Monday Morning Memo
By Roy H. Williams
Below you’ll find links to the 30 latest articles.
The advice I give to others, I rarely take myself.
I admonish persons who possess detailed knowledge to “dumb it down” so the rest of us can understand because, frankly, we are rarely interested in the mystery and wonder of the unabbreviated truth.
I tell them, “Say it so plainly that you worry you have stripped it of all its truth and beauty.”
“The deer have killed the oak tree! The deer have killed the oak tree!”
Forty-year-old Todd – we’ll call him Todd – came running into my office with his second crisis of the day. I expected there would be at least one more.
Todd felt it was his job to bring every problem to my attention so that I could tell him how to solve it. Todd was an idiot. His only value was that he gave me a sparkling example of what it means to be an identifier of problems rather than a creator of solutions.
Her only hope of survival is an audience that believes in fairies and demonstrates that belief through enthusiastic applause. Tinkerbell’s light has been growing brighter since 1904, when she first appeared in J.M. Barrie’s play, Peter Pan.
Everyone believes in fairies enough to clap enthusiastically.
The Tinkerbell Effect describes things that exist only because enough of us believe they exist, and behave as though they do.
When a business is struggling financially, cost-cutting looks like a brilliant move.
But can you shrink your way to success?
From what I’ve seen, it’s easier – and healthier – to increase revenues than it is to cut costs.
Cost-cutting comes at a very high cost.
I know what happens when men retire.
I do not know what happens when women retire. Perhaps they are plagued by the same maladjustments, discomforts and discontentment as men, but I doubt it. As Michele Miller points out in her audiobook, The Natural Advantages of Women, females of our species are gifted with different neurological wiring that helps them be less obsessive, more able to adapt.
“It was dark inside the wolf,” is how Margaret Atwood believes the story might have opened.
Emily Dickinson would agree. “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant,” was her advice to those of us who want our emails to be opened, our stories to be read, and our voices to be heard.
If you want your subject line, headline, or opening line to win attention, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.” Approach your subject from an interesting angle.
1. You Cannot Measure What Has Not Happened.
When you ask a person about an experience that exists only in their imagination, they will give you imaginary answers.
You can measure only what has already happened.
In other words, you cannot measure what “would” or “would not” work. You can only measure what “did” and “did not” work.
I ate too much and it made me heavy and slow.
Using too many words is like eating too much.
It makes communication heavy and slow.
Short sentences hit harder.
Nouns and verbs are fists that deliver punches.
Adjectives and adverbs are gloves that soften the blows.
There is, to my knowledge, only one way to profitably put the power of the internet to work for you.
It’s simple; just give people what they want.
But first you have to know what they want.
Let me help you with that.
(1.) They want answers, and
(2.) they want entertainment.
When someone says, “Figures don’t lie,” know this: Figures lie, and liars figure.
Never trust a weasel with a calculator.
Do you remember the mortgage meltdown of 2008 and The Big Short, the movie that was made about it? There is a scene in that movie where investors Mark Baum and Vinnie Daniel go to visit Georgia Hale, an employee of the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s:
The average person is afraid of criticism.
But the person who has no fear of criticism is more likely to succeed. This lack of fear is what keeps them from being average.
The average business owner is afraid their ads will be criticized.
Do you want to kill a great ad? Show it to the people you trust.
Ad writers hear it every day, whistling toward them like a bullet: “We need more traffic, that’s what we need; more sales opportunities!”
I spent the early part of my radio career stepping up to the plate and knocking that fastball out of the park. If your back was against the wall, I was the man to call.
I was like Coca-Cola, baby, I was everywhere.
Throughout my career as an ad writer, I’ve noticed that the easiest companies to skyrocket are those with a healthy and happy corporate culture.
You know it’s a great company when everyone wants to get a job there and no one wants to leave.
Let’s talk about culture.
Real experts in online marketing rarely use the phrase “going viral,” because it has no agreed-upon definition. Instead, they talk about “Discovery Content” and “Community Content.”
To understand Discovery Content, just look at anything posted by BuzzFeed or any of the other organizations whose principal income is generated by the companies who sponsor their clickbait.1
But not all Discovery Content is shallow and vacuous.
The door to immediate action is easily kicked open by the steel-toed boot of urgency.
If you want people to take immediate action, you’re going to need a credible shortage.
