Mark Twain

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

- Mark Twain

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Early Adapters are the imperative when selling to the bottom of the pyramid







Marketing to the bottom of the pyramid


[this short essay (long blog post) is inspired by and related to this video. You can engage one without the other, but they go together.]

Part 1: The bottom is important.

Almost a third of the world's population earns $2.50 or less a day. The enormity of this disparity takes my breath away, but there's an interesting flip side to it: That's a market of more than five billion dollars a day. Add the next segment ($5 a day) and it's easy to see that every single day, the poorest people in the world spend more than ten billion dollars to live their lives.

Most of that money is spent on traditional items purchased in traditional ways. Kerosene. Rice. Basic medicines if you can afford them or if death is the only alternative. And almost all of these purchases are inefficient. There's lack of information, high costs because of a lack of choice, and most of all, a lack of innovation.

There are two significant impacts here: first, the inefficiency is a tax on the people who can least afford it. Second, the side effects of poor products are dangerous. Kerosene kills, and so does dirty water.

Part 2: The bottom is an opportunity (for both buyer or seller).

If a business can offer a better product, one that's more efficient, provides better information, increases productivity, is safer, cleaner, faster or otherwise improved, it has the ability to change the world.

Change the world? Sure. Because capitalism and markets scale. If you can make money selling someone a safer item, you'll make more. And more. Until you've sold all you can. At the same time, you've enriched the purchaser, who bought something of her own free will because it made things better.

Not only that, but engaging in the marketplace empowers the purchaser. If you've got a wagon full of rice as food aid, you can just dump it in the town square and drive away. You have all the power. But if you have to sell something in order to succeed, it moves the power from the seller to buyer. Quality and service and engagement have to continually improve or the buyer moves on.

The cell phone, for example, has revolutionized the life of billions in the developing world. If you have a cell phone, you can determine the best price for the wheat you want to sell. You can find out if the part for your tractor has come in without spending two days to walk to town to find out. And you can be alerted to weather... etc. Productivity booms. There's no way the cell phone could have taken off as quickly or efficently as a form of aid, but once someone started engaging with this market, the volume was so huge it just scaled. And the market now competes to be ever more efficient.

Part 3: It's not as easy as it looks

And here's the kicker: If you're a tenth-generation subsistence farmer, your point of view is different from someone working in an R and D lab in Palo Alto. 

The Moral Economy of the Peasant makes this argument quite clearly. 

Imagine standing in water up to your chin. The only thing you're prepared to focus on is whether or not the water is going to rise four more inches. Your penchant for risk is close to zero. One mistake and the game is over.

As a result, it's extremely difficult to sell innovation to this consumer. The line around the block to get into the Apple store is just an insane concept in this community. A promise from a marketer is meaningless, because the marketer isn't part of the town, the marketer will move away, the marketer is, of course, a liar.

Let me add one more easily overlooked point: Western-style consumers have been taught from birth the power of the package. 

We see the new nano or the new Porsche or the new convertible note on a venture deal and we can easily do the math: [new thing] + [me] = [happier]. 

We've been taught that an object can make our lives better, that a purchase can make us happier, that the color of the Tiffany's box or the ringing of a phone might/will bring us joy.

That's just not true for someone who hasn't bought a new kind consumer good in a year or two or three or maybe ever. 

As a result, stores in the developing world tend to be stocked with the classic, the tried and true, because people buy refills of previous purchases, not the new.

No substistence farmer walks to a store or stall saying, "I wonder what's new today? I wonder if there's a new way for me to solve my problems?" 

Every day, people in the West say that very thing as they engage in shopping as a hobby.

You can't simply put something new in front of a person in this market and expect them to buy it, no matter how great, no matter how well packaged, no matter how well sold.

So you see the paradox. A new product and approach and innovation could dramatically improve the life and income of a billion people, but those people have been conditioned to ignore the very tools that are a reflex of marketers that might sell it to them. 

Fear of loss is greater than fear of gain. Advertising is inefficient and ineffective. And the worldview of the shopper is that they're not a shopper. They're in search of refills.

The answer, it turns out, is in connecting and leading Tribes. 

It lies in engaging directly and experientially with individuals, not getting distribution in front of markets. 

 Figure out how to use direct selling in just one village, and then do it in ten, and then in a hundred.


