Book – David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

davidAfter going through a few business titles, this book was a pure pleasure!  It is inspiring and practical at the same time, it is encouraging for all “underdogs” of this world (and this world has more underdogs than Goliaths).  Malcolm Gladwell is a fantastic writer – I love his books and always looking forward to the next 🙂

Underdogs can succeed, but they need to disregard the rules that are setup for those currently in power – by those currently in power – and use their own strengths that elite does not recognize.

The most practical example for managers – we will be more successful hiring an employee from the top of the class of less prestigious school than from the bottom of the class of the prestigious school.  If everything else equal, it will be a more productive (and most likely happier) employee.

Book – The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business

The-advantageOne more wonderful book by Patrick Lencioni…  I might need to check other of his books too 🙂   The main concept of the book is a value of a healthy organization.  “Healthy” organization is not a “smarter” organization; based on the author’s view, many companies are trying to become smarter in expense of their general health, what is not beneficial for their business.

Executive Book Summaries offers an excellent summary of the book.

A couple of concepts were particularly profound, from my perspective:

  • clarityImportance of Clarity.  Starting from “who does what” to the purpose of the organizational existence; from company communications to helping people leave the company if their needs do not match the company’s purpose.

Another interesting point – the company’s purpose (how does the company contributes to the better world) is not a differentiation – it can be similar to other companies of the same type; business differentiation is independent from the purpose.

  • “Most important team” – members of executive team may feel closer to their functional teams, but they need to consider the executive team itself primary and think about this team first.  This approach will reduce fiftoms and attempts to get the most resources for the team a particular executive manages in the expense of the entire organization.

summaryMain points from the summary:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team
  2. Create clarity
    1. Why do we exist?
    2. How do we behave?
    3. What do we do?
    4. How will we succeed? (creation of strategy)
    5. What is the most important right now? (Thematic goal)
    6. Who must do what?
  3. Over-communicate Clarity (cascading communication)
  4. Reinforce Clarity

The book also recommends interesting (and very reasonable) approach to meetings, including a quick 5-10 minutes administrative meeting daily to avoid emails, etc. to resolve quick questions and issues.

The Table Group website offers additional resources.

Book – 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

100-thingsExcellent book!  I would definitely included every marketer into the target audience – as marketers review the design…  and need to understand as much about people (and not only their managers 😉 ) as possible.

I was fortunate to attend one of Susan’s lectures – she is an excellent speaker!

Many of the recommendations are unknown to designers and marketers, but some are completely obvious…  and often ignored 😉

  • If you want users to concentrate on a certain part of the screen, don’t put animation or blinking elements in their peripheral vision
  • 2D importance (maybe recent move to “flat design” can be explain by this phenomenon?)  The eyes communicate what they see to the brain as a 2D object.  3D representations on the screen may actually slow down recognition and comprehension.
  • cupPeople imagine objects tiled and at a slight angle above.  Use this approach for needed icons, etc.
  • Screen reading: after a first glance at a screen, people move in their culture’s normal reading pattern (left to right, right to left, top to bottom).
  • Affordance – a cue on how the object “supposed to work” – pull or push, handles, buttons, etc.  The objects should be easy to see, easy to find, and have clear affordances.
  • Eye-tracking studies can be misleading (they can show what people looked at but not paid attention to).
  • Different cultures (and audiences) can perceive color differently.
    • US: orange makes people agitated, they won’t stay long (fast food restaurant color)
    • US: browns and blues are soothing (color used in bars)
    • However, the color won’t have an effect if the person is looking at a computer screen, the person should be surrounded by color in a room

