You have to provide the constraints.

Selling a service that doesn’t have a clear focus means that you have to provide the constraints.

For example, if you are a software development firm who sells services to customers to develop what they want, it’s difficult to market that.

Instead, it’s easier to constrain yourself to an audience, and start making marketing materials for that in mind.

“We are a software development firm that helps automate systems in the home mortgage industry.”

That’s much more clear on who you’re targeting. You can now talk about processes you can automate if you know that industry.

It feels risky to limit ourselves, but it’s not, it’s freeing. It’s just for marketing as well. If other customers come along from word of mouth, you can still take them on.

When you’ve tapped out the home mortgage industry in this example, or just built significant enough marketing efforts towards it, pick a new audience and do the same thing over again.

Putting constraints in place isn’t limiting, it’s empowering.

How to get Gordon Ramsay on Hot Ones.

I recently was turned on to Hot Ones. Something to think about is how in 4 years, Hot Ones went from lesser known celebrities, athletes and musicians, to booking top tier guests on it like Paul Rudd, Gordon Ramsay, and Scarlett Johansson.

Gordon Ramsay mentions his daughters convincing him to go on the show. That means the secret to getting Gordon Ramsay on a smaller show is to convince the early adopters, namely his daughters. They then pressure him to do it.

Early adopters are always the audience. If you can’t convince who you want, convince someone a little less notable first. Eventually, the bigger fish will come around.

Marketing by making your support public.

One claim that has existed for a long-time, “Our support is the best.”

It’s dubious at best. How can anyone who isn’t your customer, or hasn’t been a customer of all your competitors know that is true?

Surveys? The ones you administered?

There isn’t a way to show that.

One way to change this dynamic is to train your support people really well, and make your support public. Try handling cases through twitter or other media. Do a great job.

Next time you have to make the claim that you have the best support, you can instead say, “We’re the only company in our industry who makes our support public to hold ourselves more accountable to our customers. It forces us find new ways to do better. You can go look at how we assist people and judge for yourself.”

That’s a demonstrably true and impressive statement. The trick is getting over how risky it feels.

Loans vs. Innovation

Innovation is a driver of the economy. When you unlock an innovation, your business gets a boost. Eventually, your competitors catch up and you have to innovate again.

An innovative restaurant may have a line out the door, like Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix who was ahead of the current food movement.

Eventually, innovation gets tiring. To continually reinvent yourself, or your business takes a lot of brainpower and a lot of work.

Apple, the company responsible for making smartphones mainstream, is now seeking to get in the credit game, after banking of off years of innovation. That innovation made them a luxury brand, and now they are coasting.

Last I heard, they had $200,000,000,000 in the “bank”. Best to start making interest off that by loaning it out. It doesn’t take much innovation to be in the loan business. The coasting shows in their products too. Crazy new features were the standard of past iPhone releases, now it’s a lot of new ways to send emojis. 😦

The struggle here is that the larger you are, the more innovation is necessary, but it’s easier to give out loans and collect interest.

For the little guy, the one looking to make his name, innovation is the only path.

Standing out for a job interview

https://www.reddit.com/r/engineering/comments/e5v4da/miniature_concrete_bridge/

Imagine going into a job interview for an engineering internship and having the video of building the model bridge in the link above in your portfolio. It would be something to talk about. It would show passion. It would show commitment to learning engineering. It shows your craftsmanship.

These are all things that everyone says they have, but generally it’s impossible to see them. The model bridge is an example of making the intangible, tangible.

Why are there skateparks everywhere?

Looking at small towns all over the United States, skate parks can be seen everywhere.

The reason for this is kids that want to skate have damaged benches, destroyed planters, and left marks over all kinds of city structures. Without an outlet for them, they create undesirable effects.

It’s cheaper to build them a park where they can develop their skills, learn something about life, and avoid damaging the beautiful city walls.

