Last week Strategy Lab partnered with our good buddies at Pidgeon Social to present the first ever Honest Conference. The idea for the conference was simple: Get some amazing marketing leaders in our community together to have a frank and honest discussion about they know and even what they don’t. I wasn’t personally involved in a lot of the planning, so I don’t feel too bad about tooting the team’s horn when I say it was absolutely amazing. The lineup of speakers was the best I’ve ever experienced and the amount of value they offered was unreal. there’s no way I could even begin to cover each speaker’s background and presentation (head to honestconference.com for more info on that), but I felt it was important to jot down some of the big ideas from the day:
Create First and Improve Over Time
One of the big common threads that tied together all of the presentations was the idea that doing something is always better than doing nothing. If you have an idea idea for something you can create (be it a vlog, an Instagram, or a jewelry company), just do it, even (or especially) if it’s not perfect. Over time, you’ll figure it out and get better, but the first step is just to try. As human beings we have an unlimited capacity for talking ourselves out of things that have virtually no downside. Changing that is one of the first big steps towards doing something amazing.
Always Ask for Feedback and Act on It (in Moderation)
This feeds nicely into the idea of feedback which just about very speakers touched on at some point as well. As marketers, business owners, and people, we’re always wondering what we should actually be doing to succeed, when in reality the answer is very clearly right in front of us in the form of feedback from our people and our customers. Asking these people what we can do to improve our product, customer service, or marketing tactics gives us the road map to success. Now, this piece of advice comes with a caveat as not all feedback is helpful when you’re trying to innovate. As Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
(Photo credit: Sprout Catering!)
If You’re Uncomfortable, You’re Probably Doing Something Right
This is another idea that seemed to emerge somewhere along the way in each presentation. Hillberk and Berk COO Mary Weimer got some laughs from the crowd when she revealed that she is in a perpetual state of discomfort, and never really knows for certain the right thing to do. The truth is, comfort is the cost of doing something that will never really move the needle. Justin Reves’ “80% and Go” rule of thumb I think sums this up perfectly: Get to the point where you’re 80% sure of something and then just go for it (as Richard Branson would say, “Screw it, let’s do it!”)
Always Keep it Human
Whether it was HB&B’s policy of giving their employees sparkle balls to give out to strangers, or Wheelhouse’s “Wheel Mile” of encouragement at the Queen City Marathon, the stories that really resonated with people at HonCon were those that demonstrated honest to gosh humanity and compassion. In other words, the companies that succeed will be the ones that genuinely treat the people around them (customers and non-customers alike) like human being and not just numbers, dollars, or “stakeholders”. This was particularly evident when the Roughriders’ marketing coordinator Miriam Johnson spoke about their recent influencer campaign during the opening of the new Mosaic Stadium. They did a deep dive to find out what was important to key people in their community to find out what they truly cared about, then customized swag packages for each person along with a handwritten note specific to their lives and personalities. There was no hard-sell or expectation, just a true sense of caring and a desire to do something awesome.
At the end of the day HonCon was a tremendous success. I strongly believe that each and every person in attendance walked away having learned a lot about what other people in this new marketing world are doing to succeed, not only from the fabulous lineup of kick-ass speakers, but from each other as well.
I received an email “sorry to bother, but would you mind voting for me? I’ve been nominated for an award!”. They were serious. I went and voted for their competitors out of spite.
In all honesty, it’s 2017.Who sends an email asking for a vote?
Ask on social media sure, maybe text or talk to your close friends.In my eyes the more people you have to ask to vote for you, the less you deserve the award.
I do realize this comes off as a rant from someone, who doesn’t win awards. Ha! You’d be right if you thought that, but I don’t think awards matter! Here are four individuals, who have put award winning on the back burner and focused on doing things that matter.
For every winner, there must be a loser. Every time you show, talk about, or mention an award you won, it’s simply your ego rearing it’s ugly face. Don’t do it. Don’t buy in. Don’t talk about awards you won. There’s a time and a place for it. During a job interview, on your LinkedIn Account sure, but in your social media bio? No!
In the words of Seth Godin, “Don’t tell me what you invented. Tell me who you have changed.”
Humility is a virtue.
When you send an email asking someone to vote for you to win an award it makes you seem desperate. Awards are special, meant to celebrate something remarkable you did. If you ask others to “vote” for you via email, personally, I don’t think you deserve the award.With all the commotion about the awards out there, I thought something had to be said.
In the business community when you find out the vast majority of “awards” companies and people win, they had someone close to them apply for it, it doesn’t really seem like awards matter. Literally, an agency nominating their own client work for an award? I get a part of it, I mean, it makes them look great, but eventually unwarranted awards will ketchup to you. Results will always matter more than awards.
If you could afford to buy an award would you?
Five years ago a client asked about an ethical dilemma she was having.
“Do you think we should keep advertising in major Canadian magazine, they’re the ones who decide on Canada’s 50 Top Employers.We seem to be on the list if we advertise, but we won’t be if we pull our budget. What do we do?
If you automatically throwout the notion on advertising to win an award ask yourself, why? Sure it feels unethical, but all the major companies do it.Well at least the ones winning the awards anyway… You can choose to be a part of that world, or you can choose a different path.
How the holy hell did he get an award?
I always find it fascinating to look into the criteria for winning awards, generally someone has to apply for it. This reminds me of my 3rd year University. The Business faculty always had scholarships for “the top students”. This made no sense, because the top students were usually the kids who didn’t have to work, had school paid for, and could focus all their attention on class. Myself, on the other hand struggled to pay for school, had a terrible average and would have LOVED a scholarship. I just didn’t agree with “applying for it”.
As the story goes, my arch nemesis, the know-it-all kid, who never wanted to help out with the Business Students Society, who actually quit on us, applied for the BSS funded scholarship. Then he won. I couldn’t believe it. Why the hell would you pick the guy that was doing fine to give a scholarship to? Here I was struggling to get through classes (though I never failed one!) volunteering my ass off and the goodie two shoes just got a free ride, because he had a high average?!?
That’s when I began to mistrust “school” and any awards given away at school.
Life’s about being able to do your art, not winning awards.
Eddy introduced me to an amazing designer that he looks up to, Aaron Draplin. I’ve written about him before, You don’t need to win awards to be amazing. But I think you should watch his Ted Talk. He doesn’t care about awards, he cares about being able to do his art every single day.
What good is an award if you aren’t happy?
Aaron is a happy guy, my favourite part of his talk is when he talks about how lucky he is to just be able to do his art every day. How often we all take for granted what we do for a living? Here’s a guy, who is one of the most amazing designers of our generation and he is very open about not winning awards. I look up to people like Mr. Draplin. He could apply for awards and put that on his website and proposals, but I think his work speaks for itself.If you’re good enough you won’t need awards to make you feel better. Plus, putting syrup on shit doesn’t make it a pancake. Stop worrying about awards and start worrying about results!
What about BIG awards like the Nobel prize?
The Undoing Projectby Michael Lewis tells the story of the remarkable relationship of two brilliant Israeli Psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. Amos wasn’t a fan of awards. For every winner there had to be a handful of losers and that just wasn’t fair to Amos.
When the Nobel committee called Amos to notify him he was on a very short list to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, Amos didn’t even take the call. He was quoted later saying winning the Nobel prize wasn’t one of the things he was going to miss when he was gone. The Nobel Prize comes with a $1,000,000 cash prize. Not a small prize to be walking away from. Amos died far too early, the behavioural economics community and the world lost a brilliant mind on June 2, 1996.
This was coming for a guy that was offered a job for the rest of his life from one of the top Universities in the world. Amos, was one of the greatest thinkers of our time! On his deathbed when the President of Stanford was preparing a last lecture and celebration for Amos, he quickly called and negotiated out of the big celebration. He never wanted to credit for what he did, it just wasn’t important to him.
How smart was Amos Tversky? Really?
The Tversky Intelligence Test.
In 2013 in Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, Gladwell tells a story about how highly Amos Tversky was regarded among his peers. As told to Gladwell by psychologist Adam Alter, the Tversky intelligence test was, “The faster you realized Tversky was smarter than you, the smarter you were.”
