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Sony's underwhelming PS4 announcement suggests there is a right way and a wrong way to do a big product reveal. Here's what not to do.
You know that old saw about any press being good press? That's one cliché you definitely want to throw out.
Sony incurred the wrath of reporters on Wednesday after a particularly underwhelming press conference held to reveal the company's new PS4 gaming console. In the end, the big reveal didn't really happen: More than two hours later, Sony never showed the console itself or released any specs or pricing information.
Want to sink your splashy product demo? Here are four Sony-tested ways to do it.
Drag it out.
Apple gets a lot of praise for its pithy and concise product releases--for good reason. No one likes to sit through a 140-minute pep rally, especially not reporters who are on a tight deadline.
"I'm dying here. Show us the PS4. It's been over an hour," tweeted blogger Stefan Etienne of Laptop Memo from the conference on Wednesday.
Attention spans, historically, have been measured at 20 to 22 minutes--and some research shows that is shrinking, says Dr. Nick Morgan, president of the communications coaching firm Public Words. Ideally, a successful presentation should be between 10 and 20 minutes, Morgan recommends. "Run any longer and you're going to lose your audience," he says.
It is also important to keep your audience in mind. When releasing a product to the press, remember that reporters really just want what you want: to share the news. Every minute that you keep the details from them is another minute that your product is not getting the limelight. So keep it short.
Lose track of the plot.
In their book Writing That Works, ad man Joel Raphaeson and CEO Kenneth Roman write of the most basic rule when organizing a presentation: "Keep things simple--keep them on target." If only Sony had gotten the memo.
"Where is the plot?" queried Gizmodo staff writer Sam Biddle as the conference lapsed into its second hour.
Journalist Matt Lees was quick to respond--in video form--with a dubbed narration of the conference. The video summarizes and pokes fun at Sony's disjointed presentation. It's hilarious. But it also illustrates a valuable point: Overwhelm your audience with too much unnecessary information, and you risk distracting them from your actual product.
"Every audience comes into a presentation with one question in mind: Why?" Morgan says. "Why should I pay attention?" If you don't answer that question, he warns, your audience will quickly grow bored, turning their attention to other subjects. And in the case of journalists, public criticism.
Fail to include details.
Perhaps most frustrating of all for reporters, Sony failed to show any actual images--no photos, no prototypes--of the much-anticipated PS4 console. The company also neglected to include key technical specs, and a price tag for the console. Coupled with a long wait and incoherent message, this did not go over well.
According to Morgan, if you can successfully answer the question "Why should I care?" your audience will then want to know "How?" How can they get this product? How much will it cost? How does it work? Failing to answer these questions will leave an audience frustrated and unsatisfied.
"If you're okay with not being shown a PS4 at a PS4 event and not learning about PS4 specs, I don’t know what to tell you," tweeted Chris Ziegler, Senior Editor at The Verge, of his frustration.
"WHY WERE WE WATCHING THAT?" seconded Veronica Belmont, host of the weekly podcast Tekzilla.
Over-build the hype.
Usually, building hype is a good thing. Anticipation and excitement can result in a great product release. But build the hype up too much--then fail to deliver--and the audience's disappointment may counteract all of your PR team's hard work.
Furthermore, racing a competitor like Microsoft to the product release--as some have accused Sony of doing with the PS4--creates an element of risk.
“Microsoft now has the advantage of being able to react and respond,” says strategic innovation consultant Scott Steinberg of TechSavvy. If Microsoft can come out with hardware that is even better or further along than the PS4, Sony’s early momentum will be quickly halted, Steinberg explains.
In other words, Microsoft may now be able exploit weaknesses in Sony’s product, and play more successfully to a disillusioned press.
CITEWorld's editorial director, Matt Rosoff, summed up the media's negative sentiments in a tweet following Sony's announcement: "What you just witnessed was Microsoft winning the console wars once and for all." Ouch.
My company, Greatist, is the fastest growing health-and-wellness site on the Web. We wouldn't have that label without these tricks for using Pinterest.
Greatist, the website and company I founded, has been the fastest-growing health and wellness site on the Web since November of 2011--and that's thanks in no small part to our presence on Pinterest.
The super-popular pinboard site continues to be our No. 1 traffic referrer (to the tune of a whopping 30 to 40 percent of our total traffic). With more than three million unique visitors per month, we're working to build a trusted brand in our space--and we couldn't have gotten where we are today without Pinterest.
But, as many brands have already discovered, it's not just about sharing photos and waiting. Through much trial and error, we at Greatist have identified 10 Pinterest strategies that yield the best results:
1. Use Pinterest yourself.
Brands on Pinterest are no different from regular users--everything works exactly the same. Getting a sense for how people really use it is key--as with any social platform, familiarity is uber-important before wading into the dangerous waters of self-promotion. Reading articles (like this one) isn't enough!
2. Get great visuals.
Visuals are key because, well, there needs to be something worth pinning (and re-pinning and re-pinning) in the first place. When we decided to go all-in on Pinterest, step one was to go on a "find every awesome contributing photographer and illustrator possible" spree. We wanted not just good visuals, but the best--and now almost all of our content has original photography or illustrations (see our healthy recipes for example). Plus, each article has what we call a "header image" of some sort, one purposefully Pinterest-worthy and unique.
3. Follow small brands.
We'll get to the big brands in a second, but it's the small ones that will collectively move the needle for you. Brands see who is re-pinning, commenting, and liking their pins. So do those things--and they'll pay them back in dividends.
4. Befriend power users.
You don't need celebrities to succeed in social media. You need to re-think how you define "celebrity." On Pinterest, it's owners of Pinterest boards with over 10,000 followers. Making friends with them is easier than you'd think--most have their Twitter handles, blogs and other links readily accessible in their profile. Reach out to them, be friendly, and start cross-promoting.
5. Cozy up to big brands by showing off your content.
Most big, well-known brands suck at Pinterest. They may have a solid following, but they're still trying to figure it out. You can help them. If you're consistently sharing awesome visuals that lead to high-quality content on a topic that's relevant to their audience, they'll re-pin your stuff over and over again. Every major brand in the space has shared Greatist's stuff--because it's good and because, well, they need good stuff to share! Make it easy for them (then grab some of their audience members who are still just figuring out this Pinterest thing, too).
