Do the Work: Steven Pressfield on Beating Resistance

Do The WorkFeel resistance to writing a book, shipping a product, completing a marketing plan, or trying something new? If you have ever felt resistance in doing what you know you should be doing, then Steven Pressfield’s book, Do The Work, is the book for you.

In Do The Work, Steven categorizes all the various forms of resistance we create in the way of getting things done. He doesn’t just do so from a superficial level, but he sets things up from the big picture. For example, one of big text callouts is:

The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it” (Location 116 of 920).

If we can elevate ourselves from the work and get some distance from it, we can begin to diagnose what type of resistance we may be feeling. If we know that a particular project is something very high on our list of values, then when we reflect on our progress (or lack thereof), we can start to overcome what is holding us back.

When it comes down to doing the work, he urges us, “Don’t think. Act” (Location 157 of 920). In other words, just do something. Begin. Anne Lamont would say, “write the shitty first draft.” Don’t worry about whether it’s beautiful. Get out of your head and just start.

When we’re able to make progress on our work, “we discover a boundless, bottomless, inexhaustible well of passion” (183 of 920). I don’t know if I’m with him all the way on this point. I’d like to believe that it’s true. However, I’d go so far as to say, we have moments in which we feel an “inexhaustible well of passion.” Moments, like states of grace when we realize how happy we are with where we are in that moment.

While Steven doesn’t discuss medidation, it may be a way to help control the “chattering brain” that creates “excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do” (Location 196 of 920). In order to get past this type of resistance, Steven advocates avoiding one thing in particular that can be my hang up: staying stuck in research. He says, “You’re allowed to read three books on the subject [before you begin]” (Location 203 of 920). While I had significantly more than three sources when I wrote my Master’s thesis, it would have made a significant difference in my progress if I had started drafting sooner in the process.

I just love two additional and related things he writes: “Stay stupid. Follow your unconventional, crazy heart” (Location 394 of 920) and “Trust the Soup” (Location 410 of 920). In other words, during the drafting process, follow the twists and turns — whatever whims you might have as you’re in that beginning mode. Later you can analyze what you’ve started and pull the pieces together. As a former instructor of College English, I think this section of Do the Work would be helpful for beginning writing students who often get stuck in trying to draft a finished project right out of the gate.

Disclaimer: I received a free kindle version of Do The Work as part of The Domino Project.

SOBCon: Successful Online Business Spirit Lives On

I’m back from SOBCon and feeling freshly inspired by brilliant entrepreneurs. I’m so impressed by the businesses the conference founders and attendees are creating for themselves and their customers.

I’m also in awe of the kindness, generosity and goodwill of everyone I met. No, really. I’m not just saying that. Everyone. We expect business people to be cordial and helpful most of the time, but the people that SOBCon attracts are amazingly genuine and go out of their way to give to the community. I believe this generosity we experience at SOBCon is due in no small part to the founders who host the event, Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker.

Models and Masterminds. Inspire and Be Inspired. Generosity, Giving and Gratitude.

The format of the conference also reinforces this intention. A successful business leader provides their take on the conference theme, and then each table acts as a mastermind group to apply the speaker’s talk to their own businesses. Plus, on the last day of the conference, the attendees apply their business acumen to assist non-profits.

The SOBCon 2011 theme was loyalty: Building the New Loyalty & Leadership Business.

What transpired over this working weekend was an event that helped everyone appreciate that building loyalty should be about attracting a loyal customer base by being an authentic leader, and not about just creating a loyalty program in which customers have to do things to get points that have only nominal value.

Successful Online Business Leaders Get Congruent

The first speaker, Cathy Brooks, CEO of Story Navigation, really set a wonderful tone for the event. She started her talk by asking all 150 attendees to lower their laptops and put down their cell phones, and breathe. Ah….try it yourself…..Nice. We need to be present in order to begin.

Beginning her talk in this way reinforced the main points of her talk: creating a congruent story for your business requires you to be present to the vision you have for your business and is fundamental to what you want to create (in social media or otherwise) and offer to your customers.

You have to connect authentically with your customers and make sure that all of the touch points actually connect to this larger vision you want to create. It’s not just about creating a Facebook page in order to show you’re in social media. You have to have a plan for actively participating. Otherwise, why bother? You’re better off opting out.

Yes! Congruent stories — presence plus authentic conversations go a long way towards building customer loyalty.

Interview With Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Non-Conformity

One pearl from Chris: it’s not always efficient to take the most direct route. Instead of efficiency, consider adventure.

