Starting with Why

Recently I’ve started publishing transcripts of Marketing Over Coffee Interviews that I’ve done. As part of #blogchat I keep referring back to Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why” and I’m excited to announce that I’ve landed a block on his calendar to talk with him about his new book “Leaders Eat Last”. With both of these coming up I thought it would be good to crank the wayback machine to 2010 and get a transcript of the last discussion with him. John: Simon, for someone who has written a business book, you’re uncomfortable with saying that you are in business. Tell us more about that. Simon:  It’s true, for me this is a cause. This is a movement. We live in a world these days where there is a lot less leadership than I think we need. There was a time not that long ago where you could rattle off the names of leaders: Lou Gerstner, Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan. These people were all contemporaries. I defy you to name on one hand five great leaders that are living today that are contemporary in business or in politics. It’s really hard. Quite frankly, we lack leadership in this world in all segments of our society, especially in business, and I think we need to change that. For me, this is a crusade. This is a cause. What I understand about great leaders is that they all operate from this center, from this “why.” They all have clarity of “why.” Every single business, every single organization – even our careers – are based on three levels: what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. The problem is that most of us are...

What is Growth Hacking?...

Ryan Holiday is the author of Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising. This month he stopped in to Marketing Over Coffee (if you’d prefer to listen to the audio) to talk about his new book and his previous book, Trust Me, I’m Lying. John:  Give us the elevator pitch on growth hacking. What’s the idea here? Ryan:  The idea was one morning I was going about my day as a traditional marketer and I sit down, I read this article and the headline is, “Growth Hackers are the New VPs of Marketing.” I’m a VP of Marketing. I’m director of Marketing at American Apparel and I’ve never heard of a growth hacker. I have no idea what it is. But I look at the companies that growth hackers are responsible for – Groupon, Airbnb, DropBox, Facebook, Twitter – a handful of billion dollar brands that were built right in front of us in the last five years, and they didn’t do any traditional marketing. They used a strategy they call growth hacking. I thought, “What does it mean that these people build billion dollar brands using none of the services that I provide or I pride myself in being good at? Maybe they’re better marketers than me.” I sat down to study what growth hacking is and how it works. The book is a result of those interviews, that research, and trying it myself. John:  One interesting point – I was talking more about what it isn’t than what it is. Like you said, you were doing VP of Marketing so you have the book of business that you provided, but really it came down to stuff that was testable, tractable, scalable. That was a big three...

2011 Interview with Steven Pressfield...

Two years ago I had a chance to speak to a key player on The Domino Project, Ishita Gupta, and one of the authors involved, Steven Pressfield. When Steven’s next book came out the email I had for him had been shut down. I contacted his admin about an interview for the new book and was told there wouldn’t be any. We get plenty of books in for review so I moved on to the next one, but was disappointed because I like his work and really enjoyed speaking with him. My bruised ego thought “I’m sure if Oprah called they’d find some time on the calendar.” Well, guess who showed up on Oprah today? When I heard about this earlier in the week I grabbed this interview from the archives (click here if you’d rather listen to us) and sent it to transcription. No reason for me not to take advantage of a probable search boost from Steven getting an hour with the greatest name in TV. John:  Good morning. Welcome to Marketing Over Coffee. Today we have a special interview with Ishita Gupta and Steven Pressfield. We have two special guests with us today. Ishita Gupta works on The Domino Project, a series of books and some new ideas on book marketing. She also works on a number of projects with Seth Godin, whose book “Poke the Box” was the first book in The Domino Project. Ishita, thanks for talking to us today. Ishita:  Thank you for having us on. John:  Also joining us is Steven Pressfield, the author of “Do the Work,” the recently released second book in The Domino Project. His previous books include “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” which in 2001 was made into a movie with Will Smith,...

Prayer for Martin Richard...

