Thursday, July 31, 2003
More from the 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers. Sorry to ramble on, but this stuff is golden. I'd re-print every word if I wouldn't be breaking every known copyright law in existence. I wish wish wish I'd had this book when I was 24. As it is, I'm probably 5-7 years behind where I should be (I'm 39, and am where I should have been at about 32)... Better late than never!
Practice Benevolent Leadership
A leader is best when people barely know that he exists. He is the teacher who succeeds without taking credit. And, because credit is not taken, credit is received. -Lao Tzu, 6th Century B.C.
The curse of the highly talented person is that everyone wants him to do everything.
Rather than go it alone, become fanatical about wooing, hiring, and retaining the most talented people in (the) business. Create an environment that would be the most attractive to the very best people, one of open communication and deep trust, in which (your) subordinates' success will be more important that even (your) own. (48)
We are reluctant to let go of the belief that if I am to care for something, I must control it. So many people progress in their careers hoping to ensure short-term success by tight oversight, while long-term success slips away.
Extraordinary success is achieved by makthosehose around you successful.
The benevolent leader maximizes performance through facilitation. She eliminates barriers for subordinates and leads with authority, even though at times appearing to be just one of the pack. It's easy to know when a benevolent leader is in charge. The telltale signs? Information and authority flow freely. Honesty abounds. People are free to question authority without retribution. Creativity reigns. Each member of the team feels just as accountable to the other team members as to the leader. (50)
Nearly 90 percent of extraordinarily successful executives were described as being concerned about their careers of their subordinates as much or more than their own careers. (52)
To put this lesson another way: The extraordinary executive does not claw his way to the top, he is carried there. (53)
So what really motivates the best and the brightest? In our survey we asked how respondents personally defined career success. Two key factors emerged. The first, one of the most often cited, was "freedom in my job to do the things I want." ...
The second was "to be well regarded in my company or industry." (55)
Successful executives ask "How will this job, working for this boss, help me achieve the level of respect and impact that I desire? He asks, explicitly or implicitly, about each new opportunity. Highly successful individuals also add another question: "If I am successful, will the organization or team be successful?" (55)
Professionals understand the importance of joining the best program and actively seek it out. This becomes a virtuous circle--the best people create the best results, which in turn attract the best people. ... Professionals who create a winning environment, usually end up winners. (58)
Of the four leadership styles, I find myself probably in the "Good Citizen" block. As I gain experience and confidence, I'm sure I'll move more into the "Benevolent Leader" box, since it so closely aligns with my own personal values.
By the way, for a clue on how I got a pre-release copy, look here.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
More on the 5 Patterns...
I've gotten several requests for more information about The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers. I found the first chapter online here: http://www.bzzagent.com/downloads/5patterns_intro.pdf.
At the 5 Patterns website is also a PowerPoint deck with the key points here: http://5patterns.com/files/UnlockthePotential.pdf. Worth a read, and goes into more detail than I can.
Some of the key points of the books I've found helpful so far:
After doing a lot of research (2,000 executives interviewed), the authors found a handful of patterns. One thing they found was that executives "never took their job descriptions too literally and had always found ways to expand their responsibilities within their organizations (p. 4).
Extraordinary executives, in a process similar to compound interest, achieved success slowly and consistently, with each phases building on the prior one. (8)
THE FIVE PATTERNS OF EXTRAORDINARY CAREERS
So what are the five patterns of extraordinary careers? As the five chapters that follow will detail, they are to:
1. Understand the value of you. People with extraordinary careers understand how value is created in the workplace, and they translate
that knowledge into action, building their personal value over each phase of their careers.
2. Practice benevolent leadership. People with extraordinary careers do not claw their way to the top; they are carried there.
3. Overcome the permission paradox. People with extraordinary careers overcome one of the great Catch-22s of business: You can’t get the job
without experience, and you can’t get the experience without the job.
4. Differentiate using the 20/80 principle of performance. People with extraordinary careers do their defined jobs exceptionally well but don’t
stop there. They storm past predetermined objectives to create breakthrough ideas and deliver unexpected impact.
5 . Find the right fit (strengths, passions, and people). People with extraordinary careers make decisions with the long term in mind. They willfully
migrate toward positions that fit their natural strengths and passions and where they can work with people they like and respect. (9)
The average professional with thirty-five years of experience has worked for just over six different companies during his or her career. Yet those with only ten years of experience have, on average, already worked for four companies. (11)
Understand the Value of You
The most successful professionals have come to understand the underlying factors that determine value in the job market, and how to maximize their market value at different stages of professional life, and why some careers prosper while others peak and decline (15).
Your value in the talent marketplace is derived from two distinctly separate elements—the value of your potential and the value of your experience. … The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of potential.
Experiential value is usually more highly compensated than potential value for the simple reason that it is much easier to measure what you have done than what you can do. … Even if you find yourself considering a role similar to the one that you have been in, it is important to look for and discuss the growth potential of the new role itself and you in it. … You must turn your potential value into valuable experiences, which together can be converted into renewed potential. (21)
The Potential Versus Experiential Promotion:
The critical element to potential promotions is trust. It should be noted that potential promotions … are relatively rare. Because these are promotions of trust earned over time, they seldom occur when changing employers, since senior people in the new organization are usually not yet familiar with you or your capabilities. (27)
The pattern of leveraging successful experience in one company or industry for the opportunity to do something similar in another plays itself out in a majority of the four thousand searches that Spencer Stuart conducts annually. (29)
The Promise Phase
The key to building experiential value in your career is straightforward: Gain experiences that really matter. (29)
Understanding when it is in your long-term interest to do something in the short run, such as going for a potential promotion within your current organization to position you for an experiential promotion later on , is a key trait of extraordinarily successful executives.
Executives switch employers every 4.6 years on average. … When an individual is recruited to a new employer, the appointment is typically accompanied by an increase in compensation of between 15 percent and 30 percent. In general, potential promotions tend to be accompanied by the more typical 5 percent to 10 percent pay raises. (29)
Value changes throughout your career, shifting from potential to experiential to potential again.
The path of successful professionals often visibly diverges from that of the less successful in the middle of a career. (31)
The importance of the first stage is often underestimated. Start something that will begin the process of building experiential value. Early professional experience will provide feedback and input into what you enjoy and are good at. And it will certainly create the most freedom and alternatives later on. (33)
If you choose not to use your potential, you will have still spent it. Working in the promise phase is in fact one of the best times to identify your strengths and passions. … An individual’s ability to convert potential into valuable experience is one of the most important elements to achieving long-term success. (33)
There is a twofold goal for the end of the promise phase: to have achieved the endorsement of having worked for at least one recognizable company or institution while having learned enough about yourself to become directed toward a situation that plays to your strengths and interests in the years ahead.
