Friday, June 17, 2011

Creating Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

This is a review of Guy Kawasaki's talk about his book Creating Enchantment at Stanford. The entire talk can be seen via the following link:

This talk by Guy Kawasaki is based on his latest book titled Enchantment: The Art of changing hearts, minds, and actions. In his talk he explains the basic necessary factors that are a must have, in your product to be able to attract the customers and also in an individual which enable him or her to be able to enchant others.

At the end of his talk while pointing out the points of an enchanter, he said that he should be able to present well and one way of doing that is to customize one’s introduction. That is exactly what he did at the start of his talk. After giving a brief background of his professional career he told the audience that he uses the top ten format of speech, so that if he sucks they know for how long it is going to be; as being long and good is ok, to suck and be short is ok but to suck and be long is equal to being stupid and arrogant. Then he related his experience at Stanford and how he used to aim for being rich and buy an expensive car and when he was able to do that he wanted to be back at Stanford. He showed a practical example of his word, which he stated in the initial portion of his talk that the mark of a good speaker is that he never loses track but the mark of a great speaker is that he goes all over the place and comes back.

Coming back to the core focus of the talk, the step that he explained for a product to be able to enchant the customers and for an individual to do the same, likability is the core. From the stand point of a product, the more innovative a product the more enchantment it needs. From the perspective of an individual too it is a key element. For people the first step in this direction is to improve their smile. The smile has to be a natural one and not a fake one, making crow’s feet good sign instead of a worry alarm. Next comes the right kind of the handshake. These two elements make the first impression of an individual and the first impression does matter a lot everywhere.

Next comes trusting others, as one might be able to like people but not trust them. The rule here is that you have to trust others and then they will reciprocate. Companies like ebay have shown it in practice that it is doable. They trust the people and have shown it by letting them buy a kindle version of a book which they are allowed to return in five days, some people might just read the entire book in five days and return it; still the company trusted people and is running a successful business. By doing this they have proved that generally people are reasonable and trustworthy and those few who are unreasonable, they are the ones who should not be the target for being enchanted. Similar situation is for people. According to Kawasaki, there are two types of people in the world eaters and bakers. People who are always thinking about their own share are the eaters while the bakers are always thinking of how to increase the share for everyone. People who show confidence in trusting are bakers.

Keeping in line of thinking about others, one has to be constantly thinking as to how he or she can help others. In the related scenario when you do something for another individual, a reasonable person is going to thank you back. Instead of replying with a welcome, the better idea is to say ‘I know you would to the same for me’. This way you are relieving the person of the burden and also telling him that he or she owes you and thus will come in need when you are at the other end of the situation. This formula is the key to success for networking.

When launching a product it should be tested on the rule of D deep I intelligent C complete E empowering E elegant. These are the components that the product and its associated features should be giving to the customer on the whole. This will make the product likable to the customers and be able to enchant them.

From the stand point of the message that you convey to your customer, it should be short, sweet and swallowable; based on the mantra and not the mission statement. Followed by this the better idea is to conduct a pre-mortem instead of a post-mortem as post-mortems are too late especially in a business scenario. Pre-mortem lets you see the loop holes in advance and save you from getting to the post-mortem situation. Other important considerations include that one needs to be able to tell a story as people are more interested in listening to it compared to just direct facts.

As the world has been inverted the rule of classic marketing of plant a few seeds and nurture them needs to be shunned and the rule of planting many seeds needs to be taken up. One has to enchant all the possible potential influences, as these days you never know who would be the individual who would make your product a success. The social media is all about word of mouth and no traditional medium was able to predict the success of this new order of connectivity.

Using salient points and highlighting them is another thing on the to do list here. Another important thing here is to create a social proof telling others that as majority of the people are doing it, it means that it is ok to follow suit.

One of the major ‘don’t’ here is the use of money. Even ever money gets into the equation things get complicated and not everything revolves around it. Youtube does not give money to its users but they use it as the need that is being fulfilled is different. Also the trust level differs as believing people who are being paid to enchant will somehow show that it is not entirely genuine.   

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Surf Excel - Tools for School (Corporate Social Responsibility)

Kids are a big consumer segment and marketers are known for targeting them from a very early age. There is even a counter movement against this as this is considered as crossing the ethical lines. The documentary ‘Consuming Kids’ presents the case on this topic in great detail. However, in my opinion it is the way someone uses a medium that determines the ethical aspect of it.

With time the consumer is gaining more awareness and is demanding sustainable solutions for their needs. The rise in the corporate social responsibility units of most of the companies shows how the system can be used for a positive purpose.

One such example is the recent campaign of the Surf Excel, Tools for School. It is promoting the rebuilding of the schools in the flood areas. The TVCs are well executed and most of all, the concept is a really good one. There is a point of view that will state that no company is out there on a philanthropic mission. True that, after all the base line behind every business is to make sure that the ROIs are progressing as intended. But should that be the point of focus as long as the deserving get their due share and contribution towards a sustainable system is being made?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Descending into a state of chaos

Holding on to optimism is getting tough by the day. The absence of justice is the major factor that we are descending into a state of chaos. The combination of lack of justice & the blunt abuse of power by the institutions that are supposed to protect the citizens is deepening the rift between the state & its people. The most recent incident in the long list of similar events is the extrajudicial murder of a 19 year old boy at the hands of the Karachi Rangers. The video footage showing the unarmed boy begging for mercy & then dying of bleeding is heart wrenching.

The bitter reality is that this is not the first time that such an incident has taken place; and the worst part is that like all the previous cases the culprits of this horrifying incident will go free. This way the cycle will continue. There will be an incident, followed by some noise where people will express their horror, fruitless inquiry committees will be formed and then there will be silence.

Nothing can heal the wounds of those who have lost their loved ones to this violence. My personal view on those stating that time heals is that they haven’t been there themselves, & analysing situations from a distance is just too easy. What hurts more is that you know that the culprits will go free & yet more innocent people will undergo similar sufferings.

The absence of a justice system is surly the main culprit here, but we as a society need to share some of the blame as well. Our attention span is short lived, & after that limit expires we get bored of that issue. We need to get rid of our short term memory system because keeping this form of memory only aids this vicious cycle & the perpetrators of injustice.     

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Energy in Human Affairs, Resource Utilization & Clean Source of Energy

'Energy is central to the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of human existence. Energy is a principal source of environmental stress, it is a principal motor of macroeconomic growth, and it is a prerequisite for meeting basic human needs.'
The above mentioned quote very aptly states the importance of energy in the human affairs & lays the foundation for the struggle between different nations that we witness today. If we re-visit the history of the human race we will see that the control over the energy resources has always been a major concern for humans. One of the reasons is that this control is strongly related with the survival of the humans as well.
The hunter societies were the only ones that were not harming the nature in their struggle of survival, but instead giving the nature time to regenerate itself. However, no other form of human community has given the nature its rightful chance of regeneration, not even the agricultural societies.
With the advent of technology & the rapid advancement that is taking place with time, has resulted in an increased level of energy consumption. The life style that the humans of today are used to cannot be imagined without the energy consumption. If we give our current state of affairs a closer look we would see that it is not just the macroeconomics related things that demand excessive use of energy but also our day to day micro level activities that owe their existence & survival to the consumption of insane amounts of energy. No action spares the energy.
As if consumption of energy alone was not bad enough, our concentration on the non-renewable energy is what is causing the planet earth extreme stress.The stress level stretches to the lives of the humans, clearly showing that consuming energy does not only improve our life styles but also causes distress. The harmful affect on the social fabric is something that never comes up during discussions on the topic of energy in human affairs.
The other side of the story indicates that we are not at all considering the fact that the seeds that we are sowing, their fruit will be reaped by our next generations. A kind of fruit that is going to be harmful for them & will be making their survival on this planet very difficult to say the least. We need to keep the following beautiful quote in our minds while leaving our carbon foot prints:
'The planet Earth is not something that we have inherited from our ancestors, instead we have borrowed it from our future generations' – Source Unknown
When a set of people talk about the proper use of the available resources, they are by no means against the development. The only factor they want being considered & applied is the rightful use of the resources & in such a manner that everyone benefits from them & that we leave behind enough of them so that our generations to come can enjoy them as well.
In the book ‘ The Life & Death of the planet Earth’ the authors Peter D. Ward & Donald Brownlee, draw the metaphor of the human life to explain the situation of earth’s life cycle. Just like we humans follow a life cycle that starts with infancy & ends with old age, likewise there was a time when the earth was in its infancy, then early childhood where it had the maximum resources to offer but now as per their studies the planet has reached its middle age already & is heading towards the old age. This is a natural process that we can’t do anything about just like we can’t do anything about our own age. However, what we are doing is that with the way in which we are utilizing our resources & in the process producing the waste material, we are speeding up this ageing process, similar to the situation where a young individual gets some terminal disease.
Keeping this dilemma of the resource utilization let's look at what the people labeled as anti-development are talking about.Utilization of clean source of energy & incorporating them in our life style is what these people are stressing on. Encouraging the habit of
  • Plantation
  • Going back to our roots of growing our own food at least the food items that can be managed in our backyards
  • Maintaining roof gardens
  • Recycling

These are some of the very basic things that are being advocated & encouraged by the environmentalist groups the world over, who work without keeping the bars of geographical boundaries in their minds & want to save the entire planet & not just some specific part or country of the world.
One of the perspectives states that this is easy in just saying but not so particle keeping in mind the way we are now used to live our lives. Again this is just the result of the wrong kind of marketing. If we just take a break from our fast paced lives where the end goal of everyone is to be able to indulge in more & more consumerism, we will come to realize that all that is required to help improve the condition is the change in our attitude & above all the change in the way we have started to think about life & how we want to live it.
A twenty minute short animated documentary film titled ‘The Story of Stuff’ explains this cycle in a very clear & amazing manner. All we are doing is indulging in consuming stuff & then working doubly hard so that we don’t lag behind in the race of yet again consume more & more stuff.
Another vital issue that is showed in the documentary & which is at the root of the idea of the utilization of clean sources is the process in which the stuff we consume is being manufactured. With the advent of technology the sensible thing should be & the one that makes common sense is that the stuff is made in a manner that it is suitable for the environment & for the consumers. Most of all it should be of the nature that is durable. Therefore, resulting less & less change over. However, what is actually happening is the complete opposite of this. What we need is to encourage local productions & consumptions around the globe.
As the saying goes 'Think global & act local'

Originally written for The Pakistan Sustainability Network