Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cusp 2013 and the Design of Everything

Friday, September 27th, 2013

pipercusp

Patrick Lynch, City of Chicago Pipe Band and 2013 U.S. National Champion

Chicago is a design city. It is the cradle of mid-century modern architecture. It buzzes — constantly.

I attended the Cusp Conference there a week ago. It had everything from Constance Adams, NASA space architect; to a sword swallower; a Canadian researcher hoping to gaze at the actual edge of the universe from a balloon above the Antarctic this year; to Dave Carroll, the guy who produced the viral video United Breaks Guitars; and — oh, yeah — a bag piper and a teenage rock band. This melange was about the “design of everything”. For the attendees (I would estimate about 90% non-designers) it was an eye-opener to what is going on right now in design. The hackneyed term “Design Thinking” (with apologies to Bruce Nussbaum) has permeated the awareness of the business folks who are shaking things up. What we have called “thinking out of the box” is given a framework and process through design thinking (this time no caps, on purpose).

Maria Giudice of Google

Maria Giudice of Google

There is no magic bullet, no acronym-laced corporate efficiency model here. It’s about thinking outside of comfortable paradigms and just flippin’ doing things differently. And, as Maria Giudice from Google puts it, it’s just plain GSD (Getting Shit Done). Business models are changing. No longer are the good companies looking for cost-efficient ways to do the same thing more cheaply. The good ones are looking for ways to get new things done, to create something that helps their customers, helps the world and is valuable enough that people want to pay for it. It’s about adding real value, not taking away. As Marsha Sinetar says:

Do what you love and the money will follow.

And that doesn’t just apply to individuals. If you put heart into what you manufacture, into the services you provide, people feel it. You have a clear idea of who and what you are as a company. You know your story.

Story telling is what I am most interested in for my work. I love finding the stories that are sometimes buried deep inside companies and bringing them into the light. A good story attracts good employees, good customers, good suppliers — good stuff.  And a good story is the way for people to understand you and become followers, promoters of your company.

I’ll be at Cusp next year, looking into the future of business.

Our Celebration of the Life of Ray Hrynkow, Video

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Ray Hrynkow Celebration of Life April 1, 2012

A Canadian Design Legend Gone Too Soon — Ray Hrynkow 1953 - 2012

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Ray Hrynkow, CGD, MGDC

Ray Hrynkow, CGD, FGDC

Ray Hrynkow, FGDC, husband and partner of 36 years to Casey Hrynkow, FGDC, and alumnus of Emily Carr University of Art and Design lost a ferocious 6-year battle with pancreatic cancer on March 23, 2012 at 9:35 pm.  He was just 58 years old, and had so much more living to do. He was surrounded by a huge, loving family keeping a constant vigil by his bedside.

Ray was a guiding light and father to Cassandra, Peter and Peter’s wife Kristen. He was a loving son to Peter and Tillie as well as Sheila, big brother to David, Tricia, and Savannah and his “extended sibs” Paula , Libby, Monica, Kevin and Mark. He was “little brother” to Lova, Marilyn and Janyse. He was a beloved uncle to Alana, Ryan, Josh, Max, Kandace, Matt, Chris, Donna, Emile, Aaron, Rachel, Hayley, Lachlan, Sam, Elly, Ben, Michaela, Kathryn and Jacqueline. He was a central figure in a giant extended family who loved him to distraction.

Ray was a champion for design and design education in Canada. A recipient of over 200 national and international awards for design, Ray advocated for design and its role in Canadian business and culture. He was a leader in the profession in Canada. Ray knew that Canada was greater through the work of its communication designers. He spoke and wrote frequently about design’s role in growing our economy and cultural awareness. He was principal of Herrainco Brand Strategy and Design from 1986 until his death.

Of all the descriptors used by people that knew Ray, the words “gentle” and “gentlemen” are the most common. He was incredibly passionate and uncompromising, yet soft. He loved design, but he loved people, too. He took great joy championing a young student or graduate. Many new and spectacular careers were launched from Herrainco.