One executive interviewed said “Looking back (in the promise phase), I am convinced that not taking a risk at that point in my career would have been an even riskier strategy, because I would have been just another associate.” (35) “It’s amazing how seemingly minor differences in momentum and perspective that you establish very early on in your career can led to such major differentiation later in life.” (36)
The Momentum Phase:
Your potential value is steadily converted into experiential value as you master functional skills, develop a track record, take on broader responsibilities, manage other professionals, and cultivate a network of business relationships. This is the phase (usually in your mid-thirties, when you shift into the momentum phase of your career. This phase corresponds to the downward fall of the swing, or the point of greatest acceleration. The momentum phase is when many professionals approach their maximum experiential value. (36)
If you are on the right track by this middle stage of your career, then you are in a position to take maximum control over your career’s direction. … The most successful executives in the momentum phase achieve positive impact an accelerating rate. (37)
Unfortunately, those who haven’t managed this phase are at serious risk of seeing their career stall. If you have been unable to migrate your career toward roles that play to your strengths and passions, enabling the kind of impact to attract the most important opportunities, then you may have lost your greatest opportunity for momentum. (38)
Taking a Bird's-Eye View of "Social Cyberspaces"
Please allow me to publish a press release. I wrote about my lunch with Marc last week.
Taking a Bird's-Eye View of "Social Cyberspaces"
Microsoft Researcher and Pioneer in Online Communities Shows How "Social Accounting" Tools Help Computer Users Cope With Information Overload
REDMOND, Wash. -- July 29, 2003 -- Have you ever joined an online message board or newsgroup discussion only to find yourself struggling to decide which participants' advice to heed, whom to ignore, who are the experts, and who is simply making noise or "flame-bait"? Trust and identity are at the core of any well-functioning community, online or in the real world. Researchers at Microsoft Corp. are creating tools to help computer users understand these dynamics -- and get real value from what research sociologist Marc Smith calls "social cyberspaces."
According to Smith, social cyberspaces include e-mail, e-mail distribution lists, chat rooms, buddy lists, instant messages, message boards, weblogs ("blogs"), and discussion groups such as Usenet. Today, most of these virtual spaces offer little or no "social accounting" data or information that helps users get a big-picture view of the community they are interacting with. Yet the role of social cyberspaces is becoming increasingly important.
"Technology no longer consists just of hardware or software or even services, but of communities," said Howard Rheingold, author of "The Virtual Community" and "Smart Mobs." "Increasingly, community is a part of technology, a driver of technology, and an emergent effect of technology."
At Microsoft® Research, Smith leads the Community Technologies group, which is developing tools that can help people make more informed decisions on which community members they can trust, instead of acting on blind faith.
One project is Netscan (http://netscan.research.microsoft.com/). Drawing on the estimated 100,000 newsgroups and 20 million active contributing members within Usenet, Netscan offers an interface that supports the discovery of communities of interest, the selection and evaluation of high-quality content, and, as a reputation system, motivates members to make quality contributions.
In another project, Smith and his colleagues are exploring how online information can play a role in the physical world. Advanced User Resource Annotation, or AURA (http://aura.research.microsoft.com/), demonstrates how people can bridge the gap between online information and the offline world. Using a wireless Pocket PC outfitted with a bar-code scanner, users can scan any bar-coded object -- such as food, books or even works of art -- and find relevant information in real time from newsgroups, Web sites and message boards.
For example, a visitor to an art museum could scan the bar code on a painting's frame and instantly access newsgroups or message boards associated with the particular artist. Then they could read what others think of the work and even annotate the discussions with their own ideas.
Today at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus, Smith will discuss his group's research in "Group Dynamics in Social Cyberspaces." The talk is open to the public.
Where: Microsoft Corp.
Bldg. 1, Conference Center
Mountain View, Calif.
Time: 12:30--2 p.m.
Monday, July 28, 2003
5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers
I got an advance copy of The 5 Patterns for Extraordinary Careers, written by James Citrin and Richard Smith. I'm totally devouring the information. This is probably going to be one of the more powerful books I've run across all year.
One of the case studies is Rich Bray, the Vice President of MSN North America. I worked with him when we were both Product Managers (he was PM of Money, I was PM of Dinosaurs and Musical Instruments). I've always been impressed with his decision-making ability, and his ability to take risk. It's fascinating to read about his accelerated career, and the author's opinions on how he made it as far as he has. I look forward to learning all I can from the book, and from Rich.
The authors have a website, and a "5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers assessment." You can take the survey free.
John's Quiz Results
Your thoughts and behaviors are consistent with a Successful Professional! (60-89 points) Other ranges are 59 points or less (Average Employee) and 90-100 points (Extraordinary Executive)
In the top percentage of working professionals, your thoughts and actions in several areas are consistent with successful careers. However, there are likely numerous strategies available to you that place a career that is truly extraordinary within your reach.
Pattern 1 - Understand the Value of You
Pattern 1 Score: Average Employee (50 points)
Pattern 2 - Practice Benevolent Leadership
Pattern 2 Score: Successful Professional (70 points)
Pattern 3 - Overcome the Permission Paradox
Pattern 3 Score: Average Employee (47 points)
Pattern 4 - Differentiate Using the 20/80 Principle of Performance
Pattern 4 Score: Extraordinary Executive (100 points)
Pattern 5 - Find the Right Fit (Strengths, Passions & People)
Pattern 5 Score: Successful Professional (77 points)
Can't wait to find out how to accelerate each score!
"Imagination is the hood ornament on the car of creativity."
"Fear is the dark room where the devil develops his negatives."
"This show is like a farm birth in outer space."
"I've thought about things that Kings and Queens cannot spell."
Diane's right. I'm With Busey is a funny, funny show.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Microsoft Company Picnic
Wow, what a fun day in a totally picturesque setting. The kids had a great time eating tons of food, drinking their weight in soda, playing in the inflatable playgrounds, watching a magic show, and spending time with our family. And Jeri and I enjoyed the Little River Band concert, the nice weather (80 F) and sunny skies, and the chance to relax a bit. (You'll have to ignore the blurry photos, little kids tend to smudge everything they can...).
There were probably 20,000+ people there, but it didn't seem too crowded (the venue was massive!). Steven got to go onstage to help with the magic show, check out his smiling face as he tries to escape from the ropes!
Let Go, Be Yourself, Make the Moment Matter
Diane Reischling recently did some training of folks you might run into if you're in some retail stores in the US, part of Microsoft and HP's "Experience Centers." She talks about highlights from the training in her blog:
"I stood up and said, "The only thing I want to do is to simply give you permission to NOT sell anything. All I want you to do is make sure that customer walks away being known, understands a bit more about how our software can meet some need/curiosity in their life, and believes it's a good thing for the world. If you do all three things each and every time...I'll be thrilled."
Total silence. I'm getting that a lot here. :)
And then we all decided to come up with three things to remember together as we are in front of customers. I was so inspired by them, that I'm writing them down:
1. Let go - everyone gets to play
2. Be yourself - be real
3. This moment matters
Good advice, no matter what your job, or to whom you're speaking.
Stay In School! (figuratively-speaking)
Peter Provost reminds me (us) how important it is to stay current (or ahead of the curve!) in your industry. He links to a slide deck by Dave Thomas (of Pragmatic Programmer fame), who recently published the slides from his talk "How To Keep Your Job".
Peter echoes my thoughts: "It always amazes me how few people take any time for personal education once they get a job. They go to work, do their job, and they go home. Very few people allocate any time for continuing education. Read this and pay attention, it is important."
