Going to the Cats


I want to make sure you know I’m going to talk about my cats. I gave the dogs a post a few days ago and readers asked to see the cats. So here they are in all their glory. But, I wanted to put out the alert first as whenever I talk about pets it seems like one or two people unsubscribe. So this is your warning. On the other hand, you might it quite interesting as to what dogs and cats can teach you about life, sales, marketing, leadership and creativity!

Back to the cats. Since it is almost impossible to get all three of them together for one shot, I decided to make this collage.

Bear is the black cat and absolutely fearless. He thinks he is a dog – or whatever he thinks the dogs are. Most of his time is spent with the dogs. He’s actually bigger than both dogs at over 20 pounds. We adopted him from a shelter. Bear loves everyone but he adores Joann.

Toby is the gray cat. We adopted him from our son who adopted him from a shelter but then had to move. Toby thinks he owns me. He has his own office chair and can usually be found on my lap if at all possible – all 16 pounds of him.

Winnie is the only girl in the house other than Joann. She’s extremely shy and gets pushed around some by the male kitties. But, she stands her ground and doesn’t put up with any disrespect. She’s beautiful as you can see and loves to sit in the windows for neighborhood admirers. Also, adopted from a shelter, Winnie is her own cat. She used to love being with me in my office but Toby and her tend to exchange growls if they are both there at the same time. So, she sneaks in when he’s somewhere else in the house.

That’s it for the entire family that lives here. Thanks for letting me introduce them to you.

One Million Copies of Book

You may remember I wrote a few months ago about Tim Brownson and John Strelecky having the extraordinary goal of giving away 1,000,000 copies of their book, How to be Rich and Happy to charities.

I decided it was time to catch up to Tim and see how they are coming along with their goal. By the way, this isn’t some kind of clever marketing. They really are
giving away a million books. They paid for the first 4,000 and they sell some as signed first editions and then put 100% of the money back into publishing more books to give away.

Here’s the story.

Oldest Man on Internet

Tim Brownson describes me as the oldest man on the Internet. He wrote that in a blog post naming his twenty-top people on Twitter. Or, should I say twenty top tweeters on Twitter posted Tuesday by Tim? I like the alliteration. Thank you Tim. I’m toasting you with tea.

I got a good laugh out of his reference to my age but I can assure Tim I’m not the oldest. In fact, my mother is on Facebook and we use email to communicate with each other since she is almost totally deaf and her cochlear implant doesn’t help much anymore.

But, I might be up for some age specific honor if you were to ask who is the oldest who uses – and then name pretty much every new technology and social media that appears. Some I continue to use and some I find useless. But, I can’t imagine not trying them out and immersing myself in new technology. I do it for a few simple reasons:

  1. I want to stay as mentally sharp as possible as I age. People who continue to learn and exercise their brain and their minds have a richer life for longer. That is a scientific fact.
  2. I get to work with people who are 30 and 40 years younger than me and I get to do it every day. They have fantastic ideas and an entirely different way of looking at these tools and at life in general. They treat me as a peer and not as someone older than their parents and even grandparents.
  3. And, I get to pass on what I learn to my friends and clients to help them with their business.

I’m not stopping, retiring to play golf, or taking up a new hobby. I already get to do exactly what I want to do every day.

Why would I ever give that up?

Photo by Brian Auer on Flickr

Super Bowl for Life

I didn't watch any post Super Bowl interviews with the Colts but I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of the team apologized for letting down the team and fans. We put an awful lot of expectation on people and more often than not, they can't meet those expectations. And, so they feel the need to apologize.

If you have seen any Olympic coverage of the upcoming games in Vancouver, you know doubt have seen the image of Lindsey Vonn. I wish her the best and hope she wins gold in all her endeavors. But, I think people are putting an awful burden of expectation on her. Hell, she could have the best ski run of her life and lose because weather conditions changed for other racers. Will Lindsey have to apologize to her fans, team and country?

Sidney Crosby is carrying the entire Canadian nation on his shoulders when they play for a golf medal in hockey. Many, many Canadians already have stated that anything less than gold will be a failure and will be his failure. Why do we expect god-like performances from sports stars when winning or losing doesn't mean a hill of beans a week later?

And, yet at the same time, we are willing to settle for so much less from people whose performances really do matter – performances that can change lives for better or worse. People whose impact can and will be felt for the ages – people like school teachers, elected representatives, parents, bosses, and religious leaders.

These people have the ability to affect our lives in such a way as to make an impact like no sports star can ever imagine. And, yet, we take them for granted a lot of the time. We seldom recognize the superstars and we much too often allow the failures to continue failing over and over. 

