I just finished reading a fascinating book, Win Bigly,
by Scott Adams. For those of you who read the daily comic strips, you’ll recognize Adams as the Dilbert cartoonist. If I haven’t lost you yet, guess who the book is about? President Trump.
Adams, a self-proclaimed ultra-liberal, was in a very tiny group that predicted Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. He says he took a lot of heat and abuse, especially from his liberal neighbors in California.
I would highly recommend the book, which was very entertaining, but not for that reason. Adams, who would say he’s a persuader as much as a writer, refers to President Trump as the Master Persuader — and possibly one of the best in human history. Reading along as Adams makes his case, it dawned on me that he’s describing the best marketing/new business/Hunters I’ve ever known.
As you read the book, assume you have two products to choose from: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Which would you buy? The choice has almost nothing to do with their positions/platforms. Now, I’m sure I’ve offended many of you, but I suggest that you read Win Bigly as a “How to win that next big customer” playbook.
Here are a few of Adams’ observations:
- Trump is the most persuasive human he has ever observed. (Editorial comment: Keep in mind that Adams vehemently disagrees with most, if not all, of President Trump’s positions.)
- When they were done criticizing Trump for the “error” of saying he would build one big solid “wall,” the critics had convinced themselves that border security was a higher priority than they had thought coming into the conversation. The reason the wall imagery was good persuasion is that it was both simple to understand and memorable.
- A big opening demand in a negotiation will form a mental anchor that will bias negotiations toward that high offer.
- Humans think they’re rational, and they think they understand their reality. But they’re wrong on both counts. The main theme of this book is that humans are not rational.
- Humans literally make decisions first and then create elaborate rationalizations for them after the fact.
- Trump is so persuasive, policies don’t matter. People voted for him even though his policies were murky and changing.
- Visual persuasion is stronger than oral persuasion. Trump always paid attention to the colors and symbols associated with his brand — his shirt was always white and his tie colors were always from the American flag.
- What you might not realize is that each of us is “marketing” all the time. (Editorial comment: For those of you who know me well, you know I struggle with “business casual” dress. Show me a great new business developer and I bet they look sharp.)
- If you want to make a good first impression, don’t jokingly complain about the traffic on the way over. Try to work into the initial conversation some positive thoughts and images. (Editorial comment: People love to be around the “sharp” new business developer because they always share a positive, uplifting, inspiring story.)
My challenge to you is:
- After reading the book, evaluate your sales process, including handouts and pitch.
- Is it a bunch of facts and details?
- Does it appeal to your customers’ emotions? Is there a WOW factor?
- Would you buy anything from you?
- Do people like being around you or do they hide when they see you coming?
I would love for you to send me stories of instances where your company has applied the principles in Win Bigly and has won new business.
even fairly small, privately owned businesses have become globally active. Therefore, it’s important that they’re tuned in to cultural differences in those countries where they do business. To save money (or make more), it’s critical that they avoid the mistakes made by many multinational companies — and me. In his book, Driven by Difference, David Livermore provides practical tips for companies with diverse customers and/or a diverse workforce, or what he calls “cultural intelligence.” He refers to a Google internal employment survey that discovered teams that were both diverse and inclusive were also the best at innovation.
When I purchased the book, I thought it would be about diversity in the workplace, which it is. But it’s much more. If you’re looking to improve innovation and even marketing in your company, I would highly recommend Driven by Difference. As I’ve done with other books, I’ll whet your appetite with several excerpts:
- “Priming” is the process of presenting a particular stimulus to make people feel and act in a certain way. For example, in supermarkets around the world, freshly cut flowers are the first thing you see, priming you to think freshness from the moment you enter the store.
- There’s insufficient evidence to support any conclusion that one national culture is consistently more innovative than another.
- The gut can be a shockingly reliable mechanism for decision-making, but it’s subject to enormous error when the cultural context changes.