It's not enough to do your job, or even to do it well. In the days of downturns and layoffs, playing it safe is the most risky thing you can do. Don't stop studying just because you've finished school, or because you rely on your one-week-a-year professional development program. Programming changes every year, and I'd argue marketing, even management practices, changes just as fast.
Interactive Reality-based Gaming
Marc Canter blogs about Interactive-palooza, saying that "back in 1994 - the MediaBand was part of a traveling Lollapalooza Interactive Tent that was sponsored by Paul Allen's Interval Research group. We were all geared up - convinced that the future was now - unfortunately we were 9 years too soon. But it looks like it's happening now."
From the article: "Organizer Perry Farrell (news), frontman for Jane's Addiction, said, "I would call this interactive reality-based gaming." ... He has incorporated video games, wireless (news - web sites) phones, video screens and more as part of his vision for the future of entertainment. "
The team I'm on (Xbox PR) put a lot of this together (though I personally had nothing to do with it). Cool to see it coming together. And Marc's right, the future is at our doorstep.
Too Much to Do?
Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge has a great article called "Understaffed and Overworked: What Now?"
"The sure recipe for failure is to suck it up and try to do it all," says Isabel Parlett of Parlance Training, a Santa Fe, N.M., firm specializing in business communications. "You'll burn out, your team will resent you, your reputation will suffer, and the work probably won't all get done anyway."
1. Stay Focused. What is its economic impact? Is it aligned with the company's strategy? How will it satisfy stakeholders? What is my level of passion, talent, and energy for it? Do we have the resources?
2. Remember the Little Picture: Get out in front. Create alliances. Manage up. Focus on your new duties. To position yourself, start with your team.
Of course, we're all really busy. With the recent reorg, my team's been challenged with continuing all the work we're currently doing, plus taking on more, both from other organizations in our larger group, and more worldwide. There are some great suggestions in this article. Worth a read, and worth a subscription to the newsletter. Link from Dana VanDen Heuvel.
My Moblog on TechTV
Sean mentioned his wife's moblog was on TechTV, and I watched the clip, and saw that my moblog was featured next. My slurpees aren't as cute as his baby, but darn close.
And the "convention" was the MGB last week.
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Social Newsgroup Research
Just spent time using one of the tools Marc showed us earlier in the week. Netscan is available to the public from the Microsoft Research site.
The Netscan System provides detailed reports on the activity of Usenet newsgroups, the authors who participate in them, and the conversation threads that emerge from their activity. Using the Netscan tool users can get reports about any newsgroup for any day, week, month, quarter, or year, since September 1999.
Netscan can be used to:
- Find newsgroups where others share your unique interests.
- Monitor the health of newsgroups related to your interests and pursuits.
- Stay informed on current events and the latest trends.
Locate sources for technical assistance and information.
- Examine troubling issues and hot topics not covered in product documentation.
- Track the participation of your favorite authors across Usenet newsgroups.
- Use Newsgroup Reports to get an in-depth analysis of individual newsgroups including a graphic representation of newsgroup traffic, statistical changes in the newsgroup as compared to last year’s statistics, closest neighbors, largest threads, and most prolific authors.
Use Author Profile to view Usenet newsgroup usage data for a selected author. This data includes Usenet activity during the selected and previous period, known aliases, and newsgroups to which the author has posted over the past year.
Use Thread View to view all the messages in a specified conversation independent of the thread to which it was posted or from which responses were made. Both a thread view and a tree view of the conversation are provided.
Use Tree Map to view the hierarchical relationships of newsgroups in the Usenet.
Use Cross Posts to view the relationships between neighboring newsgroups within Usenet. The frequency of cross posts newsgroups is used to determine how closely related one newsgroup is to another.
Friday, July 25, 2003
Hanging Out with the PR Team
Had a great time tonight hanging out with the Xbox PR team at our Director's home on Lake Washington. Good food, and some new good friends. I got to meet some great folks at our agency, Edelman.
I'm fascinated at the creative talent and the executional excellence these guys demonstrate, even in casual conversations. I've never met a more interesting, professional, attractive group of people.
I posted a few pictures on my moblog.
Meetup with Martin
Had a great visit with Martin Leahy this morning, a former Microsoft genius I worked with a while back. We met at Building 10, the place we worked 7 or 8 years ago. It was quite strange walking down the halls of a building we worked at every day, and for it to feel so unfamiliar. Of course the artwork has changed, and the carpets have been replaced, but much of it hadn't changed.
We reminisced about the "good old days," and caught up on each others' careers. I was struck with how much Microsoft has changed hearing Martin bring up names from the past (Nils Von Veh, Sonya Gustufson, Gideon Rosenblatt, Mike Losh, Tom Corddry, Susan Boeshen, Bruce Jacobson, Melinda French, Marty Taucher, Mike Negrin, Patty Stonesifer, Alex Simonson, Jabe Blumenthal, Ruthann Lorenzen, and others).
I commented on his new job as VP of Sales and Marketing at Gupta, and how much marketing has become instinctual rather than so linear, strategic rather than tactical. I think we've--dare I say it--matured.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Social aspects of Xbox Gaming
An Associated Press story from this morning reports that Microsoft is seeking to broaden the appeal of its Xbox video game console by adding chat functions to its online gaming service in Japan. Our VP Peter Moore is quoted saying that "Xbox is about the social aspects of gaming -- not the solitary or the escapism aspects of gaming."
I first blogged about this from a speech Peter gave to our group at the MGB last week. I'm fascinated to see how this idea of "social gaming" develops. It's interesting to think that almost all my own experience with gaming has been social:
- I almost always play multi-player games with my kids, their friends, or my own friends
- My kids almost never play alone, and when they do, it's to get better so they can beat their friends when they play together.
- Most of the adults I talk to that play are either talking about their gameplay to others ("Did you pass that level yet? Are you playing at the expert level?"), or they're playing together.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Cesar and I got to meet with Marc Smith for lunch today. Marc is a Research Sociologist in the Collaborative and Multimedia Systems Group. He focuses on the research and design of social cyberspaces, and the emergence of social organizations like communities in online environments and the resources groups need in order to cooperate productively.
He showed us some very cool technology that tracks participation of members of communities, and spoke about how we can discover relevant communities, and help facilitate them.
I was interested to hear that of the 33,000 newsgroups, 3,000 of them are Microsoft-created (*updated from 11,000, but I'm going to go back and check to get the right numbers, that's the problem from going from memory).
I asked if online communities were a "super user" or "early adopter" phenomenon, and he reminded me that almost everyone with an email account or Internet access has been part of an email discussion, "group alias," or has left a question on a website and later went back for an answer.
He said our challenge in participating in communities (like our MVP program) is discovering already existing communities, monitoring them, then slowly becoming part of the community, later having some kind of influence. We don't "build" community, but we can help facilitate growth. He used the analogy of a garden, we can make the environment fertile, but we can't yell at the carrots to "grow, grow, grow!"
Excellent stuff, made me very excited to be part of the efforts internally, and helped me feel confident that we're dedicating research money and resources (and talented people like Marc) to the effort.