I enjoy sports very much but I wish I would see some of the passion people have for their teams and players be shifted to the people who really do make a difference. What if we raised our expectations for the people who can and do affect us? What if we were less willing to accept failure on their part. What if we gave them the kind of support we give our sports heroes? 

What would happen if we held ourselves to the same standards of success we expect from sports stars?

Seth Godin Interview About Linchpin

For those of you who would rather read than listen – here is the transcript of the interview I did with Seth Godin this morning about "Linchpin – Are You Indispensable."

Bob Poole: Good
morning. I’m with Seth Godin, and
today we’re going to discuss his latest book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensible? Which, by the way, has just been
released today, so this is a special day for you, Seth.  Welcome!

Seth Godin: Well,
thank you so much.  It’s almost anti-climatic
given how hard we’ve been working on this thing.  So, I’m thrilled to have pressed the publish
button, and things are working the way they’re supposed to.

BP: Great, I see
it already climbing on Amazon over the last 24 hours so I’ll be following it to
see when it hits number one. 

So tell me, what is a Linchpin, and what is it according to
you and the book?

SG: Well, in the
old days, a linchpin was a tiny piece of hardware, very light in weight and low
in cost that held the wheel onto the wagon. Without a linchpin the wheel would
fall off.  It’s the part you can’t live

And I use that as a talking point to get me started down
this road of talking about how our economy has shifted from 150 or 200 years of
industrial compliance in which a workers job is to feed the machine and keep
the system running, to a new age which just dawned, a revolution, in which the
employees we’re willing to pay, and the people we seek out, and the jobs that
we care about, are done by people, not who follow a manual, and do what they’re
told, but people who matter, who make a difference, who are linchpins, who we
can’t live without.

BP: Fantastic!
The thing that really struck me about the book when I was reading it, is that I
felt a personal connection to you, there was something about it that was different
from your other books.  And in fact, I
know in the introduction you wrote, “This time it’s personal.” Can you tell us
what you meant when you wrote that?

SG: Well, I
didn’t mean it was personal about me, I meant it was personal about you. All my
other books have been about systems, about policies, about ways that you use
tools to help an organization, a politician, a fundraising organization, a
for-profit, go out into the world and spread an idea.   In this book, I’m trying to say “Wait a
minute. If the underlying intent isn’t what it needs to be, then it’s not going
to get you anywhere.” The systems can only take us so far, and in fact, this
book is the anti-system book.  It says
that individuals are the building blocks of everything we have, and we need to
get back to the humanity of the individual.

BP: I notice the
first half of the book seems to be a lot about the new world of work, and how
we got where we are today, where so many people are unhappy with their jobs and
their lives, and what was sold to many of us as the American Dream.  My father, for example, spent his entire life
working in the same steel mill, doing the same job.  And, you know, I was raised to kind of
believe that was what you were supposed to do, you went to work for one company
and they took care of you.

So what was the dream, in your words, and why do you write
that the people in America
are still waiting to do in every corporation.

SG: All of us
were sold that dream. We were cajoled and pushed and brainwashed.  There was a reason for it, and the reason is
if you own a factory, whether it’s a steel mill or an insurance company or an
airline, you need it to be filled with workers who do what they’re told.  And the more people who want that job, the
less you have to pay. 

If there’s a line out the door, then you can mistreat and
disrespect people, and pay them less because you can easily replace them. So,
the school system was complicit in building out generations of people who
follow these instructions.  So, right
now, there’s a lot of people blamelessly in pain because the system is falling
apart but they’re still doing what they were told.

BP: So, then
people want to change, and there are people out there, who want to make a
change, but we don’t according to the book, and I hit page 101 and found the
longest chapter maybe in any book ever written and it’s called “The Resistance,”
and it’s all about the Resistance and something you call ‘the lizard brain,’
which causes us to confuse fear and anxiety, right?

SG: That’s right,
Steve Pressfield came up with the term ‘the Resistance,’ and then I combined it
with some brain science and the Triune Theory that talks about the lizard
brain, the amygdale, the pre-historic brainstem that is now miswired, but is
responsible for us surviving saber tooth tigers and dark, scary jungles.  That what we evolved to do is to stay with
the village, keep our head down and do what we were told, and not be out on our
own. That being laughed at 10,000 years ago was a really bad idea, ‘cause it
was the step before being expelled. Now, doing things that get you laughed at
is what makes you safe and secure.

BP: Now, let’s
say I’m a cubical dweller, or maybe I have my own office. Okay? I’m middle
management, I’ve been with the same very large corporation for twenty years and
with each passing week I realize I want to leave. I know I’m talented, I’m a
linchpin already where I work, which I I’ve gotten where I am, but I’ve had
enough of the corporate world.  But at
the same time, I’m afraid, I’m afraid to make the move.  Why do you think that is?