Don’t take credit for what isn’t yours.
Shep Gordon never needed the credit. (I’ve written about Shep Gordon, the Supermench before). When a music manager works on an album or with an artist they are entitled to royalties for perpetuity of the sales that album makes. Shep never signed contracts with artists to guarantee royalties. He never thought he needed to, he trusted the people he worked with. This created loyalty with the artists and groups he worked with. Shep’s reputation proceeded him, after he is referred to as the Supermench. He did admit there was a fine line between smart and stupid when using contracts though. Not to claim royalties on an album like the Beatles Anthology (he worked on it) would fall into the category of the later.
Shep is still doing fine, instead of all that money he’d much rather have Mike Myers refer to him as “the nicest person he has ever met”.
Being a good teammate is better than winning an award.
If his name – George Meyer doesn’t – sound familiar, the shows he’s worked on will; Saturday Night Live, Late Night With David Letterman and The Simpsons. Many people involved with The Simpson’s production agreed that Meyer was a pivotal part of the team, a linchpin really.
Your reputation is far more valuable than receiving credit or an award.
Seeing your name in the credits is an ego boost.
Many people in the entertainment industry thrive off the mention of their name in the credits. To be a part of a major production even as a small role, most people would demand their name appear in the credits. George Meyer was not one of those people. Meyer was a writer and producer on over 300 episodes of the Simpsons and was only mentioned Twelve times in the credits. Having his name mentioned in the credits wasn’t important to him, being an integral part of the team was. We should all strive to be a little more like George Meyer.
Congratulations StratLab! You won an award!
Finally if you don’t believe me that awards are something you should never focus on or put time in to, because you never know when someone just makes something up. Look to the top right hand corner of this page (sorry not on mobile). “Canada’s 50 Most Inclusive Employers” was an award I made up to celebrate the first 50 companies participating in the 4to40 initiative. See even you can make up an award and give it to whoever you choose.
Thanks to Aaron, Amos, Shep and George for setting an example for future leaders.
I look up to these four individuals for the courage it took to focus on what really mattered to them. Instead of idolizing pop, culture icons or TV stars try putting up a poster of Amos Tversky in your office. Or maybe it’s a Draplin original, to keep yourself humble at work. I love looking up to people like this, people I want to be like some day. After all, we become our hero’s in the end don’t we? Just make sure you pick the right hero’s to emulate.
“Touchy Feely” Class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business has been the number one class for 45 years!
“Touchy Feely class” or interpersonal dynamics class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business was the number one class based on student voting for the past 45 years! Makes you wonder about what is taught in class, what students learn, and why students like it the most.
Could it be the real world impact a class like that has on these students? Or the complete avoidance of anything to do with emotions, love, and relationships in traditional business classes? The fact remains that understanding interpersonal relationships is one of the most valuable skills in 2017 and beyond. Ori and Rom Brafman believe is has to do with the most underrated characteristic in business, vulnerability.
Click: the magic of instant connections
I first read about Touchy Feely class in Ori Braffman’s book Click. The book is about the five principles that make people click. The first and most counterintuitive principle is vulnerability, the most underrate characteristic in business. You may have heard of Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability, an amazing Ted talk on how opening up and leading with the heart is the most effective leadership tool. (PS: I like this talk of hers even better: Listening to Shame.
“Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” -Brené Brown
Maybe Stanford is on to something…
From Stanford’s website:
The ability to forge strong relationships with others is crucial to becoming a more effective manager in today’s complex, global, and highly interdependent organizations.
Technology can never replace authentic relationship building
It’ll enhance it, make it easier in come respects and more difficult in others. Technology has already changed the way we build, maintain and adapt to relationships but some things will never change. Trust, authenticity, humility, all matter No matter what changes about technology, the people behind the technology, developing it and using it still reply on human beings.
In business we rarely talk about how we’re building relationships, how we’re becoming a better team, how we’re becoming better people. But why the hell not? It’s the most important part of business. If you can’t figure out how to get along with other people it’s going to a long lonely life. People are number one, they always will be number one, no matter what technology comes along we will always have to know how to build relationships with other human beings.
How are you building your interpersonal relationship skills daily?
