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Tom Smith

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Differentiate Based on Service and Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 11, 2018 @ 17:09 PM

 

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It was great to hear Joseph Pine II of Strategic Horizons, LLP at the TIBCO NOW 2018 conference. Joseph is the author of The Experience Economy and spoke on “Innovating Beyond Goods and Services.”

Joseph began his presentation talking about the Wizard Gumball Machine which was introduced in 1993 and provides an experience for kids to pay 25 cents for a gumball. It's essentially a slot machine for kids where they'll get a quarter from their parents for a gumball. Watch the gumball go around and out the bottom of the machine and then ask their parents for another quarter.

The Wizard Gumball Machine is a great example of the progression of economic value that all commodities go through. Today, most goods are commoditized to price and services are being commoditized. Goods and services are no longer enough. To differentiate your product or service, you need to move to a new level by staging experiences for customers providing a distinct economic offering.

Create a memory which is the hallmark of the experience. Experiences are where we need to innovate.

Starbucks has driven innovation in the coffee drinking experience = Starbucks and now Nespresso is attempting to do the same thing by getting coffee drinkers to prepare their daily breakfast drink at home with the tagline, "the best café is your café." Nespresso innovated the capsule system. They designed their Nespresso machines to be an experience, and they innovated in their stores – a.k.a., espresso boutiques. They provide a service with an espresso club which replenishes your supply before you run out.

Coffee is a great example of the progression of commoditization. The grower of the beans gets two or three cents for the beans necessary for a cup of coffee. Maxwell house gets 10 to 15 cents a cup for providing a product. While the Starbucks experience is anywhere from three to seven dollars a cup.

Disney is the world’s experience stager. If selling B2B you need to provide an experience. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is Disney for adults. Case Construction Equipment has an "Experience Center" in Tomahawk, Wisconsin where prospects can come and try the equipment in a veritable playground for construction equipment. According to Case, 20% of prospects that go to a dealer close. The close rate is 80% if the prospect goes to Tomahawk.

We’re living in an experience economy – design accordingly. Provide distinctive experiences. Make the customer's life simpler, easier and better. Distinctive experiences are memorable, reach inside, engage, create memories the customer wants to share with others.

Convenience is the antithesis of this. Services are about time well saved. More and more people spend time and money on experiences they enjoy – they value the time they spend with you = time well spent.

Las Vegas is the epicenter of the experience economy. The iPhone is the antithesis of the digital experience economy. Once you get the iPhone in your hands you customize it with your contacts, pictures, email accounts, and apps. Everyone's iPhone is unremittingly unique. That's the power of customization, it turns a good into a service.

If you customize a service you are providing an experience – a memorable experience. Progressive Insurance takes a negative experience of coming to your accident and delivering you a check on the spot along with a rental car thereby turning a horrible experience into a positive and memorable one.

We have been living in the age of mass customization. We have a portfolio of customers and everyone is unique. We offer a portfolio of capabilities. Customers get what they want at a price they are willing to pay. Anything you can digitize you can customize. That’s how you lower your cost – only give the customer what they want, nothing else, don’t overwhelm with too many choices

Know who everyone is to mass customize around each individual guest. Creating a learning relationship with every interaction. Learn > Customize > Benefit > Innovate.

If you don’t stage experiences for individual customers you will be commoditized.

Tags: customer experience, customer service, CX

The Five Senses of the Brain

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 10, 2018 @ 13:08 PM

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As a student of consumer insights, I am fascinated with the findings of NeuroFocus in “The Buying Brain” by Dr. A.K. Pradeep.

Here’s how the five senses are related to buying:

Vision

About one-fourth of the brain is involved in visual processing.  The easiest and most successful way to capture the brain’s attention is through great visuals.  Be sure nothing obscures you customer’s view of what they are scanning for.  Overly tall shelves that obscure the landscapes behind them, signage with dense text and no visuals, and narrow aisles all detract from your product and frustrate the brain.  To avoid being lost in the clutter, emphasize clean clear  lines delivered at eye level.  This affirms what designers have told us for years — white space if good!  For signage, outdoor and print ads place the object you are selling at the top of the ad.  Use puzzles that are easy to solve to draw in and entice the brain.  Brains will discount information that is incongruent with the visual stimuli it receives.

