January 7, 2016

The Illusion and (Mis)uses of Certainty

September’s Harvard Business Review had a really thought-provoking article for me called How Certainty Transforms Persuasion.  Seth Godin wrote a blog post around the same time called The Illusion of Control.  The two together make for an interesting think about using information to shape behavior as leaders.  I’ve often been accused of delivering too many mixed messages to the company at all-hands meetings, so I enjoyed the think, though not in the way I expected to. Let’s start with Seth’s thesis, which is easier to get through.  Essentially he says that nothing is certain, at best we can influence events, we’re never actually in control of situations…but that we think we are: When the illusion of control collides with the reality of influence, it highlights the fable the entire illusion is based on…You’re responsible for what you do, but you don’t have authority and control over the outcome. We can hide from that, or we can embrace it. Moving onto the much longer HBR article, the key thesis there is that certainty shapes our behavior, as the more certain we are of a belief (whether it’s correct or incorrect), the more it influences us: In short, certainty is the catalyst that turns attitudes into action, […]


November 11, 2008

If You’re Going to Do Something, Do It First Class

If You’re Going to Do Something, Do It First Class   I have long made this statement, not just about business, but about life.  Why bother doing something big if you’re not going to do it right?  Don’t just write a senior thesis, get an A on it.  Don’t invite the boss over for dinner and serve chicken nuggets.  You get the idea.   Our marketing team at Return Path totally nailed this last week with our IN conference on Reputation.  They selected a venue, the American Museum of Natural History, that wasn’t just a standard issue hotel conference room.  […]


June 5, 2008

Email Checklist

Email Checklist Seth Godin has a great checklist up this morning of things you should ask yourself before you hit “send” on an email.  It’s a mix of personal rules and business/marketing rules, and it has some pretty entertaining things in it.  Definitely worth a quick read.


November 18, 2007

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye Seth Godin’s post yesterday of the same title has this good advice for businesses who are shutting down: It seems to me that you ought to say goodbye with the same care and attention to detail and honesty you use to say hello. You never know when you’ll be back. The same should be said of companies and employees.  We always try in interviews to be as kind as possible to candidates who we are not going to hire.  I’m sure we don’t always get it right at all levels, but I always make a personal phone call […]


December 11, 2006

Book Short: A Primer on Viral Marketing

Book Short:  A Primer on Viral Marketing “People talk about Andy,” writes Seth Godin in the foreward to Andy Sernovitz’s new book, Word of Mouth Marketing:  How Smart Companies Get People Talking.   “He’s a living, breathing example of the power of word of mouth.”  Andy’s the CEO of WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, and a former colleague of mine. Ever since reading The Tipping Point, I keep looking for the secret sauce around viral marketing.  What is it that makes something cool enough to buzz about?  My conclusion from reading Andy’s book is that secret sauce doesn’t exist.  […]


September 5, 2006

Seth Responds

Seth Responds About an hour after I posted a not so flattering review of Seth Godin’s new book this morning, I got an email from Seth with a couple good points worth responding to here. His main points (other than offering me a refund, which was nice) were that (a) the book itself was very clear about its content — on the book itself (back cover, inside flap, marketing copy), kind of like a ‘live album’ for a recording artist; and (b) if I thought the blog postings were worthwhile, why  did I still feel like there was a downward […]


September 5, 2006

Book Shorts: One Up, One Down

Book Shorts:  One Up, One Down I read new books by two of my favorite authors today:  Geoffrey Moore and Seth Godin.  Moore’s was his best book in years; Godin’s was his worst. Geoffrey Moore’s latest book, Dealing with Darwin:  How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of their Evolution, is Moore’s best book in a while. While I loved Crossing the Chasm and thought Inside the Tornado was a close second, both The Gorilla Game and Living on the Fault Line didn’t do it for me — they both felt like a pile of Silicon Valley buzzwords as opposed […]


September 7, 2005

Book Shorts: Fred the Cow?

Book Shorts:  Fred the Cow? I enjoyed two interesting, super-quick reads from last week that have a common theme running through them:  being remarkable. The Fred Factor, by Mark Sanborn, is one of those learn-by-storytelling business novellas.  It’s all about the author’s mailman, Fred, and how Fred has figured out how to make a difference in people’s lives even with a fairly routine job.  The focal points of the book are things like “practice random acts of kindness” and “turn the ordinary into the extraordinary by putting passion into your work.”  It’s a good reminder that it is unbelievably easy, […]


May 6, 2005

Book Short: More on Email Marketing

Book Short:  More on Email Marketing My friend Bill Nussey’s The Quiet Revolution in Email Marketing is a good read for those in the industry.  It’s a little different in focus than our recently published book, Sign Me Up!, and in many ways is a good complement. Bill develops a good framework for Customer Communication Management (CCM) based on his experience as CEO of SilverPop, one of the leading email marketing companies.  He builds on Seth Godin’s permission framework and applies it directly to email marketing, point by point.  He addresses head on every email marketer’s nightmare, when you tell […]


March 21, 2005

Today’s Wheel: Parsley

Today’s Wheel:  Parsley Spiritually akin to my recent posting As Simple As The Wheel is Seth Godin’s posting today about Parsley, and why we don’t necessarily eat it off our plate but notice when it’s not there.


October 27, 2004

Why is Seth Godin so Grumpy?

Why is Seth Godin so Grumpy? Permission marketing guru Seth Godin says we should all Beware the CEO blog. His logic? Blogs should have six characteristics: Candor, Urgency, Timeliness, Pithiness, Controversy, and maybe Utility — and apparently in his book, CEOs don’t possess those characteristics. Certainly, CEOs who view blogs as a promotional tool are wasting their time, or are at least missing a fundamental understanding about the power of blogs and interactivity. But many of the ones I read (and the one I write) do their best to be anything but promotional. One of my colleagues here describes my […]