Sunday, August 11, 2019

FANOCRACY

In printing and publishing, proofs or galleys are the preliminary versions of publications meant for review by authors, editors, and media review publicists. Many years ago, I received a galley proof of Start With Why for my review.

When I learned that Simon Sinek was doing a book signing in NYC in July of 2011, I told my two sons to "get in the car" because we're going to the city. WHY? they asked. 

"EXACTY!" I said.

Meeting Simon changed my life. Over time, I thought about the WHY movement, and how it was like electricity. You don't "invent" electricity. You "discover" electricity, as it was always there, hiding in plain sight. Ah, but how to harness and utilize electricity as a tool for mankind, that is indeed the magic. The concept of WHY and its power was always there - just like electricity. The power of WHY was always waiting to be discovered, hiding in plain sight. We have Simon to thank for sharing it with the world. Inspiring, indeed.

The next thing I knew, I was hooked. I became part of the WHY movement. I would "present" and teach and evangelize the principles of the Golden Circle. When I would be asked to speak at a college, university or professional association, my presentation would always begin with WHY. Rutgers University alone, has 500,000+ living alumni. I know for a fact that their School of Business put Start With Why on the must-read list. So did Quinnipiac, so did UCONN, so did PURDUE, so did.....

And now, it has happened again. 

I just caught lighting in a bottle, again.

I met David Meerman Scott on LinkedIn (June, 2019). I said to myself, "Wow, this guy would make a great keynote or video podcast for the millions in NYDLA.org community!" 

So of course, I reached out to David. We did a Zoom meeting. We clicked. We had a follow up meeting. Sparks were flying. We know so many of the same people. I learned that David had a new book coming out in January, 2020 that (in his words) is his best work to date. FANOCRACY.  

Fandom is not just for actors, athletes, musicians, and authors anymore. It can be rocket fuel for any business or nonprofit that chooses to focus on inspiring and nurturing true fans. The most powerful marketing force in the world isn't social media, email blasts, search ads, or even those fifteen-second commercials before YouTube video. It's fandom. 

David's publisher sent me a galley proof for my review. (Oh baby, here we go again....)

The foreword of the book is by Tony Robbins. Yeah, that Tony Robbins. He says, "The core strategy behind any remarkable organization - one that dwarfs the competition and creates massive customer loyalty - is to provide so much value that customers can't help but share their enthusiasm and excitement. Fanocracy is breaking new ground. It is a deep dive into the strategies to build a powerful culture that drives business success. The book has ideas that you can implement immediately, such as letting go of your work and allowing people to make it their own, seeing the world as a gift and giving gifts in return, and celebrating your customer's stories". 

Here is my review of FANOCRACY. Simon Sinek's book Start With Why changed my life. David Meerman Scott (and his daughter Reiko Scott) wrote a book that IS my life. The key to a "fanocracy" is an organization that puts the needs and wishes of fans ahead of every other priority. It is not easy to focus on intangibles like community, generosity, and fun, rather than maximizing profits on every interaction. Those who apply the strategies in Fanocracy are more likely to dominate their categories. And beyond the financial benefits, fanocracies spread more joy and inspiration to the world at large. 

David has agreed to doing a video podcast series for the NYDLA community. Although the book does not come out until January, 2020 you can sign up for their amazing newsletter and - preorder the book, and all members of NYDLA shall receive the book for FREE. I'll personally give you a credit to your NYDLA account, just email Fanocracy@NYDLA.org

See? Here's proof that I read David and Reiko's book! 

Why do some brands, even supposedly boring categories like car insurance and enterprise software, attract not just customers but raving fans?  It's simple: they Started With Why and then, they created a Fanocracy

And so can you.

My Challenge Coin from Simon Sinek


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Heads I do the hard thing

"What are the odds that you will be coming home?" Wow.

I have two amazing sons. I think that the special purpose of any parent (or leader) is to teach everything you know.

When they were young, from time to time, my boys would come to me with a problem. The classic, "I don't know what to do" question that we all have experienced in our lives. When I was growing up I learned a lesson from my father, that I was happy to pass on to my two sons.

