Dan Lovell and I sat in a basement conference room and got deep on media and the presidential election. Then it gets very music nerd. This is a sequential conversation; if you missed Part 1, you should listen to that first. Enjoy!
The rabbis tell the story of a student of the seer of Lublin, a wise and religious man.
The student decided that in order to be closer to God, he would fast (no food or water) from the end of one Sabbath (Saturday at sundown) to the beginning of the next (Friday at sundown).
As the next Sabbath approached, the student was very thirsty, and, as he walked to his teacher's house to welcome the Sabbath, he passed a well. He stopped at the well, and then told himself, "If I have a drink of water now, I will have wasted the rest of the week." He walked away without a drink.
As he continued his journey, the student felt proud of himself, and recognizing the sin of pride, rushed back to the well, saying, "better I should fail in my fast than to feel pride." When he got back to the well, however, he was no longer thirsty, and continued on to his teacher's house without taking a drink.
When he arrived, the seer admonished him for his patchwork approach to getting closer to God. "You should go into your fast with unity of soul."
This translates so well into our want-to-do-everything world. Beyond #FOMO ("fear of missing out"), we have a problem wherein we want to be seen as so many different things — indeed to do so many different things.
It's fine to do a lot, but do it with unity of vision. Do it with a sense of purpose. Do everything with an eye toward being your best you. And if something is leading you away from that path, stop doing it. Now.
Want to know if you're on the right track here? Open your calendar. What did you do last week? The week before? What's there for the next week? How about the week after? Ask why about everything that's on there. Can you come up with an answer that makes sense to you? If not, maybe consider reconfiguring your calendar a little.
Start saying no to stuff that you feel like you have to do but that don't suit your purpose. Be one with you.
A photo posted by Bert Kreischer (@bertkreischer) on
Sometimes I listen to a podcast with the expectation that it's going to be really fun, and instead of laughing a lot, I find myself saying, oh no, now I need to listen to this again with pen and paper nearby.
Comedian Robert Kelly was on Bertcast — the podcast of comic and Travel Channel personality Bert Kreischer — and it really turned into something you need to hear.
Here are my takeaways from the episode:
• Help your friends out, but also hold them accountable
• Know the things you want and need to be your best — and demand them
• Learn how to cut off the fat
• Learn how to say no
• Don't say anything you can't take back (Kelly is sometimes on Comedy Central's "Roast Battle," a show on which the point is to make fun of other comics; the lesson here is some things are off-limits — know how you can tease people, but know what's too far)
• Spontaneity isn't always good
• Don't put in the work if the payoff isn't there
• Hard work is hard
• We are in a period of excellence and variety
• Don't let emotion get the better of you
• What is your peak? Are you willing to keep going on the other side of it?
• Sometimes it's worth the risk
• It's worth doing exactly what you want, but do it for you, and do it your way
• You don't know where it's going, but it's definitely not going anywhere if you don't do it to your expectations
• Not everybody is going to be a rock star
• Have measured expectations
• Be realistic about where you are
• Try to be better
• Do what you do; you ever where it's going to get you
• Don't let expectations weigh you down
• In a saturated market, how do you stand out?
• You're worth what you're worth. If you get $X and someone's only offering $y, you can still love them honestly but say no
• Don't jump in a big pond just to be a small fish. Kelly's actual quote: "Why do I want to be the pepper in your chop suet? People want chop suet; they don't care what's in it."
• It's up to you if you stay or go – not the audience, not your mother, not anyone else
• Bring people with you
In 1871, Otto von Bismarck engineered the unification of Germany. When he was forced out of power in 1897, he said that things would probably start to collapse within 20 years, and that a European war would probably break out thanks to "some damned foolish thing in the Balkans."
In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria decided to go check out the provinces and hold a parade on a day of national significance to the colonized Serbs. He was assassinated, and World War I broke out, which led to World War II.
This is not to say von Bismarck was a miracle worker or could predict the future. He merely understood the context of the situation.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy pulled a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Territory (Hawaii was not yet a state). The attack marked America's entry into World War II.
It also marked the beginning of the end of the America First Committee, a large anti-war group that shut down on December 10 of that year.
This wasn't the tie-dyed hippie peace, love and understanding anti-war movement we all know from movies about Vietnam. And it wasn't the "hate the war, love the troops" anti-war groups we know from the more recent American wars.
This was a "we're white Protestant Americans, screw everybody else" group. They were hard-left isolationists. They wanted to make sure America didn't bail out Europe (you know, again, like after the first World War). They wanted America to turn away Jews fleeing the Holocaust. They wanted to shut the borders, cut off aid, and rely on homegrown everything — avoid all international trade as long as possible.
This was an organization claiming 850,000 paid members. 850,000 people who wore pins and carried signs and hung posters that said "America First."
So you'll forgive me if I can't get behind Republicans using "America First" this campaign cycle.
Significantly, we'll remember the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor a month after the presidential election.
If you think I'm being over-sensitive about this context, look back on how World War I got started: A government official went into a territory that wanted to be independent without being cognizant of the history of the date he picked.
Context is everything.
What is context?
It's content outside of of a vacuum.
Think of a rainbow. On a t-shirt. A purple t-shirt.