Ray became a Fellow of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada in 2011 in recognition of his profound influence on the British Columbia design community. His commitment to design, best professional practices and community support were major factors contributing to the sum of the GDC as a profession and as a Society as a whole. Ray loved promoting young designers. He respected their vision. He wanted them to be better than he ever was. In honour of that love, in late 2011 he created the Ray Hrynkow Scholarship to be awarded to a third year student in a four-year design degree program. The award will go to a candidate showing great promise as a “thinking” designer — one who demonstrates an understanding of sociology and anthropology in their work.

Ray loved communication design, design in general, and burgeoning talent in the field. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Thank you: Dr. Andrzej Buczkowski, our superstar surgeon angel, for your skill and compassion and giving us 6 years we didn’t think we had; the countless critical care and other nurses of VGH for getting us through a brutal recovery, Dr. Hagen Kennecke and his staff at the BC Cancer Agency for giving us hope and time; Nurse Vivian Allie for your sweet support; Dr. Janice Wright and everyone at Inspire Health who helped us see that we had control, the chemo team at BC Cancer Agency for your compassion and care; Dr. Pippa Hawley for your practical and straightforward approach to comfort; Dr. Stephen Lam for helping Ray breathe; our pharmacy team at Shoppers Drug Mart at 5 Road and Cambie who were like caring family; and, finally, our nurse, Alexis Hodgkins, Dr. Peter Quelch and the team of Richmond Home Care Nursing for keeping us going when the going got really, really tough.

A Celebration of Ray’s Life took place on Sunday, April 1 at 2:00 pm at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. You may watch the video here.

In lieu of flowers, we would greatly appreciate donations to the newly formed Ray Hrynkow Scholarship through the GDC.

Donate online
Click “Donate” at the GDC Store and click through to make your donation. When you receive your email receipt, reply to the email (info@gdc.net) to request that your donation be applied to the GDC Foundation Ray Hrynkow Scholarship fund.

By mail: Send your cheque (made out to GDC, with a note that it is for the GDC Foundation, Ray Hrynkow Scholarship fund) to:

GDC
Arts Court, 2 Daly Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6E2

By phone: with your credit card,
call toll free 877-496-4453

Design Thinking UnConference today

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Here's #DT2011's Friday schedule. on Twitpic

The Shift in Media Access

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Caught this on Twitter today from the Harvard Business Review and its worth a read. David Armano of Edelman Digital succinctly describes the new world of media and who has the stage, when and how. You can read his post here, follow him on Twitter here.

Revisiting Ten Things That Milton Glaser Has Learned

Thursday, June 17th, 2010
I re-read this talk this morning. Milton Glaser is an American design icon — a grandaddy that all designers of my era looked up to when we were young, and we still do. What is more interesting is that he is such a profound thinker. I have re-found this text (can’t remember where I first got it) at http://www.areaofdesign.com/.  It was, as is noted here, first given as a talk to the AIGA in London on November 22, 2001.

Ten Things I Have Learned*
Part of AIGA Talk in London
November 22, 2001
www.miltonglaser.com

1. YOU CAN ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE THAT YOU LIKE.
This is a curious rule and it took me a long time to learn because in fact at the beginning of my practice I felt the opposite. Professionalism required that you didn’t particularly like the people that you worked for or at least maintained an arms length relationship to them, which meant that I never had lunch with a client or saw them socially. Then some years ago I realised that the opposite was true. I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground. That in fact your view of life is someway congruent with the client, otherwise it is a bitter and hopeless struggle.

2. IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE NEVER HAVE A JOB.

One night I was sitting in my car outside Columbia University where my wife Shirley was studying Anthropology. While I was waiting I was listening to the radio and heard an interviewer ask ‘Now that you have reached 75 have you any advice for our audience about how to prepare for your old age?’ An irritated voice said ‘Why is everyone asking me about old age these days?’ I recognised the voice as John Cage. I am sure that many of you know who he was – the composer and philosopher who influenced people like Jasper Johns and Merce Cunningham as well as the music world in general. I knew him slightly and admired his contribution to our times. ‘You know, I do know how to prepare for old age’ he said. ‘Never have a job, because if you have a job someday someone will take it away from you and then you will be unprepared for your old age. For me, it has always been the same every since the age of 12. I wake up in the morning and I try to figure out how am I going to put bread on the table today? It is the same at 75, I wake up every morning and I think how am I going to put bread on the table today? I am exceedingly well prepared for my old age’ he said.

