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How to be a millionaire

First step, make a million dollars.

Is purple necessary? Shariq wonders why so many big, successful, profitable companies (Dell, Wal-Mart, Accenture) are boring. Doesn’t it contradict so many of the pundits who say we need to be remarkable, small, excellent, etc?

It’s pretty compelling logic–look at superbig, superprofitable companies, do what they do and boom, you’ll be successful.

There are two problems. The first is that they already did what you are setting out to do. So copying them doesn’t give anyone a reason to switch. Filling a filled niche is incredibly difficult and doing it without something to give you a significant edge doesn’t work.

The second problem is that long ago, every one of these companies you’d like to emulate was remarkable. Dell, for example, wasn’t boring when they invented so many of the tactics that remade the industry. Wal-Mart faced down skeptics for decades.

Bottom line: growth, if it’s growth you’re after, doesn’t come from acting like you are already the dominant force in the market, able to deliver average products for average customers. Growth always comes from the edges.

It’s so easy

I think the reason we get so upset at astounding examples of bad customer service (at least that’s what my email seems to demonstrate) is that most of us have given great customer service and realized that most of the time it’s not only fairly easy, it’s actually quite rewarding.

The Jesuits say, "what we give to the poor is what we take with us when we die." I wonder if the service we get in life is directly related to the service we give? (Thanks to Craig for the photo–yes, it was a personal call.)

What to read now/next

Sometimes it breaks.

12 years ago, I had a list of blogs here.

But twelve years is a long time.

So now, the list is filled with broken links.

Make your own! (ht)

Your favorite posts of 2006


Anyone can add this feature to a blog. Takes about five minutes (except for the unhappy job of eliminating the hundreds of posts that didn’t make the cut). Please go ahead and expand the list and then vote your favorites up and the losers down. Thanks.

The latest graffiti

BubblePLY lets anyone put little talk bubbles on other people’s YouTube videos. Sort of a second generation of me-video.

The examples on their site aren’t so good, but no doubt the artistz out there will have a good time pushing this envelope.


Check out this spectacularly detailed expose of a brand of chocolate that costs more than $2,000 a pound. Where else but Texas? What’s Noka Worth? (Part 10).

Price is always part of the marketing story… always. When the price can’t be held up as authentic, things start to fall apart. Consumers, even those that aren’t wealthy, regularly pay 10 times or a hundred times more than they need to for some items, largely because of the story. And we justify that expense with some very complicated internal lies. But sooner or later the stories just don’t hold up.

Thanks, Andy.

The Career Manifesto

From Michael via Hugh at gapingvoid. Excerpts:

1. Unless you’re working in a coal mine, an emergency ward, or their
equivalent, spare us the sad stories about your tough job. The biggest
risk most of us face in the course of a day is a paper cut.

4. Although your title may be the same, the job that you were hired to
do three years ago is probably not the job you have now. When you are
just coasting and not thinking several steps ahead of your
responsibilities, you are in dinosaur territory and a meteor is coming.

6. Your technical skills may impress the other geeks, but if you can’t
get along with your co-workers, you’re a litigation breeder. Don’t be
surprised if management regards you as an expensive risk.

8. Don’t believe what the organization says it does. Its practices are
its real policies. Study what is rewarded and what is punished and
you’ll have a better clue as to what’s going on.

10.If you plan on showing them what you’re capable of only after you get promoted, you need to reverse your thinking.

Three follow ups

From Nicolas: ModernCaptcha – when captcha meets usability.

And I recently posted on Whale Season, which I bought. It’s very funny and very good. If you’re a Carl Hiassen fan, go for it.

And The Houdini Solution is a new book from a new author and quite thought-provoking. Recommended.

Have a nice Festivus… enjoy yourself.

Top Two Best Times to Invest in Good Copy

Badsonyad Time 1: When you’re going to spend more than $100,000 on a newspaper ad, it’s probably worth spending a few hundred bucks to write a good one.

In case you’re having trouble reading the small white print against the faded blue background, here’s an excerpt, "It’s time to truly experience high definition. It’s time to finally understand what 1080p really means. The Blu-ray® Disc way. The Sony Way." I won’t even try to decode the headline.

Time 2: When you are only spending $50 on a Google AdWord or $100 on a direct mail campaign, if it works, it’ll pay for itself. And then you can buy more.

Either way, copy pays.

The story always matters

I got a soccer ball in the mail today. I don’t know from soccer, but as far as I can tell, it’s just like any other soccer ball.

Except it’s not.

It’s not… because it’s from Fair Trade Sports. They only use adult labor (which shouldn’t even be necessary to say) and they donate after-tax profits to kids’ charities.

Does it change the way you play soccer? Probably more than you know. Does it change the way the balls get sold? Of course.

A commodity is only a commodity if you treat it as one.