strong opinions held loosely

Strong Opinions Held Loosely 

Hold strong opinions but hold them loosely. Things change, your opinions should too. I remember when Al Gore Came to Regina, I was his disciple. Global Warming was happening and I was going to stop it!! Or so I thought. Then I read Superfreakonomics and the chapter about Global Warming and started to think there was more to this Global Warming fiasco! Finally, after published study after study, I’ve changed my mind back to thinking Global Warming is an issue.

Never be afraid to change your mind on a major topic because of new information. It’s when we rely on Dogma only we turn a blind eye to the facts blatantly in front of us.

On a Tim Ferriss podcast with Marc Andreessen there was this neat moment that Marc went off on opinions. He said he loves talking to investment bankers because when they get new information they’re very quick to change their minds. In the investment banking industry that can be worth millions of dollars. He said it’s wise to hold strong opinions as long as you can change them easily.

You know what’s really annoying your friends? That you don’t change your mind on anything! The world isn’t flat, lead gasoline is bad, global warming exists, and you’re not as smart as you think you are. In life there are no absolutes, just things that constantly change. It’s okay to change your mind, it’s a good thing.

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.

7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

We all have come across those winners in meetings that love to use the latest business buzzword. You know the ones? They recite words and phrases you know they just heard for the first time while watching the Dragon’s Den last night.

You realize soon after school that the vocabulary you use has very little to do with your life and is more so correlated with pretentiousness. Yet the words below are used everyday, some times more than once, in offices and during meetings all over the world in hundreds of different languages. Well I’m sure other languages have their own overused meaningless terms that tend to follow the commerce crowd.

Before you start remember these are just opinions, please don’t be offended. Instead add your own overused word or phrase. Heck lets make this list longer!! Comment below with yours!!

Let's form proactive synergy restructuring teams

1. Synergy

The obvious one. Just stop it. Nothing says I’m a first year business student than using Synergy on purpose in a sentence. The exception to the rule you say? There is only one. Unless you work in the Easton Hockey stick Museum and you’re referring to my gold 2001 Easton Synergy Hockey stick you should never ever use the “S” word in a sentence.

 

2. Networking

Just a fancy term for people who don’t know how to make friends. Pro tip, stop networking and start doing things that matter. Volunteer, run for a board, help a non-profit, coach, be a big brother, do something that isn’t easy. Just showing up to an event and putting on a name tag isn’t hard. Volunteering countless hours for a great cause is a brilliant way to make new friends.

Do ANYTHING other then go to specific events just to “meet” people for the sake of a business relationship. Yuck.

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Monetize the website monetize the Facebook monetize our blog! Figure how much profit we can make

The New Age Marketing Rap | Edgar Alan Poems Vol 1

Everyone thinks they understand the marketing game.
But when you see their work, they’re so afraid to go against the grain.

“It doesn’t work on me”, everyone thinks they understand advertising.
Then they only buy pop-culture products by name brands, to me that’s not surprising.

The marketing world has been based on selling more eye balls, I need more exposure, more impressions, more branding!
The smart companies know that if they spend more on Customer service and making a better product, when the smoke clears they will be the ones left standing.

We’re about to enter the marketing war, you have no choice in this matter.
But it’s not about a bigger megaphone to try and create more useless banter.

We're about to enter the marketing war, you have no choice in this matter. But it's not about a bigger megaphone to try and create more useless banter

That’s what we don’t like, your boring message that’s supposedly tailored to my “demographic”.
Really you don’t care about my opinion of your product, you’re making a feeble attempt at increasing your website traffic.

The war of traditional versus the future, we’ve seen this battle before.
Older people don’t like to change but the younger generation can hardly wait for what’s in store.

Agencies have ruled over the marketing world for long enough, I wonder how they’re going to adapt.
When you work for one and offer an idea outside TV, radio, or print, you’re bound to get your hand slapped.

“Recommend billboards or TV, we make a quick 15% off every ad we sell!”
It’s this mentality at agencies that makes me think their business model is about to go through hell.

Monetize the website, monetize the Facebook, monetize our blog!
Figure how much profit we can make, heck put our logo on that dog!

You think I hate mass media, commercials are bad and have no use for the newspaper.
It’s not the medium, it never was, it’s your attitude I have a problem with, you sound like Don Draper.

it's your attitude i have a problem with you sound like don draper

You assume people want to hear about what your company has to say.
But for 98% of us we could care less about your company while going about our day to day.

Stop trying to get more exposure and stop interrupting me while I listen, watch and read.
Focus on the 2% and make sure you’re there the second your service is in need.