6. Put the article title in the description first.
The toughest challenge on Pinterest is getting a user to click on the pin instead of simply sharing it. It's easy to get frustrated when a lot of sharing is happening, but nobody is clicking through. The question to ask, then, is: "Did they know to click in the first place?" Make sure the description of your pin is crystal clear--and mentions what it's leading to.
7. Put the article title on the image.
Early on in our Pinterest experiments, we came up with a surefire way to make sure the pin descriptions didn't get overlooked: literally add the title into the "header image." (For example: 30 other satisfying 100-calorie snacks.) I'm pretty sure we were among the first on Pinterest to start doing this. Sure, it's difficult to do in a way that's visually appealing, but the truth is, it works. Almost all of our top traffic-driving pieces of content on Pinterest fall into this category.
8. Organize your pinboards.
Believe it or not, users may not want to follow every topic or category you cover (celebrity news and horse grooming, really?). Let them pick and choose. Don't have too many of them, either--if a user has to scroll to see more boards, they likely won't. Focus on well-curated boards with defined categories.
9. Name your pinboards wisely.
Don't over-complicate your pinboard names with clever names (e.g. "Happy Hollandaise!"). We made this mistake early--and the good news is it's easy to fix. Pinterest users make a split-second decision to follow or not follow...and then never return. That said, I wouldn't recommend going too generic either (e.g. "Food"). Somewhere in the middle is probably best, like "Snack Smart."
10. Optimize your pin's size.
Pinterest automatically resizes images into its pinboard grid, and rectangular images get it the worst. We've found that, for the most part, the longer the visual, the more re-pins--and it's probably because vertical pins are more prominent in the feed.
Derek Flanzraich is the founder and CEO of Greatist, a health and fitness media startup on a mission to make better choices easier for everyone. He loves theme parks, theme bars, and helping people. Follow him @thederek.
As part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, two tax credits popular among start-ups were retroactively extended through 2013. Don't miss out.
While you're probably still smarting from the increased individual tax rates you'll soon be paying as a result of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, there was a small win for entrepreneurs when the most popular tax credits for start-ups were extended as part of the bill.
In a rush to get the 'fiscal cliff' legislation passed, Congress was able to slip in the extension of two of the most favorable tax credits available to entrepreneurial companies. The research tax credit and the work opportunity tax credit, or WOTC. Both credits expired as of December 31, 2011, but were extended retroactively and through December 31, 2013 when Congress passed the fiscal cliff legislation and the president signed the act in January.
The Research Tax Credit
The research credit provides a federal tax credit to companies undertaking research to develop new or improved products, processes, or technologies. Eligible activities can include: development of next-generation products, technologies, or manufacturing processes (environmental or 'green' technologies included) as well as functional improvements in existing products, technologies, or manufacturing processes. They also include conceptual research for new technology, outside contract research, and reengineering projects.
The amount of a company's research credit will depend on its research spending history and profile as well as the calculation method used to determine the benefit. Under the formulas provided, the potential research credit can be as high as 6.5 percent to 7.8 percent of a company's qualified research expenses, with state tax credits often accruing a significant benefit too.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit
The work opportunity credit gives a federal tax credit to employers who hire from certain targeted groups including food stamp recipients, qualified veterans, and designated community residents. On average, companies are finding that 15 percent to 25 percent of new hires are eligible for one of the WOTC target groups. For most of these groups, the WOTC credit is up to $2,400 per qualified employee in the first year of employment. The qualified veterans' programs offers employers a tax credit up to $9,600 in the first year. Recipients of long term family assistance generate a credit during the first two years of employment, with a total credit up to $9,000 per qualified employee.
You should take advantage of these two popular credits now available to minimize your overall tax burden.
In an exclusive Inc. video interview, Sir Richard discusses his management style and the part of it that people imitate the most.
00:12 Eric Schurenberg: A lot of founders have a hard time pulling away from their businesses, one of the hardest things about growing in a company. How did you master that and become what most people would agree is a real master in delegation?
00:26 Richard Branson: I think the best bit of advice I've been able to give people and the most "thank you's" I've had a few years later is to say to young entrepreneurs, "Early on in your career find somebody better than yourself to run the business on a day-to-day basis. Remove yourself from all... Maybe even from the building, but remove yourself from all the day-to-day nitty gritty. And in that way, you're gonna be able to deal with the bigger picture, you're gonna be able to become an entrepreneur and think about new areas to go into. You're gonna be able to have a family life, you're gonna be able to see your children." And, fortunately I've learned that because from a quite early stage in my life I was inquisitive and I was... Going from running a record company to building recording studios to building record shops to building a merchandising company to merchandise the products to building phone companies and so on. So, it was forced upon me but it was, but it was the right thing. And so, what I realized from that is you can oversee 300 or 400 companies, around the world. And in some ways it is easier today for me to oversee a few hundred companies than it was when I was hands on, running a business by itself, having to deal with all the nitty gritty... All the nitty gritty of it. So, learning the art of delegation is an absolute key, I think.
02:17 Schurenberg: You've talked about moving out of the office. It worked for you. You've worked remotely from the very early days of Virgin. Will it work for other people?
02:27 Branson: Absolutely. I mean I think, people always want to see the top person in the office. And so, if you remain in the office and you've delegated, you'll never properly delegate. People will be offended if they can't see the Editor-in... The Editor-in-Chief. But if you can give somebody else a good title like Editor, and not Editor-in-Chief, and you're not actually in the office, they'll be happy to deal with all their issues with the Editor. And then as Editor-in-Chief, you can think about the bigger pitches and you've got that time to spend doing the things that really, really matter.
Today faith only goes so far. Earning trust is the sure path to success. Brian Halligan, CEO Of HubSpot, shares five tips for building trust fast.
All collaboration is built on trust. Whether making sales, building a team, or managing people, without trust productivity falls apart. Often, you'll take action, requiring trust even before it's earned or secured. You might have to buy, transact, hire, or participate, not on trust but on blind faith...at least until that trust is confirmed, or broken.
Best-selling author and HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan knows a lot about building trust fast. With Halligan's company adding nearly a person a day, and growing at a screaming 82 percent annually, he has to build trust among his partners, employees, managers, and customers quickly and efficiently. Without trust, HubSpot, the leader in inbound marketing software, would waste valuable resources on politics and concern.
