Archive for: January, 2011

Laser focused products are more emotional

steve jobs

This post isn’t about Steve Jobs, it’s about emotion and how to create it with your product.

When I was a kid I would spend endless hours reading magazines at supermarkets or bookstores. From PC Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Game Pro, National Geographic, Road & Track, SLAM, you name it. At one point I had subscriptions to 15 different magazines that I got in the mail, my mom wasn’t too happy about it. And she also wasn’t happy because I kept them all well after I read them.

Out of all the magazines I read, the one’s I look more forward to reading were the ones about cars. I just loved (and still do) reading Road & Track’s car reviews because of how they described their car experience, I can still remember some of the words used in the review of the McLaren F1.

Words like: ‘staggering power’ when pushing the accelerator, ‘stratospheric’ when talking about horsepower, ‘opera-esque’ when describing the sound of the engine, ‘astonishing’ when describing the car…you get the picture. So what’s the big deal? Well the fact that I’m telling you about it today and remember it is telling. Emotions are hard to forget and even though I’ve never driven these cars, the vivid descriptions make me feel as though I almost did.

I know what you’re thinking, we already know benefits trump features. Yup, but how?


Jeremy Clarkson, host and source of Top Gear, is a like a little kid when talking about cars. It’s all emotion. Even if you aren’t a car fanatic you’ll love them after hearing Clarkson, just like in the video below where he drives the Ferrari Enzo. Tell me it doesn’t get your blood moving?

Did you notice how he mentions the word ‘focus’ to the describe how the car’s interior doesn’t distract you from driving? If you own and iPod, iPhone or iPad then you know what I mean. Steve Jobs is the master at creating emotions for Apple products. He makes it sound so genuine because his products satisfy him. So when he gives a keynote speech, he’s like a little kid talking to you about his new toy. Emotional!

Google did the same thing with Chrome. It’s laser focused on enabling us to browse the web faster. The user interface has only what’s necessary to browse and it makes you almost feel like the browser isn’t even there. That’s focus!

Another example I’ll give you to chew on is how Super Bike Magazine describes how the new Kawasaki ZX-10R ‘Ninja’ makes it’s driver feel: confident. Confident that you can get the best lap times and win the race. That’s what they really care about.

And with that last paragraph I get to the intent of this post: Focused products are more emotional. People don’t care about your products features, they care about what it does for them. And the way to do that is by making your product laser focused on satisfying that job.

In the Enzo’s case the job is driving, in the iPod’s case it’s carrying all your music in your pocket. They eliminated all the things that can ‘distract’ from satisfying that job.

Thoughts? Do you think products that are laser focused on satisfying a specific job more emotional?

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Innovation posts of the week: How to bring innovations to market

Use constraints to fuel your creativity

Quickly, think of as many white things as you can in ten seconds.  Now think of white things in your kitchen.  Did the more constrained prompt spark more ideas? Yes.

Recent research on the best approach to creating novel things says that . In other words, constraints help you focus on what matters.

Apple knows that . Google is popular for which have resulted in ‘perceived innovations’ in user experience. The ever popular 37 Signals, maker of online business management apps, pretty much .

So, how does placing constraints to fuel creativity look like?

Unconventional marketing strategy starts with ‘what not to-be’

The element of . Remember that? Here’s another clue, check it out…

I was reading , Miki Agrawal, an unorthodox pizzeria in NY. The interview is all about how he ‘surprised himself’ but the last question (about their marketing strategy) reveals an interesting answer:

It’s about being unorthodox, it’s about how you stand out. When you think about branding, you have to think about every touch point of a business. You can’t just change the ingredients because that’s not enough. You have to change the packaging, the marketing materials, the web experience. Everything has to change to create an impactful experience.

So we try to NOT look like a pizza place, but still have that familiar feeling. Our packaging is long, rectangular boxes; we serve the piece in four bite-sized pieces on a sushi plate. It’s a neat and clean, pristine experience; it’s not like you’re picking up this giant pizza slice. It slows down your eating. You’re not shoveling something into your mouth. You allow your stomach to catch up to your brain. It also promotes sharing. I can order a different pizza from you, and we can share.

So those are three differentiating elements: it’s neater and cleaner, it slows down eating, and it promotes sharing. So it’s a different experience.

Bingo! Meaningful difference is what I got from that answer. Anybody who hears that will ‘get it’ right away. What’s also awesome, is the way he puts it: We try NOT to look like a pizza place. That’s a good way to ‘’ and shatter expectations.