The broad, mass market approach of a Western marketer is foolish because there is no mass market in places where villages are the market.


The (eventual) power of the early adopter



This gentleman is a swami, a leader in his village. He owns a d.light lantern. Why? 

He could fit all his worldly positions into a rollaboard, and yet he owns a solar lantern, the first man in his village to buy one.

For him, at least this one time, he liked the way it felt to be seen as a leader, to go first, to do an experiment. 

Perhaps his followers contributed enough that the purchase didn't feel risky. 

Perhaps the person he bought it from was a friend or was somehow trusted. 

It doesn't really matter, other than understanding that he's rare.

After he got the lantern, he set it up in front of his house. 

Every night for six months, his followers would meet on his front yard to talk, to connect and yes, to wonder how long it would be before the lantern would burn out. Six months later, the jury is still out.

One day, months or years from now, the lantern will be seen as obvious and trusted and a safe purchase. 

But it won't happen as fast as it would happen in Buffalo or Paris.

The imperative is simple: find the early adopters, embrace them, adore them, support them, don't go away, don't let them down. 

And then be patient yet persistent. 

Mass market acceptance is rare. 

Viral connections based on experience are the only reliable way to spread new ideas in communities that aren't traditionally focused on the cult of the new.

This raises the bar for customer service and exceptional longevity, value and design. 

It means that the only way to successfully engage this market is with relentless focus on the conversations that tribe leaders and early adopters choose to have with their peers. 

All the tools of the Western mass market are useless here.

Just because it is going to take longer than it should doesn't mean we should walk away. 

There are big opportunities here, for all of us. It's going to take some time, but it's worth it. [More info: Acumen]


Posted by Seth Godin on September 08, 2010 | Permalink


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Source:
Seth's Blog: Marketing to the bottom of the pyramid






 

Love and Marriage



"I've never met a couple yet who, when they were walking down the aisle, said, 'What we want is three years of happiness, two years of [torment], a messy divorce and 15 years of fighting over custody of the kids.' "
- Wade F. Horn, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services 

Secret Ingredients for Success

Excuse making is not the answer to moving your business forward and making a success of your efforts  -  working harder is not the answer; you need to change a losing game. 

Work differently like the successful people in this article did:
they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them.

They looked inward and subjected themselves to brutal self-assessment. 

In interviews with high achievers for a book, the authors expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. 

Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.


The authors learned that challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible. 


This is  the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning wherein we are advised  to  question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. 

..........



Secret Ingredient for Success

By CAMILLE SWEENEY and JOSH GOSFIELD


WHAT does self-awareness have to do with a restaurant empire? A tennis championship? Or a rock star’s dream?

David Chang’s experience is instructive.

Mr. Chang is an internationally renowned, award-winning Korean-American chef, restaurateur and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group with eight restaurants from Toronto to Sydney, and other thriving enterprises, including bakeries and bars, a PBS TV show, guest spots on HBO’s “Treme” and a foodie magazine, Lucky Peach.  

He says he worked himself to the bone to realize his dream — to own a humble noodle bar.

He spent years cooking in some of New York City’s best restaurants, apprenticed in different noodle shops in Japan and then, finally, worked 18-hour days in his tiny restaurant,
Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Mr. Chang could barely pay himself a salary. He had trouble keeping staff. And he was miserably stressed.


He recalls a low moment when he went with his staff on a night off to eat burgers at a restaurant that was everything his wasn’t — packed, critically acclaimed and financially successful.

He could cook better than they did, he thought, so why was his restaurant failing? “I couldn’t figure out what the hell we were doing wrong,” he told us.

Mr. Chang could have blamed someone else for his troubles, or worked harder (though available evidence suggests that might not have been possible) or he could have made minor tweaks to the menu. 

Instead he looked inward and subjected himself to brutal self-assessment.

Was the humble noodle bar of his dreams economically viable? 

Sure, a traditional noodle dish had its charm but wouldn’t work as the mainstay of a restaurant if he hoped to pay his bills.

Mr. Chang changed course. 


Rather than worry about what a noodle bar should serve, he and his cooks stalked the produce at the greenmarket for inspiration. 

Then they went back to the kitchen and cooked as if it was their last meal, crowding the menu with wild combinations of dishes they’d want to eat — tripe and sweetbreads, headcheese and flavor-packed culinary mashups like a Korean-style burrito. 