Together, Halligan and I identified key trust-building insights from HubSpot practices. Whether you are a CEO, salesperson, manager, or team member, we're sure these five tips will help you build trust today:1. Be Transparent and Consistent
Inspired by the book The Cluetrain Manifesto, Halligan and co-founder Dharmesh Shah dedicated the company to open book management and transparency. Nearly every aspect of financials is shared with employees, investors, and customers alike. As a private company, they're not required to publish financials, but they do. In fact, they're publicly releasing 2012 annual numbers today, which you can see right here. Regular communication is encouraged in an open environment with few walls, and no offices, allowing for constant interaction. No question is off limits at HubSpot company meetings. Everyone's trusted with sensitive information and expected to capitalize on their inclusion by driving the company forward.
Lesson: Share information openly and regularly so people can use it to help. Otherwise they'll assume you're definitely hiding something.2. Tell True and Relevant Stories
When you meet people, you fill in your own story about them until truth is provided. They, of course, do the same about you. People use often-wrong stereotypes and archetypes to gain much-desired context quickly. HubSpot counteracts this with constant storytelling within the company. In today's meme-dominated world, broadcasting your own real stories of hardship, achievement, success, and failure are important to show patterns of true behavior amongst management, employees, and customers. Co-founder Shah says, "Whether it's right, wrong, or different, it is. And all of us need to be acutely aware of what's going on in our business and be able to talk candidly about our company narrative." Halligan himself takes employees on off-site "Story Walks" to give them insight to HubSpot thinking and culture.
Lesson: Share stories that define how you have dealt with tough situations so people can understand and appreciate your character.3. Celebrate Individualism
People want to stay in their own comfort zone. Buyers, employees, and managers want to adapt as little as possible when engaging in something new. HubSpot purposefully highlights individual traits among their people. They make the point very quickly that their solutions are adaptable to the way you do business. Internally, they emphasize that people have individual personalities and all are accepted. They often host "Lunch Roulette" where all employees, including senior management, submit their names and are randomly picked to have a company-paid lunch with other HubSpot employees.
Lesson: Let people see who you really are and readily accept them for who they are. Authenticity is the shortest path to trust and the surest way to keep it.4. Give People a Preview
Uncertainty makes people uncomfortable and drives distrust. People automatically fill in the worst when there are gaps in the upcoming story. The drama of surprise can be fun, but not when stakes are high and people are making critical decisions. Earn trust by giving information as it comes in even when it's unfavorable. People handle the truth better than optimistic projections that don't come true. Halligan not only informs about the present, but shares his intended future tempered with realities of the journey. This way he inspires his team, solicits valuable feedback, and also prepares them for road bumps ahead. Painting a positive but realistic vision lets HubSpot constituents dream and execute with excitement and confidence.
Lesson: Share where you are going and why. Manage expectations about the journey so fear is minimized and participants can help.5. Prioritize Safe Authority
Trust doesn't exist at the outset because people need to prove themselves trustworthy. Noted credibility and references help, but until people show trust in action you're flying on faith that they will perform as expected. Give people a chance to try something and succeed early. HubSpot does this immediately by letting people determine their own vacations. Seriously, there is no formal policy or guidelines. Employees are told on day one to "Use good judgment" and then given the authority to design when, where, and how long, to optimize for productivity and lifestyle.
Lesson: Give away authority early, in ways that position people to succeed. They will then trust themselves first, opening them to trust you as an ally in their journey.
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Offer expertise and knowledge to help customers--don't just sell to them.
Content marketing seems to be all the rage right now, right? But as it turns out, businesses have been using content to give customer-value for over a hundred years. Here's a great example, if you're a Jell-O fan, in 1904 Jell-O door-to-door salesmen would give out their cookbook for free. Jell-O's sales rose like crazy in just a few years. True story.
At my company, VerticalResponse, we have a content marketing team that produces the lion's share of our content whether it be our blog, webinars, free guides or videos that we produce that help small businesses grow. That's cool, but we also have every member of our marketing team, as well as folks from every part of the company contributing. By making content not just a function of one group, or of just the marketing department, we ensure the entire company is lending their expertise and knowledge to help customers, not just to sell to our customers.1. The Master of Your Domain
What a great Seinfeld episode! But seriously, you and your staff are the masters at what you do, so you should write about it, post it to your social networks, make a PDF that prospects and customers can download and share it with fellow bloggers.
At VR, our domain expert for email deliverability, Kirill, has a depth of knowledge about the ins and outs of how we get email to the inbox second to none. By sharing a blog about the latest developments, he helps our customers have the most up-to-date information so they can create emails that get delivered to inboxes. A win-win.2. Great Stories From a Conference
If you have anyone on your staff attend a conference or event for employee development, it should be one of their tasks to write down what they learn and publish it to social media or your blog. There's not a better way to show your customers you're up on the latest and greatest on their behalf.
And, whenever someone on our staff attends a conference (Check out what I've published attending the amazing Inc.com conference) we make sure they write about what they've learned through the filter of a small business owner. We include takeaways that apply to our customers. That way, we pay the big bucks to attend events that they might not have the time or money to, and they reap the benefits through our content.3. Customer Service is Your Ultimate Content Treasure!
If you've got a ton of calls or emails asking the same types of questions over and over, you can craft a great piece of content that answers the questions quickly! At the end of each week, ask your team members what the top 5 "hot buttons" were from the calls and questions they received. Tabulate and answer them in multiple formats: post a blog, send an email marketing campaign and post it to social networks.
Another bonus? We've found that many of the folks that work here at VerticalResponse have personal blogs and are talented writers. While it might not be in their specific job description to contribute content, we've found many of them have actually asked to write for us. How cool is that? When your company is creating useful content in service of your customers, everyone benefits--your company, your employees, and your customers.
Now that's what I call content for the win! How are you using content for your biz?
A bachelor's degree is now required for jobs that used to be held by high school grads. Could this actually hurt your business?
There's an idea that the person with a degree is "better" than a person without one. Indeed, The New York Times recently reported on the relatively new phenomenon of companies hiring people with college degrees for jobs that historically didn't require college degrees. Are you doing this in your business?
If so, I have to ask, better for what? Yes, having a four year degree does show a degree of dedication. You have to pick a major, take class after class, write paper after paper and work on dreaded group projects. (Which, in my humble opinion, should be banished off the face of the educational earth unless the professor is willing to act as a proper manager, which most are not.) But, anyway, in theory you learn some things and you demonstrate that you have stick-to-itiveness. This is worth something.