3. SOME PEOPLE ARE TOXIC AVOID THEM.
This is a subtext of number one. There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist. Gestalt therapy derives from art history, it proposes you must understand the ‘whole’ before you can understand the details. What you have to look at is the entire culture, the entire family and community and so on. Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

4. PROFESSIONALISM IS NOT ENOUGH or THE GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF THE GREAT.
Early in my career I wanted to be professional, that was my complete aspiration in my early life because professionals seemed to know everything - not to mention they got paid for it. Later I discovered after working for a while that professionalism itself was a limitation. After all, what professionalism means in most cases is diminishing risks. So if you want to get your car fixed you go to a mechanic who knows how to deal with transmission problems in the same way each time. I suppose if you needed brain surgery you wouldn’t want the doctor to fool around and invent a new way of connecting your nerve endings. Please do it in the way that has worked in the past.
Unfortunately in our field, in the so-called creative – I hate that word because it is misused so often. I also hate the fact that it is used as a noun. Can you imagine calling someone a creative? Anyhow, when you are doing something in a recurring way to diminish risk or doing it in the same way as you have done it before, it is clear why professionalism is not enough. After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is the continuous transgression. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success. So professionalism as a lifetime aspiration is a limited goal.

5. LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE.
Being a child of modernism I have heard this mantra all my life. Less is more. One morning upon awakening I realised that it was total nonsense, it is an absurd proposition and also fairly meaningless. But it sounds great because it contains within it a paradox that is resistant to understanding. But it simply does not obtain when you think about the visual of the history of the world. If you look at a Persian rug, you cannot say that less is more because you realise that every part of that rug, every change of colour, every shift in form is absolutely essential for its aesthetic success. You cannot prove to me that a solid blue rug is in any way superior. That also goes for the work of Gaudi, Persian miniatures, art nouveau and everything else. However, I have an alternative to the proposition that I believe is more appropriate. ‘Just enough is more.’

6. STYLE IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED.
I think this idea first occurred to me when I was looking at a marvellous etching of a bull by Picasso. It was an illustration for a story by Balzac called The Hidden Masterpiece. I am sure that you all know it. It is a bull that is expressed in 12 different styles going from very naturalistic version of a bull to an absolutely reductive single line abstraction and everything else along the way. What is clear just from looking at this single print is that style is irrelevant. In every one of these cases, from extreme abstraction to acute naturalism they are extraordinary regardless of the style. It’s absurd to be loyal to a style. It does not deserve your loyalty. I must say that for old design professionals it is a problem because the field is driven by economic consideration more than anything else. Style change is usually linked to economic factors, as all of you know who have read Marx. Also fatigue occurs when people see too much of the same thing too often. So every ten years or so there is a stylistic shift and things are made to look different. Typefaces go in and out of style and the visual system shifts a little bit. If you are around for a long time as a designer, you have an essential problem of what to do. I mean, after all, you have developed a vocabulary, a form that is your own. It is one of the ways that you distinguish yourself from your peers, and establish your identity in the field. How you maintain your own belief system and preferences becomes a real balancing act. The question of whether you pursue change or whether you maintain your own distinct form becomes difficult. We have all seen the work of illustrious practitioners that suddenly look old-fashioned or, more precisely, belonging to another moment in time. And there are sad stories such as the one about Cassandre, arguably the greatest graphic designer of the twentieth century, who couldn’t make a living at the end of his life and committed suicide.

But the point is that anybody who is in this for the long haul has to decide how to respond to change in the zeitgeist. What is it that people now expect that they formerly didn’t want? And how to respond to that desire in a way that doesn’t change your sense of integrity and purpose.

