Are you remarkable?

If you're having to ask your clients for referrals you're probably not going to get any.


Because you're clearly not remarkable. 

How do I know that?  

Because if you were remarkable they'd already be talking about you.

My friend Jason Roshek is a remarkable realtor.   I know, because I find myself talking about him all the time. He's never asked me for a referral, but I've probably sent a dozen people his direction over that last few years.

Think about it. By definition, something that's remarkable is worth talking about.  If no one is talking about you, you're not remarkable.

So, if you want referrals, quit asking for them and start being remarkable at whatever it is you do.  Trust me, it works.  Just ask Jason.

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Business, Leadership

What are you thinking?

Someone told me about a humorous exchange between a British ship in distress and the German coast guard.  I doubt its true, but it went something like this:

British ship: ‚ÄúMayday…Mayday…We are sinking‚Äù

German Coast Guard: ‚ÄúHalo.  This is the German coast guard, what are you sinking about?‚Äù

Miscommunications can happen.  But the important thing is that the coast guard was listening.  Many companies aren‚Äôt even listening to customers that are trying to talk to them.

Do a twitter search for @bose and you‚Äôll see customers trying to engage the company on twitter.  And what do they get in response.  Silence.

Twitter and facebook are the new dial tone. Your customers expect you to be there.

Saying you weren’t listening is not an acceptable excuse.

Update: Turns out there's a really funny video version of the joke here. (Thanks @jgrubbs)

Business, Leadership

SAMBA Yearbook

Many of you know that I've spent the last six
months participating in Seth Godin's Alternative MBA Program.
 It's been an incredible experience; one that has changed the way I think
and the course of my life – I have met fantastic people, worked on fascinating
projects, contributed to a great blog, and most of all, learned from a master.
 I'm incredibly grateful to Seth for the opportunity.

Seth - picture

For me, this picture epitomizes the SAMBA experience.  Seth, soaking wet after a brief swim in the
Hudson, doesn’t miss a beat, and continues, paddle in hand, teaching us life and
business lessons.  Not reading to us from
a textbook, but rather sharing from his own experiences while creating
experiences for us.

Nothing about SAMBA has been conventional. From the interview
process to the limited edition MacLeod diplomas, Seth made sure this was nothing
like a traditional MBA.  For starters, we
spent as much time working on actual businesses as we did talking about
business. We learned that the ability to execute on an idea is much more valuable
than just coming up with an idea.  We
learned how to fight the resistance and how to be brave.

And, Seth showed us by his actions what it means to live a truly
generous life.

So, Clay, Susan, Al, Rebecca, Alex, Ishita, Allan, Emily and of
course Seth, thank you!  This has been
amazing. Each of you have a special place in my heart and a place to stay in Colorado
if you ever want to come skiing.

Thank you, Seth, for turning the MBA experience on its head. I,
along with the rest of SAMBA 2009, am eternally grateful.

Illic est haud refragatio – SAMBA 2009

Business, Leadership

Using a social media framework to grow your tribe

It takes two things to have tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

When you gather people together with a shared passion and give them the tools to communicate – amazing things will happen. People are incredibly inventive and you’ll be surprised and delighted by what occurs when you just give people a way to connect.

The tendency is to focus on leveraging the tribe to make it grow. But I’ve found that giving the tribe ways to turn their shared interests into passionate goals and providing them the tools to tighten their communications are the most effective ways to strengthen the tribe.

The following framework has been very helpful to me when working with clients on a social media strategy to help them build and grow their tribe.

(My original inspiration for this framework came from Chris Brogan’s post here. Chris is a rock star and if you don’t read his blog already, you should.)

I describe a social media framework as having four main components. A listening station, passports, embassies and a home base.

Listening Station
The listening station is where everything starts. First you have to know what is being said about you throughout the web. A well equipped professional listening station will include tools from companies like Radian6 and Scoutlabs. The truth is you can get pretty much everything you need with free tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and Google Alerts.

