What do people find interesting?

Think back to some of the most memorable meals you’ve eaten, the most intriguing shows you’ve watched, the most fascinating trips you’ve been on—what is it about those experiences that created the most lasting memories?

It was probably that crazy taxi driver or the ending to the show that just left you with more questions than answers. It was the bit of pepper or added touch of sweet ginger that kept you licking your lips long after you left the restaurant.

It was the aftertaste.

Sometimes, it’s not about creating the most neat and tidy narrative; that’s not the goal of storytelling, that’s not what gets remembered. Good marketing is interesting—it’s the two ingredients that shouldn’t go together, it’s the incomplete story, it’s the problem that has no solution. And, it’s sometimes frustrating.

But that’s okay! Because the puzzle piece that doesn’t fit is the one you talk about.

Upselling technique


Why are we okay with paying more for the piece of meat that’s been cooked in a 120 year-old brick oven when it probably tastes the same as a similar piece of meat cooked in conventional over?

Technique sells.

Details matter. Most won’t even notice the difference, but they’ll feel something is different.

That’s marketing.

Persuading rich people vs. philanthropists


Know who you are selling to, who you are trying to convince.

If your trying to fund a project, don’t you think it would be more worth your time to talk to philanthropists than to rich people? Because it’s probably easier to persuade philanthropists to donate than persuading rich people to become philanthropists.

Start with the people who believe what you do.

Famous marketing


“Hey! I have something you want! Buy from me and make me famous! Oh, is now not a good time? That’s okay, I’ll keep interrupting you until it is.”

This type of marketing has a lot of different names to make it seem less intrusive. What it really should be called is “interruption marketing.” At the core of interruption marketing, you have a marketer that wants to become famous, as opposed to a marketer that wants to make a difference and create something impactful. 

What are your motivations for creating your art? Are you trying to create something that has an impact? Are you trying to help someone or something change? Or, are you trying to merely become famous? 

True art, true value, true change starts with “why.” Oddly enough, the market has a way of sniffing out our motivations. Be true to yourself, ask for permission, get out of your comfort zone and focus on creating something that will facilitate change. 

Make something you’re proud of. The rest (impact, followers, profitability) will take care of itself. 

Your brand


How do you answer the following question: “What’s your brand?”

Do you immediately talk about what you do? What’s on your website? Your background? If so, you’re only providing context around what you want other’s to think and say about you.

Or, do you dig deeper and reflect on your values and principles? Do you ask yourself the tough questions to dive into whether or not you are representing your brand?

Because here’s the thing, you might think your brand is one thing, but if others think it’s something else, then you’re missing the mark on establishing your brand. At which point, too many go back to the aesthetics (the website, logo, service, backstory) instead of focusing on what matters.

Here’s how to tell what your brand is: can other people tell what your values are without you having to tell them? That’s your brand. Don’t like what they have to say? Change the narrative and act accordingly.

For a brand isn’t what you say it it, it’s what they say it is.

An offer you can't refuse


You’re probably being offered these kind of opportunities more often than you think.

The offers, however, aren’t always obvious. They come in the shape of small ideas and in the form of meeting new people. And we refuse them all the time.

There are times in our lives when we are offered exactly what we were hoping for. In those moments, don’t delay! Say yes! But then there are other moments, smaller moments, when things come our way and we disregard them. More often than not, those are the offers we can’t refuse!

Have the courage to say yes, to choose yourself. It’s an exciting time in history where you literally have all of the resources at your disposal to be responsible for what you do and how you do it. It’s still hard work, but it’ simple work. Simple in that you already know what needs to be done, hard in that now you have to decide to do it.

Beyond urgent


What’s more important: The issue? Or how we deal with the issue?

What’s happening right now has repercussions. Sure, the moment can be stressful. It usually takes quick thinking and sharp acumen. But it’s tempting to get lost in the minutiae when there are bigger things at play. And, whatever’s happening right now, the issue at hand—while important—isn’t as vital as our capacity to lay a foundation and create a system to deal with the next hundred issues.

By all means, don’t put the urgent on the back-burner—what i’m suggesting here is to take some extra time so that you’re not only getting it right, but also creating a process so that it doesn’t happen again.

