My 3 Words for 2018

It’s that time of year. You’re thinking: “how can I make this a better year than last?” Maybe you need a resolution. But no, I’ve found that New Years Resolutions rarely survive the first six or seven days of January. Which is why I started the My 3 Words practice back in 2006. Let me share it with you!

What is the My 3 Words Process?

Every year, at the beginning of the year, choose 3 words that have personal meaning to you that you will use as guideposts for your chosen path forward in the coming year. Make the words such that they influence your choice of actions, encourage you to decide in favor of your goals, and guide you towards lasting results that you want to experience throughout the year.

Write these words down. Post them everywhere. Schedule them to pop up in your calendar. And use these words as part of your decision-making process every day.

How do you Choose Your Words?

The words that you select for My 3 Words are meant to serve as lighthouses to guide you through foggy moments. To that end, it’s important to pick words that have enough meaning that you’ll snap your perspective into alignment with them and build out your days, weeks, months, and year accordingly.

What does that look like?

Let’s say you want to lose 30 pounds in 2018. Maybe one of your words is “green.” It reminds you to fill half your plate with nutritious green vegetables and fresh fruits at every meal, and to make your snacks more healthy, as well.

Maybe you need to focus on your creative projects, like that podcast you’ve been threatening to launch. The word “focus” isn’t bad, but maybe the word “voice” is better, as in “people will benefit from hearing your voice.”

No matter which words you select, make sure they have personal meaning to you that can guide your choices of how you spend your time and which efforts you focus on.

A Couple Quick No-Nos from Lessons Learned

This is just an exercise I created. I’m not some kind of word-warden. But I’ve got over a decade of experience in people’s reported-back results as well as my own. I can tell you some of what doesn’t work well.

  • Can I pick two words? Four? – You can do whatever. I’ve found 3 works best.
  • My 3 words are a phrase: stop the donkey – Phrases often waste one of 3 precious and powerful words. Why waste a year long focus by making “the” a word?
  • Can I change my words mid-year? – You CAN, but most people who do this report having a less-than-successful year.
  • I just want to repeat last year’s words – Are you planning on repeating last year’s results? Has the world changed at all? (Not recommended, but even I repeat sometimes.)
  • I forced mine to be an acronym: BIG – Cool, if all three words work for you. Not as cool if you picked a word to sacrifice a space just so you could spell “big.”

Again, you do you, but that’s what I’ve experienced.

Previous 3 Words from Me

2006 – Ask. Do. Share
2007 – Seek. Frame. Build. Bridge (yes, that was 4. It also was a less successful year.)
2008 – Believe. Loops.Farm
2009 – Equip. Armies. Needles
2010 – Ecosystems. Owners. Kings
2011 – Reinvest. Package. Flow
2012 – Temple. Untangle. Practice
2013 – Walt. Ender. Monchu
2014 – Lifestyle. Monchu. Black.
2015 – Plan. Leverage. Fabric.
2016 – Home. Shine. Win.
2017 – Move.Voice.Game

My 2017 wasn’t so great. It was a lot like 2016, if I squint. I refuse to let 2018 follow suit.

My 3 Words for 2018

And now, here are My 3 Words for 2018:

Ritual – I’ve fallen away from developing habits and operational tempo in my days. I need to build back rituals and make them the guts of how I structure my life and living. This also reminds me to place great strength and power into the simple matters of life, like choosing what I eat and drink, and ensuring that I treat my life as if I’m making moments instead of just clicking off hours.

Execute – Push the button. Make something happen. Take action. I’ve felt a bit sluggish in 2017. Time to power back up. Execute is a reminder to move and take action and do something instead of just think about it. Have the difficult conversations.

Value – Create value. Make sure my time is dedicated to creating value. Build more and more value for myself and others. Help companies see the value in the projects I intend to help them execute in 2018. That’s the big plan. Be clear that I value myself more.

So, those are my words. They’re personal to my challenges, my efforts, what I want from my family and my life and my business. Yours will be your own, of course.

Share YOUR 3 Words for 2018

I’d LOVE to see what you come up with for 2018. Use the hashtag #my3words and share links to your posts or just your Tweets, your IG posts, or whatever. Wherever you communicate with the world, share your #my3words with us, so we can see what each other comes up with!

I look forward to seeing yours!

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Amazon Alexa, The Need for Better CRM, and Trust

Amazon Alexa and Google Home have the same problem: they can do some really clever things that make them feel “real” to us, but the illusion is easily shattered. You might think “So what? That’s Amazon’s and Google’s problem.” But the thing is you need this, too.

Smart Speakers Aren’t All That Smart

I can say, “Alexa, who am I?” She’ll say back, “You told me your name is Chris.” I can then say, “Alexa, my son’s name is Harold.” She will say: “Sorry. I can’t help you with that.” Meaning that the information really has nowhere to go. But this context is important. Let me explain out.

