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11 posts from November 2008

November 29, 2008

BREAKDOWN | Colvin vs. Gladwell

UPDATED: Dec. 19 | Malcolm Gladwell and Geoff Colvin explained their understanding of how people achieve world-class success/performance with Charlie Rose. Great interviews. Watch Gladwell. Watch Colvin.


Two books were recently published about how people achieve world-class success: Geoff Colvin’s TALENT IS OVERRATED and Malcolm Gladwell’s OUTLIERS.

Both books are remarkably similar. They each dispel the notion that talent and intelligence are predictors of success. Both rely heavily on Anders Ericsson’s research into “Deliberate Practice.” And both highlight the success pathways achieved by Mozart and Bill Gates.

Colvin’s approach is geared towards business-interest and focuses mainly on one determinant of success. While Gladwell’s approach is much more general-interest and thus, includes a variety of success determinants. Both are worthwhile reads.

To help give you a basic understanding of both books, we’re going to give each one the "WHAT? | SO WHAT? | WHAT NOW?" treatment.


Colvin_talent

WHAT?:
“Talent is overrated. The gifts possessed by the best performers are not at all what we think they are. You are not a natural-born clarinet virtuoso or car salesman or bond trader or brain surgeon—because no one is.” (pgs. 6, 7)

Great performance isn’t a result of inborn abilities, intelligence or experience.

“The fact that seems to explain the most about great performance is something the researchers call deliberate practice.” (pg. 7)


SO WHAT?:
“A number of researchers now argue that talent means nothing like what we think it means, if indeed it means anything at all. A few contend that the very existence of talent is not, as they carefully put it, supported by evidence. In studies of accomplished individuals, researchers have found few signs of precocious achievement before the individuals started intensive training. Similar findings have turned up in studies of musicians, tennis players, artists, swimmers, mathematicians, and others.”

“Such findings do not prove that talent doesn't exist. But they do suggest an intriguing possibility: that if it does, it may be irrelevant.” (source)


WHAT NOW?:
To achieve great performance, you must practice, practice, and practice some more. But you must approach practicing with tremendous intensity and be absolutely deliberate with your practicing.

“Deliberate practice is hard. It hurts. But it works. More of it equals better performance. Tons of it equals great performance.” (pg. 7)



Gladwell_outliers

WHAT?:
It’s not extraordinary talent that makes you successful. It’s the extraordinary opportunities that you take advantage of which make you successful.

“Success arises out of the steady accumulation of advantages: when and where you were born, what your parents did for a living, and what the circumstances of your upbringing will all make a significant difference in how well you do in the world.” (pgs. 175, 176)


SO WHAT?:
“We are so caught up in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth.” (pg. 268)

“People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact, they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.” (pg. 19)


WHAT NOW?:
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” (pg. 42)

“Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” (pg. 41)

“The 10,000-hours rule says that if you look at any kind of cognitively complex field, from playing chess to being a neurosurgeon, we see this incredibly consistent pattern that you cannot be good at that unless you practice for 10,000 hours, which is roughly ten years, if you think about four hours a day.” (source)

“The other interesting thing about that ten thousand hours, of course, is that ten thousand hours is an enormous amount of time. It’s all but impossible to reach that number all by yourself by the time you are a young adult.” (pg. 42)

You will need extraordinary opportunities in order to reach that amount of practice time. Such extraordinary opportunities will include having encouraging and supportive parents, having the financial wherewithal to allow yourself the time to practice, having fortuitous timing, and having the advantageous experience of being involved in a special program/circumstance where you can focus on deliberate practice.

November 18, 2008

Three Reads

ONE | The New Yorker visits Snow’s BBQ
The best BBQ joint in Texas keeps getting attention. This time, The New Yorker visits. For those needing a refresher on Snow’s BBQ, read this post and watch this video ditty. >> READ MORE


TWO | A Scarcity of Achievement
Malcolm Galdwell recently spoke at Pop!Tech and shared some interesting tid-bits from his just published book, OUTLIERS. >> WATCH VIDEO
THREE | Malcolm Gladwell is "Unoriginal" and "Unserious"
Jason Zengerle takes a critical look into Malcolm Gladwell and his impact. Agree or disagree, its an interesting article about an interesting man.>> READ MORE

November 17, 2008

Marketing During this Dismal Economy

I couldn't agree more with Neal Stewart's advice, which includes ... "Find ways to engage in conversation with your heavy users and fanatical consumers. More than ever, your brand’s stalkers are going to help you spread the word."

As we marketers know, it is far less expensive to market to current customers than it is to acquire new customers ... especially during this dismal economy.

November 14, 2008

A Worthy Rant from Paul Williams


Starbucks Has Nothing To Lose - Freakin’ Go For It!

Attaboy Paul!

November 10, 2008

Eric Schmidt on Google being Frugal

Business at Google is healthy. However, in these uncertain times Google is watching its expenses and is getting downright frugal by tightening some of its famed employee perks (free food, free massages, etc.).

