Active thinking versus osmosis

If we're immersed in an environment, will we learn by default?

It's easy to think that we can absorb through osmosis, that we'll hum along and improve simply because we're present. I think intuition develops from deliberate thinking. Not from osmosis.

For example:

You can live in France for years--and not speak French fluently (or at all).

Read More
Speak up before the train crashes

I'm not good at holding my tongue when I sense that a train wreck might happen. If you've tried speaking up before, and no one listened, it's tempting to want to teach them a lesson.

Okay fine, well the train will crash. THEN they'll see why they should have listened to me all along...

You don't get to take the moral high ground there. If you sense that something might be wrong, speak up before it's too late.

Read More
When customers take risks, you grow closer

Susie has always worn sensible lipstick. She stops in to pick up another tube, and you introduce her to a fire-engine red she never would have picked up herself.

Tom just got a smartphone and barely knows how to use it. With a few taps, your app lets him start a family chat thread his kids are eager to use. Now he's downloading emoji packs, customizing backgrounds, texting with friends abroad and in the US.

Jake is graduating from IKEA and is finally buying his first piece of forever furniture. He was intimidated to walk into your store, but you made him feel welcome, like he's the kind of person who could own an Eames chair.

Read More
Zz plants: the beauty of low overhead

Indoor plants have a way of making a space feel like home. If you want to get a plant, the top question isn't "Where can I get a fiddle leaf fig to make my rental look like it belongs in Architectural Digest?" The first question is: how much effort do I want to commit to keep this plant alive?

Because a plant that's dead by next week doesn't do you any good.

Read More
MarketingWes KaoMarketing
Drawing someone in vs getting them to stay

When you're at the mall and walk by the Gap, you might see a rainbow assortment of colorful t-shirts on the front table. There's bright coral, lemon yellow, vibrant blue. You decide to go in and take a look. Most of the time, you'll walk out with a shirt that's grey, white, black, navy.

The folks at corporate HQ know this. As an analyst at Gap Inc, it used to be my job to make sure that inventory levels reflected what customers actually bought, not what they thought they wanted to buy.

I think this is a great analogy that applies to marketing, especially for complex and technical startups.

Read More
MarketingWes KaoMarketing
33% rule

When you're launching a thing, it's helpful to think about the process in three roughly equal parts. What's considered 'a thing'? I define a product or project as something that you're creating to put out into the world.

It could be a web product, website, app, zine, publication, course, poll, physical product, blog post, album, video, collection, survey, directory, event, book, and many other items.

You might be setting yourself up for disappointment if you think that one part of the launch process is 90% of the battle, but it's really only 33% of it.

Read More