First, Alexa DOES know my voice from other people’s voices. If my son Harold says, “Alexa, who am I?” she won’t be able to answer it. She doesn’t reply that he is Chris.

So that means that somewhere there’s a data “match” to my voice. Meaning, there’s some record stored in Alexa that says “Chris Brogan” is logged into this Alexa unit and I have a matching voice print for what I’m expecting him to sound like. Right?

But why, then, does Amazon need my “voice password” when I order something with Alexa? If she knows my voice is different than my son’s, why does she need a four digit passcode? Isn’t my voice a pretty good passcode? I guess “someone” could record my voice or splice up recordings to sound like I’m ordering them a Bugatti. So maybe that’s why. But I think it’s because Alexa was built to be dumber than we think.

(Note: every single time I’m saying Alexa, I mean Alexa/Google/Siri/Cortana)

And every time I’m talking about these big companies, I want you to think about YOUR place in this, because that’s upon you faster than you think. Voice interaction is here now. Amazon Echo and Echo Dot were the #1 purchased Christmas gift in 2017 on Amazon’s site, and the Alexa app was the most downloaded app on both the iTunes and Google Play store the next day.

Our CRM Needs to Get Smarter

Every company that sells something has a Customer/Client Relationship Management software (CRM). Whether or not they want it, they keep some kind of record of your purchase history tied to a phone number or a credit card or an email address. I suppose in more modern systems we can set the “unique key” to whatever we think will be most permanent. But every system has records of this nature.

But if you look at these, they are often mostly “dumb” data. You bought this thing on that date. You paid with this form of payment. The product was shipped there. All good to know, but not really smart enough.

I’ll tell you a simple one. “Alexa, my son’s name is Harold. Say hi to Harold.”

I want Alexa to be able to store that data record and link it for me. I want to be able to say, “Alexa, did Harold add anything to his wish list last night?” Hell. I want him to be able to say, “Good morning, Alexa” and her answer back, “Hey Harold.”

A lot of hotels are starting to add the option to use your favorite Internet apps there as well. When I check into the Residence Inn, I stick my Netflix (or Hulu or YouTube, etc) account into the room TV so I can binge Peaky Blinders on the big screen instead of my laptop.

Some hotels are adding smart speakers to their rooms so I can ask Alexa everything I ask her at home. (I’m in a hotel room writing this and I’ve tried talking to her about six times so far.) But will those also be tied to my account? And will it know I’m in a different location? And will my skills already be transferable to it?

Remembering is Part of Trust

This is basic, but also deeply true. Ask Jacq. If she tells me something she thinks is important and I forget what it was she told me, it hurts her feelings. She takes every instance of me forgetting (which happens a lot) as a slight against our relationship.

We humans tend to feel this way. We want to be known. We want to be remembered. I told you I’m staying in a hotel room as I write this. I’ve been to this property probably 20+ times over the last year. When I walk through the door, I want pretty much everyone working to give me that “Norrrrrm!” greeting (from Cheers – it was a TV show. Look it up!).

So when chatbots and robots and voice apps can’t remember the absolute basics, it FEELS (and we definitely do feel emotions around these technologies) like someone (your company) has forgotten us. That feeling is massively negative to some and simply negative to many. If you treat me like a first time buyer, it shows me what little value you place on my loyalty or commerce.

Start with CRM

At this point, you might not be building your own chatbots, but what has to come first no matter what is a better way to store and access the data that will make the experience better for all those involved. The ability to capture non-sales-related data and “knowledge” about your customer, I believe, will be the most overlooked competitive business opportunity of 2018 and beyond.(tweetable)

This isn’t massively hard work. Build in some fields to capture some more potential information, when available. Allow it to have flexible labeling sometimes. Because my example was “son” doesn’t mean that someone wants to add in “dog” and “stepdaughter” and “crazy uncle.” And then keep working out what other information might be useful to store that benefits both you and your buyer.

I promise that as “smart” speakers proliferate, the novelty phase will wear off quickly. We will not only demand more of companies using bots and voice interfaces, but we’ll gravitate towards those companies who treat us through these artificial interfaces like we matter and like we belong. The gee whiz phase is now. You still have time. Help make the distance between your business and me smarter. Please?

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China’s Character of the Year. How Machines Learn. Bruce Lee and Freddy Mercury – The Brief for 12.28.17

Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 12/28/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

The goal of these posts is that there are trends and ideas here that might impact your business now or soon. Think on the stories here and look for ways to adjust your business accordingly. If ever you’re stuck, get in touch with me and I can help.

This live video was all shot using Ecamm Live (client), the best way to do Facebook Live for Mac.

Please note that all links may be affiliate links. If someone is a client, I’ll call that out specifically.

Stories Shared

My SPONSOR for today? Brogan’s Bakery in Ireland. I really really hope they’re related to me!

