Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cultural Movements: Becoming Apple NOT Electronic Arts

Most companies want to be loved: they want passionate customers, enthusiastic vendors, devoted partners and loyal employees. Yet in reality, few companies are loved. Most companies are tolerated at best and at worst, ignored. Why? Most companies are too forgettable to be loved. They’re too boring to spark a reaction—any reaction. If you want your company to have passionately devoted customers, partners and employees, you must first inspire strong responses. Only then can you convince people to love your company and become raving fans of your brand. As you attract fans, you’ll also get the opposite: the critics, naysayers or “Haters.”


Haters add negative energy to your brand. They might post unpleasantries online or write nasty letters. They’re passionate, yeah, but in the opposite way that you’d like. Yet, in the quest to attract Lovers, we’re bound to also get a few of their counterpart, the Haters. As we learned in physics: Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction. You can’t have Lovers without a few Haters too. Let me say something rather shocking: it’s okay to have a few people hate your brand. In fact, it’s necessary. If you’re not eliciting a negative response from someone, then you’re probably not very compelling to anyone.

An innovative idea feels unfamiliar, even uncomfortable. Not everyone will like it. Most companies spend too much time fretting over damage control for the Haters. Or worse, they never get up the nerve to be extraordinary in the first place. (See Electronic Arts.)

Rabblerousers and critics are the price of entry to being extraordinary. You can deal with them directly or even coax them to change, but do not let them stop you. Accept their presence and move on with your mojo intact.


Crazy-excited fans may be a small slice of your overall base, but they’re the single most powerful force in your marketing mix. These Lovers not only purchase your product, but also tolerate price increases and occasional glitches or errors. They’re not just buying you for price or utility.The competition tempts them with coupons but they stay loyal. They’ll invest in your stock, attend your conferences and refer you to their peers. Lovers also have a delightful habit of doing your marketing work for you for free. They create content around your products, glorify your service in online reviews, and even re-post your content online. In every aspect of your company, Lovers will reward you with new business, higher sales and better talent.

So on one side, we have the Lovers. On the other side, we have the Haters. Between them is a no man’s land filled with dead-ends and languishing sales. This, my friends, is where you’ll find the customers in the middle: Lukewarm lollygaggers who suck up your marketing budget but give little loyalty or value in return. I call these customers the “Middlers.”


In a brutally competitive environment, you can’t afford to waste your time talking to people who don’t care. Apathetic consumers won’t buy your product unless it’s the cheapest or most convenient option—which is a terrible spot to be in right now, because it’s a brand position by default, one that only succeeds until your competitors offers something cheaper or more convenient.

Unlike Lovers, who are devoted to you, these consumers are gigolos, switching to the most attractive offering. So in addition to being unreliable, Middlers are also expensive. You waste your marketing budget trying to recruit them without ever amortizing your investment over multiple sales. Yet consumers aren’t the only ones loitering in the middle and damaging your business.

Employees in the middle don’t care about doing much other than killing time at the office. Clients in the middle don’t really care about loyalty if your competitor offers a better price. Stockholders in the middle don’t care about sticking with you in a downturn.

In a competitive environment, the middle position is death. Not caring is not buying. Not caring is inaction. Not caring is goodbye. There are too many options on the shelves, too many ways to shut out your advertising message, too many competitors who are more than happy to take your best clients and distributors and salespeople away if “don’t care” is the best you can do.

How could you get people out of the middle? Once people stop being in the middle, they stop roaming aimlessly, and start actively choosing you and your brand. That’s when good things like sales and retention and leadership happen. If your company wants to influence purchase decisions, you must provoke strong and immediate emotional reactions. The goal isn’t to avoid controversy, but to avoid creating legions of people who simply don’t care.

Stop focusing on the Middlers.

Stop letting the Haters slow you down.

Start rewarding and keeping the Lovers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blood Flow Restored: Reducing Risks For Heart Disease

The human heart beats 100,000 times a day, propelling six quarts of blood through 60,000 miles of vessels–20 times the distance across the US from coast to coast. The blood flows briskly, surging out of a ten-ounce heart so forcefully that large arteries, when severed can send a jet of blood several feet into the air. Normally the relentless current helps keep blood vessels clean. But when an artery bends, tiny eddies form, as in a bend in a river. This is where bits of sticky, waxy cholesterol and fat can seep into the artery wall and oxidize, like butter going rancid. Other matter piles up too. Eventually, the whole mass calcifies into a kind of arterial stucco or plaque.