But what? You also have to assume that no one enrolled in college, shelled out fantastic amounts of tuition and studied for hours to memorize the philosophies of 40 different dead people with ambitions of becoming an administrative assistant. No, they had other goals.
So, why are you looking for an administrative assistant among college graduates? This is a challenging role that is best filled by someone who wants that role. That is, someone who is not just biding time while waiting for an analyst spot to open up, or who is trying to earn money before gong to law school. What you want is an expert administrative assistant (who are hard to come by, by the way, which may explain why people are settling--yes settling--for degree holders to do the job).
Now, part of the problem is that hiring managers feel that students with high school diplomas are not as educated as they should be and, are not capable of performing these jobs. They need the maturity and extra knowledge that a four year degree brings. Which means that jobs that used to be reserved for the holder of a bachelor's degree are now given to those with a master's degree. So, in order to get the good job, you now have to shell out more money and spend more time in school.
Are you really getting higher quality employees this way? Or just more educated ones? Is your turnover at an acceptable level, or are you losing people quickly when they land something more in line with why they went to college in the first place? Granted, if you run an accounting firm and need people with CPA certifications, you need to find someone who has the degree and has passed the exam. If you need an engineer, it's likely you won't find someone who can do the work without the degree. (But you might!)
It's very easy to add a degree requirement to a job description, but stop and ask yourself it it's really necessary. And if it is, what degree is necessary? A bachelor's in a specific subject? Or are you only looking for someone who has completed a program--anything from a degree in animal husbandry to zoology will be fine? Does the work require someone with a master's degree? Why? What additional skills did this person gain in this second degree that will help your business?
You should always look to hire the best person for the job. And that may not always mean the person with the most letters after his name. It means hiring the person who is most likely to excel in that job. If possible, you want to hire someone who would be better at that job than you would, yourself. That's why you're hiring someone and not just taking the tasks on yourself.
So when you write that job description, think about the skills needed. Don't give into the trap of only hiring people with certain degrees. It takes longer, of course, to find the best person and not just the person that some university has stamped as acceptable. And, I'm certainly not advising you to not hire people with degrees. Just that you hire the right person, not the right degree.
Adopting a more vibrant approach to teamwork can improve the flow and performance of your organization.
During a year on assignment in London in the early 2000s, I (Bill) took the opportunity to watch a lot of soccer. I learned a lot not just about soccer, but about business as well.
My recollection is that Manchester United, with David Beckham on offense, would seem to sit back on defense for the first half and go to halftime with a 0-0 score. They would then turn up the juice in the second half, just long enough to score a goal in roughly the 60th minute, then sit back on defense again and run out the clock. Every week it seemed like Man U would win 1-0 playing a methodical, plodding, precise game that took them all the way to the top of the tables.
It was very successful for Beckham and crew, but boring to watch! In international competition, England largely seemed to play the same style.
This style of play would have turned me off soccer entirely, but I also happened to watch a few Brazil matches. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho were at the top of their games, and Brazil played a much more vibrant, flowing, colorful style than England. Watching their teamwork, I understood why soccer is called The Beautiful Game. The Brazilians did not just want to win; they wanted to win beautifully.
One of Avondale's core values is our desire to play the business equivalent of The Beautiful Game. We also call this "flow," and break it down as follows:
- We value diverse and complementary skills
- We make our whole greater than the sum of our parts
- We trust each other and always have each other's back
- We share and accept constructive feedback based on mutual respect
- We value constructive conflict
- We find our roles and our "awesome"
When we are playing our version of the Beautiful Game, we know each other's moves and thoughts inside and out, so much so that we can almost complete each other's sentences. We anticipate each other's needs and are always "at the spot" when the ball gets passed between us. Each person delivers their individual "awesome" and the collective result can be amazing.
We do not always achieve The Beautiful Game in our day-to-day activities, but that's okay. As we "play" more together and build a more cohesive team, we find Flow comes more easily to us.
So how can you and your team learn to play the Beautiful Game? Here are six tips:
1. Trust and mutual respect are key to achieving Flow. In a highly functioning team, each person understands their role and how all the roles are vital to the final product we deliver. We cannot deliver more than the sum of our parts without trust.
2. Build a foundation for this mutual respect by hiring team members who work well with others and are both trusting and trustworthy. Prima donnas need not apply!
3. Find core pairings within your teams that work well. Two folks who like each other, enjoy working with each other and have complementary skills can often deliver great results. They can form the nucleus of a team with Flow.
4. Reward your team members at least in part based not on their individual contributions, but on how they made the team more productive and cohesive.
5. Continually recognize the teams (and team members) who deliver a great, well-rounded team result.
6. Don't be satisfied when you win in business. Winning is not good enough; aim to win beautifully!
Does your team play The Beautiful Game? Please share your thoughts with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEO David Farr was taken to task last week for his use of four-letter words. What does your choice to profane or not profane say to your audience?
Emerson Electric CEO David Farr grabbed headlines this week with a profanity-riddled outburst before a group of analysts and investors in which he insisted, among other things, that the company is "not a g—d--- one trick pony."
It wasn’t the first time Farr had to put a quarter in the proverbial corporate swear jar, and he’s not alone in his preference for profanity. In fact, at least one study has shown that swearing among staff members can actually create a bond.
The study, from the University of East Anglia, based in Norwich, England, indicated some more potential benefits. From the Inc. story:Swearing can help develop and maintain solidarity among workers, as well as relieve stress, according to the study. "Employees use swearing on a continuous basis, but not necessarily in a negative, abusive manner," said Yehuda Baruch, a professor at the university's Norwich Business School and one of the directors of the study. Baruch was particularly interested in the findings from a management perspective. "We hope that this study will serve not only to acknowledge the part that swearing plays in our work and our lives, but also to indicate that leaders sometimes need to think differently and be open to intriguing ideas," Baruch said.
But if you decide to embrace the expletives, there are certainly some pitfalls you need to know.
“The problem with passion is that is that it’s not put in a cute little box and made comfortable for everybody. Passion is subjective—one person’s passion is another person’s crazy,” said Scott Stratten, business author and social media marketing expert.
“When leadership is [swearing] in public it’s a sign of immaturity,” said New York-based communications expert McAdory Lipscomb Jr., who coaches business leaders in public speaking. “If you revert to more basic, four-letter language it puts a question mark to what other things you’re being immature about in running your company."
