Archives For December 2007

The Flow

December 31, 2007 — 2 Comments

This is what I was trying to say:

“Never work against Mother Nature. You only succeed when you work with her.” Cesar Millan

Cesar’s Way: The Everyday Guide to Understanding Common Dog Problems

When I said this:

All around us there is a natural energy and a flow to things and you can tap into that. You know, the groove, the pocket, the current–all those terms we throw around to describe other people’s freedom of movement but never really bother thinking about for ourselves. Ferriss talks about this–about just letting go and realizing that a little momentum can carry you further than all your frantic scrambling. I am starting to feel that when you stop trying so hard and let your subconscious do what it needs to, you find better results than you do in the Pyrrhic battle for control.

You can’t change a human nature any more than you can change a dog’s nature any more than your can change the nature of nature itself. It’s a lot easier, a lot more efficient, and a lot more effective to find out how to channel that power instead of throwing bodies at it. His is more concise, I like it better.

Attacking Strategy Pt. 2

December 30, 2007 — 6 Comments

The facts are beyond dispute: George Bush was as much of a flip-flopper as John Kerry. But Bush told the story first. He and his team did a masterly job of telling a story about Kerry and his inability to stick to one story. The Kerry team responded with a doomed effort to point out that Bush flip-flopped as much as Kerry did. Of course, this story couldn’t take hold because the other story was already in place.

Then the Kerry campaign tired to make the case that flip-flopping was a good thing, that it was another word for flexibility. In order to adopt Kerry’s story, people would have had to admit that they were wrong–and that almost never happens.

The best strategy would have been to go first. Failing that, the appropriate response would have been to tell a completely different story, one that used a frame that matched the worldview of the undecided voter.

Seth Godin’s “All Marketers Are Liars

Tactical victories are brutal. It’s spending more hours at the office than someone, spending another few million on commercials than the competition, or compromising on your last remaining principles. It’s playing a game that you really have no power over. It’s the +1 strategy–they’ll bid 100, I’ll bid 101.

Do you really think there is a niche out there for you to be slightly more efficient than Tim Ferriss, or a little more of an asshole than Tucker or to read .5 more books than I do? There is a guy on YouTube and all he does is make response songs about other popular people’s videos. Not only is it cringingly lame, it’s just picking up garbage views–it’s their video plus a small twist.

Attacking strategy (Robert’s most valuable lesson) is not only the most productive channel for your resources, but it’s the most authentic path you can take. In a world of Global Microbrands, your positioning in crucial. The best possible position to be in is you. When you’re you, you don’t have to do any work. All you have to do is wake up each morning and refuse to be defined by other people.

More on community…

December 27, 2007 — 8 Comments

Despite what I said about the servers yesterday, Rudius does a lot of stuff really well, especially community. And what Tucker did here is the perfect example.

Chasing Kaz is slowly evolving from a blog about two guys weighlifting to a community about strength, improvement and fitness. The Alexa rank doesn’t reflect it, but the forum has threads with 20,000 and 30,000 views and discussions that run for pages. Now users can post running diaries of their workout regimen and other people can give advice or criticize.

Hosting dozens of workout logs for strangers probably wasn’t what Tucker had in mind when he launched his site 4 years ago. I still have some of the initial emails from when Chasing Kaz got started and no one brought up anything remotely close to that idea. But this is where it went–it’s what the people wanted and I think it is a natural progression for the site.

Rudius won’t make much money from the work out log forum. When someone logs on to post their stats, they aren’t looking for ads–they’re just trying to complete a task. But in the long run, every time someone does it, they are just a little more tied to the brand. They’ve transitioned from a consumer to a prosumer and that connection is harder to break. It’s harder because it’s meaningful, because the users have invested something other than just time.

In contrast to the Hollywood side, where The Agency owns a site with about the same traffic as Tucker and one of the managers keeps insisting on finding sites to merge or acquire. First, in the corporate world, mergers have an awful track record but online? I can’t wrap my head around how that would even work. We shouldn’t be thinking about acquiring a larger audience but rather how to become better connected with the one you already have. Which again highlights the two different, deeply innate approaches to value. One wants superficial relationships and the other wants concentrated, intense connections. It’s not stupid to think like that–“Let’s get more, more, more”–but it is a massive strategic error. Just because something is intuitive doesn’t mean it will work online. Because one morning you’re going to wake up and everyone will have run off to the next site, where they’re treated better, where they feel pulled to, where their life becomes intertwined into the creative process.

In my view, Facebook made the same mistake. They had a chance to grow up with the Y Generation. They could have evolved with that 9 million person userbase (and rising) and had a lock on it forever. I don’t think you could have asked for a more profitable and long-term niche than the social lives of American college students (and eventually, their business and personal lives), but that wasn’t enough. Instead they decided to spread to an numerically larger but significant less loyal demographic and now, the future isn’t looking so rosy. If Myspace was Krispy Kreme–a hot niche commodity that leveraged their buzz to flood the market and then was forced to retreat–Facebook could have been In and Out–an autonomous and principled to their core and have lines out the door at 1 in the morning. Now the core audience is alienated, the new audience has a sense of entitlement and the infrastructure is straining under the weight of thousands of applications, requests and spam-profiles.

So that is the dilemma that companies ultimately face online. The smart people are building community and a deeper relationship whenever they can. The people stuck to the old model think that what they really need is as many eyeballs as possible. If your strategy online is to “write something I care about and then get as many people to read it as possible” then you’re doomed to fail. You’re just dressing up the old model in digital form. The internet has succeeded precisely because that model is flawed and like Hugh said, it continues to exist so long as there are “young, hungry people willing to take the pyramid/privilege model seriously.” The future, online, is there for those who think differently–strategically–who create value that propagates itself instead of stealing it before it runs out. What that really means is this: Stop trying to get on the front page of Digg or “roll up” other verticals and be absolutely indispensable to the people you already have.