Idea Arena Podcast – Click Interview with Ori Brafman

In this interview, I talk with Ori Brafman, co-author with his brother Rom of Click: The Magic of Instant Connections.

This is the second book that Ori and Rom have written together and they deliver a very wonderful style that combines great storytelling with scientific research, their approach similar to another sibling duo – Chip Heath and Dan Heath. 

In Click, the Brother Brafman make the case that you can make powerful connections with people very quickly and that the quality of those relationships can be superior to life long friendships. The qualities they describe that accelerate clicking are vulnerability, proximity, resonance, similarity, and having a safe place.

We wanted to understand the building blocks of quickset intimacy–what factors are that lead a person to click with someone else or become fully alive in a specific activity, from writing a novel to playing an instrument, from finding oneself in the zone in a pickup basketball game to gazing into your wife's eyes over a romantic dinner and feeling connected in the way you were when you first met. What causes people to be fully engaged with the world around them? The most rewarding part of our research has been hearing the stories of people who have clicked. You can see excitement in their eyes, the change in their voice as they tell you their story. In a way, we have been trying to understand the experience of clicking for much of our adult lives–from Rom's research with magical experiments to Ori's involvment with Touchy-Feely groups at Stanford.

Click Interview with Ori Brafman



Cool Tools Reviews The 100 Best

Cool Tools is an awesome site for finding things to help get jobs done, whether silicone spatulas, a map of world history, or the lightest items for backpacking.

Today site founder Kevin Kelly reviewed The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. Here is a small excerpt from the review:

[T]heir book is much better than a simple list, and their list is better than most. The two have reviewed, abstracted, and compared all the best 100 in the context of thousands of similar books, unlike say your average Amazon reviewer who may have only read one other business book in his or her life. You get context instead of content. Reading Covert and Sattersten’s summaries of these classics is often better than reading the book itself, and the review is always useful in pointing you to the few books or authors you might actually want to read in full.

The sales of The 100 Best have been up the last couple of weeks, and that doesn’t include all the remaindered/discount copies that were cleared off Amazon when Fixed To Flexible was released.

It is just great to see continued interest in the book over a year later.

P.S. As Kelly points out in his review, we included his 1995 book Out of Control just to make clear any conflicts of interest.

P.P.S. I just posted these additional links on the Hacker News thread:

  1. Here is a bonus chapter about industry books that wasn’t included in the book.
  2. There is also a website where you can submit your favorite business book whether it was included in The 100 Best or not.

Writing Better Headlines

Tom Whitwell, assistant editor at The Times UK, says a great headline is creates 20X more traffic than a lame one. He provides history and advice in this slidedeck.

(via Public Words)

Idea Arena Podcast – The 1% Windfall with Rafi Mohammed Idea Arena Podcast – The 1% Windfall Interview with Rafi Mohammed by toddsattersten

In this interview, I talk with Rafi Mohammed about his new book The 1% Windfall: How Successful Companies Use Price to Profit and Grow.

"The strategy of pricing involves acknowledging that customers have different pricing needs and then making efforts to profit from these differences. Customer different in three primary ways"

  1. Desire a different pricing plan -> Pick-a Plan


  2. Have unique product needs -> Versioning


  3. Value a product differently -> Differential Pricing"

-The 1% Windfall, p28-29

The bulk of the interview is around those three pricing strategies and how business can expanded their views about how to use pricing to improve profits.

The 1% Windfall is one of the books I recommend in the ebook Free to Flexible: Four Simple Lessons About Cost, Price, Margin and The Options Available to The 21st Century Business. You can download the ebook here.

The 11 Problems That Kill Organizations

Or The Eleven Focus Areas for Consultants to Sell Services.

This list is from Alan Weiss’ Million Dollar Consulting. The fourth edition of the book was released in July and about half way through the book, Weiss says that he got out of organizational consulting because all the problems started to look the same.

  1. Leadership is inept in that key people are not serving as avatars of the behavior they are seeking in others.
  2. Team building is sought when, in actuality, the organization has committees and needs committees, not teams.
  3. There are silos headed by powerful people who are defending their turf.
  4. Problem solving is prized over innovation, and “black belt nine delta” nonsense takes over people’s minds like a bad science fiction movie from the 1950’s
  5. There is excessive staff interference instead of support, typically from HR, finance, IT, and/or legal.
  6. There are too many meetings that take too long and are overwhelmingly focused on sharing information—the worst possible reason to have a meeting. The organization’s talent and energy are being squandered internally instead of being applied externally
  7. The customer’s perceptions of the organization’s products, services, and relationships are different from the organization’s perception.
  8. The reward and feedback systems are not aligned with strategy and are not encouraging the appropriate behaviors and discouraging the inappropriate.
  9. Strategy and planning are mistaken for each other.
  10. Career development and succession planning are not wedded.
  11. The organization is bureaucratic , in that it focus on means and not ends.

So, do these look like the same problems that you over and over again in the companies that you work for and with?