I found this nifty video explaining how machines learn. It’s worth the watch when you’re eating something or waiting to pick someone up.

The number one gift purchase this Christmas seems to be the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. Now’s a good time to think about whether you should teach everyone to be polite to robot helpers.

Shout out to Chick-Fil-A for breaking one of their important rules to feed people strated at an airport. While I don’t agree with the company for a few other reasons, I appreciate their sticking to their values.

What’s the big push in marketing and customer service? AI linked chatbots are now a huge part of most CMO’s radars as they consider the coming year.

More than 50% of food in Africa is wasted, even while millions starve. Here’s a project to fix that a bit, and it’s something we should consider, too.

These five hospitality trends for 2018 are worth a gander.

This isn’t newsworthy. It’s just the best News bloopers of 2017.

I couldn’t not share this. It’s basically toy Bruce Lee and toy Freddie Mercury up to some shenanigans.

Matt shared an all senior citizen CounterStrike team called the Silver Snipers.

And finally, some breathtaking geek art.

Hey, if this has been interesting, consider picking up my weekly newsletter. It’s all unique ideas by me about how to improve buyer interactions and grow your business. Give it a peek

What ELSE is News?

You want to get featured on the Chris Brogan Media show? Drop me an email: and let me know what’s news!

Please Get My Newsletter

My newsletter is the best work I do every week. You can get yours here.

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YouTube’s Search Year in Review. AI’s Secret Workers. TSA’s Craziest Confiscations – The Brief for 12.17.17

Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 12/17/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

The goal of these posts is that there are trends and ideas here that might impact your business now or soon. Think on the stories here and look for ways to adjust your business accordingly. If ever you’re stuck, get in touch with me and I can help.

This live video was all shot using Ecamm Live (client), the best way to do Facebook Live for Mac.

Please note that all links may be affiliate links. If someone is a client, I’ll call that out specifically.

Stories Shared

Google shares its year in search, and the question was “how.”

Who are the humans behind AI? Oh, there are plenty. It’s a whole industry.

Um, so companies were using robots to shoo away homeless people, but enough people complained, so now it’s fired.

This is true/neat/worth thinking about. We are approaching media saturation. What happens when that happens?

Want to know a cool way to use YouTube? This 8 year old girl reads to sick kids with it. Cool, right?

Good news for podcasters. Apple has at long last released analytics that you can argue are wrong.

Watson is a supercomputer. You can do something really cool with unstructured data with it. Will this be how we finally start seeing our customers?

On to the troubling. Computers and AI are getting good at making believable fake porn. There was an 80s sci fi movie that postulated this, but now? It’s here.

Lighter note time. Here’s a look at some of the TSA’s top confiscations for 2017.

I wait all year for DJ Earworm’s State of Pop. Only this year, I don’t know that many of the songs.

Maybe I should just stick with Galactic Empire, a Star Wars Metal Band.

Hey, if this has been interesting, consider picking up my weekly newsletter. It’s all unique ideas by me about how to improve buyer interactions and grow your business. Give it a peek

What ELSE is News?

You want to get featured on the Chris Brogan Media show? Drop me an email: and let me know what’s news!

Please Get My Newsletter

My newsletter is the best work I do every week. You can get yours here.

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Trans People Can Serve in the US Military. Disney Buys Fox (Mostly). Chipotle Woes- The Brief for 12.14.17

Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 12/14/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

The goal of these posts is that there are trends and ideas here that might impact your business now or soon. Think on the stories here and look for ways to adjust your business accordingly. If ever you’re stuck, get in touch with me and I can help.

This live video was all shot using Ecamm Live (client), the best way to do Facebook Live for Mac.

Please note that all links may be affiliate links. If someone is a client, I’ll call that out specifically.

Stories Shared

Trans people have won the right to serve in the US military, at least for now.

Disney just paid $54 billion-ish for a huge chunk of fox. Why? Here’s a few reasons.

As much as Chipotle thought queso (their attempt) would woo people back to the embattled restaurant, the response has been more ew than woo.

Google has updated their SEO guide. This is dry reading but useful, if you want a better sense of what SEO does for you.

Will this trend come to other places like San Francisco? BMW built a micro apartment for their employees in Shanghai, and it’s actually kinda interesting.

I talk about AI and it often feels abstract. Here are a couple photo editing apps that give you a sense of what AI does as an app.

Credit unions are the bomb. Better than banks. But how will they attract the Millennials? I think it’s harder than it looks.

Personalization is the next huge wave in marketing. But there might be a kind of uncanny valley issue.

You know how sometimes something gets famous and then we all make fun of it? It’s easy to forget that these are humans. Rebecca Black is out there doing some interesting work based on this and it’s worth your time.

What will happen when AI can write our books for us? Here’s a Harry Potter attempt. It’s. Well. Click that link.