If you find yourself consistently being a victim to circumstance, or getting blindsided by unforeseen issues, it’s probably an operational issue. Whatever system you have in place currently, isn’t detecting the obstacles soon enough and it’s not efficient enough to recalibrate once problems arise. Which is exactly when you need focus more on the process than on whatever ‘urgent’ thing is happening at the moment—getting the process right will always be more important that the problem we’ve got right now.

Worse case, it’s got us collaborating again, whereas before we spent most of our time arguing about the issue. Best case, well…

What do you need? Vs. This is what I do.


If you’re a freelancer and you are always taking on projects where people tell you what they need and you adapt, you’re always going to be spinning your wheels wondering why you can’t ever get any good clients.

If you’re applying for a job with the attitude that you qualify for every role out there, you’re going to be on the market for a while. But, if you can clearly outline that you have 5 years of SaaS closing experience selling into state and local government agencies on the east coast, then the world is your oyster. You’ll find your next dream job in no time.

Riches in the niches.

People aren’t afraid to charge too much, they’re scared that once they do find their niche that people won’t like it. But here’s the thing, in today’s gig-economy, that will never happen.

‘What do you need?’ might work in the short-term, but your true value will never be noticed unless people know exactly what you do—and that you’re the best at it…

People can afford it. In fact, not only will they buy it, they’ll thank you for being so generous with it.

But it starts when you decide what you do.

Blinded by features


Simplicity is making a comeback. Then again, the perfectly simple things never went away. We were just blinded by the flashy new features we thought we couldn’t live without.

Organizations do this all the time. Especially when it comes to buying software. They only see what the reps want them to see. They look past what the business really needs to run more efficiently. They disregard ‘minimum requirements’ and ‘deal-breakers’ in lieu of something ‘shiny’ or ‘innovative.’

Individuals do this, too. Especially when it comes to planning our careers. We take jobs we aren’t qualified for and pursue opportunities that promise more money in our bank accounts over choosing something that fulfills us or helps us feel alive.

Instead of focusing on features, first determine what core functions you can’t live without. Set boundaries and have requirements. Plan accordingly, then make a decision.

Doing something different


This is much more difficult than it seems. 

To pivot means that your previous assumption was incorrect. It means admitting you were wrong. Or maybe it's you merely changing your opinion based on new information, which means you were as correct as you could be. Changing directions like this isn't even the hardest part. The challenge will come when others are involved. 

What will they think? What will they say? How will I ever explain this to them? I can't simply say "I changed my mind."

Try this: "We did the best we could with the information we had, then because we continued to test, learn and grow, we received new information that will allow us to make an even more important decision." 

When it comes to pivoting when it counts, making the right decision should always trump avoiding embarrassment.



Incentives work—on the surface—and then they don't...most of the time.

What I mean is this: incentives might drive the results you are looking for, but not necessarily the behavior. And, most of the time, those results aren't indicative of actual production.

You can incentivize how many calls a rep. makes, safe driving, responsible consumer spending, and you will see favorable results. But remove the incentive, or modify it, and the results become skewed.

Instead, teach principles. Explain why. Provide context and make it relatable. This is, after-all, what marketing is about, isn't it?

What I'm saying is, be careful what you incentivize, you just might get what you’re looking for.

Cookies and data


Companies, entrepreneurs, and employees are spending a lot of time, money, and energy on trying to figure out what makes them different. It’s an honorable pursuit. What makes anyone or anything stand out more than the next? Most marketers will answer that question by referring (in one way or another) to the 4 ‘P’s’: Price. Product. Placement. Promotion. But what about the 1 ‘R?’: Relationships.

In a world that is becoming more and more detached, virtual, and hands-off, what if the thing that makes you the best is merely your ability to build authentic relationships? Simple concept, not easy to do.

That’s what makes where I work so successful, is its focus on developing genuine relationships. Again, not an easy thing to do in a competitive landscape like recruiting. But it’s something that is ingrained in every employee.

No matter what your job is, you’re going to deal with difficult people. People won’t respond, they’ll be impatient, demanding, and have unrealistic expectations. The thing that will make your relationship with them successful won’t come down to how good your product is, how much it costs, or how many times you can expose them to what you’re selling, it will largely depend on how well you have been able to win their attention and earn their trust.

