I’ve done it. I’ve sucked again! Over the past 6 months I’ve blogged a total of 5 times. I’m now officially booted from the “once a month blogger” club. Sure I’ve been very busy with my move and all. But I’ve also been busy at coming up with excuses.
So I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a new post every day for a month. Again. I did it last year (count em, there’s 30!) on a whim. There were a few times I almost quit, but I persevered and proved to myself that I can actually accomplish a goal! Some of the content I produced when I forced my hand was awesome. But some of it was craptacular too. Either way, I was able to push full posts consecutively for 30 days straight.
So, I mentioned casually to John Hawkins that I was thinking about firing up the old blog maching again. If nothing else than for the sake of getting more posts on my site and not feeling like such a has-been blogger. He said he liked the idea and he wanted to join me. We also may have winged Jake Ludens into it, who’s blog is in the same state as ours and is badly in need of an updated post (just helpin ya with a nudge there, dude!). I’m thinking of throwing a couple of other projects at it too, at least Shirtwatch and Portagame. Both of those sites are going through transitions and could use the push.
Last year I created a page (here) to track my progress. This year I’ll add another page to the series where I’ll keep the headlines for the posts created by John, Jake, and myself.
And I think I’ll also open it up this year. Anyone else want to join us? I call it “My Own 30 Day Challenge”. No rewards, no MAKE MONEY ONLINE schemes or pitches. It’s all personal. The challenge is drive yourself to create content for 30 days straight, and the reward is knowing you’re able to follow-through, as well as the ability to practice blogging.
So who’s in? Reply in the comments below and I’ll add your blog to the list!
Best of luck!
Aug 2, 2008 Business & Marketing
In my previous post, I eluded to being a “Purple Cow”. For those who may not know, a “Purple Cow” is a product, service, or company that is memorable, exceptional, and/or remarkable. It’s a term that comes from author Seth Godin, who actually wrote a book called “The Purple Cow”.
As I position my department into becoming the “Purple Cow” of the company, or perhaps being able to launch Purple Cow level of products, I have been keeping my eyes open for companies, services, websites, products and books that are indeed Purple Cows. They are the things that do something spectacular. Things that make me stop and think “Hey, I like this. They are doing something really cool.”
I’ve found several examples, and this is just from one day’s worth of looking.
The first example is a little unusual. If you were looking at the this site, you wouldn’t think much of it. Unless you were an art collector. It’s a lot of flash. They threw all the SEO rules out the window. And I’m sure Jakob Nielsen would have a fit. But it is actually quite remarkable.
What is it? It’s simply an Art Storage company. Really. Art Storage. Seems like boring stuff, doesn’t it? You take art, put it in a crate, and stick it in a warehouse somewhere until the piece is sold to a new owner or ready to be put on display. What makes Minds Eye different? Their site just reeks of passion for the stuff. Not the art, but the passion of preserving and transporting the art. Every piece of Flash added to their site shows how serious these guys are about protecting your rare, one-of-a-kind, investments. In this type of business, that passion translates into a piece-of-mind that items will be taken care of.
With passion comes exemplary service. You always remember when you get exemplary service. It was the waiter who let you order an entree from the dinner menu during lunch hour. Or the airline employee who carted your wives bags across the parking lot while she handled the kids. Maybe it is the Starbucks employee that knows your first name, and has your order ready as soon as they see you pull up. There are countless examples of exemplary service. And all of those examples root from a passion of service.
The second example comes from the real world. I was running errands today and happened into the local Office Depot. The world headquarters of Office Depot are located here in Boca Raton, FL, so I really wonder if this remarkable “Purple Cow” I saw at the store was a test market or not. What was this purple cow in my local Office Depot? Digital price tags! Something seemingly so simple, but executed so well, are perfect examples for this post. I’ve heard about digital price tags in other countries, but this was my first encounter with them in person. These things are brilliant. A small LCD screen, an RFID or other type of wireless chip, and a battery. Every product in the store had them. If a red light was blinking, that meant the tags were on sale. These tags will save countless merchandising and retailing hours, saving staff time to do things like customer service instead. Even more so, it allows Office Depot to respond to market prices instantly. If that means reducing prices to match a competitor, or fluctuating prices to respond to increased cost, Office Depot has the ability to do it immediately. Take this a step further and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these digital price tags adjust based on supply and demand. Imagine an algorithm that automatically adjusts the price of a product based on shelf life. If it’s been sitting there 30 days, it goes down 10%. If it’s been 90 days it goes down 30%. Automatically.
