Good 'Idea Carrier' Essential For Spreading A Message

Published in Online Spin, February 21 2014

The first few times I took my husband skiing, I tried to give him a few pointers. “Keep your chest pointed downhill,” I said. “Bend your knees so your weight is on your shins.”

He didn’t want to hear it. So, for Valentine’s Day, I gave him a ski lesson. We went up the hill with the instructor. “Keep your chest pointed downhill,” he said. “Bend your knees so your weight is on your shins.” “Wow!” said my husband. “It works! That’s amazing!”

I’m guessing this story is not at all surprising to you -- and the fact that it isn’t demonstrates our instinctive understanding of a core facet of human behavior: Our assessment of an idea hinges on our perception of its carrier.

Julianne Wurm highlighted this concept

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Forget Facebook Likes: It's Time To Return To Fans

Published in Online Spin, February 14 2014

Via Mashable, today’s must-watch video is the brilliant Derek Muller from Veritasium, talking about Facebook fraud and how fake Likes destroy your ability to reach your true fans.

If you don’t have the eight minutes and 59 seconds it takes to watch the video -- and, if you’re involved in online marketing, you’ll need to find the time -- here are the key takeaways:

  •  If you pay for Likes at all, through Facebook or anyone else, there’s a good chance many of the Likes will be fake.
  •  If you get fake Likes, they will not engage with your page.
  •  If a big percentage of your Likes don’t engage with your page, Facebook will interpret your content as irrelevant and show it to fewer and fewer people.

One more key takeaway: Muller points out that

Social Media Isn't Winning On Madison Avenue

Published in Online Spin, February 7 2014

You may have heard that Twitter’s share price is down. Apparently, annual revenues of $665 million -- an increase of 110% over the previous year -- aren't enough to keep investors happy. Slowing user growth and a decline in timeline views caused the market to yoink nearly $10 billion off the recently listed company’s market cap.

Point, Facebook, which can finally relax a little now that its share price is significantly higher than its IPO value, after spending well over a year beneath it.

Twitter might be facing a tough week, but these two companies still tend to

It's Not The Government, It's You: The No. 1 Rule For Surviving The Grant Process

Published in Online Spin, January 31 2014

A startup is strapped for cash. Its founders hear about a program whereby they can get some cash. The cash dangles in front of them. It is so shiny. They walk toward it. It is right there. It is so beautiful. Some thorns brush at their sleeves, but they don’t notice. The cash seems a little farther away now, and just around a bend, but they can still see it and they keep walking. It calls to them. It is so welcoming. After many miles of walking and many twists and turns, they reach it.

They are so happy. They look around. They have no idea where they are or how they got there. They are surrounded by blackberry brambles and cannot see the original path they followed. They begin to despair. “Why?” they cry. “Why did an evil entity put the cash in such a horrible place and make it so difficult to get to?”

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Cheap, Plentiful Tools Don't Ease Startup Pain

Published in Online Spin, January 24 2014

Every time I meet an entrepreneur, I ask them how they’re doing. I do my best to make it clear I’m genuinely interested in the answer: looking into their eyes, giving them time to formulate a response, implying in my tone that the answer may well be lengthy, complicated, and full of despair -- the way you ask people who have suffered a recent bereavement how they’re doing. Without exception -- and regardless of the real or apparent success of the endeavor -- the answer is the same: some variation of, “It’s hard work. I’m exhausted, anxiety-ridden, and full of doubt. If I had known before I started…”

The entrepreneurs I meet seem to find it cathartic to talk about their challenges, with good reason. It’s a lonely job at the helm of a fledgling organization, and it’s often a huge relief to know that all your concerns mean you’re normal, not crazy.

But the universality of these concerns bespeaks a bigger truth: namely, that entrepreneurship is hard work, work that tends to leave you exhausted, anxiety-ridden, and full of doubt.

You might not guess this from the public image of entrepreneurship. Last week, The Economist published a

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Can Venture Capitalists Not Be Evil?