This, of course, begs the question: “how does one win someone’s attention and earn someone’s trust?” Answer: cookies and data!

Now, this may be an oversimplification of a larger lesson, but, at the very least, it’s a memorable one. Here’s what I mean when I say that “cookies and data” are the keys to building genuine relationships:

1) Clients have lives, too. They have families, friends, bosses, responsibilities, fears, doubts, and insecurities. Go into every interaction with this in mind and you’ll already be well on your way to understanding them.
2) Most people really like themselves. So let them talk about themselves. What are they passionate about? What do they talk about?
3) This is where the cookies come in. Show them that you were listening. Treat them to something. Add in a ‘nice touch’ that makes you memorable.
4) Then bring the data. Show them how you are adding value. Provide evidence and insight into how you have been able to help and why it matters.

Building lasting relationships that pay off time and time again doesn’t have to be difficult. It takes time and it requires caring. But most importantly, it takes putting aside your own agenda for the sake of building something genuine.

It's time


After some time off, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

Time to kick things up a notch.

Time to start contributing in ways you haven’t before.

Time to stop making excuses, taking shortcuts, producing average work.

It’s time to take control of your routines so that you develop the habits necessary to take back your time.

You’ve talked about it. You’ve written enough plans about it. You have all the information you need. You aren’t lacking resources. The logistics will work themselves out.

Now go out there are execute. Build. Make it happen.

The best at


Do you want to be valued? Develop one skill that you can be best at. 

There are plenty of jack-of-all-trades in organizations. That's okay. Sometimes you need people that can do a little bit of everything. However, if you want to be valued and get paid what you are worth, not only within an organization but even beyond that, then develop one skill that you can be best in the world at. 

I didn't say you have to be the best in the world at this one skill, but rather, something you COULD be best in the world at. Then work to develop that skill. 

It needs to be something you feel like you are already naturally good at and something you are passionate about. When those three buckets align, you will finally get paid exactly what you are worth. 

Another sock company


I was on the train the other day and saw another ad for ‘the most comfortable socks you can put on your feet.’

How could it be? I swear, everywhere I look there’s a new sock company on the market! You’d think they would have learned their lesson by now.

Same goes for restaurants.

But maybe that is the lesson. You don’t have to dominate the market. You just have to matter to enough people who care.

Winning a conversation


But missing the point.

After all, what is it you’re trying to accomplish? Sharing something important? Asking for help? Passing time? Teaching something? Learning something? Earning trust? Winning a friend?

If you really want to ‘win’ the conversation, employ the same tactics you would to win a friend or catch a fly.

A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall. So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey which catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the high road to his reason
— Abraham Lincoln

Intent matters. Intent is always what is communicated, no matter which words are or aren’t used. It opens new doors and shuts possible ones.

So pay attention, it might feel like you are winning the conversation, but is that what really matters?

Pitching features


Remember when it was a big deal to say your motel had color tv? It wasn't an innovative, forward-thinking motel experience unless it offered color tv.

It's ludicrous to now advertise color tv. Unless you're going for a "vintage, throwback look and feel," most people would roll their eyes at that kind of place. 

That's what happens when you advertise features. People either ignore you or forget about you. 
- "True-depth, 12 MP camera!"
- "Television without the bulky hardware!"
- "Continental breakfast included!" 
- "Lowest taxi meter fares in the city!"

Instead, try creating something people can't help but talk about. Build the extraordinary, not just something that's slightly different than what the competition is doing. You'll know you're on the right track when people start imitating you, criticizing you, or telling their friends about you. 

Don't create another diagram about how you've successfully differentiated your product or service. You're probably doing it to impress your boss and the results are, therefore, manipulated and misleading. Alternatively, focus your energy on understanding what people want and why they want it. 
- "Stay connected and well-informed." - Apple
- "Stream your favorite show...right now." - Netflix 
- "Live like a local, make new friends, and have the experience of a lifetime." - Airbnb
- "Get to where you need to go more conveniently." - Uber

Two kinds of marketing


The first—build something you like then find people who are like you and are into similar things, then sell to them.

The second—go out and figure out what people like then build something that meets their needs, then sell to them. 

I've seen it both ways.