7. HOW YOU LIVE CHANGES YOUR BRAIN.
The brain is the most responsive organ of the body. Actually it is the organ that is most susceptible to change and regeneration of all the organs in the body. I have a friend named Gerald Edelman who was a great scholar of brain studies and he says that the analogy of the brain to a computer is pathetic. The brain is actually more like an overgrown garden that is constantly growing and throwing off seeds, regenerating and so on. And he believes that the brain is susceptible, in a way that we are not fully conscious of, to almost every experience of our life and every encounter we have. I was fascinated by a story in a newspaper a few years ago about the search for perfect pitch. A group of scientists decided that they were going to find out why certain people have perfect pitch. You know certain people hear a note precisely and are able to replicate it at exactly the right pitch. Some people have relevant pitch; perfect pitch is rare even among musicians. The scientists discovered – I don’t know how - that among people with perfect pitch the brain was different. Certain lobes of the brain had undergone some change or deformation that was always present with those who had perfect pitch. This was interesting enough in itself. But then they discovered something even more fascinating. If you took a bunch of kids and taught them to play the violin at the age of 4 or 5 after a couple of years some of them developed perfect pitch, and in all of those cases their brain structure had changed. Well what could that mean for the rest of us? We tend to believe that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind, although we do not generally believe that everything we do affects the brain. I am convinced that if someone was to yell at me from across the street my brain could be affected and my life might changed. That is why your mother always said, ‘Don’t hang out with those bad kids.’ Mama was right. Thought changes our life and our behaviour. I also believe that drawing works in the same way. I am a great advocate of drawing, not in order to become an illustrator, but because I believe drawing changes the brain in the same way as the search to create the right note changes the brain of a violinist. Drawing also makes you attentive. It makes you pay attention to what you are looking at, which is not so easy.

8. DOUBT IS BETTER THAN CERTAINTY.
Everyone always talks about confidence in believing what you do. I remember once going to a class in yoga where the teacher said that, spirituality speaking, if you believed that you had achieved enlightenment you have merely arrived at your limitation. I think that is also true in a practical sense. Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. It makes me nervous when someone believes too deeply or too much. I think that being sceptical and questioning all deeply held beliefs is essential. Of course we must know the difference between scepticism and cynicism because cynicism is as much a restriction of one’s openness to the world as passionate belief is. They are sort of twins. And then in a very real way, solving any problem is more important than being right. There is a significant sense of self-righteousness in both the art and design world. Perhaps it begins at school. Art school often begins with the Ayn Rand model of the single personality resisting the ideas of the surrounding culture. The theory of the avant garde is that as an individual you can transform the world, which is true up to a point. One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty.
Schools encourage the idea of not compromising and defending your work at all costs. Well, the issue at work is usually all about the nature of compromise. You just have to know what to compromise. Blind pursuit of your own ends which excludes the possibility that others may be right does not allow for the fact that in design we are always dealing with a triad – the client, the audience and you.
Ideally, making everyone win through acts of accommodation is desirable. But self-righteousness is often the enemy. Self-righteousness and narcissism generally come out of some sort of childhood trauma, which we do not have to go into. It is a consistently difficult thing in human affairs. Some years ago I read a most remarkable thing about love, that also applies to the nature of co-existing with others. It was a quotation from Iris Murdoch in her obituary. It read ‘ Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.’ Isn’t that fantastic! The best insight on the subject of love that one can imagine.

9. ON AGING.
Last year someone gave me a charming book by Roger Rosenblatt called ‘Ageing Gracefully’ I got it on my birthday. I did not appreciate the title at the time but it contains a series of rules for ageing gracefully. The first rule is the best. Rule number one is that ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ‘It doesn’t matter that what you think. Follow this rule and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid. If you were having a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cockeyed or your boyfriend or girlfriend looks at you cockeyed, if you are cockeyed. If you don’t get that promotion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t matter.’ Wisdom at last. Then I heard a marvellous joke that seemed related to rule number 10. A butcher was opening his market one morning and as he did a rabbit popped his head through the door. The butcher was surprised when the rabbit inquired ‘Got any cabbage?’ The butcher said ‘This is a meat market – we sell meat, not vegetables.’ The rabbit hopped off. The next day the butcher is opening the shop and sure enough the rabbit pops his head round and says ‘You got any cabbage?’ The butcher now irritated says ‘Listen you little rodent I told you yesterday we sell meat, we do not sell vegetables and the next time you come here I am going to grab you by the throat and nail those floppy ears to the floor.’ The rabbit disappeared hastily and nothing happened for a week. Then one morning the rabbit popped his head around the corner and said ‘Got any nails?’ The butcher said ‘No.’ The rabbit said ‘Ok. Got any cabbage?’

