This week’s “Thursday Thoughts” is one in a series on Product Launches – a subject that I find fascinating and so important to growing a successful business.
So, what is the single most important ingredient of a great product launch? We need to look no further than the film (or movie) industry – and to a quote Shawn Amos:
“Every major summer blockbuster that is released is essentially a product line being launched across multiple verticals. However, the centerpiece of the product launch is a big, beautiful story whose job is to entertain.”
I believe that the single most important ingredient for any successful launch is to frame a “big, beautiful story whose job is to entertain”. Think about it. A story that describes a personal journey. Your personal journey with all the ups-and-downs and trials and triumphs that go to make us all human.
And so, in the closing two days of Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula (a once-in-a-year opportunity to see the master in action), Jeff has offered two personal but quite different stories that show how changing the way you think about a product by re-framing it around a product launch can literally transform people’s lives.
The first story is from Barry who overcame a life-changing accident to go on and organise and teach those who make a living from entertaining.
The second is from Shelly – a very different story of a mother trying to juggle the three forces of family, paying work and passion.
Watch the videos and work out what you can learn from each of them. See how the personal stories create a different way of thinking. By building your business around a series of launches (and great stories), rather than flogging a me-too product, you can create a new sense of drive and momentum. Think hard about how you can apply the learnings to (re-)launch your own products and services and create a new sense of purpose and heartbeat to your marketing campaigns.
Of all the research I have done into this area, Jeff’s strategies and teachings are second-to-none. And it can be applied to book launches too!
If you think that there is value in digging deeper into the Product Launch Formula, then I thoroughly recommend that you sign up for Jeff’s programme – which will only be available for the next day or two. Otherwise, you will have to wait another year for the offer to come around again!
After the July/August holiday period, I always enjoy the first week of September. I see it as the beginning of a new year. Not the calendar year, nor (in my case) the academic year, but the start of the year for new projects. People return from asynchronous communication through the holiday period to ramp-up for the more synchronised Autumn/Fall workload. Like a car moving from third gear to fifth gear or a plane taking off on its flight to the end of the calendar year with a destination ending in a runway towards the next holiday period at the final part of December. If the financial year starts in January or April, it is the time when new ideas are incubated for the budgeting cycles three to six months out.
With the pick-up in this workload comes the re-prioritisation of relationships. The number of sales calls I have received in the past few days exceeds those that I had in the whole of August. In a similar way, the number of calls that I have made to prospective clients to re-open conversations from earlier in the year has also increased. People are open-minded to new conversations and new opportunities whilst there is a bit of time to play with new ideas. It is also the start of one of the most busy conference seasons.
All this got me thinking….
What do the following have in common: spam (the email kind), a pushy salesperson and one of those irritating calls trying to sell you some personal accident product you don’t want?
They all involve PUSH. It is amazing that so many folk still make a living at it when we all know that salesmen don’t SELL: people BUY. Good sales folk understand timing and cycles and simply line up their products and services so that they are the easiest and most top-of-mind for the prospective customer to pull off the shelf when the are ready to buy.
But it is not quite as simple as that……
Do you ever remember putting a hole in the bottom of two tin cans and then stringing the cans together with a long piece of string to make a crude telephone? I often cite this as a useful metaphor for how we might think about the way we communicate with our customers (and suppliers) in business. It isn’t about ignoring pushy sales folk and only pulling when you are ready. It’s about something I call “@TENSION”. Let me explain in terms of a children’s playground with the tin can telephone.
Firstly, there are those kids in the playground that don’t want to play the game at all. Their attention (@TENSION) is somewhere else. They are into another game with other kids. They are not in our game. So we will exclude them.
Then there are those who are interested in the tin can telephone game. They pick up one can. They need someone else on the other end of the string to play with. So they pull someone from the playground to pick up the other end of the line.
By “feeling the pull”, understanding who is pulling, why they are pulling and how hard they are pulling, we can gain important insights into interest, motivations, demands and communications skills.
Further, by understanding these different aspects of pull, we can seek out those who will play our game and give each other interesting and rewarding experiences. Given the right amount of “@tension”, new players will respond with delight and enthusiasm – not least because they are being listened to and communicating in ways that are proportionate to the pull that they are giving.
However, if you pull too hard on their string, you will become an irritant and get dumped. If you don’t pull enough, the other end of the line will lose interest because they cannot communicate and move onto another string. I call this “subtle pull”. You have to pull at roughly the same strength as the other end is pulling. Appropriate response. Sufficient @tension for the line.
You can’t push string. You can only pull it. Too much pull from either party and the line breaks. Oftentimes for good!
