Saturday, June 24, 2006

What a great game... RISK!

20 years ago I was introduced to a game of strategy (and world domination) called RISK. Several friends and I became obsessed with this game during our senior year in college. I guess it was our version of Dungeons and Dragons, The Gathering or Doom. We were obsessed with this game about military strategy. Though I'm known today as somewhat of a strategy expert, it took me quite a while to learn the nuances of RISK.

20 years later not much has changed. My wife, 10 year old son and I sat down to three 2 hour sessions attacking and defending in pursuit of territories, continents and ultimately the world. In the end my wife, Cheryl, was triumphant (as usual). My son Ben and I were dispatched in a cold and methodical fashion. Where we would joke and let our emotions take us where they would, my dear Cheryl would refuse to let emotion enter in at all. She was focused and determined. Her mind was never far from her next attack.

If you look at the game from the rulebook it's about world domination, but if you look at RISK from the human perspective Ben and I had more fun. So in a way, we both won.

My life story (both personally and in business)has been one of risk. But it's also been one of fear of success. I guess I've always wanted the world to think of me as a success but I've learned that I've got to believe it and have a strategy before there can be any real success. Risk with no strategy is foolishness. On occassion foolishness can be a good thing. But when risk is the strategy, in the end you will lose... and lose big.

So what's your strategy for risk?

Friday, June 23, 2006

When Brands Backfire

Have you ever heard a brand backfire? It makes a loud popping sound when it happens. It's when an organization spends a lot of money on building it's brand (thinking that any brand-building activity will = profits, or at least more sales revenues) and then "WHOP" the only things increased are the alienation of their current customers, the yawns or worse the anger from their prospects creating a negative word of mouth maelstrom.

Why does this happen? I have several thoughts on this but want to get your feedback and then I'll share. Not fair is it? Ok, I'll get you started... one thing that tends to happen is the brand building is totally disconnected from the reality of the company.

Now it's your turn.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Andy's Always Excited!

I've always been interested in the whole concept of creativity, thinking and doing things in new and different (and sometimes better) ways. I've met Creative Directors who were anything but creative and CFO's who were a little too creative (if you know what I mean -- does Enron ring a bell).

Andy Stefanovich is the founder and person in charge of what's next at PLAY, a innovation/creativity consulting company that works with some of the biggest and brightest companies in the world. I heard him speak this morning at the Hanover Business Council breakfast. This is a sub-group of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce (Richmond, Virginia). About 40 or so were in attendance. Every male in the room was dressed in a suit and tie. And Andy? He had on a pair of dirty jeans, a worn black t-shirt and a black baseball cap. Impressive, huh?!

But with Andy it just doesn't seem to matter. His creativity, energy, enthusiasm, insight and emotion drive you beyond the external (suits versus jeans) and encourages his audience to "look at more stuff" and "think about it harder" (even when he's constantly dropping the names from his impressive Fortune 100 client list).

My original point was going to be that Andy is sometimes a little too creative (he was definitely under-dressed for his audience and his talk went in several directions at once, seemingly coming stream of conscious from some random words on small blocks of paper.

But the more I reflect on it, Andy did his job. He was creative in his approach, he demonstrated his credibility (client list) and was enthusiastic and encouraging (he actually did focus on the audience - must have been when I wasn't looking). By not being like his audience Andy cut through the ordinariness of the meeting and embedded himself deeply in the minds of those in attendance. My guess is I'm not the only one spreading the word about "that interesting speaker at the Hanover Business Council meeting".

Good job Andy! You're a real original!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Over a year ago I made a rather interesting discovery (at least I think so). I was looking for information on creating free publicity and came across a lady who calls herself the "Publicity Hound." I perused her website for a while and then signed up for her free e-newsletter. I found the information somewhat useful but the true value I received was in the way she did business. I learned about a very powerful (and profitable) way to use the same content in many connected forms and in so doing create a seemingly never ending source of income. I'm sure that's as clear as mud so let me take a minute to explain further.

The Publicity Hound travels around the U.S. doing seminars and speeches. At each stop she mentions her website and various resources available (e-newsletter, pamphlets, cd's, dvd's, workbooks... and teleseminars). The teleseminar is usually an interview with an expert on a certain topic. The teleseminar is recorded and made into both a pamphlet and a cd. The topic is then written about in her e-newsletter and links to all the products available to help the subscriber learn more. Upcoming speeches, seminars and teleseminars are also listed. In effect, a never ending loop of revenue has been created.

I was so enthralled with my discovery that I contacted the Publicity Hound and asked her a rather personal question, "How much do you make each month from your product sales?" Her answer shocked and amazed me. Let's just say she makes 5 figures per month. This is not someone with great name recognition (have you heard of her before?) But she has good search engine recognition and good content. And once you get caught in her revenue loop it's very difficult to get out.

So are you connecting all your potential revenue generating activities?

Hello Blogosphere

Hello Blogosphere.

I've decided to join the conversation. I've been overthinking what to write about so I guess I'll just write about whatever comes to mind.

Hmmm... let's see. Do any of you ever feel best when you're just running from one task to another? The experts say that's a very unproductive way to work but I've found that it stirs connections that people don't usually make. For example, I went to McDonald's this morning for breakfast (my wife and kids are out of town) and brought a book about blogging and my journal. While I was reading (and eating) I couldn't help but overhear the conversation the gentleman at the next table, a rather blustery individual, was having using his bluetooth headset. It seems he thought that Richmond, VA sucks because it is so hot and humid.

I had just been reading about how blogging can help reinforce a message or influence people in a new direction by creating a "relationship" with them. The blogging book and the sweaty, blustery, blue tooth afficianado mixed together in my brain to produce, what I think is a rather interesting insight about my dear home city. How you perceive Richmond depends on who or what you have a relationship with. If my only source of information is someone who's experience with Richmond consists solely with the weather, I'll probably think, "Yeah, Richmond sucks." But if I have friends and acquaintances that talk of the history, the architecture, the food, the business environment and the great creative community... well you'd have a completely different reaction.

So, why am I blogging? I want a say in what you think and I want to find new perspectives that will open up new worlds to me.

So what's going on in your head?