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The two problems

The first problem is the problem.

The second problem is your inability to admit the problem, talk about the problem and ask for help in solving the problem.

The first problem is that your customer service is lousy, you are an alcoholic, your products are boring, you don’t treat your employees well.

None of those problems are going to go away.

None will go away, that is, if you don’t acknowledge them, clearly and loudly and often. And ask for help.

If you don’t measure the first problem, then you have a second problem.

If you don’t measure the first problem, it’s not going to go away, is it?

The Because Effect

Thomas points us to a great idea from Doc Searls: Exploring the Because Effect.

Facebook opens its API. Now there are businesses designed to profit because of that opportunity.

I’m especially interested in exploring what I’ve been calling the because effect.
This is what you get when your new business isn’t just about inventing
and controlling technologies and standards, but about taking advantage
of the new opportunities opened up by fresh new technologies and
standards. For example, making money because of blogging, or RSS, or desktop Linux, or whatever — rather than just with those things.

The because effect is a kind of jujitsu. While other people look to make money with something, you’re finding ways of making money because of something.

Where is the websheet?

I need this, which means you might need it as well.

I need a web-based spreadsheet (like google spreadsheet) or a plug in to Excel that makes it easy to do the following:

Calculate the contents of a field based on info from the web.

For example, let’s say you have a list of 20 brand names. This ‘websheet’ could automatically go to Google and return the URL of the first match of each search in a field right next to the name. Or return the number of Google matches. Or return the RSS feed of the nearest match of a blog on technorati.

Or it could go to Yahoo Finance and automatically look up the current stock price of a ticker symbol.

Or it could take a list of book titles and return the cover art from Amazon.

Once the infrastructure is there, building the particular routines would be a lot of fun for the hackers who are way smarter than me.

If the web is going to be as pervasive as we’ve all been describing it, it needs to get out of the browser and fast. I have no doubt that someone with talent and time could find the pieces necessary to do this, but I wonder why Google didn’t do it already or why someone hasn’t disrupted the spreadsheet market once and for all by offering it as a simple (and possibly free) product.

[PS I got a  lot of ideas (Excel, etc.) that weren’t right–too complicated–but then Vivek Puri pointed us to EditGrid. They’re not there yet, it needs more power, but they’re getting close! Thanks, guys.]

You don’t run a museum

I don’t run one either.

Which makes this correspondence worth reading, I think.

I got a note from James Chung, who coordinated a session at something called the Museum Institute at the Sagamore. He asked me for my thoughts about museums and marketing, something to go along with a book or two that would be read by participants at the seminars.

I wrote,

Hi James,

My mom, before she passed away, was treasurer of the Museum Store Association, which was very important to her.

We’re members of the Museum of Natural History, used to go frequently to the Liberty Science Center, have been to the Hudson River Museum, the Cropsey Foundation, the Tenement Museum, the Cooper Union, The Guggenheim, The Whitney, etc. [I left out the big museums, which we go to every month or so]

I think in every single case, what keeps museums from being remarkable:

a. the curators think the item on display is the whole thing. As a result, they slack off and do less than they should in creating an overall story

b. they assume that visitors are focused, interested and smart. They are rarely any of the three. As a result, the visit tends to be a glossed over one, not a deep one or a transcendent one

c. science museums in particular almost beg people NOT to think.

I can’t remember the last time a museum visit made my cry, made me sad or made me angry (except at the fact that they don’t try hard enough).

James was nice enough to write back with a summary from one of the people at the seminar:

The book discussion started off with my asking if they were surprised we had selected these books.  The consensus was no, not really, but about a third of the readers clearly hated the books.  Not for what they said so much, but they felt that he was not speaking about museums, his stuff did not apply to museums, or that it was all obvious anyway. 

Well, that got the conversation going because then the people who liked the books acknowledged that overall, he was right.  And that yes, it is obvious stuff, but they (museum professionals) get so wrapped up in museum work that this is exactly the stuff they miss.  I asked if it was a case of missing the forest for the trees and they said yes.  They went around in circles a bit, and then I shared Seth’s comments on museums specifically.  Oh, they had a field day with that. 

