Book – The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success

This fascinating book explains the “why” behind many intuitive questions we might have about success. All of us observed seemingly strange distribution of the success in different areas of our lives. Now, with the help of data, we can understand the forces behind this phenomenon. We have an advice which can help our products, companies, and even personal endeavors to reach higher potential.

We also have a choice. We can chose industries, projects, and paths where some of the laws are more likely to be effective. Plus, a little encouragement with solid scientific base that our personal innovative abilities do not disappear with time as we grow older.

Blomberg summary provides an excellent outline of the book, including some of the most colorful examples.

Five laws of success:

  1. Performance drives success, but when performance is immeasurable, networks determine success.
  2. Performance is bounded, but success is unbounded.
  3. Fitness x Previous Success = Future Success.
  4. While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive credit for the group’s achievements.
  5. Success can come at any time as long as we are persistent.

The last law is the most encouraging. Even if more “success” in scientific and business world can be “allocated” to young people, it correlates with productivity. Young people are more productive in trying, but a statistical probability that the initiative could become successful is exactly the same. The author’s Ted Talk on the topic articulates the point with lovely humor and impregnable data.

Eric Ries – Long Term Stock Exchange

Lucky to work for Flexport, we can attend interesting industry events right in our office. During one of these sessions Ryan Petersen, Flexport founder and CEO, interviewed one of my favorite authors, Eric Ries.

Eric’s first book, The Lean Startup, found many fans in different areas of the business. I listened to this book more than once after overcoming the idea that insights expressed in the “startup” volume could not possibly be applicable to large international enterprises where I worked. Actually, the insights were universal, and bureaucratic organizations could probably benefit from them more than nimble startups.

Another book, The Startup Way, addressed exactly this question: how to apply the principles of the first book to the enterprise. I listened to this book also a couple of times.

During his recent presentation at Flexport, Eric Ries explained the “evolution” of the adoption of business principles he advocated in The Lean Startup. As his first book gained popularity, he was invited to massive, and sometimes centuries old, enterprises, where he could meet with management and employees. He could observe the challenges these companies faced, which became the basis of his next book, The Startup Way.

Now he was observing the startups he knew, who adopted modern business principle long time ago, growing into slow bureaucratic organizations. Amazingly, this change could creep into companies still lead by the founders, who were puzzled to discover this transformation in their own organizations.

Eric also noticed that one important idea in his first book received very little attention. As “going public” step not only raised needed capital for new organizations but also encouraged short term thinking, the author advocated Long Term Stock Exchange as a possible solution. Few people noticed. Eric started organizing the new type of the stock exchange himself and recently the organization reached an important milestone:

On May 10, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the Long-Term Stock Exchange’s application for registration as a national securities exchange, making the exchange one of only a handful of U.S. exchanges qualified to conduct listings and authorizing the company to operate a platform for buying and selling shares.  (LTSE.com)

This is definitely an interesting development to watch. I am also hoping for another book (or two)!

Book – Radical Candor

This book was not quite what I expected. It is a very practical guide on management, and not only management, but a work life in general. The author emphasizes honest but encouraging feedback, and also understanding the human aspect of management.

One of interesting aspects was a definition of “career trajectory,” which can be different for the same person at different parts of his or her life. Fast career trajectory might be desired when the person is striving for promotion, and slow career trajectory might be perfect at time when other aspects of life become more important, such as family or external interests. Each person might react differently to the same event; one new parent might want to spend more time with the child (shifting to slow career trajectory), and another one might strive for career progression as a means to provide for the needs of a growing family.

Another insight was movement of internal employees to roles, which may not be a good fit, even if the person thinks that this highly desired role might be his or her dream job.

  • One successful manager was pursuing a position, which the book author did not think was a good fit, as it required significant political skill set the individual did not have. The manager got the desired position, fell into a political trap soon after that, and was fired eventually from the organization.
  • Another successful manager was moved into a position, which was more analytical than her preference and interest, did not perform well, and later was reassigned to a more suitable role, where she thrived.

“Radical Candor” site has a wealth of the resources on the topic of management and, simply, our work habitat 😉

ABM Virtual Summit

ABM Virtual Summit was a remarkable experience – a conference, which could be set to auto-play at our leisure with easy access to presentations. Convenient. Simple. Inspiring!

A few interesting notes are below:

  • DemandBase: twice a year SDRs participate in Marketing Innovation Contest. SDRs present ideas on demand generation and how to engage target accounts. Each one present to Marketing and Sales leadership. 2 out of 3 last campaigns DemandBase marketing executed came from the SDR team.
  • Certification of target accounts. DemandBase has an ABM certification, which is used as a marketing tactic. The certification is offered for top target accounts (and valued at about $15,000).
  • Sendoso: can not send gifts to some organizations; this can be replaced with charitable contribution to the charity of their choice
  • How to encourage SFDC upkeep? Each specific entry milestone opens an additional benefit for the rep – an additional DM budget, for example

Interesting: collaboration between marketing and support is increasing. Today only 1/3 or marketing teams suppress messages to customers with open service issues. By 2025 2/3 of brands are expected to have fully integrated marketing and service teams with common metrics, goals, and programs.