Currently, I have google alerts letting me know every time someone posts something about me online and I use PeopleBrowsr to for real time monitoring for mentions on twitter, YouTube and facebook.

Passports are profiles you’ll want to have so that you can easily take part in conversations that you may pick up on with your listening station. You want to have passports in place for all the major social networking sites, even if you don’t think you’re going to engage in all of them. You want to make sure that if a conversation starts that you would want
to be part of, you already have your profile in place. Later, we’ll talk about how your fans can use their passports to help spread the word about your tribe. And sometimes you’ll decide to turn passports into embassies.

Example:  Even though Seth doesn’t use twitter actively, he does control@sethgodin.

Embassies are microsites on  social networks where you are actively engaged. Just like a country does business in embassies located in other countries, you will fully engage in conversations in your embassies on other networks. The most obvious examples of an embassy is a Facebook fan page. Increasingly my clients are setting up full fledged embassies on Twitter as well. Your interactions in your embassy will be split between actively engaging people and gently nudging them towards your home base.

Example: AT&T engages actively with customers, answering questions and providing support on their facebook fan page.

Home Base
Your home base is where your true fans gather. For some people like Seth and myself, this is a blog. But many of my clients are taking this to the next step and have a full featured community for their fans to engage in.

Example: Dan Miller’s fans connect with Dan and each other at 48 Days.

The free prize
Once you’ve got a tight tribe you’ll find that with very little encouragement the members will take their own passports and go out and become evangelists sharing your message with their sphere of influence.

Example: Justin (someone I don’t know personally, but would like to consider a member of my tribe) sent a post of mine to his friend Maureen (another person I do not know, yet a potential future tribe member).  Maureen then posted a link to my blog on her blog/home base: maureencrisp.blogspot.com

Added bonus of the social media framework

Having this framework in place makes it much easier to know what to do when a new social network appears.

Business, Leadership

The revolution will not be televised

Tonight, while CNN.com told its visitors about the end of analog TV, they've quietly confirmed their own irrelevance by failing to report on another revolution…the one in Iran. 

Meanwhile on twitter, YouTube and Flickr, the revolution is being reported, not by the media, but by the people involved.  And the world is watching it unfold, tweet by tweet, picture by picture, video by video.

Seems Gil Scott-Heron was right when he said, "The revolution will not be televised"…little did he know it would be on twitter.


Photo Credit

Business, Leadership

How to save the publishing industry

Traditionally, what a book publisher brings to the table is two sets of relationships.

1. Relationships with the people who buy books…the middle men (not the readers).
2. Relationships with the people who review books…the editor of the Times book review section.

There's a problem with this. Books are now being bought
directly by the readers, increasingly online from sites like Amazon.
The readers are increasingly being influenced by a different type of
reviewer. This reviewer doesn't write for the Times, she writes for
herself, and her blog audience.

There's a huge opportunity here. The question is who will figure it out first? The authors or the publishers.

We all agree, that successful authors have nascent tribes. The opportunity lies in connecting authors with their audience.

Authors make the bulk of their income from their advance.  If a publisher wants a successful author they offer them a larger advance than their current publisher and there's a decent chance the author will walk.

But, what if the publishers
actively helped their authors build tribes online? They'd be doing the authors a huge service and no
author could afford to leave their publisher, because they'd be walking away from their tribe.

If the publishers don't help the authors do this, the
authors will start doing it themselves.  And once they've developed their own tribe, what do they need the publisher for? I believe that publishers are in the
perfect position to do this, because authors are used to the publisher
brokering these relationships and most authors have no idea where to

At this point, the publishers by and large don't get this (with the notable exception of Hachette). A couple of
months ago I received a referral from a publicist at a large NY publishing house who wanted
me to help one of her authors build his tribe (on the author's dime). What most publishers still haven't
thought through is that they should be the ones building the communities (so they own the tribe).

If publishers helped their authors build and serve their
tribes they just
might save the publishing industry.

