Be Remarkable! ( Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow” Still Rockin’ )

May 2, 2013

Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow” Ted Talk is still “remarkable”.

I like how Seth starts with the no-brainer idea of “sliced bread”. Yup “Sliced Bread” sucked for 15 years, it was not an instant hit.

More On Purple Cow Book

He argues that the only way to cut the hyper-clutter of products and advertising today is to innovate something new, unique and remarkable – like a purple cow.

In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones. (via Seth)

“Nothing” – What Does Marketing Do?

April 24, 2013

An awesome Product Manager will design themselves out of the picture. They aspire to be irrelevant. They trend to “Nothing”.

I’m going backwards thru my backlist of “What Does Marketing Do?”. This is #5. /enjoy.

When I started this series I wanted to the say the following things, but I kept getting off track.

  • In an ideal world there would be “nothing” for people with marketing titles to do.
    • Each department would “gather & coordinate” all the information needed to develop the product that sells itself.
  • In the “real world” Marketing peoples tasks are all about “passing & playmaking“.
    • They keep the ball/puck “in play“, put it “where it needs to go“, and most importantly they “let go“.
    • The “glory guys do the scoring”. (Exec, Sales, Engineering)
  • Steve Nash & Gretzky are the “sports analogies”.
    • This presents an extreme challenge for companies because a Nash, or Gretzky, only comes along once a decade. These types of people are very difficult to find, develop, recognize, reward, etc.
    • These guys don’t look the part of “star”. Gretzky & Nash are the scrawniest guys on the playing surface … most great Marketing people share the same traits … they have great stats (if someone actually collects them ), but they don’t look the part.
    • Marketing departments are “scrawny” and don’t have the bulk to do the glory. Marketing departments are very small relative to other departments. This is not a bad thing (just a fact )
  • This “highly skilled unselfish play”, “lack of bulk”, and “secondary glory” is hard to live every day. Thus most marketing departments bias themselves towards “sales” or “engineering”. The tasks are do-able and there will be a chance to share in some glory.

Note: In re-reading this … it appears kinda harsh. I’m not trying to be pessimistic here. I’m just trying to get at some of the fundamental challenges of working in marketing departments. I know that understanding the above “really” helped me many times.

The full series can be found in the “here

Marketing “Connects” & “Lets Go”

April 16, 2013

The letting go part is hard …

The (New) Product Team’s success is dependent on getting those two groups ( The Customer and Rest of Company) to interact so well, that you can let go, and let the product take on “a life of its own.” Your goal is to do such a great job at connecting that, in the end, you need to do “Nothing”
Connect – Part 7 – What the !@#$ Does Marketing Do?.

This is “intra-praneurship”. Much better described in The Other Side of Innovation (Execution) « by VG & Trimble



Yes. Yes, I’m having a good time reviewing my “backlist“. In some ways it is “pretty bad” and in some ways “it’s pretty good”.

Get Inspired! Read About Aravind’s Mission to Eliminate Curable Blindness

April 9, 2013

Inspiring! Wow! The story of the Aravind Eye Hospital in the book Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World’s Greatest Business Case for Compassion is “mind blowing”.

There are good works happening in the world today! This is a feel good book like Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think.

In 1976 Aravind opened in Madurai, India, with 11 beds and a mission to eliminate “curable blindness”. In 1981 they did 10,000 surgeries. In 2009 they did 300,000! In the process they developed their own rural out-reach programs, cataract surgery processes, started a company (Aurolab) to build lenses, started a training program LAICO for third and first world training. Just wow!

The high volume is because they do “free” and “less than” free surgeries as well as paid. Chapter 2 is “When Free is Not Enough”. For their poorest patients they need to do more than just pay for the surgery. Aravind’s fee structure for 2010 (page 289 ) was

  • Free 27%
  • Minimal Payment 26%
  • Regular & Premium Payment 47%

10x More Cataract Surgeries per Doctor per Year

The most amazing statistic is Average Number of Cataract Surgeries per eye surgeon per Year. It’s 10x the developed world! (page 291) And the complication rate is equal or lower! (page 292)

  • Aravind 2,000
  • USA less than 200

It’s Sunday – Matthieu Ricard’s “Tibet” is a Photographic Gem

March 24, 2013

Tibet photo

Tibet: An Inner Journey by Matthieu Ricard is not a challenging book. It is just an amazing set of pictures and brief histories of spiritual places in Tibet.

The one thing that comes to mind is “time warp”. It’s like going back in time – horses, hand printing, etc.

I’ve also reviewed his book “Happiness” It is a more challenging read.