Smell

While only one percent of our brain is devoted to smell, smells are strongly linked to our emotions and memory.  Always take into account the smell of your offering.  Even if it’s the best tasting product in the category, it will fail in the marketplace if the package causes it to smell fake or plastic.  Women are more sensitive to smells than men and are far better at putting words to olfactory experiences.  Whereby men are particularly  sensitive to the smells of their beloved, perhaps correlating with the popularity of perfume for women.  Smell is the most direct route to our emotions and memory.  Being linked to a pleasant, iconic smell can significantly improve a product’s success in the marketplace.

Taste

Taste tends to correlate with smell.  If the sense of smell is lost, there is a serious reduction in the overall taste experience (i.e., flavor).  Anytime you show an appetizing product, be sure the consumer can see someone enjoying it.  Give food and beverages a visual “voice.”  Don’t display fake items around food, they detract from the realism and thus the appetite of the consumer for the product.  Tasting is one of the brain’s great pleasures hence the number of food brands offering taste samples in the retail environment.

Hearing

Hearing is vital to survival but it also allows us to generate deep nostalgic memories associated with highly emotional moments accompanied by sound.  We mark our traditional passages (e.g., weddings, funerals and graduations) with music.  The sounds your product makes and the background “noise” of the shopping environment are critical to the image of your brand.  Likewise, the sounds that accompany the user experience are critical to its enjoyment and to retention in memory.  What we hear is specialized and tuned to what interests us.  The brain will ignore distracting or disturbing noises.

Touch

Our largest sensory organ is our skin.  The most sensitive area of our body are our hands, lips, face, neck, tongue, fingertips and feet.  Products that touch those areas should be soft, sensual, pleasant, soothing and inviting.  We are sensual beings that loved to be touched.  Any product or service that is tactile must excite and invite the sense of touch.

Which of the five senses can you leverage to improve the results of your marketing?

 

Tags: consumer insights, scent marketing

Connect by Looking Up

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, May, 29, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

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Thanks to Okta for bringing us Dr. Mae Jemison, Engineer, Physician and Astronaut, as the closing keynote speaker for Oktane18. In addition to being the first black female astronaut, she is principal of the 100-Year Starship Experience because thinking bigger results in greater progress.

 

Following are my notes from her presentation:

  • Pursuing the extraordinary tomorrow, provides a better today.
  • "The future doesn’t just happen, it is created" – William Gibson
  • I was fortunate to grow up at a time when our potential was unlimited.
  • We all have the right to participate and help make decisions in the world
  • Partnerships and collaboration are important -- "Even the sharpest knife can’t cut its own handle."
  • We are creating the future.
  • Maintain a perspective on science, technology, and society because they are interrelated.
  • The problem set we see is constricted by who is involved in solving the problem:
    • Datasets
    • Methods
  • If we don’t have the right people solving the problem then we’re going to miss something.
  • What we find is what we’re looking for - that's why it's important not to have preconceived notions.
  • Our ambitions color what we do.
    • They affect what we design, code, and do.
  • When they were trying to reach the moon we were trying to reach the village.
  • Space exploration has resulted in tremendous leaps forward in technology = GPS, health, earth observations, social media.
    • The same algorithms used to show abody in a magnetic field were used for remote sensing of Venus.
  • It’s all about people pursuing the extraordinary.
  • Let’s try something really difficult . . .interstellar:
    • Requires capabilities in 100 years.
    • It pushes what we know how to do.
    • It requires something fundamentally different than we used to get to the moon with chemical propulsion.
    • Scale of travel to another star.
    • The extreme nature of interstellar hurdles requires something different.
    • Radical leaps in humanity.
    • How do we get people to work together as teams when they are far apart (geographically dispersed workers).
    • The challenges around interstellar travel are not that different than the challenges we face today.
      • An inclusive audacious journey transforms life here on earth and beyond.
    • The pathway to the stars leaves footprints on earth.
  • Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or destroy it.
  • It’s important for us to use our place at the table.
  • We have to do more than we trained for.
  • We have to work with the things that are common for us.
  • "Science has found no remedy for the worst evil of them all – the apathy of human beings." – Helen Keller
  • We have enough knowledge to be able to do incredible things but we don’t.
  • We’d rather spend more on defense than on the education of our children.
  • A major stumbling block is a lack of shared understanding of our connections across time and space.
  • How do we treat the earth in a way that doesn’t affect the environment to maintain our species?
    • With science and technology.
    • With generational activision.
  • For a truly extraordinary future we need a vision that endures across generations.
  • When the noise of things that separate up are louder than ever before.
  • LookUp
    • What is above us, actually unites us.
    • We can see ourselves by looking up.
    • LookUp is a project that asks people to look up and record what they see on August 28, 2018.
  • All the work we do will be for naught if we don’t figure out how we are all connected.
  • Each of us needs to be comfortable in our own skin.
  • Don’t take other people’s issues and make them yours.
  • Some issues are how others see you versus your own perception of yourself.
    • Do not tie yourself to someone else’s stumbling block
  • We’re all connected to the entire universe.
  • Be comfortable being any place with the universe – we need to connect with one another.