Stop telling people you believe in “relationship building” and “networking”, show people how are you practicing that regularly. Meeting new people, connecting with old friends, volunteering to make new friends, whatever your thing is, keep doing it! If you don’t have “a way” to grow your network, ask someone for advice, you need to start making it a priority. Start reaching out to people and connecting on whatever they want to talk about, be a good listener first. We are all learning how to communicate better, take as many opportunities as you can to be around, communicate with, and help people.
It’s unethical. It’s immoral at times. But if you want to be the best salesperson around just lie to people. Stretch the truth, “you look great in that shirt!”, “You definitely need the F-350!”, “You should go with the full rebrand package, it’ll be the best for your company!”
Lying to people may help you make a sale but you’re ruining a future relationship. People don’t forget.
There was a story of Patagonia, the retailer. They are known for being kind to the earth, their customers, and employees. I heard a story about an all-star salesperson. She was easily making her budgets sometimes setting records in the company for sales. So much success that the CEO had to go see how this person was doing such a bang-up job!
The CEO goes to the store to congratulate the employee, but instead instantly fires her on the spot. He had just witnessed this “all-star” employee lie to a customer so that they would buy a jacket. The CEO explained in a heartfelt email that Patagonia doesn’t want to simply just sell products, they help people what whatever it is they need. Over-selling to someone is a great way to lose a customer forever.
Just help people, no questions asked
The problem is people trust you, when you’re in a position of power (yes any salesperson is in a position of power) people look up to you, they assume you have their best interests in mind. When you take someone’s trust and use it to increase your sales, you will lose. Maybe not immediately, but in the long run you can’t keep finding new people to sell to, you’ll run out of repeat customers and won’t understand why.
You’ll blame marketing or sales. You’ll put more pressure on your salespeople, they won’t like that, they either get sleazier and “make a sale at any cost” or they quit. Both terrible options for the long-term viability of your company. Every time someone leaves, they tell more people about what you’re doing. It’s easy to blame marketing or sales for business strategy problems. Maybe it’s time you took your team off commission based pay, it’s ruining relationships.
I still think the worst people are the people who lie to you to help themselves out. The worst. Putting money before people is wrong.
Stop blaming “sales” start reinventing “how you sell“
No one likes “selling”. I mean they probably LOVE the money from it but c’mon, convincing people to buy your wares? What is this? 1933? No one wants to buy from you. We want to be entertained, we want our friends to tell us about you, we want to fall in love what you do.
That’s hard, any new strategy in 2017 will be, but as long as your strategy is difficult you’re on the right track. Stop trying for the “easy sell”. The low hanging fruit exists in every industry, don’t fall for that, do what’s hard.
Go for the long sale. Don’t over sell. Remember, everyone has a much better memory now that you share on Instagram every day.
We remember when people fuck us over
It’s hard to forget when someone uses and abuses us and our wallets. If you do it, or work for a company that does it, be prepared for people to never hire you ever again. I remember people from 10 years ago that made a sale, not caring about the consumer (me), you just remember the feeling you got after. It’s very unpleasant.
You don’t need to make that extra recommendation. You don’t need to oversell to everyone, McDonald’s does that, you don’t need to.
How do you “sell” in 2017?
You be really, really, good. Give people a reason to hire you. Show the value in what you bring to the table and believe in yourself. Word-of-mouth has been and always will be the most powerful form of marketing, use it to your advantage.
Find moments to do the right thing, when there’s no monetary value
Caring about your people, helping other organizations in your community, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. This is the new competitive advantage. Leopold’s and Victorias group in Regina, every year in December give away thousands of dollars to charities in the communities they operate. Victoria’s alone gave away $12,000 last year at Christmas time. When you have a choice of when to eat or drink it hard not to at least consider going to Leo’s or Vic’s because you probably know someone who was affected by the give-a-ways. I know I was.
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Both Leopold’s and Victoria’s had to do something different this past December, so why not try help in the fight against drinking and driving? Yup, offered free rides during the month of December is what they did! These are pubs that serve food and all they do for marketing is try to be “a good corporate citizen” is what business school called it, I call it the new cool! Because caring about your community is the new cool.