Lipscomb said he’s even been approached by investor relations professionals to help rehabilitate CEOs with a penchat for profanity.
Both Lipscomb and Stratten stress that it’s important not to eliminate personality from CEO communications, especially when some of those leadership quirks can be what characterizes an environment that attracts employees. Still, managers need to inspire confidence through their behavior.
Forget cramming to learn your new industry inside and out. When you're starting up, ignorance makes you more creative, unique, and effective.
Maybe ignorance really is bliss. I talk with entrepreneurs all the time who started their businesses without a real understanding of what they were getting into. It sounds crazy, but I actually think it may have been their single greatest asset.
Here's why it pays to know as little as possible.
You're willing to take bigger risks, with bigger rewards.
A little knowledge can make you cautious--and hold you back. So often we're told that something isn't possible, that we won't be successful or that our venture won't work because others have failed. That's daunting. When you go into something new without lots of knowledge about who was there before, you aren't held back by the way it was approached before--by the standard way of doing things. That opens you up to greater possibilities.
When I first started User Insight, many in the research space told me that you "couldn't sell fixed price research and there was no way to turn it into a process"--that it was too risky to approach research that way. But I did it anyway. I turned research into a repeatable process, enabling my company to bid business on a fixed price basis anywhere in the world.
You bring fresh eyes.
If you have no experience in a space, you create new approaches to a problem that others might not have considered. You may bring something from another industry or experience to your current situation that is more appropriate.
I listened a group of entrepreneurs speak at a panel discussion the other night--one of them shared the experience of bringing a product to market. She recalled the moment when she was on the verge of signing off on the purchase of several hundred thousand dollars worth of molds for a bottle to hold the product.
First, she decided to bring everyone involved in the product's manufacturing process into one room and have them talk her through it, from inception to delivery in the consumer's hands. During this meeting, where she openly admitted to being the least knowledgeable person in the room, they identified several breakpoints in the process that would require major modifications to the molds she was ordering. This half-day meeting saved her start-up hundreds of thousands of dollars in mistakes.
The amazing thing--these industry experts, each with about 25 years of experience, said it was the first such meeting they had ever attended that took such a holistic look at the process for a product. All because she was ignorant.
You ask stupid questions.
Entrepreneurs who are new to a space ask questions to try to understand it. By having this outsider view, they can see gaps and opportunities others "on the inside" don't see. As newbies, they have permission to ask questions like "why do you do it that way?" and, "have you ever thought of doing it this way?"
If you have a staff, encourage them to ask the stupid questions when they first start with your company. If the person answering the question can't provide a solid answer with a specific reason, something might be broken: It might be a process or procedure to reconsider. Those so-called stupid questions may end up lending you the unique opportunity to be creative and solve a problem in a new and market-changing way.
The runways in New York, Paris, and Milan may get all the attention, but most of the industry's business happens at a different event.
Fashion Weeks tends to get all the attention, but this week's MAGIC Market Week has a much greater impact on the fashion business, on what consumers will buy next season--and on the growing trend of the democratization of fashion.
Here's another in my series where I pick a topic and connect with someone a lot smarter than me. (There's a list of previous installments at the end of this article.)
This time I talked with Tom Florio, the CEO of Advanstar Fashion Group. Prior to that Tom was the senior VP and publishing director of Condé Nast, the VP and publisher of GQ, and the VP and publishing director of Vogue.
So yeah, he knows a little about the fashion industry.
The average person--me definitely included--thinks New York, Paris, Milan, etc. are the key drivers of the fashion industry.
Fashion Weeks do get a lot of press, and rightfully so, but with roughly 3,700 brands and 35,000 buyers in attendance--including 85 percent of the top retailers--more business is done at MAGIC Market Week than at any other fashion event.
Say you're an independent retailer and you want to take a buying trip. Traveling to see vendors in the U.S. and Europe would take weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Here, in three days, you can spend a lot more time with a lot more brands in a highly curated way.
We've built the event around the needs of buyers and in the process created an outstanding event for designers as well.
MAGIC also drives a lot of collaboration between designers and retailers.
We're especially proud of that. In the past collaborations tended to be driven by large retailers, like Lagerfeld with H&M or Isaac Mizrahi with Target. THE TENTS makes it possible for designers to build their own collaborations with a much broader range of buyers.
That brings up an interesting point. How does a brand stay "upscale" while going "down market?" (My words, not yours.) Certainly a move like that opens a brand up to a much broader audience and larger opportunities, but what about backlash from the higher-end customers?
That question is not as relevant as it was 10 years ago. It's no longer about elitism. Popular price is the new classification. It's no longer mass vs. luxury. Popularly priced products that are well designed not only attract their target audience, they reach a much broader audience. Popular price and great design matters--not perceived value or "status."
If a designer or a brand does not want to move into a popular price space, they will have to deliver tangible product benefits that exceed the value of lower price and that can be tough to do.
For example, take Target's collaboration with Missoni. It sold out and was incredibly successful. Not only did it sell to the traditional Target customer, it sold to people who would normally buy designer clothing--because it was well made, popularly priced, and fun.
The collaboration brought a whole new customer to Target. I was in a Target in Pennsylvania and saw Missoni in Aisle 3 and lawn mowers in Aisle 7. I think that's great. Well-designed products at popular prices can transcend old-school paradigms about status or "luxury."
Then that means brands don't have to identify a customer niche and fight to stay there.
Take Tory Burch: luxury, contemporary, but really it's designed for someone who's not buying designer goods. It's that place before designer--but really nicely made and great looking--for a professional, cool, contemporary young woman with her own point of view.
Because of that, the designer customer dips down into Tory and the broader customer comes up to Tory.
The combination of well-designed and popular price can transcend a core audience and deliver value to a much broader customer base.
Speaking of transcending, you've also launched an online buying platform. But doesn't that take away from the "event" aspect of what you do?
We see ShopTheFloor as a necessity. Not to be critical or too obvious, but sites like Craigslist and daily deal sites have almost put newspapers out of business. Think if newspapers had embraced online classifieds and coupons first.
Technology creates greater access, shorter supply chains, and global sourcing, so for us it's a natural extension. What we do is offer buyers and sellers the opportunity to come together and do business, in person and now on ShopTheFloor. Plus it allows buyers to literally shop the floor before they come to the event.