 

Tags: empowerment, vision, innovation, inspiration

President Obama's Views Post Presidency

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 28, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

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Thanks to Okta for inviting me to Oktane18 and giving me the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama - truly a "life experience."

Todd McKinnon, CEO and Co-founder of Okta hosted the hour-long question and answer session.

Following are the points made by the President with the parenthetical notes my own:

  • We live in culture today where everybody feels the crush of information and collision of world’s in a way previous generation. haven’t felt.
  • Previous generations knew 100 or 150 people.
  • How many people do you know today? (Thousands thanks to social media and CRM systems).
  • Today, there are rural villages in Africa in which everyone has a phone.
  • We have the ability to absorb information in ways that can be confusing.
  • While there are a lot of questions around technology and social media, the U.S. had a head start in trying to figure it out because we’re a people that came from everywhere else.
  • We've had to figure out how to work together since the country was founded.
  • The challenge today is how to maintain sense of common purpose, how to join together as opposed to splinter and divide.
  • If we don’t figure it out it will be hard for our democracy to survive (just what the Russians are fomenting in social media).
  • There is a misperception that government doesn’t work, and people don’t work hard based on their experience of getting their driver’s license renewed (everyone laughed knowingly).
  • The public sector has extraordinary talent and does a lot of things really well.
  • There is a big gap in technology, especially with responsiveness and nimbleness. A lot of this has to do with government's antiquated procurement requirements.
  • In a host of areas, like taking government data and putting it out there so organizations can use to improve people's lives, we made real progress during my term.
  • We tried to create, re-architecture and replace legacy systems in the FDA.
  • There is a need for big data sets to achieve the promise of personalized medicine.
  • We made inroads in a few of those areas; however, the political system is not being as responsive as it could be (because we are divided rather than united).
  • Creating a framework that’s agreed upon and transparent, most people understand is a challenge we should welcome and approach it in a systematic and transparent way (however, little in Washington is transparent).
  • We need to be proactive identifying the questions we have to grapple, with the tools we have to protect information, and be transparent about what consumers are giving up (Google, Facebook, et al).
  • There is a big lag between how we’re thinking about the social organization and technology.
  • We underinvest in the IRS because no one likes it; however, it can be a great deal more efficient.
  • As a consequence of no one wanting to give up their write-offs, we discovered the basic IT infrastructure of the IRS is held together by string and bubble gum.
  • If you made no changes to the tax structure you could make interaction with the IRS more user-friendly, but it requires front end investment no one is willing to make.
  • Business identifies the essential problem and hires good people to solve business problem.
  • Government procurement requires you to identify the problem and allocate a budget up front. That's not how a successful business works.
  • We need a good conversation between the tech community and people in Washington for ongoing deliberation and exchange.
  • There should be bias towards making voting easier not harder, there’s a legacy that dates back to Jim Crow to disenfranchise voters and it is being perpetuated.
  • If we can secure the voting process, and there’s a paper record generated along side the electronic vote, I believe it will come to pass but it will take awhile.
  • Laws are structured to make it hard for people to vote.

 

How did you instigate change?