Have a conversation with your customers and realize you need feedback to grow.
Your other option is to listen to no one and change nothing, this last opportunity you will inevitably blow.

As marketing budgets get slashed and business models turned upside down, bankruptcy is no longer the “unthinkable”.
If you don’t want to adapt, if you don’t change the course. Always remember the titanic was touted as being unsinkable.

Experience will tells us it’s too risky to change, “focus on your strengths, don’t follow fads”.
Instagram and Snapchat seem like effort, it’s much easier just to buy ads.

Now here’s your warning, I’m delighted to let you know.
If you ignore the conversation and keep interrupting us, it’ll start to show.

You’ll alienate your loudest customers and they’ll be sure to let everyone know,
what an ignorant company you are and to your competition they’ll go.

The companies that will win have something you can’t get from an agency.
A dedicated tribe of people who care dearly about your company.

So fire the marketing department and hire a philanthropist or nine.
Begin your tribe by telling your story to the world online.

Written in January 27, 2012. Originally titled “The Marketing Rap”.

Better and Faster Book

Better And Faster: The Proven Path To Unstoppable Ideas [7 Quotes]

No matter what business you’re in, to thrive you must fight the presumption that you know your customer

“No matter what business you’re in, to thrive you must fight the presumption that you know your customer.”

As soon as you claim to “know your ideal customer” you’ve lost. You no longer try to impress, you develop a standard operating procedure, you try and stream line your operation at the detriment of your customer. Always, always, ALWAYS ask for feedback and never shut down a customer from speaking their mind, even if you disagree. The fact that you are willing to open yourself up to feedback it a step ahead of everyone else.

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Ben Hill Griffin Stadium - Florida Gators

How Do You Build a Visionary University?

You pick what you want to be known for.

Crazy Florida Gators fansDo you think the University of Florida cares about their academic performance? No, they don’t because they don’t need to. Their sports following for Basketball and Football is incredible and enough to give students a great reason to go there.

 

Do you want to go to the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School of Business)? Do you want to play on their Basketball team? They haven’t won their division since 1979 and have never won the NCAA tournament. But that doesn’t matter, the only reason you’re going to Wharton is to get the best financial education money can buy.

 

“Standing out” is an underrated strategy when it comes to Universities and how to compete. That’s because it’s only up until now that they’ve never had to compete. The barrier to entry in to most higher level jobs in the past 20 years was a University degree or a comparable education. If you wanted a better job, you had to go to a post-secondary institution. Up until only 5-10 years ago, you didn’t have many choices of where to go to University. If you were from Regina you either went to the University of Saskatchewan or University of Regina, OK maybe Calgary or Edmonton (maybe Leftbridge, who knows). But why travel when you can go to your home town University?

 

But now you have to look across Canada and around the world because taking University from an institution away from home is going to be expensive either way. If your options are to move to Saskatoon or Dubai now you have an honest chance of attending the University of Dubai. (and next year it will be even easier)

Today your choices for post-secondary education have never been more abundant.

Education is free online. Want to learn about Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing from Copenhagen Business School? Click the link and sign up for free. Or how about What Managers Can Learn From Philosophers from the University in Châtenay-Malabry, France. Yup, that ones free as well. Or how about What a Plant Knows (and other things you didn’t know about plants) from Telaviv University.

Coursera Home Page

You can make the argument that the quality of online education can’t compete with in person lectures at any of the bricks and mortar degree granting institutions. Combine that with not being able to verify “who” wrote your final exam and the traditionalists may have a reason why we shouldn’t trust an online degree. Even if the quality isn’t there yet, it won’t be long before it is. Why wouldn’t you go online to get a more interesting lecture about a topic you care about more, taught by someone who’s more passionate about their craft?

Dukes crazy Basketball Fans

What changed? Why is it getting more difficult for universities to compete?

1. More universities means more options for students

Today enough people are convocating and not finding the job they’re were promised, so why did we go to school, to get “smart” or to get a job?

Today, I can take almost any course I want online with an assortment of Universities to choose from. So why would I pick yours?

 

2. More graduates means more options to choose from: a degree doesn’t guarantee a job. 

A lot of people go to post-secondary to get an “education”. That means something different to everyone so don’t start trying to define what “education” means, someone can argue the opposite point. Besides getting an “education” school in the past was very good at getting people jobs.

Did you get a job because you had the education? Or did you get the education because you had to get a job? How we approach the degree vs job debate really changes the way we approach how post-secondary should be administered and in the end how institutions will compete in the future.