Until recently, Cardiologists approached heart disease as a plumbing problem. Just as mineral deposits restrict the flow of water through a pipe, an accretion of plaque impedes the flow of water through a pipe; an accretion of plaque reduces the flow of blood through an arterial channel. The more crud in the system, the greater the likelihood that a clogged artery will trigger a heart attack. Doctors now dismiss this "clogged-pipes model" as an idea whose time has passed. It’s just not that simple.

Most heart attacks are caused by plaque embedded within the artery wall that ruptures, cracking the wall and triggering the formation of a blood clot. The clot blocks the flow of blood to the heart muscle, which can die from lack of oxygen and nutrients. Suddenly, the pump stops pumping.

Today, heart specialists agree that heart attacks generally occur in arteries that have minimal or moderate blockage and their occurrence depends more on the kind of plaque than on the quantity. Scientists have been struggling to figure out what type is most responsible. Findings suggest, softer plaques rich in cholesterol are more likely to rupture than the hard, calcified, dense plaques that extensively narrow the artery channel. But understanding the root cause of the disease will require much more research. For one thing, human hearts–unlike plumbing fixtures–are not stamped from a mold. Like the rest of our body parts, they are products of our genes.

Heart disease is not a one-or two-gene problem. Most cardiac researchers suspect that dozens of genes contribute to a disposition: some affect arterial integrity, others inflammation. Both can cause and exacerbate arterial cracks. Additional genes affect the processing of lipids that turn into plaque. Many Cardiologists believe any person’s heart attack risk is “50 percent genetic and 50 percent cheeseburger.”

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Start With A Blank Piece Of Paper: Fine Art Of The Sports Car

Where do ideas come from? Ferdinand Porsche’s work at the drawing board was like that of a playwright, with technology always cast in the leading role. Working intuitively, he made aesthetics an integral part of his solutions. From the very beginning, Porsche saw the road as a stage where he would put on a gala performance.

There are many reasons to fall in love with the lure of an open air Porsche 911. Whether it is the visceral connection to nature, the natural feel of wind in your hair or the energizing wide open sky–there’s something enthralling about driving the Porsche 911 with the roof down.

It’s also perfectly natural for your wife or girlfriend to get jealous of the other girl–the Porsche 911 convertible. A modern day reinvention of the original 1963 icon, the air cooled 911 is the most sought after collector car demanding higher sums than the water cooled cars that came after. The tactile engine and low weight makes the car much, much tighter and agile in movement. 

But the real reason Porsche enthusiasts continue to buy the air cooled Porsche 911 and why BMW drivers readily convert is not the 0-60 times, not even the badge appeal, but the outer-worldly handling of the rear engine car. The 911 is quick, of course, reaching the highway limit in 5.2 seconds giving the driver the undiluted joy of maneuvering the car on a congestion free, curvy road. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy Diwali India

My uncle at the Berkeley Iscon Temple

As a child growing up in India meant celebrating Diwali, the festival of light with my family. Our home, which was a modest doctors apartment at the time got a new coat of paint bright yellow in color. I would also accompany my Obstetrician mother to the market to purchase some yummy Indian treats to share with our neighbors, and later in the evening we would light up a few firecrackers with my Orthopedic surgeon father (he went on to train in Cardiac Anesthesia in America). Diwali for the Hindus is the cultural equivalent of Christmas and the Chinese New Year. This tradition is now being passed onto my son who shares many spiritual traditions encompassing both Christianity and Hindusim. We celebrate anything that requires celebration from a variety of cultures. Yes, it is very important and exciting to share these momentous times with my son so he can have a wide international perspective as he journeys into a vibrant global culture.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Size 32 Waist Again, Hey Now

Been erging 30 minutes, running 1 hour (6.5 miles with elevation), and if possible swimming as cool down 5 to 6 days per week. Feels awesome!