What happened next Mr. Chang still considers “kind of ridiculous” — the crowds came, rave reviews piled up, awards followed and unimaginable opportunities presented themselves.

During the 1970s, Chris Argyris, a business theorist at Harvard Business School (and now, at 89, a professor emeritus) began to research what happens to organizations and people, like Mr. Chang, when they find obstacles in their paths.

Professor Argyris called the most common response single loop learning — an insular mental process in which we consider possible external or technical reasons for obstacles.


LESS common but vastly more effective is the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning. 

In this mode we — like Mr. Chang — question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. 

This more psychologically nuanced self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs and summon the courage to act on that information, which may lead to fresh ways of thinking about our lives and our goals.

In interviews we did with high achievers for a book, we expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. 

Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.

The successful people we spoke with — in business, entertainment, sports and the arts — all had similar responses when faced with obstacles: they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them.
The tennis champion Martina Navratilova, for example, told us that after a galling loss to Chris Evert in 1981, she questioned her assumption that she could get by on talent and instinct alone. 

She began a long exploration of every aspect of her game. 

She adopted a rigorous cross-training practice (common today but essentially unheard of at the time), revamped her diet and her mental and tactical game and ultimately transformed herself into the most successful women’s tennis player of her era.

The indie rock band OK Go described how it once operated under the business model of the 20th-century rock band. 

But when industry record sales collapsed and the band members found themselves creatively hamstrung by their recording company, they questioned their tactics. 

Rather than depend on their label, they made wildly unconventional music videos, which went viral, and collaborative art projects with companies like Google, State Farm and Range Rover, which financed future creative endeavors. The band now releases albums on its own label.
No one’s idea of a good time is to take a brutal assessment of their animating assumptions and to acknowledge that those may have contributed to their failure. 

It’s easy to find pat ways to explain why the world has not adequately rewarded our efforts. 


But what we learned from conversation with high achievers is that:


 challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible. 












Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield are the authors of the forthcoming book “The Art of Doing:  How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well.”


Source:

Secret Ingredient for Success - NYTimes.com



http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/opinion/sunday/secret-ingredient-for-success.html?_r=0





Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Secret Ingredient for Success - NYTimes.com

Excuse making is not the answer to moving your business forward and making a success of your efforts  -  working harder is not the answer; you need to change a losing game. 

Work differently like the successful people in this article did:
they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them.

They looked inward and subjected themselves to brutal self-assessment. 

In interviews with high achievers for a book, the authors expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. 

Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.


The authors learned that challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible. 


This is  the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning wherein we are advised  to  question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. 

..........



Secret Ingredient for Success

By CAMILLE SWEENEY and JOSH GOSFIELD


WHAT does self-awareness have to do with a restaurant empire? A tennis championship? Or a rock star’s dream?

David Chang’s experience is instructive.

Mr. Chang is an internationally renowned, award-winning Korean-American chef, restaurateur and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group with eight restaurants from Toronto to Sydney, and other thriving enterprises, including bakeries and bars, a PBS TV show, guest spots on HBO’s “Treme” and a foodie magazine, Lucky Peach.  

He says he worked himself to the bone to realize his dream — to own a humble noodle bar.

He spent years cooking in some of New York City’s best restaurants, apprenticed in different noodle shops in Japan and then, finally, worked 18-hour days in his tiny restaurant,
Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Mr. Chang could barely pay himself a salary. He had trouble keeping staff. And he was miserably stressed.


He recalls a low moment when he went with his staff on a night off to eat burgers at a restaurant that was everything his wasn’t — packed, critically acclaimed and financially successful.

He could cook better than they did, he thought, so why was his restaurant failing? “I couldn’t figure out what the hell we were doing wrong,” he told us.

Mr. Chang could have blamed someone else for his troubles, or worked harder (though available evidence suggests that might not have been possible) or he could have made minor tweaks to the menu. 

Instead he looked inward and subjected himself to brutal self-assessment.

Was the humble noodle bar of his dreams economically viable? 

Sure, a traditional noodle dish had its charm but wouldn’t work as the mainstay of a restaurant if he hoped to pay his bills.

Mr. Chang changed course. 