Cosplay? Yes, please. Here’s a remix of Mario-themed cosplay! Because why not?

Hey, if this has been interesting, consider picking up my weekly newsletter. It’s all unique ideas by me about how to improve buyer interactions and grow your business. Give it a peek

What ELSE is News?

You want to get featured on the Chris Brogan Media show? Drop me an email: and let me know what’s news!

Please Get My Newsletter

My newsletter is the best work I do every week. You can get yours here.

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Video Game Scholarships. Black Spider-Man. The Future of Cashless Commerce – The Brief for 12.11.17

Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 12/11/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

The goal of these posts is that there are trends and ideas here that might impact your business now or soon. Think on the stories here and look for ways to adjust your business accordingly. If ever you’re stuck, get in touch with me and I can help.

This live video was all shot using Ecamm Live (client), the best way to do Facebook Live for Mac.

Please note that all links may be affiliate links. If someone is a client, I’ll call that out specifically.

Stories Shared

Your kid play a lot of video games? Do YOU? You can maybe get a scholarship for that.

Lytro is dead. Sometimes the bleeding edge means you’ll lose memories. Is that worth it?

I learn a lot from looking at Africa. The cashless economy points to some interesting trends, because they’re actually ahead of us in some ways.

And hey, with all this Bitcoin mania, it’s important to remember that bank robbery comes with all technologies.

This is so brief. I’ll explain it in the video. This is smart engineer humor about the Internet of Things and security.

Now this is nuts. 3D printing wifi? I still can’t fully figure this out. I’ll let Chris Garrett at Maker Hacks sort it out first.

They say all publicity is good publicity. Sean Spicer making fun of Dippin Dots SOLD LOTS OF DOTS for the company.

Sometimes, my creative friends want to invent the world. This app shows you that sometimes, a really simple small idea can change the world in even bigger ways.

It’s the end of the year, so YouTube has released their 2017 Rewind video. While it’s interesting, I saw several videos that were more interesting. I’ll explain in the video above.

Nerd alert. You can mix Destiny 2 with Alexa and get this cool game-based voice assistant. Here’s why this is interesting: usually this is tech for little kids.

Congrats to Sony for putting the new Miles Morales Spider-Man on screen. Okay, so it’s animated, but it’s a good move!

Hey, if this has been interesting, consider picking up my weekly newsletter. It’s all unique ideas by me about how to improve buyer interactions and grow your business. Give it a peek

What ELSE is News?

You want to get featured on the Chris Brogan Media show? Drop me an email: and let me know what’s news!

Please Get My Newsletter

My newsletter is the best work I do every week. You can get yours here.

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What I Learned About Domains From a Bad GoDaddy Experience and What ANY Business Can Learn From How It Was Handled

You should know that I rarely choose to use the privilege of your attention to bark at companies that rub me the wrong way, but when Jacqueline told me about her GoDaddy problem, I knew that I had to lay it all out in a post and get loud about it. While the problem is technically resolved, there’s a lot to learn from this and I have a lot to share with you.

First, I’ll Recap With New Understanding

So here’s what happened (corrected) from my perspective:

  • Jacq purchased a new domain name from, a domain “registrar” that listed the price of this domain as $99.99 (There’s more to this later)
  • GoDaddy sent Jacq a confirmation that the transaction went through
  • Behind the scenes, the domain registry for .health (the domain Jacq bought) KICKED OUT THE TRANSACTION saying roughly that they won’t accept the price (Again, more later)
  • GoDaddy sent Jacq an automated email a day later saying “Hey, we took that domain transaction out of your account” (horrendously worded and a big opportunity), thus REMOVING THE DOMAIN FROM JACQ’S account.
  • Jacq called customer service and was 1.) given bad information, 2.) refused a supervisor call or any further follow-up
  • I wrote a grumpy blog post and shared it to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Friends of mine reminded me who I actually know at GoDaddy (including great folks like Christopher Carfi and Heather Dopson). They started shaking some cages.
  • I get offered a call from GoDaddy
  • Johnny from the CEO’s office calls (because hey, angry blogger influencer type).
  • I get a lot of interesting information (covered below for YOU)
  • GoDaddy refunds my purchase and essentially gifts me/Jacq the domain (which wasn’t my goal whatsoever, but hey thanks, GoDaddy).
  • Just for fun automation facts, GoDaddy sends Jacq an email this morning saying hey, you abandoned your cart *for* so here’s a coupon if you complete the transaction. (Um.)

So that’s what happened.