If only people would see the value in helping others the way we are helping these kids. Why does something have to be obnoxiously destructive before we see the value in creating something to help?

The net acceleration your body feels depends on where you are.

Below are the values of acceleration on your body, “gravity”, (m/s^2) measured in different locations around the world.

Amsterdam 9.813
Athens 9.800
Auckland 9.799
Bangkok 9.783
Brussels 9.811
Buenos Aires 9.797
Calcutta 9.788
Cape Town 9.796
Chicago 9.803
Copenhagen 9.815
Frankfurt 9.810
Havana 9.788
Helsinki 9.819
Istanbul 9.808
Jakarta 9.781
Kuwait 9.793
Lisbon 9.801
London 9.812
Los Angeles 9.796
Madrid 9.800
Manila 9.784
Mexico City 9.779
Montréal 9.789
New York City 9.802
Nicosia 9.797
Oslo 9.819
Ottawa 9.806
Paris 9.809
Rio de Janeiro 9.788
Rome 9.803
San Francisco 9.800
Singapore 9.781
Skopje 9.804
Stockholm 9.818
Sydney 9.797
Taipei 9.790
Tokyo 9.798
Vancouver 9.809
Washington, D.C. 9.801
Wellington 9.803
Zurich 9.807

Everywhere you go it’s slightly different depending on altitude, density of earth’s crust, etc. Generally calling it 9.81 m/s^2 is good enough.

Prior to the information age, it was easier to agree to one general value that was easy to spread around the world since it wasn’t easy to get on the same page once misinformation spread.

Today, teaching everyone that gravity is different in each locale and to look it up is a possibility. We’re in a world where subtlety and differences are mattering more than ever as the complexity of the world continues to grow. It’s time to think about what you can do that isn’t necessarily radical, but is certainly different.

Podchaser

The internet removed the gatekeepers. Instead of having to get approval from someone in authority, now creating something of significant quality, and generously spreading the word about it is important.

However, rhe hunt to put the gatekeepers back in the building is on. In nearly every industry, someone is looking to building a recommendation engine. Somewhere online where people can go to find out who they should hire, what they should listen to, or the next video to watch.

The thing is by keeping these gatekeepers weak, competition is encouraged. Succeeding in a competitive environment requires generosity, innovation, and quality execution. It means being better than the competition. That’s a good thing for the consumer.

In a quest to make things easy for consumers and easy for creators, society seeks out the gatekeepers. Podchaser is looking to be a recommendation engineer for podcasts. I hope that society can resist bringing these back in full force. While it’s easy to approach a gatekeeper and say, “Can I be on your platform?” Then after the yes or no, move on with the rest of your life in exuberance, or declare it was never in the stars for you. It’s ultimately better for the consumer if everyone can compete and drop out when they feel it’s not working, or double down when it is.

For quality to rise, it’s much better to allow any of those who want to show up with their work. Showing it to those who are interested for years and decades and letting the good things spread and the bad things fizzle. Let our culture be the gatekeeper. If society thinks something is good, it will undoubtedly spread, that’s what the smartphone in our pocket is for. If it’s not good, it won’t spread.

The only gatekeepers we need are individual persistence and culture.

P.S. This thought is about things like entertainment which are not life critical. This isn’t a post about anarchy, or hate for government or anything that may be perceived like that.

Remarkable work 35 years later

Watching above, you’ll see an act on the tonight show from 1984. It’s Michael Davis, he’s a juggler and comedian.

His skit is entirely outside the box thinking. His comedy is delivered well.

Thinking about the time it took to come up with this routine, and work on the juggling skills, it was certainly a significant investment. To be able to juggle that well, while talking and delivering with the proper timing and tone is quite a skill.

What makes this remarkable?