  • Change is hard in personal live, it's hard for groups, it's hard for institutions.
  • The U.S. evolved from an agricultural-based economy to manufacturing-based economy over a period of 120 years.
  • Today we're evolving to a technology-based economy in just 20 to 30 years and that's hard for everyone to accept.
  • Principles for effective change:
    • Talk to people whose lives will be disrupted so you appreciate who they are and insure they are heard before you instigate change.
      • Listening is a good starting point for change.
    • Every issue you are dealing has probabilities.
      • Get the best info available.
      • Have, and listen to, diverse voices around the table.
      • Understand the different perspectives.
      • Have people who can argue all of the sides of the issue.
    • I set up processes so that by the time I made the decision I could say, with confidence, I heard all the voices, had all of the information, and made the best decision I could.
    • Initiating change requires enough situations like that, even when there are disruptions. where you can anticipate the disruptions and be prepared to address them.
    • There will be disruptions with technology (There already has been and there will be a lot more).
    • People are going to be resistant if their jobs are threatened.
    • Anticipate this and be prepared to address the change.
    • Ask people “What do you think?”
      • I would catch people by surprise and they would tell me what they really thought, rather than a prepared answer.
      • Deliberately reach outside the bubble of obvious decision makers.
    • I had a good b.s. detector, if a question wasn’t answered with confidence I’d drill in until I learned what the person was really thinking.
    • Insist on people delivering on bad news quickly.
      • Part of the culture we tried to build, these are human enterprises, they’re going to be flawed when you do screw up or you can’t solve something bring it to me and let’s solve it together

 

How did you go about vetting and hiring people?

  • The government has two million employees or so, only 3,000 are political appointments.
    • The entire process during transition, gathering names, going through folks who have the qualifications we were looking for, as well as interest in the position.
    • Tech is where we had a problem because tech pays much better than the US government.
    • So, we set up US digital services – a SWAT team of amazing tech folks who, like the Peace Corps, would come into the US government for six months to two years to work on a particular problem – example of the need for more creativity of how we staff government and non-profits.
  • Think of creative ways for people to take leave and make an incredible contribution.

 

What advice did you receive going into office that was useful and what wasn't?

  • Advice not useful and slowed us down and hurt effectiveness early on was the sense that somehow now that you are president there are certain ways you should do things that had to do with traditions but were not effective.
    • During the campaign, we communicated in a way that was fresh and accessible. That changed when we moved into the White House – it made the team feel more conventional than we should have. We corrected this near the end of the first term. There were a lot of fires to put out immediately when we got to the White House..
  • The best advice a number of people gave us was to maintain your humanity. Michele and I, partly because we didn’t want our girls to get weird from being in a weird environment, were very focused on this. It was important to make sure we did not lose ourselves, that we stayed intact in what we believed in and how we treated people, expectations of ourselves, kindness, honesty, being useful, and taking responsibility
    • People given great responsibility, power, and wealth begin losing a sense of what’s important, who they are, and holding on to what they have rather than responding authentically. We did not lose that, we came out intact.

 

What are your greatest observations post presidency?

  • I don’t miss the trappings of the presidency.
  • I get more sleep now versus five hours a sleep each night for eight years.
    • That's what's required if you are going to stay up to speed on all of the issues and consider different points of view.
  • There is a physical and mental element to being president if you are serious about the job.
  • Everything now seems to move in slow motion.
    • Today it takes two weeks to set up a meeting rather than two hours.
What are you and Michele going to be doing with Netflix?
  • I would not have been president if I had not learned early on the importance of stories.
  • As a community organizer I learned instead of telling people what they should think, I needed to ask people about themselves and their stories.
  • If you listen, people will tell you their story.
  • Discovering those stories creates relationships and committed people.
  • I continue to believe if we are hearing each other’s stories and recognize ourselves in each other that our democracy works, if we don’t then our democracy doesn’t work.
  • We want to identify people doing amazing work and create platforms for them to tell their stories.
  • We have all these amazing story tellers and we want them to continue to tell the stories we think are important, lifting up talent to identify the connections that we have between all of us.
  • We want to train leaders around the world to tell their stories.
  • We’re all human and have basic needs, wants, and desires for our families, for our children.
  • The country can go in one of two ways: 
    • We can go tribal, go ethnic, pull in, push off, think "us versus them," think power-first, view life as a zero-sum game, and have a need to dominate.
    • Or, the other narrative is a more fragile, newer notion that we can think, reason, connect, and set up institutions based of the rule of law, dignity, and the worth of every individual based on science and facts. This narrative is one the human race has pursued, and America has been at the forefront of, since World War II.
  • We’ve made progress in all of these areas in "fits and starts." Now there’s a clash in the two alternative ways of seeing the world.
  • Part of the political polarization is if you watch Fox News and read the New York Times you are viewing two different realities (this is divisive rather than inclusive and not in the best interest of democracy).
  • Obviously, I believe the second of the two ways is we need to proceed if we are going to be united.