10. TELL THE TRUTH.
The rabbit joke is relevant because it occurred to me that looking for a cabbage in a butcher’s shop might be like looking for ethics in the design field. It may not be the most obvious place to find either. It’s interesting to observe that in the new AIGA’s code of ethics there is a significant amount of useful information about appropriate behaviour towards clients and other designers, but not a word about a designer’s relationship to the public. We expect a butcher to sell us eatable meat and that he doesn’t misrepresent his wares. I remember reading that during the Stalin years in Russia that everything labelled veal was actually chicken. I can’t imagine what everything labelled chicken was. We can accept certain kinds of misrepresentation, such as fudging about the amount of fat in his hamburger but once a butcher knowingly sells us spoiled meat we go elsewhere. As a designer, do we have less responsibility to our public than a butcher? Everyone interested in licensing our field might note that the reason licensing has been invented is to protect the public not designers or clients. ‘Do no harm’ is an admonition to doctors concerning their relationship to their patients, not to their fellow practitioners or the drug companies. If we were licensed, telling the truth might become more central to what we do.

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

I am posting the entire transcript of Simon Sinek’s talk at TED in September 2009 and recently posted on the TED site. The words are so precious, so well chosen, I cannot imagine excising any of them.  What Simon Sinek says so eloquently is what WE have always believed, but I will be the first to say that we have never said it so clearly. If you don’t want to read it, please watch it here. But what he says is worth going over carefully, which is why it’s reprinted here on our blog.

Our clients have heard me say Tell them who you are, what you do and why they should care, but we always work hardest on communicating the why they should care part. If any of our clients and friends ever read or listen to anything we’ve said, let it be this!

How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, after year, they’re more innovative than all their competition. And yet, they’re just a computer company. They’re just like everyone else. They have the same access to the same talent, the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media. Then why is it that they seem to have something different? Why is it that Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. And he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day. Why him? And why is it that the Wright brothers were able to figure out control-powered, manned flight when there were certainly other teams who were better qualified, better funded, and they didn’t achieve powered man flight, and the Wright brothers beat them to it.There’s something else at play here.

About three and a half years ago I made a discovery, and this discovery profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world worked. And it even profoundly changed the way in which I operate in it. As it turns out — there’s a pattern — as it turns out, all the great and inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple, or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers, they all think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All I did was codify it. And it’s probably the world’s simplest idea. I call it the golden circle.

Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why” I mean: what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

And why should anyone care? Well, as a result, the way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in. It’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations, regardless of their size, regardless of their industry, all think, act and communicate from the inside out.

Let me give you an example. I use Apple because they’re easy to understand and everybody gets it. If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this. “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?” Neh. And that’s how most of us communicate. That’s how most marketing is done. That’s how most sales are done. And that’s how most of us communicate interpersonally. We say what we do, we say how we’re different or how we’re better and we expect some sort of a behavior, a purchase, a vote, something like that. Here’s our new law firm. We have the best lawyers with the biggest clients. We always perform for our clients who do business with us. Here’s our new car. It gets great gas mileage. It has leather seats. Buy our car. But it’s uninspiring.

Here’s how Apple actually communicates.“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” Totally different right? You’re ready to buy a computer from me. All I did was reverse the order of information. What it proves to us is that people don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

This explains why every single person in this room is perfectly comfortable buying a computer from Apple. But we’re also perfectly comfortable buying an MP3 player from Apple, or a phone from Apple, or a DVR from Apple. But, as I said before, Apple’s just a computer company. There’s nothing that distinguishes them structurally from any of their competitors. Their competitors are all equally qualified to make all of these products. In fact, they tried. A few years ago, Gateway came out with flat screen TVs. They’re eminently qualified to make flat screen TVs. They’ve been making flat screen monitors for years. Nobody bought one. Dell came out with MP3 players and PDAs. And they make great quality products. And they can make perfectly well-designed products. And nobody bought one. In fact, talking about it now, we can’t even imaginebuying an MP3 player from Dell. Why would you buy an MP3 player from a computer company? But we do it every day. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. Here’s the best part.

