Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Positioning — The Battle For Your Mind
by Jack Trout and Al Ries

Positioning

 

I have long heard how good this book is. Yet, I only just now read it. I should have read it ages ago. It is brief, and it so clearly shows how you should position your business or product. We all do it wrong, because we don’t take into account the ‘ladders’ in people’s minds. Read my notes (or better still, the book) and you will see what I mean.

Everyone talks about communication’s role in business. It’s not what matters. We are over communicated. Every company is trying to hit us with some message.

So what should you focus on, if not communication? Create a “position” in the prospects mind. A position that takes into consideration not only a company’s own strengths and weaknesses, but those of its competitors as well.

Here’s the thing: The prospect will position you anyway. So take care to help them position you where you want to be.

We all create these positions for products and business, because it simplifies things, its our way of coping with so many messages.

The easy way to get into a person’s mind: BE FIRST!

Someone’s already there? Then you must find a way to position yourself against whoever got there first.

People have learned to rank products on mental ladders. Before you start trying to position something, know where it is in their mind already. You must position against any preconceived ideas too.

When going against the giant, #1 company, you can’t just go head to head. You have to find some other way, being different on purpose. Don’t go against IBM by trying to be just like IBM.

The name is the first and most important piece. This is the foundation of the positioning you will do.

To be successful, you must touch base with reality. And the only reality that matters is what’s already in the prospects mind.

Find something you can be first in. Then, hit ‘em hard with advertising. Be the firstest with the mostest.

Why can’t you just go against whatever position you end up with? Because the mind rejects new information that doesn’t “compute.” It accepts only that new information which matches its current state of mind. It filters out everything else.

Consumers are like chickens. They are much more comfortable with a pecking order that everybody knows about and accepts.

Power laws are in effect. Pareto principle, 80/20, all that stuff.

So, almost all the advantages accrue to the leader.

Don’t try to trick the prospect. Advertising is not a debate. It’s a seduction.

Skip the acronyms when you name your business or products. You’re a jerk for thinking people should remember that stuff. IBM gets away with it because they are a leader. Leaders can do it. They also spent lots on advertising. Since the name is so important, stay away from acronyms.

Understand words. They are vital.

Words are triggers. They trigger the meanings which are buried in the mind. Language is the currency of the mind.

The essence of positioning is sacrifice. You must be willing to give up something in order to establish that unique position.

ex. NyQuil gave up the daytime market, in order to be the leader of the nighttime market.

In positioning, smaller may be better. Its better to go after a smaller target that you can be the leader of, than a bigger market where you have to share with other brands.

You can’t be all things to all people and still have a powerful position.

I love the authors concluding remarks:

The first rule of positioning is: To win the battle for the mind, you can’t compete head-on against a company that has a strong, established position. You can go around, under or over, but never head to head.

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

I really enjoyed this short read. It’s an encouraging book.
Derek has a way of getting to the core of what your problems are. Do you really need a business plan? Do you really need to do things the way everyone else does? Isn’t there some other way?

Here are my notes from the book:

– Don’t pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help.

– You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people.

– The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.

Those 3 things combined are very interesting to me. They seem obvious, yet they are profound. Again, it just cuts to the core of why am I doing what I do?

We all have lots of ideas, creations, and projects. When you present one to the world and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing it as is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing.

That line has changed my life. If it’s not a hit, switch.

Don’t waste years fighting uphill battles against locked doors. Improve or invent until you get that huge response.

For every event you get invited to, every request to start a new project, if you’re not saying “Hell Yeah!” about it, say no.

Steve Blank: “No business plan survives first contact with customers.”

Never forget that absolutely everything you do if for your customers. Make every decision — even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone — according to what’s best for your customers.

None of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them

Being useful doesn’t need funding. If you want to be useful, you can always start now, with only 1 percent of what you have in your grand vision.

Ideas alone are not worth anything. They are just a multiplier of good execution.

You can’t please everyone. Get that drilled into your head.
It’s a big world. You can loudly leave out 99 percent of it.

Never forget why you’re really doing what you’re doing. Are you really helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn’t that enough?

How do you grade yourself? How do you know if you’re doing the right things? Spend time figuring this out, so you can then track it. Is it money, influence, fame?

Take care of the small details. The extra bonus that you give everyone, that they didn’t expect. It will make you stand out.

Even if you want to be big someday, remember that you don’t have to act like a big boring company.

Hire lightly, fire lightly.

You can’t know if someone is a good fit for your business, until they are in for a few weeks.

Never be the typical tragic small business that gets frazzled and freaked out when business is doing well. It sends a repulsive “I can’t handle this!” message to everyone.

Remember the joy of learning and doing.
Life is not all about having things, its also about being things. Being a musician, or web designer, or any other skill that takes time to develop. Those are intangible, but so important.
In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have.

When you sign up to take a marathon, you don’t want a taxi to take you to the finish line.

There’s a big difference between self-employed and business owner. Self-employed means it’s all good as long you are there. To be a true business owner, make it so that you could leave for a year, and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left.

Make sure you know what makes you happy, and don’t forget it.

Pay close attention to when you are being the real you, and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.
This will happen often enough to surprise you. Being aware of it will let you change your thinking.

Wow! What a book. This one fits in the upper echelon for me. Even if you read my extensive notes, you will still benefit from reading the book yourself.

Also, check out his well-crafted site Sivers.org

Should Depression Be Called Melancholia?

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

A good question: Should depression be called melancholia? Or perhaps something else? What’s wrong with the term depression?

I read William Styron’s Darkness VisibleIn it, he discusses his dealings with severe depression. He was able to recover after almost seven weeks in the hospital. It’s worth reading his story, as he has insights into the use of sleeping medications and anti-depressants.

What I found most interesting, was his comments on the term ‘depression.’ Page 36, he says:

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Depression, most people know, used to be termed “melancholia,” a word which appears in English as early as the year 1303 and crops up more than once in Chaucer, who in his usage seemed to be aware of its pathological nuances. “Melancholia” would still appear to be a far more apt and evocative word for the blacker forms of the disorder, but is was usurped by a noun with a bland tonality and lacking any magisterial presence, used indifferently to describe an economic decline or a rut in the ground, a true wimp of a word for such a major illness.

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I agree with Styron, a different word would be more appropriate. “Depression” sounds too mechanical. It minimizes the true nature of what a person experiences.

Styron touches on the two-sided battle between therapy and pills, on page 11.

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It has yielded its secrets to science far more reluctantly than many of the other major ills besetting us. The intense and sometimes comically strident factionalism that exists in present-day psychiatry — the schism between the believers in psychotherapy and the adherents of pharmacology — resembles the medical quarrels of the eighteenth century (to bleed or not to bleed) and almost defines in itself the inexplicable nature of depression and the difficulty of its treatment.

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While I don’t claim to have the answer to what will ‘cure’ depression, I think it speaks to our belief on miracles, in magical pills. We often look for quick fixes, where none exist. Through it all, we maintain that hope.

Brain Pickings – Fantastic Resource for Interesting Books

Friday, December 12th, 2014

If you love books, you must visit BrainPickings.org

Maria Popva’s site is wonderful, and she finds the most interesting reads from a wide range of topics.

Sign up for her free email newsletter, and you receive one email every Sunday showing off all the best posts from that week.

I only wish I had known about it earlier. I learned of it through Tim Ferris’s interview of her on his blog.

Popova describes her finding as ‘a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest.’ I agree whole-heartedly. You are bound to find some pieces that you love.

Head over to her site now so you can dig through the treasure chest. BrainPickings.org