Here’s the latest edition of the newsletter. While I post much of the newsletter here, some updates are exclusively available to subscribers. Sign up now to make sure you receive it.
Before getting started, I’ll share a plug that came in response to last week’s newsletter. For newer readers here, I always ask, “What are you making of yourself?” and I always appreciate an answer. One of the best answers I ever received came last week from Shelly Lipton, who I first connected with in 2013. He’s running the non-profit Second Chance Toys to keep gently-used toys out of landfills and get them to kids who need and appreciate them. I love the mission, and they’re running a lot of toy drives now, so check them out.
On to this edition…
As is often the case, I started putting together this week’s newsletter with the title “TBD.” Some weeks, themes come easier than others.
And yet, there’s a surprising lesson about this from an episode of “Trolls: The Beat Goes On,” the TV show spinoff of the animated movie.
In one episode, which happens to be my preschooler’s favorite, the protagonists Poppy and Branch are thrown in jail, betrayed by a young lad from a race of dragons with a genocidal bent. While troll jail is a woodland pleasure palace, if the heroes don’t escape, their entire nation may become extinct, or at least sold off into slavery. Gotta love children’s programming these days.
Poppy, cheerful as she is, comes up with a plan. A key part of it is “TBD,” and when Branch grills her on how “TBD” will save the trolls, Poppy returns to her diagram where a literal depiction of the letters “TBD” is what frees them from jail. Then she describes a covert ops mission to overpower the dragons, who by this point are plotting to slaughter trolls in their version of the Colosseum.
What Poppy demonstrates so perfectly is the need to work backwards. She determines her goal (keep her people alive and free) and the strategy (use trickery to overcome the dragon menace).
Too often, in business, we’re stuck, and we see the equivalent of getting out of jail as the goal. In “Shawshank Redemption,” getting out led Brooks to commit suicide. Andy, however, had the goal of living a quiet, peaceful life as a free man that made his tactics so purposeful. (And no, my kid does not watch that movie.)
Getting out isn’t the goal though. In Poppy’s case, she had an ally in Branch. By having her team of two agree on the goal and strategy, they could come up with better tactics. In their case, a double-crossing dragon was the catalyst for escape. Once the troll heroes escaped, Poppy and Branch knew exactly what they had to do.
And thus, even four-year-olds can learn the difference between strategy and tactics. She will have no need to read Sun Tzu when she’s older (also, “The Art of War” is overrated, at least for business purposes). I need to do this more often myself, putting down “TBD” as the tactic and focusing on the bigger picture.
I’m making myself read too much into children’s TV shows. Next week: negotiation techniques from “Puppy Dog Pals.” (I’m kidding, I think.) What are you making of yourself?
BROUGHT TO YOU BY…
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LEARN. TRY. SHARE.
IS BLOCKCHAIN REALLY OVER?
TL;DR: No. Here are six trends to look at via NfX, including: U=use cases, more talent, private blockchains, funding normalization, a maturing ecosystem, and good global regulation.
NIGHTMARE ON AMAZON STREET
In one of the best mashups I’ve ever seen, writer and director Omar Najam took a cheerful Amazon spot, set it to “Captain America: Winter Soldier” trailer music, and turned it into a mini-episode of “Black Mirror.”
COULD YOU NAME THE TOP #5 US ONLINE RETAILERS?
Speaking of Amazon… Amazon topping this retailer list is hardly surprising. I knew Walmart and Apple would be there, but I wouldn’t have expected eBay’s share is nearly as high as those two combined. And then there’s the 5 slot… Home Depot. How come the ad trades don’t talk about them constantly? Perhaps some retail-focused outlets do, but it seems like if you’ve got one brand that has held steady as the fifth largest e-commerce player, they should be getting a lot more attention (as should eBay).
DIRTY DEALINGS OF INFLUENCER MARKETING
Back in 2006, when I helped launch the influencer marketing practice at 360i, I had so much hope for the discipline. And yet, the way so much of influencer marketing is run now, it makes the rest of the ad industry look saintly by comparison. Here’s a great piece on how it really works. And yes, even though so much of it is still dirty, it can work – which is almost the worst part of it.
NOTHING REALLY MATTERS, ANYONE CAN SEE
If you haven’t read the ‘Nothing on This Page is Real’ Story in the Washington Post, check this out. After this story and the one above, let me know where to meet you for a few really strong drinks (or a mulled cider, or a La Croix if you prefer).
Want to include your event below? Just reply with the details.
I may return for my 13th straight year and am open to ways we can collaborate there. Registration is now open. Are you going?
Need your Gritty fix? You better. Because Grittycon is coming. I mentioned Grittycon on Twitter in connection with the aforementioned Adweek article. Then Caroline McCarthy said she would keynote. And now she’s co-chairing it, and keynoting. Don Steele chimed in with his own contribution; he’s a definite. Within 10 minutes of that tweet, we had a website up. A few minutes later, we had a functioning Mailchimp list (now with 50+ subscribers). The next day, we had an inquiry from the Washington Post. I don’t have all the details yet, but I’m pretty sure that this is happening. While we will be charging for it, Caroline and I are doing this because, well, we need to do this, so we will keep the price as low as possible so that everyone who wants to get marketing inspiration from Gritty can attend.
Submissions: globally through February 20
Event: April 5, Venice, Italy
The Crowdsourcing Week BOLD Awards, showcasing innovative businesses and individuals, will be a rewarding event for amazing projects, individuals and companies. After submitting your project, our team will review it within 1 week. If your project is accepted, it will appear online and votes will start on Jan 10th. Submissions are open and will be closed on February 20, 2019. Submitting a project will be completely free until January 1st, 2019.