  • Audience: He’s on The Tonight Show, so his audience is people looking to be entertained. It appears he did just that.
  • Style: I’ve never seen anyone juggle and do comedy. He also has a dead pan delivery. Together, he’s created his own style.
  • Pricing: Free, at least for the audience tuning in at home.
  • Generosity: If this is his free segment, it seems generous. I wonder what his paid show was like?
  • Scarcity: Again, I’ve never seen anyone else juggle and do comedy at the same time. His shows probably have limited seating.
  • Network Effects: He’s on TV. While he doesn’t have strong network effects built in to the act, and it was at a time when it was less likely, certainly his act is funny enough that a wife may call her husband in the room after a minute or two so that he can watch.
  • Innovation/Uniqueness: See style and scarcity above.
  • Courage: Juggling live while telling jokes certainly adds to the pressure cooker on TV. I would say it was courageous.
  • Execution: I think he did a great job. Even his one failure was made out to be part of the act.

P.S. If you would like to learn more about how to be remarkable, check out my longer format writing here.

What is innovative?

It seems that when you tell people, they should be doing “innovative” work, it riles them up. To some people “innovative” is the most technically groundbreaking, earth shattering thing in the world.

“It’s not scalable.”

“It’s not sustainable.”

“Not everyone can be innovative.”

Those are responses I’ve had.

Here’s something innovative, a pizza place serving families that uses only uniquely shaped pans, a butterfly shape for example, that changes every month giving customers a reason to show off what was delivered on Instagram.

It’s also innovative to staff up more than competitors in your industry to deliver on tighter timelines.

Innovation is the bravery to lead with your vision rather than relying on empirical or social proof.

In both those cases, the businesses aren’t looking to their competitors and asking, “How are they doing it, they are relying on their vision.”

Of course, what most people are worried about is that if they do the work of being innovative, they might be copied. They might have to innovate again. To that I say, “That’s the point.”

If you sell solutions, why is the website set up around products?

When I come across software solutions sales companies, I see two different kinds of websites. One is for custom programmed solutions, in these cases, their website is built correctly. It talks about applications and the types of problems they solve.

Then, there is another type for the companies that provide software solutions, but act more like an integrator of softwares. These nearly always seem to list the products they sell, yet they state they are a “solutions” company. Selling “solutions” should always have the website organized by problem.

The accountability of a digital calendar.

Imagine in 1963 you told yourself to check on something on a specific date in 20 years. What are the chances when that date rolled around you remembered to do it?

Not likely.

Even if you wrote it on a calendar, every year, it would have to be transferred and it’s likely it could be overlooked.

Digital calendars today don’t need transferring, they can hold us accountable long-term much better than analog calendars can.

Why there is no Black Friday advertising.

Print takes time to make and send out.

Online retailers can change their prices in seconds.

If Amazon gets ahold of Wal-Mart’s Black Friday sales flyer, they’ll adjust all their prices to be cheaper before Black Friday even comes around. A loss for Wal-Mart, and one they can’t pivot fast enough to avoid. It takes time to rearrange and reprint price tags. To update the computers. To update the flyer. Amazon can do all of that in a couple clicks.

Are the sequels all a by product of society?

I saw a picture floating around the internet the other day of Seth MacFarlane. He was sitting in a kitchen in a small looking apartment with a Mac computer, looking like he was contemplating the early writing for Family Guy.

There were all sorts of comments about how hard Seth works, which I agree. Making a show or a movie isn’t easy.

Then a comment popped up, one about the price of apartments in Los Angeles then compared to now. Based on data I found here, even back in 2011, 1 bedroom apartments in LA were $1,342/month. Now, they are $2,408/month. Wages certainly haven’t risen to match that.

Is this increased cost of living the reason why movie sequels and show revivals are all we get these days? Can today’s would-be writers simply not find the time to work enough hours to pay rent and still have time left over to work on something original?

Ecosystems are powerful things. Sure, you can live somewhere cheaper than LA and do your writing, but outside of that area, who are you going to review with? Who are you going to network with? It’s much easier to be in the ecosystem, or at least is was until the rent went sky high.

