Weekly roundup of great ideas out there on the web #1

In the spirit of Tom Peters, I am posting a weekly roundup of some great ideas rather than a well thought through blog post this week.  I am now feeling sad to see Ireland lose to France 1-0 in the World Cup Qualifier.  We need a good performance in Paris next week.

Five big lessons from Small Shop Keepers.  I love this simple reflection on some key elements of building a successful business. Too many MBAs and first time entrepreneurs focus on the business plan, raising capital, the “exit” and not enough on the day to day operational details that are key to building a great business.
Another one on small shop keepers – The worlds greatest soda shop (and soda shop owner).  (Take 8 minutes and watch the video – it is inspiring). As you will have learnt from our small shop keepers – if you are small, you must own a niche – and the guy at the end of this link has to be the most passionate and knowledgeable soda drinker in the world.  This link came to me via Seth Godin’s blog post Everyone is Clueless.
I am reminded of a great book when thinking of “owning a niche”.  The advice from the best marketing book that I have ever read – the only statement that you can “sell” as a marketer is “We are the leader in X” – the decision for marketers is “What X?  What category can we dominate?”.  Humans have a salesperson bullshit filter that immediately blocks any statement like “our product has the best blah, blah” – we are immediately cynical – but somehow the statement “Bertoli olive oil, leader in Italy” enters without a blip.

The genius of screwups.  A great blog post from Daniel Coyle on the need for leaders to create an environment in which “falling forward” risks must be rewarded if exceptional performance is desired.  Jack Welch, John Chambers, Jeffrey Katzenberg are all quoted with pithy stuff about the need to encourage people to try new things.  In the words of Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks “If you don’t make failure acceptable, you can’t expect [movies that are] original and unique.”  This follows a line of thinking that I have been discussing with my friend Bill Treasurer, author of Courage goes to Work.  (I am working with Bill on a future Advanced Courageous Leadership seminar, any thoughts on the program are most welcome).

Beyond Excellence – S.W.P. “Seriously Weird People”.  Tom Peters suggests reaching out to some Seriously Weird People when you have a new idea or start a new business.  Keep reaching until you find a couple of people who are so far out that they more or less speak gibberish – it may be gibberish, and probably is gibberish – but perhaps, once or twice in a lifetime, it will be someone and some approach that  amounts to a blueprint for doing the work of 10,000 people with 10 people.

The value perception of books will tend to zero.  Google has its Digital Library project and is scanning through the entire human catalogue of written material to make it available digitally.  Amazon has launched the Kindle 2, a device that truly starts to make reading eBooks a pleasure – and almost better than the real thing.  Given these trends, authors and publishers will need to come to terms with a world in which the value perception of the digital content, just as in the world of digital music, tends towards zero.  It may take 10 years or 10 months, but authors will need to become like rock stars – it will be the concerts and public community events that are the future important revenue streams.  A book will just be like a nice business card.

The great news… this blog has made it into Six Minutes’ list of the top Public Speaking Blogs (at number 80, but we are only 3 months old so time, tenacity and a little bit of quality content will get us up there soon).

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