Which of the choices would be harder to do? 

If it truly is a toss up, if you really could flip a coin, which would be HARDER, the more DIFFICULT thing to do?

Do that. Because if the options are truly equally good or bad, doing the thing that is more difficult will give you more satisfaction, more joy, and ultimately provide more reward for you - and for others.

When you are torn between saying yes or no, when you swing between staying or going, doing or not doing, taking the leap or staying put - simply ask yourself - which would the more difficult thing to do? 

Last night (on July 20th, 2019) we all watched "First Man" the movie about NASA's mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on the years 1961 - 1969. I was born in 1960 and I know EXACTLY where I was when Neil Armstrong stepped off the LEM. Now let's reflect.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_choose_to_go_to_the_Moon

What if JFK never gave his speech at Rice University on September 12th, 1962?

OF COURSE it was going to be hard - and very EXPENSIVE. The technology required to go to the moon did not even exist. We were at war at the time, and there were PLENTY of things that needed attention and money back home. JFK gave that speech because most people at the time were against the mission. Too expensive, and too difficult. Too......hard.

People were going to die along the way. There would be setbacks. There would be tragedy, and pain and suffering. And yet, the Leader of the Free World set us on a path to do the hard things. Because they were hard.

We, all of us, are humans. Effectively, we are all some form of smart monkeys. Our brains are hard-wired for survival. It's hard to pass on our genes if we don't live long enough to find a mate. Taking risks seems to be against our primary mission of survival.

And yet, there is something in our smart monkey brains that pushes us to do risky things, dangerous things, difficult things - hard things. In fact, our entire purpose seems to be to explore, to take risks, to do things that are SO HARD, and so difficult, that they change our lives - and the lives of our future generations forever.

And there it is. Taking risks - doing hard things - actually ensures the survival of our future generations. Doing hard things is the right thing to do, always. When we say to ourselves "I don't know what I should do" our smart monkey brains are lying to us. We actually know exactly what do to. We know the right answer. We just pause to see if there is a shortcut, an easy way out. Hint: there is none. The obstacle is the path. We don't control what happens to us, we control how we react to what happens to us. Stoicism. 

What is the next BHAG for our country? Or how about the next BHAG your family? Your business? What is the next BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS THING that you shall choose to do - BECAUSE it is hard?

OK, fine. If you MUST flip a coin:

Heads - do the hard thing.
Tails - keep flipping until it comes up heads......

President Kennedy's BHAG Speech at Rice University





Sunday, July 14, 2019

Must Love Dogs

Last week, I was invited by a friend to a VIP event in NYC. It was the grand opening of a bank branch, their first in New York City. It was a bank that at this point, I never heard of.

I had no reason to be in New York City on that day. This would be a special trip to the city. After vacillating back and forth, I agreed to go to the event. You would think that by now I would have learned my lesson: when you get invited to something, especially a VIP event, you go.

Last year I was invited to present at the NYC WordPress Users Group. Even with 30,000 members, they had no budget for a speaker. I would be doing this event for free. Including paying for my own transportation.

Well, I do love public speaking. When it comes to public speaking, some people would rather be in the coffin than to be giving the eulogy. For me personally, I tend to be mortally offended if I don't get my turn with a microphone.

So, I did the gig for free. It turns out that someone in the room liked what I had to say. It turns out this person was very close with John Catsimatidis, an American billionaire businessman and radio talk show host. John just recently purchased WABC Radio. And all things "media" (especially podcasts) is a big part of the NYDLA community.

It was that same WordPress friend that invited me to last week's Republic Bank grand opening event. I almost didn't go. But I do love dogs. And I'm a big fan of Tom Peters, the co-author of In Search of Excellence. Tom was connected to Vernon and I am connected to Tom and he said quickly and with conviction: GO.

Vernon Hill is the founder of Metro Bank UK and Commerce Bancorp. Hill founded Commerce in 1973. It became the fastest growing bank in the US before being sold for $8.5 billion. Vernon is also the Chairman of Petplan.