Second, Some Facts About Domain Purchases

I learned a bunch from Johnny at the CEO’s office. (Jacq points out that GoDaddy should’ve offered to call HER not me, and she’s not wrong, but points for the phone call. GoDaddy has still not apologized to Jacq for this beyond a quick tweet. Apologies go a long way in these situations.) More on this in the next section. — **UPDATE: Mike from the CEO’s office called Jacq directly and resolved this.**

GoDaddy is a Registrar. They’re like the real estate agent for website addresses. When you purchase a domain from GoDaddy (or any registrar), they basically take your money, then issue a command to the Registry (the company that holds the actual domain real estate), get a confirmation, and then everyone agrees that you now own that domain.

.health is a Registry. dotHEALTH LLC is the company that can set the prices and make available the various permutations of that domain space. So if I want to buy, I can go to my Registrar (GoDaddy), see the price listed there, and give GoDaddy money. GoDaddy then sends a note to .health and says, “Hey we just bought for $69.99 so take that name out of circulation. We’ll use it.”

.health sets the prices and then GoDaddy is allowed a bit of a markup. This is business. That’s always what happens. Some domains are normal. Others are premium. The Registry sets which domain names carry a higher price in a database and then the Registrar just bumps up that price a bit to cover their costs. (Be really clear here: the Registrar has to make some money on this transaction or they’d go out of business.)

The handshakes are, in simplest form, like this:

  1. Customer visits registrar.
  2. Customer checks availability of domain name. (Registrar checks with Registry)
  3. Registrar probably issues a very brief temporary “hold” on that domain so that no one else takes it during this transaction. (I didn’t confirm this.)
  4. Customer sees listed price that Registrar displays based on data from Registry+markup
  5. Customer clicks purchase and confirms financial details.
  6. Registrar confirms the purchase on screen.
  7. Registrar emails confirmation to customer.
  8. Registrar messages Registry and says, “Give us that domain. Here’s the price.”
  9. Registry normally says “Hey sure. Here’s the domain. Thanks.” (***)
  10. Transaction is complete.

What happened to Jacq (and/or what could happen to you) is this:

  • Registrar displays price. Jacq buys at that price.
  • Registrar tells Registry “Hey, give us that domain at that price.”
  • (***)Registry tells Registrar, “Wait. That’s not the price in our system. Reject this.”
  • Registrar then cancels the order and refunds Jacq (spitting the domain back into the available domain pools).
  • Registrar emails Jacq saying they canceled her order (with a really poorly worded email).
  • Upset Jacq.
  • Jacq calls customer service and gets bad/wrong information and no further recourse. Is told basically that instead of $99.99, the domain now costs $649, which makes Registrar look greedy, bad, wrong, and deceptive.
  • Angry Jacq. Angry Chris. Grumpy blog post.

Now, I want to walk through what needs to change in this, and some really good opportunities for Registrars such as GoDaddy and others. (This could’ve likely happened with any Registrar.)

Finally, How to Improve the Domain Purchasing Process

I have to say this up front: if this whole thing operated on a blockchain, this wouldn’t have happened this way. But that’s for the future. Let’s talk about now.

  1. GoDaddy must improve the process of price verification before putting available domains up on their site. If the price says $99.99, then that’s the price. No matter who’s at fault here (and it seems like it might be .health from what I was told), the price facing the customer must be honored by the vendor taking that money.
  2. The availability/purchase experience is clearly done in some kind of batch format and not real time. With something as important as a domain purchase, there either must be a real time option available OR there has to be a lot more/better communication flow explaining this experience. (Jacq and I have been buying domains for years – she has hundreds of them – and we never knew about this Registrar-Registry handshake and opportunity for rejection until now.)
  3. This can’t have been the first time someone went through this. A customer service refresh training has to happen.
  4. Customer service should never deny a supervisor or a supervisor callback. Ever. Resolution is far more cost effective than leaving a customer in a bad state. Dozens and dozens of people shared their frustrating stories of no resolution with GoDaddy upon reading my article. The whole reason I posted this was to flag that “regular” people who aren’t loudmouth bloggers/influencers wouldn’t have been able to resolve this easily. Nothing in Jacq’s experience shows otherwise.
  5. GoDaddy’s BIG opportunity here is to live up to their own positioning and advertising. Jacq is a woman-owned small business who trusted GoDaddy to secure a domain for her project at the price they listed on their site. They failed to do that. They sent the worst error handling automated email I’ve seen to date. They failed to fix this via customer service. This ended up requiring a lot of escalation for something that could’ve been handled a lot cleaner and better and with a satisfactory resolution for the woman-owned small business person trusting GoDaddy with over a hundred of her other domains. And so far, beyond a tweet, they haven’t contacted Jacq directly to apologize. They handled their PR issue (me).**UPDATE: Mike from the CEO’s office called Jacq directly and resolved this.**
  6. Validate the prices upon inventory loading. This is 100% the PROBLEM part. GoDaddy(Registrar) lists one price in their system and .health(Registry) has a conflicting price. To be utterly honest, if the price started at $650, Jacq would’ve bought it without flinching. She and I both own a few premium domains. But you can’t say $99. Oh wait. $650. It doesn’t work that way.
  7. Explain the process in the purchase flow. 1. check availability. 2. purchase. 3. confirm order. 4. confirm transaction. If this can’t be handled in real time, then make the process flow better align with the communication flow. <– This right here is the bigger part of the frustration. An error occurred. But it could’ve been better managed, even with automation, and not require this level of human intervention and frustration.