 

3. Transparency is making it hard for people to hide behind the letters that come after their name. 

If you convocated from a post-secondary institution in the past 10 years I bet you could recall at least one to two professors that well, to put it politely, were completely incompetent. Ten years ago you could fill out the form at the end of the semester and hopefully the administration and the professor read the feedback. Most likely they didn’t.

Even if you disagree with the student the fact of the matter is you can’t control what they say about you. Education will be held accountable.

Today, a Tweet, a Facebook post and a review on RateMyProfessor.com are the standard now. If you really good OR bad people will tell their friends, they will tell their friends, and alas, word-of-mouth remains the most powerful marketing tactic few organizations want admit to. The truth (or perceived truth) about a professor, program, or institution will spread like wildfire online.

Do you know what graduates are saying about your institution?

 

Can I give you some feedback?

The Phrase You Hate To Hear But Have to Say Yes To

Can I give you some feedback?

If you’re like me this is one of the worst phrases to hear in the English language. What they’re actually saying is “would you like me to tell you how I actually feel about you? And oh yeah, if it was good we would have already told you so it’s almost guaranteed to be negative.”

Without feedback we never learn, we never get better, and we never progress.

The extent of your management career will largely be based on the amount of feedback you’re willing to take.
I’ve said to Brandon many times that we will get as far as the feedback we’re willing to take.

I still love the Tim Sanders analogy of “how” to process feedback. He says it’s like eating an almond. Not all of the feedback is valuable, find the nut at the middle (the learning moment) and discard everything else. Rarely do we receive 100% true feedback.

Three reasons why you need to get feedback from your team:

 

1. If you currently think “my team loves me though, I don’t need their feedback to know that”. You need to ask for feedback soon, you’re worse off than you think. It’s always those managers who “think” their staff can give honest feedback but don’t. Instead there ends up being a revolving door for staff, lots of turnover and no long term employees.

 

2. It underhandedly shows your team that you care, that you aren’t a know-it-all, and that you’re not too egotistical to change. You don’t have to listen to everything you hear but you do have to make yourself available to hear people when they want to give some feedback. Listen to people shows you care, even if you know you aren’t getting the best feedback, listen, don’t talk, don’t interrupt, just listen. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

 

3. The teams that communicate up the hierarchy just as efficiently as down the hierarchy will be the most sought after and in turn the most effective.
If your team doesn’t have a feedback strategy soon, your competitors will. They’ll be able to turn on a dime, adjusting to feedback they’re receiving. Today it is relatively simple to setup a feedback strategy, 10 years ago a lot more difficult. 5 years from now it will be baked into the strategy of the high performing teams, and I’m sure it’ll get easier and easier to track, manage and act upon the information acquired.

comfort zone and where the magic happens

I Was Completely Terrified Yesterday

I had to lead three consecutive sessions of Volleyball for 8-14 year olds. I have never done this before. I’ve coached for six years now, have only coached boys and the youngest I’ve ever coached was 15 years old.

So I’m completely out of my comfort zone…

 

I get to the gym my hearts racing because I have to register every athlete in the next 20 minutes (you guessed it, never done that before either!) and then my nightmare happens. We were at the wrong gym. And not just me. I had over 70 Volleyball players and their parents coming to the wrong gym on the opposite side of town. Two cars were sitting in the wrong parking lot waiting for me to open the wrong doors to the wrong school. I completely messed up. I had one very important job to do, to confirm the gym, and I confirmed the wrong gym**.

 

The two coaches who were helping me, Reed and Michael quickly got to the other school and started practice with the kids, without myself, the practice plans or the balls. These guys saved my life!! Reed and Michael, you da MVP!

 

After the worst possible thing that ever could happened(or so I thought) we only had a couple kids quit because of location, but we now have a better gym and I learned how to run three different sessions for 8-14 year olds.

 

Lesson learned, when times get tough, when you’re at your max stress level, you’re usually not as bad off as you think. Take a deep breath and realize it’s when we’re at our worst, people judge us the most, and that’s when we earn their trust. So smile and don’t be afraid to laugh at your own mistakes. We’re all human.

 

**In my defence I did check back in my e-mails, I had wanted to book the Laval highschool but instead the email said elementary school. We’d booked the highschool. One of the first lessons you learn from Mr. Dale Carnegie is never ever tell someone they’re wrong. That is NOT a good way to build rapore.  The highschool was a better gym with a better spectator area so it actually turned out better for everyone.

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.

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