In the 1950s, nobody would have made that t-shirt. It didn't mean anything to anyone. Now, it'd be popular, especially with a particular segment of the population. Why? Context.
A Red Sox cap would have meant nothing to anyone in 1840. "Why is there a 'B' on your cap, sir?"
When Kelvin and I started our podcast, we started with the premise, "A black guy and a Jew walk into a bar."
We can use that premise not just because we are a black guy and a Jew who occasionally enjoy going to a bar when we're in the same town, we can use it because of some context.
First of all, "a [blank] and a [blank] walk into a bar" is a common setup for jokes, so it has some cultural meaning.
Secondly, we're not sensitive about our cultural identifications — our "othernesses."
If you were to randomly walk up to a black guy and a Jew and greet them as such — "HEY! It's a black guy and a Jew!" — you'd better hope they have good senses of humor.
That's context, and it's important.
The Selfie Stick would have sold horribly in the 1980s. Nobody was taking selfies.
Marketing? Maybe. Timing? Maybe. Cultural context? For sure.
While I'm not a proponent of "political correctness," I'm also not a proponent of hurting people intentionally to prove a point. But above all, I'm a proponent of understanding context. If you don't understand context, you don't get to criticize people for feeling how they feel.
For instance, you don't get to tell Dana Schwartz she's overreacting when someone calls her a "filthy oven-dodger" if you don't have the context of people trying to kill everybody like you.
Six years ago, when I reviewed her previous book The Zen of Social Media Marketing, I wrote about how smart Shama Hyder is. So, when her team asked if I'd review her new book, momentum, I said absolutely.
momentum landed at my doorstep at a tumultuous time in my life, and I'm embarrassed to say I sat on it for a few months until I could find the focus.
I'm glad I found that focus, though. The book is absolutely worth a read if you're starting a business, in business, or need to rethink your social marketing strategy.
It's most important if you're not integrating your online and real-world marketing strategies.
Hyder details five principles: Agility, customer focus, integration, curation and cross-pollination. She also includes a bunch of tools and takeaways, and I'm not going to spoil those, or you won't need to read the book, which means you won't need to buy the book, which means she would have sent me a book to read for free and then I gave away the good stuff. Instead, I'll clue you in to my notes.
I will say, first, that the book is astoundingly simple to follow. Hyder includes real-world examples, and runs a narrative of a fictionalized sports drink company throughout the book, so you'll be able to see what the strategies she outlines look like in action, rather than having to figure out how the strategies apply to you.
I have two different note-taking strategies for books. One is to use a single notebook, which has the drawback that if I'm taking notes on multiple things concurrently, they get mixed. The other is to use Post-It Notes upside-down (so that the sticky bit is at the bottom), so that when the note is full I stick it to the last page I took a note on and the notes are right-side up. That has the drawback of a bunch of little pieces of paper, but more continuity.
I used the latter method for momentum. Here are some of the highlights from my notes. Bold items are my favorites.
• Targeting very specific individuals is now very easy.
• Marketing used to be an outward push; now it's an inward pull.
• It's easier than ever to analyze effectiveness and change strategy mid-campaign
• There's a ton of data now; use it to be agile. Track and adapt.
• "Agility in marketing leads directly to marketing momentum" (p. 20) — when the lights went out in the Super Bowl in 2013, Oreo took to Twitter for an unplanned campaign
• Nothing is sacred
• Identify your goals, make them clear and understand who is in charge of them
• Be specific about your targets
• Create overall strategies, then drill down to individual campaigns, and be willing to change those individual campaigns
• Be patient, track, change and automate
• All your online activities should be integrated
• People use social media to show themselves off, not to connect; that makes it easy to figure out how your target customers present themselves and you can then make that happen with your product
• Sometimes going viral is luck, but by making a campaign personal, you can get there predictably
• Use existing data to answer specific questions about your customers
• Create a customer persona with a detailed background — it will help you understand the customer better
• Survey, analyze, listen and test
• Conversations are better than monologues
• Connect with influencers among your customer groups
• Your customers should have a consistent brand experience whether they find you on Instagram, Twitter, a radio ad or a billboard
• Stop separating your digital and traditional marketing groups
• Find ways to integrate your digital and traditional marketing, such as posting radio and TV ads on YouTube and asking someone to like a Facebook page on your company's business cards
• "Information is not a substitute for knowledge." (p. 99)
• Outside content is important — don't only push your own content.
• Partner with your partners — if a store that sells your product is having a sale on other items, promote that sale and maybe people will pick up your product, too.
• Close the loop: Introduce your partners to each other
• Return on investment (ROI) is no longer about money coming in, it's about relationships being built
I hope you go pick up a copy of momentum, wherever you are in your business. Take the advice personally, and take it seriously. It's meant for everybody.
Disclosure: Book provided for the purpose of review.
On the first of August, I sat down to work, and found my mouse was difficult to move. I should mention that's unusual. It's a laser mouse, I have a fairly smooth non-reflective mouse pad, and my wrist is in fine shape.
It turns out there was a sweet note from my wife, Jenny, who decided August was going to be "love notes for Josh" month.
Awesome, right? Definitely. She always is.
It's Jenny's birthday. So, happy birthday, my love.