How to Achieve Marketing Mastery Through Sushi

May 11, 2015 View Comments

I've been a fan of Garr Reynolds for a long time now. His book, Presentation Zen, is a must read in my opinion.

However, the other day he put together one of the best blog posts I have ever read about what it takes to truly succeed in your profession.

Called, "Shokunin Kishitsu & The five elements of true mastery," Garr uses the movie "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" (review here) to illustrate the type of commitment it takes to become a true master. I did the same thing a few years ago, but I think Garr does a better job (see: Sushi and Marketing Mastery).

I just love how he breaks it down.

I've used a far less elegant way of describing it, which I lifted from Nilofer Merchant called "being a student of the game," but it highlights for me (at least in the world of marketing), the difference between people who do marketing for their jobs and the people who ARE marketers.

They eat, drink, and sleep it. They study it in their spare time. They talk about it when they are "not at work."

I wish there was a "Jiro dreams of sushi" test I could give to people, but I do always screen for passion, which you can't fake.

In my hiring, I've long said, "I don't care how skilled you are, if you're not passionate, I don't want you."  Because the skills need to stay sharp and only if you are passionate about your craft will you have the desire and fortitude to go back and refine them.

Read Garr's blog post...3 times.

And remember...Never Stop Marketing.

The Skills, Network, Challenges Career Path

April 24, 2015 View Comments

When I was 18 and opted to take German in college, one of the reasons I decided to do so because I looked at the state of the world economy and thought, “well, if Germany is the largest economy in Europe, it probably can’t hurt to learn that language.”


And, after college when the opportunity came up to go to Japan, I thought, “well, Japan is the 2nd largest economy in the world [it was at the time], that could be useful one day.”


What I didn’t realize is that it’s more than the language, it’s the culture and history of the countries that help you really work within those environments.


In my Never Stop Marketing days, I was able to travel to both Germany and Japan to provide services to clients.


And, now, as Sprinklr expands globally, those same skill investments I made over 20 years ago are paying off.


In February, I was in Germany as part of the SAP partnership we have and in April, I visited Japan to help the Sprinklr Japan team get off the ground.


(And, heck, in the middle, I went to Israel-keeping the Hebrew fresh.)


It’s been rewarding and exciting to see how this part of my life/career has played out to date.


Same goes for the combined 3 years I spent living in those 2 countries. Not only did it help me learn the languages and cultures of those particular places, but it served to expand and enrich my ability to function in any foreign environment.


In a globalized world, that’s obviously a good thing.


When people ask me about “career path,” I cast it aside. I don’t think a “career path” exists. How could I have predicted the rise of Facebook, Twitter, etc. 15 years ago?


What I tell them is this:

·      Focus on building your skills. Develop new ones because you never know when they will come in handy.

·      Focus on building your network.  People whom I met 20 years ago (and stayed in touch with for genuine, non-selfish reasons [that is the key] end up being great resources for you in unexpected ways.

·      Take on big challenges: No one likes to feel like they failed or might fail, but forcing yourself to do new things that may fail is a skill in and of itself.  It’s better to force the change on yourself than have the change forced upon you. It’s Darwinian. Need to be able to adapt.


Anyway, I’m writing this on the plane back from Japan and I suppose I’m a bit reflective right now.


And inspired.


Now, it’s time to think about “what are the skills I am going to need 20 years down the road to stay relevant?”


I don’t know for sure, of course, but I do know that it involves looking at the larger trends and following the skills, network, challenge approach.

Luna Bar's Brilliant Corporate Sponsorship

April 5, 2015 View Comments

Every man knows that the only rule of pregnancy is: "when your wife has a craving, you do what you can to address it."

About 12 years ago, when my wife (aka the "NFO") was pregnant with our first child, she had only one craving...Luna Bars.

One night, around 8.30pm, she tells me "I really want a Luna bar."

"Where do you get them?"

"Well, you can usually go to store A, but they close at 8, so you need to go to store B..which is about 5 miles away."

Ugh, I thought, "you can make it," I said.  "You can get it tomorrow."

I didn't go.

Yeah, I know. Not a good way to score many points.

So, they next day, I decided to try and make it for her.

Keep in mind that this is pre-social media, but the following day, I decided to call the company.

I make my way to a Marketing person and say, "so, you guys market yourself as a nutrition bar for women, right?"

"Yes, we do," he answered.

"Well, you'll be glad to know that my wife's sole craving during her pregnancy is for Luna bars."

He chuckled.