Published in Online Spin, January 17 2014

“I think I’m just going to become an asshole,” David said. “It’s obvious girls actually prefer it.”

“NO!” I yelled -- didn't mean to, but I couldn’t help my immediate and urgent reaction. Softening my tone, I added, “Look, it’s true some girls respond to guys who treat them badly. But is that the kind of girl you want? Someone who doesn’t value herself and who puts your sorry ass on a pedestal? And do you want to be the one who reinforces to this girl that she is in fact worthless and doesn’t deserve a healthy relationship? Don’t you dare.”

It seemed so obvious to me -- and yet, he hesitated. David’s dilemma came down to a choice between two worldviews. One says it’s more important to win the girl, the other says it’s more important to do the right thing.

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Will Technology Turn Job Creators Into Job Erasers?

Published in Online Spin, January 10 2014

I had always bought the story that Henry Ford paid his workers enough to buy the cars they made.

Looks like I was wrong.

Turns out his real motivation had more to do with reducing turnover than with building a middle class. Altruism myth busted.

The thing is, it doesn’t really matter why he did it. What matters is the effect of the decision: the fact that other manufacturers had to increase their wages in order to compete, the fact that a growing middle class was good for the entire economy, and the fact that Ford ultimately benefited from paying a fair wage rather than a minimum wage.

Regardless of motivation, the reason Ford was able to afford to pay such

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The Pirate Bay, The U.S., And North Korea -- Or, Catch Me Online If You Can

Published in Online Spin, December 20 2013

The Pirate Bay is once again leading governments on a merry chase around the world. In the past week, it has migrated from Sint Maarten to Ascension Island to Peru to Guyana, where it sits as of the time of this writing.

I would say it was under attack, but it’s kind of unfair to call it an attack when it’s so destined to fail. While The Defenders of Copyright pursue myriad legal actions to withdraw domain names from the peer-to-peer torrenting site, its owners simply shift to a new top-level domain with a few clicks. If you’re having trouble accessing the site -- either because they’ve moved or because they’re blocked for you -- simply use one of the many proxy lists to connect immediately. And if you’re in one of the countries that require ISPs to block The Pirate Bay, just download the Pirate Bay Browser to circumvent the restrictions. It’s even working on a “domain-irrelevant” browser that will make the entire domain chase a thing of the past.

The imbalance in capabilities between The Pirate Bay and those who want it gone is almost comical. But The Pirate Bay, like Wikileaks, is activist Internetting at its best: a few crusaders, leading the charge to actually make the world’s information universally accessible.

WestJet Santa Stunt Leaves Sour Taste

Published in Online Spin, December 13 2013

We’ve all had that moment: the moment when you go against the grain, when you don’t get the joke, when you refuse to go along with the meme or you’re the only one pointing out that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

I had that moment this week, when I finally watched the now-famous WestJet Santa video tearing up my NewsFeed – currently sitting on 15 million views and counting. The premise is simple: Before they board, passengers on a WestJet flight get asked by a digital Santa what they want for Christmas. While they’re in the air, teams from WestJet procure all the gifts, which are wrapped, individually addressed, and distributed via the baggage carousel at the destination.

Almost everyone I know loves it, and the comments are overwhelmingly favorable, including here on MediaPost. It’s a gorgeous bit of kitsch. It pulls the heartstrings. It’s a brilliant marketing ploy. I LOLed. But it made me uncomfortable.

Our Lives, Reduced To Data

Published in Online Spin, December 6 2013

It may or may not be true that, in 1899, the commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” But surely by now, technological innovations can no longer surprise.

We have landed on the moon and had cars cover half a million miles with no drivers. Amazon is planning to deliver packages via drone, and Google will do it with robots. Our phones contain the computing power of 2,500 Apollo 11s, and we’ve invented a mind-controlled communication device for people paralyzed by ALS.

So what does the future hold when everything is possible?

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