Technology isn’t the story here. It’s improving the buyer experience. The farmer says the apples are ten cents. The grocer says the apples cost a five cents. The customer gives the grocer five cents and the grocer hands that to the farmer who says, “No! I said ten cents. Remember?” The grocer sheepishly eats the five cents this time, fixes the signs, and makes a process to ensure that everyone knows the price next time. How bout them apples?

A Final Note on Influence

For years, the way I’ve approached working with the companies I’ve had the pleasure to serve has centered around a really simple concept: “I just want every company to treat my mom better.”

I say it like this because at the heart of everything I’ve ever taught is that our job is to improve the buyer experience and serve our customers.

When I choose to go loud like this and complain at a company, it’s for one purpose: someone without as much of a spotlight and voice as I have didn’t find a straightforward resolution with a company they trusted to serve them and they’re frustrated.

I’m grateful that Heather Dopson and Christopher Carfi and others got the CEO’s office on the line and resolved this. But more than anything else in the world, I want the next person who chooses to trust GoDaddy with their business to know that THEY will be treated better than Chris Brogan whether or not they can tweet to 365,000 people.

“We treat you better than we’d treat Chris Brogan.”

That’s the goal.

And one last detail that Jacq pointed out: while it was me with the bullhorn and who went loud and who raised the ruckus, the CEO’s office didn’t reach out to Jacq. They didn’t try to talk to the customer they wronged. Just the guy who was bitching loudest. I’m glad I got the call, but Jacq would’ve preferred to have been treated like the primary focus of this. (Just a note for future such opportunities.)

I know this post was long. I had a lot to explain. I’m sorry about eating up your time like this but I hope it helped. If you need to reach me, I’m always at

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Out with the old, in with the new. There’s a new website in town.

Out with the old, in with the new. There’s a new website in town.

The Brandbuilder blog is dead. (Long live The Brandbuilder blog!)

Here’s the short of it: this blog was in serious need of an overhaul, a redesign, a rebranding, and a more appropriate url. I always found reasons to put it off (though in all fairness, I have been pretty busy with other things) but sooner or later, you just have to push the go button on things. It’s been a long time coming. (I have a lot of other pretty cool news to share with you, but one thing at a time.)

I hope that you’ll enjoy the new blog format (3 instead of just one): business topics (not just social business and brand management), general topics, and writing. (You’re about to find out part of the reason why.) The other sections are about me and the work I do, so pay them no mind. 😉

Before you all run on over to check it out, I want to thank you for your hundreds of thousands of visits and the gazillion insightful comments over the years. You’ve all taught me a lot. Here’s to many more years of great discussions. Cheers to all.

Now get out of here and check out the new site. Go on. Shoo!


Game Change: Moneyball And The Reality Of Social Business.

While the new site is being built and I am on a well deserved workation, here is a piece from the vault that you will find just as relevant today as it was when I first posted it. Back by popular demand, Game Change: Moneyball and the reality of social business.

I finally watched Moneyball over the weekend. I’m not a big baseball fan but it held my interest, partly because it was based on a true story and partly because the movie really wasn’t about baseball at all. It was about old thinking vs. new thinking, about industry politics vs. the heresy of innovation, about dinosaurs desperate to hang on to a failing model that sustains their livelihood even when that model is clearly broken, ineffective and no longer relevant.

The scenes in which Oakland As’ general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) locks horns with his cadre of coaches and scouts over how to do more with less, about how to break the cycle of mediocrity plaguing their organization, about how to get results again is brilliant, not because of the writing or the acting but because it is spot on target. How do I know this? Because I have been in that meeting hundreds of times. Well, not that particular meeting, but in others exactly like it. And every week that goes by, I find myself sitting in that meeting again and again and again.

In the US, in Europe, in Asia, the same meeting goes on almost daily. The conference table is always basically the same, the fluorescent lighting too. The players, they’re the same as well, everywhere I go. Only the vocabulary changes, the industry lingo, but the meeting, it’s the same and it goes pretty much like this:

Billy Beane
: Guys, you’re just talking. Talking, “la-la-la-la”, like this is business as usual. It’s not.
Grady Fuson: We’re trying to solve the problem here, Billy.
Billy Beane: Not like this you’re not. You’re not even looking at the problem.
Grady Fuson: We’re very aware of the problem. I mean…
Billy Beane: Okay, good. What’s the problem?
Grady Fuson: Look, Billy, we all understand what the problem is. We have to…
Billy Beane: Okay, good. What’s the problem?
Grady Fuson: The problem is we have to replace three key players in our lineup.
Billy Beane: Nope. What’s the problem?
Pittaro: Same as it’s ever been. We’ve gotta replace these guys with what we have existing.
Billy Beane: Nope. What’s the problem, Barry?
Scout Barry: We need 38 home runs, 120 RBIs and 47 doubles to replace.
Billy Beane: Ehh! [imitates buzzer]

What we see in this scene is a roomful of insiders with a century and a half of industry experience between them, and yet they haven’t figured out that their model is outdated, that their “experience,” is no longer enough to keep moving forward. They carry on day after day, season after season, doing the same thing over and over again, half-expecting a different result, but then again, maybe not. Worst of all, most of them have no idea what the problems plaguing their organizations actually are. A lot of it is just operational myopia. Some of it is also ego: they couldn’t possibly be wrong. All that experience and intuition, the entire industry’s decades-old model… how could things have changed that much, right?

And yet they are wrong, the model isn’t working anymore, and instead of listening to the guy in the room who sees it and knows how to fix it, they treat him like a punk. When he wants to do something about it, they push back. Hard. In Moneyball, he’s their boss. Imagine when he is just a Director or a VP, or even just an account manager. Imagine how quickly he gets overruled then. I’ve seen amazing people get shut down and pushed out of organizations over this sort of thing. I could give you names and dates. I could make you ill with true stories of stupidity and petty politics, of wasted opportunities and complete operational failures that turned what could have been huge wins for companies that needed them (and customers who demanded them) into case studies in wasted potential. And as tragic as  these stories would be, they are no different from the opportunities that will be wasted this week, and the next, and the one after that, always for the same reasons, always because of the exact same thinking and business management dynamics.

I see that scene, that meeting, that discussion being played out almost everywhere I go, especially when it comes to social media and social business: guys sitting around a table, treating social like it is just an extension of the same old traditional digital marketing game they all understand and desperately want to stick to. And so they make strategy decisions based on models that don’t apply at all to the social space, they insist on using measurement schemes that aren’t the least bit relevant to it or the business as a whole, and worst of all, they make hiring decisions that absolutely make no sense at all for the new requirements of social communications. Why? Because even though the game has changed, no one in the room wants to accept that it has. No one in the room wants to adapt. No one in the room wants to look reality in the eye and do what needs to be done to actually win. Talk about it, sure. Use cool new words like earned media and engagement, definitely. But actually change anything and adapt to a new model? Nope. Not happening. The change management piece that comes with social business integration, the piece that is absolutely vital to it actually working, that piece is still DOA.

Here’s another conversation that also goes on “offline” at every company (agency or brand) around the world right now in regards to hiring decisions that touch on social media management. Here it is again, through the filter ofMoneyball:

Peter Brand: There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. And this leads people who run Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams. I apologize.
Billy Beane: Go on.
Peter Brand: Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs. You’re trying to replace Johnny Damon. The Boston Red Sox see Johnny Damon and they see a star who’s worth seven and half million dollars a year. When I see Johnny Damon, what I see is… is… an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. The guy’s got a great glove. He’s a decent leadoff hitter. He can steal bases. But is he worth the seven and half million dollars a year that the Boston Red Sox are paying him? No. No. Baseball thinking is medieval. They are asking all the wrong questions. And if I say it to anybody, I’m-I’m ostracized. I’m-I’m-I’m a leper. So that’s why I’m-I’m cagey about this with you. That’s why I… I respect you, Mr. Beane, and if you want full disclosure, I think it’s a good thing that you got Damon off your payroll. I think it opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities.

Every company has a Peter Brand either on staff or sitting in a stack of CVs. Not necessarily in the sense that they are geniuses with statistics  but in the sense that they see the forest from the trees, that they see what needs to be done, but every time they open their mouths, they get shot down. Worse, if they open their mouths too much, they’re gone. And if their CV doesn’t have the bullet points and keywords that hiring managers were trained twenty years ago to find relevant, they don’t even get considered for the position.

If I see one more social media leadership position go by default to candidates with “big agency digital experience” or “big brand digital experience,” I am going to throw my pencil at somebody’s head. There is the medieval thinking in action, right there. There’s the primary reason why almost every social media program on the planet is failing to produce results, why three fourths of companies still can’t figure out how to calculate the ROI of their social media programs, why most brands see less than 1% of engagement from their followers and fans after the first touch, why “content is king” is failing, and why increasingly, “social media” strategy and budgets are shifting to ad buys on social networks. That’s right: For all the talk about earned media and engagement and conversations, social media account roles are starting to go to media buyers now. (Here’s some insight into it.) Everyone loves to talk the talk. Almost no company is willing to actually walk the walk. That sound you’re hearing is the banging of traditional marketing hammers pounding nails into social business’ coffin.

You want to know why most big brand social media programs aren’t gaining real traction? Why they don’t work without a constant influx of ad spending? Why nobody sticks around when the “free iPads for likes” promotions are gone? Start there: no one in the room gets it. No one in the room wants to get it. And when someone in the room does get it, he or she doesn’t keep their job for very long. You think most companies are going to hire, promote and support change agents all on their own?

So the real question is this: Do you want to actually score some real wins or do you just want to spend big marketing budgets and play at being a digital big shot?

It’s a real question. In fact, it’s the most important question you might ask yourself all year. Because the answer to that question will determine whether or not you still have a job in two years. No wait… I misspoke. The answer to that question will determine whether or not you have the job you want in two years, and yes, there’s a difference. A big one.

When you find yourself looking for your next gig (and you will eventually,) do you want to just be the guy who was SVP digital at (insert big brand/agency here) or do you want to be the guy who took (insert big brand/agency here)’s theoretical social media and social business programs, and turned them into the new industry standards, into the business model that everyone will be copying and basing theirs on for the next decade? It’s a real question. Which guy do you want to be? The dinosaur or the pioneer? If the answer is the latter, then are you going to have the huevos to go against the grain? To take chances on whom you hire, what kinds of programs you launch, where and how you invest your budgets? Are you willing to stick your neck out and do it right? Or is it more likely that you’ll just play it safe, hoping that the system will just carry you for another decade or two, that the CEO or CMO you will interview with next won’t notice that your job was basically to spend ad dollars and shuffle digital board pieces for the CEO’s monthly show-and-tell meeting?

Who do you want to be? What do you want to build? Do you want to just wear the jersey or do you want to win? Hold that thought. Here’s another key piece of dialogue from the movie, after Billy Beane’s gamble has paid off, after he has started turning some wheels in a big way. He responds to an invitation from John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, who tells him this:

John Henry: I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy. I mean, anybody who’s not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.

And a couple of years later, they did.

So let’s talk about our world again for a minute. Let’s talk about what’s coming, about tipping points, about momentum: Ford not only hired the right guy (Scott Monty) a few years back but gave him the authority to build a solid program there. The result: some serious wins on just about every front, from customer perceptions to purchase intent to customer loyalty and recommendations. Evencar design was impacted in 2010 by the importance of social communications in the Ford organization. Edelman Digital seems to be doing something similar (I keep running into some pretty solid folks there, notably Michael Brito and David Armano). Want to see something cool? This is one of the things they’re working on. Starbucks caught an early train with that too. So did Dell. What sucks is that in 2012, virtually no one else has even tried to keep up with them. For all the money being spent and all the “case studies” being pushed around the conference circuit, most companies are still fighting it, still refusing to accept that the game has changed – worse, trying to keep playing with old methods, with old thinking, with old, outdated skills and CV bullet points. But there will come a day when someone will be given the authority to build out this new model, when it will blow everyone out of the water, and when the blindfolds will have to come off. That day is coming. What side of change do you want to be on then?

Old thinking will not score wins here. Old tactics, old hiring, old measurement, they’re all wrong for these new marketing, communications and business models. They just don’t work anymore. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. Keep watching your margins erode. Keep watching your digital dollars go to waste. Keep laying people off and outsourcing every last business function you can’t afford to keep in-house anymore. Keep pretending the world is the same today as it was five years ago, and that what you were doing five years ago will still be relevant five years from now. Whatever makes you feel better. Keep doing the same old thing that used to work, back before people carried smart phones and iPads. Keep thinking that the guy you just hired because he spent ten years managing digital for a fast-food brand knows fuck-all about building capacity and traction for a social media program, let alone produce concrete business results for you. Keep coloring the same old boxes with the same old crayons and see how far you’ll get.

_ Okay good. What’s the problem?

We need to fill a VP Digital role.

_ Nope. What’s the problem?

All right… Whatever. We need to fill a VP social media strategy role.

_ Nope. What’s the problem?

We need to hire someone with proven global digital management experience, Billy. Someone with Disney or Nike on their CV. Someone with serious digital campaign experience.

_ Nope. What’s the problem, Barry?

The problem is, we’re not growing our Facebook community fast enough, and our content isn’t seeing the numbers we want. We need a…

_ Nope. [Imitates buzzer]

Get unstuck. Watch Moneyball and let the light bulb go off in your head. Then go find your Peter Brand and hire the shit out of him before someone else does. If you’re lucky, you’ll save both your career and your company in the process.

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Here it is. A whole book on how to make social media work from a business standpoint. ROI is covered, along with a lot of process elements that tie back to it. If your favorite social business “expert” doesn’t seem to get this stuff yet, don’t feel bad about sending them a copy. Knowledge is never a bad gift.

CEO-Read  –  –  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Que