For brands it creates what is literally the largest social network for fashion in the digital space. We're launching with 4,000 products and 60,000 buyers. Online enhances the buying and selling experience and helps both sides develop stronger relationships.
The goal is to reinvent the trade show space, both in person and in a multi-channel way, and to extend the buying season through the entire cycle.
Fashion shows are a great way to spot new trends; what do you see on the fashion and retail horizon?
What's most interesting is the move towards what I call the democratization of fashion. We've gone from a world where it was all about designers and the high end to collaborations and partnerships that would have never existed 10 years ago. Now we see high-end, well-designed products in mass market distribution channels.
Baby boomers were more willing to pay a premium for perceived product benefits; today's consumer wants functionality and a solid price-value relationship. They live in a world that is more social and more about inclusion, not exclusion.
That will continue to have a tremendous impact on the fashion space and on business in general.
Check out other articles in this series:
- Is it better to train or hire great talent?
- The keys to maximizing your return on sponsoring events
- The ins and outs of franchising with Noodles CEO Kevin Reddy
- How Ashley Madison's founder built a business everyone loves to hate
- Julia Allison on building a great personal brand
- Eric Ripert on how to build a classic brand
The catchphrase 'hire slow, fire fast' is popular in the start-up community, but is it actually good advice? Depends on what you mean by hire slow.
Getting rid of subpar performers quickly is indeed a great idea, he acknowledges, but for start-ups, 'hire slow' is unworkable advice. He writes:
No matter how you spin it, as a startup we have between 6 and 12 months to live… For an early-stage startup founder, doing anything slowly is simply not an option… You should, however, identify the key roles you absolutely need filled for successful product iteration and then hire great people to fill them fast. Too much wringing of hands and holding out for the perfect hire for a role is just as devastating as hiring the wrong person--potentially even more so.
Don't bloat your staff, Boice concludes, but don't even dream of being a hiring perfectionist. But is that what 'hire slow' really means? If a recent post by Matthew Stibbe, the founder of Turbine, is any thing to go by, Boice may have missed the essential point some folks are trying to make when they advise founders to 'hire slow'.
In his post, Stibbe lays out eight lessons of project management that he's learned through hard experience. Among them is exactly the expression Boice so dislikes. But when Stibbe lays out what he means by 'hire slow, fire fast,' the idea doesn't sound much like the heel-dragging hiring philosophy that annoys Boice:
My first boss advised me not hire one person until I needed two of them. I ignored that advice at IG and probably hired too many people too quickly. Some were amazing but a few were amazingly awful. My experience was that the handful of underperforming staff took up more time and energy than the vast majority of good people. The big lesson is to spend more time developing the good people than correcting the bad ones. If necessary, this means firing poor performers who can’t or won’t improve.
In my case, after I sold the games company, I kept things small using contractors, freelancers, and outsourcing and only recently have I begun to hire full-time employees again. I’ve made more money, and I’ve been far happier with the new, slow-but-steady approach. My first boss was right.
Rather than suggesting start-up founders wait around twiddling their thumbs for the perfect hire, Stibbe's 'hire slow' sounds more like an exhortation to get creative to avoid dragging down your team with permanent but middling staff. It's less 'hold out for perfection' and more 'work smarter, use independent pros, and develop the people you already have' so you can avoid saddling your company with less than stellar talent.
It's not that Boice's point that perfectionism in hiring is counterproductive is wrong. "Too much wringing of hands and holding out for the perfect hire for a role" does indeed sound "as devastating as hiring the wrong person," just as he writes. But this advice kind of misses the point—at least the point made by Stibbe, who definitely isn't advocating sitting around waiting for perfection.
What's your take – is 'hire slow' good advice, and if so, what exactly do you mean by that?
The pros and cons of paying for a promoted spot on Twitter.
Lori Senecal, chairman-CEO of KBS+ advertising agency, grew her Twitter followers the old-fashioned way for nearly four years, earning 1,500 devotees tweet by tweet, as she wrote in a recent post on Ad Age. But on a recent Friday night, she shelved her slow-and-steady strategy and laid out $217 to put Twitter’s Promoted Accounts to the test.
During her test, Senecal said she added 217 followers to her personal Twitter account in one weekend. Her page garnered 45,000 total impressions, and she said she was pleased with the quality of users who followed her.
But what about the long game? She said the followers she picked up are still engaged and following her profile.
For a business, though, Senecal told Inc. the best way to measure the ROI of Promoted Accounts depends on how the company follows up, not on whom the new followers are or how much they interact with you.
“You have to have the time to cultivate those relationships going forward,” she said. “It’s one thing to garner an audience, but if you don’t continue to engage that audience and return the value equation by giving them some reciprocal value, then you won’t be able to hold on to that audience, so the return on investment wouldn’t be strong eough.”
Promoted material, introduced in 2010, allow users to promote an individual account, tweet, or trend for a price—then Twitter catapults the item to the top of popular feeds or trend lists.
Before she built a beauty empire, Bobbi Brown gleaned business instincts from her Cadillac-selling grandfather.
Bobbi Brown may be the most famous entrepreneur in her family, but she wasn't the first. Decades before she launched her cosmetics empire in 1991, she spent weekends helping her grandfather Sam Shatten at his car dealership. His favorite lesson: Good things come to those who keep their eyes peeled.
Every business decision I ever made I learned from my grandfather Papa Sam. He moved here from Russia when he was a boy. He worked his way up selling newspapers and ladies' handbags, and eventually, he became Cadillac Sam, one of the biggest car dealers in Chicago. When you come here from another country by yourself, you're naturally entrepreneurial. You're used to figuring it out as you go.
There was one story that always stayed with me. One day, a guy who looked like he lived on the street came into the dealership carrying a big shopping bag. None of Papa Sam's sales guys would go talk to him. But Papa put his arm around the guy and said, "How ya doing, boss?" Turns out the shopping bag was full of cash. The guy bought two cars. My grandfather taught me how important it is to have your eyes open, because you never know what's going to come your way.
When I first proposed my lipsticks to Bergdorf Goodman, they said yes and then changed their minds. I had been working with Saks Fifth Avenue on a catalog shoot. I told Bergdorf's, "It's OK that you're not taking me, because Saks is." They said, "Let me call you back." That's how I launched at Bergdorf's.