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Hardpressed coming into the Queen city to sell their wares!? How do they get away with it? They are a Saskatoon company and people from Regina simply LOVE their clothing. Why? Yes it’s very comfy, yes it’s very stylish, but last year Hardpressed donated $8,000 to Carmichael Outreach after one of their pop-up sales. Do you want me to love you forever? Support the Non-profits that mean a lot to me. Hardpressed, Leopold’s and Victoria’s have done just that.
I’ll support these to organizations because at their very core, they believe in doing the right thing as a part of their business model. That’s something I can get behind.
This was the latest sticker COR had printed and left out in a container on a table just inside their office. A circular container that has the likes of stickers, postcards, magnets, stress balls, pens, you name it. All with similar bright colours and uplifting messages. The table they are on is located by the pinball machine, just down the hall from the coffee bar and to the right of the foosball table, and PS4 complete with beanbag chairs for optimum gaming comfort.
This isn’t your regular not-for-profit organization
I’ve never met anyone with the same consistent energy. COR has its own unique culture and brand. Talk to their employees family members, even people who don’t work there any more, you’ll hear nothing but amazing stories about how gentle teaching has changed their life. They don’t run the organization like a regular non-profit, they do things different and they don’t apologize for it. COR is a breathe of fresh air in an industry that was getting stuffy.
COR is an inspiring organization. You don’t have to go far to hear some of these stories:
Loving others begins with being able to love yourself.
On a recent Tim Ferriss podcast I was listening to, Morgan Spurlock tells the story of Touré visiting Kanye West at his home.
“He went to Kayne’s house. So he’s inside Kanye’s house, and inside Kanye’s house there’s a big, giant picture of Kanye, like, right inside the living room. And so Toure said to him, he goes, Kanye, why do you have a giant picture of YOU on the wall?’ And Kanye goes, Well, I gotta cheer for me before anyone else can cheer for me.'”
And that’s why Kanye West has a picture of Kanye West in his own house.
You have to be your own champion first. If you can’t cheer for yourself, why would anyone else cheer for you? An important lesson Kanye West has taught me.
Then today on Instagram I saw my friend Tiffany’s post. I commented on it but it made me want to post this story. Liking yourself isn’t easy sometimes but you have to try.
On the door of one of the offices at StratLab there’s a poorly designed poster with a weird smiling Alien that says (in Star Wars font) “GEBY”.
Gratitude (showing you care about something or someone makes you appreciate it/them more)
Exercise (see documentary “23.5 Hours” thanks Barb!)
Breakfast (you need some fuel)
You (do something for you)
Every morning if you do these four things you’re going to have a great day. Ironically, also learned on a Tim Ferriss podcast (the one with Noah Kagan).
What’s your hobby?
You have to start taking time out of your day to care for yourself. If you don’t know how to, ask someone how they do it. You’ll find it fascinating because generally no two people have the exact same things they do to take care of themselves. Or you’ll find people will give you a weird look like “I don’t do anything for myself I have (insert excuse here).” Generally I don’t keep exploring the conversation with those folks, they’re happily in their bubble of comfort.
Start loving yourself.
It’s rare in the business world. People are very willing to backstab a competitors, a coworker, even friends. People who do these things have no respect for themselves, and no respect for their reputation. In the end, you will be judged on how you treat others but also yourself. If you love yourself you have no reason to try to take stabs at others. You’ll have no reason to look at other people in a negative light. It all starts with loving yourself first.
In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.
SEO is an ugly topic. Lots of hearsay floating around with little evidence based opinion. Many assumptions, rarely facts that you can trust. It’s not my intention to tell you how to do SEO, no no, like they say, there are many ways to skin a cat! This is simply my findings over the past five years.
First of all we’re going to simplify what you’re doing with your website. Set one goal, one page must be more important than every other page. Pick three keyword phrases in your industry, those are your first three goals. Then develop your outreach strategy (how other websites will link back to your websites). Determine what you’ll update your website will ongoing forever and ever amen, and you got yourself a perfect little search engine optimization strategy.
Set one main goal
Pick three main phrases you want to come up for in Google search
Why will people want to link to your website?