I don't have the time to tell the entire story of what happened last week, but things are now moving very fast. As of today, Republic Bank has one branch in New York City. And the NYDLA shall be hosting "Sunset Seminars" at the branch for our entrepreneurial members. Something tells me there will be other branches opening in The Big Apple. Many. I see the pattern of success - it will be fun to watch it unfold.

I read Vernon's book this weekend. I could not put it down. Vernon describes how to create growth companies by building FANS! Not Customers with:
  • A unique and value-added MODEL
  • A persuasive and supporting CULTURE
  • Fanatical EXECUTION
From 1973 to 2007, Vernon led the growth of Commerce Bank from 1 to 440 stores with a 30+ year, 23% per year compounded shareholder return. Vernon says: "Give the customer legendary service, and one day your company will be a legend, too. BE ALL YOU CAN BE."

I will be telling everyone that I know to check out Republic Bank. And until further notice, everyone who joins the NYDLA.org shall be getting a free copy of Vernon's book FANS! Not Customers - How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World. 

But to be totally honest, Vernon had me at loving dogs. 

And kids......they also love kids. <<<


Sunday, July 7, 2019

You CAN Go Home Again - You Never Left

I was born in Union City, New Jersey. Within months of my birth (I am told) we moved to Cedar Grove, New Jersey. We moved from "the city" to "the country" as that is what Cedar Grove was back in the day.

Here in the USA, the sixth grade is the sixth school year after kindergarten. Students in the sixth grade are usually either 11 or 12, though could be younger or older, if they are promoted (skip grades) or held back for not reaching a standard.

After a fire, the new Pompton Avenue School opened in April of 1961. Leonard R. Parks, who began his career in Cedar Grove as a manual training teacher, became the principal of Pompton Avenue School and eventually the district's first Superintendent of Schools. He retired in 1965 and the school was renamed in his honor.

When you are a kid, you were taught to memorize your phone number, your address, and where you went to school. 

My first phone number:  201-239-0213.
My first address: 45 Bowden Road, Cedar Grove, New Jersey.
My first school: Leonard R. Parks.

Because of a fire, my first school in the '60s was BRAND SPANKIN' NEW. And, we had a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW Public Library in town, too. Everything was state-of-the-art. It was a big deal.

6th grade was my last year of school in Cedar Grove. We moved to Boca Raton, Florida where I would enjoy my "Wonder Years" on the Intracostal Waterway, and Spanish River Park. But before we moved from New Jersey to Florida, I looked up Boca Raton at the Cedar Grove Public Library.

The city's name comes from boca de ratones, a Spanish term meaning "rat's mouth" that appeared on early maps and referred to hidden sharp-pointed rocks that gnawed or fretted ship's cables.

We are moving from Cedar Grove to some place with RATS???????

I'm not going!

I remember the Librarian at the Cedar Grove library calming me down. The Spanish word boca, or mouth, often describes an inlet, while raton means literally, mouse. 

Mouse.

As in Mickey Mouse. I remember the Librarian and my teachers telling me how lucky I was to be moving to Boca Raton, Florida. Not that far from Orlando. The Magic Kingdom Disney World opened October 1, 1971. I remember asking (begging?) to go to Disney World for my birthday: October 2nd. I remember getting my wish.

Ah yes, my first home was Cedar Grove, New Jersey. And then Boca Raton, Florida. In hindsight, Mom and Dad had it all on lock-down.

Yesterday my wife had a patient in Cedar Grove - and I drove her from Boonton Township, New Jersey (where we now live). I saw the old house. The Library. The School. The playgrounds. Wow, what a time capsule.

You CAN go home again - but everything is so much smaller than you remember it. Thank you Leonard R. Parks Elementary School. Thank you Cedar Grove Public Library. I find it interesting how much of our lives are connected to schools and learning.

Is this where the term "lifelong learning" comes from? The ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Yeah, lifelong learning. It enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development. I don't know if PHYSICAL schools or libraries will even exist in the future - but home is where the lifelong learning will always live.

The back of the house.... 50+ years later

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Let's get this on tape

Is it Duck Tape or Duct Tape?

