometimes more so how not to) run a business. You don’t learn major lesson in life without trying and failing. I believe this is what school can and should help with.