SG: Well, I’m not
pushing people to quit their jobs. I think if you want to quit your job that’s
a fine thing to do. But I also think that in our economy and culture, there’s a
lot to be said for being part of an organization, it gives you leverage. 

What I’m saying is, if you have a choice between doing great
work and maybe getting fired, or doing mediocre work and thinking that you’re
safe, you’re better off taking the first choice.  Because there were 20,000 auto workers in Detroit who thought they
were safe and they all lost their jobs. 
And there were 100 people at that small business down the road who
thought they were playing it safe and they lost their jobs. 

What you need to do, if you’re going to keep your job, is
lean into it and use it as a platform: a platform for doing your art, for
making your contribution.  And it’s a
great place, I mean, my first job taught me so much because, you know, there
were 16 million dollars in venture money.  Harvard
kicked in at
least half of it. I was surrounded by thirty or forty really smart people.  And I was the third guy down on the totem
pole. I wasn’t the senior management. No one worked for me, I had no direct reports.
 What a great place to play and learn and
make a commotion!  Because I could launch
a product, get into Lechmere, and Kmart, and Target, and if it failed I didn’t
have to sell my house, somebody else had to worry about that.

So, that opportunity made a huge difference to me, and I
think it’d make a difference to just about anyone.  The irony is, the really good part, is that
the people who are running the company, want you to do that! You’ve persuaded
yourself that what they want you to do is nothing, and be boring, and sit
still, but that’s not really what they want. 
They want you to push them to have bigger market share and better
connections and a bigger network.  And
you’ve just been silently blaming them when that’s not really the point.

BP: Yeah, I think
you touched on that in, you wrote two secret memos, one of was for employees
and one was for employers. I’m not gonna, you know, I’m not going to give up
the story, but they were great. What do you think employers are going to do
when they read linchpin. How do you think most of them will respond?

SG: Well, first I
don’t mind if you give up the story. My goal is to spread the idea, and if it
spreads without the book, that’s okay with me.

There’s two kinds of employers. The employers who don’t
understand the magic of what they do are going to want everything to stay the
same. They don’t want people who are indispensible. They want compliant,
disposable workers. They’re not going to buy this book for all their employees.
Don’t worry about it, it’s not going to happen. But I don’t think you should
work there anyway, because those companies are doomed. You know, the Western Unions
of the world, they’re still waiting for the telegraph to come back. That’s
going to be a problem.

On the other hand, most companies, particularly smaller
companies, are saying “You know what? There’s a lot of change in the world, I
like running a small company, I’d rather survive and thrive by filling this
place with people who will take responsibility and stand up for what they
believe in, than I would to fill it with people who are waiting for me to tell
them what to do.”

BP: You use the
phrase, “Real artists ship.” What does that mean, and why is it important?

SG: Well, I stole it from Steve
Jobs. And he uttered it in his unique way to a programmer who was begging for
one more day, one more day, one more day to keep tweaking code.

What I’m trying to argue for is that if no one sees your
work, if you don’t change people, then you’re not an artist. That painting in
your attic, or writing interesting things down and not sharing them, or coding
a website that doesn’t get used, that’s not art. That’s, you know, interesting,
and it’s a hobby, but it’s not important, because it doesn’t matter.  And, if you can’t ship your thing out the
door, whatever your thing is, a blog post, or a direct mail letter, or customer
service interaction, then you are failing.

BP: Your chapter
on gifts, and the gift of art, meant a lot to me. It kind of validated some of
my own beliefs.  When you write about the
gift of art, what do you mean?

SG: So, I was
inspired by a book by Lewis Hyde, called The
, and what he argues, and I completely concur with, is that it’s not
art if you got paid to do it.

Art is the bonus, it’s the extra, it’s the connection, it’s
the change.  That when Picasso paints a
painting he might get paid for the canvas, but seeing it in a museum is free.
The Beatles don’t get paid by you when you hear their song on the radio; the
joy it gives you is free. The souvenir addition, the concrete instantiation of
the item, that costs money. That’s
how you can make money. But if you’re not prepared to give a gift, to connect
to people, then you’re not going to be able to do art.

BP: I agree with
you that something as what might sound as simple as being good with people is
really an art. In fact, the linchpins that I know, that came to my mind as I
was reading it, are all the very best at being good with people.