Below image represents meaning of color in different cultures


  • serifFonts: there is no difference in reading speed, comprehension or preference between serif and sans serif
  • Fonts: if text is hard to read – the difficulty of reading will be transferred to the meaning of the text itself or the process described
  • Fonts: all caps are less prevalent; as a result, people read them not that fast as usual text
  • Fonts: if the font at you web site is very small, and people are squinting and frowning to read it, that may actually prevent them from feeling happy or friendly and that may affect an action you want them to take.  (The act of making physical changes of the face promotes the emotion close to that change).
  • People are able to remember no more than 4 items (7 +-2 is an “urban legend”)
    • It is possible to give people more information if the information is group and chunk
  • People process information better in bite-size chunks.  People will not noticed that they are clicking more (clicking is acceptable).  Think “progressive disclosure,” don’t count clicks.
  • The more uncertain people are, the more they defend their ideas 🙂
  • People use mental models (guess how a tool or device could function) – the mental models are different between different people; it is important to research prevalent mental models of the target audience.
  • Design the conceptual model purposefully.  Don’t let it “bubble up” from the technology.
  • Stories can be inserted anywhere, including company’s annual report (Medtronic does that)
  • People are driven to create categories (starting from about age 7).  If there is a lot of information and it is not in categories, people will feel overwhelmed and try to organize the information on their own.
  • People from different cultures respond differently to images and web site designs. In East Asia people notice and remember the background and context more than people in the West do.
  • Signal Detection Theory: your senses may perceive a stimulus, but that does not mean that you are paying attention to it.  How to use the theory:
    • If false alarm is worse, tone down a system (cancer detection x-ray system can de-emphasize positives, as false positive is worse)
    • If a miss is worse, make the signal stronger (traffic controller interface should assure that all planes as quickly detected as possible
  • People are more motivated as they get closer to the goal:
    • a loyalty card promising a free coffee after 10 purchases will be more effective if it will have 12 boxes and 2 of them already stamped, rather than 10 boxes and none of them stamped
  • People are more motivated to compete when there are fewer competitors; showing more than 10 competitors can dampen the motivation to compete
  • Don’t underestimate the power of watching someone else do something.  If you want to influence someone’s behavior, then show someone else doing the same task.
  • When you are designing a product that has social connections built in or implied, think about where those interactions are for strong or weak ties.
  • People are “programmed” to pay special attention to friends and relatives.  Social media around friends and relatives will be more motivating and gather more loyalty.
  • naturePastoral scenes make people happy 🙂
  • People will do a task rather than be idle, but the task has to be seen as worthwhile.  If people perceive it to be busywork, then they prefer to stay idle.
  • Web site design is important for perception if the site is trustworthy:
    • People make quick decisions about what is not trustworthy.  So they reject a web site first, and then decide after that whether or not to actually trust it.
    • If web site makes it through the first rejection cut, then content and credibility become the determining factors as to whether the person trusts the site.
  • If you are designing an interface where people are planning something in the future (taking a trip, etc.) they will have more positive feelings about the experience the longer you can draw out the planning phase.
  • People want what is familiar when they are sad or scared
    • Messages of fear or loss may be more persuasive if your brand is an established one
    • Messages of fun and happiness may be more persuasive if your brand is a new one
  • People think choice equals control
  • Time v. Money
    • If your audience is influenced by prestige and possessions, mention money
    • Most people most of the time are more influenced by time and experiences that produce a personal connection than money and possessions

Book – Silos, Politics and Turf Wars

silosThe fable format is very enjoyable 🙂  The book is very engaging and thoughtful; it walks the reader (or listener) through more than one organization and offers several “case studies” from different industries.

The most insightful – silos and turf wars definitely can be reduced…  but the unfortunate part, it has to be done on the higher level of the organization and employees can not do much on their own to resolve the issue.

The author suggest an elegant approach for improvement, which is based on the observations that silos and turf wars are less prevalent during the “crisis” situations, when the entire company comes together to achieve one (and rather urgent) goal.

To avoid politics and turf battles, leaders must establish a rallying cry a single overriding theme that remains the top priority of the entire leadership team for a given period of time. In turn, this rallying cry or “thematic goal” serves to align employees throughout the organization and provides an
objective tool for resetting direction when things get out of sync.

roadmapThematic Goal: A single, qualitative focus or rallying cry that is shared by the entire leadership team and ultimately, by the entire organization-and that applies for only a specified period of time.

Defining Objectives: The temporary, qualitative components that serve to clarify exactly what is meant by the Thematic Goal; shared by all members of the team (and usually varying in number from four to six).

Standard Operating Objectives: Other key objectives that an executive team must focus on and monitor. These objectives do not go away from period to period and often include topics such as: revenue, expenses, customer satisfaction, quality etc.

Book – Neuro Web Design

neuroVery interesting book and a pleasure to read.  My guess, the topic of the book is more broad than nuances of human psychology that can be used in web design – it is a wonderful overview of nuances of human psychology that can be used in marketing in general.

A few good points to review:

  • Scarcity implies that the product is more valuable and more desirable
  • If we SEE what we will get, we want it right away, that will speak to the mid brain and encourage us to act
  • People tend to select an most left item on e-comm sites – and then justify the selection in an elaborate way
  • One more reason to use “you” language rather than “we the company” language: it is appealing to the old brain, which is rather self-centered and concerned about danger, sex, and food.  Using the world “you” is an automatic way to grab the attention of the old brain.
  • Attractive images of food will catch attention (I remember pie-chars made in Pizza and chocolate…  now it makes more sense 😉  ).
  • “Because the old brain cares about safety and danger, any pictures or headlines that look or sound frightening will automatically get our attention.”
  • “Surveys can be used not only to gather data from customers, but also to elicit a public statement that will help clinch commitment
  • brainYou are more likely to listen to and buy from someone who is like you and someone you find attractive.
  • “if you site is for particular demographic, make sure that the photos are similar.”
  • Application of loss aversion: show a complete product and offer to remove features (and reduce price), rather than show a basic product and offer to add features (and increase price).  People will not want to “lose” the experience that they already had.
  • “90% chance of success is better than 10% chance of failure”
  • Could be tested: people may be more willing to fill out a form after receiving useful information – reciprocity principle
  • Importance of storytelling.  If someone at work suggested you attend a workshop on how to communicate clearly at work, you might be interested.  But how many of us would scoff if it were suggested that we attend a workshop on storytelling?  🙂

Mobile Twin Cities – PickPointz Sports App Case Study

2020-marketingLoyalty Marketing has been used by marketers widely.  Mobile activities seem to be a useful tool in the loyalty marketer tool kit.