I'm an Ideas Guy (okay, I admit it)
From Discover Your Sales Strenghts
The Strenghtsfinder Signature Themes report below displays my five most powerful themes, as indicated by the Gallup StrengthsFinder Web-based assessment.
MY SIGNATURE THEMES:
Ideation: People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
Maximizer: People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
Strategic: People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
Input: People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
Intellection: People strong in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
To learn your Signature Themes, buy any one of these Gallup strengths publications, each of which provide an ID code that will allow you to take StrengthsFinder, and will help you think about how to best leverage your talents:
If you are a manager, "Now, Discover Your Strengths" will help you think about how you can help other people leverage their talents. You can find "Now, Discover Your Strengths" at any major bookstore, or through this link: http://www.gallup.com/publications/strengths.asp
If you are a salesperson or sales manager, "Discover Your Sales Strengths" will teach you to focus on your personal talents and strengths, then guide you to transform those assets into solid sales performances -- and successful careers. You can find "Discover Your Sales Strengths" at any major bookstore, or through this link: http://www.gallup.com/publications/sales.asp
Cut Us Some Slack!
A judge with a sense of humor cuts Microsoft a bit of slack. Loved this PDF of what looks like an actual court document. And I love the "human voice" it was done in. Why is it that people can't be real, like this? From Garrett Fitzgerald quoting Volokh
Is Nintendo Playing the Wrong Game?
From the August edition of Business 2.0, Is Nintendo Playing the Wrong Game? "Its competitors are turning their consoles into home entertainment centers. But Nintendo is sticking to games, a play-it-safe strategy that threatens to reduce the once-mighty company to irrelevance."
This article has generated some buzz among those that were at the MGB session where we talked about Thought Leadership.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Stefan Smalla thinks my blog's worth recommending. I have to admit, I'm a bit stunned when I see folks linking in. I see it as a benefit to me, since I'm finding kindred spirits across the globe. I like building my own community of practice (marketing), and I'm learning a lot from all of you (I'm sure much more than you're learning from me). And along the way, if I can make it more interesting to other marketers, or if I can share some ideas from my 20 years in high tech, I'm happy to do it.
Sorry I'm not sharing trade secrets and digging up dirt on my co-workers, or printing anything "newsworthy," but I enjoy the hour or two I spend blogging that gets me thinking about my job, about being inclusive, and prompts me to read what y'all have written.
My RSS feedlist in New Gator is up to about 150, and I scan all your posts I can find almost every day.
So, thanks for the link, Stefan, and I'll keep reading your blog too (if you promise to come back from your hiatus).
Monday, July 21, 2003
Voices from the Past
While at the Family Fun Center, I ran into an old co-worker, and someone I count as one of my friends from Microsoft (probably among the 5 or 6 that helped shape my career early on), Martin Leahy. He's visiting Washington, his old stomping ground. He's at Gupta, and has the job of VP of Sales for the Americas for Borland. In our short conversation, it looks like he's doing great! He'll be dropping by for lunch this week.
Happy Birthday, Steven!
Steven turns seven! Happy Birthday!
I took the day off, and went to the Family Fun Center in Tukwilla. We played Laser Tag, rode go carts, sprayed each other in bumper boats, and had a great time!
Sunday, July 20, 2003
So am I the only one that thinks getting a 12-hour bump is worth a $400 Delta credit? I volunteered to spent the night in a small hotel room (without wifi), got some sleep, and took a very early flight home, first class all the way.
Saturday, July 19, 2003
MGB Round IV: Mohan Sawhney
Mohan Sawhney spoke to our marketing team (about 150 marketers of retail products, from around the world). I took a ton of notes, but a few things he said struck me as particularly profound.
Dr. Sawhney is the McCormick Tribune Professor of Technology and Director, Center for Research on Technology, & Innovation, Kellogg School of Management. He's been doing a lot of consulting for Microsoft, and has been helping run a management training program for marketing folks at Microsoft.
His website has a bunch of free articles and reprints from original papers, and articles he published in Business 2.0. Worth an hour of browsing...
Mohan focused the first half of his session on branding, and the brand experience. He demonstrated three strategic brand concepts: Functional (features and benefits), Experiential (values and lifestyle) Symbolic (sensory appeal)
(Since we're a product company, Microsoft can get stuck on first, features and benefits). The challenge for us (especially in Xbox) is to find ways to move beyond that to experiential, to be known for the experience rather than the "products".
Functional: Wal-Mart, Volvo, Dell, united
Experiential: Nordstrom, Lexus, Sony, Singapore Airlines
Symbolic: Body Shop, Harley, Apple, Virgin Atlantic
He made the point clearly that successful brands don't try to be everything to everybody (with some, that can be tough to understand). Simplicity and clarity of purpose are key ingredients. Great companies are equally defined by what they don't do. SWA won't fly to Japan, because it doesn't fit their strategic positioning, low cost domestic US travel. Great brands stake out a territory that they own to a degree their competitors never will.
One point he made caused me to ponder. He said it's important to not be afraid to alienate some customers (since you can't please everyone). Some have to hate you for others to love you. Sounds obvious, but profound in many ways.
Later in the afternoon, he spoke of "Customer Experiences" and gave a lot of good input into what we could do to better create them. We have some things to improve upon in this area, but I also came away feeling good that the things we're planning with Sales Associates at retail are on the right track.
One interesting point was when he gave a nod to the DMAIC process of Six Sigma. Cesar and I took a week-long green belt certification, and the key takeaway for me even then was that Six Sigma was about understanding customer needs, then finding ways to measurably meet them. Great to hear a noted marketer make the same point (and I felt a bit vindicated!).
When asked about the ROI of quality programs, he reminded us that quality is not free. It costs more. Customer Service is a leading indicator, Sales is a lagging indicator. He cautioned us that cost/benefit is more than about dollars. Good reminder.
I think everyone learned a great deal. More importantly, everyone was buzzing with new ideas, and a passion for their jobs that I haven't seen in years. It was inspiring to see everyone publicly sharing ideas--seemed that the expectation or the "permission" to think creatively caused everyone to want to share ideas for the rest of the afternoon--a testament to the speaker, but also proof that we do have a bunch of creative people working in our division.
MGB Round III
Verrrry interesting day! We took broke into two sessions, with sales going into one track, and marketing into another. I attended the marketing track, but also attended a bit of the sales track from time to time.
The sessions started at 8AM, and we finished up at around 4PM. I felt really sorry for the guys visiting the US, who were attending meetings "in the middle of the night".
The presentations focused on "best practices" (sharing ideas from a lot of our subsidiaries). We also had a detailed session on branding, and heard from the guys managing the Xbox, Windows, and Office brands. Interesting.
The highlight of the day was listening to some guest speakers we brought in for training. Mohan Sawhney spent two hours in the marketing track, and Benson Smith, the author of Discover Your Sales Strengths ran a half-day workshop for the sales team. I got to hear most of both of these sessions (I snuck into the sales session to hear from the author, since I had just finished the book). You can get a few of the chapters online at the Gallup Poll Website.
It was fascinating to listen to the many different styles the sales guys, a wider range than I would have thought. I didn't take the actual "strengthsfinder" survey (I will and report back!), but I know i find my greatest passion with ideation and relationships and belief and learning.
In one example, a successful business development director on our team took the test to find that his signature themes included Ideation and Intellection. He told us why he loved his job so much, since it was exactly that kind of work he gets to do every day--a testament to finding your own strengths, and then finding a job that leverages those strengths. I'm not sure if every job in our sales (and marketing) organization will be such a perfect fit, but as a manager, I think it's imperative to make it work that way.
I had lunch with one of our VPs today, and brought up this topic. He also talked about how he was pleasantly surprised to see how great of a fit this job was for this person, and he agreed that there is real power in organizing the team around strengths.
Friday, July 18, 2003
MGB Part II
Disclaimer: My thoughts. Not company policy. My notes, the way I heard things, not necessarily what the speakers said. No warranties. Void in all 50 states.
Today was the first of two break out days. We had a full-day session for our products (Home and Entertainment, including Xbox, consumer products, games, keyboards, mice, Pocket PCs, other stuff sold at retail). I'm a bit blown away, and definitely living the super-sugary-Kool Aid-buzz. And Red Dye #2 to boot.
Steve Ballmer spoke to our group of about 300 this morning. Yesterday in the opening session to 14,000 he said that the number one group to focus on was (guess who) developers. I thought something like "ya, but not for our products." Wrong. Today, he told a group of Home and Entertainment sales and marketing guys that the number one group to focus on/understand/listen to/work with is developers, that the guys developing Xbox games and Pocket PC apps and other consumer stuff for Windows--they (in many cases for readers of these MS blogs "you") are our number one focus. Interesting.
It's strange and even a bit eerie to hear Steve Ballmer so clearly define our division's issues, and to explain how important our business is to the company. It's inspiring to have a leader who knows so clearly what we do, what our concerns are, what our challenges are, and what our opportunities are. It was conversational enough and detailed enough to see it wasn't just a "prepared" speech. Ballmer is an excellent example of Primal Leadership. Inspiring. Smart. Visionary. Resonant.
Later we heard from Todd Cunningham, a Sr. VP from MTV, who's done a bunch of research with teens. Very, very cool. He told me after the sessions he knows Dina, from her work on researching teens and working with MTV in India.
He said one of the things they learned was how the computer is moving to public space in home, now that the parents want to be more involved with using the PC as a tool. He brought up a point I'd never thought of: That when we were teens, we'd shut the door to "tune out' the world and be alone. He said teens who have computers today will shut the door to OPEN a new world, not the other way around. The computer becomes their portal to their social world. With Xbox Live, our positioning (vs. Sony's "escapism") could be thought of as connection, not isolation. Community, not escapism. Oh ya, that and rockin' gameplay...
One of our newest VPs came from Sega, and gave a very inspiring speech about "changing the game" and being thought leaders. Thought leaders may not be market leaders, yet. (It may be similar with "personal brand"--how I am perceived/valued with my peers/management). Gotta get the heat, fuel, then lead the market. He challenged us with examples of companies that are "market leaders" vs. companies that are "thought leaders." Check out this list (all in his humble opinion, you make your own conclusions):
Market Leaders: AA, United. Thought Leaders, jetBlue, Southwest.
Market: CBS, NBC, CBS. Thought: Fox, CNN.
Market: Blockbuster. Thought: Netflix.
Market: Sony. Thought: Samsung
Market: Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone Thought: FHM, Maxim.
Market: AOL. Thought: MSN
Then he asked us: Is Microsoft considered a Market Leader (most would say yes)? Who is the thought leader in our space? He then challenged us to be innovative, to be daring, to be thought leaders.
Much more I could post (and may as I finish up the debrief), but it's 12:30AM, and I need to be up at 7AM. This'll be my third night with less than a handful of hours of sleep (and my timezone is only a few hours off--I don't know how the other guys from around the world handle three days of presentations...).
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Whaddya Call 14,000 Softees in a SuperDome?
The MGB (Microsoft Global Briefing).
Strangely enough, wifi has been a bit few and far between, but after an hour on Bourbon Street, I'm ready for some email and blogging.
Great day. Lots to talk about. I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow (where's Heath when you need notes taken?), but I'll say this. (Echoing Steve Ballmer): "I love this company."
There are days I think we're not moving far enough fast enough. There are times I'm bummed out about reviews, or projects running late, or high expectations, or lack of overwhelming cross-group collaboration.
But there are days like today when I see the impact I have with the job I'm doing, and I see the passion of my leaders, the vision of the part we can play in changing our world, and the camaraderie of 14,000 of my peers (most of whom I'll never meet), all excited about doing the best they can.
And to be very clear, the message was overwhelming. We must hear the voice of the customer. Then innovate with our own responsibilities. Yes, the product guys need to innovate, but innovation in our jobs as marketing or sales is just as important as the job our developers play. And Steve made it very, very, very clear that he wants happy, happy, happy customers and partners.
The tides are changing. Maybe too slowly for some. And maybe too quickly for others. But they're changing. And I'm happy to be playing a role in it all.
Monday, July 14, 2003
On the Way to Louisiana
Thanks one and all for the suggestions on places to visit. Scoble's friend Ernie the Attorney lives there, and I hope to get together with him. A bunch of us Microsoftees will be in town (or rather will deluge the town!) for the week. I've gotten a bunch of suggestions, and I think I'll get to at least a few of them. This'll be my third time in NOLA.
Here are some suggestions on stuff to do:
Anita Rowland: Do you read Chuck Taggart's Looka? He lives in Southern California but comes from NO, and talks a lot about where to go, what to eat, etc. http://www.gumbopages.com/looka/
Jorge Curioso: I'd highly recommend a ride on the St. Charles street car (catch it on Canal and St. Charles) pas the Garden District and Uptown mansions to Carrolton (Riverbend) where you can grab a snack at the Camelia Grill and head back downtown. About 30 minutes each way.
For Jazz Clubs aside from the must-see Preservation Hall (next to Pat O's), I'd recommend crossing Esplanade over to Frenchman.
Mitch Walker: I won’t be there, but I have a suggestion for a place to hang out for dinner: Mulate’s. Right across the street from the Convention Center, where it and RiverWalk meet. Great food, casual atmosphere.
Shawn Morrissey: "You should take the time to make it over to the Nat’l D-Day Museum. It’s a pretty close walk from the Convention Center. It’s one of those humbling experiences that will stay with you for quite some time.
Also, go check out the area down by the House of Blues – I find it a lot more interesting that Bourbon Street….
Robert Scoble: "John Porcaro is heading off to New Orleans for a big Microsoft employee event down there. He's asking for tips on what to do. Dude, you definitely MUST visit Preservation Hall. Make a commitment to do that. Sit on the floor up by the band. It'll be hot. Sweaty. Crowded. But it's the real deal and it's like being in church. You can drink yourself to death anywhere else. But no place else has the musical heritage of New Orleans.
If you can, take Ernie the Attorney out for drinks. He'll take you to all the good places in New Orleans. He lives there.