"So, hey, I was wondering...would you guys like to be the official corporate sponsor of my wife's pregnancy?"

"Uh, we don't really have a program for that," the guy answered.

"Tell you what," I said. "How about you send a few Luna bars, a t-shirt or something, and I'll make you the official corporate sponsor."

"Sure, we can do that."

A few days later, I get a box with some Luna Bars, a few coupons, and whatever else. Great, I know.

But, here's the rub.

My wife is fiercely BRAND LOYAL to Luna Bars now. By my estimation, we have spent nearly $3000 on Luna bars (if not more) in the time since the they became corporate sponsors of my wife's pregnancy.

And my wife is a mega-brand evangelist...telling everyone how much she loves the product and creating additonal sales for them that way.

Bottom line: I think that the ROI on this particular sponsorship was very high for them ;-)

Now, I have to go back to them for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah!

Book Recommendation: Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas, and Predict

February 11, 2015 View Comments

One of my great fear motivators is becoming irrelevant in a professional sense. When you can no longer add value, you are replaced. Whether by a machine or a lower cost option, it doesn’t matter, you’re done. And it’s hard to bounce back from that.

To combat that, I spent a lot of time thinking about macro trends and playing around with new technologies.

It’s why I bought BitCoin a while ago. It’s why my daughters and I play with TinkerCad and print 3D items. It’s why I watch documentaries on Netflix (ok, I binge on a lot of other stuff as well). It’s why I explored the Dark Web, got solar panels, was one of Vonage’s first 20,000 customers, bought a Nest, ordered an Amazon Echo and more.

It’s also why I love traveling and why I have a hard and fast business travel philosophy of “always doing something unique to the city” when I visit. Otherwise, it’s airport-office-hotel-airport. This way, your eyes are opened in some way.

You get the idea. Sure, some of it is “fun,” but a lot of it is…this is how I get my head around what is coming so I can be better prepared.

In fact, in a knowledge/information economy, being able to see things before others do and then prepare for them is a non-negotiable skill and will be the source of competitive advantage.

What I didn’t have, however, was a defined PROCESS for doing this.

And that’s exactly what my friend, Rohit Bhargava, has done for all of us in his new book (disclosure: I got a free copy) called “Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas, and Predict the Future”.

It’s only 99 cents on Amazon now, so you can thank me later.

I read the whole book in one sitting while on a plane and like his previous books (all of which I enjoyed), the writing is very consumable, but more importantly, he combines theory with practicality.

You walk away with concrete steps to take so you can be a better, more sophisticated, curated trendspotter.

And that’s what you need.

Plus, he made me feel better about my fatherhood strategy (which, I admit, I got from my own dad). One of the key objectives of parenthood is to instill a sense of curiosity in your children. Help them learn how to ask questions and look at the world from a wide perspective.

Rohit confirms this approach and emphasizes that it’s important for adults (I would argue that in a world of radical transformation and disruption at lightning speed, that it’s more important than ever.

Two thumbs up on this one.

Book Recommendation: Hard Thing About Hard Things

February 2, 2015 View Comments

My wife had the good foresight to get me a copy of The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers  by Ben Horowitz.  Unlike most business books, it is very much a collection of straight shots, devoid of platitudes, and full of the emotional tumult that comes from making difficult decisions. There's a lot in here that feels like the world of Sprinklr now, making it particularly relevant for me.

Whatever size business you run (or wish to run) or even if it's just managing some people, Ben's perspective on the roller coaster ride that was his CEO career is going to both entertain and empower you.

As opposed to a consultant who, as he says "hasn't managed a fruit stand,"  Ben speaks from practical experience and recognizes that these things aren't easy. They're hard.

He helps you achieve the Zen of management--well, not really, but he gives you the comfort to know that you can't achieve it...which helps you achieve it, if you follow me.

If you are a "student of the game" of business, I believe you will enjoy this one.

Must Read Book: The Network Always Wins

November 30, 2014 View Comments

Nine out of 10 business books don't live up to the hype.  The Network Always Wins is not one of those. Pre-order it now.

Most of the time, they are very good articles and someone says "hey, you should write a book about that." In reality, they shouldn't.

I'm embarrassed to say that, until about 3 weeks ago, I had never heard of Peter Hinssen.  I was privileged to share a stage with him at the Microsoft CXO Next summit for 300 enterprise CIOs in Redmond, WA.

Man, I wish I had heard of him before.  I just finished devouring his book, The Network Always Wins: How to Influence Customers, Stay Relevant, and Transform Your Organization to Move Faster than the Market, which is EXCELLENT.