- Most of us start life with a pretty insulated view of the world.
- Most innovators are intense observers.
- Mark Zuckerberg has Facebook engineers prove that what they’re coding works on old, low-end flip phones to simulate the conditions in most of the world.
- There’s evidence that many people do their best independent thinking outside the office.
- Culturally intelligent innovation comes from a climate of trust, where differences are perceived as an asset rather than a liability.
- A.G. Lafley, CEO of P&G, which is considered a very innovative company, insists on in-home visits with consumers when he travels internationally. He doesn’t want to make decisions based solely on market research done by consultants or his R&D teams.
Those are some highlights, but Livermore presents lots of really interesting, practical stories.
Again, the underpinnings of the book are diversity, but there are some great reminders of the importance of really listening to and understanding our customers.
Once again, I’m embarrassed to admit a bias I’ve had for years. I’m not sure exactly when it started, but it may have been when Nike started selling clothing with their name on it — and it wasn’t cheap clothing. My reaction was, “I’m not going to pay to advertise for those guys!” And from that and other observations, I developed a negative attitude about what I perceived as arrogance, to the point where I’ve boycotted Nike shoes and clothing for decades.
I just finished reading the Nike story as chronicled by its founder, Phil Knight, in his book, Shoe Dog. I know what you skeptics are thinking: “He fell for the story.” Well, maybe I did, but I’ve read a lot of books like this, and I would suggest most tend to eulogize the founder/CEO, and even have a tendency to rewrite history. This book surprised me. If anything, Phil Knight seems to understate his personal impact on Nike and instead praises many others for their unique contributions.
Because many of us have observed Nike from its humble beginnings to its current $134 billion market cap, we might draw the conclusion that “it just happened.” Many of you have started your own businesses or have been involved from the beginning, and I found this to be a very real, at times painful, success story. It reminded me of practice units that I was involved in creating and building. Many years later, newer team members had no idea how difficult our journey had been. So, I could relate to Knight.
Some fun facts/stories:
- Knight ran cross country at the University of Oregon for the famous Coach Bill Bowerman — who was Knight’s first business partner, the primary shoe innovator, and a close mentor until his death in 1999.
- One of Knight’s colleagues came up with the name Nike, in honor of the Greek goddess of speed, strength, and victory. Knight didn’t care for it, but had no other option to offer.
- The famous Nike Swoosh was designed by a young artist at Portland State University for $35.
- Knight is an introvert who loves his alone time.
- Knight is a CPA who, while teaching accounting at Portland State University, met his wife, Penny, a student. The couple recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
- Due to shoe endorsements, Knight has developed close, personal relationships with many of the greatest athletes of the past five decades.
- Unlike many other company founders, Knight avoided going public (and cashing out) for years.
- Knight reported: “Often the problems confronting us were grave, complex, and seemingly insurmountable; and yet we were always laughing.” (Editorial comment: This was my exact experience working with my former partners, Ken Kunkel and Bruce Berend, in the ’70s and ’80s — and those are some fond memories.)
Here’s a sampling of some of the major obstacles Knight and his team had to overcome in a span of almost 20 years:
- While Nike had significant profitable growth almost every year, the bad news is that this increased growth and expansion required more inventory, so Nike was always cash poor. Sound familiar?
- In the early years, Nike Tigers from the Onitsuka shoe company, based in Japan, were the primary shoe sold. Nike was the exclusive distributor for the western U.S. At one point, Onitsuka informed Knight that they were going to change to one U.S. distributor, and it wasn’t going to be Nike. Knight asked, “Why not Nike?” to which Onitsuka answered, “You do not have an East Coast presence.” Knight replied, “Yes, we do.” Instead of losing their primary shoe source, Nike became the company’s exclusive distributor in the U.S. Sound familiar? Just like many of you would do in similar circumstances, Nike quickly opened an East Coast office.