SG: Right, so you
know you get on the airplane, you paid for the ticket to take you to Cleveland. You didn’t pay
for the flight attendant to smile at you. You didn’t pay for the pilot to come
out and comfort your granddaughter who’s crying. You didn’t pay for the baggage
person to carry the bag out to your car for free and refuse a tip. But after you’re
done with the flight, those are the only things you’re going to remember.
That’s the bonus, the thing that makes one airline worth more than another.
That’s the art of service.

BP: Fantastic. I want to go back to
the Resistant, for just a second, too. It’s such an important concept. What do
we do about the Resistance? Do we, you know, accept it? Ignore it? Chase it
down and beat it to death? What’s the answer to dealing with the Resistance?

SG: The answer
is, it needs a name. Right?

If you’re playing golf, and you don’t know about the thing
called the hook and the thing called the slice, It’s going to be really hard to
fix your game. But once you know the name of it, you’ve got a shot. Right? And
that’s exactly what Steve Pressfield did by naming the Resistance.

So once you know it’s there, once you know that that voice
in the back of your head that’s keeping you from shipping, the one that’s making
you go to meetings, the one that’s having you water down your great idea to
make sure that everyone likes it. That voice is a natural part of our
evolution. It’s there, and we have to acknowledge it.

Now, there’s lots of things you can do about it. You can be
the kind of person who fights it head on. You can be the kind of person who
views it as a weathervane. That’s what I do. If the resistance is loud, I know
I’m on the right track. I do exactly the opposite of whatever it says.  So that means if there’s a guy down the hall
who you’ve been meaning to have an honest heart to heart talk with, and the
resistance says, “Well, maybe you should just postpone it until tomorrow; it’s
not the right astrological moment” and stuff, that’s your signal to do that
difficult thing. Go have that difficult conversation.

Other people learn to make it their friend. To say, “You
know what, that’s part of who I am, it’s there, I’m used to it now.” There’s
lots of different ways to get through it, but what I know is that every artist
that I’ve ever spoken to, in every field, has told me the Resistance is
present. And everyone deals with it in a different way.

BP: How ‘bout
recognizing the lizard brain, the resistance… how do we know when it’s at work?
He lives in our gut, is that…?

SG: The lizard is
never going to tell you not to have that hot fudge sundae. The lizard is never
going to tell you not to ream out that parking attendant who was two minutes
late getting you your car. The lizard never speaks up when you’re about to do
something selfish. That’s not its job, that’s a different part of your

The lizard is the one that speaks up when, maybe just maybe,
you’re about to get laughed at. And if that’s the situation you’re in, and you
hear that voice in the back of your head, that’s worried about that speech you
have to give, or that phone call you have to make, or that graphic that you’re
about to post. That is what the lizard sounds like. And it won’t take you very
long to figure out the tone of its voice.

BP: I think I’ve
heard the lizard a few times.

SG: [Belly

BP: So, in
reading your other books, and following your online posts, I feel like people
always want you to provide a map.  In
fact, I’ve even seen criticisms that you don’t give people enough direction.
But that’s the whole point of being indispensible, isn’t it?

SG: Well, you
know, this is valuable because it’s scarce. Right? If everyone could do this,
no one would pay extra for it. 

So, if I could tell you how to do it, everyone would do it.
I can’t tell you how to do it. No one can tell you how to do it. When you go to
art school, Bob, they don’t teach you how to be Picasso, or Shepard Fairey, or
Monet, or Manet, because they don’t know. 
They can teach you how to paint. They can teach you how to do a still
life that looks like a photograph. But they can’t teach you how to do the next thing. ‘Cause no one knows, except
you. So, my job is to say, this is the opportunity, and in fact the obligation.
But if you want the step-by-step “Twitter for Dummies, Blogging for Idiots” manual,
I don’t write those. Sorry.

BP: Okay. You
know, when I finished reading Linchpin,
I realized that it really isn’t a business book, in my mind, but really a book
about how to find your purpose in life, and it’s a book about living the life
we all deserve. Would you agree with that? Was that your goal?

SG: Well, isn’t
that all of our goals? I mean, we didn’t build the internet, as I said earlier,
to someone, just so we could sit around wasting time watching Paris Hilton
videos. And we didn’t spend all those years in school just so we could sit
around at Aetna Insurance stamping insurance forms. There’s way more to do.

And as Baby Boomers get older and we look around and say “Is
that it?” I guess my answer to us is, “No, it’s not.” What’s “it” is this idea
of connection and change and transformation. 
And I’m not sure I mind sounding a little bit like a New Age guru when I
saw these things, because sometimes New Age gurus are right. And what we’re
right about, if I am one, and I’d like to think I’m not, but if they’re right,
it’s that this whole system we’ve built has a bigger purpose than yet another
McMansion. And I think the purpose of it is to do work that we’re proud of.