Tags: Trustworthiness, Ethics, transparency, trust, integrity, authenticity, listen intensely, empathy, inspiration, community, customer insights, big data

Vulnerability = Courage

Posted by Tom Smith on Sat, May, 19, 2018 @ 12:05 PM

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Great presentation by Dr. Brené Brown, Research Professor University of Houston during Nutanix' .NEXT conference in New Orleans on May 10. Dr. Brown has been studying vulnerability and courage and the soon to be published The Four Pillars of Courage.

Dr. Brown's Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability has more than 34 million views on YouTube.

Here's the gist of her presentation I was fortunate to see:

  • You have to be vulnerable to be courageous
  • Vulnerable = at risk, emotionally exposed
  • There is no courage without vulnerability
  • “Daring greatly” came from Teddy Roosevelt
  • Can we lay out the code for being a full-stack individual?
  • Shame is walking out of the room of people you know well and when you leave, and they speak badly about you
  • It’s not the critic who counts, the credit goes to the one in the arena who comes up short again, again and again. If s/he fails, s/he does so daring greatly.
  • If you’re brave with your life you’re going to get your ass kicked
  • Life is volatile you will know failure if you are brave with your work
  • We live in a comfort crisis – we believe we are entitled to comfort
  • There is nothing comfortable about being courageous
  • Vulnerability is the most accurate measurement for courage
  • If you are not in the arena being brave with your life I am not interested in what you have to say
  • When you’re brave there is pushback
  • The mean-spirited words from the cheap seats should hurt but you need to know who’s opinions matter – it’s not the people in the cheap seats
  • Know the people you can trust and listen to them
  • Shame, scarcity, fear, anxiety, uncertainty = vulnerability
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy
  • Joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions
  • We dress rehearse tragedy because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • Don’t squander joy
  • Don’t dress rehearse tragedy
  • Stop in the moment and be grateful
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of: courage, trust, empathy, innovation, creativity, accountability, adaptability, inclusivity, hard conversations, feedback, problem-solving, ethical decision making
  • Set up a culture of no vulnerability you get no innovation, no risk-taking
  • The opposite of accountability is blame
  • If you don’t do discomfort you’re not a good fit for us
  • If you cannot have a conversation about a difficult subject (race, class, gender) you cannot be a successful leader – be willing to excavate conversations that need to happen because they’re getting in the way of good work
  • People are not willing to be vulnerable, brave
  • What are you doing instead of the hard conversations?
  • We’re not having hard conversations because we’re not willing to be vulnerable
  • Relational vulnerability – you cannot be brave or lead without it
  • It takes courage to have ethical decision making
  • When we’re in struggle we need a story for our brain – the story I’m telling myself right now is . . .
  • Myths:
    • Vulnerability is weakness
    • I can opt out
    • Let it all hang out
    • I can go it alone
  • Vulnerability, clarity of values, trust, rising skills = the four pillars of courage
  • What’s worth doing even if you fail?
  • Vulnerability doesn’t always work out but it’s better than ending your life asking what if I had showed up?

Tags: integrity, extreme trust, emotional connection, total radical transparency, empathy, inspiration

Integrity as a Value

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 16, 2018 @ 09:05 AM

 

As you know, I begin with the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning when I begin working with any organization. If the management team is not aligned with all four, it's impossible to develop a cohesive integrated marketing communications plan and deliver a consistent message to your employees and your prospects.

 

The most important value to me is integrity - doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. If you're unable to do what you say you will do when you say you will do it, why should anyone trust you about anything else - your products, your services, your guarantee, your word?

 

As the leader of a business organization, you set the tone for the organization. You are the role model for everyone in the organization who need to be aligned in order for your organization to achieve its goals. Your organization will not achieve its goals unless everyone is aligned with the same vision, mission, and values and is communicating the same strategic positioning. You need your employees to be just as accountable as you when it comes to doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.

 

If your do not do what they say they will do when thy say they will do it, they detract from the organization’s integrated approach with regards to vision, mission, values, and strategic positioning. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency results in confusion and distrust. If some of your employees are doing their jobs with integrity and others are not, your customers and prospects will be confused - as will your brand.

 

There are four important steps for your employees to do their jobs with integrity.

  • Teach employees what you mean by integrity

If your employees don’t understand the concept of integrity, they cannot reap its benefits. So your first job is to make them aware of integrity. This can be done in a number of different ways. It is easiest to teach integrity through stories, animated movies, films, slide shows and concrete examples. You should take the time to display these resources at the workplace

Here is a great story to show employees the importance of living with integrity and transparency. Integrity is not just about doing what's right even when others are not. Living with integrity serves as a role model for colleagues, suppliers, channel partners, and your competition. Here is another story which depicts strong, creative leadership. Stories are a great way to deliver a compelling, and memorable message

 

  • Compensate employees fairly

Integrity starts at the top and scare the daylights out of a lot of c-level executives with whom I have worked. If you are not paying employees fairly, your employees will not be with you for long and certainly will not be engaged. They will be angry that you are taking advantage of them and their situation and constantly looking for a new job rather that focused on achieving the objectives of the organization. It's critical to you pay similar compensation to employees who are in similar roles. It’s obvious if an organization’s compensation discriminate with regards to age, sex, or race, the organization, and its management is not living with integrity. Integrity is not just about telling the trust and being transparent, it is also doing what is right and treating everyone fairly so they can grow and flourish together. Even if you don’t pay fairly, still.

Paying people fairly does not mean you cannot make distinctions between older workers with more seniority or experience or those with management potential. If an employee deserves more than others, especially for reasons that may not be entirely obvious to all members of the team, ensure they are fairly compensated. Everything can not be translated into a tangible ROI. Some people are bringing skills and value to the organization that cannot be quantified.

 

  • Know your competitors

Every organization has competitors. Ensure your employees know who your competitors are and what makes you "different and better." This is part of the message they should be delivering when asked who they work for and what do you do, as evidenced by a custodian at NASA

Employees are more likely to be engaged, empowered, and live with integrity when they know what makes the company they work for "different and better" than their competition. Employees will end up holding each other accountable for doing what they say they will do. I wonder what would have happened has Enron management and employees embraced integrity?

 

  • Engage with employees

Employees model the words and actions of their leaders. That's why it's important for management to share their thoughts and be open to having difficult discussions.  Employees want to know how they are doing. While it's better to focus on leveraging the positives, it's necessary to be honest with employees about where they are not lving up to expectations, pulling their weight, or doing what they say they will do. As such, regular one-on-one is vital to building their integrity.

This goes both ways. In a transparent organization, employees should be encouraged to talk to management about any issues they see out of alignment of living with integrity, without reprisal. This empowers employees and leads to greater innovation and progress.

 

Tags: integrity chain, employee engagement, employee empowerment

Broken Hiring Policies in Technology

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, May, 15, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

This was originally published on the site for my work but was removed over concerns over starting a "flame war." It's a conversation we need to have so I'm sharing on my personal blog. Please keep it civil. Thank you.

 

The Congressional Black Caucus recently visited Apple, PayPal, Twitter, Square and Airbnb to assess whether Silicon Valley was making any progress in becoming more racially diverse. It wasn’t long before the lawmakers discovered that while some of these tech giants had made “small progress,” most had become less diverse over time.

Thanks to Jori Ford, Senior Director of Content, G2 Crowd, a review website for business software and services, for sharing her thoughts with me about inclusion and diversity in the technology industry. Jori, who identifies as black, Korean and LGBT, believes the chief problem is that the tech industry’s hiring practices are broken.

Rather than hiring racially diverse candidates for their skills and experience, tech companies are on a mission to fill empty quotas. But, at G2 Crowd, this isn’t the case, which is one of the key reasons Jori was attracted to the company.

How have broken recruiting and hiring processes led to tokenism (age, race, gender) in tech?

When you think about standard recruiting policies, you see recruiters and HR checking to see if candidates match skills needed. As a candidate you apply, interview, learn whether you’re qualified, and then you’re either selected or you are not.

When you are part of an underrepresented group you already know there’s not going to be a lot of people like you in the process – see Google, PayPal, Uber, and many others. You think you’re a statistic with 90 percent fitting the ideal profile — heavily male, white or Indian.

Unrepresented groups as a whole less than 1% are African American women.

As I ask questions about diversity in interviews, responses have been jarring. Many organizations do not have their own definition of diversity. They’re giving it little to no thought. Transparency in statistics and day-to-day work environments are key.

At G2Crowd, everyone has to take a test and all you have to do was pass. This balances the playing field for everyone.

When you’re not allowed to see who is working at the organization looking for diversity it makes for a walled system. At G2Crowd, is was interviewing in a fully glassed room that allowed me to experience all of the culture around me. The interview is a time when the company is conveying its business to a candidate and the candidate is seeing and evaluating the culture they will be included in. Inclusivity is key to recruiting.