What can be done about this? I don’t know, but I’d like to see something new for once.

Different formats make you think differently

When I create a presentation, I tend to rely more on weaving a story. Something that will keep people interested. I have to think through imagery, and pictures and give people something that will add to my words.

When I start writing an essay, I tend to make a lot of statements, and truths, backed up by numbers and anecdotes, but less spun into a story. I’m not thinking much about imagery.

It pays dividends to do both for any topic you’re serious about making in impact in. From their you have a coherent story, dotted with facts, figures, and anecdotes to back it up.

It’s a powerful combination.

If you’re stuck, try creating for a different format.

Why you shouldn’t automate the cashier at cafes

My favorite local cafe is Blackberry Market. They have good quality food, great coffee, and a nice atmosphere. The cashier mostly just types in orders, and takes someones credit card to swipe it.

Why not automate that task? And while I understand Blackberry Market is too small for this to likely be feasible anyway, I want to make the point.

For people like my wife, there is always a question about her order. Something she wants to know more about. Can something be removed? Is there a recommendation between a couple different items? The cashiers are helpful at Blackberry Market, and that’s one of the features of the business and a benefit to the customers.

If you’re a business who thinks automating the cashier is a good way to save your business money, it’s best to understand that the main component of your business better be the cheapest price. If it’s not, why are you doing that? You can’t cut corners everywhere then claim to be a premium product.

How can you claim you are flexible, generous, willing to help customers, when all you have done is plopped a machine in front of them, and shown them if they want additional help beyond what is programmed, they onus is on them to find someone to help.

You can’t.

Serving introverts

The internet made serving introverts much easier. Extraverts have always been out in the world, much easier to interact with them. They like the energy of dealing with others.

The introverts like their calm, their peace of being alone. Consider a company like Peloton, who is serving instructor-led cycling classes to people in their own home, through a screen. When the class is over, the introvert is out of there. They get a better workout, and don’t have to deal with the chitchat that some of them dread.

50% of the world is introverts, though you may not believe that if you think every introvert is some social pariah. The internet produced a platform that created an opportunity that makes it comfortable for introverts to interact in a situation they control better. Emails instead of in-person negotiation for example.

You have an opportunity to serve these people in a way they want to be served, what will you do with it?

My taco business.

I started a taco business years ago as a plan to make side money to save for a house. I started by making and selling them at a Farmer’s Market with a partner.

We bought a grill. A cooler. And some other small container and kitchen utensil stuff. Paid a small fee for a license through the health department.

What I did was make great tacos. The chicken was high quality organic chicken thighs. It was seasoned with a hand ground spice mix of cumin, oregano, ancho chili, black pepper, and paprika, and salt. It was than grilled giving it a nice slight char where the grates touched the meat. It was then topped with a grilled corn and green onion relish, and finished with our own invention, basil cream, all served on a made to order corn tortilla.

They tacos were popular and earned us a catering gig without even planning on being in that business. After the catering gig, we got calls for another. And the original place we catered at, called us back two years in a row to see if we were available again.

One thing to note about this story, our food costs were crazy high. We didn’t skimp on quality, and we were buying small quantities compared to restaurants since the Farmer’s Markets was once a week, so there wasn’t much discount.

What we could have done was found the cheapest frozen chicken, the cheapest packaged tortillas, the cheapest corn and green onions, the cheapest chili powder mixture, and topped it with watery pre-made salsa. That would have fed people. It wouldn’t have got us a catering gig we didn’t ask for. It certainly wouldn’t have got us call backs from more either.

If there isn’t a way to make it remarkable…

it might not be a business.

If it’s a business, there is a way to make it remarkable.

That’s because businesses are complex, there are a lot of steps in the process. Taking a few of those and exaggerating those to the extreme are possible.