They asked how long it had been since he had been to a museum.  But the group that liked his books spoke up pretty quickly, and first acknowledged that he was trying to needle them, but then said – wait, he is part of our audience, and clearly he has thought this.  And if we are not listening to our audiences, then we may not be doing our jobs well at all.  This was bounced around for a while.  At the end I pulled it back towards Godin’s books and asked what, if anything, they got from the books, felt like they could take back to their museums and use, or share with their bosses.  Even a couple of the Godin-haters mentioned things they got from them.  After the book club, back at the cabin we were staying in, there was a lot of talking around the fireplace about branding and stories, so it was clear the books, and the discussion, made them think.

While I’m not thrilled that there are Godin-haters out there, I guess that goes with the territory. The takeaway for me is that in fact the issues of storytelling and remarkability and respect are universal, whether you’re a non-profit or a job-seeker. It’s all people, all the time.

The slimming effect

Ray Sadler points us to: Slimming photos with HP digital cameras. A setting for your digital camera that makes people thinner. (It appears to have a supermodel setting that can make people thicker as well).

Draw your own conclusions about the state of marketing, technology and our world.

Getting into heaven

Catherine sends us to Mouse Print, a website focused on the sleazy things marketers will do to trick people. At least Orbit gum has a sense of humor:

*MOUSE PRINT: “Dramatization. Orbit gum will not get you into heaven.”

I trust you

Why on earth should a recommendation from me about music or tea matter? Even if you think my blog is pretty good, should my excitement about: Live at the Roxy: Bob Marley & The Wailers encourage you to go buy it?

What about my discovery of high-quality tea at half price?

Why would anyone buy Donald Trump’s cologne? (sorry, you won’t get a link from me).

The fact is, we do care. We are almost always in search of recommendations, especially from people who don’t seem to have an ulterior motive. What’s fascinating to me is how quickly we’re willing to assume that someone making a recommendation is in it for the money. Like the President of Pakistan using a press conference with George Bush to promote his new book.

I’d like to believe that most people, most of the time, are hard to ‘buy off’. We’re too fond of our own egos and our own reputations to sell ourselves out for a few bucks.

Your pasta problem

Erik asks about Pasta Express

The Pasta Express tube cooker is the fastest, easiest way to cook pasta, vegetables and more. You’ll enjoy delicious pasta cooked to perfection every time…no pots, no stove, no mess. The Pasta Express is great for all kinds of pasta, vegetables and even hot dogs.


Actually, the Pasta Express is a plastic tube with a perforated top. You put boiling water into it (probably a tricky act), add some pasta and watch it turn into a gloppy mass as the water cools. Not only doesn’t it solve your pasta problem (what, you didn’t have a pasta problem?) but it makes bad pasta.

So, how does it sell?

It sells because the point of the commercial isn’t to sell you something that will help you make better pasta. The point of the commercial is to sell you something that you will enjoy buying.

More and more, we buy stuff where the point is the buying, not the stuff.

Welcome to microbroadcasting

Matt sends us to this video his firm did: Hive Modular   rosenlof/lucas Showcase Invitation. It’s not gripping cinema. That’s not the point.

For the 100 people who will get the link by email, it’s not about competing with Black Dahlia. It’s about being more vivid than a postcard or a letter. And now there’s room for a billion more just like it.


I was talking with someone the other night, and he said, "I was one of the first to use Wikipedia." When pressed, he confirmed, "Right at the beginning."

He’s 13.

It’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t one of the first to use Wikipedia. He was one of the first people he knew who had used Wikipedia. Big difference.


Same thing.

People make their own realities. If Bill thought he was first, then in his mind, he was. When he started using it, it began to exist. When he stops going back, it will disappear.

Every person who encounters your organization for the first time comes with beginner’s mind. She knows nothing about yesterday or how hard you worked or your financing or what it took to build it. She’s here now, she’s first, let’s go.