Well, today Duck Tape is a BRAND of Duct tape, which for my money is pure genius. We were arguing (politely chatting) in May during a family get-together about if it was DUCK or DUCT tape.

Enter Google: It turns out that it was first DUCK TAPE, invented during World War II by Johnson & Johnson for the military. The waterproof, cloth backed tape was perfect for keeping moisture out of ammunition cases. Like water off a ducks back. Military personnel quickly learned that it was good for way more than keeping out water. Fixing their guns, Jeep repair, strapping equipment to their clothing, the list was endless.

And then AFTER the war, people started calling it DUCT TAPE, because it was a great way to fix leaks in forced air heating and cooling systems.

So all this Google-ing about DUCT / DUCK tape on the deck had me stumble across this new startup, Tape. And so the story now gets very interesting. And very sticky.

Turns out that this new startup tech company called Tape addresses one of the most pressing problems in business today: lead decay.

No, not lead decay as in radioactive isotopes. LEAD DECAY, as in "how long does it take you to get back to someone when they visit your website?"

LEADS, the lifeblood of any size business, are a big deal. So, I filled out the form, and just like that, there was a welcome video waiting for me in my smartphone.

Instant lead processing. Instant lead follow up, instant lead engagement. 

It did not take me long to reach out and have a nice little chat with the young founders of Tape. Ex-Amazon, Ex-Facebook, Ex-(you name it) young geniuses, all of them. It also did not take long for ALL OF US to see how Tape's lead decay solution would be an amazing value-added member benefit for the entire NYDLA community.

Heck, how could anyone in business NOT want to have instant, professional, personal engagement with their website visitors?


And so, just like that Tape is now a value-added member benefit for the millions of members of the NYDLA. And just like that, Tape is (soon) going to have another definition.  There is audio tape, video tape, magnetic tape, ticker tape, mounting tape, adhesive tape, electrical tape and many dozens of other kinds of tape.

But THIS tape, this technology is going to become a verb.

Just as "Google it" has become a verb, sending someone a tape video over SMS technology is going to become expected. It is going to become necessary to compete in the ever growing world of eCommerce. NOT using Tape on your website is going to become, well, like not having any DUCK TAPE when you need it!

Tape: to get back to someone immediately, professionally and with great alacrity.

And I ALWAYS call it DUCK tape. Always have, always will.



Sunday, June 23, 2019

I'm feeling a little saturated

At 58 years old, I think I just attended my first Farmer's Market. I cannot be certain, but if I did wander into one in the past it was not on purpose.

The local Farmer's Market in Boonton, New Jersey was fun. Lots of fresh produce, crafts, and all around cool stuff. It made me smile as I love observing Entrepreneurship in action. My wife bought some home made soap. I bought a large loaf of Italian bread. I don't know if she used the soap yet, but the Italian bread is now GONE. It did not make it to sunset yesterday.

But this brings me to the Blueberries. And the Cherries. And the other fresh produce. As we walked up and down the rows of tents I could not help but to think to myself: wow, that's a lot of Blueberries. I'm going home with a ton of Blueberries and Cherries.

Ah, nope.

Not organic. I learned yesterday that we don't buy anything that is not organic. "But this is a Farmer's Market! How much more 'organic' can you get?"

Boy, my wife was ready for THAT question. She said: "HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT ORGANIC FOOD IS?"

OK, so I learned yesterday that Camp Capone is 100% Organic. This I did not know. And it looks like I have been violating Camp Capone rules and regulations for years. And now, much research later, I am fully educated on all things Organic Farming and Organic Food.

But now thanks to Google, I am now also very much up to speed and fully educated on all things Farmer's Markets. And they are hurting. 

Nationwide, the number of Farmer's Markets rose from 2,000 in 1994 to more than 9,600 in 2019. And this leads to a major problem. Too few farmers populate the market stalls, and too few people to fill the canvas bags of the Farmer's Market shoppers.

Farmer's Markets have Market Saturation. 

Too many smaller markets are in hyper competiton for an already saturated marketplace. And now they also compete against Amazon, Instacart or Blue Apron for home delivery of fresh foods.

In business, sometimes things don't pencil out. Sometimes people in business don't stop and think through the logistics.