If you don’t see anyone like yourself it makes you wonder if you’ll be accepted by the members of the organization. It’s all about perspective and we each have our own perspective which makes it hard to see outside. It’s hard for me to see where I fit in. Am I welcomed in the space? To get past perspective, there has to be someone you can see, someone you can connect with as an individual.

What’s the solution?

Make sure there is an active pipeline of diverse candidates. Organizations are having difficulty building the pipeline. They need to build the people they want to come and work for them. A lot of people look to incubators, but incubators lack underrepresented groups as well.

I believe it starts as K through 5 STEM programming. The decision doesn’t start in high schools and college. Paige & Paxton elementary STEM curriculum get kids started early before they’re even thinking about college.

Many colleges are funded by larger organizations who say they want diversity but then the lack of diversity is again prevalent.

What are the benefits of having a diverse organization besides being the right thing to do?

Organizations with more diversity have more challenging thoughts and different perspectives that result in more interesting and disruptive strategies to affect the world. Organizations need that thinking in-house before they begin building solutions. Diversity brings different perspectives to the table. You end up with business strategies you wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.

Who’s doing a good job?

G2Crowd is doing well. We have diverse age groups, neutralization of demographic factors through testing that show candidates they are valued for their mind. The interview process is transparent, not judgmental. You interview with a diverse, cross-functional panel of people.

What do minority developers need to keep in mind?

Don’t let statistics deter you. "Token" doesn’t mean what you think. Even though numbers show a sliding scale, people are necessary to make the change. Show your talent and make it known – step into the opportunity. Programmers are taught logic and statistics; however, the math isn’t always the reality, you can shape and mold the reality.

What should organizations that are serious about diversity and inclusion do?

Look at Project Include, they help organizations, and in particular management teams, learn where to start.

Inclusion is not an initiative. Organizations must humanize and see the people beyond the actual brand. It all comes down to people. Let people see the people for who they are and how they look or you won’t have diversity.

It’s about inclusion and people wanting to be someplace where they’re included and their voice is heard.

Tags: transparency, employee engagement, innovation, employee empowerment, total radical transparency

What's Your Story?

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Mar, 28, 2018 @ 09:03 AM

What's your story?

 

Whether you’re a B2B, B2C, or not-for-profit organization, you need a story to help people remember where you came from, what you stand for, and your commitment to providing an outstanding customer experience.

 

People remember stories better than they remember features and benefits, numbers, or product facts.

 

Stories are a great way to add emotion to your brand. Emotion is important since more than 90 percent of the decisions we make have an emotional component to them. Organizations need to consider the feelings they want to evoke in their target personas when developing their brand story.

 

I worked for the largest professional services firm in a large vertical industry. I researched the history of the organization and came up with a powerful two-minute story that would help clients and prospects understand everything the company offered and why.

 

None of the employees wanted to use the company story because they were focused on selling only their particular services. This company suffered through the recession when it could have had a much larger portfolio of business from clients and prospects who understood everything they had to offer and how those other parts of the business could help their company through the recession.

 

I also did work for the largest health insurer in my home state. We created a series of emotionally-driven testimonials that drove down negative perceptions by 39%, increased positive perceptions by 18%, and doubled inbound leads.

 

Stories can be retold by customers and prospects across any media channel. In fact, stories from customers (i.e. testimonials) are more powerful than those told by the company and create a greater emotional connection to the brand.

 

How do you create your brand story? Ask senior members of the organization:

 

  • How did the company get started?

 

  • How has it evolved as the market has evolved?

 

  • How has your brand story evolved with your company?

 

  • What is the company most proud of?

 

  • What’s the most extraordinary customer experience the company has provided?

 

Stories are powerful tools for empowering and engaging employees. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency builds confusion and distrust. Your employees need a compelling story to tell when someone asks who they work for and your employees need to tell the same story regardless of if they’re in sales, finance, or production.

 

Ideally your brand story will communicate the vision, mission, values, and strategic positioning of your company exemplifying what makes you “different and better” in a consistent and compelling way.

 

So, what’s your story?

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, trust, connecting emotionally with customers, vision, mission, values, strategic positioning, brand platform

Online Video Is Growing Quickly, as Is Monetization

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Mar, 23, 2018 @ 08:03 AM

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I enjoyed speaking with P.J. Taei, Founder and CEO of Uscreen, about how they are helping clients monetize their powerful, inspirational, and entertaining videos.

