Roand Asmunsen at the south pole

How Companies Grow, Short Vs Long Term Profits – Episode 7 of #InTheLab

The 20 mile march

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.

Read More
Three-documentaries-you-have-to-watch

Three Documentaries You Have To Watch – Pandora’s Promise, Artifact and Ivory Tower

Pandora’s Promise

Pandora's PromisePandora’s Promise is the story of Nuclear energy. It’s from the perspective of people that came from the Anti-Nuclear fight. Scientists that were very much against anything to do with Nuclear power kept learning more and more about the industry. They learned so much that they finally changed their stance on it.

True wisdom is taking a topic you have had a strong stance on, and upon the discovery of new facts, change your strong opinion.

People with a vested interest in one side of an argument should rarely be trusted. Therein lies the problem, “where do you find people that you can trust their opinion on such a major issue as Nuclear power?”. This doesn’t just go for the Nuclear industry, this goes for every industry. So when someone completely changes their opinion 180 degrees take note, they should be the ones you hear out.

 

Artifact: the 30 Seconds to Mars storyArtifact: The 30 Seconds to Mars Story

I had no idea how bad the record industry was until I watched this documentary. It’s eye opening to say the least. Personally I found myself looking up to Jared Leto, the lead singer and mastermind behind the band 30 Seconds to Mars. The struggle he and the band go through. The utter disregard for people and jobs within the recording industry.

This is just one industry that has been displaced. It will happen to more if not every industry. Do you have the courage that Jared Leto had to fight for what was right? What war are you going to fight in your industry? Who is going to be the record execs in your industry that are going to try to wipe you clean off the earth? Ok maybe a little hyperbole, but we haven’t really seen the impact of what the internet will do to every business model. Prepare for war.

 

Ivory Tower

Ivory tower the movieThis one hits a little closer to home. Teaching at Sask Poly Tech and being the president of the University of Regina Alumni Association I can see the Ivory Tower even in the institutions in Saskatchewan. In whatever you do in the connected world, the juice better be worth the squeeze. Whatever takes up your time, whatever you’re spending money on, it better be worth it.

If the cost of post secondary school out paces the value of what you are capable of once you are out, post secondary school will become obsolete. Sorry let me correct myself, post secondary school as we know it will become obsolete. Last year I took my first online course from the University of France on Coursera. The class was truly a great experience. The professor was engaging (even with a strong French accent), he loved the topic (What managers can learn from Philosophers), and any concept I wanted to go back over I just started the video over again (every week you’re sent 5 videos as your weekly lecture, they’re).

In the future you will learn whatever it is you want to learn from whoever teaches it the best in the world. Do you really want to learn consumer behaviour from a professor in Regina or do you want to learn it from the best marketing professor Stanford has? I don’t know about you but I’ll take the Ivey League schools education thank you. And yes the online education world isn’t perfect but if you are an institution and you aren’t experimenting on how to make it work online, I would be worried.

90-percent-of-the-data-in-the-world-today-has-been-created-in-the-last-two-years

9 Lessons Learned Volunteering on Not-For-Profit Boards

1. The world is changing faster than you can imagine.

“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

-IBM

On a single day on the Internet there are:

  • Over 2 million Google search queries

  • 48 hours of new YouTube videos

  • 684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook

  • More than 100,000 tweets

  • $272,000 spent on e-commerce

  • Source: Webopedia

If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.

2. Every year, every month, every day, people have less attention than they did last year, last month, and yesterday. How are you getting peoples’ attention?

There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.

3. You’re only as smart as the feedback you’re getting.

Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.

Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.

4. You can’t change what people say about you, but you can influence it.

“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!

Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.

5. Face the brutal facts. 

Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.

Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.

What if we don't change at all and something magical just happens?

6. You can tell people’s priorities by the way they allocate their resources (time, money).

I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.

The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.

If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.

7. At any given moment, one or a few people can ruin it for everyone, you must ignore past these people.

People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.

Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.

8. There’s nothing more important than having a clear vision that everyone understands.

Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.

-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras

Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old. 

