6 Lessons From Contagious (Why Things Catch On)

1) The moment you start paying people to share or putting a monetary value to them, then they’ll never do it for free again. Many managers rely on monetary incentives or prizes for good work ethic and behavior. Not only is it costly, but as soon as you do it, people won’t continue the behavior for anything less. Instead, focus on social currency. That’s why promotions and cool new titles work better than a pay raise in terms of employee satisfaction.

2) Social currency can be accomplished in three ways. First, sharing something amazing. Snapple facts are remarkable, as in, worth remarking to others about. Second, turn it into a game. Metrics that show people where they are in comparison to others (think Insurance provider rates and frequent flier miles) gives them status, which they’re happy to talk about. Third, make people feel like insiders by giving them something that’s scarce like Cadbury is or exclusive like a speakeasy.

3) Accessible thoughts lead to action. Music you play in a bar can sway people to order more French wine (if French music is playing) or German wine (if German music is playing). Essentially, we have to leverage triggers, but I’ve noticed when we’re so focused on making something out of this world, we forget about making it also top of mind.

4) For as much as I bash the lizard brain and encourage you to ignore the little voice inside your head saying you’re not good enough, any marketer can use the lizard brain to their advantage in a good way. Quite plainly, people share articles, stories, products that get the lizard brain going (excitement, amusement, anger, anxiety, etc,.). The sad insurance Superbowl ads didn’t get shared as much because sadness doesn’t spark the lizard brain.

5) Interesting, surprising and novel doesn’t lead to more buzz than average, uninteresting, and “meh” products because the latter is often ongoing and the former is more immediate.

6)If promoted, telling others helps us celebrate. If fired, telling others helps us vent. Sharing emotions helps us connect.

Book by Jonah Berger. Worth the read.


Stay Positive & Marketing Is About Spreading Love

What Is Efficiency Anyway?

When you say you’ve done a lot, do you also say how well you did it? Likely didn’t think about it.

On the flip side, when you’ve done something really awesome, borderline remarkable, you’re sure to say just how long it took you.

In the game of making things better, we swap quality out with speed. We call ourselves efficient in terms of how much we get done instead of looking at the quality of our work. Speed instead of quality.

Speed is an objective community perception, easily recognizable and measured.

Quality, though, is more subjective. Quality can be compared with what everyone in the agency has made or it can be compared with your personal average. A bit more hard to measure.

In the marketing world, we have enough of the pace-type efficiency. We’ve spent years mastering it, creating charts, laying out entire office cultures based on it. In terms of speed, I’d say we’re near maximum efficiency.

Now that capacity has been met, we have an opportunity to redefine efficiency and pursue filling the void we’ve ignored all these years. We can stop trying to check more boxes and start starring them because we’ve done work that matters, work that’s special.

Being forward, it’s hard to create remarkable work (art) because it’s easier to see ourselves working faster, checking more boxes, getting to more meetings than it is to image ourselves making something remarkable.

To do so, we have to think differently, talk differently, and start seeing things differently.

The neat thing about remarkable work is it’s rooted in the saying, “we’re doing X, but just a bit differently.” No need to invent a new wheel, just think differently about the one you’re using. Only then can you begin giving meaning to the term “efficiency” again. And for that, thank you.


Stay Positive & A Little Different Can Go A Long Way

Getting That Promotion And Recognition

Getting Ahead

You can’t get ahead or become remarkable by asking your boss how. By asking what you can do to get the promotion, to get the recognition, to get the page views, you’re setting their expectations and spoiling the surprise.

I was fortunate the other day when I heard a PR director say they hired someone who wrote weekly posts for the agencies internal blog. That director isn’t going to tell every intern to write those posts. If she did, it wouldn’t be special, wouldn’t be remarkable, wouldn’t be exceeding expectations; it would merely be doing what she suggested.

To get that promotion and recognition you’re striving for, you’ve got to get uncomfortable, you’ve got find ways to do things differently, you’ve got to do the unexpected.

Often times, it doesn’t matter how great what you do is, it’s really just a matter of you doing it. That director never said the blog posts were great. Hell, she might not have even read them. It was the fact the intern did something unexpected (and consistently!) that made her stand out.


Stay Positive & What Are You Doing With Your Downtime?

Reasons You’re Not Doing Creative Work That Matters

  • Your boss says no
  • You think you need more information, more knowledge, more experience
  • You have no time
  • There’s no step-by-step guide
  • It’s a low priority
  • You need more sleep
  • You’re unsure what your passion is
  • Work comes first
  • You work all day and want to relax in the evening
  • No clue where to start

All the above are real because they are my reasons for not doing creative work.

Interestingly enough, I write this to remind us we are in control of changing any one of these, but we’re afraid. The list above is a list of excuses.

The real reason for not being creative, not doing work that matters, not building something remarkable is fear.


Stay Positive & Where Will You Put The Fear?

Unlocking Potential #16: Q&A With Chris Brogan

chrisbrogan-2014-Credit via Raul Colon

I have to admit, I squealed a bit when Chris’s assistant emailed me back stating Chris would be game for a Q&A as part of my Unlocking Potential series.

