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Archive for April, 2013


I judge you by how you play basketball

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

It sucks, but it is true. When I play basketball, I watch how you play and I judge what kind of person you are. Unfortunate but true, because I relate how I play basketball to how I live my life.

I don’t care about dunks. A dunk is fun, but it is, generally speaking, a pure gift of genetics. It is the athletic equivalent of being born with a silver spoon in your mouth.

A great assist is so much more. To make an incredible pass that allows someone else to score requires you to empathize with what your teammates are doing. It requires you to completely understand what is happening in the game, both for your teammates and your opponents. It requires preparation and thoughtfulness. And it is an act of kindness, a mitzvah. You not only made a great play for yourself and your team, you made a great play for the other player. A great passer makes other players play better. A great scorer does not make his team better, he just scores.

Anyone can be a great passer. But when you watch that video, you think, “I could not make that pass.” That is because you have not worked on your game enough. These are the greatest players in history. You have to spend time in the lab. You have to work on your game to be great. If you work, you can make that pass. If you don’t, you can’t. You can always get better at passing if you are willing to put in the time.

Don’t tell me about your 30 point game. Tell me about your triple double. You got 15 points and made 10 great passes and got 10 rebounds? Man, you were working. You got 30 points? Sounds like you shot a lot. I don’t need shooters, I need great players. If we have great players, the points will come. If we have a bunch of guys that love their own game, this is going to suck. Team-first is the only way to play and the only way to live and work.

In life and in basketball, you need to look to make a great pass.

(Keep watching that video, they slow roll you and save the top 10 passes for very late in the video.)

Dove soap is magic for your business

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013


Dove soap is softer on your hands because it is one quarter moisturizing liquid

Best product positioning and marketing slogan of all time.

Think about this elevator pitch. I think about it all the time.

In one line, you know the value proposition: Soap that is softer on your hands!

In one line, you know the differentiation: They are focused on being softer on your hands!

And, most importantly, they tell you the magic: BECAUSE IT IS ONE-QUARTER MOISTURIZING LIQUID.

Now every other soap that wants to get in the game has to deal with this question: does your soap contain moisturizing liquid? How much?

If you are a competitor, your answers can vary:

  • Less than one-quarter: You are doomed
  • More than one-quarter: Are you still technically soap? You are just playing Dove’s game now! This is 3.5 minute abs!
  • We use something else: This is possible. But man, Dove uses moisturizing liquid!

So simple, so crystal clear, so easy to sell. You need to be like this.

Rachel Zoe is my hero

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013


Rachel Zoe is my idol and she should be your also.

Who is Rachel Zoe? Well, if you have to ask, this is probably not that interesting a post. Rachel Zoe is a professional fashion consultant and star of her own reality TV show. I saw her reality TV show for the first time the other day and I have to say, it was about what you would expect: It was basically terrible. But Rachel Zoe is probably a somewhat interesting person: Zoe’s current client list includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner, Kate Hudson, Kate Beckinsale, Debra Messing, Demi Moore, Liv Tyler, Joy Bryant, Molly Sims, Beau Garett, Eva Mendes, Paula Patton, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence and Miley Cyrus. Those are some big names and they basically wear whatever Rachel Zoe tells them to wear.

Anyway, one of the “dramatic moments of the show” goes like this: She is in Paris for fashion week and having an awesome time galavanting from show to show hobnobbing with the fashion-famous. Suddenly she gets a call from America that one of her clients needs an outfit for a photo shoot for a major magazine and did not like any of the clothes that Zoe sent her before she left.

Zoe becomes distressed. She actually says, “How can today go from like the best day ever to the worst day ever. My heart is pounding.” She starts whipping her team to come up with new options for her client, but in a fairly nice way. This is supposed to, I believe, create drama on the show: “crisis!” But what it drove home to me was this: Rachel Zoe cares about her clients. When her clients are unhappy, she is super unhappy. When a client is upset with her performance, it is the worst thing in the world and she will do anything to make it right.

Do you care about your performance that much or are you content to roll with the punches?

Cogmap’s Home Page is actually fairly awesome

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Cogmap’s home page is awesome. It is awesome like an Apple product. That is how awesome it is.

I was contemplating Cogmap’s home page today and how I could change it to make you love Cogmap more. (Cogmap is both severely under-resourced and was created pre-good tools for split-testing, so no other home page has ever really existed.)

Here is my story:

One of the great things about Apple marketing is that all they do for marketing is show you how to use the product. When people go buy an iPhone, they already know how to use it because the commercials they saw that made them want the iPhone trained them how to use it.

The Cogmap home page is fairly similar in that way. It does a great job of showing you what the product does and how to use it – it’s usability, much like a good Apple product, is its best feature.


Why Young People Are The Most Common Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

People wonder why more VCs fund young people, why more young people are entrepreneurs, and things like that. I have a theory: Young people are too dumb to know better.

This is a huge advantage and it has multiple dimensions. Certainly, it was true of my first start-up. Ah, I remember it well. Our initial business plan said that if we worked really, really, really hard, we could make $35,000 per year!

That is what people are up against. Start-ups where the goal is only to make $35,000 per year. The result is that their cost structure is massively lower, they have access to talent that is incredibly inexpensive, they think 100 customers offering them $20 per month is a mind-blowing business.

But here is the real challenge: They will do anything for a buck. Think about it. If what I just described sounds pretty awesome, imagine what they would offer to do if a customer offered them $15,000. They would do ANYTHING. People with experience out in the corporate world don’t just have mortgages and families and cost structures. They have an idea of what a dollar should be worth. They look for businesses that have “models”. They look for businesses with “Market Size”. And they look for businesses that sound “reasonable”. This is probably the most heart-breaking of all. Very few “grown-ups” try to start businesses that are incredibly hard and/or expensive. They know better! It’s too hard! It’s too expensive! The model doesn’t work!

Young people will start that business and then slowly pivot their way to real revenue and profitability.

If you want to start an awesome start-up, you should start thinking more like that.