Mandatory Nerd Reading – The Other Side of Innovation (Execution)

March 11, 2013

“Ideas are the easy part … delivering on an idea is the hard part. It’s a long hard journey – from imagination to impact” is the theme of the “HowTo Innovate Book” The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge « Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble To the books authors, VG & Trimble, Thank You for that. I’ve always found that delivering on an innovation is extremely challenging. Reading through this book was like poring salt in old wounds. It reminded me of all the screw-ups I’ve made and introduced me to many more. My first reaction has been to recommend this book to anyone I come in contact to. It is that good.

I really like how they position an Innovation Team within an existing business. It’s a partnership. They dig into the issues of the “relationship” between Innovation Teams and Corporate Staff. They talk about hiring outside employees. Why and Why not. They dig into Power Balance and Status Issues. They cover most of the “conventional” wisdom and either confirm or debunk it. Fantastic.

The second section of the book is “HowTo Run an Innovation Experiment”. I really like the implications of that title. It is enough to ruffle a few feathers. That is “Innovations are Experiments … they are not guaranteed, we’re doing this test because … we don’t know how to do it”. They introduce very good concepts and provide a few tools.

How Does It Fit With Steve Blank’s Leanlaunch Pad and Customer Development?

I’m a Steve Blank fan-boy and didn’t need another book on innovation, but I did find it on his blogs’ short-list of books to read. I was curious since he hasn’t added many books to the shortlist in a long time.

My first pass is that VG & Trimble are very synergistic with Steve Blank’s Customer Development and Leanlaunch Pad. They are Yin & Yang. The complementary nature is in the style of delivery and where they come from. VG & Trimble choose a more time honoured business school justification of “Innovation as an Experiment” via collecting a ton of data and synthesizing it. They provide a very good “wrapper” for understanding “Innovation as an Experiment”. This is in contrast to Steve Blank’s “Gonzo/Manifesto” style that “practitioners” prefer. That said everyone has to read both, especially your “evil twin”, if you’re a practitioner then you have to read VG & Trimble no matter how much you don’t want to, and vice-versa. In a nutshell, VG & Trimble’s data seems to validate the LLP “Innovation as Experiment” approach. They are friend.

The high-level stuff. VG & Trimble provide a high-level framework for innovation within an existing business – Intrapreneurship. They provide a solid justification for spending time on “The Team” and “The Experiment”. VG & Trimble are much more focussed on Intrapreneurs and that means that they have some amazing points on “relationships” between the Core Business and the Innovation Team. A lot of these relationship issues are similar to those between Investors and Startups, but many are very different. If you’re an Intrapreneur you really need to read the “The Team” section. It will make a difference.

The main differences are about depth & details in “The Experiment” section. Here I would say that VG & Trimble do a great job laying out the problem to be solved. They provide useful tools and processes. If you’re doing this for real right now, then you need that mental support right now. And if your “Experiment” requires you to get customers for your product then you’d better dig into The Leanlaunch Pad (LLP) process via the Startup Owner’s Manual for more detail provided by a “practitioner”.

Slideware & Chapter 1

More Reviews

These are both very detailed reviews.

Thank You! (e@UBC & Lean LaunchPad Volunteers )

March 8, 2013

I’d to thank all the people who made e@UBC’s LLP workshop so much fun. I think we’ve given momentum to something very important.

The Donors-of-Time

  • A big Thank You to all the donors-of-time that made this a reality.
  • It’s >90% of us!

The Instructors

  • Paul Cubbon and I seemed to click during our “first date”. Paul brought great pace, intensity, focus. and structure to the class. I really liked his addition of the Pulsepress back-channel and the results of him “advising” me to use “less time” in my presentations. He also bought me a bottle of wine! Thank You Paul.

The Mentors

  • Doug Johnson, David Fox, Dylan Gunn, Andre Marziali, Mario Palumbo, Chuck Hamilton, and Steve Morgan
  • A big Thank You. Your efforts were very visible.

The e@UBC student “staff”

  • Peggy, Hans, Tagg, and … I’m sure I missed someone else who did the setup and tear down. Thank You

The Teams

  • Wow! You all put in a lot of “sweat”. Thanks for the great effort. It made the workshop.
  • 3D Bio Printer, Achievement Builder, Axon, Dragonfly, Foosler, Lululemon, Urban Farming, Zenith Wind, and ZipThru.
  • I also want to acknowledge that the teams that didn’t make it all the way played an important role in this workshop. They also learned what they needed to learn.
  • ps. tip to Dragonfly for the personal “Thank You” card on the last day. It made my day.

The Guys Who Paid For It – e@UBC
Thank You!

The e@UBC Team

  • Anuj Singhal, Deven Dave, and the new guy Andy Talbot
  • Thank You for providing the support to make this happen.
  • Thanks for paying for this “great sandbox” that is LLP.

Parting Notes

  • … I’m getting used to the reality that I’m “Mr. Tough Love” ;-)
  • It’s a pleasure to have such a great platform, e@UBC, to donate my time to. It’s so great spending time with people who want to work! Thanks (again)


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