So the next time you think of a customer or supplier or player in your game, just think about an invisible string that connects you to them. How taught is it? Is it completely slack? How much “@tension” has it got? How much are they pulling? How much pull should you give “in the moment” to be effective at continuing the conversation? Who has their ear to the can and who is talking into it?
And at this particular time of the year, how many strings will you tighten. Will you be listening or speaking? Can you really manage those ten strings when you could probably be more successful in just focusing on three or four?
So it’s back to school for the children and back to the subtle pull of business relationships for the rest of us! Good luck with all of your new projects and ventures get the @tension that they deserve!
It is August and the holidays are here! For many, July and August are the months for rest and recuperation and spending time with family on holiday. For those that live in the northern parts of the Northern hemisphere, it is a time for getting some sun on our skins before the longer winter months kick in again.
For many, it is also a time of reflection. For although the calendar year starts in January, September is the start of the academic year and August is the gap before the start of the new year. I have found that many businesses are tuned to the academic calendar – either directly (like a University or School) or indirectly (because many of their employees have children who set a cycle in the family geared around their academic needs).
So it got me thinking. Most of my great ideas have come from a time when I am not thinking about day-to-day stuff. Those magic, “Eureka!” moments when a problem you have been working on suddenly becomes solvable.
By not being hampered by the grind of meetings, actions and to-do lists, we can solve old problems and creating new ideas. Finding a gap in the year’s day-to-day grind to think big, think outside the box or just not think at all and let nature take its course often relaxes you in ways you can’t achieve at other times of the year.
There is an old saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as long as we speak. And so it is with the summer break. There is a gap in proceedings where we can listen. Not just listen to those who we work with. But listen to ourselves. Our inner mind. Our inner bodies. Our inner spirit. We can refresh each other with the rest and easy living that we often over-ride in the rest of the year.
So, back the Art of Business Conversation. For my own part, I have been working on a new way to look at businesses through the conversations we have. The Art of Business Conversation, if you like. As simple as ABC. Except it isn’t, is it? It is quite complicated.
There are several different types of business conversation (which I aim to explore more in future posts). The most intense are often wrapped up in emotional outbursts or things unsaid.
The key is to find space within the conversation to reflect. On an annual cycle, this time of the year gives us time to reflect on the longer-term relationships we all have with the businesses and people we work with. Either as employees; business owners; customers; suppliers; that funny, over-used word “partners”; or simply the friends and relations that weave in and out of those conversations.
And that is where the idea of Zen comes in. Zen is the space between. Zen is the effortless flow. Zen is the silent, observant onlooker onto our busy world of nothingness. Zen is the state to get into before returning to the ABC of business, academia and all those things where we sequence stuff and continue our practice of the art of business conversation.
So, enjoy the break. Listen to the silence. Observe the subtle messages coming from the conversation with yourself. Say nothing and say everything. Come back refreshed and energised to take on the new challenges that you discover in the hidden moments of this August recess.
I have always been fascinated by debates on the differences between objectivity and subjectivity; art and science; East and West; X and Y. The truth normally lies somewhere in between.
85 years ago two great minds met in Berlin and debated such issues in what must be one of the most interesting thought pieces in the history of the twentieth century.
THE NATURE OF REALITY
Albert Einstein in Conversation with Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore visited Einstein’s house in Caputh, near Berlin, on July 14, 1930. The discussion between the two great men was recorded, and was subsequently published in the January, 1931 issue of Modern Review.
TAGORE: You have been busy, hunting down with mathematics, the two ancient entities, time and space, while I have been lecturing in this country on the eternal world of man, the universe of reality.
EINSTEIN: Do you believe in the divine isolated from the world?
TAGORE: Not isolated. The infinite personality of man comprehends the universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the truth of the universe is human truth.
EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe—the world as a unity dependent on humanity, and the world as reality independent of the human factor.
TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.
EINSTEIN: This is a purely human conception of the universe.
TAGORE: The world is a human world — the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. Therefore, the world apart from us does not exist; it is a relative world, depending for its reality upon our consciousness. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it truth, the standard of the eternal man whose experiences are made possible through our experiences.
EINSTEIN: This is a realization of the human entity.
TAGORE: Yes, one eternal entity. We have to realize it through our emotions and activities. We realize the supreme man, who has no individual limitations, through our limitations. Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals; it is the impersonal human world of truths. Religion realizes these truths and links them up with our deeper needs. Our individual consciousness of truth gains universal significance. Religion applies values to truth, and we know truth as good through our harmony with it.
EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or beauty, is not independent of man?
TAGORE: No, I do not say so.
EINSTEIN: If there were no human beings any more, the Apollo Belvedere no longer would be beautiful?