Business, Leadership

The starfish, the spider and the orchestra

MusicParadigm011 Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, in their book The Starfish and the Spider, make a
compelling argument for the power of leaderless organizations. They
point to examples like Al Quieda and Alcoholics Anonymous to
illustrate how much can be accomplished when a network is left to its
own devices without a centralized command structure.

Today I had the opportunity to sit in an orchestra. It was
an incredible experience. At one point the conductor left the stage and
asked the orchestra to play a piece without him. Each group of
musicians responded to those around them and the result was beautiful.
Was it better with a conductor. Perhaps. But I was amazed at how well
the orchestra played without one. The point is they didn't need him up
there to make great music, but he was able to bring out the best in

That's what a great leader is like.

Business, Leadership

I vs. us

For generations marketers have used polling to figure out why people buy.

There's a problem with this. Polls often assume we make our decisions alone.

we don't make our decisions alone. We make them together. We live our
lives in a glass polling booth, where almost every buying decision is
influenced by the decisions of those around us.

And we like it that way. We like being part of something bigger than ourselves.

When you're trying to figure out how to sell me something. Don't just think about me, think about us.

Business, Leadership

Service or hospitality?

"It's absolutely irresponsible for anyone in a high touch business not to know who their customer is today."
– Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group

recently heard Danny Meyers, a successful NYC restaurateur, say that
the difference between service and hospitality is like the difference
between an off the rack suit and a custom made suit. He described how
his restaurants have been able to use technology solutions like OpenTable
to know who their customers are and when they'll be dining. His team
then uses that information to do more than just provide service, they
custom design a hospitality experience for their guests.

believe that Danny's advice is relevant far beyond the traditionally
"high touch" businesses. Whether you're an auto-mechanic, an author, a
hotelier, a clothing company, or a coffee shop…the technology you
need is readily available to connect you directly with your end
customer so you can provide a customized "hospitality" experience. If
you don't, one of your competitors will…and then you lose.

Just providing service isn't enough…if you want to be remarkable you have to provide an experience.

It looks like we're all in the hospitality business now.

Adventure, Business, Leadership

If I could change my life…would I?

On December 1st I read a blog post entitled, “If you could change your life…would you?“, by Seth Godin.   In the post Seth linked to a web page he’d created for an Alternative MBA program he would be running at his office starting on January 19th, 2009.  Although it looked intriguing, since it was in New York, I didn’t think much about it.  A few days later it came up again in conversation with a friend of mine.  This time I couldn’t get away from it.  After talking with Amy, our friends and family I decided to apply.  The day after I submitted my application I received an invitation from Seth to come to New York for an interview, so I hopped on a plane and flew to the Big Apple.  While flying home from my interview I received an email from Seth saying that I was one of a small group of people that had been accepted into the program…that was a little over a week ago.

So, now I’m busy preparing for an amazing six month adventure.  Amy and I have decided that she’ll stay at our home in Colorado with the kids, surrounded by our incredible community of friends.  I’ll be commuting back and forth, spending the weekends at home, and the weekdays in New York.  

We’re very aware that Amy is getting the hard end of this deal…and there’s no way I’d be doing this without her 100% support.  In fact, there’s no way any of this would be possible without the amazing support and generosity of our families, friends and clients.  It’s been humbling to watch as people step forward to offer different types of help and support, without which this couldn’t happen.  We don’t have everything we need in place yet, but I know by the 19th we will.

I’ll do my best to use this blog to keep everyone updated as the program progresses, although all of us (including Seth) have signed an NDA agreeing not to share any details of the program without the express permission of everyone else in the group.  It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out as all of us are bloggers.

I realize I’m pretty lucky to have been offered this opportunity and I’m very thankful to all our friends who are helping make this possible. 

P.S. On a practical note, I’m still looking for a room to rent.  Ideally it would be close to Seth’s office in Hastings on Hudson, NY.  Somewhere on the Hudson line could work as well.  If you’ve got any ideas, please drop me a note.