Monday, April 17, 2017

The simple 42 steps to making a sale

Many companies know who their target customers are.  In many cases their targets are limited.  For example - at Danby Appliance, we might target appliance stores.  There are only so many of them.  So the key is persistence.

One suggested process:

1 - call them and introduce yourself, get an email address.

2 - follow up with snail mail with a hand written note.

3 - stop in for tea.

4 - Connect with your main contact on Linkedin (I love Linkedin).  

5 - Send Daily or every other day Linkedin updates.  Not directed at just one contact.

6 - Call them again.

7 - email a follow up.

8 - send than a link to an article that might interest them.

9 - Send them something physical - some tea, chocolates, a pen, a hat, a mug.  Always with a personal note.  Physical things get noticed since they are not very common.

10 - Connect to everyone else in their company on Linkedin that you can.

11 - repeat steps 3, 6, 8 and 9 a couple of times. 

12 - refer them a customer.  People who you help succeed will help you succeed.

13 - Visit them with a product.  Nothing like showing them real products to build excitement.

14 - Take them to a hockey game, a play, an outing.

15 - Send them a baby gift (assuming they have a baby).

16 - Repeat steps 3, 6, 8, 9, 12, and 14.

17 - Visit their store opening.

18 - Have your CEO, COO, Product people etc meet with them.

19 - Do anything you can to help them.

20 - take them to lunch (I generally do not like this one - takes too long)

21 - play golf with them (again - too long for me)

Mostly - be genuine.  Be who you are.  People buy sincerity.

And keep doing this until you sell.  Why do I say 42 steps?  Just to emphasize it takes time and persistence.  Nothing beats having a relationship and being there when someone needs what you are selling, when an existing supplier messes up, when things are changing.

I have found many sales people just give up.  They take a few steps and are rarely heard of again.  Those who persist politely win.

The sales trick I am using here is sitting on my grandson Daniel so he does not get into things.  Like all happy customers, he does not even know he is trapped.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Happiness Equation

I just finished reading - The Happiness Equation; Want Nothing+Do Anything=Have Everything by Neil Pasricha.  It is a great book.

I like that the book started saying something like take what parts you like and it is ok to not agree with everything because I do not agree with everything.

Some of the ideas I liked:

1 - He believes in exercise.

2 - He has a concept of the 20 min replay.  When something goes well - replay it in your mind.  That act is like living it again.  It locks it into memory.  Of course the converse might also be true - do not keep replaying the things you want to minimize or forget.

3 - He like random acts of kindness.

4 - He talks about flow - concept I believe in and try to get to (although find it hard to achieve)

5 - He advocates 2 minute meditations.

6 - And he believes in Gratitude.  One success habit I believe is to have a gratitude journal.

7 - There is a section on the people who live in Okinawa.  They are known for longevity.  They have ikigai - a purpose to live -  a reason to get up in the morning.  He attributes their long lives to that, combines with their very tight social groups.

8 - One section on decision making suggests efficiency can be had by removing choice.  EG - have only black socks.

Concepts I am more on the fence on.  "do it for you".  He seems to advocate selfishness.  It seems to me the greatest pleasure is doing it for others.

Some Quotes from the book:

"I don't stand back and judge - I do"
"You can't have everything - where would you put it all?"
"Wealth consists not of having great possessions but in having few wants"  Epictetus
"Start doing something - you will continue"  (The power of momentum)

Tea time

Monday, April 03, 2017

Leadership Ego

In my last post, I spoke about leadership ego.  A friend then asked me how to keep leadership ego in check:

“Leadership ego is what kills most companies.”

I hear this message a lot, and try to live by it, but I haven't had much luck finding information on how to make this value actionable, beyond things like valuing ideas over seniority, avoiding a superstar culture, and empowering the people on your team to shine more brightly, even if it means personally being in the background.  

I responded:

Random ideas that help keep leadership ego in check:

1 - keep a gratefulness log and log what you are grateful for each day.

2 - Look at those much larger and more successful than you.  EG - every time I travel to larger cities, I marvel at how large the companies are by comparison to mine.

3 - I like reading business bios of people who have had great success.

4 - Study servant leadership

5 - learn something new every day.

6 - Do something that challenges you daily.

7 - know that if you "arrive", you are starting to fail.  I always think of it like a mountain.  Get to the top and you will head down the other side.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Great CEOs and How They are Made - The 7 Imperatives

I recently read a book by John Wilson - Great CEOs and How They are Made - The 7 Imperatives.

The first imperative - EQ.  I have long known EQ is critical for success.  I also believe in AQ (ability to deal with adversity).  I know my IQ is not as high as many people (hopefully than most of my staff) so have to make up for it with EQ.

The Second is Ability to Inspire.  I have thought often how I manage to do that and there is not a simple answer.  Part of it is having a great vision for the company.  Part of it is constant communication.  And part of it is "do the right thing".

The third chapter talks about team.  Clearly I believe in team.  Where I diverge is there was a lot of reference to A players - as if they just are A players.  I believe the job of a good leader to to make people into A players by process, systems, training, mentoring, inspiring and slotting people in the right job for them.  If I have C players it is my fault for not making them better.

The 4th is accountability followed by 5 - tools and KPIs.  In my mind these tie together.  You need the measures to tie with the goals.  He recounts a cute story:

”An Accountability Fable”
Four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody, have an important job to be done…and Everybody was asked to  do it.  Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about it because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody though Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done….and thus accountability was born”

Dan McCarthy, Director of Executive Development Programs, University of New Hampshire, Whitmore School of Business

And 7th is CEO connection.  No CEO should be alone.  CEOs need peers.  CEOs learn from other CEOs.  John runs CEO Global Network so has seen the power of CEO networks first hand.  And of course his book would speak to that.

