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"Let's tack a motivational poster to the wall, and watch our employees soar. Those puppies pay for themselves within the first minute. Yay, yay, yay!"

Blah, blah, blah, blah. Puh-lease! Our elementary, middle, and high school teachers were wrong, wrong, wrong. (Though we still love 'em!) Motivational posters do nothing but undermine people's self-motivation to produce spectacular results.

"But why do motivational posters suck so bad?"

Motivational posters forget: People already strive for Jordan-esque greatness. People are already self-motivated If put in the right conditions, in the right environment, with the right resources, people will strive to be Michael Jordan in their respective fields regardless of what you do, say, or force.

Peep this scenario.

Imagine putting an Bob inside a burning house, with his wife, and two kids. Second floor. The house is collapsing to pieces. He has three minutes. What do you think he'll do? It's an extreme scenario, but it's the same concept: if put in the right conditions, people will produce the greatest $^@^%^ results they can.

Let people become rockin' superstars.

The key question is not "How do I motivate Bob?" But: "How do I provide the necessary environment to see Bob soar like a freakin' eagle on steroids?" If you tap people's passionate soul, they will do the best they can to produce the world's greatest results. Regardless of generic motivational cardboards, signs, or speeches. Says UCLA's Dr. Samuel Culbert:

Managers should be trying to remove obstacles to productivity, and they need to ask their people how to do this. By putting up these signs, managers are showing that they don't care about the answers.

"What do I do now?"

Trash those posters. Go Zidane on those mutha fluckas. Then, lean back, and tell your bad self:

Motivational posters are pieces of bad poo.

Posted on August 08

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Bob's typical workday:

  1. Drive to work.
  2. Get directions from boss.
  3. Do work.
  4. Go home.
Drones. Boring-ness. Nothingness. Blah-ness. That's how most employers treat their employees. And that's why job satisfaction and productivity among employees suck. To maximize performance, tap into each individual's motivation. One way to do that?

"Your contribution means something."

Affirm what your employees mean to you. Let your them know how much of a kick-ass impact they're having on your business, your clients, the world.

It's in the study.

According to the American Psychological Society:
People want to feel that they are making a difference, especially when it comes to the jobs they do. When workers are aware that their work makes a difference to others -- even in small ways -- their job satisfaction rises. So does their productivity.

Your competitors aren't doing it. Advantage = You.

Somewhere along the way, most businesses lost their human touch. "It's all about processes, structure, bureaucracy to keep things in order," they say. "Our employees are liabilities," they cringe. Instead, smart businesses let it be known that every single person's contribution has a huge-freakin'-impact. Psychologically, that improves your employees' happiness and makes them more productive. Morally, you're giving credit where credit's due. So what do you tell your employees on Mondays?

"You're having a rockin' impact on our clients' lives. Thank you, playa."

Posted on August 07

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You've angered your business partner over buying a Pink Tutu for the office. You're trying to make good on the situtation, but it seems things can't get back to normal. He won't open up to you like before. What do you do?

Beat him. Just kidding. The somewhat more serious answer: Make the dude:


Like seeking common interests, laughter connects two people emotionally -- according to Psychologist Dr. Robert Bovine.

Why Laughter

Laughter turns a blah! situation into a positively energetic atmosphere. When we work with our suppliers, and negotiations turn tense, we diffuse it by making people laugh. It clears the negative emotions, and helps both parties make rational decisions. Laughter also works effectively when you're having the "hard talks" with your workers.

"Bob, I don't like how you did this."

...never makes anybody happy -- no matter how nice you try to be. Laughter, then, brings a sense of "I'm-still-on-your side" goodness to the situation. It's one of the secret sweet sauces we use in our company. When things go weird, remember:

Laughter rocks.

Posted on August 06

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You're gearing up for a sales meeting that could double your business's revenues. You're nervous, but excited, but perplexed, and scared. You think you'll mess up the entire thing if you start out sucking. What the heck do you do?

Remember, people like those who mirror themselves. Psychologically, we feel a highly positive association with those similar to us.

Call it the narcissistic-effect.

  • "You went to my school. I like you."
  • "You're from my hometown. I like you."
  • "You like Conan O'Brien. I like you."

So how do we break the ice with potential clients?

Simple, yet oh-so-sweet: Seek a common interest between the two of you. If you both do volunteering, kite-flying, ball-ing, shot-calling, then open up and mention your mutual interests. They'll open up to you in a snap. And, the best part: you'll sense a rockin' conversation flowing.

Says the study...

Researchers Tanya Chartrand and John Bargh found people connected better through similarities:
In half the cases, the research assistant mirrored the posture and behaviors of the other participant; in the other half, the research assistant did not mirror the participant's behavior. The researchers found that the participants who had been mirrored liked the research assistant more and felt that the interaction was smoother than did participants whose behavior had not been mirrored.
Nervous about your first client meeting?

Seek similarities.

Posted on August 05

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Typical company mindset:

"Just hand them operation manuals."

And execs wonder why training days kill their bottom lines?

Conventional wisdom sucks.

To train your employees, forget what others are doing. Forget the lengthy manuals, lectures, and videos. Instead, get your workers practicing the skills you want. Quickly. If you're training PHP programmers, have them create "mini" games. If you're training chefs, hold a bake-off contest. If you're training mechanics, have them fix a beat-up car.

Seek the two-way environment.

People train better if they're exposed to an interactive environment; says YaYa's Keith Ferrazzi and Jane Chen: "Employees learn and retain more from interactive games than they do from the one-way delivery of information."

The Typical Training Sucks

  • Boss: Here's a manual.
  • Bob: Okay.
  • Boss: Read it.
  • Bob: Okay.
  • Boss: Have you read it?
  • Bob: Yes. (Not really.)
Training at typical companies are disasters because they:
  1. Waste Time
  2. Waste Company Money
  3. Waste Employee Potential

Instead, use Chrysler's two-way mindset:

Chrysler uses an on-line game to help train Jeep and Dodge dealers on the nuances of different four-wheel-drive systems. Players learn by assembling drive-train components in a virtual motor pool and then applying that knowledge in a simulated driving experience through a variety of environments. Preliminary results show a ten-times better retention rate from playing the game than from reading a manual.
We small guys probably can't afford building a humongous on-line game like Chrysler. But, we can all incorporate the sweet two-way interactive mindset in our training environments (e.g. through affordable game questionnaires, choose-your-own-adventures, and of course: exposing them to the actual environment).

No More Training Mediocrity.

Imagine coaching a football game without exposing your team to a practice game. Or, putting a broadcaster on the air with just training books. They could be the greatest manual nerds in the world, but the one-way mindset won't build the skills you desire. The template:

Interactive training rocks.

Posted on August 04

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The inventors go: "Peeps: Let's build a ginormous sweet robot, with surround sound that's off the heezy, a big freakin' TV covering the entire dashboard, and the oh-so-sweet secret sauce: a built-in kitchen."

People put their lives, their bank accounts, their 31423423 all-nighters building that one-killer innovation. And that's too bad: most "killer" innovations won't sell. Instead of building that one-killer innovation, do the radical thing among the "new economy" people:

Just improve something that really, really sucks.

That's it. Here's why:

Killer Innovations Never Happen Overnight

The iPod: a great, killer innovation. But what spearheaded the effort? The 8-track in the 1970s, the Walkman in the 1980s, the CD Players in the 1990s, the mp3 players in the early 2000s. What seems like an overnight innovation success story is actually a gradual ascent to it. The Walkman improved how people could listen to music anywhere; the CD player improved on sound quality -- and so on. Great, killer innovations are nothing but:

They're just improved products.

Nothing fancy. Nothing overkill. People want that. They can't take an overnight leap. It's too much for them. They want gradual steps. (As with everything in life.) And that's what improved products do.

Why a Killer Product Failed, and Others Succeeded

You look at the Segway. A great, killer innovation -- it seemed. Had all the pieces in place to make a great product. But, why aren't people adopting it? It's too radical for them. You're telling them to take one giant leap to Pluto. Instead, notice the recent surge in "mini" cars (e.g. the Mini Cooper)? Automobile companies improved on the typical gas-guzzling car by packaging a sweet ride for consumers who were environmentally-conscious. Simple, sweet, and sexy: Just improve on something that consumers find "sucky."

"But I want to be rich overnight."

But...but...but...unless you win the lottery, it's a long-shot. Why not just follow in the footsteps of those dot-com billionaires? Take some sucky product, and improve the ^^@^ out of it. Google did it with precise search engine results; eBay did it with a convenient, extensive, and wholesome marketplace; MySpace did it with widespread and deep communities. None of those companies created their killer innovations. They all had incumbents; and they clobbered all of 'em by improving on the incumbents' sucky products.

The Innovation Guru States...

Says Michael Treacy of GEN3:
Often, radical business model innovations are too radical for their markets -- that is, customers won't pay for all that invention. Webvan went broke after discovering this, failing to bring in enough from its online grocery customers to support its novel, massive distribution infrastructure.

"What do I do now?"

If you're seeking the next big thing, forget sitting around drumming up your great idea; instead, take baby steps. It takes time. You'll get there. Step-by-sweet-step. In the meantime, here's the rockin' template for ya:

"I will improve on a sucky product."

Posted on August 03

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  • "We'll build a better product. We'll win, easily."

  • "We have so many more features than the competition. We'll win easily."

  • "Our product has an extra __________. Dude, we'll so win easily."

  • "Let's choose our Porsches!"

Not quite, our beloved amigos. Most entrepreneurs tout their better features. The theory goes: "If my product has more features, that means I have a better product. Then, people will buy my product instead." Who can fault them? The so-called business experts encourage them: "Get your competitive advantage. Get better capabilities. If they have one widget, have two," they say. Sure that's common sense talking: people buy products that are feature-rich, right?

But, folks: common sense is wrong.

People don't buy "better" products. People don't buy rationally. People buy emotionally. Then, they try to rationalize their purchases.

See: The Feature-Rich Zen Vs. the Stylish iPod

The Creative Zen murders the iPod in features and cost: bigger hard drive, FM radio, voice recorder, among others. But, the iPod offers something the Zen doesn't: an emotional connection. Zen sells features. iPod sells style.

People buy on emotions, says the fabulous research.

Building on research on the mind, Harvard Business School Professor Gerald Zaltman states that 95% of our purchasing decisions happen in our subconscious:

What we really think is largely hidden from us. In other words, most of what we know we don't know we know. Probably 95% of all cognition, all the thinking that drives our decisions and behaviors, occurs unconsciously -- and that includes consumer decisions. That's not to say that the 5% we're privy to is unimportant -- just that marketers overemphasize its importance, because it's so visible and easy to access.

Bob: "I bought a Mercedes. It has better stuff."

Sure, it probably does have better capabilities; but, like most non-car buffs, Bob bought his sweet ride based on emotions. He bought status. Then, he tried to rationalize his purchase with choosing "better capabilities."

How to sell your new product

If you want to sell your new product, touting features won't compel your customer to buy your product. You're targeting the customer's rational side --- when the irrational side does 95% of the talking. What do you do then?

Forget selling features.

Sell status. Sell luxury. Sell solutions. Sell hope. Sell inspiration.

Sell dreams.

Posted on August 02

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"Grow your business" the so-called "experts" tell us. Growth is good. Seek growth. "If you don't have $_______ in revenues next year, you're a failure." Blah. Blah. Blah! Folks, the so-called "experts" are wrong.

Growing for growth's sake is a path to failure.

The typical "Let's-grow-at-all-costs" business model goes like this:
  1. Bob opens bakery shop.
  2. Bob gets rave reviews. Gets a stream of referrals. Gets great publicity.
  3. Bob grows business: opens five new shops.
  4. Bob gets complaints: "We're increasingly getting bad inventory," his team tells him.
  5. Bob, focused on growth, opens ten new shops. "When we grow, these problems take care of themselves," he thinks.
  6. More growth. More problems. Horrible services. Unfulfilled orders.
  7. Customers run off.
  8. "Where's the money?"
  9. Bob closes shop.

What's wrong with super-fast-let's-just-do-it growth?

Most businesses start out fabulously. Customers love them. Then, the unfortunate: owners put their companies on growth steroids -- growing viciously, without any infrastructure to support that growth. Instead of getting those rave reviews the once-fantab companies had before, customers are sending them litigation threats for forgetting their orders.

Growth for growth's sake sucks.

When you focus on growth for growth's sake, your main crime:
  • You dismiss customer needs.

  • Instead, you adopt the "me-first" attitude. What can I get? How can I grow? How can I squeeze every cent out of my customer? That's a good, and eventual ingredient for long-term failure.

The solution to growing your company.

Think back to your first customer. How kick-ass was your customer experience? How responsive were you? How much did customers value you? If you're treating your second, third, 10th, 100th, or 1,000,000,000th customer the same as your first, you're growing the bad-ass-Trizzy-approved way (i.e. correctly). When in doubt of growth, remember:

I treat my ____th customer like my first.

Posted on August 01

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Your Scenario: You have six months to complete a big project. You're leading a team of five. They all hate you, your mama, and your mama's mama. You've had bad encounters with all of 'em at a "How-to-make-$1-billion-in-2-days" conference two days ago. You talked about each of their mamas. How, then, do you make them like you? It's the million dollar question.

To understand how to answer that question, first understand how humans really think.

The way people think, the way people act: We're similar. We're lemmings, almost. Social psychology lets us understand what goes on inside every one of our intricate brains, no matter who we're dealing with. Ever had an argument? Then made up? Why did you make up? It probably had a similar scenario:

  1. Bob and Jane argue
  2. Bob sends Jane flowers
  3. Bob and Jane kiss

What made Jane switch her position? Because Bob was nice. And, because Bob was nice, Jane returned that generosity.

It's the whole "I-love-you-because-you-love-me" factor (a.k.a. "reciprocity" factor).

Punch Bob. Watch Bob punch you. Smile at Bob. He'll smile at you. Like Bob. And, he'll like you. It's the concept derived from our favorite psychologist, Robert Cialdini:

You offer somebody something; that person feels obligated to repay you.

So how do I make people, who hate me, like me?

Simple: Like them. Genuinely. That's it. Simple, sweet, and way beyond sexy. It also applies to every situation imaginable. Altogether, now:

I like you. You are a bad-ass.

Posted on July 31

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Think back to your first middle-school girlfriend, your first brand new car, or your first two-dollar check. What excited you about it?

Probably not the rewards.

It was the anticipation of the rewards that we loved. The cheesy anxiety we felt about asking out the person, looking through car brochures and choosing our features, or working our butts off to get those sweet two-hundred cents. It's a reason serial entrepreneurs exist: They start a firm thinking they'll be happy with a million bucks, see they want more after their conquests, starts another firm -- as the vicious cycle continues, like Anna Nicole weddings to rich 88 year-olds.

The chase rocks like no other feeling in the world.

It's a reason ordinary folks want to be millionaires. Millionaires want to be billionaires. Billionaires want to be the Warren Buffets and the Bill Gateses. Bill Gates wants to win Nobel Prizes. Nobel Prize winners want to historical recognition. The chase excites the bejeebus out of us.

What made billionaires happy?

Steve Jobs. Michael Dell. Bill Gates. Warren Buffett. Richard Branson. Yet, ask any 'em their happiest company moments, and it'd go something like this: "I'd have to point back to when we started. We had barely any money. We had torn furniture. Bad offices. No pedigrees. Just dreams. Aspirations. Youth. Pursuits of riches, fame, and changing the world. Happiest time of my life."

The reason the "chase" excites us?

According to an experiment by Stanford neuroscientist Brian Knutson, our brains gets excited more by the anticipation -- than the actual reward from our conquests:

[Knutson] used fMRI to watch subjects' brains as they reacted to the prospect of receiving money. Among the brain regions that lit up in this experiment was the nucleus accumbens, signaling in its primitive way, "You want this." The higher the potential monetary reward, the more active the accumbens became. But activity ceased by the time the subjects actually received the money - suggesting that it was the anticipation, and not the reward itself, that aroused them.

Let's have fun.

As you build your rockin' business, remember the simple concept: Enjoy your world now, because your chase will excite you more than any amount of money you'll ever, ever receive. Your journey kicks your destination's ass, and feeds it impeccably to its children. Tha sweet lookin' template:

"My journey's better than its destination. I will enjoy the mutha flucka out of it."

Have fun, y'all.

Posted on July 30

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