Take pizza for example, here are some extremes that exist in that space:

  • The fastest delivery. (Domino’s originally was 30 minutes or less)
  • The highest quality ingredients. (Papa John’s. Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.)
  • The cheapest. (Pizza Hut the amount of promotion coupons is unreal)
  • The most fun place to go. (Chuck E. Cheese)

However, I could invent a new one:

  • Different pizza shapes monthly. (Instagram an entire year’s worth and get the next 3 free. This is an idea, take it and run.)

This would be done by having pans created that look like different animals. Then having fun with the topping combinations to try to arrange them to look more like the animal they are supposed to be. Imagine a pan shaped like a butterfly. Could you image creating a wing pattern with pepperoni, jalapeños, and pineapple. How would that look different than one with sausage, red pepper and onion? It’s adding flair to the pizza, and it’s something worth talking about. It’s creating a category of most artistic pizza place. And yes, this place will never compete with the fastest, as it’s not supposed to. It takes time to lovingly place and craft the toppings so that it looks like an art piece. At the end of the day, that time spent is the marketing. People will instagram it, and word of the pizza place will spread.

All of these places have the same broad steps:

  1. Order bulk ingredients.
  2. Take orders
  3. Make orders
  4. Delivery pizza to house or table.

Domino’s does all of these in the fastest methods possible. Papa John’s puts more money than the others into step 1, or at least they did at one point. Pizza Hut finds ways to reduce costs in each of these steps. Chuck E. Cheese makes the whole experience inside fun. My pizza shape idea takes step 3, and takes it to an extreme.

One step changed or modified to something different in a way the customer sees it is all you need. Remarkable isn’t hard, it’s just different. And it’s certainly easier than yelling louder than the other guys in a noisy world.

For more like this thoughts like this, visit noneofthisisright.com

1,000,000 engineers in a room.

Outside of them all being engineers, there will likely be nothing else that all 1,000,000 have in common.

This is how software is made today, find a job that has a problem and create software that makes things better. So far it has worked great for many companies. The problem is now scale.

My day job involves talking to people about their software usage, and it’s crazy how many times it comes up that SOLIDWORKS has pissed them off due to not working on an issue they are having. I don’t even believe it is something SOLIDWORKS doesn’t care about, it’s just their scale prevents it. If 10 people care about an issue, but 10,000 care about plenty of others, sorry the 10,000 win. With millions of users, the software improvement becomes democratic. Those with fringe needs don’t get met.

While thinking to yourself, well 10,000 people happy and 10 angry isn’t such a big deal, but understand this is a long tail problem. The number of issues that has 10 people that didn’t get resolved is significantly larger than the ones that have 10,000 people. In all likelihood, it could be you’re pissing off more people than making happy.

How can a company resolve this?

Staying small isn’t always in the cards for every company, but there is a likely a critical mass, where it’s time to split your software into tools for new “subgroups” within your audience. Craft new features for them. Deal with problems for them as they arise. If you’re serving 1,000,000 perhaps it’s time for 10 “flavors” of your product serving 100,000 people. Or 100 “flavors” each serving around 10,000 people. Or some mix. If you pick based on the work they are doing, some “flavors” may have 100,000 and some may have 10,000.

The point is for each “flavor”, you then need a product manager, and a developer or two. That’s a small investment if split over enough people. Well worth the payback if your customers start loving the product(s) again.

Competition and taxes

If you give a tax increase to companies, it will hurt workers as everything goes up in price by the same amount. That’s a line against raising taxes, theoretically. It’s a bit like how other politicians claim giving a tax decrease to companies will raise employee paychecks, but the data proves it doesn’t work that way. Without an increase in demand of their products, they don’t need more workers. Without needing more workers, the supply-demand curve doesn’t shift. How many people are buying more toilet paper due to a tax decrease? It doesn’t shift demand for many items.

In some cases, a tax increase will be passed on to the consumer, but at the same time, in highly competitive industries, some companies aren’t going to raise their rates. They are racing to the bottom. That puts pressure on other companies not to raise their prices. Which, means the full tax increase doesn’t hit paychecks as much as corporate profits.