Typically, loyalty marketing is an activity that happens after transaction, and in most cases it is “passive” – mostly in the form of re-ordering.  Mobile can bring “active” loyalty.

“We did not start out to build an app”

Objective: transforming the sports viewing experience.  80% of people multitask while watching TV – loyalty marketing can give people something to do during downtime.

This is the only sports app that gives its users any tangible reward – the “points” can be redeemed for real products right from the app by “purchasing” the products with earned points.

  • pickpointzThere is no cost to play
  • Advertisement is integrated into the app
  • Fantastic ability to serve ads in different formats – generates high number of impressions
  • Animated ads seem to have higher CTR
  • Points are redeemed at the advertiser’s stores accessible directly from the app
  • 75% of people use iPhone
  • Fans stay at the app over 5 hours on Sunday
  • No need to create content – games themselves created content that is used by the users and the app
  • Billions are spent on sports ads – this is another way
  • No need to involve teams and leagues.  Typically, teams and leagues want their own app, and this is not quite the preference of the fans
  • People are using the app because they want rewards 🙂
  • Consumer Surveys receive many responses very quickly as filling out the survey results in earning more points 🙂   One brand survey received over 100% of participation (!!) – as completing it generated points, consumers were happy to do it on more than one device.
  • A user can realistically earn $25 in less than two months

From the loyalty marketing perspective: ideal approach is to create habitual daily activity that is based on something currently present.  To achieve frequency, you must leverage something that the target audience is already doing frequently.  Consumers will come to you if you connect them with their passions.

Many apps used just once…  This app is used very frequently.  However, it is very understandable – how many times will you use an augmented reality app?  Not many…

pp2Activity must be dynamic – consumers bore quickly.  Once logged in, always logged in…

Advertising challenges:

  • Possibility of ads testing is not always used enough…  if the ads are not working, they can be changed.  However, businesses did not always had capacity to produce enough ads and do it quickly.
  • Companies struggle to advertise differently to the mobile consumer.  There is no need to put exactly the same content into all channels – not everything that makes sense on a desktop makes sense on the mobile device.

Very interesting – there is lack of understanding of mobile advertisement and mobile marketing among marketers… In many cases, marketers believed that if the “have an app” – check box is checked and it is all the company needs to do.  Even if the app does not make sense for the business and does not have objectives (or does not achieve them).  There is also a perception that “oh, we spent so much money on that app – we need to make it work…”   Spent money are sank costs, and marketing is very different from app development.

The company, 2020 Marketing, conceived the business idea for the app, but did not build it – building was outsources to a different organization with deep development expertise.

Below is the video used to introduce the app to the consumers.

Mobile Twin Cities – Beyond Mobile

curtCurt gave one of his usually insightful presentations – thank you!!  His presentation took us  to the future – it is not clear how quickly this future will come, but most likely it will still catch up by surprise.

Curt’s main emphasis was on connected devices – not just mobile phone, but mobile device as a part of something else, more physical than virtual.  The presentation is available by texting ROMO to 75309.

I found a few points below particularly interesting.  Maybe it explains why that so much awaited “year of mobile” has not quite come yet…  Mobile is a part of something else, rather than a goal in itself.


One of the most interesting points from the Curt’s presentation is the fact that even if B-to-C devices are expected to popularize the concept, the B-to-B industries will benefit the most.  The ability to adjust lighting and heat remotely in somebody’s home does not have as much value as managing the same aspect of an office center or a shopping mall.


Another interesting point is the expectation of hardware-based revolution.  So far, most of the activities happened in the software engineering.  The next generation of the entrepreneurs could be engineers that create physical devices with the heart of mobile “computer” that is already available, understood, and can be added as a “command center” of the new tool or a toy.

Could it be the step in the direction of “pervasive sensing” and devices that take actions based on the sensor’s data?  Future is always interesting to watch.

A device allowing to evaluate content of the food with a sensor and a mobile phone


A device allowing to detect level of radiation with a sensor and a mobile phone


A “camera ball” – relatively simple device comparing to existing alternatives allowing to view situation in a dangerous or hazardous location


A variation on a “personal drone” with possible uses of photography and geographic explorations


An app for managing home appliances.  It is reasonably useful for individuals, but the industrial version of a piece of equipment (sensor) and an app is much more powerful application of the same idea.


Curt shared an interesting point: 3/4 of people on Black Friday made purchases from the mobile site rather than an app.   My guess, the main conclusion is the flexible state of current consumer/mobile/shopping evolution.

Curt also demonstrated a few interesting mobile approaches, which are fun, useful and innovative.

A useful application of augmented reality


A very interesting visual translation app


“Coin” an electronic container for many credit cards – actually, quite attractive…  when it will be widely used 😉