Rather than worry about what a noodle bar should serve, he and his cooks stalked the produce at the greenmarket for inspiration. 

Then they went back to the kitchen and cooked as if it was their last meal, crowding the menu with wild combinations of dishes they’d want to eat — tripe and sweetbreads, headcheese and flavor-packed culinary mashups like a Korean-style burrito. 

What happened next Mr. Chang still considers “kind of ridiculous” — the crowds came, rave reviews piled up, awards followed and unimaginable opportunities presented themselves.

During the 1970s, Chris Argyris, a business theorist at Harvard Business School (and now, at 89, a professor emeritus) began to research what happens to organizations and people, like Mr. Chang, when they find obstacles in their paths.

Professor Argyris called the most common response single loop learning — an insular mental process in which we consider possible external or technical reasons for obstacles.


LESS common but vastly more effective is the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning. 

In this mode we — like Mr. Chang — question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. 

This more psychologically nuanced self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs and summon the courage to act on that information, which may lead to fresh ways of thinking about our lives and our goals.

In interviews we did with high achievers for a book, we expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. 

Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.

The successful people we spoke with — in business, entertainment, sports and the arts — all had similar responses when faced with obstacles: they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them.
The tennis champion Martina Navratilova, for example, told us that after a galling loss to Chris Evert in 1981, she questioned her assumption that she could get by on talent and instinct alone. 

She began a long exploration of every aspect of her game. 

She adopted a rigorous cross-training practice (common today but essentially unheard of at the time), revamped her diet and her mental and tactical game and ultimately transformed herself into the most successful women’s tennis player of her era.

The indie rock band OK Go described how it once operated under the business model of the 20th-century rock band. 

But when industry record sales collapsed and the band members found themselves creatively hamstrung by their recording company, they questioned their tactics. 

Rather than depend on their label, they made wildly unconventional music videos, which went viral, and collaborative art projects with companies like Google, State Farm and Range Rover, which financed future creative endeavors. The band now releases albums on its own label.
No one’s idea of a good time is to take a brutal assessment of their animating assumptions and to acknowledge that those may have contributed to their failure. 

It’s easy to find pat ways to explain why the world has not adequately rewarded our efforts. 


But what we learned from conversation with high achievers is that:


 challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible. 












Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield are the authors of the forthcoming book “The Art of Doing:  How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well.”


Source:

Secret Ingredient for Success - NYTimes.com



http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/opinion/sunday/secret-ingredient-for-success.html?_r=0






Secret Ingredient for Success - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Silicon Valley Worries About Addiction to Devices

NOTE:  This article is a few years old but is very much relevant now.  Have people learned to disconnect from their digital devices yet?  Live with more balance and digital detox to reboot your brain and your soul.Notice the effect that time online is having on your relationships and your productivity.  Interactive technology has addictive properties.
..................

Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. 

But like a growing number of technology leaders,he offers a warning: 
log off once in a while, and put them down.

In a place where technology is seen as an all-powerful answer, it is increasingly being seen as too powerful, even addictive.

The concern, voiced in conferences and in recent interviews with many top executives of technology companies, is that the lure of constant stimulation — the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates — is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions.

“If you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, it’ll boil to death — it’s a nice analogy,” said Mr. Crabb, who oversees learning and development at Facebook.

People “need to notice the effect that time online has on your performance and relationships.”
The insight may not sound revelatory to anyone who has joked about the “crackberry” lifestyle or followed the work of researchers who are exploring whether interactive technology has addictive properties.

But hearing it from leaders at many of Silicon Valley’s most influential companies, who profit from people spending more time online, can sound like auto executives selling muscle cars while warning about the dangers of fast acceleration.

“We’re done with this honeymoon phase and now we’re in this phase that says, ‘Wow, what have we done?’ ” said Soren Gordhamer, who organizes Wisdom 2.0, an annual conference he started in 2010 about the pursuit of balance in the digital age. “It doesn’t mean what we’ve done is bad. There’s no blame. But there is a turning of the page.”



At the Wisdom 2.0 conference in February, founders from Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Zynga and PayPal, and executives and managers from companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco and others listened to or participated in conversations with experts in yoga and mindfulness.

In at least one session, they debated whether technology firms had a responsibility to consider their collective power to lure consumers to games or activities that waste time or distract them.