Good book - fast read.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Linch Pin Habits

I think a lot about my habits (of course thinking about them and doing them are not always the same).  When I get a good Success Habit, I work hard to make it into a habit.  It got me thinking on why some habits stick and others fall by the wayside.

I have found I have certain linch pin habits.  If I do them, then I do the rest of the habits or if I do them, I fail or do things that do not help my productivity.

I know one thing that helps my productivity is sleep.  At one time, I preached "sleep is for wimps" but I now believe it is vital for health and productivity.   Interesting that now I believe that when I am sleeping worse than I did when I was young(er) (I still refuse to be old).

I try to get 6 hours per night or sometimes even a luxurious 7 1/2 hours (they say sleep cycles are 90 minutes so multiple of that).  For me, that means getting to bed early.

The linch pin for me to get to bed early is to not be on my computer.  Even though I do dim the blue light with f.lux software, I still sit at the computer too long.  Ironically when I am too tired, I will often sit at the computer instead of going to bed.

I also know being on the computer often makes my mind race or makes me think so I am too engaged to go to bed or to fall asleep.  Email particularly can raise issues that need dealing with or worse - cannot be dealt with until day so simply cause stress.

A similar "don't do" linch pin is exercise.  If I exercise less than an hour before I go to bed, I cannot get to sleep.

The simplest linch pin for working out for me is going to the gym.  If I simply get there - I work out.

So think of your habits and your linch pins to doing or not doing them.  Work on the linch pins and the habits follow.
And I declare today as "National Steal a Habit Day".   The habit I am going to steal comes from the owner of Sweet Kyla.  Each day do just 1 thing new to move the business forward.

And since it is Steal a Habit Day - the nuns better lock their laundry up.

I am thinking of running the Stirling Marathon although I am not doing enough running these days to even complete one.

No blog is complete without kid pics.  I wonder when they are going to grow hair.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Lent - Buy Lettuce

Lent made me think.  "not doing something is a decision and can often have more impact than actually doing something".  We make decisions by lack of action.

It is interesting that people give things up for lent and not take up doing something new.

Either can have a positive effect.  Give up eating sugar or add lettuce to every meal (yum - goes great on oatmeal).  Give up alcohol or take up drinking more water.  Give up wasting time watching TV, take up research and study on a new topic.  Give up fried foods or eat more lettuce (As you can likely tell, I am long on lettuce and trying to start a run on it so my lettuce stocks go up)

The Telegraph already reported on the shortage of salad ingredients on February 3rd.  I must have a leak in my blogging organization that tipped someone off that I was doing this post.

Most "stop doings" have a "start doing" that would have similar effect.


I have a grand daughter (yes hard to believe).   My daughter was explaining the concept to giving something up for lent.  She thought about and said "I am going to give up wearing clothes for lent".

I wonder if she will speak to me when she is 16 and this blog is still out there for the whole world to see.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

You Priorities or Other People's Priorities

Someone said "Your in box is a convenient way for others to put things on your priority list".  I am finding this.  My email volume is incredible.  So my natural inclination is to figure out how to process it all efficiently.  Questions I have and some thoughts:

1 - Should I politely reply to every enquiry?  I try to do this now.  Or just delete?

2 - I like to triage.  Scan for things that need dealing with and leave other things.  I am wondering if leaving those other things for a few days might make them go away.

3 - Something in me causes stress when my in box is not at zero by the end of the day.  But I know that is "self stress" - stress that I cause myself.  Should I meditate or do email?

4 -Spam really does not bother me much.  I can delete 100 emails in a few minutes.  What takes time are the long emails I need to really read and the ones that require my action.

Net conclusion.  I am going to be a bit ruder to be a bit saner.


“According to the National Floral Marketing Institute, men under the age of 35 spend $30 on flowers for Valentine’s Day while, simultaneously, men between the ages of 45 and 60 spend 350% more. The kicker… There’s no difference in the flowers. A 350% increase in revenue simply by targeting the right segment of the market.”

I am always fascinated by marketing and this is genius market segmentation.


I don't recall my older brother playing this nice with me - or for that matter me playing that nice with my younger brothers.  How is he going to grow up tough?

 And why is Xavier not smiling?  Because smiling is not allowed on passport photos.  I guess they figure if you are enduring the hassles of travel you sure won's be smiling.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Delayed Gratification

I am pleased Danby has the herb grower out.  It is called Danby Fresh.  I love it because:

1 - it is good the the environment.  We re-use the shell of a wine cooler.  Much better than recycling it.

2 - I am a health guy and love fresh herbs.  When you buy at the grocery store, they are often old.  And the quantity is not right so there is waste.

3 - I know what I grow is organic.


We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and under estimate what we can do in a decade.  I plan by the decade but break it down to the day.

I study success and know those who get furthest in life are long term.

From my friend Nick Collier:

Google “Don’t Eat the Marshmallow”! Among other things (books, articles) you will find hilarious videos of kids trying to resist temptation! Basically, it means “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now!” Or put another way, do you have the ability to Delay Gratification” for sufficient future reward? Most don’t! Most whenever they get an extra buck or pay raise instantly spend it, always allowing their standard of living (borrowing?) to rise to or above their income with nary a dime saved for a rainy day. The marshmallow test is to leave a 4 or 5 year old kid in a room alone with a marshmallow for 5 minutes after telling them that they can have TWO marshmallows if they can resist the temptation to eat the one in front of them for 5 minutes. Some can, some can’t. Studies show that the kids who have the ability to delay gratification go on to do much better in life.