It’s true. From the pleasure I get from taking the back roads on my motorcycle, I know the most direct route — the highway system — is also the most boring.

My career has also unfolded by an adventurous route — I’ve moved from challenge to challenge, not afraid to pick up and move to new states and make new friends and business colleagues. It’s certainly been an adventure, and not the most efficient way to move up the career ladder.

Speaker, Author Tim Sanders, Today We Are Rich

I have always thought of gratitude as a feeling. However, in his talk, Tim suggests that we think of gratitude as a muscle we need to exercise. We need to actively use it.

I’ve started one of the practices he recommended for first thing in the morning — think of two people who helped you the previous day and allow yourself to feel gratitude for what they have done for you.

One of Tim’s other recommendations was to feed our minds good stuff. No checking email first thing before even getting out of bed. This bad habit was never one that plagued me. However, I’ve stopped watching the TV news in the morning, and instead have started reading for 15 minutes from quality books.

Even after just a few days, I feel better already. Amazing. I can’t wait to see what months or years of keeping these practices feels like.

Steve Farber, The Radical Leap Re-Energized

I’ve started reading Steve‘s book (*Disclosure: I received a free, advance copy at the conference). Steve advocates Extreme Leadership through the LEAP framework: “Love generates energy, inspires audacity, and requires proof” (53). I believe the SOBCon conference inherently works because Liz and Terry both know and have infused it with their love which generates an intentional energy that all attendees feel and experience and want to share, which inspires all of us and in turn generates audacity. We, the attendees, are the proof of its success. We take that love, energy, and inspiration out and share that with others.

Each year I see more and more people return as attendees. SOBCon could easily be a 500 person conference. However, if they allowed it to grow that big, I’d be concerned that it would lose the intimate inspired energy.

One Suggestion

At our table, we talked briefly about our desire to meet more of the attendees. What if we had one segment that was set up like speed dating. If we formed a snaking line throughout the halls, we could briefly introduce ourselves. I know many are introverts, but if we did it after we’d already experienced part of the conference, maybe people would feel more comfortable. It could be challenging from a time perspective — we’d have to make our conversations quick. I envision something like —

Hi, I’m Marcia. I create marketing plans for a huge tech brand. I love sand between my toes and motorcycling up the California coast. How can I help you?

This year was my 3rd year attending, and I walked away feeling inspired, but also a little sad that it went by so quickly. In case you’re wondering, the acronym SOBCon actually refers to Successful Online Business Conference, and I also think of it as a smart and outstanding gathering of no-bullshit creative and critical business minds.

I’ll be posting more about the great ideas and work of my mastermind colleagues, Steve Sherlock; and Mary-Lynn and George at BIGG Success. Plus, I can’t wait to dig into books by Steve Farber, Carol Roth, Michael Port and Tim Sanders.

If you’d like to share your talents and mastermind with the best, go register for SOBCon 2012 already. Do it now.

You can also read what some of these brilliant minds have said about their experiences:

The Best Day Out of 26 Years at GM: Paying it Forward at SOBCon 2011, by Connie Burke — Awesome of GMC to gift Mark Horvath of InvisiblePeople.tv with a new GMC Terrain in support of the work he does for the homeless.

GMC gifts Mark Horath, InvisiblePeople.tv a car at SOBCon, by Danielle Smith — so great to talk with you over lunch!

Connecting To Happiness: A Single Model For Leadership Excellence, by Terry Starbucker — You’re awesome, thank you!

Not Speaking is the New Black, How to Turn a #Fail Position into a #Win, by Liz Strauss — I am blessed to know you, thank you!

The Way You Wear Your Brand, Mary-Lynn Foster and George Krueger — Thanks for the great masterminding!

5 People You Meet at SOBCon, by Steve Wood — Don’t miss this post!

Cause Marketing Brilliance: @HardlyNormal Receives GMC Terrain at SOBCon, by Geoff Livingston — Thank you for leading the non-profit 1/2 day!

The Ultimate Brain Diet, by Carol Roth — look forward to chatting!

The Lesson From SOBCon, by Jeannie Walters — wish we had been able to spend more time talking!

SOBCon 2011: Successful Online Business Conference – The Must Be There Conference, by Lorelle VanFossen — so glad to talk with you again. Will let you know when I’m in PDX next.

SOBCon 2011 Models Teams and Tables, by Barbara Rozgonyi — you rock! I’m inspired by all you’re creating.

Lessons From SOBCon: Amazing People, Incredible Conversations & Love, by Debba Haupert — we need to talk more! So glad to see you again! Love the work you’re doing.