It's not bluffing. It's thinking on your feet, and it's helped me a million times. One time, I was doing makeup for the Rachel Roy fashion show, and Rachel said she wanted lipstick the color of Hershey's Kisses and espresso. But when I asked my assistant for my lip palette, she whispered, "I forgot to pack it." I said, "OK, hand me the eye shadow and some lip balm." After the show, Rachel said, "I couldn't have imagined it better." Vogue wrote about it. Now, I have a lipstick named Mahogany, all because I didn't panic.
College major: Theatrical makeup
Total start-up funding: $5,000
Products sold per day worldwide: 60,000
When you hear it, advice is just that, advice. You only know if it's great after the fact. Wouldn't it be great if you knew in advance?
The father of my college girlfriend once told me that digital electronics--semiconductors, to be specific--was going to be huge. That was in 1978. I had nothing better going on at the time so I went back to school, got a masters degree in electrical engineering, got into the high-tech industry, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Great advice can be priceless. The only problem is, when you hear it, it's just plain advice. You only know if it's great after the fact. Sometimes, as in the case of my college story, a very long time after the fact. Wouldn't it be great if you could tell if the advice you're getting is good or not? Well, you can. There are just certain factors I've learned to pay attention to. Some are logical; others are instinctive.
With that in mind, here's my advice for you. Will it be great? I think so. But, as we both know, only time will tell. Here are five factors that will help you determine if the advice you're getting will turn out to be great. They've never failed me yet.
What's your state of mind? This is an internal factor that has nothing to do with the person you're listening to, but it's a critical one, nevertheless. I've gotten what turned out to be life-changing advice a handful of times. And each time, the best way to describe my state of mind was desperate. I believe that's when you're most receptive and open to ideas, to change. That's when advice speaks to you. That, I believe, is also why necessity is the mother of invention.
Listen to your gut. Intuition may sound like a vague concept, but it can be a powerful tool in decision-making. If you can just be in the moment and focus on what the other person is saying without thinking, without judging or filtering it, you can listen with your feelings. If you can't do that in real time, then try to do it after the fact, when you're alone and it's quiet. Yes, I know it sounds like mystical mumbo jumbo. It's not. It's called mindfulness and it's science.
Consider the source. This is where things get a bit more logical. If the other person has a vested interest in the outcome, especially a financial one, forget it. Don't listen. Ever. Also, if he's not a subject matter expert--and clearly successful at it--forget it. My former girlfriend's father was the chairman of a semiconductor company. He was a successful investor with a nice home, a good family, and a Porsche. So I listened.
Can you corroborate it? Indeed, the chairmen of the physics and graduate electrical engineering departments thought I was making a good move. If you can't corroborate the advice, at least apply some reasoning. Does it follow from reasonable data, assumptions, and observations? That carries a lot of weight. If, on the other hand, you're going to apply your gut instinct on top of somebody else's shoot from the hip advice, then you're likely to reach a random conclusion. Not such a good idea.
Consider the risk. What have you got to lose? Back in 1978 I had a physics degree that was worthless, more or less, and few options. The advice looked and felt solid and there wasn't much of a downside, so I took it. All the arrows pointed in the right direction. When that happens, take the risk. Otherwise, assess it as best you can. If you're young and you have time to recover, I would always err on the side of taking risks. That's good advice, for sure.
In some cultures, getting naked with customers is just part of doing business.
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about anything overtly sexual. While there are plenty of cases in the business world where sex or prostitution has played a role in closing a deal, that's behavior that is clearly beyond the pale.
What I'm talking about is being naked in the same room as a customer.
For example, I used to work at facility that had an in-house gym. Like most gyms, it had a locker room, which meant that if you wanted to work out, you had to get naked in front of your coworkers and (if they were visiting) your customers, too.
In my opinion, that's WAY more information than I want to know, but maybe I'm just being squeamish.
I'm wondering what YOU think. How comfortable would you feel getting naked with a customer? And have you ever been in this situation?
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Surely someone's told you to 'embrace failure' before. Here's what that means, actually, and how to do it.
Failure can be extremely painful. Indeed, the "normal" psychological reaction to failure is to distract yourself and do something completely different right away.
But extremely-successful entrepreneurs typically defy this "normal" reaction. They go back and try again at things they fail at. That's because they often believe in something I call the "failure faith," a powerful conviction that every setback offers vital lessons that could not be learned any other way. Survey research for my book Business Brilliant shows that these highly-accomplished entrepreneurs rely on failure to tell them what they're good at.
So if failure is so important, how can you best embrace it? When you fail at something (a new product, a negotiation, or a recent hire), what's the best way to welcome it, and hear it out?
Here are five ways to cope with failure and turn it into one step along your journey to sizeable success:
1. Forgive yourself.
It may sound sappy, but it won't do you any good to torture yourself over what you should have known. The most unproductive thought in life is: "If I knew then what I know now." That's a fantasy. Put it out of your mind. Once you forgive yourself, in the words of Harvard professor Ellen Langer, you "create the freedom to discover meaning" in what you failed at. Langer likes to point out that minoxidil was a failed hypertension medication with the miserable side effect of unwanted hair growth. Researchers forgave themselves long enough to "find meaning" in the failure by developing Rogaine from it.
2. Talk it over.
Find a shoulder to cry on, but not just any shoulder. Tell your sorrows only to people who have the "failure faith." Most people don't want to talk about failure because they are ashamed of it, which is why you are unlikely to get helpful support and insights from people who aren't also successful entrepreneurs. That even includes close friends and family. The truth is that there are some things that only other entrepreneurs will understand. You might be better off talking over your setbacks and frustrations with any randomly chosen restaurant owner than your close friend who holds a corporate job.
3. Be honest about what really went wrong.
Once a deal or project falls apart, own up to what went wrong. Start all the way at the beginning. The acute failures that killed the project right at the end might have only been symptoms of chronic problems built into the project from the get-go. Maybe you were working with the wrong client, market, or developer. The real lesson might be about choosing customers and projects more carefully, not about details of the execution that went badly.
4. Take responsibility.
Don't rush to blame the client or the vendor. Maybe you didn't communicate your expectations properly from the start. Maybe you avoided asking difficult questions because you wanted to close the deal. Maybe you neglected to ask the customers what they really needed. Whatever you do, don't blame your partners or your team members. It's tempting to tell yourself that they need to be different next time. But you can't control them. Assume they will remain the same, and that you're the one who must learn and change if you want the next project to work out better.