I do not do politics but I am disturbed more than ever by world events.  We need to stand firm in peace.  Let good thrive.  Do the right thing.

Story telling has always been a way to get things across.    HBR wrote and article on the dark side of it.

I thought this video was inspirational.   It is done in a storytelling way.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Brother's Weekend

I am just off a weekend with my brothers.  This is a 25+ year tradition.  We get together and solve the problems of the world (so it was a tough weekend), predict the future and then figure out how to influence it.   I actually ended up with too many things on my to do list from it.

And of course we have a lot of laughs, walk and play some cards.

We always miss my brother Mark who died in Dec 2008.  He was the one who started the idea of brother's weekend.  My other brothers are funny but Mark was hilarious.  He liked to have sport with us.

We grew up without TV but on occasion would see some somewhere.  He told me Road Runner had a foul mouth which is why they had all the beeps.  The show was a poor depiction of wildlife because road runners run at a top speed of 20 MPH compared to coyotes at 45 MPH.  Good to know what we spend our valuable time contemplating...

I am finding the sand and pebbles in my life are consuming too much of my time.  This is a concept pushed by Stephen Covey.  Some videos that best explain the concept here and here.  The little things for me are mostly email and calls.  But bigger time costs are meetings.

The big rocks for me would be strategy and planning and to some extent some of the marketing initiatives.

Because of Brother's Weekend, I am late getting through my emails.  I have developed a poor habit of leaving some email to clean up on the weekend and fairly consistently needing a few hours of weekend time to get caught up.

Proper use of weekend time should be on the big rocks or complete relaxation.

Of course I get more sand and pebbles even on the weekend.

Feeling tired but I figure if Josh and Xaview can work out, so can I.  Bet you have never seen a treadmill backward crawl.  I assume it is a new exercise he found on the internet.  I should try it.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


My refugee sponsorship story has gone international with mentions on BBC and The Guardian.

I did not do this project for fame or publicity.  At first I resisted publicity but now welcome it.  It helps leverage.  It helps get things done.

The downside is it generates a lot of volume.  People read it and ask for help.  Or people want to express an opinion.  And it adds pressure for me to be "perfect" and "profound".   I am just a regular person doing a tiny bit and even doing that imperfectly.  

So I have finally broken down and put up a donate page.  Lets see how much we can generate and how much good we can do.  The humanitarian crisis remains extreme.


A friend asked me how to maintain habits.  He was slipping.  My answer:

I find when my habits are too hard, I will slip on them.

EG - I do a form of HIT (High Intensity Training).  Short duration time wise but really hard.  When I change to a lesser workout, I stick to it and then sometimes step it up anyways.

My other cause of failure is when I move aside something that is important.  EG - At times I have scrimped on sleep to work out.  But the sleep is important and ends up winning in time.  

Other tricks - make it easier or tougher to do.  EG - get dressed in shorts and tshirt and wear sweat pants when you get up.  I usually eat fairly healthy when I am home because I have no unhealthy food on hand.  Yes, I could go out and get cookies or make them but it is a barrier.  

Or add reward or punishment.  I like tea.  I do not allow myself to drink tea until X is done.

I say to myself:

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

And a great article on the pace of change.   It includes a warning not to be complacent.   Change was fine at one time  but I have had quite enough of it - Anon

I am worried my grand daughter will never learn to fly properly holding the broom that way.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Checklist Manifesto

With New Years comes examination of my systems.

I read a book - Checklist Manifesto written by a doctor with many examples of how checklists save lives.  He implemented checklist in operating rooms by being inspired by airline pilot checklists.

It has inspired me to do my own checklist.  The one I am experimenting with is a weekly 1 page sheet with some things to do daily (like pushups and meditation) and others to do weekly (like checking in with key people).  For some of my weekly things I put more than once (like working out).  Ironically, I do not add everything I do daily - just the things that are not yet fully engrained.

So on first try, I got it wrong (as is often the case).  I did not even get through my checklist.  I was too ambitious which is one affliction I have.  It reminds me of "We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade".

I judge a book as good if it causes me to make a permanent change.  This feels like it might stick.  Will see.


A good friend from New York emailed me a story of "Man punches cougar outside of Tim Hortons to save his dog" saying - you don't see this in NY.

I replied "Too politically correct to punch cougars?"

She said "No a Tim Hortons"


And as if we needed any more reason to burn less coal.  Lower mercury levels.  As someone who is largely pescatarian (not to be confused with Catholic or Methodist) or pescovegetarian, mercury in fish is a concern.  For that matter - so is breathing. 

Article here.

Have a great 2017 and beyond.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Time Management Guest post


Indispensable Time Management Hacks to Get More Out of Your Work Day

I rarely use guest blog posts but I thought this one was quite good.  And my time management tip for me might be to use more guest blogs (since they take less time).  Thanks to Surepayroll for these tips.

- See more at:

Monday, December 12, 2016

New Years Resolutions

“Resolutions: So many will fail; NOT because they didn't set goals, but because they didn't set behaviors.” 
― Steve Maraboli

It is getting time to work on my goals.  I do not call them resolutions.  And I do them about 3-4 times per year.   I like to work on 3-5 goals at a time.  Each broken down with an action plan.

One rule I have is - it cannot be on my list unless I am prepared to spend an hour per week on it.  Of course for some, I spend way more than that.

I have get goals - things I strive for.  And stop goals (or reduce) - things I want to reduce.