Example of a highly beneficial service initiative: Salesforce Trailhead

Introduction of ABM at DocuSign

The initial program focused on Financial Industry and took 3 months to produce (6 months in market). All program materials were new and were created for this initiative.

Program:

  1. Identify priority accounts
  2. Map out the buying team
  3. Create the story
  4. Design the engagement plan (slide below)
  5. Enable sales to win (great example of sales materials in PPT)

Conversational marketing: book and 15 examples of very innovative ways to use Conversational Marketing approach (PPT).

  • One of the session attendees was able to make connection between Drift and Bizible to evaluate effectiveness of Drift as an application
  • The best approach to making conversational marketing effective is to designate an owner of the messages and conversions, similar to assigning ownership to other channels. Interesting: Drift itself started from “everybody doing everything,” which did not generate good results.

Book – The Box

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger is a fascinating book. I read a portion of the book as part of a very enlightening Coursera business class, and now listened to the entire volume after joining a company in the industry.

The most insightful part of the story seems to me not the technical complexity of the containerization, but its societal aspect. Though the advantage of containers was obvious, the new approach threatened established interests at first. Later, however, the popularity of the container moved to another extreme – some cities jumped to invest more resources to improve their ports for container ships, but the ships did not always come.

The success of the container required the technology and people to come together at the point where the technology made sense, process generated clear benefits, and the people involved wanted to change their traditional approach. Everything started from the people 🙂

Webinar Benchmarks – BrightTALK

Every year BrightTALK shares Webinar benchmarks to help marketers evolve their programs. The interest to webinars as a channel is strong, which is reflected in BrightTALK content growth.

One of the most interesting insights BrightTALK shares is the rank of reasons why professionals attend webinars:

and what types of content they find useful:

Interesting: keeping up with industry trends is the top reason to participate in webinars, but tips, tricks and best practices is the most valuable content. The best is probably to share industry trends, and also give advice on how to take advantage of these trends in the most ‘tactical and practical” way.

We know that series of webinars are attractive for webinar attendees and efficient to promote. And again, “tips and tricks” was the most popular choice of content for webinar series.

A few interesting points from the presentation:

  • The content of the webinar (a title and an abstract) are the most important factor in the decision to attend the webinar, however the source of the content and the speaker also play a role.
  • Though use of live video is growing, the event attendees were questioning the ROI on the investment needed to produce a good quality video. A recommendation to experiment with video without a significant investment might solve this problem.
  • Majority of on-demand views occur within 3 weeks after the live event. To extend the value of the webinar, replaying recorded webinars as live events gaining popularity and generates good results.
  • Attendees are not quite “bringing” on webinars as marketers would like to see, but cross-promotion of additional content is beneficial. “On average, 50% of viewers will return to watch another piece of content, and 33% for a third.
  • Best time for a live webinar is 8:00 am local time, but the difference in live attendance during morning hours is not as significant.

As usually, useful content!

MarTech Conference

“Expo+” pass for MarTech conference was quite remarkable! It gave us access to the Expo and one free session of our choice. Thursday Keynote was an excellent choice! 🙂

Scott presented major trends he observes while attempting to maintain the list and classification of marketing technologies.

  • Interesting to see that platform ecosystems allow us to combine “best-of-breed” with platform capabilities. Real Story Group also mentioned that in some cases platform tools are not as well integrated; integrating a different tool might require as much efforts – then… why not chose the best?
  • Blended models of software and service make sense! If the software is powerful, it is fairly complex and requires expert help to generate business benefit as soon as possible.
  • It was a pleasure to know that build vs. buy buttes were over. Now we can have our cake and eat it too with custom apps 🙂

MarTech landscape did not significantly changed. At the same time, the creators of the document we were watching over the years admitted that not all tools were included. (MarTech 2019 with downloadable list)

MarTech tools in local markets/languages? CRM specifically designed for health clubs? And an ability to create “citizen martech” with no coding expertise? Note to self – check https://airtable.com/

Real Story Group gave excellent advice on how to select vendors in the Expo theater:

  • We are at the greater risk of over-buying of technology than buying insufficient technical capacity. Trying to compare features lead to over-buying.
  • We should evaluate usage scenarios which are important for our business.
  • Eco system of the tool is important; particularly user eco-system (user conferences, user events).
  • Never buy technology before trying (I should have asked for clarification – how can you try a tool which needs to integrate with other business systems… before integrating the tool with other business systems, which can be a serious commitment in itself?)

Ann Lewnes made the most profound point during the Fireside Chat: “Customers struggle the most with people and process, not the technology.” Ah, we are human after all… no matter how much we love to talk about AI 🙂