Favorite Quotes at SOBCon 2011, Barry Moltz — Great collection of quotes.

Love Notes From The Freshman #SOBCon11, Lennie Rose — Will I see you next year?

SOBCon: Enter as an Attendee and Leave as a Friend, by Shashi Bellamkonda — Inspired by the work you do @netsolcares!

Stop, Consider Adventure and Give Love – Lessons from a Mindful Conference, #SOBCon Inspiration Part 1, Mana Ionescu — Will I see you next year?

SOBCon in Photos:

Steve Sherlock SOBCon 2011 Photos — so great to meet and spend time masterminding with you!

Erno Hannik SOBCon Photostream — wish we had time to talk more.

Shashi Bellamkonda SOBCon Photostream — you are an awesome creator!

Create Great Content: Test Logical, Emotional, and Ethical Appeals

In this post, The Emotional Sale: Selling through Social Media, Sam Fiorella argues consumers are shifting from logical decision making to emotional decision making as a way to compensate for information overload and time crunch pressures.

Logical Appeals
What types of content appeal to the left side of our brains? Sam suggests feature comparisons, testimonials, and white papers may be important types of content to provide. If we want to sell stuff using this approach, we need to think about creating evidence to bolster our claims.

Emotional Appeals
What types of content can create an emotional appeal? Sam suggests the following types or features of this type of content: crowdsourced, video/audio, and tone are most important. I agree that developing more affective content designed to appeal to viewers’ emotions can move the needle on an engagement level, but just creating this type of content will not guarantee it. We still need to compete for their attention and getting someone to contribute to crowdsourced content is getting increasingly difficult unless there is a prize component attached.

One additional appeal we can add are ethical appeals.

Ethical Appeals
What types of content can we create so as to appear as trusted expert? While Sam doesn’t call out ethical appeals by name, he does ask us to consider where customers fit in to the equation. It’s good advice, and I’d recommend content in this category would need to be balanced and have a fair-minded approach. We would especially want to consider the readers’/viewers’ perspective and acknowledge what questions and concerns they may have that would preclude or solidify a purchase. I’m not saying that ethical appeals are the “magic sauce,” but it’s one more appeal to (formally) consider.

In addition, we’d want to test various content to…

1. Provide the best type of content for the consumer’s place in the purchase process
Higher funnel content needs to generate awareness and connect on an emotional level. Left-brain type content may be more important in the research phase.

2. Provide content types for different types of consumers
It’s all good. Some consumers over index as more logical decision makers or as more creative right brain decision makers. It may be more difficult for brands to create video and audio content than just churn out text-based content. However, different types of content appeal to different audiences.

3. Provide the right content type for specific media channels.
Brands may decide the best course of action is to syndicate video/audio type content that links to more logical or ethical content types. Or, the opposite may be true. Providing content types that travel best in social media may create more visibility than even a video. The content needs to match the context.

If time and budget allow, we can create multiple forms of content and carefully design tests that can be repeated at various intervals to determine the best course of action.

Create More Video: 7 Video Types for Social Media Engagement

film reels

Are you a video star? Do you own a flip camera and do all your own on-camera work and well as production and even calendaring and scheduling? Or, do you hire a production team, talent, and staff to do your video work? I’m curious to learn what types of video content you’re creating and whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a team of people to help you get it right.

From a content strategy perspective, do you consider video a supplementary effort, best sprinkled sparingly? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, are you offering a daily live video feed to engage site visitors?

Below are seven popular types of videos you could consider creating for social media engagement. Depending on what you want to achieve, you will want to focus your efforts appropriately.

1. “viral” videos — These videos are the of the “Will it Blend?” variety. These videos generate conversation about your brand and are at the top of the marketing funnel. Depending on the quality of your ideas (and possibly whether the planets are in alignment), these videos may be wildly popular. Before you click publish on this type of video, you want to answer the “now what” question. In other words, you’ll want to consider what you want the traffic to do once they view the video and make sure that you’re including an appropriate call to action to enable them to take the action you desire.

2. product videos — These videos explain product features and benefits. In all likelihood, these videos offer similar content as does the text you serve on your website. In order for these videos to be successful, I’d suggest you choose an entertaining speaker who knows how to connect with your audience, or this video type could be much like stale bread — great when it was fresh, but of short shelf life and dry to the taste after the sell by date.

i.e. Google Maps: Draggable Driving Directions — from a few years ago, but my go-to example of the type.