We do things if there is more pleasure associated with doing them than not.  Or we do them if there is more pain caused by not doing them.  The pain part is emphasized in martial arts training - a bit if pain can motivate change.  So one trick is to add to the pleasure - EG - drink tea if I do do something or add to the pain - EG - not do something.  You get the idea.

I liked the quote because it is the behaviours that create the ultimate result.  As I call them - Success Habits.


A good video by Simon Sinek on managing Millennials.   I generally dislike "labelling" a group and assuming they are all the same.  That said, I have found good support of my Syrian project by my Millenial staff.  It has become the Danby purpose.  And it fits with "do the right thing" which is one of the things we emphasize at Danby.

Speaking of Syrian project.  We need lightly used sheets, towels and snow gear.  We also need rugs. We need new pillows.    Drop them off at Danby Guelph.

This is the most adorable video of my grand daughter doing a work out video with her mother.


And another granddaughter accessorizing her PJs for winter (inside no less).  

Monday, December 05, 2016

Password Fun

Please help my young videographer friend Liam who is doing his part to help Syrian refugees.  See his Indigogo campaign.  Speaking of helping refugees - I have learned though this process that rugs and carpets are as important to Syrians as kitchen tables.  If you have any lightly used ones, we need them.

I was visiting a Syrian family on the weekend and the 80 year old grandmother chose to sit on the floor rather than a chair.  I will be able to do the same if I can improve my flexibility by the time I am 80.
I always love snow.  This morning, it was perfect packing for a snowball fight but alas, my brothers do not live close by.  Lucky for them... or perhaps that is why.

Do not enjoy waking up in the dark which you can see in the background of the photo.

Passwords are a pain.  Different sites have different requirements.  Different sites have you change them.  Password recovery is painful and slow.  So the temptation is to use the same password on multiple sites - DON'T DO IT.  Imagine the poor Yahoo users whose login and passwords were stolen.  The bad guys can just set up scripts to automatically try logging into multiple bank accounts and eventually find success.

I use Password Tricks to allow me to remember them and to keep them different on each site.  My tricks are not so complex that any amateur cryptographer could not figure them out but I am trying to foil machines - not real people who would need to do real work.

Here are 4 increasingly complex ways to generate unique memorable passwords.  Each start with a unique string of characters, numbers and symbols (We will say password321$ for example purposes) - something I can remember then:

1 - append the name of the site on the end.  EG - password321$yahoo or password321$RBC

2 - append the name of the site backwards.  EG - password321$oohay or password321$CBR

3 - append the name of the site but on the keys above it on the keyboard.  EG - password321$7qu00 or password321$%HF

4 - Same as 3 but add 17+the number of characters in the string on the end.  EG password321$7qu0034 or password321$%HF32.

You get the idea.  I call it "fun with passwords" or "fun with keyboards".   The variations can be many.  And any amateur cryptographer could break mine but when I hit to publish button on this post, I will change them all to an even more difficult and secret variation - so don't even try to hack me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Our Reaction

Most things that happen - positive or negative happen because of our reactions.  It is not what happens - it is our reaction to it that is important.

I do not do politics.

The Trump victory will cause massive reactions in the stock market, housing prices, oil prices, gold prices, currency etc.  There will be great uncertainty while people try to figure out what is going to happen.  The reactions (and over reactions) are the issue.

The impacts are tough to know.  The US $ could weaken causing the Canadian $ to go up.  But the price of oil could weaken causing the Canadian $ to go down.  And the uncertainty in Canada could cause less buying.  In the end, it is impossible to figure out all the interactions.

Danby will do fine.  Danby has survived ups and downs and uncertainties.  Danby is actually better positioned than most companies.  We have significant business in Canada.  We are financially strong.

Leadership through these times usually calls for conservative and cautious thinking.  This, too, is a reaction that can cause less spending.  This is actually the natural reaction I have to this situation.   My frugal nature is well suited for difficult times.  This conservativeness can cause a shrinking in the economy which will allow conservatively managed companies to say "I told you so".

I have always thrived during times of high change - both up and down.  Change is opportunity.  This could be a period of high change.

Leadership at this times needs more fluidity.

But think.  Just because there are reactions happening, will you go hungry?  Will you have to live on the street?  You still have family and friends.  Count your blessings.  Now is the time to be zen.  Breathe.

If you do not have a gratitude journal, today is the day to start one.  Simply get a book and write in it all the things you are grateful for.

And know that time passes and things are always ok.

Be grateful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dealing with Conditions

I had a great COO working for me at SYNNEX who talked about "Conditions".  Conditions are those things which you cannot change - you can only choose how to react to them.  For example - the exchange rates or if an accident has already happened.  It is done - now you can only react to the Condition.  Or as someone once wrote "you cannot ought to have done anything".  Dwelling on the "ought to have done" does not change it or add any value except in tearing down your self esteem.

Some tips for dealing with Conditions:

1 - Compartmentalize.  Often the Condition is high stress.  Once you have done all you can do.  Leave it.  Do something to take your mind off it.  Try to not let it spill into other compartments of your life.

2 - Choose your reaction.  Often the reaction chosen can hurt you even more than the condition.  This is like the person who chooses to say "my life if ruined because...".  Why do they choose to let the Condition ruin their life.  The more they assume they have no choice but to take the reaction they have the more helpless they are.

3 - Count your blessings.  Most Conditions are not as catastrophic as we imagine.  As Mark Twain said "I have suffered from a lot of worries in my life - a few of which actually happened".  The grateful in this world are happier and more in control.

4 - Help someone who is worse off than yourself.  This helps with gratefulness.  Focus on someone else.

5 - Focus on making another part of your life better.  Just because a Condition happened in one area does not mean you need it to poison all of life.  Often you can build better in another area.