Imagine if toy retailers had these prices during the Nintendo Wii shortage crisis (which is still happening almost 2 years after it launched). Retailers can inflate the prices to meet the high demands. Or to keep demand up, retailers could adjust prices to help keep the scarcity levels in check. These types of market changes are practiced by some huge online retailers, but it’s exciting and truly remarkable to see these possibilities be realized in the offline world. (UPDATE: I found a company that makes these cool price tags here.)
Example number 3 of something remarkable, and I’ll keep this short: a book. I’m reading a book that when I bought it I thought it was going to be a self-help, personal-finance, get-rich-quick type of book. It’s not any of those. It is instead a map of how to live a rich lifestyle, even though you may not be heaping rich. It has been a best seller since it released, and I’ve heard about it time and time again from a lot of friends. So I’m finally reading it, and I must say that it is utterly fantastic! (Pun wasn’t intended, but caught afterwards and I’m keeping it!). It is not a Seth Godin book in case you were wondering. I’ll post a review of the book as soon as I finish it, and I’m eating it up, so you’ll see a review soon.
Ok, so this post was long, and scattered. I apologize. It was mostly for my own record, but you are welcome to take from it what you may. The point being that there are remarkable things everywhere you look. Keeping an eye open for these things, and what makes them different, is really exciting. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
Aug 2, 2008 Business & Marketing
Lately I’ve been finding my thoughts in a paradigm shift. Realizing my influence within my various relationships of employment, family, and other acquaintances isn’t necessarily as I perceived. My previous employer, as many of us who worked their frequently discussed and commented on, didn’t value innovative thoughts and ideas. Or employees. It was frustrating to sit in meeting after meeting, realizing that your purpose there was to fill an empty seat and help cycle the air. I wouldn’t necessarily think it’s a self-confidence issue, but after months of not being there I can look back and realize the dehumanizing nature that surrounded me.
Now, I’m gainfully employed in a company that values my experience. However, I realize that I am now on the reverse side of the role that I despised so much. I struggle with letting my team know that I do in fact value their ideas. Part of the difficulty of working in the mid-stages of a growth company is everyone has ideas, but we don’t have resources to execute them all. Different business objectives often see priorities sort out differently than logic would direct, but the truth of the matter is that when ideas are plentiful, the best ones don’t always win. But what makes one idea more “remarkable”, as Seth Godin and his purple cow would say, than another?
One concept that always comes back to me was something a former employer (a couple of jobs ago), who is now a good friend of mine, would always say: “There are no monopolies on new ideas”. This was always a healthy reminder that even though someone had a good idea, it doesn’t mean that anyone else can’t come up with an idea of equal or better value. Another sub-culture that we pushed at that company was that execution was everything. You could write down idea after idea all day long, but if nothing was executed, or if it were executed poorly, then they are worth nothing more than the paper they are written on. Thus, ideas aren’t very remarkable if they don’t have decent execution.
But what about those no-brainer ideas, that once you see you immediately think “Why didn’t I think of that first?!”. Or a worse thought: “I had that idea years ago!”. This has happened to me an uncountable amount of times. I’ve gotten to the point where I just smile and say “good for him/her”. What happened was that someone took that simple idea and executed it. The idea maybe wasn’t the most brilliant of ideas, but the execution of that idea was remarkable.
What happens when you get a remarkable idea with poor execution? Ask the former founders of Gizmondo or Tapwave, or ask Nokia. All made portable gaming systems with remarkable ideas. One had a touch screen, another had built-in GPS, while one had a built-in phone. All those systems are pretty much defunct now (with the exception of Nokia’s N-Gage which transitioned from a hardware platform to a software service). All were great ideas, but the execution of bringing them to market was done poorly.
What happens when you take an idea and give it remarkable execution? Ask Apple and their iPhone. The iPhone wasn’t revolutionary in itself. What was revolutionary was the way that the iPhone was packaged together and marketed. It was Steve Jobs’ execution of the idea that was remarkable.
Another example of remarkable idea vs. remarkable execution would be in the world of search engines, another industry I am close to. You had companies like FAST, ASK, and Gigablast that all had remarkable technologies. Then you had companies like Yahoo who had remarkable execution. The market was wide open and was actually loosing a lot of money for a lot of companies. Until an underdog by the name of Google came around, and a media anti-hero by the name of GoTo.com at about the same time, both of which had remarkable technologies AND remarkable execution. What happened? Google is now the largest internet company in the world, and Overture was acquired by Yahoo and together they hold second place for the title.
The business world is full of stories of remarkable ideas vs. remarkable execution. Currently in my professional career, I’m at a point where I have dozens of remarkable ideas. This paradigm shift I am going through is helping me to realize that once again I am transitioning into a point where I start directing remarkable execution. It’s an exciting place to be. The team I work with on a daily basis is completely capable and have fantastic ideas, we have some fantastic vendors that DO execute remarkably, and the combination of the two is is more than exciting.