Want to do the same?

Here’s an exercise for you:

  • Write ‘let’s try NOT to be like <insert your category here>’ on the biggest whiteboard in your office where everyone in your organization can see it.
  • Next, let everyone know that you have a mission today to shake things up, tell them about how the message on the whiteboard will help you do that.
  • Next, invite your peers to contribute ideas on all the possible ways you can be the opposite of your category. Some people will laugh, others may already have some ideas hidden somewhere in their brains. You can collect these ideas by email, on an internal wiki, internal blog or pieces of papers. What matters is that you do it.
  • Once done, collect all these ideas and have a few people help you cluster them around ‘themes’ and put them where everyone can see.
  • Next, it’s show time! Via votes (number of ‘likes’) decide which ideas are ‘meaningful’ and ‘doable’. It’s important that you get the list down to only a few things that really ‘make a difference’, this will be tricky but very important.
  • Next, it’s time to action plan your ideas.

I know this is a fairly simplistic list, the intent is not to make it an activity so complex that people will lose interest. Remember, you’re asking people to get uncomfortable!


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For innovation: Be a fan of your co-workers


An environment of .

Frankly this is not a huge insight because human relationships live off trust. If you want to bring out the best in others you have to trust them and them you. If you don’t trust others and aren’t trusted then forget about it. That simple!

Just like communicating with your spouse or husband breeds openness and trust, a healthy relationship, why should it be any different within organizations?

I bring this up because I see a lot of businesses (new and old) where it seems nobody in the organization likes each other (more on this on another post). Not to mention trust each other. While we may be talking a storm about how innovation is about learning to cope with uncertainty, I think we sometimes forget that for this to happen trusting each other first.

How do you begin creating trust with your co-workers?

Be a fan of your co-workers

There are people whom you work with that you get along with better than others and that’s ok because you have common interests and ways of thinking. The real challenge is to get along with others who are not like you because they are the ones who WILL force you to be better by challenging you to get out of your comfort zone. To do this you have to understand that everyone has something to offer and you need to find out what that is.

Basically it comes down to:

  • Finding out what they like, that will then lead to knowing what they’re good at.
  • Doing what they like with them.

Sounds simple and it does take work for many but…

If you’ve been in a relationship then you know that doing stuff with your partner brings out the best in them because you’re doing stuff that makes them happy. That creates bonding which leads to trust. You become fans of each other and want nothing but the best for each. When this happens everything you do tastes, feels and looks different. And it’s all because of that trust.

The same thing happens with your co-workers. They’re human too!

You can’t buy trust, you have to work for it.

UPDATE: Here’s John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, on how to take trust from ideal to real:

John Mackey: How do you take trust from ideal to real?

With that said I’m a BIG fan of my friend and biz partner, Christian Laborin. Dude loves to draw and he’s pretty damn good at it too. I keep telling him he should be working at Pixar!

Here are some of my favorite drawings by him:

fighting fetus

MJ jelly



P.S. This is no shameful pug for my pal, this is actually the first time I’ve put any of his work on this blog. Maybe I should’ve done it before Smile

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Innovation posts of the week: Are you an innovator?

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Surprise yourself

After hemming and hawing for ages, I’ve finally decided to get a haircut. I’ve been growing my hair out since last year—I wanted to have Rapunzel-length locks for my wedding. But I’ve been a Mrs. for a few months, now. It’s high time for a new look. Only thing is…I’m torn between three very different dos. Care to weigh in? A great example of textured weave are these clip in hair extensions for black hair.

You guys were such sweethearts when Joanna needed help choosing a new look, I was hoping you could offer me some advice too. Pretty, please?

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Here’s what my hair looks like now. I’m iffy about the length and there really is no shape to it. Boring!

I usually tell Chris when I’m getting a haircut, but I rarely divulge the style I’m going for. I love seeing the surprised look on his face when I first show off my new tresses. However, this time around, I can’t make up my mind. I love these three looks and I can’t decide which would look best.

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This shoulder-length look January Jones is rocking is divine. Bonus: it looks super low-maintence and I’d get to keep most of my length.

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Jessica Alba’s short style looks so fun and flirty; I adore her bangs, don’t you?

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I’ve been jonesing for a pixie cut for eons. Aren’t Carrie Mulligan and Ginnifer Goodwin romantically chic?