6 - Be logical.  Often by exaggerating what it really means, you can see that it is not as big of a deal as it feels like at the time.  Sometimes a calm and insightful mentor can help this.

7 - Break a sweat.  I find there is nothing like a good workout to help me get perspective back.  And there is no downside.

8 - Control what you can.  Even though the nature of Conditions is you cannot control them, there often are parts of it or other things you can control.  Control gives hope and a part of us always like to be "doing something to fix it".

9 - Take a break.  Often the weight of the condition colours our whole view on life.  If you have already done what you can, take a break.  Breaks rejuvenate.  Figure out what rejuvenates you.

Good luck dealing with your Conditions.
High blogger guilt.  Have not blogged lately.  I have been publishing some on Medium and Linkedin.  And have been invited to publish on Lifehack.

I am a big believer in Linkedin.  It is a platform that people keep their own contact information current so you never lose touch.  And it is also an easy way to stay top of mind with prospects and clients by publishing updates and articles.  I have started re-publishing articles I had previously written. See this one on replicable sales models.

My stats on articles published is about 5% of my Linkedin connections or about 300 people read the articles.  Of course not all readers need to be my connections since anyone can see them.  I suppose in a way, that builds brand and has more people see the Danby name.

One of my more successful Linked articles got 772 views.  Not sure exactly why it go so many.   It did not have a particularly clickable title (One Effective Hiring Technique you Likely do not use)

I am a self development person.  One author suggested he had success by using a login id which was his primary goal.  Interesting idea.  Article is here.  I have not tested the theory yet.

Some press on Touch Bistro.  And the second CNBC article with 8 entrepreneurs sharing business advice.

People think Xavier is smart because he knows the alphabet.  Big deal - I know the alphabet and no one says I am smart because I know the alphabet...

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Daniel Charles Maisonneuve Born Sept 10/2016

Headline says it all.  Brother to Baby Elizabeth who now likes to be called big sister Elizabeth.

Wondering what exciting things his life will bring.

Must be colder in Ottawa than here - he is wearing a hat.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Canadian Translator

Danby is Canadian.  People like to buy Canadian.  In Canada it means local.  In the US, it denotes quality and North American.  Everyone does not know Danby is Canadian and even if they do, they may not know our language.  We we put up a simple Canadian Translator.  Simply type in the word or phrase you want translated and it speaks back what that is in Canadian.

Try it out.

And ideally tweet it, re-blog it etc.  I want it to go viral and it is funny enough it might.


Speaking of marketing ideas,  I read a book - Do it! Marketing  - 77 Instant ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits and Crush Your Competition by David Newman.

As I have often said - I love marketing.  And even more - I love guerrilla marketing.  And I have no attention span so love a book with 77 instant ideas (many of which are guerrilla).   Because it is 77 independent ideas, it is a quick and easy read that can be picked up for a minute here and there.

i read to inspire ideas and this book did that so for me it is a good book.

One cute story paraphrased from the book - "Sell like a girl"

What can we learn from girl guides from how they sell cookies.

1 - It is who you know.  So as I have always said - nurture a network.

2 - Its not about the product.  I can attest to that - since they changed the recipe 20 years ago, I have not particularly liked them...but I buy them.

3 - Its not about price.  Girl scout cookies are easily 50+% higher than other cookies.

4 - Its not about need.  Who really needs cookies.

5 - Its not about competition.  Cookies are available in any grocery store.

6 - "When times are tough and things look quiet, that's the time to push harder than ever.  Girl guides know how to be persistent.

They did not mention - it helps to be cute to sell - will have to work on that one.

And a blatant plug for one of my investee companies that does employment pre-screening - Plum.  If you can save even one poor fit hire, it is worth screening with a tool like Plum.

And if you thought you had problems getting your luggage - check out the olympians returning home.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Disruptive Marketing book review

I read a book - Disruptive Marketing - What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers can Teach us about Navigating the New Normal by Geoffrey Colon.  (no - I did not make up the sub-title).

In short - I love it.  Partly I love it just because I love marketing.  But mostly I love it because Colon understands that marketing has changed and is changing.  The old time advertising model is dead.  people do not want to be interrupted.  Social media, and social interaction is the new normal.

Despite loving it, there was no clear answer on how to win in this new normal.  That part was not satisfying.

My favourite chapter was 12.  Learn, unlearn, relearn.   Earlier in the book, Colon had admonished people to not rely on their MBA or 30 years of experience.  The gist of chapter 12 is we need to be constant learners and as soon as we think we have learned something, we likely need to learn something different.

I liked a number of the quotes in the book (not only from the author but from other people).

"The most disruptive thing in the market is not technology, but rather the customer"  Tiffani Bova

"Adventure may hurt, but monotony will kill you"  Anon

"For every problem you are trying to solve, you should be asking more questions" Colon  In the same paragraph he talks about asking the question "what if".

"A true scare commodity is increasingly human attention"  Satya Nadella

"There is no failure in the new world of marketing - only learning" Colon

It was a great way for me to spend part of my weekend.  I am inspired (so now all the Danby staff will run away when they see me).

I listened to a short audio book on Habit Stacking.  Not worth listening to because I will tell you the gist of the message.  I have used it for years.

To start a new good habit (assuming you do not want to start new bad habits) - stack it to one you already do.  For example - every time you brush your teeth - do the new habit before or after.  And you can continue to stack on a number of new habits.

