Business Lessons

11th December 2006

The most compelling parts of The Big Moo, edited by Seth Godin:

(Thanks for the loan, Evan!)

Name something.
“If it has a name, your peers can measure it. If it has a name, they can alter it. If it has a name, they can talk about it. And if it has a name, they can eliminate it.”

Finish with something remarkable.
“Those last five minutes make it easy for your customers to find the difference between you and everyone else.
“It takes 99 percent of the time you spend just to be average.”

Question yourself.
“What if we did things the way our competition did them?
What if we could charge ten times as much for this?
What if we had to charge one tenth as much?
If we were on Oprah, what would she say about us?
Is it generous?”

Ask your customers.
“He loves his customers, and his customers love him.”
“What am I doing right?
What am I doing wrong?
what can I do better?
What else do you wish I would do?
Tell them your biggest ideas about your company’s future.”

Learn from new hires.
“Make it a habit to sit down with your new hires at about the three-month point. But don’t give them a performance review—ask them to give your operation a performance review. After three months, their eyes are still fresh enough that they’ll be able to see things you’re missing. And they’ll have been on the job long enough to know how things really work. Chances are good that they’ll have great ideas to contribute.”

Reach out.
“Make a list of people you know whose minds you genuinely respect. Make it a point to call them on a regular basis for a conversation. All you have to ask is, ‘What’s new?’ Then listen and take notes. Journalists do it all the time; it’s called developing sources.”

Ignore critics, embrace criticism.
“Online critics are motivated by a need for attention… So ignore the harshest ones. But don’t ignore what they say. This is valuable feedback. It’s free, and it’s quick, and it’s useful.”

Know what the customer expects.
A product isn’t for everyone, it’s for someone.

It’s the essence of good customer service. Caring goes a long way. Caring shows up in your tone of voice, your interactions, and your policies.

Smaller can be better.
“A group of two people needs only one meeting to exchange information. Fifty people, on the other hand, need 1,225 one-on-one meetings to have a similar exchange… If you want to do something really extraordinary, take a colleague and set up your office in the Kinko’s across the street. Come back to headquarters when you’re done.”

Have fun.
Your attitude should say, ‘I’m prototyping, playing, and palling around.’

7 thoughts on “Business Lessons

  1. kelley

    Oh, sorry; what? I’m still trying to get over the superheroineness of this:

    In movies, awesomeness only seems to really count if you’re a boy, and that makes me want to punch something.

    Maggie, I heart you.

  2. Lori

    This encapsulation strains “fair use” — rather than inspiring someone to read or buy the book, they might think they no longer need to.

  3. Maggie Post author

    The book is 177 pages long, I think it’s fair to say there’s some good stuff I left out.

  4. Lori

    Just suggesting that if you want to encourage people to buy Seth’s book, you might talk about how compelling it is rather than just hand them “the most compelling parts”.

  5. erin

    This one resonates the most with me:

    “Those last five minutes make it easy for your customers to find the difference between you and everyone else.”

    I think we concentrate so much on first impressions, that many times we forget to concentrate on sustaining that impression.

  6. Ken

    Thanks for the referral; always nice to have one so talented share her insights (truly)…

    However, (insert ominous soundtrack here) the book (which I have read – honest!) and it’s ilk mostly repeat aphorisms which, to the uninitiated, appear magical, but which, to the tired veterans like me, appear like so much dissolute tripe.

    Please don’t get me wrong; there’s much to admire about the tenets put forth in this book. It’s just that, after living the reality of marketing leadership for 20 years (which I still love), it is clear that one must practice a careful separation between idealism and productivity.

    Yeah, yeah, make sure you differentiate yourself during the last five minutes of a presentation. Great. Ultimately, though, many sales people will be utterly unable to accomplish this simple task, ending up instead drooling on their shoes, devulging corporate secrets, and making witty remarks about the client’s decor. Sad, but true.

    Operational marketing – that process by which one ultimately achieves long-term success – is less glamorous, but, in a way, more fun.

    PS – Sooooo many congrats on the impending progeny, continuing success of your site, etc. Plus, much jealousy (Damn you, Mighty Girl!).


    PS – Oooh, Oooh, by the way: listened to the NPR piece and you sound just like I though you would.

    Thank God.

    It would have been intolerable to have found out that your sound like, oh, say… Fran Drescher.

    Happy Holidays!

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