Keep Score

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“There’s a difference between knowing a thing and knowing data.” – Chris McChesney

Chris McChesney shares an interesting view about how education trains leaders in strategy and planning but not execution. We tend to blame people for problems when in reality it is the system that is the problem, and leaders have to own this truth. To stay on track, McChesney shares four leadership disciplines.

  1. Focus on the Wildly Important Goal (WIG): What are the fewest battles to do to win the war? Stay focused on the goal and execute it with simplicity and transparency.
  2. Act on the lead measure: There’s a difference between knowing a thing and knowing data. For example, we may know a thing such as the need to diet and exercise in order to lose weight. But, few know the actual data such as the calorie count needed for our diet. Understand both the thing and the data behind it.
  3. Keep a compelling scoreboard: People play differently when they keep score. Keep a simple scoreboard that is visible with the right measures available to your team. Everyone should know if we are winning or losing.
  4. Create a canvas of accountability: Have weekly commitment meetings—like standups—with your team, but never urgent. Urgency trumps importance, and this is why execution is hard. In these meetings, report on last week’s commitment, review and update the scoreboard, and make commitments for next week. Then break!

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In one of his keynotes, Gary Vaynerchuk talks a bit about how “attention is the number one currency in our society”. This shouldn’t be a surprise right? Yet, it’s not always understood, especially when it comes to marketing.

Before you start chatting about how great you are or selling about how wonderful your products are, you need my attention first in order for me to listen or care. In today’s very noisy landscape of ever-expanding media channels constantly coming in at all our senses, we need to understand that attention comes first. And if I can’t relate to you, or if I don’t trust you, you don’t have my attention. Despite how awesome you say your product or service is, it’s noise; and people are really good at selective listening.

So there is the landscape of “competitors” to be aware of in business, but the greatest competition is that of being heard.

One thing that has always stuck with me was from an undergrad marketing class I took where the instructor was lecturing about the A.I.R. concept. In order to market something, your product or service needs A.I.R. – First it must grab attention. Second, it must hold your attention with interest. Lastly, it must be so impactful that the customer will recall your brand.

Maybe you read this post, or maybe you thought it was noise. It’s interesting that you have that choice to decide.

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We Sell to Committees

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In the book Dealstorming, Tim Sanders describes how deals are becoming more difficult to close because there are more decision-makers, there is more information at a prospects fingertips, there is an increasing complexity with the technology of products and services, and there are more competitors in the marketplace. The number of decision-makers involved in deals are increasing by 15% each year in the tech industry with an average of 5 decision-makers in the process of most deals. Selling to a committee is hard.

What is also more challenging is the fact that customers are being involved later in the buying process. They are often 60% into their purchasing decision before talking to sales. Buyers don’t need a sales person to explain the details. They will look it up on their own because they think they know the problem, solution, and fair price for this solution. Gone are the days of presenting a problem and providing a solution. The purpose of sales is to “re-educate” the buyer to make corrections to their presumptions.

To be successful in sales, we need to understand how consumers find, vet, and buy products. And at today’s competitive age, we need to be more concerned about retention in order to keep buyers coming back. Retention is more important than the number of new sales.

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There is an Offline

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“Word of mouth is more targeted.”

I am fascinated by Jonah Berger’s book I am currently reading called Contagious, where he talks about why things catch on. Why do some things go viral and some don’t? It’s a good book to complement The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, of which I thoroughly enjoyed reading as well.

One thing that struck me is the answer to the question: what percent of word of mouth occurs online? If you’re like me you may guess a large number, perhaps even above 50%. Berger highlights research by Keller Fay Group that only 7% of word-of-mouth occurs online. Wait, what?!

If you think about it however, this makes sense. We (society) may spend a lot of time online, but it’s not 24/7. The average person spends a few hours a day on social media, but there are 24 hours in a day. Comparatively, those few hours are not much in the bigger picture. Top off the fact that just because people are online doesn’t mean they are consuming your content or talking about it.—Yep, people are not waiting at the edge of their seat for your next social media ad to appear in their feed. Shocking I know.

“We tend to overestimate online word of mouth because it’s easier to see.”

It’s easy to get hung up on “numbers”, the analytics that social media “tools” provide us. However, be careful here because it’s dangerous to get hung up only on things that can be seen without inserting perspective on what is not as quantitative.

Companies still grew when social media didn’t exist in the past. There still is an offline world. Just take a look at Seth Godin, the best-selling author of 18 books alongside admirable work in entrepreneurship and marketing. Aside from his daily blog, he doesn’t use social media channels. He doesn’t need it and is doing just fine.

Makes you think.

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