Make a list of the regular habits you have - showering (at least I hope this is one of your habits), brushing your teeth, getting in the car, shaving, getting out of bed etc.  Make a list of the habits you want to stack - meditating, drinking (water that is), balancing on one leg, pushups, sit ups, deep breathing etc.  And simply stack the good habits on the other habits.

And for those interested in decreasing risk of Alzheimers by 53% - a new diet.  Of course when you read about it, it really is just the same good diet that we have read about for years.
And for the child in everyone - the executive colouring book that I thought was hilarious.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Viral Coefficient in Social Media

I was approached by an entrepreneur who wanted to know how to make things go viral.  Actually he asked what are early signs that things might go viral.  The following is my reply.

I have occasionally experimented in how to make things go viral.  These same ideas apply to promoting a product like a book.

The obvious - develop a product with a viral co-efficient greater than 1 - meaning if you tell 100 people, you get more than 100 views or users.

My real life example.  I thought I would experiment with my Ted Talk (and the URL I point you to is not the original that had over 100,000 views).  I ended up with over a 10 times viral co-efficient when I sent a personal email to business friends.  For each one email, I got over 10 views.  But over time, that dropped because I was sending it to people I had less and less relationship to.  Eventually it went to less than 1.

One expression I always say is "light 1,000 fires".  A fire is anything that might start the ball rolling.  Examples(and certainly not a definitive list but a start):

1 - Do a blog entry on it.  Enlist other bloggers.
2 - Do a Linkedin update or aricle
3 - Facebook update
4 - Google Plus update (I think people still sometimes look at these)
5 - Do a Pinterest
6 - Send an email to a list or specific contacts
7 - Send a Tweet, tap your friends with a social media presence to help.
8 - do a snail mailing (they actually work again since email is deleted so quickly)
9 - for even better response send a personal note on the mailing.
10 - public speaking/presentations
11 - press release
12 - publish a white paper
13 - post about it on Quora
14 - Instagram
15 - Publish an article on eZine
16 - Do a flyer drop
17 - post handbills or signs
18 - advertise in papers, radio, TV, magazines etc
You get the idea.  Spread the word.  And of course all fires are not the same.  An article on my blog is not the same as an article in the NY Times (but over time, I think the NY Times can improve to be close).

And of course light many of these many times.  And track everything to figure out which ones work.  And you never really will know which one will cause something to go viral.

Part of what causes something to go viral is hitting the right target audience.  You may have a great product for 17 year olds in which case, try to light a fire where they are.  At the same time - especially during start up, you may think you know your target but it might be something different.  So try lots of everything.

With messaging services like Kik or a social media work out apps like Pumpup, a network effect can also kick (or kik) in.  Speaking of Kik - there is an interesting article on their bots.  The more people who use the service, the more people who will want to use it because there are more people connected.  It gets easier and easier to acquire users.

With productivity Apps like Gyst, there is some network effect in that more users will naturally tell others about it if they like it and are excited by it.

The formula gets complex though.  Viral things slow over time as all interested users use or view.  And with users, it is even more complex because it is all about keeping people using it.  Monthly Average Users is a key metric that people track.  So apps need to keep users interested so they remain active.  It is a constant push to add features, remind users, train users etc.

And part of success is about churn - how many users drop off over time.

And the topic of another blog post would be monetization.  Once you have users or what.

Olympics are on.  I do not follow them much.  Canada's Simon Whitfield and Brenda Irwin have some comment on their Relentless Blog.

And just a reminder - save the world, save yourself - eating lentils is healthy for you.
Inspired by my last blog on lighting fires without matches - my granddaughter with a tiny bit of assistance from her dad.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

I have previously commented on negative interest rates.  It turns out they have the opposite to the intended effect - people save - not spend.  Interest article on it here.

I was recently hiking on the beautiful Bruce Trail near Ancaster.  At the Sulphur Springs Rail stop information kiosk has a flyer for a kids summer camp.  It looked great:

Learn how to read maps.
Learn how to use a compass.
Learn how to make an emergency lean to.
Learn how to start a fire without matches.

Now I am thinking it looks perfect then:

Learn how to cook a hotdog over a fire.

Really?  I want to see the tough wilderness camper who has to stay in an emergency hand made shelter and make fire without matches who needs to know how to cook a hotdog over a fire.  Really - would you even be able to find a hotdog tree to get one in the first place if you were lost in the wilderness?

It reminded me of a satirical documentary about the pasta harvest.
I read a book - Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High.  Interesting book.  I found I already employed many of the techniques suggested.

I liked the respect prayer "Lord help me forgive those who sin differently than I"

Thursday, August 04, 2016


I have previously blogged about Bitcoin so was fascinated (and slightly distressed) that there was a $60,000,000 theft of them.

Someone once asked a bandit why they robbed the bank.  The answer "because that is where the money is".  So why Bitcoin?  Because that is where the money is.

It is distressing to see bad guys everywhere trying to disrupt things.

I had blogged about pokemon and the possible health benefits.  Well the first story is out - a guy lost 25 pounds playing the game.

I believe in gamification.   I am a big believer in success habits.  I am thinking of ways to gamify more of those.

Although I usually do not consider the Onion to be a definitive source of information, I think they may be right in the fighting skills of men.

I am reading with interest about negative yield bonds.  I am just not smart enough to figure out why someone would want to buy them.  I know in our business, many companies choose to sell products for a loss which I guess is the comparable.  Again, I am not smart enough to understand why selling below cost is smart.

It reminds me of guy who thought he would make his fortune off change machines.  He bought machines that when someone put in a $5 bill spit out 5 loonies.  He set up 2 of them at the carwash and expectantly went to count the $5 bills in the machines.  Tallied it all up and said "darn - just breaking even.  I need more machines so I can do more volume".

