Opposite Day

¡ January 25 is Opposite Day !

Sounds like an episode from Jerry Seinfeld. The one where George decides if he does everything opposite from how he normally does things, life gets better.

A different perspective

You have done this before. You drive the opposite way home or to the office and the road looks different (e.g., when driving south, I nearly always miss the turn into my neighborhood because it looks so different). You sit in the passenger seat and see businesses you had not noticed before.

What could you do to get a different perspective on your marketing strategy? your customer segments? your partners in your target market?

The “Tiny House” movement is an Opposite Strategy to home ownership.
The “Cut the Cord” movement is an Opposite Tactic for reducing entertainment costs.
“Minimalism” is an Opposite Way of Life for reducing clutter, right-sizing costs, and improving quality of life.

If you buy, sell. If you sell, buy.
Work on the floor.
Run a focus group with past customers.
Do something that is different to see your world, your business, and your strategies from an entirely different perspective.

Change it up. Examine the “we always do”

In a Netflix movie on Queen Victoria, Prince Albert walks into a room to see the staff setting the table to serve a meal for a king who had been dead for 20 years. Because “that’s how we always do it.” No orders to stop setting the table, so the table kept getting set for 365 days for over 20 years. That’s 7300 uneaten meals.

You may think your organization is not quite as silly. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.

I am sure there are things you do that should be re-examined, questioned, and either improved or stopped.

Blue ocean strategy

A good read, “Blue Ocean Strategy“, gets its title from a strategy of sailing into “clean” air. When you sail as part of a pack,  only the lead boat gets good wind. Everyone else gets what is called “dirty air”.

Dirty air is slower.
Dirty air comes from a less preferential angle, influenced by the sails it hits before yours.
Dirty air is more turbulent.

The lead boat gets good wind. To get out of “dirty air” one must sail away from the pack.

Are you doing what everyone else is doing?

Is it time to sail away from the pack?

An excellent tool to examine how you might find new opportunities and sail away from the pack is to use Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas to examine your model versus what your customers may want.

Change up a revenue source (rent versus sell, pay per use, subscriptions)?
Change up a distribution system?
Change a partner or supply chain?

National Bean Day

I confess

I missed getting holiday cards out. Then I missed sending out Happy New Year’s cards out. Apparently I sent client-thank-you-presents out, but forgot to say who they were from…

I could throw in the towel and give up or I could drop back a few yards, punt, and try again.

I decided to follow my own advice:  don’t give up; don’t allow myself the luxury of pain; and do my best even if I think no one is looking.

Find another day, way, touch point

As marketers, we are always looking for the excuse to reach out to our customers. To say “Hey, we are still here. Buy from us. Talk to us.”

A client, Ed, pointed out that I had a unique way of finding humor. Also, he said people don’t notice you sometimes until you are gone (he was amazed at how many people came to his store only after he put the “going out of business” sign up).

Another client introduced me as “someone who used to write.” Oops, is my “out of business” sign up?

It occurred to me that every day is a “national holiday” of some sort or another. I had found my excuse. Now I needed to find my humor and a little Mo & Jo.

What’s your excuse?

Looking for a calendar of “days”?

National Bean Day

According to several websites, January 6 is National Bean Day.

The Huffington Post supposed it was to honor “Gregor Mendel, who famously used bean and pea plants to test his theories on inheritance. Mendel died on this day in 1884.”

For those trying to lose weight or improve their diet as part of their New Year’s resolutions, they may wish/want/desire a little push to increase the healthy in their diet. From the National Day website:

Today, just as throughout the Old and New World history, beans are an important source of protein. A very healthy choice for any meal or snack, they are also an excellent source of fiber, are low in fat and are high in complex carbohydrates, folate and iron.

If you are a fan of Michael Pollan and his book or documentary “In Defense of Food”, you can have beans and feel satisfied that you have eaten food, mostly plants (and hopefully), not too much!

There you go — January 6, National Bean Day.

PS. I think you can also have Jelly Beans for dessert!


Fill your glass

If you see your glass as half empty, pour it into a smaller glass and stop bitching.

Half empty

In the past three years alone:

  • my accountant passed away from pancreatic cancer
  • my photographer passed away from too many cancers to count
  • three close neighbors died from heart-related surgical complications
  • my dad had a catastrophic heart attack and died instantly
  • my in-laws passed away within 24 hours of each other from dementia
  • my 95 year-old grandmother passed away in her sleep
  • a client passed away from a neuro disease
  • several former colleagues passed away
  • we experienced a flood that caused extensive, expensive damage
  • three computers have fried or melted their hard drives
  • my doctor threatened me with a statin

Time for a new glass

Appreciation time.  My neighbors, Roger and Diane, were lovely people. They had lived in China, Turkey, Finland, and Nigeria. They survived coups, Russian wire-tapping, amputations, and the death of a child.

They hung out on their porch, invited neighbors for a glass of wine, and eventually started a weekly Friday-after-work bring your own wine and tapas tradition. They worked hard to appreciate what they had, their neighbors, and their family.

While my recent three years have been spent on appreciation exercises and expeditions to visit people who have been important in my life, your appreciation time can be with customers, potential customers, past colleagues, or influencers.

I had a colleague once tell me that our most difficult customers made us better. He was right. Appreciate the customers who make you better. The bosses that made you work hard.  The colleagues who were difficult.

Be funny. Be memorable. Ed, a client who recently passed away, once told me that I was really funny. He thought his organization needed that humor because he thought that humor would be memorable. We remember humor:

Where’s the beef?
We’re gonna need a bigger boat!
Queen Elizabeth II parachuting into the Olympic Games.

Injecting a bit of humor if your brand can tolerate it (if Queen Elizabeth can be funny, probably everyone can be) is a great way to become memorable.

Do your best, even when you think no one is looking. Actually, Stu Schmill, Varsity Lightweight Men’s Coach used to shout, “Do not allow yourself the luxury of pain.” The first time I heard that I was sitting in the stroke seat of the Women’s Varsity 8 for the very first time. It was a cold, rainy, grey (did I mention wet) morning —  I was trying out for the stroke seat, completely nervous (wet and cold) and afraid of failing. Melissa Norcross, the coxswain of our boat, dutifully repeated the chant: “Do not allow yourself the luxury of pain.” Years and years later, at a master’s rowing event, “Coach” who had also been witness to that same practice, retold the story of that morning to his companion, saying “It was the best practice racing I ever saw. Lynore never gave up, she just coming back, pulling even, pulling ahead, and coming back.”

Do not give up. Sometimes we all need help with this. Is it time to out-source a difficult task? Or one that’s not getting done?
– I hired a personal trainer so I could not “allow myself to feel the luxury of pain”
– I found and deployed a new computer back-up system
– I asked everyone I knew for an IT support person referral
– I asked everyone I knew for an accountant referral
– We have a new and improved first floor after renovations

Work hard. In rowing we do what’s called a Power 10. 10 hard strokes. It helps pull focus into the boat; it gets everyone in sync; it gets the swing back to keep working hard.
– I eliminated the bad foods from the house
– I stock and prep good foods to make it easier to eat right
– I enabled the Fitbit feature that tells me to go to bed
– I enlisted my son to help me stay the course

What can you do for yourself or your team that would be your metaphoric Power 10?

It rains on everyone. Today, our ski area has had only 8 inches of natural snow. All of the Colorado and New Mexico ski areas have had paltry snow this year. If the ski areas give up, they go out of business. They are playing to their strengths (bike & ski with the same lift ticket!) — as should the rest of us.

Complaining about the snow is not going to improve the snow, help my skiing, or improve my mood. I am personally using this ski season as my time to get stronger, get better at telemarking, and improve my turns.

Play to your strength or shore up a weakness. Pick one. Right size your glass.

Find a new glass if you see your glass as half full.

Just Do It!

Get ‘er done!


Press Play!

Lots and lots of sayings, inspirational quotes, even advertising campaigns to tell us what we already know. We must move to create change.


Kick your saboteur to the curb. The little voice in your head that says “it’s not perfect” — tell it to shut up.  If you must, call a friend who can help you quiet the saboteur (it really all is in your head).

What first step can you take today? Ok. Now. do. it.

Perfect comes with practice. Practice comes from doing. You gotta do. And we’re back to Nike….


Crossing things off our list, ticking things “done”, are not just to track what’s done versus left to do — it is a pat on the back that says “I did it”. Tracking also helps us keep going when going seems like too much energy, not working, or whatever else your saboteur is telling you.

  • Crossing off each day you worked out (even if you dialed it in) will help you push to work out each day. Fitbit pushes out reminders “2,838 steps to go” or makes a badge each time you work out 5 out of 7 days. Woo-hoo it says.
  • Keep yourself honest: Scheduled 1 push email a month; Executed 1 push email a month. While not each push email is going to have the same results, collectively they are far more powerful because it is about touches, repetition, and staying top of mind.
  • Discipline is a muscle than needs to practice and be trained. Our moms told us to pick up our clothes, make our bed, and put our dishes away. Mom was right — it becomes easier, quicker, and just better if we keep practicing our discipline.


Change happens slowly.

Depending on what it is it happens while we sleep, while we are driving to work, over long periods of time. One day we wake up and notice we have muscles where there used to be flab; more people are acting on our emails than last year; sales are going up.

We are impatient for change; Amazon and the internet have taught us instant gratification. We need to keep ourselves busy executing and tracking that execution. With time, we can and measure the change. But for now — you gotta lean in to the process — and do. it.

Plan to Plan

New Years Resolutions, sigh

Isn’t it always the case? You plan to go to bed early, get up early, work on those sit-ups and back stretches. Then, it all goes pear-shaped. The kiddo throws up; you spend 8 hours in the emergency room.

Now you are not only NOT getting ahead, ticking off the items on your to-do list, you are behind. Sigh.

In a time management class I took a long, long time ago, they said make time in your schedule for the upsets, schedule buffers. They gave an example of a client whose day looked perfectly organized at 8 am. By 10 am, fire fighting on that day’s problems had blown up the schedule. After 10:05, nothing on the “To-Do” list ever looked the same and most did not get done.

The time management expert said, “then why plan at 8 when you know you don’t know what you need to know until 10:05?” Duh.

At 10:30, the client would look at the new fires, schedule the appropriate time to put out the fires, and then schedule the highest priority items from the standing To-Do list. Success!

When I, personally, am most successful, happy, and in control, it is because I scheduled out my blocks of working time, work-out time, and other tasks on my calendar. I know they will change. When life interferes, and it always does, I don’t delete the block, I move the block.

The time management people also said to prioritize A, B, and C tasks. Sometimes B tasks turn into A tasks; sometimes they turn into “nice to have” C tasks. If a B task keeps getting kicked to the curb…. it’s a C task.

Quick Tips to do right now:
  1. Schedule time with yourself to mark up your calendar
    a) pick a time that is quiet where you WILL not be interrupted, like in the morning before the family wakes up or that first hour you are in the office
    b) pick a spot that is good for thinking, where you like to think
    c) treat yourself. Hey I’m all into bribes. I use a nice warm cup of coffee.
  2. Put on that calendar appointments with yourself to work/execute/plan your 2018 Resolutions
    a) last year I started scheduling my jogs on my calendar (I jogged more!)
    b) in January I scheduled time to work on my personal finances, business finances, and taxes. All that stuff that I like to ignore and procrastinate on. I learned a lot about where I was losing money, spending money I didn’t need to, and got my financial house in better order. Talk about stress relief.
  3. There’s an app for that!
    My friend the executive coach has an exercise where she has you imagine how your cell phone, light switch, chair or other random object would solve your current problem. I am a big fan of “is there an app for that”.Last year I found:

a) 5k training plan/app for 30 minute finish time. Every day I did what it said to do. I did not think, stress, I just did it. And voila! it worked.
b) this year I found the “clicklist”. A personal shopper for groceries. It’s like magic: the food goes on the list, I drive by the store, stop for 5 minutes, and the groceries are magically transported into my car. No wandering around the store looking for where this particular store hides rice milk, mole sauce, or tikka masala sauce.
c) ski distance, runs, speed app. It makes skiing more entertaining and more like a work-out (i.e. it makes me work harder).W

What app could you find that would make your life easier, simpler, less-stressful?

Plan to Plan

How Technology Companies can use YouTube

How Manufacturers and B-to-B will use Social Media is bound to change and mature over the next few years, an outlet I’ve found tremendously helpful is YouTube.

  1. Product demos, especially of large systems
  2. How-to-fix videos, of especially complex steps in the field
  3. Training videos for staff
  4. How customers use the products
  5. The types of OEM products that customers sell
  6. How product can be damaged and how to test/look for that type of damage
  7. How the product is made as a sales tool for building credibility with customers
  8. Commentary captured per Youtube video can be used to improve future videos

As in all things, the more professional the video, the more professional the impression that will be made.

  1. Watch videos you like and don’t like and take notes:
  2. How long should you make it?
  3. Break into smaller segments as appropriate (think in terms of chapters) and to enable better streaming
  4. Break into chapters where steps 1 and 4 go quickly but 2 & 3 may need to be reviewed a few times. By breaking into smaller sections the user can more easily re-review the trickier steps
  5. Title sections so it is obvious if one section is missing in the search results
  6. Scripting of the voice-over. How the voice-over talks
  7. Camera work. Put it on a tripod and keep the zooms to a minimum
  8. When interviewing people, put their names and titles at the bottom
  9. Where and when to put the company name on the video
  10. Don’t forget a call to action
    a. Call us
    b. Go to our website
    c. Depending on the content, it may be appropriate to make the video available to download officially – once they’ve registered on your website
  11. Title appropriately
  12. Measure results. If the videos aren’t getting the financial results you need, re-evaluate why

You need a website, and now!

What are you missing by not having a website?

Close your eyes for a moment and picture your target customer.

  • How does that person or the decision maker seek and find information to find the solutions to their problems?
  • How do they reduce risk in choosing a vendor or type of solution?
  • What if they sort-of remember that you exist? and your business card is in a pile of 1000 in the back of their desk drawer or thrown out in the latest round of cleaning off their desk?Websites build credibility that you are a solid, trustworthy, credible business.

They enable people who want to contact you to find your preferred contact information.

Just as importantly, they help non-customers learn this quickly and efficiently. And that’s just as important for them as it is for you.