Examples:

Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball

University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride 

Regina Police Service: Public Servie First

Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching

9. Fun can be a competitive advantage.

In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.

Fun can be a competitive advantage

Fun can be a competitive advantage.

Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.

If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.

Create holy $!%& moments

Most events aren’t meant to be remembered

that’s why most events aren’t that good. How many presentations, conferences, lecture’s, speeches, keynotes, and guest talks have you been in that have completely bored you to death? It’s become an epidemic, and I hate it.

If you don’t intentionally try to create a memorable event why do you think people will remember it?

 

Start with: why will people remember this? Why will my event be different? How do we get people walking out after the event saying “holy $#!& that was amazing!!”. Maybe therein lies the secret: to create “holy $#!&” moments.

 

Most events aren’t meant to be remembered, but why not? Don’t you want your next event to go down in history as one of the best _________ of all time?

When planning you must ask how are we going to get people to remember this? If you don’t you’re almost guaranteed that people will do the opposite.

You must have a clear vision

3 Things Great Leaders Always Do

Why is it so rare that employees look up to their boss? Why is it that most senior leadership are referred as more of the senior part and not so much the latter? How come more people don’t look up to the leader of the organization? Why is it so rare to find a visionary, humble, head of an organization?

In the future we’ll look up to leaders who understand and act upon these 3 must do’s.

1. You must have a clear vision.

If your staff don’t know where you’re going it’s going to be very difficult to follow you. If your vision isn’t simple most people won’t get it. If your purpose can’t be summed up in a short phrase, you probably haven’t drilled deep enough. If everyone on the board is comfortable with the simple vision, it’s not provocative enough. If you let a committee come up your purpose it isn’t going to get far. If you think the executive suite are the only ones who can come up with your purpose, you’re wrong. Purpose should be shared just as much with the top row and the front line employees. More often than not front line employees have a better grasp on what the company “actually” does than the executive row.

Business strategy that’s written by mbas is business strategy for mbas. Real people want simplicity, they want to know you care and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

2. Actually care about people.

Don’t just say you care about people, that’s cliche and every company says they care about their people, very few actually show it.

You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.

You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.

You show people you care with your actions and how you spend your time and your money. Every company says they care about their people but how many create a bottom up feedback system? How many leaders actually have an open door policy? How many leaders would actually encourage employees to speak up when they disagree with a decision?

You show employees or members that you care when you listen to them, when you actively seek their feedback, when you truly want them to be a part of the decision making. If you truly do care about the people you work with, you’ll try to help them. When employees feel their voice will be heard and that they can make a difference, it’s like they’re working with a super power.

Anything becomes possible when the people we look up to empower us to achieve more than we are capable of.

3. Be the hardest working person in the organization.

Be the hardest working person in the organization

Leadership is service. Leaders work harder than everyone else, they rarely take credit and they put more fires out than anyone else. Leadership isn’t glamorous, it’s hard work.

Having people look up to you, rely on you, being a part of your team, is a small reward. The larger reward in this situation is watching the people under grow into a better leader, manager, and team player than you ever could be. Leadership is the humble act of always putting others first. When you find you’ve groomed a candidate that people look up to, are inspired by and that works harder than you do, you know you’ve done your job.

The goal of leadership is not to be indispensable, it’s quite the opposite. The goal of leadership is the day you don’t show up, everyone knows exactly what to do and the sustaining work to keep the organization is done.

Leadership is the highest form of service. Never forget that.

Leaders wanted.

Leaders wanted

Blackfish

3 Must Do’s To Tell a Compelling Story

1. Start off with a big bang

Introductions mean a lot in documentaries. They set the stage for what’s about to come. The intro can either turn the viewer on, having them beg for more, or can work against the film by boring the $!%$ out of the audience.

Searching for Sugarman begins with the controversial story of how Rodriguez killed himself. Some say it was a gun to the head, some say it was the most gruesome suicide in history, where he doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of an audience. The beginning of this documentary in incredibly captivating, you can’t turn it off or switch the channel. You desperately want to know what happens. A sign of a great story is you can’t turn away because it’s so spellbinding.