3. brand videos — these videos deliver on the brand characteristics if done well, or are the “sales” type videos that discuss all the wonderful things the brand is doing. Often they are heavily produced and require various content approvals and licensing. There isn’t anything wrong with this video type, but it takes a lot of budget and time to get it right. You will want to supplement with another video type that is less cost and time intensive.

i.e. Coca-cola Happiness Machine — it’s really hard to pull off and make it viral as well, but Coke is one company that can make it happen.

4. user-generated videos — these videos are created by your audience. Many consider this video type to be the “gold standard” because they indicate a high-level of engagement with your brand. However, you might ask if your target audience  is the type of web site visitor that creates videos. If not, then the next two video types may be the best type to create.

5. experiential videos — These videos bring the benefits of your product to life. Think about how Steve Jobs demos new products. He doesn’t provide all the technical product features. Instead, he concentrates on demonstrating how you might enjoy using the product. These videos will be highly entertaining and successful if done right.

iPhone 4 Revealed — from Cnet: oddly enough, it’s now got a Windows phone ad on the front of it.

6. educational videos — These videos offer how-to content that helps your users learn more about a complex subject. This video type might also expand upon a closely related subject. You may consider creating a series of these videos with the goal of generating repeat engagement.

Augmented Reality in Plain English – My favorite creator of how-to videos is Common Craft and their In Plain English series.

7. streaming videos — Do you have breaking news or are you launching a new product? If so, you might consider going big with this type of video performance.

What other types of video are you creating?

Drop me a note in the comments below if you’re considering adding video to your content strategy. Or if you’re a video pro, I’m also interested to know what types of video deliver results for you.

Pre-Commerce: A digital strategy driven by consumers

In Pre-Commerce: How companies and customers are transforming business together, Bob Pearson, formerly of Dell Computers and now Chief Technology & Media Officer at WCG, a marketing communications agency, delivers the goods on why and how to create a successful pre-commerce program that delivers solid relationships with your customers and strong e-commerce results.

The Transformation of Business
Gone are the days when consumers would walk into a store and get all of their information and questions answered by store clerks prior to purchasing a product. Even consumers who formerly would do research online prior to making purchases, online or face-to-face, now research products, check ratings, poll their friends on Twitter or Facebook, search for infographics, whitepapers, and FAQs, as well as read countless reviews, blog posts, and forum discussions before making an online purchase or stepping foot inside a retail store.

In addition, marketers need to customize digital experiences and downloads for consumers with an eye to potentially more than one device including web, notebook, netbook, tablet or mobile device.

Layer Listening in Social Networks with Goals of Establishing Relationships and Delivering Expert Customer Service
Are you listening to what your customers are saying about you in social networks? And are you participating in those networks and providing content to help influence how consumers perceive your brand? Or even asking customers to contribute ideas to improve your products and services? Pearson indicates that these areas provide huge pre-commerce opportunity areas for brands.

Let’s Say You Get the Argument: What are Next Steps?
Pearson & his colleagues at WCG have developed what they call the Four As — awareness, assessment, action, and ambasadors to understand and create your new digital strategy. Here are some action steps for you to follow to begin to craft your new pre-commerce strategy:

Awareness: brand awareness is now created when customers can evidence your participation and engagement
1. Listen to what consumers are saying online
2. Join in appropriate conversations at appropriate times
3. Provide the right content at the right times

Assessment
1. Provide content consumers can “download, view, read, and act upon” when, where and how customers need it
2. Assess how well you’re meeting customers’ needs prior to purchase or purchase intent.

Action:
1. Customers have acted on your offer in some way

Assessment
1. Assess how well you’re doing in social media by measuring interactions and ranking sentiment to arrive at positive share of conversation

Ambassadors
1. Build relationships with these loyal customers
2. Provide them with even more information
3. Give them opportunities to share their positive experiences of your brand

Note: It’s no mistake that assessment is listed twice — Pearson argues it’s critical to regularly keep score on how well you’re doing. See page 20 for a list of questions to ask if you’re ready to begin (or improve) your efforts on these fronts. Please note that Pearson has some caveats for this model:

“It is driven by customers, not corporations. The customers will decide when they listen, what they’ll discuss on the internet, where they’ll research their purchases, and where they’ll make them. Brand loyalty won’t come from the cave-wall paintings, it will come from persistent, positive interaction between a company, its brand, and its customers” (18).