- To avoid dependency on one source, Nike designed a new shoe and identified a new supplier in Japan. Onitsuka discovered the plan, immediately terminated their agreement with Nike, and filed a lawsuit that went to a full trial. Sound familiar? I know a number of you have spent a lot of money on lawyers defending yourself from unfair, baseless lawsuits.
- On occasion, athletes whom Nike had under contract would appear in a competitor’s shoes (including at the Olympics) because they were offered more money. Sound familiar?
- One of the greatest runners in modern history, Steve Prefontaine — who wore Nike shoes exclusively — died at age 24. Sound familiar?
- As Nike grew and cash continued to be tight, the company’s primary bank of over 10 years fired Nike and froze their accounts without warning. Sound familiar? It gets worse. The bank suspected fraud, so they notified the FBI. Yeah, more wasted time and money.
If you ever feel these same types of pains, you might want to grab a copy of Phil Knight’s book. I promise you’ll be encouraged.
is a fascinating little book that has significantly impacted me for the past several months.
First, a disclaimer: It’s written by a Christian pastor about a series of dreams (visions) he had about the spiritual world. For that reason, you may want to skip this post.
Secondly, again as a Christian, he’s writing from his point of view of the Bible. Again, if that’s not something that’s to your taste, you may want to skip this post.
For those of you who are still with me, I would highly recommend this book, written by Rick Joyner. It’s a short, easy read. Whether the author’s vision of the spiritual world is “real” or whether he just has a vivid imagination, he’s able to paint a very realistic picture. In my three decades of being a Bible student, I’ve had limited exposure to the dark side of scripture. Joyner’s version of what could be or might be going on is very believable — to the point where I’ve thought of it almost every day since finishing the book. He has expressed a point of view that would explain experiences that I have daily.
As you know, the first category in the Doescher Advisors Executive Health Check-up is “Spiritual Health.” With that in mind, The Final Quest is something you may want to at least consider reading and reflecting upon.
What if what Joyner reports is true? How might it affect you?
is a 2012 book about Adam Brown, a Navy Seal. I thought I was reading it for fun, due to my fetish about Seals over the past decade — but wow, was I wrong. Yes, it was fun and entertaining, but it was way more than that.
I believe Brown is a role model for having a clear mission (he knew his “Why”) and for staying laser-beam-focused on it.
First, a little background. Brown grew up in a loving, intact Christian family in Arkansas. He was an athlete and well liked in high school. Sadly, he lost his way after graduation and became addicted to drugs. His life got pretty ugly and, near the bottom, he attended a Teen Challenge drug treatment center. Along the way, he decided he wanted to become a Navy Seal and serve his country as a patriot warrior.
Before reading Fearless, I knew that becoming a Seal was a rigorous process, but it was more complex than I realized. Brown, however, was determined to join their ranks. Here are just a few obstacles he had to overcome:
- During his dark drug years, Brown was convicted of several felonies and spent time in prison. This was a huge deal-breaker that he miraculously overcame.
- Near the end of his Seal training, he became blind in his dominant right eye in a training accident, but he was able to train his non-dominant left eye and eventually passed the precision sniper marksmanship tests. More importantly, he convinced the Navy that being blind in one eye wouldn’t be a liability to his fellow warriors.
- During an early deployment in Iraq, he crushed his hand and severed all his fingers in a Humvee IUD accident. His fingers were reattached on his dominant right hand. Still, he learned how to use his left hand and, once again, passed the rigorous marksmanship training.
- Brown was always the one to volunteer for the toughest assignments and, as the title of the book reflects, he was, indeed, fearless.
If you’re struggling with your “Why” or staying on your “Why,” I would strongly encourage you read Fearless for motivation. I would say that focus is a common challenge for many entrepreneurs, and I think Brown is a poster child for being single-minded.
A postscript: I found Brown’s reporting of the ups and downs of his Christian faith and his lifelong struggle with his drug addiction refreshingly candid and realistic.