The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.

None of what I’m telling you is my opinion. It’s all grounded in the tenets of biology. Not psychology, biology. If you look at a cross-section of the human brain, looking from the top down, What you see is the human brain is actually broken into three major components that correlate perfectly with the golden circle. Our newest brain, our homo sapien brain, our neocortex, corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains. And our limbic brains are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language.

In other words, when we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior. When we can communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from.You know, sometimes you can give somebody all the facts and figures, and they say, “I know what all the facts and details say, but it just doesn’t feel right.” Why would we use that verb, it doesn’t “feel” right? Because the part of the brain that controls decision-making, doesn’t control language. And the best we can muster up is, “I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.” Or sometimes you say you’re leading with your heart, or you’re leading with your soul. Well, I hate to break it to you, those aren’t other body parts controlling your behavior. It’s all happening here in you limbic brain, the part of the brain that controls decision-making and not language.

But if you don’t know why you do what you do, and people respond to why you do what you do, then how you ever get people to vote for you, or buy something from you, or, more importantly, be loyal and want to be a part of what it is that you do. Again, the goal is not just to sell to people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for your you with blood and sweat and tears. And nowhere else is there a better example of this than with the Wright brothers.

Most people don’t know about Samuel Pierpont Langley. And back in the early early twentieth century, the pursuit of powered man flight was like the dot com of the day. Everybody was trying it. And Samuel Pierpont Langley had, what we assume to be, the recipe for success. I mean, even now, you ask people, why did your product or why did your company fail? and people always give you the same permutation of the same three things, under-capitalized, the wrong people, bad market conditions. It’s always the same three things, so let’s explore that. Samuel Pierpont Langley was given 50,000 dollars by the War Deptartment to figure out this flying machine. Money was no problem. He held a seat at Harvard and worked at the Smithsonian and was extremely well-connected. He knew all the big minds of the day. He hired the best minds money could find. And the market conditions were fantastic. The New York Times followed him around everywhere. And everyone was rooting for Langley. Then how come you’ve never heard of Samuel Pierpont Langley?

A few hundred miles away in Dayton Ohio, Orville and Wilbur Wright, they had none of what we consider to be the recipe for success. They had no money. They paid for their dream with the proceeds from their bicycle shop. Not a single person on the Wright brothers’ team had a college education, not even Orville or Wilbur. And the New York Times followed them around nowhere. The difference was, Orville and Wilbur were driven by a cause, by a purpose, by a belief. They believed that if they could figure out this flying machine, it’ll change the course of the world. Samuel Pierpont Langley was different. He wanted to be rich, and he wanted to be famous. He was in pursuit of the result. He was in pursuit of the riches. And low and behold, look what happened. The people who believed in the Wright brothers’ dream worked with them with blood and sweat and tears. The others just worked for the paycheck. And they tell stories of how every time the Wright brothers went out, they would have to take five sets of parts, because that’s how many times they would crash before they came in for supper.

And, eventually, on December 17th, 1903, the Wright brothers took flight, and no one was there to even experience it. We found out about it a few days later. And further proof that Langley was motivated by the wrong thing, the day the Wright brothers took flight, he quit. He could have said, “That’s an amazing discovery guys, and I will improve upon your technology,” but he didn’t. He was first, he didn’t get rich, he didn’t get famous, so he quit.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe. But why is it important to attract those who believe what you believe? Something called the law of diffusion of innovation. And if you don’t know the law, you definitely know the terminology. The first two and a half percent of our population are our innovators. The next 13 and a half percent of our population are our early adopters. The next 34 percent are your early majority, your late majority and your laggards. The only reason these people buy touch tone phones is because you can’t buy rotary phones anymore.