Check out his text for more information on how to do each of these well. Then, you can use the following four criteria to measure how well you’re doing:

1. Search — where does your brand show up in search results and “within the customer-search journey?”
2. Peers — how do influencers rate and recommend your products and services?
3. Active Sharing — how often do influencers in step #2 above share your content?
4. Available Content — how often do you provide fresh content for influencers to share and are you providing it in the form they want to share?

Pearson gets social media. You will too — once you read and apply the important and timely advice he offers in Pre-commerce. After reading, you’ll be able to outline imperatives specific for your brand in order to create real change in the ways you connect with consumers and in the results you help your company achieve.

SXSW Marketing Tactics

Some of the most popular marketing efforts at SXSW involve free food and beverages. It’s not surprising given there is even a service that tracks them (see: AustinFoodCarts.com). During the conference, brands rented a food cart, reserved space in many of bars and restaurants on 6th Street, or went the low budget route and passed out food and beverages from the back of pick-up trucks.

I started taking pictures to have some examples of various tactics.

building wrap and food cart Austin pedicab SXSW Ogilvy Notes AT&T Charging Station SXSW Stickerbook Gapingvoid Print Rackspace Tattoo Arm SXSW Austin Chronicle Booth SXSW Guardian Booth sxsw posters

1.Building Wrap and Free Food Cart

Squarespace wrapped a building just a block from the Austin Convention Center and across from the Hilton Hotel. In the picture above you can see the food cart they stationed in front of the building to serve free food to conference attendees. The only downside of free food this close to the event is that lines were long during lunch hours.

2. Pedicab Posters

Notice the signs on the back of the pedicabs? Here’s another opportunity for brands to get advertising exposure. I’m sure brands could even sponsor pedicab rides.

These riders worked all day and into the night to carry attendees from panels in one location to another, as well as from different bars and restaurants back to hotels in the evening.

At $10 per person/per ride, it was an economical way to help mitigate things being so spread out. Also, these pedicabs were much easier to flag down than traditional cabs.

3. Visual Storyteller

Ogilvy hired digital artists to create visual notes of several sessions each day. In addition to these huge poster size pieces, they printed a quantity of these for sxsw attendees.

Personally, I really like this tactic. It provides something of value that people can take home with them, in addition to being available online. It’s an example of social object that can be used to generate conversations online (like this blog post).

4. Charging Stations

This tactic has been executed by many a brand. It’s highly useful for conference attendees. AT&T’s charging station was between the bookstore and the coffee bar. And, as you might guess, it saw plenty of traffic. In addition to having the kiosk as pictured, they had a bar and chairs where people with chargers could plug in and relax. Of course, in the process of charging their device, attendees could get a little info about AT&T products and services.

I stopped in at this booth several times during the conference. I do wonder, however, how AT&T measures the effectiveness of this brand exposure.

5. Stickers

Are you the type to put stickers on your laptop? There were plenty of these available. Enough that you could go home with a full laptop lid if that’s what you’re in to.

Also, if you wanted to collect pins for your badge holder, those were really prevalent, too. I have to say, though, a brand’s pin would really have to be unique in order to stick out from all of the different options.

6. Social Objects

I’m biased (I commissioned Hugh at Gapingvoid.com to create a series of prints for Intel at CES in January (see Gapingvoid Art Gallery on Inside Scoop), but I think using social objects like his fun artwork is a really dynamic way to help generate conversations in social networks for a brand. Consumers appreciate the gift and blog, tweet, and share pictures of the artwork, while each mention racks up another activation point for the brand. It’s a win-win in my opinion. Quite a few of the presentations I attended included Hugh’s artwork in their slides.

7. Tattoo Arm

Here’s an original idea that I hadn’t seen before. Rackspace gave away tattoo arms. It’s conference swag that really fits in with the culture of the conference. It’s something unique, and really cool. Plus, I bet they have created conversations online because of using them. However, what is the life of the freebie? Will people keep it once the novelty wears off? A t-shirt might have more longevity, and could even become a collector’s item depending on the artwork.

8. Booth as Meeting Space with Couches

This tactic fits intrinsically with the SXSW culture. It’s also an answer to the question, “Who can throw the best party?” There were many different booths with chairs and couches available for attendees to lounge around and chat with each other. It’s such a different experience than CES in which there are even bigger crowds.

I really liked the Austin Chronicle’s interpretation of booth seating. See the casual couches in the photo above. It fits right in with the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan you see around town. They know their audience. So too does the Guardian, which offered much more yuppie places to sit and talk in keeping with their brand.

9. Posters

Some of the people who hang posters have developed it into an art form — hanging it in such a way so that it sticks out past the pillar or post.