BP: Well, the new
American Dream, you describe it as, “Be remarkable, be generous, create art,
make judgment calls, connect people and ideas, and, in the end, we have no
choice but to reward you.” I think that’s a great summary to the book.

SG: I’ll settle
for that.

BP: Is there anything else you’d like to add today?

SG: I want to add
that the people who read what you write are really lucky. We’re fortunate that
you wake up every day to do it, and I want to thank you for kicking in, and
standing up, and doing work that matters.

BP: Well, thank you
very much, Seth, I appreciate that.  You
have a wonderful day, and the best of luck with Linchpin.  I’ll be following the action today, and all
the Hoopla!

SG: Thanks so
much, we’re working on it. See you later!

 BP: See you
later. Bye.

Cutting Back on Meetings

I'm doing more and more meetings over the web and the telephone in the past year. Part of the reason is geographic. I just don't want to jump on planes anymore for the obvious reasons. But, I'm also meeting with more local prospects and clients the same way. By local, I'm talking about people who live within a couple of hours drive or train ride. For example, I've cut my trips down to NYC by 80%.

There are some great tools that you can use and it only makes sense to make the most of both yours and your client's time. And, by using online meetings, I have faster access to information that I can share. Even if you take your own laptop or use a client's connection it seems like there is always some hitch with their network allowing you to access it or some incompatibility. If I'm using my own computer from my own office, that problem is eliminated and costs are kept in check for everyone.

Here are the tools I use most of the time and why:

  1. GoToMeeting – It works with no problems. It has email reminders and links. I can record the meeting and post it with a link if someone missed it. I can allow anyone in the meeting to take over and show their screen – or not. It also allows for written questions and comments or audio or all the above. And, I have not seen anything better.
  2. GoToWebinar – Same as number 1 above but with more users and features. I haven't found anything to compare to it for the money.
  3. I'm also using GoView a lot which I blogged about before. It is in Beta and free right now. By the way, I have no affiliation with Citrix which makes all three products. I'm just a very happy user.
  4. I have tried several teleconferencing solutions. I can't say that any of them had a wonderful user experience. I want one that controls volumes from all the various callers if I'm going to do a large teleconference. However, I see myself using webinars more than ever. Teleconferencing may play a role in your marketing now but I see webinars taking over that market.
  5. Video conferencing is still a hit or miss game for me. Whether it is one-to-one or a group the video is usually choppy and the audio isn't the greatest. You can put your own solution together with Adobe products and one of their partners but you'd better be ready to shell out the green. I'm going to try a company (iVisit) tomorrow that I've never used before between a group of us that have a regularly scheduled master mind meeting. I'll let you know how it goes.

What are you using for virtual meetings? Are you doing more virtual and less in-person? What tools do you use?

“What Matters Now”

About a month ago, Seth Godin offered a free eBook called "What Matters Now." You can still get a free download of the eBook but I'm going to suggest something else.

Here's your opportunity to get the book in a beautifully designed paperback and also support Room to Read.

Room to Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children's literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls. Through the opportunities that only education can provide, they strive to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time. 

And, you want to own this book. Here's a description from Seth. "Now, more than ever, we need to shake things up. Now, more than ever, we need a different way of thinking, a useful way to focus and the energy to turn the game around. I hope this book will get you started on that path. It took months, but I think you’ll find it worth the effort.

Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O’Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas inside.

This book also includes Tom Peters, Fred Wilson, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber.

All the proceeds from the sale of the book go to Room to Read. Please click here. It's a small investment that will pay big dividends to both you and the life of a child.

Thank you.

Traveling Gnomes and Books

I was so excited about Megan and Naomi's launch yesterday that I forgot to tell you about something else. And, this something else can get you a free Seth Godin book.

I created a page a few days ago on Facebook for fans of "Listen First – Sell Later." I think it would be fun to have photos in an album of people holding a copy of Listen First showing their faces. You could have it taken anywhere. Sort of like a traveling gnome. Who knows where the book will show up!

And, when you send me the photo I will put it in the album with your name and location. And, then I'll send you a free copy of either "Free Prize Inside" or "The Dip" audio CD compliments of my friend Seth.

So grab your camera and send in the shots. And, while you're at it, why not become a fan of the book. Just click here to see it.

Thank you!

Learn How to Recognize and Sell to the Four Personality Types

People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Since we can’t pick or choose the “type” of person we are most likely to trust and like right away, we need to learn how to effectively with everyone’s personality style.” Learn how in this report and start increasing your sales right away!

Selling To The Four Personality Types