A shortage of product. “Only 11 remain!”
A shortage of time. “Sale ends Saturday at 6PM!”
A shortage of capacity. “Only 128 seats are available!”
Some kind of shortage.
When you’re trying to transfer a thought or a feeling to someone else, the impact of your communication will be determined by the following equation:
- How big is the thought in your mind, or the feeling in your heart?
- How quickly can you transfer it?
I always look forward to my lunches with Ray Bard because he teaches me valuable things. He doesn’t intend to teach me things; it just happens.
Our short lunches last 3 hours. Our record is 6 ½.
Ray is my publisher.
You hear a lot of talk these days about how no one listens to the radio anymore.
Interestingly, the people who make these claims offer no evidence beyond the fact that commercial free music can be obtained through online streaming. This reminds me of that famous malaprop by Yogi Berra, “No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
Every successful person has a blind spot.
Here’s what often happens:
- You have a unique approach, a particular process, or a special emphasis.
- It separates you from your competitors.
- Your commitment to it makes you successful.
I’m in a strange mood. I hope you’ll forgive me.
I’ve been contemplating things unsaid. Deeds undone. Symphonies unfinished.
The reality of mortality has shown up as a hole in the light, a silhouette on the horizon. And its whispering voice has led me to compile a list of unfiltered thoughts that seem to me, remarkable. Thoughts that should not be lost.
On the day he died, long ago, a man said, “In this world you will have trouble.”
I’ve never had reason to doubt him.
Our nation is changing, of course.
Things aren’t like they used to be.
Famous clothing brands are at historic lows and major retailers are closing hundreds of stores. In 2016, 2,056 stores closed their doors. The worst year on record is 2008, when 6,163 stores shut down.
Brokerage firm Credit Suisse says in a just-released research report,
Michael Jordan wasn’t a perfectionist; he was an improvisationist. That’s why he was hard to stop.
A perfectionist knows exactly what he’s going to do. He plans his work and works his plan. The only problem is that because he knows, the defender knows, too.
It’s easy to anticipate what a perfectionist is going to do. He’s predictable.
But no one knew what Michael was going to do, because he didn’t know himself.
Ask a businessperson or a marketing professional, “What is branding?”
Go ahead. Go do it. I’ll wait…
Did they mention the importance of a having a logo? Did they talk about the consistent use of a chosen group of “brand” colors and a particular font and layout and look and feel? Have you done what they told you? Congratulations! You now have a visual style guide.
And so does every other business on earth.
People read books for the strangest of reasons.
I recently read a book about a female aviator in Africa in the 1930s.
I have no interest in aviation. I have no interest in Africa.
But it was a great book.
I began reading it after I stumbled onto something Ernest Hemingway wrote in a 1942 letter to his friend, Maxwell Perkins.
Business Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by at least two distinct identities or dissociated personality states that show up in a company’s behavior.
BPD emerges when unrelated teams work independently in the areas of (1.) Advertising (2.) Web Presence (3.) Sales Training.
If a person encounters your ads, then visits your website, then comes to your place of business, will they feel they have encountered a single personality three times, or three personalities once?
There are two kinds of advertising.
The goal of the first is to make yours the company the customer thinks of immediately and feels the best about when they – or any of their friends – need what you sell. This is called a “relational” ad campaign. It works better and better with each passing year.
Four words have echoed in my head for several days.
“Not everyone. Not always.”
Why do such thoughts leap
sparkling like swordfish
from the dark waters
of the mind?
I can’t be sure, but I suspect my heart is responding to all those authoritative voices making silly statements about “the customer” with misguided certainty. They whisper to us from websites, blogs and business books.
Hi, everyone! My name is _____________________.
Because Wizard Academy appreciates your generous donation to help keep Chapel Dulcinea open, free and beautiful, I’m going to take you on a 4-minute walk to Wizard’s Tower, where we’ll enter the underground art gallery, then go straight up to the Star Deck where I’ll tell you a 2-minute story, then you’ll have 15 more minutes to take photos and enjoy the view from nearly 1,000 feet above downtown Austin. Follow me, please.
I’m experimenting with radio in a way that, for me, is new and different.
Many of those who understand what I’m doing won’t agree with the fundamental premise of my experiment. But that’s not what worries me.
I’m concerned about those who will agree and then attempt it – and fail. I believe they’ll fail because they won’t do it right.