1.01.2005

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» TIP: Failure as an opportunity to reshuffle the deck
» TIP: If you are shooting for an overnight success
» RANT: Do you think like a winner?
» TIP: Yes, you can say "No"
» TIP: Nothing like a good enemy for a strong brand
» TIP: Beaware of the scorpions around your cubicle
» TIP: Playful users lead to deeper relationship
» RANT: Designer drugs for your professional success?
» TIP: Beyond rational benefits
» TIP: When you're first starting out

TIP: Failure as an opportunity to reshuffle the deck

Jane Genova observed: ...It wasn't until relatively recently that America got philosophical about failure in general, and losing everything, more specifically. As Scott Sandage chronicles in his book "Born Losers: A History or Failure in America," in the early days of American capitalism failure was not only a professional tragedy. It was also viewed as a moral one. Those failing, seen as misfits in capitalism, let America down...

Now, failure is viewed as almost grace, good karma, a unique opportunity to reshuffle the deck. Think Steve Jobs who was kicked out of his own company and went on to create iPod. Think Bill Clinton who lost the Governor's race, figured out how to win big and went on to two terms as US president. Think Jimmy Carter who wasn't elected for a second term and now is America's unofficial ambassador of values...

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: If you are shooting for an overnight success

Open big, bestselling author Seth Godin blogged, (is) what Hollywood wants. Martha Stewart is a write off because her first episode of the Apprentice had horrible ratings. That female president show, on the other hand, is on a roll. The irony, of course, is that these ratings are based on the promotion and the premise, not the show itself--they reflect viewership before word of mouth or first-hand experience.

We all want to open big. We want our product launches to be instant successes. We want the resumes we send out to be opened in one day, a call the next, an interview the third and a corner office by the end of the week...

The bottom line is that... The natural, user-driven networks that make a product succeed or fail rarely hit all at once. But the snowball effect online is far more powerful than the old-world scream & dream approach.

So, what's it mean to you?

  • Make something worth making.
  • Sell something worth talking about.
  • Believe in what you do because you may have to do it for a long time before it catches on.
  • Don't listen to the first people who give you feedback.
  • Don't give up. Not for a while, anyway.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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RANT: Do you think like a winner?

via Dr. Henry Lee --

The Winner's Attitude

The winner is always part of the answer; the loser is always part of the problem.
The winner always has a program; the loser always has an excuse.
The winner says, "Let me do it for you;" the loser says, "That's not my job."
The winner sees an answer for every problem; the loser sees a problem for every answer.
The winner sees a green near every sand trap; the loser sees two or three sand traps near every green.
The winner says, "It may be difficult, but it is possible;" the loser says, "It may be possible, but it's too difficult."

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Yes, you can say "No"

"No" seems like such a negative word, yet saying "no" can be the most strategic decision we make, Sam Decker wrote. By saying "no", we focus and improve quality of the "yes" areas. We improve ourselves and our organization's effectiveness. "No" empowers people because it simplifies. Our companies succeed on the basis of what, where and how we say "no". And "no" gets some life back into our lives!

We need to say "no", but we're not very good at it. In business we give it another name... "prioritization" or "strategic planning". But then we get back to day-to-day, we forget what we prioritized and planned. We end up letting the "nos" slip back in...

Sam listed 12 areas where you can simply say "No"

  • What strategies, initiatives and activities will you say "no" to?
  • What measurements will you ignore?
  • What customers will you not target?
  • What people will you not keep?
  • What competitors will you not follow?
  • What will you remove from your web site?
  • What money will you not spend?
  • What meetings will you decline?
  • What trips will you not make?
  • What slides will you not create?
  • What will you not say?
  • What thoughts will you not entertain?

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Nothing like a good enemy for a strong brand

If your brand is clearly defined enough to have the power to attract enemies, Rick Nobles blogged, it also has the power to attract raving fans. And the raving fans of your brand are the ones who return again and again. They're the ones who will tell their friends about you. They're the ones who will wear your logo. They're the ones that almost enjoy the annoyance of your brand-haters and will keep coming back for more...

Comparing Apples to PCs. PC users think of Apples as those "other" computers used only by those artsy types. Apple fans are proud to be called artsy types, and they embrace the brand as their ambassador. Their fans appreciate design (many are designers themselves), and Apple's appreciation for aesthetically beautiful products speaks to them. PC users, with their serious spreadsheets and results-oriented PowerPoint presentations, wouldn't dare touch something so whimsical. The result is a point of contention (i.e., definition) between the right-brained artists of the world and the left-brained businessmen. As long as the values of these two societal groups conflict, both brands will succeed...

The biggest brands out there appeal to a lifestyle-not out of shallow pandering to a niche but by remaining true to their identity in the face of negative response. But to appeal to a lifestyle, a brand has to have just that-a life. A brand trying to appeal to everyone isn't a brand at all, just a watered-down commodity. And a commodity never attracts a raving fan-it attracts indifference. In a crowded marketplace, indifference will kill you...

So don't fear the hate. Embrace it. Maybe in your next brainstorming meeting, don't ask how can you appeal to X. Ask how you can annoy the hell out of Y.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Beaware of the scorpions around your cubicle

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back.

The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?"

The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp "Why?"