And to balance the world - Josh and Victoria.  You can tell - Josh particularly likes to sit still.  Good thing I work out so still have some arm strength left for holding my grandkids.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Pokemon comments, literacy and randomness

The garden is in full production I am enjoying bountiful harvests of herbs - thyme, basil, parsley, chives, tarragon etc.  And eating zucchini pancakes, soup, casserole, etc etc.   Poor tomato crop.  Fair bean crop.  Good beets and leeks.

Of course what is really going strong is crabgrass and most other weeds that seem persistent and resilient.  Thinking we could all learn lessons from them.  Perhaps I should author a book "Persist like a weed - how to keep growing despite setbacks".


The bird feeder is attracting cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches and even grackles.  But the birds here are Mennonite.   I know that because they dislike having their picture taken (or I would have included them).  And I have never seen one driving a car.


I am fascinated by consumer behaviour so am following the Pokemon Go craze with interest.  I like the idea of the game.  It is active and gets people off the couch.  It can be social and gets people interacting.  And it is not a shooting game.  So it all seems quite good.

I am not a gamer.  I just like the sociological study of them.

Where Pokemon may fail is as another device distraction.  People are having accidents through inattention.

It is interesting that one study says it has peaked.  It is also interesting how people are attached to the status quo already so object when changes are made as reported in this article.  Will have to see.

Trend or fad - we shall see.  Trying to figure out how to make a Danby Appliance trend.


People do what they see other people do.  So the question is - is reading a paper good (intellectual stimulation) or bad (over promotion of bad news).

I suspect she is doing this because the little chat we had when I suggested she was hurting statistics in Ontario by being illiterate.  Speaking of literacy - there is an upcoming event at the Tannery put on by the The Literacy Group (TLG)

Monday, July 18, 2016

More Customers - More Calls

I always say more companies and people fail from perfection than speed.

Of course for some things, like surgery, I want perfection.

Lack of perfection can cost time.  For example - Danby sells about 2,000,000 appliances per year.  If 1% of the customers have problems or questions, that is 20,000 calls or emails.  My experience is if those are not resolved perfectly and in a timely manner, many people contact the CEO (That would be me).  So any lack of perfection in our process costs me time.   So it makes sense to polish the process.

I am a big believer in closed loop.  If someone calls us, figure out the why and change the product, the label, the packaging - whatever the problem is so there are less calls.  Now the challenge with that is the manuals can become tomes since there is always someone with a unique problem that you could add to the manual.  The catch 22 here is - the longer the manual - the less it gets read.

And with Danby's introduction of table top appliances like smoothie blenders, electric kettles etc, the number of customers will climb dramatically.  So perfect process it is...

For those who greatly prefer email to texts (like me) because of the organization of it, I am enjoying using Gyst.  And yes, I invested in the company.

I had previously written on Bitcoin so was fascinated by the huge Block Chain Heist.  It is a real story of intrigue.  2 videos on the topic here and here.

And to counter balance all the worrisome things going on in the world, we have grandkids:

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Impossible to Ignore

I read a great book by Carmen Simon, PhD called Impossible to Ignore - Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions.

Of course I love marketing and SEO.   Simon is a Cognitive Scientist.  I am not smart enough to know exactly what that is but she writes scientifically (which I love) with proper research.  Much of the approach to me echoes what a psychologist would do.

Some examples she speaks about:

1 - Using the power of surprise to get attention.

2 - Using cues and tying to emotion.

3 - Creating distinctiveness.

4 - Of course creating memorability.  I enjoy the many funny beer ads.  You can search them on Youtube.  But after watching a few, I am not sure which company is advertising so they may make me remember the ad but not the beer which was the real purpose.  Take for instance this one.

5 - Visuals can work in both getting attention and in creating memory.  I am thinking of using this in some Danby freezer promotion.  Have a picture of an old freezer and a stream of money flowing from it down a drain next to a new one with perhaps a penny.

Simon has the advantage of hindsight.  It is always easy to see what great Content worked.  As I read the book I am thinking what can I do and the answers do not always flow as easily.

One challenging thought she has is we should not always be succinct.  (challenging for me anyways since I always preach about the power of brevity)

From the book:

Short feels good but it is not always memorable.

If we aim for gist memory, the standards of length are looser.  We can get away with more content. as long as at least one main message is clear and we draw attention to it often.  And if the content is complex, we don't need to sacrifice all the complexity; we just need to ensure that we return frequently to that one main message we would like our audience to retain.

Good book - I enjoyed it.

I had a great long weekend with family.  My brother posted this picture of himself with my granddaughter on facebook.  Such shameless posting - just for likes.

Friday, June 24, 2016

My 2 bits on Bitcoin and Brexit

I am highly worried about Brexit even though I buy nothing and sell nothing in England and rarely go there.  I have almost no interaction although I do know a few people who speak English.

I worry the ripple effect of the vote will cause a worldwide recession.  We are in delicate times and it does not take much to turn psychology.  A turn in psychology will cause a slowing which will cause a drop in oil price which will cause the Canadian $ to drop.

We live in an interconnected world.

I had a private presentation by Alex Tapscott on his new book - Blockchain Revolution - How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World.  Then, of course, I read his book.

Bitcoin is likely to be big.  Block Chains will be bigger.  I behooves us to understand them.

Blockchains use distributed nodes like the internet.  They create a public ledger of transactions.  All transaction tie onto the previous one.  So it is perfect in tracking true ownership.  So it would work great in a land registry.  This makes it almost impossible to fraud since any change requires changing all previous parts of the chain which is almost impossible to do.