2. Introduce Controversy

K2 is one of the deadliest mountains the world, far more dangerous to climb than Everest, for every four people who summit K2, one dies trying. This is the story of the fateful day 11 climbers never returned home from K2. One of the deadliest expeditions in mountain climbing history.

There are conflicting stories on how some people made it off K2 that fateful day, not every agrees to what happened. Were some people hero’s? Or were they just trying to be selfish. In desperate times, people do some strange things.

You can’t help but be at the edge of your seat the entire time the movie plays. The camera shots, the epic story that changes back and forth, and the mysticism around this life altering mountain that is so very hard to summit.

3. Tell an emotional story that pulls on people’s heart strings

Whenever a movie or documentary comes out that features animals, it’s hard not to get emotional. Yeah, I cried in Babe, Homeward Bound, and maybe The Lion King, didn’t everyone?

We have a natural (biological) tendency to care for babies and animals (and animal babies). When a documentary like Blackfish comes out you know it’s going to be an emotional ride but what you don’t know about is how these beautiful creatures are treated in captivity. It’s horrible. It’s hard to watch. You’re going to get emotional.

The good news is is that this documentary actually is influencing change in how the public views SeaWorld. Several articles have touched on the protests and how angry people are over SeaWorld, and even a bill introduced in California that could introduce the end of Killer Whale shows in the state as well as importing and exporting Killer Whales.

All of these documentaries can be found on Netflix. I strongly encourage you to watch.

To recap, telling a compelling story in the media, to a friend, on your website, in a video, in an article, remember these three things:

1. Start off with a bang 

2. Introduce controversy

3. Pull on peoples heart stings.

NYTimes Innovation Report

The Leaked New York Times Innovation Report and Why It’s Important

The New York Times (on purpose or not) leaked an innovation report which ended up being a scathing analysis of how far behind the times the Times really are. From one of the worldwide leaders in Journalism comes a humble look at their own efforts digitally. They recognize how behind they really are but it seems that they have a plan to become more relevant to a larger audience in the future.

Some important highlights of the 90 page report:

  • Competition is increasing and some of their competitors are producing some massive numbers. EG: Flipboard getting more traffic to the New York Times’ own articles than the Times’ receives to its’ own site.
  • The journalism industry is being “disrupted” with a cheaper easy to find version of “news”. The example given in the report is strikingly similar to Clayton Christiensen’s The Innovators Dilemma. In the book he talks about when entities get too large within their own industry, smaller, faster more nimble businesses innovate to create the future product offerings.
  • They’ve named and provided stats on some of their competition. Some very familiar names on the list such as: Huffington Post, Flipboard, and Buzzfeed.
  • The mentioned the NY Times “Influencers”. Every organization at one point will needs to know who their influencers are and how to leverage them.

The NewYork Times Audience:

  • 30M web readers in U.S. per month
  • 20M Mobile readers in U.S. per month
  • 13.5M News Alerts audience
  • 11.3M Twitter followers
  • 6.5M E-Mail Newsletter Subscribers
  • 5.7M Facebook followers
  • 1.25M Print Subscribers
  • 760K digital subscribers

The Proposal:

  1. Discovery – getting our work in front of the right readers at the right place and at the right time.
  2. Promotion – we need better advocates of our over work.
  3. Connection – our readers are perhaps our greatest untapped resource.

This seems more like a game plan for ANY organization that wants to grow in this new digital world. They’ve identified that is has to start at their core if they hope to have any chance of surviving the disruption that the journalism/publishing industry is facing.

Some important quotes from the report:

“Digital staffers want to play creative roles not service roles.”

“We need makers, entrepreneurs, reader advocates and zeitgeist watchers”

“Evergreen content is appealing to readers if resurfaced in a way that is smart”

“The newsroom can fall into old habits about experiments like this one, raising concerns about  turf, quality control and precedents.”

“One-offs are laborious, so we should focus on making such efforts replicable and scalable.”

 

We don't need teachers

How Education Will Change [Presentation]

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.
Page 3 of 512345