There are too few farmers and too few customers to make having "many" Farmer's Markets viable. Communities should pool together. If five or more communites formed one Farmer's Market, rather than five or more locally competing Farmer's Markets, that one pooled marketplace would be a more exciting venue for customers, and it would be much more profitable for farmers.

And what about an app? Maybe such an app already exists, but there should be a Farmer's Market app that allows anyone at anytime to see what's happening at THAT Farmer's Market, and will it be worth their time and money to drive to THAT market vs. THIS market. And how about filters that say "ORGANIC" so that you don't waste your time driving to a Farmer's Market that is not going to have anything that fits your "organic only" needs?

An app for Farmer's Markets would also open the door for online eCommerce sales. People could get on mailing lists, newletters, and even earn loyalty rewards.

Think of the app like: Airbnb meets Waze for Farmer's Markets. 

Vendors pay good money to host a booth at a Farmer's Market. Having their business listed in an app would be an easy sale. And locally grown Honey from New Jersey could easily be shipped anywhere in country, all via an app. Farmer's Markets Together Forever! 

Take that, Amazon.

Technology could solve the Market Saturation problem of Farmer's Markets nationwide. And we need as much fresh, locally grown food as we can find. I'll continue to support our local Farmer's Market every weekend. Now, about that app......




Sunday, June 9, 2019

Are you famous or something?

The author and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky had a lot to live up to after being tagged "The Great One" at the age of 10.

Wayne Gretzky holds 61 National Hockey League records: 40 for the regular season, 15 for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and 6 for the NHL All-Star Game. He is a 4x Stanley Cup champion, a 3x Canada Cup champion, and has earned dozens of awards and honors ranging from MVPs to Player of the Decade/Century to a Hockey Hall of Fame induction in 1999. His iconic jersey number 99 has been retired league-wide by the NHL. 

And Wayne is waiting for you in your conference room, ready to talk to your team about leadership, sports, or whatever topic YOU ask him. Live.

That is the power of Geniecast - the marketplace for experts, thought leaders, and speakers - otherwise known as Genies. Delivered live, interactive virtual experiences. Genies provide solutions for organizations all around the world via virtual "Casts" on topics ranging from diversity and inclusion to employee engagement & retention, financial stability in a changing economy, sales growth, and so much more.

NYDLA.org (pronounced "NYED-LA") is all about distance learning > DIGITAL learning > DIGITAL LIVING

Ever watch a Netflix documentary? How about a TED Talk? 

Simon Sinek is an unshakable optimist who believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together. He discovered remarkable patterns about how the greatest leaders and organizations think, act and communicate. Simon might be best know for popularizing the concept of WHY in his first TED talk in 2009 (the third most popular TED Talk of all time). 

When the Kolkata, India chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) needed a speaker that would truly amaze and teach members at their annual conference, Geniecast helped them to fight the barriers of time, distance and expense. With a busy schedule and what would have been 30+ hours of travel away from New York, a speaker of Simon's stature would normally have been out of reach.

Geniecast created an interactive discussion between the augmented presence of a world-class speaker and a live audience on the other side of the world. Imagine face-to-face, real-time engagement with a lifelike representation of an expert, speaker, or thought leader standing thousands of miles away. 

World-Class Speakers, Teachers and Thought Leaders. Delivered in stunning real-time via augmented reality. Members of NYDLA.org now have special, VIP access to the Geniecast marketplace. Just as Uber and Airbnb are able to utilize idle drive time in a car or vacant time in an apartment, Geniecast offers the same "gig economy" style options to their speaker network. 

Zoom is the official Videoconferencing platform of the NYDLA, and Geniecast works great on Zoom, but it works on other popular videoconferencing networks as well. 

The days of dry corporate meetings with convenient speakers may be coming to an end. By using interactive online technology and curating the experience, Geniecast is giving smaller businesses access to speakers they otherwise could not afford. Geniecast eliminates the need to fly in speakers, put them up in hotels, and pay them a substantial fee for their time. 

Wayne Gretzky. Simon Sinek. How about you? Are you ready to be a Genie?