Tag Archives: behavior

Data Edition: Behind the Scenes, Strategy, Behavior

Lots of talk lately about data.

Behind the Scenes: The credit card industry has changed a lot in the past 25 years. The amount of data that the credit card companies know about you and use to predict the future is astonishing. The psychology of getting late payers to get current based on that data bank is also amazing.

Strategy: How do we keep track of the right metrics when determining future plans?  Eric Reis says scientific methods can help determine the best ways to dig deeper into the metrics that we collect.  Simple things like using a split A/B test will provide you with more data to make better decisions.  Eric goes into a lot more detail about tests in his article on the FourHourWorkWeek blog.

Behavior: Google probably collects more data about us than we can imagine.  They are now using this data on their own employees to try to determine who will be the next to leave the company.

Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Behavior and Turkey Fun

Entrepreneurship: Think the inner city can’t be a place to start a new business?  Think again.  Given that there is a whole lot more real estate out there available, albeit some with bank branches and auto dealerships.  Smart entrepreneurs are going to be looking for ways to make a business around these sites.

Strategy: Another Seth Godin gem. Knowing how to ask is more important than the ask itself.

Behavior: Dan Ariely, author of the terrific book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, spoke at a recent EG conference. EG is an offshoot of the TED conference. Dan’s topic was about how we make decisions. Besides the usual visual games, he discusses some of the reasons that we make decisions and how options that have absolutely no value often distract us in our decision-making process.  Marketers are using this information today to get you to move on their buying process.  In fact, as Dan describes, it could be a matter of life and death in a medical setting.

Fun: I was one of the unnamed friends at Kristin’s turkey (and other assorted goodies) fry-off last weekend.  Pictures and recipes are included in her blog. I admit that I was unsure about the whole deep frying bit, but man, these treats were wonderful.

Big Picture, Innovation and Ideas

Big Picture: It is always interesting to me to see how founders think about their companies. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, writes this annual report. And while we are on the subject of Google, Jim Spanfeller, CEO of Forbes.com, wrote a scathing indictment of Google and their role in the demise of the publishing business.  A much more fun read is the response by Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand in a point-counterpoint post.

Innovation: Scott Adams of Dilbert fame talks about information flow using a time based methodology.  He envisions a world where our calendars will become much more intelligent, personal and useful.  I like this vision of the future.

Ideas: If you have never seen Seth Godin speak, you now have the opportunity to view this talk on Tribes from the 2009 TED Conference. And for a little historical Seth, here is his riff on Purple Cows from 2003.

Big Picture, New Inventions and Behavior

Big Picture: Malcolm Gladwell writes in The New Yorker about how David can beat Goliath. In many cases, it is thinking outside the box and not falling to conventional wisdom.

New Inventions: From the pages of Harry Potter, along comes an invention that we can all see merit in (or not) – the cloak of invisibility.

Behavior: Have you ever wanted to understand how a con-man was able to work his magic?  Read a lesson in How to Cheat from The Economist.

Entreprenurship, Behind the Scenes, Behavior/Magic and Economics

Entrepreneurship: Gina Trapani discusses all kinds of neat tools, applications and vendors that can help a new business get started.

Behind the Scenes: Robert Scoble takes us inside of Zappos.com and how they can create a corporate environment that keeps their employees excited and their customers enthralled by their service.

Behavior: An article on neuroscience probably would not have caught my eye, but bring Penn and Teller into the conversation and I am hooked.  This article talks about how magicians utilize flaws in our perception to amaze us.  I viewed the balls and cups clip 3 times and still I didn’t catch everything.

Business Economics: The US Postal Service is one of those organizations that we take for granted.  6 days a week, we will have a red, white and blue truck drive up and deliver our mail, most of it “junk mail” or what the USPS calls standard mail.  What we don’t think about often is how fiscally responsible they are, what are their unfunded pension liabilities and how they make money in the age of the Internet.  This article sheds some light on how the USPS operates and offers some suggestions to make the service more effective.

Economy, Entrepreneurship, Fun and Behavior

Economy: Although the language is a bit salty, Mike Taibbi’s article in The Rolling Stone on how we got into this economic mess is a must read. And from the other side of the fence, read Jake DeSantis’ resignation letter from AIG.