Oh, and whatever you do, don't tell your wife you're having a great time down on Bourbon Street. Tell her instead "Steve Ballmer needed me to rework this demo, so I'm staying in my hotel room tonight." Trust me on this."
Friday, July 11, 2003
Heading for New Orleans
I'll be leaving 75 degree Seattle for 250 degree New Orleans mid-next week. Any tips beyond Burbon Street? I hear Mother's is the place for a po' boy or jambalaya...
Common Errors in English
Me very like her internet WEB sight hear. Link via Garrett Fitzgerald
On The Nightstand
Your Child's Growing Mind
What to Expect: The Toddler Years
The Heart of A Leader
The 12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management
Leadership By The Book
The Pursuit of WOW
Small Pieces Loosely Joined
The Tipping Point (second read)
Buck Up, Suck Up (just added)
Speaking at Harvard
To celebrate Frank's acceptance to MBA school, here is part of a speech by SNL's Will Farrell, given at the 352nd Harvard Commencement. Here's a link to a video clip.
"Today's speech is going to be a little different, a little unorthodox. Some of you may find it to be shocking. I'm not going to stand up here and try to be funny. Because even though I am a professional comedian of the highest caliber, I've decided to do one thing that a lot of people are probably afraid to do, and that's give it to you straight.
As most of you are probably aware, I didn't graduate from Harvard. In fact, I never even got a call back from Admissions. Damn you, Harvard! Damn you! I told myself I would not get emotional today. But damn it, I'm here, and sometimes it's just good to cry.
I'm not one of you. Okay? I can't relate to who you are and what you've been through. I graduated from the University of Life. All right? I received a degree from the School of Hard Knocks. And our colors were black and blue, baby. I had office hours with the Dean of Bloody Noses. All right? I borrowed my class notes from Professor Knuckle Sandwich and his Teaching Assistant, Ms. Fat Lip Thon Nyun. That's the kind of school I went to for real, okay?
Thanks for the tip from PureContent...
Michael O'Conner Clarke is becoming one of my favorite reads. Especially since my world is intersecting with PR more and more. Michael answers Scobles request for tips on handling yourself in a press interview. Here's just a few. Read the post for more!
1. Always call reporters back promptly
– Their lives are ruled by deadlines - help them out.
– Whether it’s good or bad – always return the call.
– Every interaction is a data point – if you don’t call back, what does that say about your company?
– You don’t need to engage in the full dialogue until you are ready.
– Gather information, show respect for deadlines, buy time.
– Never duck a call – you forfeit the opportunity to influence the story.
3. Set the tone at the outset
– Remember it’s your story - there's no one better able to tell it than you: so be the storyteller.
– Tell them your story, the whole of your story (and nothing but your story).
– Don’t wait for that one right question to come along – get your point over.
9. There is no such thing as "off the record"
– Every moment is on the record – from the reception desk to the farewell handshake.
– Every interaction is a data point, remember?
– Even if your name isn’t used, your comments will still colour the story.
– If you can't or don't want to say it on the record - don't say it.
10. If you don’t know - don’t try to answer
– Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know rather than faking it.
– Don’t get drawn into speculation – but offer to find out the answer.
– Never lie. Never bluff.
Matrix Ping Pong
From a link on The Scobleizer Weblog:
"This is the funniest video I've seen in a long time. Yeah, you need Windows Media player to see it. It's a video of two guys playing table tennis, 'Matrix style.'"
Leadership Development at Microsoft
An invitation from the Tom Peters website:
"Leadership Development at Microsoft: Learn how the world's largest software company is building its future leaders. Register today for this free PlaceWare Online Seminar. Date & Time: Thursday July 24 at noon EDT"
"Join Ron Crossland from the Tom Peters Company, Sabina Nawaz, Microsoft Senior Director of the Leadership Development Group, and Joe Whittinghill, Microsoft Group Manager of the Management Development Group, as they talk about the tactics being employed to achieve Microsoft’s leadership development strategy"
Ought to be interesting, if only to other 'softees.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
On the Soapbox
From the virtual company meeting Tuesday with Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, John Conners, and all the rest. My favorite quote, a true Steve-ism:
"We need lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of happy happy happy happy happy customers."
Amen to that, brother...
By the way, I think it's very cool that one email from our president could go out in the morning, and by 2PM 40,000 people could be "virtually" assembled. It was kind of eerie to hear echoes of the webcast in the halls, and no emails coming in for an hour.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Tom Peters Knows His Stuff
Just got a short note from Tom Peters in my inbox. He quotes James Dean: "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."
Tom is so right on. Just this morning, I bought a copy of a book my new director recommended (Buck Up, Suck Up... by James Carville and Paul Begala). Tom has a quote on the back jacket that amuses and inspires me:
"Carvill asked me to blurb this book. He doesn't know me from Adam. He kissed my ass. I read the manuscript. ... There's real wisdom here--1,000 miles from the usual self-help crap."
I need to learn more about being passionate and convicted and human and real. It's inspiring.
Perusing Tom's website, I ran across a section from his latest book series, the 50 Series (Brand You, Project You, Professional Service You). He shares his 50LIST WITHIN A 50LIST: THE RENEWAL50. I'm tempted to post them all, but I won't. Here are my favorites:
4. Buy a packet of 3x5-inch notecards. Carry them around with you. Always. Record cool stuff. Awful stuff. Daily. Review your card pack every Sunday. (Obsess on this!) [I call this my blog! jp]
6. Project stuck in a rut? Look through your Rolodex. Who's the oddest duck in there? Call her/him. Invite her/him to lunch. Pick her/his brain for a couple of hours about your project.
8. New habit: You're in a meeting. Someone you don't know makes an interesting contribution. Invite him/her to lunch...
in the next two weeks.
9. You run across somebody interesting. As a matter of course, ask her (him) what's the best thing she/he's read in the last 90 days. Order it from Amazon.com this afternoon.
15. Read a provocative article in a business journal. Triggers a thought? E-mail the author. So what if you never hear back? (The odds are actually pretty high that you will. Trust me.) [I've done this, and have struck up nice conversations with Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Tim Sanders, and others! jp]
18. A crummy little assignment comes along. But it would give you a chance to work with a group of people you've never worked with before. Take the assignment.
22. A really cool job opening overseas comes up. It fits your skill set. You couldn't possibly consider it. You've got a nine-year-old and your husband is
24. The eighth grade teacher is looking for chaperones for the natural history museum. You're a law firm partner, for God's sake, making $350,000 a year. Volunteer.
30. You know "the action is at the front line." Spend a month (two days a week) on a self-styled training program that rotates you through all the front-line jobs in the hotel/distribution center/whatever.
34. Institute a monthly Brown Bag Lunch Session. Encourage all your colleagues to nominate interesting people to be invited. Criterion: "I wouldn't have expected us to invite ---------."
45. Develop a set of probing questions to use at meetings. "Will this really make a difference?" "Will anybody remember what we're doing here two years from now?" "Can we brag to our spouse/kids about this project?"
50. Build a great sandcastle!
My goal, get through them all by the end of the year. :)
Partnering with our Partners
I really like what James posts in "Who's Helping Whom?"
