Archive for February, 2010

Seth’s Question

February 14th, 2010

 

Friday I had the opportunity to listen to Seth Godin at fundraiser for Haiti put on by Startup Princesses that I thought I would share what I heard. He was semi-pitching his new book, Linchpin. Seth began and ended with the same question: Are you a genius? By genius he means someone who creates something that wasn’t there before.

He then launched into a short description of the evolution of the type of work starting with hunting then farming, then factory work. At this point he took a tangent that lasted for some time as he elaborate on Henry Fords ability to make an assembly line and one of the keys to being able to do so is replaceable parts that were fairly consistent and still work within the system. Seth then extrapolated that this view has spread to replaceable people and that more and more all employees are being treated like lunch ladies (at this point Seth was showing us his large collection of lunch lady photos).

He goes onto riff that public school systems really just teach kids to be compliant so that eventually they can be good replaceable employees. Now this is a view I share in large part in that I think a lot of school systems even and especially charter schools are set up to meet the employment needs of major employers. Ideally, I think it should help kids explore there interests but that is another topic for another post.

Okay so some how Seth gets back to comparing Karl Marx’s and Adam Smith’s view of a pin making machine (2000 a day-give or take- vs the prior 4-5 per day per craftsman) Adam Smith apparently looked at it and sees the world through the eyes of those with the capital to buy the machine so that they don’t need to hire as many people and things run more efficiently and Karl apparently looks and sees the dangers to the craftsmen that now they will be replaceable. This is where he introduces where he thinks the next type of work is going to be. He used the term Artist-those that solve interesting problems and create or invent. He then hypothesizes this is because now everyone has The Machine and not just the capitalists because there is this thing on computers called the internet that allows the middle man to be cut out of the picture.

Artists are the linchpins of society that are rare but allow everyone else to work. Seth’s invitation was to become one of them and leave the cog world behind ignoring what he call the lizard brain and the resistance. If fear tells you not to do something then do it! It felt good to be going that direction. I also found his distinction between an entrepreneur and a freelancer compelling-A freelancer doesn’t make money while he is sleeping an entrepreneur does. Which are you or are you still a replaceable cog? Are you a genius?

Super Content

February 11th, 2010

Over a 100 million people people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl or at least the commercials. Companies spend big-time bucks to gain the exposure during this time. The NY Times ran an article shortly after the media blitz detailing who came out on top according to various surveys and among the most well liked were two commercials (Doritos: House Rules and Underdog) that were produced by consumers as part of crowdsourcing contest.

The Ad Lab posted the rest of the story regarding the creative geniuses behind these ads but both articles point to an opportunity of unconventional methods or sources of creativity and success that exists in the world. The online world makes it easier and easier to tap into. What are ad agency’s doing to deal with this disruptive approach? What should any company do when faced with a disruptive technology?

Success going once… going twice…

February 5th, 2010

 

I had the opportunity to listen to, former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman. She was promoting her new book (The Power of Many) and currently on the campaign trail in her quest to become the next Governor of California. (BTW her platform she shared is focused on job creation, reducing government spending, and updating the infrastructure for any CA readers)  As she paraphrased the book’s contents she talked about two characteristics that allowed eBay and many other companies to be successful.

Successful companies have

  1. A disruptive technology or a feature that creates value that wasn’t there before
  2. Some emotional need or component that is fulfilled when customers experience a service or product.

This caused me to reflect on Tshirts4Hire.com (check out this previous post for better understanding of what the company is all about. What is the technology or feature that adds previously unrealized value?

 Similar to eBay’s model I think it is the platform the space for businesses, bloggers, organizations, etc. to connect with Social Media Marketers who are willing to rent their wardrobe and share their online influence to drive traffic and customers their way.

What emotional need is met?

This is something I’m still kicking around. Meg talked about how eBay focused just on the collector community initially and that it created a community of people with common interests. This later would translate into the thrill of the hunt or bargain during an auction; the anticipation or “I’m next” feeling.

I don’t think it is the same thing for us.Tshirts4Hire is about providing options to creative and/or hard working individuals; helping them become self sufficient. It also creates a new kind of permission marketing for advertisers.

The t-Marketers (T-shirt-wearing Marketers) are consumers that are often the ones generating their own leads talking to local businesses that they would not mind representing to their online community (spammers don’t have many friends).

It is always easier to promote something you believe in or enjoy and ultimately we all are influenced by someone. We tend to even get and follow medical advice from our friends or acquaintances before we’ll go to a doctor.

This creates a way for companies to capitalize on the loyal fan base, creating self-produced testimonials and mini-commercials that can then be leveraged to sway those who haven’t yet experienced the product or service. If you’re lucky it can go viral (a demonstration of the power of many) and the company finds an audience larger than the Super Bowl or a new set of customers/application. Think of how much traction Subway has gotten out of Jared’s subs only diet.

 I’d be interested to hear what others think. Is this something that creates unrealized value? What if any emotional needs are met?

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