Martin Richard, 8 years old, was taken from his family and friends at the Boston Marathon on Monday. I was crushed when I heard about him. He came to celebrate the race, the place where we stop for a day and a huge crowd of over 15,000 take a bold leap. Courage, fear and heart on display for all to see. His loss hits me personally because of my love for this race, and here’s why: I’ve already written at length about running the Boston Marathon, and what it meant to me. I can’t stop thinking about the tragedy there this week. As I went through my 20’s sources of inspiration began drying up. The church, mired in scandal, and a symbol of pain. Fictional characters were recognized as just that, people that weren’t real. I began to run more often just because it was too difficult to try and find anyone left that played tennis, and there were no trails for rollerblading like there were back in the Bay Area (does anyone rollerblade anymore?) The first race I ran was a 5k in Cambridge and I won first place in my division (Fat Bastard) by cracking 7:30 miles, a pace I haven’t seen in years. In the finish chute a guy behind me was lamenting how he was in better shape when he had run the marathon. This was a spark – I had outrun somebody that was able to run the marathon. The next step was to go to the finish to see what it’s all about. The first time I went late in the day. The winners tear across the line in a split second. The true drama is to see the people coming in as the clock climbs to 4,...

Seth Godin on The Icarus Deception...

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to interview Seth Godin about his new book, The Icarus Deception, last month. I’ve had the interview transcribed, check it out below. Note: I’m trying out a new transcription service so if you notice anything out of order below please leave me a comment (I’ll send you a copy of my new book)! If you’d rather listen you can hear it at Marketing Over Coffee. JOHN: Welcome to Marketing Over Coffee. I’m John Wall. We have a special holiday gift for you today, a guest we’ve had on the past. He’s written over a dozen books, many of them best sellers, spoken at TED, and is here today to talk about his new book, The Icarus Deception. I’m very happy to welcome Seth Godin. Seth, thanks for coming on today. SETH: Thank you, sir. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you, John. JOHN: Great. So, the new book is The Icarus Deception. Give us the elevator pitch. What’s the big idea? SETH: I think it’s a pretty big idea, which is that we all grew up during the Industrial Age. Everyone knows about the Industrial Revolution. It revolutionized the world, invented jobs, created productivity, made us all rich, and now it’s over. And there’s a Post-Industrial Age here now and growing every day. I’m calling it the connection economy. The connection economy is coming to us via the connection revolution. The important thing to understand is this: we have been brainwashed by eight generations of propaganda into believing things about the world that don’t have to be true. When we start keeping score of things like permission and trust and reputation and connection, many of the things that used to be part of our life—like...

Digging Out

Today I finally had a chance to look at the big picture. For regular readers, the last time I did a progress check was the end of Q3. Unfortunately, I’ve been in a “Just survive the day” mode since then. Q4 was a tough time for the family, Q1 was the start of a new job and packing the house and putting it on the market so we could sell and move in Q2. Of course this will be short lived with the lovely Carin about 1 month from her due date now, but at least there are a few minutes to catch my breath and look back at the past 3 quarters, and see if we can’t at least see where we are on the big map. For new readers, I break down the year on four fronts – Family, Personal, Professional and Financial. On the family front we’re moving along and although we’re still dealing with some grief and illness, things are doing well. Professionally I have been incredibly fortunate, over the past 6 years I’ve worked with fantastic people and been able to move up to higher profile projects. My first book, B2B Marketing Confessions, is completed and being formatted for release and I’m very excited about that. Financially, the home sale went very well, so what used to be a boat anchor has now jumpstarted the woefully underfunded college fund. Strangely, the only gap I have is on the personal front. Last year I had 3 goals: lose some weight, get some running coaching, and see some live music. I lost about half the weight I wanted to and have kept it off so that wasn’t all bad. In running my switch to mid-foot strike has truly been life changing...

Where’s the Register...

While enjoying a beer in the shadow of the Museum of Fine Arts while Tim Street was in town, he pointed to the cash register and said (I’m paraphrasing) “That’s the problem with “New Media”. There’s none of those.” I see this problem becoming more common. Seth Godin has written at length about today’s worker being an artist. While I believe this to be true there’s the problem that many artists fail (and/or have no interest) in setting up a cash register. This weekend the lovely Carin took me to see the almost equally lovely Diana Krall at Tanglewood. It was a great show and we were impressed with the opening act, a singer named Denzal Sinclaire. The best way I can describe it is that if R. Kelly were to produce an album for Nat King Cole, it would probably sound a lot like him. I was digging deep and I don’t think I’ve ever heard another man with a better voice in concert, and may never since there’s no way to hear Luther Vandross. As he wrapped up I immediately took down his name so I could buy some music after the show. There was nothing at the merch tent, which wasn’t much of a surprise, but what killed me is that there’s really nothing online either. DenzalSinclaire.com is just a place holder, Amazon has a single track and then you can import CDs, it actually looks easier to get the CDs on eBay. iTunes has a few single tracks and that’s it. This is the kind of stuff that hits me hard. I spend the majority of my hours trying to connect buyers and sellers. To be standing around waving cash and saying “I want to give you this money” is...

