Have you ever been out in public, bored or not knowing what to do and your first reaction is to grab your phone? You do it all the time. On dates, with family, during meetings, that device is becoming the death of you.
Just like any child you need to understand what you’re doing so eventually you can leave your security blanket behind.
I really encourage people in our office to turn off notifications on their phones. All that beeping and buzzing is annoying, really think about what those notifications are. Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? Email? Really what you’re doing is getting small shots of dopamine to your brain, it’s exciting, it’s verifying you’re “cool” but how much of it is just noise?
(From the night of!)
It’s hard to give a presentation on being different. So instead of talking about it I wanted to show people that creating and being different is something anyone can do.
We made a painting, a song, and a video!
Check it out!
If all you’re doing is sharing selfies, you’re doing it wrong.
If all you do is share quotes, you’re doing it wrong.
If all you do is share vacation photos, you’re doing it wrong.
If all you do is post cat photos, you’re getting closer but you’re still doing it wrong.
To the devil’s advocate: STOP IT! The devil is doing fine on his own, he does not need your help.
Do you ever find argumentative people love to talk about the exception to the rule? Finding the one in a millionth chance and using it as “evidence” for what could happen. It’s a great way to stress yourself out. Also a good way to determine if one is a know-it-all. Do they like proving someone wrong by arguing the exception to the rule?
Why do we do it though? Why do we cause this undue harm on our minds always trying to determine “what’s the worst that could happen?” Sure it’s good to understand what’s the worst that can happen, but to act upon it, or be planning based on it is silly. If we’re constantly worried about what’s the worst that can happen we never look at what’s the best thing that can happen! Ever bring that up in a planning session? Probably not because optimism isn’t generally looked fondly on in the business community (until lately!)
What’s the WORST that could happen? What’s the BEST that could happen?
A part of our brains are built to do this, to protect us. But that same part of your brain telling you to run from danger in a dark alley is the same part that’s holding you back from doing something amazing. In ancient times running away from what scared us was a smart tactic but in today’s world we need to seek out what scares us and push through it. Playing devils’ advocate is a way to assess what’s the worst that could happen. They problem with this is that the “worst” rarely ever happens, but our brains love to focus on the smallest negative piece of feedback. So instead of finding a solution to the obstacle in the way we think about how bad the feedback was and we never move on.
Have you ever had a Blue Cheese and Pear Ice-cream cone? How about a Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper Ice-cream cone? Or maybe you have tried Carrot Cake Batter & Pralined Hazelnuts Ice-cream? That’s not a typo, Salt & Straw has been making Ice cream like this since 2011 in Portland Oregon. And people freaking LOVE it.
You must be asking now, why the hell do they sell such weird Ice cream? The answer is simple, because people LOVE it. They don’t “like” it, most people “like” Ice cream. But if you are going to travel across the city, pay for parking, wait in line, there’s something special about the Ice-cream. People who go to Salt & Straw LOVE Ice cream and they can hardly wait to try the next crazy concoction the Ice cream gods can think up.
I’m telling you about Salt & Straw because every time we past one in Portland there was a lineup outside the door 15 minutes long at the very least, an hour long at peak times. The Ice cream was priced reasonably, $3-10 cones and bowls. That was the most unique quality that we saw again and again; businesses don’t charge an arm and a leg for unique products in Portland, they’d rather charge an honest price and create mass amounts of demand. After all, a lower allows many more people to try your creation!
(Yes I spoke with a women who got the Blue Cheese and Pear combination, she loved it, weird.)
But it wasn’t only Salt & Straw that had a completely ridiculous lineup every time we walked by, the famous Voodoo Doughnut was just as bad.
The famous Voodoo Doughnut was a very unique experience. We waited in line for 20 minutes, finally at the front we look at the menu expecting you know, $10-20 maybe? Like you know what you’d find at a fancy Doughnut Delicatessen? Nope, most were under $2 other than the fancy ones.
How peculiar! Any MBA worth half their education would say, “Raise your prices! You could be making WAY more cash money!”. The obvious response to the MBA: “then it wouldn’t be special anymore!”
The reason Voodoo Doughnut is so good is that it isn’t easy to get. You can’t just go buy one from any old store. You must wait in line. But the price point is so anyone can afford it! A brilliant concept, charge an honest price, do something amazing.
The best part about the entire experience was the box (shown below). The box is a piece of art you want to put on display. You don’t pay extra for it, everybody gets one and as soon as you leave Voodoo it turns into a Social Object (people talk about it).
“Good things come in pink boxes”.
Next was the advertising. Some amazing displays of creative work, travelling through Portland will have you kinking your neck a lot. The Lyft billboard shown below was a monstrosity in downtown Portland, our Uber driver pulled over so I could take this picture!
Portland is going through a change. You don’t see a lot of super cars. You don’t see a lot of suits or people looking down their nose at you. It’s a very laid back, friendly, west coast vibe. They like to have fun and businesses are not afraid at using humour in their messaging. See below.
Marine Layer is a clothing company started on the coast. They have fun (like this sign), staff is really friendly and “it’s an Airbnb. (seriously)”. My favourite part.
Welcome to “Nike Biketown USA”
A week before we arrived in Portland Nike and the city had arranged a $10 million bike share program in the downtown core. You sign up online or on the app, connect a credit card, and you have a bike for $2.50 per hour. What a brilliant idea! They have stations all over so you don’t have to return your bike to the same place you rented it. Amazing.
I believe they stole this one from Europe, what an amazing service. 1,000 bright orange Nike bikes are all over Portland.
The vast majority of these weird Purple Cow places had several things in common
- The best ones had a unique characteristic (Superpower) that they are now known for
Unconventional Ice-cream, best chicken and waffles, completely original doughnut flavours, and entire library full of whiskey.
- They weren’t expensive
The restuarnts that had a wait time (Mother’s, Pok Pok, Voodoo Doughnut, Salt & Straw) were very affordable if not considered “cheap” price point to other establishments close by.
- They were inclusive; you see all walks of life frequenting the best places
One of our Uber driver summed it up for us; “you don’t see many suits anymore, people don’t care about the money, they would rather be comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, big money isn’t looked up to here.”
So what did this little ol Canadian from the prairies learn? Location isn’t an excuse. Portland has never been a major tourist destination until the last decade. They are forward thinking with government policy (this attracts the young people). Without the young people you aren’t growing. But the to attract young people it has to be affordable, Portland is. And finally if you want to be a world renown place, company, or even Airbnb, find your superpower. Embrace your superpower.
All the best places in Portland had something special about them, something weird.
Now go find your Purple Cow, your social object or superpower, whatever it is don’t be afraid to be different.
How The Golden Rule Applies To Your Social Media Strategy
Common sense is not so common when it comes to social media. “Businesses act too much like businesses online” – Conrad Hewitt
Conrad shares with us why he thinks a lot of companies get it wrong with it comes to social media and their online marketing presence. Running accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram he sees it all right now and from the sounds of it he’s not happy! It’s easy to sound professional and to echo “business jargon”, it’s hard to create a personality that people come to like and trust.
It’s hard to argue against developing a personality online with so many local examples (@ReginaPolice, @KiltedBroker, @Eric_Dillon, @BradWall, @Nenshi). All these folks don’t exactly “follow the rules” when it comes to social and their fans absolutely adore it. Don’t take yourself (or your business) to seriously online.
With the amount of options we all have to buy what you are selling from someone else, you have to figure out a way to cut through the clutter. Being different is now the safest thing your brand can be.
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