Small bookstores are booming after nearly being wiped out

I read an article on CBS news about small bookstores booming after being wiped out about. 

At first, people thought they liked Amazon’s prices, as well as those of other online retailers. Consumers realized they don’t know what to buy. Books are all about taste. 5 star reviews, may mean it was written for a specific audience who read it and loved it. For someone not part of that audience, they wouldn’t like it. 3 star reviews can mean a book was written for a specific audience who loved it, but it was marketed to a general audience, and so it got mixed reviews. 

What a good bookstore provides is recommendations based on you. Not on some generic author. Ideally, the small bookstore is staffed with voracious book readers who enjoy what they sell. “You like Kurt Vonnegut? How about you try this new up-and-coming author, he has the same tone, but slightly different style? I think you’ll like it.” 

Amazon tries to collect the data to make these decisions for you, but it has 3 problems:

  1. There aren’t always strong links in between particular books that are the same for everyone.
  2. Even if you rate past purchases, Amazon doesn’t know why you liked them, you may not even know yourself.
  3. Eventually, Amazon will show you too much that is the same, and you’ll be bored. That’s what happens to me on Netflix.

People want nuance in their recommendations. An online recommendation engine isn’t nuanced. It doesn’t know you’re in the mood to try something totally different today. It can’t describe a book in anyway except for the words written in the reviews.

If personal taste is heavily involved, there is a lot of room still outside of giant, online retailers. Society simply needed time to realize that these over-sized retailers aren’t great for society and jobs, and the convenience of free shipping is sometimes a negative when it deprives you of the joy of the tactile shopping experience, opening up each book, reading some excerpts, and making your decision. Plus, online shopping doesn’t have that bookstore smell.

P.S. You can read more like this on noneofthisisright.com

The irony of marketing profile pictures vs. sales pictures

When I look at profile pictures on LinkedIn, I see a stark contrast between marketing professionals, and sales professionals in how they choose their profile pictures.

Marketing professionals want to look hip, fun, and different. They’ll usually be wearing something bright, like yellow glasses, and they’ll be in a funny pose or jump. Their clothes will be more casual. They seem to be showing their uniqueness.

Sales professionals are in a suit. They are projecting success. You should meet with me, I have ideas that will make your business shine.

It seems ironic to me if I think deeper about it. I’m more likely to have a conversation with a sales professional, yet all there photos look nearly the same. Which one should I pick? Are they particularly inviting, or look like they have a unique perspective? Not really, nearly all are projecting the same image.

Yet, on the marketing side of things, they are going to be in charge of lead generation for my entire business. They are a critical factor, and I’m going to trust that to someone in a t-shirt, and yellow glasses whose profile picture has them jumping in the air?

I’m not as grumpy as this post makes me sound, it just seems backwards. One thing to always think about, “Is this sending the message I want it to?” If you didn’t make a decision about what the message is, and instead just did the typical, it’s time to rethink that.

Software is bad because companies scale before skill.

When a person decides they want to start building furniture for a living, they may keep their day job, start buying materials and crafting them into furniture, then selling the pieces as they complete them in order to buy more materials, tools, and workshop space. Each piece they build increases their skill. They get better at making truer cuts. Faster at working. They lay their workshop out more efficiently. They test out techniques that help the furniture last. They learn what are characteristics of good woods.

There are endless things they get better at. If someone has made and sold 500 pieces of furniture, they are no doubt skilled at that point. Each one of those pieces was a learning experience.

Contrast this with software. A programmer could be writing his first piece of software. He could sell it to 500 people and each copy is the same with no learning coming along with each additional copy or sale. He’s not in the same boat as his counterpart making furniture. Each sale doesn’t necessarily allow or push him to get better. Software scales so easily that companies do it before they are skilled. Imagine a furniture company scaling to 1000 pieces a week when they aren’t highly skilled at making 1 yet. At scale, in addition to the normal worries about quality, they need to train others, manage a large workshop and its supplies, worry about distribution, order fulfillment, customer satisfaction, etc. It couldn’t be done, it would quickly collapse.

Software survives this if it’s in a space with little competition because scaling to more customers is nearly free.

Now you know why most software isn’t as great as it could be.

P.S. You may like other posts I’ve written at noneofthisisright.com

A list of all the things I’ve tried at my job in 7 years.

  • Make a company app made.
  • Create a seminar for engineering managers.
  • Turn seminar for engineering managers into e-book.
  • Create a following on LinkedIn.
  • Create blogs that get spread beyond the customer base.
  • Create a spreadsheet that estimates consulting project time.
  • Create a class that reviews the fundamentals of simulation.
  • Create a costing subscription service.
  • Create a spline to lines and arcs SOLIDWORKS utility.
  • Create a podcast.
  • Create a training assessment.
  • Host an AR Training Session.
  • Become a speaker/presenter at tradeshows for engineers.
  • Create a 3D printing + Simulation combined seminar.

I’m probably forgetting some. These were all the things that I tried to do above and beyond my job. Some of them didn’t pan out. And some of them are still in progress. No one has to hold you back except you. Permission is overrated. Doing is your choice.

Data collection as a network effect.

Markforged is working on an AI tool that gathers information about all the 3D printed parts made on their printers. It then analyzes based on the material and the features in the part and figures out how to better scale and modify parts so they come out to their exact dimensions when printed, rather than sometimes distorted.

Gathering this data, and applying it in such a way helps everyone. It makes the cost prints that are out of tolerance lower and less time-consuming.

The more data gathered, the better the parts will come out with less waste. Better to have all your printers be Markforged, a horizontal network effect, so they learn more about your business. And it won’t hurt if you tell a friend, so his efforts help yours as well. That’s a vertical network effect, though on the weaker side.

Don’t ignore competition.

Sales gurus, business owners, and visionaries love to ignore the competition. Their narrative of “sell on value” is something they want to believe, but don’t usually assess the necessary requirements to do so.

The world is filled with business consultants teaching “sell on value, not on cost” and while they have great intentions, more times than not, they leave out the other part, “when you have something unique to offer.” Probably because their skills align with first part, and not with the second, so if you want to hire them, it’s to teach you to “sell on value” not to “create a unique offering.”

Why do you need something unique?

Start by thinking through the answer to the question, “Why isn’t there a huge percentage of programmers out there making millions of dollars a year?”

There are plenty of programmers that automate tasks that save companies millions per year. Yet, they don’t seem to reap the rewards of “selling on value.”

Are they bad at selling?

Probably. That’s certainly what those gurus want you to think. It’s how they sell their training, but that’s not what’s happening here. Sales skills aside, depending on which job titles to include, there are anywhere from 1.5 million to 3+ million programmers in the United States alone. That’s a lot of competition.

If you need general programming done, and it can save the company $10,000,000 and a solo consultant says he will need $1,000,000 and 12 months of work, you’ll shop for more quotes and he won’t get it. Doesn’t matter that there is a great return on investment, netting $9,000,000 in savings on a $1,000,000 investment. He’s too high compared to the competition. The company would rather net, $9,900,000 on a $100,000 investment. A nearly 10X return-on-investment compared to the previous scenario.

There are a few highly sought after developers at Google, and Amazon and other big tech companies that make millions. Currently, these are leading edge researchers in Artificial Intelligence (AI). They are being paid enormous amounts because:

  1. The value of the work they are doing can lead to new lines of business measured in the billions.
  2. There are only a handful of people in the world that have the full background necessary to do the work they do. Programming skills + business understanding + advanced research, Ph.D and Post Doc in Artificial Intelligence.

