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Novelty vs action

Nerds, geeks, early adopters: they do things because they’re fresh and new and might not work. They’re novel.

Most people, though, hesitate in the face of novelty. Because novelty is risky. Shoes with goldfish in the heels. The latest techno-ska-punk track. The new kind of phone…

The reason we haven’t taken systemic action is that it’s scary, not because it isn’t novel enough.

If you want more people to take more action, make it safe, don’t make it interesting.

[PS In a month, it’s Halloween. Please don’t buy cheap chocolate.]

Extensions and souvenirs

When a brand is successful, there’s often a desire to extend it.

Disneyland was an extension of Disney movies. It reflected some of the magic of the movies, but created something new and valuable as well. Disneyland had some of the Disney essence and then built something additive and new.

Apple did the same thing with the iPhone in extending the brand of the Mac.

On the other hand, the new Leica watch is simply a souvenir. It’s not a better watch. It’s not more of a Leica than any of a dozen other overpriced watches could be seen to be. It’s simply there to remind you that you liked the original. It’s a souvenir of a feeling, not the creator.

Nothing wrong with a souvenir. I’m sure Leica will make a profit from their watch with little damage to the promise that the brand itself makes. But make too many souvenirs and you become a hollow shell, wasting the chance to make the change you seek.

The crappy t-shirt you bought at your favorite musician’s concert is a souvenir, but they shouldn’t count on that as their legacy or the engine of their growth.

All day, individual creators have to make choices about what they’re going to do next. Sometimes we can create an extension. And sometimes, we decide to make a souvenir instead.

Logistics vs (and) innovation

When innovation arrives, the logistics people have to scramble to keep up, because innovation always makes it hard to do things the way we used to.

Over time, an innovative company thrives if it can get its logistics in order. Ship the right stuff to the right people on time and on budget.

Once this happens, it often means that the logistics people gain in power and influence. After all, they pulled off a miracle.

Then, when the next innovation shows up, the logistics voices in the room are likely to have more say in what happens next. That’s why upstarts who feel like they have nothing to lose are so much more likely to innovate–they don’t realize how hard it is going to be.

Innovation doesn’t work without logistics.

Retribution, revenge, and especially, remorse

When an organization has caused harm (through error or intent), it’s tempting to be sure they learned a lesson. We want folks to take responsibility, to admit culpability and to be sure they won’t do it again.

But if you need those things to happen to make things better for all of us, we’re going to have to wait a long time.

Perhaps it makes sense to embrace, “now that I know what I know now, I can make a new decision based on new information and do this instead.”

Taking responsibility for yesterday is great. Taking action for tomorrow is even better.

We often become what we do, as opposed to simply doing what we say we would when under duress.

Social pressure

It’s normal to feel it. It changes our careers, our dress and even the way we live our lives.

The question is: is it caused by external or internal forces?

More often than not, it’s simply something we invent. The people we imagine are busy watching and judging us might not even know we exist.

Social pressure is something we make up to simplify our decisions.

The parts between

Listen to one musician’s track in isolation on any record (like this one) and you might be amazed at how trivial they sound. Paul McCartney, one of the great bass players, in one the great groups of all time–it sounds a bit like a school music recital.

But we don’t listen to the tracks in isolation, because the isolation isn’t the point.

Human beings care about harmonies. About originality. About the tension that comes from the new. And we care about the dynamics between and among people who are working together.

That’s why we listen to the whole song, not one musician’s isolation track.

White glove service

It’s not about the gloves.

The pointlessness of the white gloves is actually a big part of it.

Good service meets expectations. It is the fulfillment of a promise to the customer.

White glove service goes far beyond that. It is designed to surprise and delight. It creates a connection with the recipient that goes beyond a simple transaction, already paid for. It is a signal of care and respect, of gratitude and abundance.

As soon as we start to wonder if slightly smudged grey gloves are okay (“no one will notice,”) or look to others for what is acceptable, then we might as well simply do the minimum.

It’s possible your organization has just saved a ton of money by moving online–no longer paying rent, upkeep or overhead on a local sales facility. One way to replace this demonstration of stability and commitment is to invest in white glove service instead.

Because it is an investment.

It pays off in loyalty, in word of mouth and in employee satisfaction as well.

If you do it right. Which means you need to do it all the way. Or don’t bother.

The chief hype officer

The chief marketing officer at a big company has an impossible job. The typical duration of a CMO is 18 months because once the CEO realizes that hype for money can’t solve their problems, they get restless.

The problem lies in what people think “marketing” is.

Marketing isn’t paying for ads, changing the logo or building a social media presence.

Marketing is product design, customer service, pricing, customer delight and creating and living a remarkable story. Marketing is creating the conditions for the network effect.

And yet, the typical CMO isn’t in charge of ANY of those things.

No wonder it’s frustrating. You thought you were getting a marketer, but all you did was hire someone to make a commotion on social media.

The words matter. If you are hiring someone to be in charge of promotion, say so. But if you want someone to be in charge of marketing, have them be in charge of all of it. If it touches the market, it’s marketing.

The beef tax

We’re all paying it, every day.

In the US, taxpayers subsidize the cattle industry with billions of dollars of tax money each year. Most of that goes to pay for feed crops, but there is also a huge allocation of public land for the grazing of cows. About half the land in the entire country is just for cattle.

In addition, a significant portion of the climate problem is directly caused by the effects of bovine respiration as well as the clear-cutting of forests for grazing worldwide. It’s like someone is dumping manure on your living room carpet and asking you to pay for it.

The end result is that whether or not you eat meat, you’re paying for it.

Beef is more expensive than we realize. And it’s also significantly less convenient than we give it credit for. Climate refugees, storm-damaged assets, the loss of life and homes… these are directly caused by the one billion cows that humans raise each year.

What would happen if we simply charged a fair price for the beef and milk that people consume?

The industry has done a great job of persuading people that beef is cheap, convenient, easy, luxurious, wholesome and benign. It’s none of those things.

I wonder how long it will take us to realize just how much it costs us.

Is there a word for that?

Experts have a word for it. If it’s important, conceptual or frequently discussed, there’s probably a domain-based word that experts understand. The precision of a special vocabulary allows them to do better work.


Just because someone knows the word for it doesn’t mean that they understand, or that they’re a useful expert.


If someone doesn’t know the word for it, it might be worth investigating what else they don’t know.

Domain knowledge and experience are powerful tools.