Look for the Growth

I enjoy the Catalog Critic each Friday in the Wall Street Journal. This week they looked at [sub. needed] a particular type of knife known as the santoku. The business side of story was equally interesting:

[Santoku] knives have been available in the U.S. for more than a decade, but only recently have they really started to take off. Knifemakers give some credit to chef Rachel Ray, who praised the knives’ handling and sharpness on the Food Network two years ago. Knifemaker Wusthof’s santoku sales have increased tenfold from three years earlier, replacing the chef’s knife as its best-seller and now make up 10% of the company’s total revenue. While houseware sales nationwide are flat, cutlery sales rose 5% last year from the year before thanks in part to a four-fold increase in the number of santokus sold, according to the marketing-information company NPD Group.

Lesson #1 – Speak Your Customers’ Language

My father’s business was a small sheet metal fabrication shop. The majority of what we produced was custom based on drawings we would receive from our customers. Over the years, we had built a strong base in serving the transformer industry. Our ability to make short runs at a low cost matched well with the industry’s need for custom brackets and enclosures in low quantities.

One exception to our custom focus was a line of electrical enclosures we made. It started as a custom collaboration with one customer, but after seeing there was a market for them, we started offering the enclosures as a standard, stocked product to everyone.

As a sheet metal fabricator, we described the enclosures using the same specifications we would get for custom jobs. It was all about dimensions and specifications. Whenever a new customer called, there had to be a long conversation as the buyer calculated their size of the transformer and I searched to determine which box was right for his need.

One day, the customer whom we had originally collaborated with called to place an order. Dave was a talkative fellow and he was going on about how he had gotten a large order for some three phase transformers. He said his next call was going to be to order more 1.5″ EI laminations [these serve the base for some transformers].

I said, “Dave, are those standard laminations for the entire industry?”

He said, “Oh yeah, everybody uses the same ones.”

I queried, “Are the enclosures you designed with us built around those lamination sizes?”

He said, “Of course, the 13″ x 13″ x 15″ is perfect for 1.5″ lams.”

Dave quickly walked me through our entire line of enclosures and how they matched up to the different sizes of lamination.

My entire paradigm changed. I had been given a new language to speak to my customers in. I could ask them what they were using in their language and tell them exactly which of my products would work perfect for them.

Speaking the same language led to all sorts of things. We found that customers were drilling holes to make the enclosures work in some cases. That led to us redesigning each cabinet to meet a wider range of needs.

We found one cabinet couldn’t support enough weight and that customers were adding steel angle to reinforce it themselves. We scrapped the case and came up with a whole new design.

The most important thing it led to was a doubling of the number of customers that used our enclosures and doubling of the number of units we sold.

We went from being another sheet metal fabricator to a partner in our customers’ supply chains.

Selling Chopper Style

Last night, I was watching TLC’s Faking It. Here is the show’s premise from the website:

Ever wonder what it would be like to have another profession? Well, you’re certainly not alone. Our Faking It participants, for one reason or another, have decided to turn their worlds upside down. With much guidance from professional mentors, our fakers attempt to prove that they’re the real deal. Can they fool the real pros? Or will they be called out as imposters?

In this episode Clark, an associate Episcopal minister from Maine, is transported to Las Vegas and in four weeks, Clark is transformed from preacher man to car salesman. The senior minister at Clark’s church wanted him to feel more comfortable talking to people and thought this would be a good way of doing it. His mentors are Chopper (owner of Towbin Dodge, the #1 used car dealership in Nevada) and Chilly Willy, the sales manager.

I thought it was a good lesson in selling. So let me present Chopper’s Rules for Selling:

  1. Excitement is infectious – Chopper is always creating an environment were people are having a good time. On the weekend, there are cookouts and clowns. Every person that buys a car gets to strike a gong and is cheered by the entire staff. Happy people are more willing to buy.
  2. Know your stuff – You have to know what you are selling. Chopper was giving Clark binders of stuff to read about cars. What how much horsepower does this have? How big are the wheels on this? I think it is what Scoble was talking about this weekend. Being an authority helps you sell.
  3. Provide incentives – Saturday is the big day the dealership. 60% of sales happen on Saturday. Chopper offers a diamond watch to the top salesman of the day. He has cash sitting on the table and tells everyone you will go home with cash in their pocket if they sell cars. He is providing rewards that people can associate directly with their actions. Chopper even goes to church with Clark after the minister wins a challenge of landing three test drives in a single day. That also shows the importance of knowing how to motivate different people.
  4. Track progress – On a typical Saturday, 150 prospects will sit down to talk about buying a car. Each prospect is tracked by name, what they are buying and how they found out about the dealership. Each salesman (and they are all men) is tracked on his ability to close dealings. Their continued employment depends on it. The close rate is about 30%.
  5. Final words – The night before the final challenge, Chopper invites Clark over to the house for dinner. Clark is very anxious about the next day and Chopper says “I just want you to remember these three things – Relax, listen, and be yourself.”

There is a 25 minute video on Chopper’s website that is taken from A&E “It’s a Living”. Chopper and the dealership were featured on an episode focused on selling.

P.S. Clark was able to fake out two of the three judges and the third couldn’t believe he had only be selling cars for four weeks. I think he had good teachers.