"A coworker recently described an online initiative that's meant to help retail sales associates advance our cause. How they'll "do a good job for [us]."
Instead, what if we jointly advance each others' causes? Persuasive as money can be to get people to attend events or pay them to visit our site, isn't a more long-lasting effect created by taking the time to advance anothers' interests or goals and taking the time to respond on a relevant level?"
She Knows Funny
"Why is [I'm With Busey] funny? Well...I can't explain it - you just need to watch it and experience it. It's the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life.
Gary Busey? BTW, she'll kill me for this, but I caught her on my moblog...
And I'm funny. I know funny. This show is funny."
And for the record, she is pretty funny... :)
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Marketing For Geeks
From Eric Sink, (the author of Marketing is Not a Post Process Step) here's the latest in what he's calling "Marketing for Geeks" series: Act Your Age. This is a great overview of Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" concepts, written with developers in mind. Very well done, and worth the read.
"Several of my recent articles could be considered a series which I would entitle "Marketing for Geeks". The central theme is that if we demystify marketing, it can be competently done by technical people."
'In most small ISVs, it's important for at least some of the developers people to have an understanding of basic marketing. However, most geeks tend to shy away from marketing, citing their lack of creativity and graphic design skills. But these are typically not the differentiators which determine whether marketing is competent or not. Marketing efforts tend to succeed or fail on their strategy and tactics, not on their artwork."
So much for job security! Just don't tell too many that this stuff can be so simple! :)
They're Dying to Know
Debbie Weil asks 5 Key Questions (You’ve Been Dying) To Ask About Business Blogs
What is a blog?
What's the definition of a good blog?
Why should businesses blog?
Do I really need to know about RSS?
Will blogs replace e-newsletters?
Repeat After Me
It's the little things that count. Tim Bourquin posts that "Being Just 10% Different is Enough."
"1) Twice this week the milk canister was empty or missing from the cream/sugar/stirrer area
2) I heard an employee yell at another employee the other day when I was in line and the store was busy - you could just feel the whole mood in the place deteriorate.
Think about that - I've been going to this Starbucks every day for nearly two years and I am ready to find a new place because my expectations have not been met just three times. Consistency in business is one of the most difficult things to achieve, yet absolutely essential to build the kind of successful, steady flow of customers we all want."
I'm sure it's not company policy to ignore such things (in fact, probably just the opposite). But sometimes it's one interaction or one conversation or one ignored phone call. What am I doing to make it harder for my partners or customers? What can I do just 10% better? How can we go from being "good enough" (because it just isn't) to being extraordinary?
All the Buzz Internally
Today was an interesting day. Now, I've had five or six Seattle PI readers forward this. I know most of you have seen this article now many times. But here you go if you haven't seen it: All the New Kids On The Blog. I liked the quote from Rebecca:
"The relatively informal nature of blogs can make them an effective way for companies to communicate, said Rebecca Blood, a San Francisco-based weblogger (www.rebeccablood.net) and author of "The Weblog Handbook."
"It's not a press release, and it's not marketese," Blood explained in an interview. "It's someone talking about real things in a real voice."
Sorry for the duplicate RSS
I've been having trouble with publishing, because I moved my archives, so I've "republished entire site" a couple of times. I'm hoping it gets sorted out soon. Apologies.
Games: Not Just For Nerds Anymore
I loved this headline from Wired News: Study: Gamers Not Reclusive Nerds
""There's this stereotype of game slackers wasting time, goofing off, that really isn't valid," says Marcia Grabowecky, a Northwestern University psychologist who has studied visual perception in humans, including those who play computer and video games.
Playing games is so common for this age group [college students], it's almost second nature, Jones says."
Putting Our Money where the, uh, Money is...
For those of you that think this whole "customer connection" is something only a few of us care about, check out this quote from today's press release about upcoming executive compensation:
"As part of the changes, the company announced that a significant portion of stock-based compensation for more than 600 of Microsoft's senior leaders will depend on growth in the number and satisfaction of Microsoft customers."
I love working for a company that puts an emphasis on listening to our customers. It's hard to go wrong as a marketer if you listen first, then decide what to do (or in Stephen Covey's words, "seek first to understand, then to be understood"). I'm always amazed at what we learn when we listen. It makes setting strategy so much easier, and it makes the programs we implement so much more successful.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Blogs in the Workplace
Yet another New York Times article on Blogs in the Workplace.
"But a growing number of businesses, government organizations and educational institutions are using Web logs to manage and improve the flow of information among employees. These blogs, not accessible to the public, typically allow many people to contribute entries that can be read by others in the organization."
"On one internal (Google) blog, called Google Love Notes, the customer service staff posts thank-you notes from users. One is from a woman who nursed her sick dog back to health after researching the illness on Google; the posting includes a photograph of the healed dog frolicking in a stream. Another came from a woman who was able to find a long-lost love through Google — and who happily reports that she wound up agreeing to marry the man's brother. "
I'm working with Cesar and our internal communications team as we grapple with this. As I've mentioned before, the type of blog I have here isn't what we're talking about. It's more of an ongoing "discussion" about what we're doing internally. I'm not sure where it's going to go, since we're just in the brainstorming phase of it. I've seen it work somewhat successfully for our more technical folks (posting bits of code, bugs, etc.). I'm not entirely sure how we'll use it as an augmentation (or replacement eventually) of email.
Email is so entrenched in our company (probably most of the corporate world) that I'm guessing 80% of our communication is done through email. We use it to send status, send proposals, send feedback, share documents, chat, gossip, get work done. I'm amazed at the amount of email that flows between those that sit on either side of me.
Question is, will another "medium" take email's place? Will anyone take time to jot down their thoughts or meeting notes on a team blog? Or will it just be one more thing to do?
Sunday, July 06, 2003
The Purple Blog has RSS
Seth Godin's books are a must read. And his blog ranks right up there too. He tells me of a top-secret RSS feed the I couldn't seem to find it anywhere on his site. His trusty sidekick Red (and talented web designer) sent it along. Enjoy!
Saturday, July 05, 2003
In Need of a Twelve-Step Program?
Frank thinks so. I give him a few weeks, we'll see who needs the intervention.
Jeri Dives Into Summer
Having four kids under six years old is tough, but Jeri talks about what a blessing it can be. She gives a good glimpse into the other half of my life (though I'm the first to admit she's a much better mom than I am a dad...)
"I can get lost in the laundry or the art of filling up endless days that childhood and dreams are made of with stuff that really matters and makes a difference. I already am more than a kool-aide mom, because I am Steven, Alex, Alyssa and Emily's Mommy and not only do we make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world together, I know how to make gack! And there is no one else in the whole world that I would rather be today or tomorrow or any other day."
Emily's Been With Us One Year Today!
Updating our family website, I was reminded that Emily joined us as a foster child a year ago today! We're so lucky she's here. We hope to adopt her sometime this fall. If you ever had any desire to learn more about Foster Care, let me know! How could you not fall in love with a face like this?
Friday, July 04, 2003
Happy July Fourth!