The actual science of whether such games and apps are addictive is embryonic. But the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, widely viewed as the authority on mental illnesses, plans next year to include “Internet use disorder” in its appendix, an indication researchers believe something is going on but that requires further study to be deemed an official condition.

Some people disagree there is a problem, even if they agree that the online activities tap into deep neurological mechanisms. Eric Schiermeyer, a co-founder of Zynga, an online game company and maker of huge hits like FarmVille, has said he has helped addict millions of people to dopamine, a neurochemical that has been shown to be released by pleasurable activities, including video game playing, but also is understood to play a major role in the cycle of addiction.

But what he said he believed was that people already craved dopamine and that Silicon Valley was no more responsible for creating irresistible technologies than, say, fast-food restaurants were responsible for making food with such wide appeal.

“They’d say: ‘Do we have any responsibility for the fact people are getting fat?’ Most people would say ‘no,’ ” said Mr. Schiermeyer. He added: “Given that we’re human, we already want dopamine.”

Along those lines, Scott Kriens, chairman of Juniper Networks, one of the biggest Internet infrastructure companies, said the powerful lure of devices mostly reflected primitive human longings to connect and interact, but that those desires needed to be managed so they did not overwhelm people’s lives.

“The responsibility we have is to put the most powerful capability into the world,” he said. “We do it with eyes wide open that some harm will be done. Someone might say, ‘Why not do so in a way that causes no harm?’ That’s na├»ve.”

“The alternative is to put less powerful capability in people’s hands and that’s a bad trade-off,” he added.

Mr. Crabb, the Facebook executive, said his primary concern was that people live balanced lives. At the same time, he acknowledges that the message can run counter to Facebook’s business model, which encourages people to spend more time online. “I see the paradox,” he said.

The emerging conversation reflects a broader effort in the valley to offer counterweights to the fast-paced lifestyle. Many tech firms are teaching meditation and breathing exercises to their staff members to help them slow down and disconnect.

At Cisco, Padmasree Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer and its former head of engineering, a position where she oversaw 22,000 employees, said she regularly told people to take a break and a deep breath, and did so herself. She meditates every night and takes Saturday to paint and write poetry, turning off her phone or leaving it in the other room.

“It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul, she said. She added of her Saturday morning digital detox: “It makes me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.”

Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist who lectures about the science of self-control at the Stanford School of Medicine (and has been invited to lecture at the business school at Stanford), said she regularly talked with leaders at technology companies about these issues.

She added that she was impressed that they had been open to discussing a potential downside of their innovations. “The people who are running these companies deeply want their technology and devices to enhance lives,” said Dr. McGonigal. “But they’re becoming aware of people’s inability to disengage.”

She also said she believed that interactive gadgets could create a persistent sense of emergency by setting off stress systems in the brain — a view that she said was becoming more widely accepted.

“It’s this basic cultural recognition that people have a pathological relationship with their devices,” she said. “People feel not just addicted, but trapped.”


Michelle Gale, who recently left her post as the head of learning and development at Twitter, said she regularly coached engineers and executives at the company that their gadgets had addictive properties.

“They said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that.’ Or, ‘I guess I knew that but I don’t know what to do about it,’ ” recalled Ms. Gale, who regularly organized meditation and improvisation classes at Twitter to encourage people to let their minds wander.

Google has started a “mindfulness” movement at the company to teach employees self-awareness and to improve their ability to focus. 

Richard Fernandez, an executive coach at Google and one of the leaders of the mindfulness movement, said the risks of being overly engaged with devices were immense.
“It’s nothing less than everything,” he said, adding that if people can find time to occasionally disconnect, “we can have more intimate and authentic relationships with ourselves and those we love in our communities.”
Google, which owns YouTube, earns more ad revenue as people stay online longer. But Mr. Fernandez, echoing others in Silicon Valley, said they were not in business to push people into destructive behavior.

“Consumers need to have an internal compass where they’re able to balance the capabilities that technology offers them for work, for search, with the qualities of the lives they live offline,” he said.

“It’s about creating space, because otherwise we can be swept away by our technologies.










Source:

July 23, 2012
Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device
By MATT RICHTEL

Silicon Valley Worries About Addiction to Devices - NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/technology/silicon-valley-worries-about-addiction-to-devices.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0