The New York Times ran an interesting interview with Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) where he comments on managing the company during this economic avalanche. He was asked if it is enjoyable to manage a company on a spending diet. His answer may surprise you...

Nytimes_ericgoogle_2
SOURCE | Google at 10: Searching Its Own Soul

November 07, 2008

What if Starbucks Marketed like a Church?

This blog has received lots of links from progressive-minded churches wanting to improve their marketing. It's my turn to reciprocate.

Just as churches can learn something from business marketers, business marketers can learn something from churches. Churches do things to turn off potential Christ-followers. And businesses do things to turn off potential customers.

In this video parable, the Beyond Relevance blog shares how churches subtly construct barriers to making new attendees feel welcome. Enjoy and learn ...

RSS Readers ... click here to watch the video.


** Kudos to Danny Franks for the heads-up.

Ugly Financials at Whole Foods

Retailers of all types are struggling. The October financials are in and things aren’t pretty for upscale and downscale retailers. Same store sales at upscale retailers are in a free fall: Neiman Marcus (-26.8%); Nordstrom (-15.7%); Saks (-16.6%). Same goes for comp sales at downscale retailers: Kohl’s (-9.0%); Target (-4.8). Ouch.

One company, near and dear to me, that’s struggling mightily is Whole Foods Market. Before this economic avalanche struck, Whole Foods was churning out strong sales and solid profits. Not now.

Whole Foods released fourth-quarter financials this week and the news is downright ugly. Net income for the quarter fell 96% to $1.5M. Same store sales increased by only 0.4%. (A year ago, same store sales were at 8.2%.) And, year-over-year transactions have fallen 1.5%. Net/net … fewer customers are buying fewer items, resulting in feeble sales at Whole Foods Market.

The feeble sales situation is made all the more complicated by the costs associated with Whole Foods acquisition of Wild Oats. For an excellent breakdown on how the Wild Oats acquisition has wrecked Whole Foods profitability, read Alyce Lomax’s column at The Motley Fool.

In her breakdown, Alyce notes Whole Foods has assumed $925M of debt, much of which is tied to the Wild Oats purchase and assimilation. She also notes the $425M cash infusion from a private equity firm will be used to help pay down this Wild Oats afflicted debt.

But Alyce isn’t souring on Whole Foods Market. She still believes in its mission, its model, and its merchandise. From Alyce’s perspective, Whole Foods is a cheap stock with upside once the indigestion of gobbling up Wild Oats passes and the economic climate rebounds.


UPDATE (11/8): BusinessWeek chimes in with their take on the Whole Foods Market private equity cash infusion ... "The private equity money comes at a steep price and also reflects the retailer's serious problems." READ MORE

November 06, 2008

Great Advice for All of Us

Interesting_advice

SOURCE: The Cocktail Party Rule (Hugh MacLeod)

November 05, 2008

Three Reads

ONE | Eat and Tell
With 4-million reviews written and 15-million visitors a month, Yelp is changing the business of reviews for those doing the reviewing and the businesses doing the listening. Individual Yelpers now meet offline to compare notes on what they’re saying online. Business marketers, such as Liz Johanesen (marketing director at Kimpton Hotels) are paying attention to Yelp. Liz says, “It’s an exciting new channel for us to harvest. We went from disbelief to suspicion to fully embracing it.” >> READ MORE


TWO | In Era of Blog Sniping, Companies Shoot First
“Today, whatever you say inside of a company will end up on a blog. So you have a choice as a company—you can either be proactive and take the offensive and say, ‘Here’s what’s going on’ or you can let someone else write the story for you.” — Rusty Rueff, former HR executive at Electronic Arts. >> READ MORE
THREE | Getting a Foothold in Social Media
Amber Naslund has published as good of a business-minded primer on Social Media as you’ll find. Since you’re reading about this Social Media primer e-book on a blog, YOU already get it. However, others you know don’t get it. So, share this primer with those you know who still don’t get it. Come on, do it. >> READ MORE

November 03, 2008

SNIPPET | Age of Conversation

The other day I shared some “Money Quotes” from the AGE OF CONVERSATION book. Today, I’m sharing a snippet from my essay in the book … THE MARKETING MATRIX: Ignore or Explore?

(Remember, there are 237 essays in the AGE OF CONVERSATION book. Here’s hoping you choose to explore all of them and not just this snippet.)


A major shout-out goes to Kelsey Ruger for inspiring this essay. In a presentation at a GOT SOCIAL MEDIA event in Houston he referenced the red pill/blue pill idea.

November 02, 2008

MONEY QUOTES | Age of Conversation

If you run in the same social media circles as I do, then you’re aware of the Age of Conversation collaborative book. For those unaware, the Age of Conversation is collection of essays from social media champions testifying and evangelizing the merits of businesses using social media tools to better connect with customers.

You can learn much more about this collaborative effort by visiting:

AgeOfConversation.com

To entice you to order a hardcover copy or PDF copy of the book ... riffle through this short collection of “Money Quotes” from the Age of Conversation essays: