November 18, 2010

Michael Vick: Future Poster Boy of Second Chances

Last year, Michael Vick was sitting in jail. And I rationalized it by telling my friends he was never that great of a quarterback anyway. Sure, he had unreal mobility and a killer arm, but he made really bad decisions on the field (and off, obviously).

I gave up on him. Today, he is on the cusp of becoming one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

My friend Justin and I have been talking about this lately. The idea of choosing who to get behind. This year, Justin is privileged to work in one of the best school districts in the nation. The kids are exceptional. And it makes him wonder if he's really needed there.

So, our discussion became...what's better? Teaching a kid to read who might not read otherwise, so that he can go to high school, get a good job, and have a family. Or mentoring the kids with the absolute best potential in the world, and turning guys who host dogfights for fun into an apparently redeemed man with matchless potential.

That's why there's more than one kind of person, I guess. I think Justin still feels that the better service opportunity for him is working with the underprivileged. And they need him.

I want to work with people who have disproportional expectations compared to their abilities. Think of how many Michael Vicks are probably in prison right now.

November 17, 2010

Mr. W by Epuron: The Best Commercial I’ve Seen in Years

This ad, created by German ad-agency, Nordpol Hamburg, is promotional art at its finest. To be fair, I had no absolutely no idea what was going on the first time I watched it. The second time, it's magical.

Physical humor works. Animals are easy. But, this? This is the stuff that's worth trying to create.

November 16, 2010

This is How You Debate

When in the course of human debate:

Don't assume authority. Don't get riled up. Be Socratic, and help them get there themselves. Also... be Jon Stewart.

These videos of Jon Stewart's interview by Rachel Maddow are absolutely must-sees. He has mastered the art of debate through conversation. You don't even see what he's doing. And yet, he wins every argument.

It's fascinating. And it can be learned. Thank you Jon Stewart for the reminder. Because too often, when I run into irrational people who won't follow logic, I give up diplomacy far too quickly and jump straight to condescension, which fails even more quickly. But, watching you has renewed my desire to win without fighting. Sun Tzu-style.

And yes, I would vote for you if you ran for President.

Watch the video clips.

November 15, 2010

How to Use Metaphors Appropriately

I was recently in an HR meeting, where local vendors pitched us discounted services based on our employer affiliation. And everyone in the room got to witness both effective and terrible uses of metaphors.

A pre-order pick-up grocery service called MyGofer, pitched us this way. "You try and squeeze in your weekly grocery shopping after church on Sunday. But your kids are being crazy. Your husband is mad because he's missing the start of the Bears game. And the cashier doesn't seem like she values your time nearly as much as you do..."

One lady in the room started laughing and said, "Are you following me around!?!"
A perfect metaphor.

The next pitch was from an insurance provider. The idea was that you may be paying too much for home insurance. Because some providers make you pay for what it would cost to rebuild your house from scratch, post-catastrophe. But this provider will only charge you for the current market value of your house.

This is a real benefit. But, here's how he pitched it.  "Let's say you own a $1,000,000 million mansion on a 20-acre estate. But, the house only takes up an acre of land..."

What? Now, to be fair, this is a metaphor. But, if no one in the room can relate to it, it's not a good one.

It's like when my allergist recently tried comparing my lung capacity to a carburetor. It may have been effective...if I understood how a carburetor worked.

November 12, 2010

Why High Speed Rail Doesn’t Make Sense

I knew I didn't like high-speed rail. Because the idea of any new grandiose government-led initiative makes me uneasy. But now I know why. And this is one of the reasons why "Reason" is one of my most influential sources.

November 12, 2010

I Know Your Outgoing Voicemail Message

I know everything about you. I even know the message I'll hear if I get your voicemail right now.

Hi, this is "Your Name". I can't come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name, number and a brief message, I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you!

Aren't you impressed? So, the question is, why do we all still record this weird antiquated boilerplate? We need a new, abbreviated solution that still rings full of etiquette.

Any ideas?

November 10, 2010

Why I Think Like I Do

My overall goal for this blog is that it serves as your daily devotional for critical thought.

More than that, I hope that this blog and my twitter account serve as some sort of aggregate for you in terms of keeping you up to speed on politics, marketing, faith and technology - with as little effort as possible.

But if you're interested in delving deeper into the sources that most influence me, here you go.

My Magazine Subscriptions

The Week - a weekly aggregate of the best stories from all around the World. If you only have 30 minutes a week for news, this magazine will keep you up to conversational speed on everything that is going on in the world.
Reason - this is a monthly libertarian magazine that gets more in-depth about specific policy issues, but in a very entertaining way. If you lean toward small-government, this magazine will help you understand both the moral and Machiavellian reasons why you're right.
Fast Company - this is a new find for me. A fabulous monthly mag about the latest technology, entrepreneurship and how to use the former to successfully achieve the latter.

My Favorite Blogs

Now, I subscribe to more than 100 blogs. Not all of them update regularly of course. But, since you read this one, here are my two favorite I think you might want to consider adding to your RSS feed or Google Reader.

Scott Adams - This daily blog (written by the creator of Dilbert) is what I want my blog to be. His creative thoughts will inspire your own. His brilliant humor makes even his longer posts extraordinarily readable. I would vote for him if he ran for President.
Seth Godin - As a marketing titan, Seth understands online attention span better than anyone, and utilizes my own "couple paragraphs" a day preference for every post. If you're business-minded, his brief daily thoughts on management, entrepreneurship and technology is better than grad school.

Now, since you guys all know me pretty well by now, what "essentials" must I add to this list?

November 9, 2010

People Have No Idea What they Want

When British Airways introduced the mini-fridge on long international flights, they held focus groups to figure out how to best stock these cold goodie bins.

The results? People wanted light salads and apples. But, what did people ask the flight attendants for when they woke up in the middle of the night? Candy bars.

People have no idea what they want. Steve Jobs talked about this recently in an interview regarding his predictive technological ability. And Jobs' replied that you should never give the customer what they ask for.

Because all a consumer can think of is how to slightly improve existing technology. Adding more features or performance to current laptops and phones. It's what you see Dell and HP doing. They're listening to their customers.

Apple is creating technology that people have no idea they need.

November 8, 2010

You Better Not Legislate Morality

I hear this far too often. The fear of a newly appointed Republican politician "legislating morality."

Here's the problem with this statement. ALL legislation is morality-based. Consider what the new healthcare bill was? That bill says that it's a moral injustice that those with pre-existing conditions can't qualify for healthcare at the same cost as those without them.

Since that's clearly not an economically advantageous legislative decision for the country at large, it's a moral one.

If you want to stop legislating morality, you need to stop legislation altogether.

November 5, 2010

Downsized: A Real-Life Snob Sob Story

If you watch Hulu, you may have seen previews for "Downsized", a reality TV show about a formerly rich family who are now on food stamps, and taking odd jobs and dumpster diving just to pay the mortgage on their mansion.

Here's the crazy part. In the preview, their lawyer explains that they can't qualify for bankruptcy...because they refuse to liquidate their properties!!!

We, the people, are buying these people's groceries because they don't want to lose their summer home, not to mention "downsize" their current one.

While this show is being pitched as an anti-celebrity show, a "real"-life story, it makes me even madder than one of the generic celebreality shows. At least I'm not subsidizing the Kardashians.