#2 is important. They aren’t a “me too” offering. If someone wanted to replace them today, and had not already done their Ph.D, they are still years away from being able to compete with them for that amount of money. However, these are also the people generating the knowledge to grow the coming workforce necessary to develop and manage the new applications arising around AI.

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more prevalent, salaries will come down as a result of higher competition. No one is going to pay the lead developer $5,000,000/yr when the up and comer with the same skills will be happy with $250,000/yr. Which is still good, compared to the general population. There is less competition for AI jobs than the general job pool, since most people don’t have the qualifications, and they solve high value problems, so wages are high.

I used programming as an example here, but the industry doesn’t matter specifically.  Three general thoughts that come to mind as a result of this:

  1. To “sell on value” it is imperative to have a product or service unique enough that if searched in Google will only yield you, or nothing at all.
  2. Offer something of significant value.
  3. Understand that constant seeking of new unique ideas is important.

Innovation is a ratchet. Someone else is always seeing you and chasing you, the early benefits go to your pockets, the later benefits go to society. Be an innovator to get those dollars.

P.S. Share this with someone who needs to read it like your sales team or manager, small business owner, or a technical team that needs some motivation to make something new and unique. Also check out more on noneofthisisright.com .

A fridge that asks your neighbors to borrow butter.

Network effects are an important part of a product or service.

Designing that into your product is one way to do it. Imagine a refrigerator that if located in an apartment talked to the other refrigerators there. If you were out of butter, it could check who had some and ask you if you would like to ask them to borrow some. If you’re in a friendly community it’s a boost that everyone has the refrigerator.

This then becomes a selling point for the apartment complex, “We’re all friendly here.” “The Friendliest Apartments in XXXX County.” Friendly people talk to other people, which is also a network effect.

Design the network into the product, but don’t forget the audience the network works on doesn’t have to be everyone. There is plenty of people who don’t like to share. This one isn’t for them.

P.S. If you liked this check out more at Noneofthisisright.com

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And that’s a problem for your business. Everyday, growing and improvement is happening if a business is healthy. Take a restaurant for example, if it was started with light funds, it may not have a fancy interior, the chef may continue to improve his skill, and the search for better quality ingredients is non-stop. However, if someone stepped in on opening day, they might have a different experience in 6 months.

The problem is they may not realize how big your improvement plans are. One data point for them isn’t enough to see your trajectory. Two points, make a line and 3 or more make a curve.

This is why you need to keep attention on your company. Improve. Invite them back in 6 months or 12 months to see the progress. Stay in touch some way, somehow.

The Tesla Cybertruck

is different. It doesn’t look like any truck you’ve seen before. It’s a departure from the typical sculpted body style of cars and trucks we’re used to. It’s electric.

It may not work, but it’s something worth talking about. It gets press. Even if it fails, it may get name recognition for Tesla in the process. It may attract people that loved their pickups and were skeptical of the electric car future.

It’s pushing boundaries, and forcing a stagnating industry to change. It’s a good thing. It’s remarkable.

I ate sticky toffee pudding.

Post image
https://www.reddit.com/r/food/comments/dyl1gh/i_ate_sticky_toffee_pudding/

This was passed off as a social media post by someone saying they ate it. Of course this is professional marketing. Look at the lighting. The curated focus of the subject and the slightly blurred background. It looks incredible, but this wasn’t a quick picture. This was staged.

Of course, when the subject of the photo looks so scrumptious, it’s easy to forget all that. To go on, and show the picture to your wife, and declare “we’re going out” in an attempt to capture the deliciousness shown in the picture for yourself.

Making something incredible tasting, incredible looking, anything remarkable at all, is a network effect. It spreads.

I’ve never been to the restaurant that serves the dessert shown in the image above, but after looking it up, you can bet that if I ever am in that city, I’ll be thinking about, and likely trying it out. Remarkable is sticky, just like this toffee pudding. I’ll remember it.