Chris is full of wisdom, insight, and complete passion when it comes to marketing and living life to the max. His way of working and writing has gotten me to expand my mindset to be a bit more okay with being a bit more weird.

As Chris would agree, weird is good.

Without further ado, please welcome, Chris.

Q: What’s your story in three sentences?

I started out by writing a blog that got more popular. I helped many businesses figure out how to be human at a distance. I continue to help people find ways to build their business by understanding where they belong and how they can better serve those people.

Q: Alright, that was rude of me. Use some more words to explain. How the heck did you build such a strong tribe?

I rarely need more words. The people who I’ve surrounded myself with are people who seek to be of service and who seek to connect others. Growing capabilities and connections. It’s an easy model.

Q: What have you come to find are the two or three most effective ways to get people to share a product, a story or a blog post with one another?

I find that people share what they feel resonates with them. Where most folks get it wrong is they seek numbers, not resonance. Why try to get “everyone” to see what you do? Share it with the folks who feel they belong in the circle with you. They are who want the information in the first place.

Q: What are three qualities you think every person aspiring to be a successful entrepreneur need to have? Why these three over all the other qualities?

I think entrepreneurs need to be service-minded, need to be brave, and need to be eager to share their resources at every turn where it makes sense. I think these three are great because they set up a simple framework for persistent growth of the self and of one’s networks.

Q: I asked John Saddington, who was my 11th Unlocking Potential interview, this same question. What is the biggest challenge you’re seeing today’s entrepreneurs facing?

I think most of the people calling themselves entrepreneurs are actually just people trying to make and sell things without the mindset of serving a particular group of people. They lead with the question “How can I make money” instead of “how can I help someone else succeed?”

Q: Would you tell about the most recent time you had faced a huge challenge yourself and how you did or didn’t overcome it?

I face challenges daily. I think the theme recently is, “Be willing to be even more humble and learn what you aren’t fully understanding.” That lesson keeps being introduced to my life, so I’ll keep learning.

Q: What are you afraid of? Really. Emotionally.

I’m afraid of sharks. I’m afraid of not being able to provide. I’m afraid that my ability to serve will somehow miss the people who most need what I can do to help.

Q: What are a few habits you’ve developed that were essential to your success?

I’m an expert communicator, so that serves me well. I’m very driven to produce. I’m very disciplined. Those really all help.

Q: What is something you haven’t shared with your tribe yet about yourself?

It’d be really hard to figure out what I haven’t shared. I’ll talk about anything. Poop. Sorrow. Depression. Whatever. I’m a fairly open book.

Q: Right now, in the present moment, what would you do or create if you had unlimited resources and time?

Another universe.

Q: Where can people find your remarkable work and what is the best way for someone to reach out to you?

I’m pretty easy going. chrisbrogan.com is a good enough place to start. Grab my newsletter and hit reply. I write back. 🙂


Stay Positive & Learn What You’re Not Fully Understanding

Systems For Remarkable Expire

Systems For Remarkable Expire

One source of remarkability comes from over delivering on a promise you’ve made. It’s a process that can often be systemized, but certainly not long-term.

Over the long run, a system for remarkable becomes the system for expected, for average, for normal… none of which are in the game plan for success.

It’s on you and me to consistently check systems, to monitor and redirect and add and update. It’s on us to retain a system of remarkable.

If you’ve done something the same way for a while now, it might be worth asking how you can do it a bit differently.


Stay Positive & Remarkable Is A Process, Not Just A Product

Match Making (Pitches, PR, And Relationship Principles)


I wish I could say I failed to research people before I met them and I lost out on an opportunity because of it, but it’s not true. I may have missed pieces of information about a person that, hindsight 20/20, I could have used in conversation with them (like telling Seth Godin I’ve seen a photo of his action figure riding a pink angry unicorn), but typically I’m able to bring up two points in every conversation.

1) Something they’ve done that I admire

2) Something of theirs that we can both connect on

These two points are essential to match making with journalists, PR teams and clients, as well as someone you’re going to have coffee with.

When you’re applying to an agency or any job, you do your research on the company: their history, their clients, their goals… anything and everything you can find online or in their brochures (are brochures still a thing?).

Why would you treat a journalist you’re pitching to, a client you want to do business with, a friend of a friend you’re meeting for the first time with any differently?

You don’t.

A journalist will be more likely to cover your story if you start by acknowledging a piece they have written (check box #1) and how you two both love the book she referenced in that story (check box #2).

Not only do you establish a connection with the person, you add credibility to yourself, you show you care because you wouldn’t take the time to research and prepare if you didn’t, and you build trust with that (now) special someone.

The twist is the two check box process works to your advantage in another unique way. It shows you whether or not you want to work and connect with this reporter, that agency, or this guy’s friend.

If they’ve created nothing remarkable and you can’t find a node to connect on, are they a person you want to be investing in?


Stay Positive & 7 Billion People In This World, You’ve Got The Right To Be Picky

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