(Laughter)

We all sit at various places at various times on this scale, but what the law of diffusion of innovation tells us is that if you want mass-market success or mass-market acceptance of an idea, you cannot have it until you achieve this tipping point between 15 and 18 percent market penetration. And then the system tips. And I love asking businesses, “What’s your conversion on new business?” And they love to tell you, “Oh, it’s about 10 percent,” proudly. Well, you can trip over 10 percent of the customers. We all have about 10 percent who just “get it.” That’s how we describe them, right? That’s like that gut feeling, “Oh, they just get it.” The problem is: How do you find the ones that get it before you’re doing business with them versus the ones that don’t get it? So it’s this here, this little gap, that you have to close, as Jeffrey Moore calls it, “crossing the chasm.” Because, you see, the early majority will not try something until someone else has tried it first. And these guys, the innovators and the early adopters, they’re comfortable making those gut decisions. They’re more comfortable making those intuitive decisions that are driven by what they believe about the world and not just what product is available.

These are the people who stood on line for six hours to buy an iPhone when they first came out, when you could have just walked into the store the next week and bought one off the shelf. These are the people 40,000 dollars on flat screen TVs when they first came out, even though the technology was substandard. And, by the way, they didn’t do it because the technology was so great. They did it for themselves. It’s because they wanted to be first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things that prove what they believe. The reason that person bought the iPhone in the first six hours, stood in line for six hours, was because of what they believed about the world, and how they wanted everybody to see them. They were first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

So let me give you a famous example, a famous failure and a famous success of the law of diffusion of innovation. First, the famous failure. It’s a commercial example. As we said before, a second ago, the recipe for success is money and the right people and the right market conditions. Right. You should have success then. Look at TiVo. From the time TiVo came out, about eight or nine years ago, to this current day, they are the single highest-quality product on the market, hands down, there is no dispute. They were extremely well-funded. Market conditions were fantastic. I mean, we use TiVo as verb. I TiVo stuff on my piece of junk Time Warner DVR all the time.

But TiVo’s a commercial failure. They’ve never made money. And when they went IPO, their stock was at about 30 or 40 dollars and then plummeted, and it’s never traded above 10. In fact, I don’t even think it’s traded above six, except for a couple of little spikes. Because you see, when TiVo launched their product, they told us all what they had. They said, “We have a product that pauses live TV, skips commercials, rewinds live TV and memorizes your viewing habits without you even asking.” And the cynical majority said, “We don’t believe you. We don’t need it. We don’t like it. You’re scaring us. “What if they had said, “If you’re the kind of person who likes to have total control over every aspect of your life, boy, do we have a product for you. It pauses live TV, skips commercials, memorizes your viewing habits, etc., etc.” People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.

Now let me give you a successful example of the law of diffusion of innovation. In the summer of 1963, 250,000 people showed up on the mall in Washington to hear Dr. King speak. They sent out no invitations, and there was no website to check the date. How do you do that? Well, Dr. King wasn’t the only man in America who was a great orator. He wasn’t the only man in America who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. In fact, some of his ideas were bad. But he had a gift. He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America. He went around and told people what he believed.“I believe. I believe. I believe,” he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause, and they made it their own, and they told people. And some of those people created structures to get the word out to even more people.And low and behold, 250,000 people showed upon the right day, at the right time, to hear him speak.

How many of them showed up for him? Zero. They showed up for themselves. It’s what they believed about America that got them to travel in a bus for eight hours, to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August. It’s what they believed, and it wasn’t about black versus white. 25 percent of the audience was white. Dr. King believed that there are two different laws in this world, those that are made by a higher authority and those that are made by man. And not until all the laws that are made by man are consistent with the laws that are made by the higher authority, will we live in a just world. It just so happened that the Civil Rights Movement was the perfect thing to help him bring his cause to life. We followed, not for him, but for ourselves. And, by the way, he gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech.

(Laughter)

Listen to politicians now with their comprehensive 12-point plans. They’re not inspiring anybody. Because there are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority.But those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with “why”that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.

“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” – Jim Rohn

Friday, April 30th, 2010