Update your website weekly
If it isn’t as easy as described above than come along for the ride, you aren’t alone!
First, you don’t need traditional SEO if you are;
A major corporation, simply changing how your website is structured will do wonders!
If you have an amazing social media presence (e’hem, Wheel House, The Riders, Hard Pressed do NOT need SEO help)
If you publish content (stories, photos, videos) weekly to your website you most likely have no use for SEO
For everyone else here are a few starting points to give you enough information to piss off your I.T. manager at the office.
Who would you rather have operate on you, a newly minted Doctor recently out of her residency or a surgeon with 16 years of experience?
The statistics would indicate the later is more error prone than the former. That means if you think experience in the operating room matters you may be wrong. This post uncovers the hidden side of the medical industry that you never knew about. Freakonomics did a three part series called Bad Medicine, below are the three podcast and one marketers banter.
What else could we simply be wrong about in the medical establishment?
Prescription opioid use has gone up about 300-400 percent since the year 2000.
83% of all Oxycodon sales come from the United States.
Medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
Do you think that the United States has 83% of the World’s pain?
America is a world leader in the consumption of painkillers? We’ve created a pill dependant society always searching for the next quick fix. It’s always so easy to ask the doc for one more prescription, just something different, maybe a new pain killer will work. Maybe not.
Supermench, the legend of Shep Gordon. So I’m listening to the Timothy Ferriss Podcast and this guy who Tim’s about to interview has one of the coolest introductions, Shep’s done a lot. He’s cooked for His Holiness the Dali Lama, entertained who’s-who of Hollywood, and managed some of the most amazing musical acts, then the most amazing chefs in the world. He was a brilliant story teller and had accomplished so much. He seemed content, I wanted to know more. So i bought the book, They Call Me Supermench: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock’n’Roll. This post is inspired by the book. I highly recommend it. Entertaining, funny, and thought-provoking, one of my favourite books this year.
This quote pretty much sums up Shep.
Shep Gordon is one of my hero’s, here are a few reasons why.
1. Create history.
Don’t wait for it to happen, you can create history. Most people believe all you have is what you’re dealt, like you can change your future if you want to. What a lie! Create history. When Shep first started managing his first artist, Alice Cooper, these were his marching orders, to create history. Quite literally working with Alice they didn’t try to “market” Alice Cooper, he didn’t “advertise” Alice Cooper. No that’s what the other managers would do, if he really wanted to stand out he needed to create history.
Whether it was wrapping an album in Panties or shooting Alice Cooper out of a cannon, Shep tried nearly everything. The first time Alice was to play in the UK they needed a really aggressive stunt as ticket sales were nonexistent. Shep got a flatbed truck with a giant billboard on the back displaying Alice wearing nothing by a large snake. Oh and he paid the driver handsomely to ensure the truck “broke down” several times in Piccadilly Square downtown London during rush hour. The driver was subsequently arrested, but they sold the show out! Create history.
Or the time that they promised to shoot Alice out of a cannon on stage in Pittsburgh. The problem was the cannon didn’t work. The night before the big show, Shep invited media to a “pre-concert party” where they were going to demo the cannon shot, how exciting! Shep was up to something, because when the cannon fired, Alice (or a dumby, who knows!) fired but only went ten feet. Panic strikes, the star is injured! Rush him to the hospital!
On the news you’d hear of the “accident” and how Alice was hurt with “non-life threatening” injuries. He played the show the next night in a wheel chair with hospital staff on stand-by if anything should go wrong. But how could it? It was all staged, Alice wasn’t hurt at all. It worked perfectly.
The video footage was shot by Brandon and Andy, then Andy edited the same day. What an amazing result. As a part of Strategy Lab it’s moments like this that really make you smile and reflect on why you do what you do. We’ve had a long relationship with Pride Week (long relationship for @StratLab, Ha!), so this ended up being the best support we could have ever offered Dan and his crew. Even with the rain Pride Week Regina pulled off an amazing day.
We couldn’t have been more proud to put the video together as well as capture some amazing stills (photos thanks to Lauren, find out more about her on our About page). You can see by her work she does some amazing work behind the camera.