Categories
Business Creativity Tech

The case for playing the long game

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Jeff Bezos in 1990

Good things take time. If we all settled for immediate results, there would be no Apple, Amazon, or Tesla.

The world’s best leaders are visionaries. They work years ahead, having planted the seeds for what’s happening now to springboard them into the future.

When asked what he thinks when analysts congratulate him on a “good quarter”, Jeff Bezos said:

“Those quarterly results were fully baked three years ago. Today I’m working on a quarter that will happen in 2020, not next quarter. Next quarter is done already and it’s probably been done for a couple years…If we have a good quarter it’s because of work we did 3, 4, 5 years ago. It’s not because we did a good job this quarter.”

Jeff Bezos

So what type of futurists should we be, the tortoise or the hare, the fox or the hedgehog?

Get ready to go years being misunderstood.

PS. Watch a young Jeff Bezos outline his vision for Amazon way back in 1997 right here.

Categories
Books Business

The customer purchase funnel, flipped

All marketers are liars. But so too are the customers who tell themselves stories to make them feel good about a product.

Nevertheless, there are times and moments where both sides benefit. For instance, Apple builds hardware and software that unleashes the creator.

The best brands meet their consumers somewhere in the middle, where sold objects are trustworthy, useful, and worth sharing. If the funnel starts open like a Sarlacc pit, companies should expect to be experienced but then ignored forever.

The idea is that you need a ton of website visitors, then some of them become become leads, and then after you do something (the usual recommendation is to bombard the leads with marketing automation) they relent and pay you money, thus becoming a “customer.” 

I hate this, because it’s shortsighted. Granted, if you work in a company that’s shortsighted (they’re racing to some sort of exit, or maybe living quarter to quarter), this funnel stuff is probably important. 

Ben Chestnut, Founder of Mailchimp

Read Why I hate funnels

Categories
Business Life & Philosophy

Is it better to be first or a fast second? 🤔

It doesn’t really matter whether you’re first or a fast second. It doesn’t even matter if you’re third or fourth or late to the game altogether.

What matters is maintenance.

If you build something, it is your responsibility to maintain it.

Google out invented Yahoo, Alta Vista, and Ask Jeeves. Now it’s on to powering search through AI.

Facebook, despite its current missteps, bought Instagram to ensure its social media hegemony.

Will Smith took his TV talents to the big screen. 

Whether you’re a business, athlete, or a celebrity, you can’t expect to thrive on the same platform forever.

It’s not so much what you can do right now. The central question is whether you can survive the variables. Are you antifragile enough to optimize on the next unexpected transformation?

Nothing is stagnant. How does on stay afloat? 

There is no evolution without some form of struggle. As a stoic would say, the obstacle is the way.

Categories
Arts Nature News

Free the animals 🦁🐘🦓

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Updated box design

The design for Animal crackers just got an update.

Due to mounting pressure from animal rights group PETA, Nabisco removed the cages from its iconic cracker box. The updated version shows the animals roaming free.

The redesign of the boxes, now on U.S. store shelves, retains the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent “Barnum’s Animals” lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages – implying that they’re traveling in boxcars for the circus – the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland. The outline of acacia trees can be seen in the distance.

Said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman:

“The new box for Barnum’s Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows.”

This is the first significant redesign since Nabisco launched the crackers in a 1902 partnership with the now-defunct Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus.

“New look, same great taste.”

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The original design

Categories
Business Culture Tech

We, the data

Dissolved into data, we produce a feast of trackable interactions.

Dissolved into data, we produce a feast of trackable interactions.

They are the editors as much as much we are the authors. While we create everything, they produce nothing, yet the internet still owns our words. 

The attention merchants munch on the aggregate and peel off the niches into targeted prey.

Our eyeballs are the oil, primed, pumped, and then exhausted into tanks of consumption.

Monetization of the ego starts at birth, built for entertainment in the first place. We make, make, make until we are over-marked and sold to the highest bidder.

Categories
Business

Tom Wolfe: ‘Logos are strictly a vanity industry’

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In 1972, Tom Wolfe criticized companies for creating logos for no other reason but to look modern:

The abstract total-design logo is the most marvelous fraud that the American graphic arts have ever perpetrated upon American business. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, these abstract logos, which a company (Chase Manhattan, Pan Am, Winston Sprocket, Kor Ban Chemical) is supposed to put on everything from memo pads to the side of its fifty-story building, make absolutely no impact–conscious or unconscious–upon its customers or the general public, except insofar as they create a feeling of vagueness and confusion….Yet millions continue to be poured into the design of them. Why? Because the conversion to a total-design abstract logo format somehow makes it possible for the head of the corporation to tell himself: “I’m modern, up-to-date, a man of the future. I’ve streamlined this old baby.” Why else would they have their companies pour $30,000, $50,000, $100,000 into the concoction of symbols that any student at Pratt could, and would gladly, give him for $125 plus a couple of lunches at the Trattoria, or even the Zum-Zum? The answer: if the fee doesn’t run into five figures, he doesn’t feel streamlined. Logos are strictly a vanity industry, and all who enter the industry should be merciless cynics if they wish to guarantee satisfaction.

To which Mark Wilson at FastCoDesign adds his two cents:

I can’t top Tom Wolfe–but I’d add just two more observations to his own:

1. Paying a Pratt student $35 to make a logo is. . .pretty much what Nike did to create the swoosh in 1971, the year before this criticism was printed. Wolfe surely would not have heard of the tiny Oregon shoe company yet, meaning his criticism was, at least partially, prophetic.

2. You could replace “logo” with almost any overrated trend and “business” with “the American people,” and this whole excerpt still sings. Try “fancy hamburger” or “wide leg pant.” Wolfe makes an almost algebraic argument in this passage that any product that one must rub their chin whilst critiquing is almost surely a fraud.

Of course, logos are ubiquitous. Branding is critical. We think in logos. We associate items with certain brands, e.g. Coke = Soda.

Businesses will hop at any chance to flash their latest logo on stationery, a building, football club jerseys, whatever, to impress. No siren nor Jumpman goes unnoticed. The logo purports to explain and sell your business. Said Paul Rand:

“Most people think that the important thing about a logo is that it illustrates what the business does or what it represents which is nonsense.”

— Paul Rand