the tale of 2 robots

I was recently at the WPP Stream digital event in Asia (hence the serious lack of blogging). One of the sessions that we have at Stream are Ignite presentations. The idea for an Ignite talks is this:

– Tell us, but tell us quickly.

So the format is for 15 slides, where the slides change automatically after 15 seconds regardless of where you are up to.

It makes for entertaining viewing and rapid transfer of ideas. Here’s one that I particularly liked from Stream by Jason Oke which has some really great lessons for entrepreneurs, startups and anyone working in an innovation field for that matter. Enjoy.

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An ‘A’ or Fluency?

If you wanted to learn how to speak French and I could give you a choice to achieve one of the following two options, which would you choose:

– To get an ‘A’ on your report card.

– To be fluent in the language.

Without a thought you would choose the second option. The second option clearly has more value than the first option. Even though the first option, may include the second, neither two are interlinked by default.

It’s an interesting analogy we can use when it comes to business objectives, brand propositions, and why we are embarking upon our latest startup mission. Do we want a number? (the A) Or do we really want thing that the number describes? (Fluency).

What’s also interesting is that speaking any language well is a life vocation, native tongue or otherwise. The achievement is not marked via formal qualifications, and language is most recognised when it has been learned on the street. A lot like business acumen in today’s rapidly changing world. The reality is greater than the certificate.

While fluency might be far too arduous a task for many of us, it’s important to recognise what we are really striving for before we even start.

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Falling in love with infrastructure

Here’s a list of companies who should’ve done something, yet instead, let someone else do it for them. And in being asleep at the wheel, they will never be as powerful (read relevant) again.

Yellow Pages should have become… Google
Encyclopaedia Britannica should have become… Wikipedia
RCA / Sony / BMG / EMI / Warner should have become… iTunes
Newspaper classifieds should have become… Craigs List
Trading Post should have become… eBay
Barns & Noble should have become… Amazon
Industry X could well become… Your startup

The key point is this. The future doesn’t care about your legacy, or how things were done in the past, it only cares about what people actually want. And people don’t care about your existing infrastructure, they only care about themselves.

There’s a million more of these examples out there, and many more to come. The question is which industry will you disrupt because they are too in love with their existing infrastructure?

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Theatre at Transaction – Der Raum

Recently I ended up at a bar late at night. It’s a revered place called De Raum. It’s been well covered on the web so I’m not going to give a review of it here. What I will do instead is tell you the story of the ‘Teachers Reserve’. And how this business justifies an ultra price premium.

I asked the bar tender for something sweet, to help take the edge off after a heavy day – something night cap-ish. He said;

“I know just the thing. The Teachers Reserve. For those moments when you’ve done all you can, when the days been hard, and it’s time to reflect, quietly and possibly have a conversation in your own head. It’s not exactly social, but poignant.”

He then made up the drink and presented it in a manner which will make sense when you see the photo essay below. He furtively passed me the book, while he looked in the other direction – as if to say: ‘let this be our little secret’.

Classic theatre at transaction. I was delighted, and I didn’t mind paying the $25 for it.

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Good service? Prove it

Yesterday I went to a well known cafe in Melbourne for breakfast. Yes, it had a amazing the decor of a restored warehouse and exotic free range egg combinations, but that wasn’t what impressed me. It was the way they served their ‘non-customers’.

By the time we where half way through our second java a line had started to build for people waiting for a table, which is pretty rare in a cafe centric city like Melbourne. Up until that time the thriving restaurant still had amazingly quick service. But the service I was most impressed with was the service they gave those who weren’t even customers. People waiting patiently outside were treated to complimentary cafe lattes and flat whites. I’m sure they were surprised and delighted at the good will gesture. The tone of the staff there also told me that they gave them coffee because they were genuinely sorry they couldn’t seat them immediately. They meant it, and it wasn’t a promotional ploy. Something we’d never see from a chains store or large corporate. They’d be more concerned with wooing ‘non-customers’ that rewarding their ‘sure bets’. I say they’ve got it back to front.

The reality of the complimentary coffee is that it sent out a good vibe, and cost very little to do. And the benefits? Well I’m already blogging about it and put it on my twitter stream which goes to many thousands. I’d also say that rewarding those you’ve already got, is a far better investment than investing in those who’ve never helped your business. Something all startups should take note of.

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