EINSTEIN: I agree with this conception of beauty, but not with regard to truth.
TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through men.
EINSTEIN: I cannot prove my conception is right, but that is my religion.
TAGORE: Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony, which is in the universal being; truth is the perfect comprehension of the universal mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experience, through our illumined consciousness. How otherwise can we know truth?
EINSTEIN: I cannot prove, but I believe in the Pythagorean argument, that the truth is independent of human beings. It is the problem of the logic of continuity.
TAGORE: Truth, which is one with the universal being, must be essentially human; otherwise, whatever we individuals realize as true, never can be called truth. At least, the truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic—in other words, by an organ of thought which is human. According to the Indian philosophy there is Brahman, the absolute truth, which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words, but can be realized only by merging the individual in its infinity. But such a truth cannot belong to science. The nature of truth which we are discussing is an appearance; that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind, and therefore is human, and may be called maya, or illusion.
EINSTEIN: It is no illusion of the individual, but of the species.
TAGORE: The species also belongs to a unity, to humanity. Therefore the entire human mind realizes truth; the Indian and the European mind meet in a common realization.
EINSTEIN: The word species is used in German for all human beings; as a matter of fact, even the apes and the frogs would belong to it. The problem is whether truth is independent of our consciousness.
TAGORE: What we call truth lies in the rational harmony between the subjective and objective aspects of reality, both of which belong to the superpersonal man.
EINSTEIN: We do things with our mind, even in our everyday life, for which we are not responsible. The mind acknowledges realities outside of it, independent of it. For instance, nobody may be in this house, yet that table remains where it is.
TAGORE: Yes, it remains outside the individual mind, but not the universal mind. The table is that which is perceptible by some kind of consciousness we possess.
EINSTEIN: If nobody were in the house the table would exist all the same, but this is already illegitimate from your point of view, because we cannot explain what it means, that the table is there, independently of us. Our natural point of view in regard to the existence of truth apart from humanity cannot be explained or proved, but it is a belief which nobody can lack—not even primitive beings. We attribute to truth a superhuman objectivity. It is indispensable for us—this reality which is independent of our existence and our experience and our mind—though we cannot say what it means.
TAGORE: In any case, if there be any truth absolutely unrelated to humanity, then for us it is absolutely non-existing.
EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!
TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the superpersonal man, the universal spirit, in my own individual being.
I’ve always been fascinated by colour and believed that men and women see colours differently. So I was both interested – and not surprised to see what researchers have found on the subject. It proves that men and women not only prefer different colours, they also see more hues of colour than men. Men, on the other hand, prefer shades. Perhaps it goes back to our ancestors, where women were more attuned to gathering different types of fruit and men were looking for subtle shadows of beasts behind a bush. Who knows? Makes you think, though!
By the way, my favourite colour is blue! But I was surprised that no men liked purple! It was my favourite colour once as a teenager. Before I turned to red – and eventually to blue. I wonder if others have changed their preferences through their lives?
Oh, and just for fun, why not put down your favourite colour in the comments box below – and we’ll see if the research is borne out by those who read the blog.
I was recently asked to comment on a blog exploring the idea as to whether or not it is “critical to follow your heart”. It got me thinking (quite a bit). Oh, and I make no excuses for the apparent New Age flavour to this post. It’s just how it came out!
In such a fragmented world, where academics and book writers are rewarded for micro-ideas that can be framed into sound bytes (such as the one above), I find it interesting to call on history and the ancient wisdom of the Hindu/Buddhist Chakra system. In this system, there are seven centres of energy within the body. Each system nowadays has a colour of the rainbow associated with it. The heart charka is green and is at the centre of the system.
One of the main issues in today’s world seems to be that the mind (indigo) and communication (blue) centres are so energetic – with our so-called “knowledge society” coupled with “mass broadcast media” that the other (lower) forms of subtle energy get drowned-out.
Maybe this is an age-old problem? For there is also an ancient buddhist saying that “the longest journey in life is from the head to the heart”.
Anyway, I am currently doing some research on how the seven centres of chakric energy can become better balanced – not just within the context of an individual – but also in organisations AND society in general.
Without a higher purpose, life becomes meaningless.
Without mind that is connected to serve others, life becomes ego-centric and selfish.
Without clearly articulating what you want for yourself or your organisation, others won’t understand where you are coming from and ignore you or misinterpret your ideas.
Without being allowed to truly express your feelings, life becomes emotionally blocked.
Without a sense that you are truly empowered, life becomes deeply frustrating.
Without a co-creative connection with others in your family or tribe, life becomes lonely.
Without a place to call home, life becomes frightening.