I often say that it's not about social media, it's about how social technologies transforms every part of business (and the world).  

Well, Peter gets all of that...and more. He clearly articulates how industries, paradigms, and organizations are going to be disrupted (and need to be) because of the arrival of highly connected, effective, costless (basically) networks. 

Hence the name.

If you are concerned about your own career (well, the idea of career is dead, according to Hinssen), the future competitiveness of your kids, your company, or your country...then you MUST read this book as soon as you can.

If you want to get laid off or stagnate, then skip it.

Encouraging Employee Advocates- United Airlines Case in Flight

November 11, 2014 View Comments

I'm actually a pretty big fan of United Airlines.  I find the service to be solid, reliable, and convenient.

One of my habits, perhaps not surprisingly, is talking to flight attendants. They are a wealth of information.

On my recent flight to Seattle, I met Leah and I was THRILLED to see that she had an apron with her name on it. Immediately, I thought..."Hey, United is really trying to live the values of 'Friendly' and taking it to the next level."

I asked her about it. Her response surprised me.

She had a name badge that was a pin, but it kept breaking, so she went out and WITH HER OWN MONEY, spent $40 to have her name embroidered on her apron. And she wasn't reimbursed.

In my mind, if you have a passionate employee who takes pride in her job and takes the initiative to create an even better customer experience, that's something you want to encourage and reward.

Here's to hoping that Leah (employee ID: N7699) gets the recognition she deserves.

Protect Your Phone: Get Lookout Now

September 30, 2014 View Comments

Oh man, this was just great.

I am in Switzerland now and I got a temporary SIM card.  Once I logged on, I received this (which would go to any account).  Just a great way to protect yourself from phone theft.

Book Recommendations for Leaders

September 29, 2014 View Comments

Two books I just finished that I wanted to recommend.

Particularly relevant for anyone who has to lead a group or an organization.

The first is written by the CEO/Founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman. It’s called The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age and highlights how managing people has changed since the era of lifetime employment has come to an end.

They reframe a job as a “tour of duty” in which the company makes clear to the employee what s/he will get out of the next assignment while at the same time, the employee promises s/he will stick with the job until the end of the tour. They stay because reputational risk is too great to leave it.

It’s a quick read and a solid framework for thinking about developing talent in today’s networked age.

Meanwhile, you can always look to the military for inspiring stories of courage, bravery, and leadership. In Pegasus Bridge, the acclaimed historian Stephen E. Ambrose details the first invasion effort of D-Day and the strategic imperative of a group of British airborne troops of taking a canal bridge deep behind enemy lines.

This is a book about planning, preparation, team building, leadership, strategy, execution, and more.

You’ll appreciate the “Greatest Generation” more and hopefully you’ll never be in a life/death situation like this with the fate of the free world hanging in the balance.

However you will be in a position where you need to lead a group of people on a mission. Learn from the best.

Sleep Number Bed and the Connected and Empowered Customer

July 21, 2014 View Comments

You have probably been in hundreds of conversations like this. Either as a Screenshot_2014-07-14-05-41-49participant or the originator.

Someone asks a question. Others answer. A purchase decision is heavily influenced one way or the other.

And, as is more and more often the case, the company isn’t really involved in the process.

Look at this thread. Then, look at it through the eyes of a marketer.

You have:

  • one prospect asking a question.
  • another prospect asking for similar input.
  • a brand detractor
  • 2 brand promoters
  • a brand advocate

Now, if you are Sleep Number, you might like to

  1. know about this conversation (you need Social Listening)
  2. profile these people (Profiling)Screenshot_2014-07-14-05-41-34
  3. route people to various parts of the company for follow on action (Queues, Governance, Automated Rule Engine)
  4. understand just how valuable your promoters are (CRM Integration)
  5. reach out to the prospect (engagement)
  6. see how your efforts worked or not (reporting)
  7. put an offer in front of the prospect (paid ad)

and more.

You’ll probably want to also understand how it all works together, which is why you want all of these capabilities integrated natively.

In the Social@Scale Journal, we share how more and more of the buying journey is done before the customer ever even connects with a brand. We also share what some brands are doing about it.

Either way, this is the new normal. Empowered customers connecting with each other.

The opportunity for brands is to find, cultivate, and grow these relationships through experience management over time.

Maintaining the context and history of relationship is the first step. You need to know who your friends and fans are if you expect to have them help you.