Entrepreneurship: Here’s something you don’t hear about every day — an article from Harvard Business extolling the work of small business.  And for those of you running  small businesses, pay attention to what is the biggest benefit to your customers — communication.

Fun: Even those of you who do not like math are sure to enjoy this site, MoreNewMath.com.

Behavior: Have you heard about the woman who had the incredible memory?  A cognitive psychologist tries to figure out what makes her tick.

The Young Entrepreneur – Winning

My friend, Jeff Leitner, is fond of asking the question “What does winning look like?”.  This simple question neatly frames the problem that many entrepreneurs struggle with. Sometimes it is a lack of focus.  Sometimes it is a plethora of options.  Sometimes it is just getting overwhelmed by the speed of business. In sports, it’s easy — more points.  In politics — it’s 50% + 1 of the cast votes. In business, not so easy.

In a posting last week, I talked about negotiation.  The key to a negotiation is to understand the very essence of what winning looks like. In order to get what you need out of a negotiation, you need to take a deep breath and invest the time to really understand what winning looks like, both for you and what you imagine it looks like for the other party.  If you can clearly lay out what winning looks like, the negotiation becomes much easier since you know the winning strategy for each side.

But you do not need to be in a formal negotiation to see the benefits of thinking seriously about winning.  Think about meeting a new sales prospect.  As much as possible, you need to control the agenda for a meeting.  The agenda should be built with winning in mind. If you control and publish an agenda, you have the ability to help ensure winning.

In contracting, if you are asked to write a first draft of a proposed agreement, jump at the chance.  Yes, it will be more work for you, but it will allow you to shape the document towards your vision for winning.  You can certainly take this too far and write the agreement one sided, but if you can use the opportunity to shade things toward your winning strategy, you have a more positive negotiating position and the likelihood of getting a favorable deal is increased.

So, how do you know what winning looks like for the other side?  Many times you can guess as to the components of a winning deal, but why guess?  I have disarmed many people by just asking simple questions: “How are you compensated?”  or “What is your incentive for making this deal happen?”.  I don’t want to know their W2 or base salary.  What I really want to understand are those things that could be beneficial to my negotiating partner that are not valuable to me.  These become good bargaining chips.  Winning to the other guy could be something as simple as booking this deal by the end of the month.  Perhaps I can trade booking the deal this month with longer payment terms.

Sure, understanding what winning looks like before each meeting, negotiation or sales presentation is more work.  Documenting these strategies will take a bit more time.  But in business, as in sports, winning usually means working harder than the other side.

Behavior, Economy and Entrepreneur

Behavior: Can you name one question that Amazon uses to garner more than $2B in sales? Jared Spool can and he explains the whole process.

Economy: Hugh MacLeod, creator of the gapingvoid art and blogger, writes about how the economy of today is being purged of “Middle Seat Sellers” and how this is a good thing.

Entrepreneur: I just finished the book, The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living and I loved it. It is a very fast read and talks about the things one needs to think about before visiting your local VC or angel for funding.

Behavior, Entrepreneurship, Economy and Technology

Behavior: Last year, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist from Duke.  He gave a presentation at TED this year on cheating that discussed, among other things, a fake MIT Honor Code, sweatshirts, the Personal Fudge Factor, atheists swearing on Bibles and The Ten Commandments.

Entrepreneurship: Seth Godin wrote today about how to apportion equity in a start-up. His ideas are well thought out and I especially like the idea of appointing an arbitrator right at the start.  This advice is all the more important if your partner is also your spouse, best friend or both.

Economy: I posted recently on some ideas regarding the AIG bonus issue. Adam Davidson, writes on the NPR Blog today to tell us to look at the bigger picture and as mad as I was when I wrote about the bonuses, I think he makes some sense.

Technology: I have been a big online mapping fan from the early days of MapQuest.  Now, I normally choose Google Maps, for the richness of the experience as well as the ease of use.  Today, I found out about www.openstreetmap.org. This is an open source world street mapping program.  It is designed to be crowdsourced, meaning that like Wikipedia, everyone can be an editor.  It looks a lot like Google Maps but includes user generated features like detailed bike paths near my home that were included by a user with a GPS unit.