Digital Dialects

While it has been reported that many languages are dying via globalisation and nationalised education, language is fighting back. But this time it isn’t geographic. It’s jumping boundaries and hardware devices to find like minds who want to invent their own lexicon. Language likes to be unique. Language likes to treat insiders differently. Language likes to evolve, change and even judge.The connected world is developing an entire cadre of digital dialects in. Most of which are geographically dispersed and happen virtually.

For me it’s another proof point of the world we are all now living in. As soon as we think we understand what’s happening, it evolves. But more important than the change is the fact that it never asks for permission.


Selling – the highest paid profession

It has been said many times that ‘selling’ is the worlds highest paid profession. While I had my doubts early on in my career, I have never been more convinced of it that I am now. For quite a few reasons which I have shared below.

There is no limit

If we are in a real sales job, then there is no limit to what we can earn. That is, we work on commission. And while there are plenty of dodgy commission based sales jobs around, the serious sales roles allow sales people to earn as much as possible. It’s a simple formula to let a sales person take a piece of every pie they bake. If we are working in a sales role for a salary, then the truth is we are not really sales people. If we work in a sales role that has guaranteed distribution – then again we are not really in a sales role.

The truth about investment bankers

The general populous has been tricked into thinking that investment bankers (yes the type that hang out in wall street and ruin economies) are mathematicians and brilliant statisticians who work out innovative ways to generate more money than existed before they arrived. Well, the global economy learned the hard way that the people running the finance industry are not a bunch of geniuses who worked out algorithms beyond our comprehension. The reality is that the highly paid investment bankers are the sales people of their organizations simply extracting commissions. It just so happens that small percentages on big numbers really add up. The unfortunate thing for all of us is that they are unscrupulous operators who invent a bunch of bullshit (unsecured debt derivatives anyone?) to sell people sausages at steak prices. But the fact is the money goes to the guy who ‘convinces people to pay’ not the engine room.

Great entrepreneurs are gun sales people

It doesn’t matter how great our startup is, we have to sell the idea. First to investors, then to customers – and very often, even to employees and suppliers. The hardest part about what we do as entrepreneurs is getting people on board. Selling to all the members of our supply chain. Sure, the occasional new product or service enters the market and wows the world and spreads organically, but this is the exception more than the rule. It should be our assumption that we’ll have to sell startup to everyone it touches instead.

The definition of selling has changed

When we hear the term ‘salesperson’ we imagine the someone working in a car yard, or traveling sales guy with a brief case calling on prospects, or the telephone sales cold caller. We need to change our perception of what the sales person is these days. The sales person in the 21st century is the blogger, the tweeter, youtuber, the instagramer, the public speaker, the co-working space provider – anyone who is a self publisher.  When we self publish, by definition we are building a personal brand that we hope to sell at some point in the future. It’s pretty much everyone. We’ve now entered the age of the micro entrepreneur and personal branding. And if we can’t sell ourselves, we certainly wont be able to sell anything else. We’re all sales people now.

Technology agnostic

The final human truth is that selling is technology agnostic. The sales process doesn’t care if we are selling potatoes, micro chips and iPhone apps. The process remains unchanged, even though the tools are broadening. And if we want to succeed at anything, at least financially, then we need to embrace the idea that selling is where the money is, always has been, and always will be.


The 100 year folly

The strangest thing about the evolution in business, communication and media is that we are acting as though the social element is some kind of anomaly. As though it is a new form of human behaviour. When in truth the past 100 years was the anomaly. This great quote from Douglas Adams is the best reminder of all:

“…this century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport – the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for….”

This comes from a terrific article that was written more than 10 years ago by Adams on the then emerging internet. It is worth reading so we can remind ourselves that the revolution is essentially a reinstatement of how humans have always behaved.

Click here to read it.


The Foxtel hack

I’ve been a vocal opponent (and customer) of Foxtel. A service that, as the web evolves is loosing its reason for being in my life. So I decided to disconnect my service and here is the interesting story of what happened.

I called the number and the options to choose from (1,2,3,4) for the appropriate issue. This surprisingly included ‘Press 4 to disconnect’. This was the first clue things aren’t right down at Foxtel. Any business that has this issue come up often enough to include it in the first 4 options of customer interaction has some issues.

So I click it and get put through to the ‘Customer Retention Center’ and they ask me why I want to disconnect. A few of the reasons I tell them include:

  • I’m sick of seeing better offers advertised to new customers. (Screw the existing ones hey!)
  • They have reduced the services and kept the price the same for my account.
  • I can’t get movies on demand (which I’m prepared to pay for) without signing up to a more expensive packaging (WTF, the tubes are already in my house?)

They apologise, tell me I’ve been a good customer for a few years, so they offer me a $30 discount per month. Which is 30% off what I’ve been paying. I retort with, ‘if I’m such a good customer why do you only try and keep me once I’ve already decided to leave you?’ Seems to me they have things back to front at Foxtel.

So I took the discount for now – I’m moving house in 2 months and it is all over for me and Foxtel then.

My advice to any Foxtel subscriber out there is to call up to disconnect and get the discount anyway and hack their already flawed proposition, before it gets hacked entirely by market forces.


Plutocrats of the web

It’s all shifting in front of our eyes.  A new plutocracy is arriving. Some of the roles have already been filled…. Maybe there are some new ones to arrive that we just can’t forsee yet. But to enlighten us a little, let’s consider 3 examples:

Yellow Pages Google
White Pages Facebook
Department Stores Amazon

The real question for entrepreneurs is which ailing legacy industries are still waiting for their shake up?


Why e-Commerce is different

At first we got confused about how to make money out of the internet. We thought we should be able to demand payment. Silly us, we forgot about the first lesson in economics – that pesky demand and supply. Supply doesn’t automatically equal demand – especially financial demand. On the internet things work in reverse. First value must be created, then it is extracted. It’s the opposite to the previous industrial world of buying and selling.

Now it’s proving, then earning.


The new usability experts

Are not who we expect them to be. It’s not Jakob Nielsen or even Steve Krug. In fact it is Joe Citizen.

Without even realising it, the average web surfer or smart phone addict has become an expert in usability. This doesn’t mean we could ask them what a sight should look like, how it should work or to advice us of any design imperatives. it’s a little different than that. But have no doubt, they are the experts. And their expertise is different. it is more like this – they know what sucks. They will not tolerate a site that sucks for more than a few seconds.


We have entered an age of mass usability expertise – and this has been driven by social media. As entrepreneurs and aspiring startup geeks we have to remember the training our users are getting. They are being trained on what is ‘best practice’ by the worlds best – brands like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google, Foursquare. Brands with the greatest UI’s ever seen are training the everyday person on what good looks like. Even if it is occurring at a subconscious level. It is happening.

The impact of this is significant. For me it puts flow first, and features second. The flow of the site and intuitive nature must be put above all other technology and feature desires we have. If we fail with our usability, there wont be a second chance to win back the experts who’ve already decided we don’t cut it.