We had a great time as a family. Thursday night, the kids decorated their bikes for the children's parade. The morning of the fourth, we made a big breakfast, then went to the Carnation parade. After, they had things for the kids to do, and we hung out for a while at the "Yellow Park." The kids took a nap, then we made our way to Tolt Middle School for the fireworks extravaganza. Not too shabby for a small town! Emily especially had a good time watching the fireworks.
After reading Scoble's post, I'm reminded at all the things I take for granted as an American. I know our country's not perfect, but I'm glad I'm here. And I'm also glad to be getting to know so many of y'all worldwide, who remind me that there is freedom to be cherished in many parts of the world. For that, I'm grateful.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Participating in the Conversation
Brazilian Paulo Colacino posts a comment to Frank's entry about the difference between PR and Marketing. Paulo writes (adding a wink at the end):
"You don´t have to know anything about PR... this a bull[****] way to make branding... Look http://www.cluetrain.com and get out of Micro$oft"
For the record, I kind of agree with his first point. Of course there actually is a lot to know about PR, and to be fair, it is a lot of work, but it's about communication--not simply publishing a press release. It's about knowing customers, creating some buzz, being passionate and playful and open and fun. Inspiring instead of cajoling. Leading instead of demanding. Being part of the conversation instead of broadcasting a one-size-fits-all marketing message.
Now about Paulo's second point... If it weren't for folks like Frank and James and Diane being at Microsoft, I'd be getting out myself. We're all going to make a difference because we're going to listen more carefully to customer like Paulo. And at the end of it all, we'll actually make products that fulfill our mission of helping folks like Paulo reach his potential. It really is why most of us work at MS.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
A Twist on a Classic
Brian Dear posts his thoughts on the classic Crossing the Chasm curve. We've been discussing some of the same issues internally. And I think I'm convinced that the same consumer can fall into various parts of the curve.
"We're all early adopters of some things, sometimes even extreme technology enthusiasts of some things. Think about it. We're also pragmatists, late majority conservatives, and even laggards or skeptics of other things."
We've been debating internally about recent downward trends of excitement levels by PC software purchasers. Is it to be expected, since PC Purchasers fall further along the curve? I'd argue that more "conservatives" and "laggards" are buying PCs now, and that would explain lower excitement levels for "consumer software and hardware."
Is Microsoft Interesting? Part II
Bill Gates answers Stewart Alsop in a response to USA Today.
"Let's see. He wrote that column every year for the last 15 years. That's really exciting. I mean, he's written that column on a regular basis. I think next year when he writes that it's really going to be exciting."
Amazon.com Developer Blog
Ted, a developer working across the bridge (in Seattle) writes about working for Amazon. Cool!
As a blogging marketer, I'm all over this. It's important that the customer feels the company is human, blah, blah, blah. (Thanks for the link, Joy!).
I got up just as the sun did (around 5AM, since we're so far north). Going outside into the yard to go to work brought back memories of being a kid. I remember my dad going to work early on summer days. I remember him turning on the hose to water a plant, and walking around the yard. I remember going out early to pull weeds in our garden, to beat the summer heat. The cool air, the bright, clear colors, the promise of sunshine makes that time of day magical. These pictures from my phone cam don't do it justice, but it was a beautiful morning.
Esther and RFID
I've been fascinated recently with RFID technology, and what it's going to do for the retail industry. I think we're just beginning to understand how the technology is going to change everything. Esther Dyson made me think about it this morning in a post on Release 4.0. She talks about the "object identity" as a corollary to "personal identity." Very interesting.
"There are a lot of parallels between personal identity and--call it "object identity." There are also lots of ways the parallels break down. For starters, each person born is in charge of his own identity. There's someone there paying attention. By contrast, most products are born without an identity (though they certainly have characteristics, makers and other associated information). To the extent that the information is explicit, it resides outside the product; it doesn't know itself. So the first difference is that RFID is in a sense a way of conferring DNA, or an identity that is inherent rather than attributed (in theory, and as long as the tag stays on)."
In my business (retail marketing), I'm imagining we could find out a lot more about the shopping experience, or the customer interaction with the product while they're in the store. For example, it would be great if we could learn when a product gets picked up, where it moves in the store, how long it remains in the shopping cart, etc.
Not to mention the consumer benefits. Privacy issues aside (I'm assuming the market will regulate that at least for a while, but then I'm known for being too trusting, bordering on naieve), I like that products--especially consumables--are a bit more "self aware." Esther goes on:
"On the plus side, you can imagine a system that manages interactions between products -- pharmaceuticals, for example, or that monitors the products in your household so that you can automatically reorder them -- most likely with a shopping list that says something like: "You have reached [based on past consumption patterns] one week's supply of the following products. Check the ones you wish to reorder: Sunmaid Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Swiss Miss Sugar-Free Cocoa Mix. 16-oz Grape-Nuts...." Of course, there needs to be a lot of software to manage all this, from recognizing the incoming signals to fetching product IDs from the Web and recognizing what kinds of things fit into what categories."
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
My Empire Builds...
...mwaaa haaa haa haa.
Frank Maslowski, another stellar Microsoft employee (who happens to report to me) started up his blog. I'm officially adding blogging to all their review objectives for the new fiscal year! I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say, you'll want to stay tuned to this one. And I expect a good dose of humor sprinkled throughout.
"My role here at Microsoft is Retail Marketing, so I could be another Marketing guy. However, I'm moving over to the PR team, which I'm very excited about. So, what does PR mean? Is it just getting in the face of our customer? Is it an interruption that makes an initial short lived impact? What about developing buzz or a viral effect? How do you develop buzz, or a sustained message that others can communicate for you? could blogging do it?"
(By the way, I'm working on getting Diane, James, Mike and Frank to move to Blogger Pro so we can get RSS feeds... And if we're all lucky, we'll see blogs by Cesar, Lori, Ed, and Robyn before too long!)
Dave, When You're Right, You're Right...
Dave Weinberger says, in an article in the Star Tribune:
""If companies allow their employees to blog, [they] have the opportunity of engaging their customer in the sort of genuine conversations that build real customer loyalty," Weinberger said. "There is a risk that a weblogger will criticize a product, but in the post-marketing world of the Internet, being frank even when negative can build a stronger relationship than when they are mindlessly positive."
It's not why I blog, but it's nice to get to know so many of you (Dina, Ton, Charlie, Paul, Bernie, Denise, Thomas, Rob, and a host of others into marketing). I'm learning so much from you all.
The Oracle Speaks
How can you not love hearing from Diane Reischling? She runs a successful program for working with our retailer community. To better get to know our channel, her team holds regular "Advisory Council" meeting every month or so (we have a few going across the country, not just in Seattle). We learn the most amazing things, and always come away with information that helps us build better tools, a marketer's dream!
"...it is exhilerating and humbling that people who affect our business through their recommendation to the customer are willing to share their experiences and offer advice."
"I could not pay a researcher enough money to get that passionate and clear of a response. I really like these people."
"They remind me that in every single situation...there is more than just one right answer. Tonight, I walked away with more than I had when I came in. And for me, that is a successful day."
For those of you doing anything that requires making decisions on behalf of customers (or partners), meet with them! Get to know them! This is a low-cost, easy-to-run program, and everyone benefits. Start one up today!