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Learning From The Jobs

Guy Kawasaki knows a little something about innovation. He was an evangelist for Apple in its early days in the 1980s, where he watched the brand’s meteoric rise to become a leader in the computing field. Lessons on innovation that he learned from Steve Jobs carry through to his work today as a venture capitalist, writer, speaker and marketer.

Here are five nuggets of innovation advice from Guy Kawasaki:

1. Make Meaning. Innovators are motivated by the desire to make something meaningful, not to make money. The best companies want to change the world. Google is democratizing information and eBay is democratizing commerce. Decide how you want to change the world, and build a business around it.

2. Make a Mantra. Companies typically create wordy, lofty mission statements rather than quick mantras, which Kawasaki says is a mistake. He imagines a few mantras for famous brands:

  • Wendy’s: “Healthy fast food.”
  • Nike: “Authentic athletic performance.”
  • Fed Ex: “Peace of mind.”

Create a short, three word mantra to focus your innovation on an actionable goal.

3. Jump to the Next Curve. Mac wasn’t a better DOS machine, Kawasaki says. It was something really different. Stagnant companies define themselves by what they already do, and they stay on the same curve. But innovative companies figure out how to jump to the next curve. Typewriter brands never became computer brands because they didn’t think of themselves as word transmitting companies.

4. Roll the “DICEE.” There are four qualities of great products: DICEE — Deep, Indulgent, Complete, Elegant, and Emotive.

  • Great products and services are deep and multifaceted.
  • Great products are intelligent, like Mustang’s smart key.
  • Great products are complete. For example, Amazon offers everything from e-books to groceries.
  • Great products are empowering, meaning that they make people better.
  • Great products are elegant. Someone cares about the design of an Eames lounger or a MacBook Air.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Crappy. Innovators don’t worry about having things perfect on the first try. Don’t wait for perfection. Ship first, test later. Silicon Valley innovators throw a lot of things against the wall, and then run with what sticks.

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Adversity Breeds Success With Straight-A Strategy

My friend, John Marovich, recommended the inspiring The Adversity Paradox: An Unconventional Guide to Achieving Uncommon Business Success by J. Barry Griswell, Horatio Alger Award Winner and Chairman of the Principal Financial Group, and Bob Jennings, senior manager expert.

The book’s main point is that adversity can be a teacher about, and motivator for, success. These times sure speak to the value of overcoming adversity.

Among many of the book’s great ideas and insights, Griswell and Jennings suggest a straight-A strategy to dealing with adversity, which includes acceptance, analysis, approach and right attitude. They then suggest tackling the process of self-improvement with a general dose of “and then some.”

Here’s their straight-A advice:

  1. Accept whatever hardship has come your way. It’s tempting to avoid responsibility or negative consequences, but you won’t get anywhere with denial.
  2. Analyze the situation so you can determine how to prevent the same mistake and so you can learn everything possible.
  3. Approach the challenge with the right attitude, a positive frame of mind, and with the intent to make adversity your friend.
  4. And then some…harness the power of this strategy by doing the extra work that will differentiate and improve you.

How’s that for a simple yet powerful approach to facing down and gaining from adversity?

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The Age of the Customer – Be Ready or Get Left Behind

A recent Forrester Research white paper recognizes that empowered customers are changing the fundamentals of the market. In response, most companies are executing strategies that place the customer at the center of the universe. Forrester believes there are 10 critical success factors that will determine who wins and who fails in the age of the customer. Here are the first five; the remainder will be in December’s Enterprise:

1. Personalization is the new bar — Customers expect to be treated as individuals in their moment of need. They expect each encounter will be informed and enriched by current and accurate information about their accounts, history, and preferences. They will reward companies that can anticipate their personal needs and wants and punish those that clumsily have to relearn basic customer details at each encounter.

2. Small consumer experience thinking will destroy financial results — Customer experience (CX) is intended to deliver superior, personal experiences across human and digital touchpoints and to do so in a manner that is consistent with the brand promise. That is not so simple: The combination of people, process, and technologies must be able to understand, anticipate, and deliver on those experiences every day.

3. Who leads matters more in 2016 — The shift to a customer-led market will force CEOs to restructure their leadership teams, favoring digitally savvy executives at the expense of long-standing leaders who don’t understand or who struggle to lead in the age of the customer.

4. Culture is a critical path to business success — Culture has quickly moved from a perceived luxury to the critical path for customer-obsessed operations. The business impact of culture is coming into sharp focus. Everyone rowing in the same direction is accelerating the shift to a customer-obsessed organization.

5. Traditional companies stand up to disruptors — Disruption is no longer disruptive; it is normal. Disruptors are free of traditional ways of doing business, legacy cultures, or the need to feed quarterly results. They are free to think about new ways to delight customers, leverage technology, and do business.

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