Bitcoin is based on Block Chain.  Block Chain is the technology - Bitcoin is the currency.

Every 4 years, the number of Bitcoins issued decreases by half.  Bitcoin tops out at 21,000,000 Bitcoins.  The argument can be made that this will make it an appreciating currency rather than a depreciating on.

One argument that is used both for and against Bitcoin is it is not controlled by the government.   The issue with currencies that are government controlled is they can just issue more currency and devalue what is now out there.  Governments generally dislike anyone but themselves issuing currency and there is a long history of stopping anyone else who tries to issue currency.  Of note - the creator of Bitcoin has not come forward but remains an anonymous pseudonym.  It will be interesting to see how Bitcoin plays out in that.

If I have issues with Bitcoin:

 1 - I still do not understand the math (and I have read much more about the topic than just this book). My experience is often things that are too complex to understand are not real or lacking.

2 - If I understand how it works - it uses complex calculations to slow things down so the proper priority registration can happen.  Right now, that takes a lot of computing power and electricity (so I object as an eco-dweeb) and I believe in Moore's law.  So it may soon not be viable since the methodology will not be slow enough.

3 - I worry that digital methodologies will get obsoleted over time.  For example, I had VCR tapes of my kids playing and converted them to CD but will I even be able to play those in another decade?  So might the money be lost?  While we are on that topic, I still have hundreds of audio cassettes of my first book Time Leadership - Using the Secrets of Leadership for Time Management" - I am thinking of putting them on sale.

4 - I worry it could be a bit of a Ponnzi.  Early entrants get Bitcoins cheap so want others to use the currency that becomes scarcer and scarcer which makes the value increase.  But it could be like tulip bulbs.

Tapscott has sections in his book where he denigrates the "middlemen".  As someone who has been a middleman all my life, I believe middlemen add value.  Where they should be cut out is where the charges for the value are not fair.  And the middleman business is highly competitive so people are always figuring out ways to reduce their costs.  Still sometimes I wish I were more of an Oscar Meyer Weiner (so everyone would be in love with me)

One of my friends, Mark Jeftovic from EasyDNS had sent me a related provocative audio book on commerce and money - "A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating jobs for All The Future Belongs to Work that is Meaningful" by Charles Hugh Smith (If I were Charles Smith, I would use my middle name too).   You would have thought they could have come up with a longer title.  Mark and I had discussed the future of payments and money.

I have always thought the best way to make money was to start a government or a religion now I add to that - a currency.

Speaking of government - Danby got a license to use the Canada 150 year logo and included in it was a clause that we cannot represent ourselves as being the government.  So instead of sending out those tax bills like I had planned, we will just have to sell more freezers.

Loving Audible and love the speed up feature.  I listen to books at +20% so a 5 hour book takes me only 4 hours.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Bullet Journal

I really do not have original ideas.  Even my Ted Talk emphasized that.  The next 2 concepts were emailed to me by friends.  Thanks!

I love technology...and I don't.  So I was very impressed with the Bullet Journal concept.  I have been using a system like this for years which I simply evolved for myself.  EG - I have a series of symbols I use to indicate things like "send an email".  

The Bullet Journal has a well thought out system (way better than what I do - and better thought out).  So no point in sharing my system which is not as comprehensive.

The video on the Bullet Journal page is worth watching.

Let me know in a month if you continue to use this system.

There is a great article in HBR on the inefficiency of email.    The compelling title is "Some Companies are banning email to improve Productivity"!

One line I love in the article - "email as a new form of knowledge pollution".

I know email can distract.   I also know it can contribute to "busy work" at the detriment of accomplishing larger and more important things.

I think rather than killing email, it is best to develop killer systems for managing the volume.  Simple disciplines like blocking no-email times and only checking email at specific times.  Email is still more efficient that phoning or speaking to someone.  I once read a stat that a person could do 7 times more email than phone conversations.  I think even that is low.

Send me an email with your thoughts on this article.

And the gardens are growing:

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

What is in a Tag Line? Do the Right Thing

I recently read a book (big surprise) that had a list of taglines and that got me thinking.  Do taglines work if they are just words?  Or does the company have to do something to earn the right to their tagline?

In some cases, I think just having the tagline works - when it is in sync with what we think the company is.  For example:

Just do it - Nike (they stole that one from me before I thought of it)
Quality never goes out of style - Levi
Challenge everything - EA (Genius for a video game company)
Live in your world, play in ours - Playstation
The greatest tragedy is indifference - Red Cross

Some that resonate less with me:

There is no substitute - Porsche  (well actually there is - for example a Prius.  And if you want a sports car, go with a red Prius like me).

Between love and madness lies obsession - Calvin Klein (I did not know madness was the opposite of love and is obsession really a good thing?  I think that is why they invented the restraining order and 12 step programs)

When you care enough to send the best  - Hallmark  (I hate to say it, if that's the best you have...)

I'm loving it - McDonalds (do I really need to comment?)

Open Happiness - Coca Cola (is sugar, cavities, obesity really that happy?)

Interestingly, the taglines I did not know - McDonalds and Coke resonated the least.

I did just do a blog entry mentioning all these companies by name so they get the free press and massive surge in business that will result.  So in that sense - taglines work.

For Danby and DDE Media the tagline or mantra is "We Do the Right Thing".   We came up with this after being repeatedly asked why the Syrian thing?  Obviously - because we do the right thing.  And in business, it applies to almost everything.  How do you treat co-workers?  How do you treat customers?  Is the product good value?  etc.  It can be used to answer almost any question.

People often approach me for investment advice.  This is what I currently suggest: