We’re Not Dumb Anymore

The Flynn effect states that since the 20th century, IQ test scores on average increase by 3 points every decade.  A person taking an IQ test in 1930, scoring in the average, would be considered mentally handicap compared to today’s IQ standards.  As civilization progresses, so does our average intelligence level.  When the knowledge base increases across the board, strange things begin happening. We get smarter.

Something I’ve noticed as of late is that pyramid schemes as business models are still around.  In the past month, two friends have been invited to “recruitment” seminars, which I am proud to say they both, within minutes discovered the pyramid business model and left in disgust.

Now the proper term is “multi-level marketing” (MLM) but it’s the same theme, you make commissions on your sales and on the sales of the people you’ve recruited as sales people.  You can already begin to see the problem.  If I’m selling, then I get you to sell, we are now competing for future sales.  Doesn’t make sense does it.  Not anymore, but it did for a very long time.  What surprises me more is that their is actually a list of companies still around using this as a business model.

As communication worldwide increases over the internet, so do conversations.  Within three minutes of researching MLM I came across a startling figure that 99.9% of all participants end up losing money by joining the organization.  When in history have we been able to verify a businesses legitimacy within five minutes?

Maybe we’re smarter (our IQ’s would say so), maybe we’re just better at finding information which make us seem smarter.  Either way this new generation isn’t dumb, business models such as these are now a joke around the water cooler.  There will always be people who join for unknown reasons, I just hope that if you are ever proposed on a seemingly to good to be true scheme you’ll Google first before signing up.

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Re-Thinking Your Music Career

I’ve been to a few local live bands that I can say have amazing talent.  You know the local ones that you’re positive they will go somewhere with their career?  But then comes the hard part. How do you get to the next level?  How do you consistently get paid for playing music? You must re-think your industry.

When you ask the majority of up and coming artists they reply, “oh we have a CD coming out soon, I sure hope you’ll buy it!”  I want to be supportive but I also want to be realistic.  I haven’t purchased a CD IN TEN YEARS!  Why are they still making CD’s?  I know there are exceptions to the rule and some CD’s still sell but have they ever thought about researching their own market before?  Ever tried to understand how others in their situation have grown their own music business? I can guarantee you it did not happen by selling CD’s.

In Chris Anderson’s book Free: The Future of a Radical New Price it explains that if the price to duplicate something is relatively free (as in a music file) then eventually it will be free. Young musicians needs to understand this and adapt accordingly. You’re going to reach exponentially more people by offering a free download than by trying to charge for a CD. The difficult part is putting monetary gain second and your fans first.

I’m not saying most artists are money hungry, they just need to understand their industry better.  They need to have a following, groupies, a tribe on their side that wants to tell the World about their music then give them to tools to do so.  Enabling this group to spread their music as well as finding innovative ways to make money not by selling CD’s is the new way to re-think your music career.

It’s been almost three years since Radiohead shook up the music scene with a “name your own price” album which turned out to be their most successful in history (including two Grammy awards).  It is difficult to compare yourself to Radiohead, but doing something innovative on a large scale is much more difficult then changing your band’s marketing strategy right now.

So, how would you market your band if you had one?

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My Top 10 Podcasts

My friend Colter (@Codaclothing) asked a bunch of us to submit our favorite albums of 2009 to put up on his website.  Knowing that the song from the Amazon Kindle commercial or Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance will probably be vying for top spot so I thought I’d take a different approach.

Below are my top 10 Free Podcast’s with links to get them in your iTunes.  Enjoy!

  1. Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce – One of the best story tellers and authors of our day, this talk is almost six years old and still applies today.
  2. Seth Godin on Standing Out – an oldie but a classic, Seth is one of the foremost minds in marketing today having authored eleven books and is a captivating presenter.
  3. Stochasticity“A wonderfully slippery and smarty-pants word for randomness.” This is the explanation on the site of what Stochasticity means.  Very interesting podcast that you’re sure to find some tidbits to chat about around the water cooler.
  4. Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation – From the famous Ted conference this talk will change your mind on how to motivate people in the work place.  The surprising part is I think most people actually think the opposite of what research shows us.
  5. Deception – Why we lie, where it comes from; the startling science of deception.  This one includes a couple stories that’ll have you “white knuckled” on your steering wheel. Listen with caution.
  6. Numbers – a mind-blowing show on numbers, where they came from, why we use them and a some facts I bet you never knew.
  7. Seth Godin on the Tribes we Lead – Based on a book he wrote, Mr. Godin argues that the internet has allowed us to join groups of people who have the same ideas and values as we do.  Combined the group is much more effective at creating change than any single one of it’s members.
  8. Stress – Where it comes from, why we experience it and a bunch or stories in between.  Everyone needs to understand the implications of too much stress, so download.
  9. Do Schools Kill Creativity? – Sir Ken Robinson entertains the crowd the entire time he makes a compelling case for fostering creativity in our schools, rather than the opposite which is happening all too frequently in our schools today.
  10. Killing Babies, Saving the World – this one is number one because it was the first Radiolab podcast I’d heard and immediately I needed more.
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The Complaining Generation

Recently I have been asking a lot of people how they like their job and it didn’t surprise me that the vast majority said they were unsatisfied.  The more I asked, poked and prodded about their career, the more positive it became.  Then it dawned on me, sure there are some better careers than others, but our generation enjoys complaining.  Let me explain.

If you have what most people would call a “boring” job (accounting, office job, the majority of the crown corporations) you probably have great security and make an above average wage.  You complain about how board you are at work because they block you from using Facebook and Twitter but your paid four weeks of holidays and have “earned days off” so it’s worth it for now.

If you have what most people would call an “amazing” job (entrepreneur, creative director, manager at a small company) you probably have great flexibility and actually enjoy the majority of the work.  You complain about how you’re underpaid and how it must be nice to collect a check every two weeks.  You struggle but your passionate and an office job just isn’t your style.

So why must we always complain?  Our generation is never satisfied, we want the greener grass and the internet has only made it easier to see the grass, touch it, tweet about it and then determine if we like it or not.  Is their a solution?  It’s an opinion so let me know if you disagree.

You need to stop comparing yourself to others.  If you tell me how much money you make it’s because your job sucks and thats the only good thing about it, save it, I don’t care.  Instead of comparing and complaining ever try making your job better?  Possibly making work “fun” for a change?  I know sounds weird doesn’t it.

Finally, I think managers in general need training on the “generation Y” employee; their expectations, their motivations and what they want out of life.  Complaining gets you no where, start thinking of innovative solutions to making your job better, what have got to lose?

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Why Are You Buying That?

In some industry’s I would argue brand loyalty does not exist for the vast majority of people. For these products price is the main reason of choice. In the grocery store I have too many options in front of me, so like any other confused male in their twenty’s in a grocery store, I begin to compare prices and inevitably many of my choices are dictated on which is the cheapest. But a product can look good enough that you will pay a premium just because you perceive it to have more value (this happens a lot).  Many products in the grocery store are sold because of implied value, which creates brand loyalty. Marketing has aided this effort for years, making products seem better than they actually are, just so people would buy.

Alright so you buy Kraft over the no name salad dressing, and you buy Bicks because No Name pickles taste funny (when in fact they taste fine).  Marketing has done a great job building trusted brands for us but I don’t agree with buying a name brand products just so a multi-national company can keep marketing it.  Presidents Choice Cola tastes strikingly similar to Coke Cola but you don’t want to be known as the guy who buys PC brand Cola do you?  Well why not?  It’s cheaper and it tastes like the real thing.

One could argue that the more informed shopper will purchase the generic brands more than big name brands because they understand that the extra cost supports marketing efforts not improving the product.

The next time you’re going for groceries ask yourself, “why am I buying the name brand product.”

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Old Ladies are the Cutest!

When a cab driver goes out of his or her way to make the trip more enjoyable do you tell them how much you appreciated it?  When someone holds the door for you, do you say “gee, thanks a lot!”

Too many times we have positive experiences at the expense of someone else and we never tell them. Why?  Maybe we’re scared, maybe we think it will mean nothing, maybe it has never been brought to your attention until now.

I had teacher in grade eleven that told us;

“If someone ever does something nice for you, you should always tell them thank you, otherwise they may not know how they made you feel and may not ever do it again.”

We all like to be appreciated so why not show others when we are appreciative?  Even a small compliment on someone’s hair can go a long way, but generally speaking, our society doesn’t hand out compliments very easily.  But why not?

So how do you start?  The next person you see with a bright pair of shoes on or a finely tailored suit, walk up to them and say, “Wow! I sure like those shoes, they look wonderful!”  Then just walk away.  You  can be sure you just made their day.  My favorite is the little old ladies, I think they are just the cutest when you give them a compliment. So go on try it out, and let me know how it goes.

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