Weekend with Paul

My Dad and I are both big music fans and over the past couple of months we’ve gotten into watching concerts on Blu-Ray. Watching a show on the big TV in surround sound in HD is not the same as being at a show, but between perfect sound, really seeing what’s happening on stage and not having to spend an hour getting out of the parking lot, you are getting a lot of value for the $20 or so you pay. This weekend I watched two concert documentaries – one on the 25th Anniversary of Paul Simon’s Graceland, and the other on Paul McCartney’s Concert for New York that was done right after 9/11. I was surprised to find that I had the same opinion of both of them. While it was great to see behind the scenes I found that I got tired of that quickly and I thought both of them would have hit harder if they were not as long. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed watching the shows more than the making behind them. There were some interesting moments though, you get a taste of what it must be like for a former Beatle not to be able to go anywhere without drawing attention, and I hadn’t paid much attention to the controversy that was created when Paul Simon went to South Africa. Unfortunately while looking with a marketing eye I tend to cynically wonder about the line between doing art and taking advantage of political events to sell more music. Paul Simon makes some interesting points on that from the artists view. As the music industry continues to be blown to bits I also find myself hoping that with the big data that comes out of things like...

Radical Departure

Hello loyal readers, I’m glad you are still around considering the lack of posts. I’ve decided that this site will be getting a makeover soon. Since there’s marketing content every week over at Marketing Over Coffee I end up posting over here about more personal items so I’ll probably start using the JW5150 link to this site. The big question is: What has been going on? Where are the quarterly goals? Why is there a picture from a barn here? We’ve rebooted for 2012. With 2011 ending on a very sad note January became interesting quickly as I was recruited over to Glance Networks. By this point we were already beginning the process of moving out of the Boston area. All of this came to bear in the first half of this year. I’ve been traveling with the new job, our house went on the market and sold in 3 days over asking price, we have moved to the farthest reaches of Western Massachusetts and did I mention that we have a baby on the way? Like most plans, ours for 2012 did not survive the first contact with the enemy, but we are doing well overall. We are now a short distance to both sets of parents and they are excited to spend time with their grandson, we’ve jettisoned the life-sucking mortgage making college education a possibility, and there are horses in our back yard. I’ve completed another round of edits on the book and am dying to kick it out the door for the last time. So that’s why you haven’t seen me around the virtual water cooler, the insanity of the past six months has paved the way for me to actually begin writing again on the weekends so I hope...

Unintended Consequences...

In the mornings I listen to This American Life. I’ve been commuting again after a year off so I’ve had a stack of them to go through and it’s great to be listening to podcasts again. I’m only about 3 weeks behind and this morning I heard a story about Colorado Springs and the fact that a tax increase was shot down and so they started turning off street lights. When residents would call the would actually be told “Remember the $200 increase that got shot down? Yeah, that’s why. If you want your light back on it will be $150.” Oh, you want us to landscape the park again? $2,500. And yet that wasn’t the part that got me thinking, it was the next call – a man just coughed up$300 to get the lights on his street back on and a city councilor said “You know if you had just voted for the increase you only would have had to pay $200 and you would have your lights, your park, snowplowing and other services.” the man responded something to the effect of “No, this way is better”. As the Councillor then summarized – the citizen was willing to pay a premium because he didn’t trust his elected officials enough to use the funds to his satisfaction. In our town, you pay for your trash bags. I like this model – if you recycle and don’t buy a lot of crap you have less trash and you pay less. You could argue that this penalizes large families and the poor since larger families generate more trash and the price of the bags are a higher percentage of a poorer family’s income. You could also counter that the constitution says nothing about your right...