 

As a life-long marketer, I know the power of video to tell stories and create an emotional connection with the viewer.

 

How does Uscreen help its customers sell their videos online? 

 

We provide customers an all-in-one video and monetization platform so they simply upload their videos, set the price, and keep every penny they make. Customers bring us their videos we do the rest!

What are the most important elements to producing a compelling video? 

 

Create an engaging video that provides information of value to the viewer. Identify the problem you can solve for the viewer, how you can make their lives simpler and easier, or entertain them. Be authentic to earn the viewer’s trust. Talk to people as if you were in the same room with them.

 

What video format do you recommend using to provide the best user experience (UX)? 

 

MP4. MPEG-4 Part 14 or MP4 is a digital multimedia container format most commonly used to store video and audio, but it can also be used to store other data such as subtitles and still images. Like most modern container formats, it allows streaming over the Internet. The only official filename extension for MPEG-4 Part 14 files is.mp4. MPEG-4 Part 14 is a standard specified as a part of MPEG-4.

 

 

How has the production and sale of video online changed in the past year or so? 

 

Video production has improved, shooting from smart phones has become even more popular and easier to use and edit.

 

How do you ensure the security of the video once it's posted? 

 

We use security protocols to secure the videos.

 

What are some real-world problems (use cases) you are helping your client solve by selling videos online? 

 

Eliminating the need for multiple systems to do what Uscreen does in an all in one platform.

 

We have more than 1,000 clients, 80% of which are selling video subscriptions for fitness and health, arts and creative, entertainment, training and education, and much more.

 

What are the most common issues you see in the production and sale of online videos? 

 

Customers think they do not have enough content for a subscription but they actually do. As long as you are providing information of value, end users are much less concerned with production values – they want to know the information that’s going to help them learn or solve a problem delivered seamlessly.

 

Do you have any concern over the current state of online videos? 

 

No, its progressing well and customers are adopting it quickly. With the proliferation of media devices and bandwidth, demand for video will continue to grow for the foreseeable futue.

 

What's the future of online video from your perspective? 

 

A lot more monetization, at first videos were free on YouTube, but now customers are willing to pay for anything that makes their lives simpler and easier, and adds value in any way.

 

What have I failed to ask that you think our readers need to know about selling videos online? 

 

With more than 1,000 customers, we are seeing a huge growth in online video monetization, our average customer nets more than $3,000 per month selling videos using our platform.

 

Tags: marketing technology

Energy Management Services in the Age of IoT

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Feb, 23, 2018 @ 08:02 AM

 

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There’s been a lot of news about using IoT devices to reduce costs; however, uptake has been slow due to the expense of implementation and the dearth of data scientists and analysts. There are 14 states, primarily in the Northeast and Atlantic Coast, including Washington D.C. with deregulated electric markets.

 

Energy management has been around as long as deregulation. Small, medium, and large enterprises can benefit from the economies of scale that can be gained by buying energy in bulk across multiple states.

 

If you are buying energy for your business in a deregulated market, an energy management consultant can help you reduce your spend by 20 to 40%. The consultant will begin by obtaining your utility bill and analyzing how to improve the price you are paying. This includes evaluating market conditions, discovering risk tolerance, and determining your real business needs.

 

When energy markets begin trading, your consultant will arrange a competitive auction to determine the most competitive price, the best supplier, and the optimal terms which will result in the best energy solution for your organization.

 

Having worked with hundreds to thousands of clients, energy consultants are able to identify efficiencies that those not dedicated to energy management are aware. You remain active in the energy market determining the best times to buy for the optimal efficiency and cost savings. All of this is tracked versus your budget with ongoing reports of budget versus actual.

 

Taylor Consulting and Contracting have been providing energy management services with impressive results:

  • A collection of Dunkin’ Donut franchises in six states have saved 15 to 20% annually for six years over what they were able to buy electricity for individually.
  • More than 4,000 Boston SMEs have joined Boston Buying Power (BBP) and enjoyed 50% savings during the 2014 polar vortex, and more than 100% versus the market-based price of electricity.
  • Independence Blue Cross of Pennsylvania has saved 50% on their electricity over the past five years since Pennsylvania deregulated electricity.

 

Technology, and data, is enabling companies of all sizes to reduce their energy spend. You don’t have to wait to employ IoT to enjoy the savings.

 

Tags: CX