5. Try, try, try again.
Get back at it right away. There are good reasons why your second attempt at anything is always stronger than your first. And as long as something's worth trying, isn't it worth trying more than once?
Remember, you're trying to succeed brilliantly at something most people can't do at all. You're taking roads paved with bumps, potholes, and occasional sinkholes. But what's the alternative? If the work were any easier, there wouldn't be any profit in it. So go out on a limb, every day, and sometimes the branch will break under you. But face it. You keep going out on that limb because that's where all the fruit is.
Forget logos and new uniforms. Make employees happy for the best shot at success.
About a year ago, I wrote an open letter to Tom Horton, CEO of American Airlines. They had just filed for bankruptcy, and as a long-time, loyal American flyer, I was hoping that he would take the opportunity to engage his employees in his fight to save the airline.
As it turned out, Horton's relationship with his employees and the unions remained chilly. So much so that they went around him to negotiate directly with US Airways in the hopes that a merger will bring positive change.
So here we are again. The merger is happening and there is a new sheriff in town. Doug Parker will emerge as the CEO of the combined airline, and just in the nick of time. While he is a finance guy like Horton, and these types often don't succeed in the CEO role, I was impressed during their recent press conference. Parker focused on worker benefits; that's a good sign.
Horton is to be applauded for getting American to this point, but their future will be defined by one word: leadership.
Every company culture is a close reflection of the personality of the leader. Look at Southwest Airlines--the only major airline that has never filed for bankruptcy. They had a founder and leader in Herb Kelleher who had a multi-stakeholder approach to business, and he put employees first. That resulted in a better customer experience and consistent financial success.
The employees of American Airlines should be recognized for the incredible sacrifices they've made over the last decade. In 2003, they took cuts in compensation and benefits to keep American out of bankruptcy. American eventually filed anyway, and the employees stepped up again to help them get through it. I have flown hundreds of thousands of miles on American during this period, and you can tell that the employees are not generally a happy lot. Loyal? Yes. (Though they may have different reasons for that.) But feeling valued? Not from the conversations I have and letters I get.
Mr. Parker--this is your chance. Your nearly 95,000 employees will be hopeful but uncertain about their futures. Will I keep my job? Will seniority change? Will I have to move? Customers can switch airlines and investors can take their money in or out. But your most important stakeholders--with the least amount of choice--are the employees actually doing the work day in and day out.
I know you have a lot to deal with. But if you focus first on your coworkers, they will reward you with better customer service. That will put more money in the coffers.
I like the new logo, and I hear the employees are going to get new uniforms, but I will take more than a new coat of paint on the airplanes to make things better. It will take a deliberate, consistent effort to show the employees that you genuinely care about them. This only comes with trust, and you have to earn it.
If you can make your employees and your customers smile, you'll have a competitive advantage for years to come.
During Social Media Week, Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman said when it comes to product innovation, there are limits to what social media can do.
Among the many events currently taking place as part of Social Media Week, Quirky CEO and founder Ben Kaufman spoke Thursday about benefits and, more importantly, the limitations of social media in developing a new product.
“I have a sort of love hate relationship with social media,” Kaufman said to an audience at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. “I think it’s amazing we can talk to each other, share our thoughts, but on the other hand I think it’s changed the way we interact with each other to a fault, to the place where we’re not putting our energy in the right place.”
In an average week, Kaufman said Quirky fields as many as 3,000 new ideas on the product evaluation section of its website, and each idea can be shared via Facebook and Twitter. “They go up for the world to vote, comment on, enhance, and refine each other’s ideas,” he explained. “People aren’t just saying ‘that sucks’ or ‘that doesn’t suck.’ They’re saying round that corner, or make that a little bit cheaper and I would buy it.”
Research, functional design, and even naming a product, he said, are all discreet phases in which community helps Quirky make smart decisions.
But this community, he said, has its limitations. “Community is still the Internet, and there are still trolls,” he said. “Community plus technology plus an expert team is proper product development. No one of these things can work without the other.”
The back end, Kaufman said, is what the Quirky team is most proud of: the mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and patenting process. The community, he said, is not smarter than the experts, and the experts are not smarter than the community.
“What the world needs is a little bit of both,” he said. “It’s experts sitting side by side with the hillbillies figuring out what the future can hold.”
How to initiate professional conflicts without upsetting your colleagues or getting accused of being a "hater."
We all know that healthy conflicts are an essential part of any well-oiled management team’s routine. But initiating conflict is never easy. No one wants to be the person who raises contentious points. Because when you’re the one who speaks up, well then it’s you who prolongs the meeting, or ruffles a teammate’s feathers, or stands accused of negativity.
Here at The Build Network, we’re always looking for smart tips on the subject of healthy conflict among teammates. It’s one reason we hold The Table Group’s advice in such high regard.
So, we were thrilled when we spotted Margaret Heffernan’s "5 Rules for Productive Conflict" on the TED blog not long ago. Heffernan is an international businesswoman, management expert, and author of three books. Here are her rules.
1. Appoint a devil’s advocate.
"Someone whose excellence is demonstrated by the quality of questions they ask. Great questions include: 'What are the best reasons not to do this?' 'What don’t we know that, if we did know, would change our decision?' 'If we had more money or time, what would we do?' 'If this were a documentary, what would be the narrative arc?' It’s important that different people play the role of devil’s advocate: if it is always the same person, they’ll get tuned out--and burned out."
2. Find allies.
"If you have concerns, try asking others privately, 'Are you OK with this? Does anything about this bother you? Is there another way to frame this question?' Having allies allows you to work together to be creative and solve the problem."
3. Listen for what is NOT being said.
"If the conversation is being framed about money, consider what is not being talked about. If everyone’s talking technology, what have they left out of their equation? Sometimes it’s helpful to bring in an outsider to help with this. They should do nothing but listen. Then, ask for their impressions--not recommendations. They may notice trends that people embroiled in the conversation simply can’t."
4. Imagine you cannot do what you all want to do.
"In other words, think about what you would do if you could fire someone, if you could change the timetable, or if you were allowed to cancel the deal. If you could do any of those things--would you still proceed with your plan? What are the hidden orthodoxies nobody is challenging?"
5. After a decision is made, declare a cooling off period.
"Ask everyone to go home and think about the decision on their own as well as discuss it with their family. Come back after a prescribed amount of time and ask the group: Does the decision still look great?"