Replies the scorpion: "Its my nature..."

Working Smart's quick takeaway: technology changes, culture changes, but human nature appears etched in stone. Ever have to deal with 'scorpions' at work?

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Strength vs Weakness

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TIP: Playful users lead to deeper relationship

Brains love play, Bestseller author Kathy Sierra wrote. Find a way to bring more play (or at least a sense of playfulness) into someone's life, and you might just end up with a fan. Brains evolved to play, and apparently the bigger the brain, the more likely it is to play. Play turns the brain on...

Helping people feel just a little more playful...doesn't have to mean giving them a game. Even something as simple as making your documentation more compelling (and even a little whimsical), can make a huge difference... You put easter eggs in your otherwise ludicrously dull accounts receivable software, and spread hints about them on the internet. Suddenly it's a little treasure hunt cleverly disguised as a boring business task. (I know, I KNOW programmers have been fired for doing that... "management" can be so serious)... You're writing a computer programming book, and you put in puzzles, games, fun pictures, and festive examples with unusual characters.

Surprises are one of the best things you can do--psychologists claim that intermittent rewards can be more engaging than consistent rewards. Remember, surprise=delight...

Spend some cycles cultivating your more festive side. Think party. Think of that person you know who is so fun to be around. The one who manages to make a little adventure out of everything. If you can give your users even one moment more of that feeling, the world will be a better place.

(This also explains why people are hooked on Tivo easter eggs.)

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Something vs Nothing

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RANT: Designer drugs for your professional success?

In America, where we seek better living through pharmaceutical solutions, what pills we're popping tell a lot about who we are, were, and are becoming, Jane Genova blogged.

...Maybe it was that whopper of a 2000 recession. Maybe as Steve Salerno expounds in "SHAM," all that focus on improving the self didn't get us too far and we're finished with that excessive preoccupation with feeling better, which Prozac helped us try to do. Maybe it's the reality that the Chinese happily put in lots more than eight hours a day.

Whatever, more of us are hanging up the pursuit of feeling better than normal and grabbing onto meds, lectures, coaching, lifestyle changes (I gave up going to movies, canceled cable, no longer chase boys) that give us the competitive edge.

Around overachiever Manhattan, the 80-hour work week is the price of entry into the game. The meter starts running when one enters the office. The meter is shut off during all that Blackberry time and simply thinking about work. But even in more civilized Connecticut we all are working longer and, get this, at the same time, are expected to also be working more imaginatively or, as the cliche goes, thinking out of the box.

America, the land of excess, fads and optimism about finding the right fixes for everything and anything, will probably continue to use and abuse Adderall. There will be the "Adderall Look" -- too focused, emaciated, tired -- that will dominate professional circles. Not having it will be a signal not to take us seriously (we're probably only working 60 hours a week). Well-intentioned muckrakers will push for a ban on Adderall and a rethinking of our notion of success.

And then, America, the land of pragmatism, will switch to something that seems to be working better, with less social censure and physical/emotional wear-and-tear...

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Beyond rational benefits

If you worry about adding to costs when you enhance the customer experience, Customer Experience Strategist Susan Abbott blogged, there's a chart in the current BusinessWeek that might give you some comfort:
  • Coffee as a commodity has a value of about $.01 - .02 per cup
  • Ground coffee in the grocery store has a value of about $.05 -.25 per cup
  • Adding service, a la Dunkin Donuts or Tim Hortons gets you up to $.75 - $1.50 per cup
  • Adding experience, a la Starbucks, gets you up to $2.00 - 5.00 per cup

...the point here is simple: the value of the service you deliver increases exponentially when you bring in experience components. What the heck is an experience component, you ask? It's what happens inside your customer:

  • Emotional benefits, like feeling happy, content, relaxed, comfortable
  • Psychological benefits, like feeling successful or confident
  • Sensory benefits, like taste, smell, and a soft place to sit
  • Rational benefits, like convenience or a better interest rate

...So instead of trying to cut a few pennies from your per-unit costs, consider trying to add to the experience in a way that engages all the benefits: rational, emotional, psychological and sensory.

You will reap the margins of robber-barons if you do it right.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: When you're first starting out

via AskMen -- Should a guy make an effort to learn "pickup lines," or does that stuff not really work when it comes to meeting women?...

Lines and techniques can be helpful when you're first starting out... and some of them work pretty damn well! But the truth is you won't achieve the massive success you desire until it comes from inside of you.

I've begun to see a pattern that almost all guys go through when learning this stuff:

Stage 1: Uses the lines and techniques he learns to "get out there" and get started. Experiences some success, and learns a lot.

Stage 2: Internalizes the right attitudes and beliefs, and starts to experience "natural success." Uses lines every once in a while, but doesn't rely on them.

Stage 3: Learns to attract women naturally and effortlessly. Makes up his own lines and techniques as he goes.

Keep this in mind, and use the lines and techniques you learn as "training wheels" to help take you to where you want to be, but make your ultimate goal to become a guy who "naturally" attracts women...

Working Smart quick takeaway: Just as in dating, many job hunters place too much emphasis on pre-canned interview answers when they are first starting down the path to landing a job, not realizing they are nothing more than what they really are - training wheels.

Category: C++ Quant > Land the Job You Want

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