And so, to the main discussion about whether or not it is critical to follow your heart.
On thinking about the idea, I came to the conclusion that it isn’t just when the heart-centre is “in flow” – or we are “in the groove” that we get that feeling of life-is-good. It is when ALL the energy centres are aligned to create an organic energy that is more than the sum of its constituent parts. It is at such times that we, as human beings, are most connected to our fellow human beings – and to the natural world around us.
In terms of organisations, as regular readers will know, I look for much of my inspiration in the work that I do a as a beekeeper. I find the universal energy which is generated in abundance from the colonies of bees that I keep is indescribable – it has to be felt to be understood. The ways that the movements and (unrecordable) energies from each tiny, individual bee are compounded to create a colony that vibrates and energises the space around for the greater good of the colony is not too dissimilar to an organisation or society where the subtle forms of energy are recognised, amplified and aligned to a higher purpose. Religious movements are one obvious answer. But there are many other examples – some with “good” objectives. Others perhaps, with more dubious ones.
I’ve also come to believe that intuition and flashes of inspiration (Ahah! moments, if you like) are not from us, but come to us when we most need them or call upon them. The egoic state sees itself as the centre of the universe. But spiritual practice is about removing the ego and tuning into more subtle forces of universal energy that pull you. It is as if you are plugged-into connected consciousness and more aware of the subtle energies that might give you a greater chance to allow your energy to be mixed in more rewarding, unique ways.
So, it probably is important to follow your heart (over your head). But true connectedness comes when each energy centre is in alignment with the whole. It is then that we give up pushing and allow ourselves to be pulled. It is then that all the dots are joined-up and where everything makes sense after the fact. This was so well articulated by Steve Jobs when he delivered his famous speech to Stanford graduates:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward,” Jobs told the Stanford grads. “You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Trouble is, it’s very difficult to put all this stuff into a few sound-bytes and broadcast them over Twitter – or even a blog post like this!
The headlines in January seem to have been dominated by debate about the rights of free speech over the balance of respect of the rights and beliefs of others in society. I’m for balance. If I believe in something where expressing it might hurt others, I will try to shut up and not be deliberately rude. Sometimes what I say is taken the wrong way and I am seen as rude. For that I am sorry.
The skill, surely, is to phrase words and draw pictures so that you get the point over, without deliberately offending the other party or directly challenging their own value system. And this doesn’t have to be political correct blah-blah if done well enough.
I have spoken to many friends and relatives about this issue in the past month – and most agree with this line. Oh, and just as an aside, I noticed that JeSuis Charlie” has an uncanny resemblance to “Jesus Charlie”. Strange.
And to call someone “a bit of a Charlie”, apparently, used to be leveled at a person who did not speak the King’s English.
Although on YouTube, Charlie bit my finger – again (with 801m hits), is a baby who bites his brother’s finger:
Perhaps I need to understand the French culture better to understand this whole thing in context? At the moment it is beyond me.
What if challenges come into your life at the same rate as the aptitude you have to tackle them?
Think of the games you play. They are most enjoyable when you play people who have roughly your own level of skill. Playing with those that are much better or much worse is either frustrating or tedious.
Think of the workplace. We all like to be challenged just enough to better our game – but not so much that we give up and become despondent.
– You come unstuck when you try to tackle challenges that are way beyond you.
– You have a limited patience threshold for things that do not challenge you.
Dan Pink articulated the three most important thing to motivate people in the workplace: Autonomy, MASTERY and Purpose.
Mastery is all about taking on new challenges that stretch you – but don’t stretch you so much that you lose the plot or lose the game so often that you give up.
Maybe life’s a game where every challenge we face has just the right amount of challenge to keep us improving?
Makes you think the next time you face a challenge that seems impossible. Go for it! It might not be as difficult as you first thought.
“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.
I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”
It was attributed to Meryl Streep. On a bit of further research, it appeared that the original quote was not by Meryl Streep at all – but by a Portuguese self-help author/life coach José Micard Teixeira.
The research (and subsequent discovery of a mis-attribution) reminded me of another quote, supposedly by Einstein:
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
No one has found evidence that Einstein was the source.
And so it is. There are great quotes and famous people. Many times, famous people say great things. But with the internet, great quotes can go viral – particularly when attributed to a famous person who is likely to have said it.
Makes you think. The power of great thoughts that go viral by being mis-attributed to famous people might actually be a good thing – particularly if they spread those great thoughts further than if they were attributed to a Portuguese self-help author that no one has heard of.
Famous people come and go. But great quotes and great thoughts live on forever. Even before the Internet, how many great quotes remain in current parlance having been written by the famous Anon E. Mouse!