Leadership Stories: Navigation

A manager left his home quite late. He had to pay some bills online in the morning, he had forgotten to pay them the day before and they were due. It was 8 am. He was supposed to be in the office at 9 am sharp. The meeting he had was very It took him usually 1 hour 20 minutes to drive from home to work in the morning. He realized his chances of getting to the office on time were practically equal to zero.

He recalled he had a GPS navigation app in his mobile. It was quite a good app, checking the traffic and re-routing if needed. He decided to use it, in desperate crave for any help.
He put in the destination. The app showed him, much to his surprise, that the way would only take 50 minutes. He was full of hesitations. Earlier, quite often the app was showing him the way through some strange country roads or in deep woods where he knew he would actually get stuck. Full of doubts, he had no choice though. He followed the way suggested by the navi app.

At first, the new way aroused his curiosity. It was a road he never saw before. The road was narrower than highway, yet wide enough to get through. It was quite empty, which was firstly raising some suspicions with him about where he would end up. Then he realized that the road was empty actually just because the whole traffic was stuck on the highway he used to take every day as well.

The road had some twists and turns. Yet much to his surprise it was more comfortable than what he was afraid of. He was not up for comfort, he knew that in order to get to his destination on time he would have to use some strange roads, but what he encountered was much more interesting than what he had anticipated.

Then the app led him through a section of the road he had well known before. Yet it was actually a less busy section of the highway. He realized that this highway is not equally crowded all the way through. It should have been avoided in certain points, but it was very helpful on some other less jammed parts.

The manager was more and more relaxed. It was 8:40 and he was suddenly at 80 per cent of his way. He felt very energized. He knew that he could rely on the navi app next day and other days as well. He regretted he had not used it before; he had it at his disposal already a couple of months before, but was not using it just due to his little trust in it. He discovered he just might have gained extra half an hour each morning and he was very happy about it.

There was only 20 per cent of the way to complete. He saw the rest of the route suggested by the app and it seemed a bit strange to him. It was not the way he knew and was used to, it was a diversion. He knew the diversion too. Actually both ways were quite similar, but he liked the main road more than the diversion. He decided to ditch the app and go the way he knew, used and liked most.

Ten minutes later he was again just as anxious as he was at 8:00 o’clock. It was already 8:50 and the main road appeared pretty jammed that day. He was moving more and more slowly. He realized that when all the way was taking him an hour and twenty minutes, and he was leaving home early enough to make it, he was pretty relaxed at this point of the road. Was it busy, or was it not, he did not care so much. Yet when every minute counted, he was supposed to take the diversion. He knew it that moment but it was already too late. He was counting minutes one by one and watching nervously at the estimated time of arrival on his app show 9:06. He stared at the traffic and the car in front of him. He could not do anything.

Then the traffic started to move slightly faster. It was 8:57. Just the last turn and the last leg of his way. He seemed rescued.

He finally reached the office at 8:59. Had he used the diversion, he might be able to grab a coffee before his meeting. But anyway, he was happy to finally make it.

He learned a couple of things on that road. The importance of curiosity. The power of crisis, which pushed him to look for new solution, which would actually save his time on and on. He knew how important it was to stick to the way – and not leave it. He knew how important it was to have trust.
Then, at the end of the day, on the way back, he realized one more thing.

The app helped him, but only when he entered the destination.

Otherwise, how could an app help him realize that there was a road outside of the heavy traffic?

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Technology and CES – not (just) for geeks!

Hi again,

Welcome to readers from Austria, India, Singapore and Argentina! Really happy to know that people from so many places are interested in what I write. Thank you all!

CES – Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas – is over now. It attracted more than 162,000 visitors – the highest number ever despite the economic uncertainty. Great. No point in moaning, the only way is up and towards new directions.

This year’s CES was a place attended not only by fans of technology (somewhat specifically called ‘geeks‘. This year plenty of CMOs have attended from companies like Unilever and other consumer products giants.

(one can read more about this in Advertising Age  – ‘CMOs Flock to Consumer Electronics Show‘ article – I’m afraid I could not publish a link to non-subscribers)

Now this year’s CESS clearly showed that technology is now far beyond gadgets – online is stepping into kitchens, gyms and cars.

You can now have at home:

  • a smart LG refrigerator, which knows what’s inside, so you know if you have run out of milk or something else. An LG Smart Refrigerator app is there as an addition, so you can purchase something online in close collaboration with your fridge.
  • GreenWave Lightbulb – which can be controlled via WiFi, so you can dim an extra light if you’re not home. Or even dim all the lights at home while sitting front of your TV – not even having to stand up. Don’t tell me you would never use it
  • HAPIfork – a CES Innovation Award winner – the fork which tracks how fast you eat – and if you do eat too fast, it will vibrate so that you stay healthier.
  • FitBit Flex – a wristband which tracks all your movements, so it can tell you how much calories you have burned, what is your activity pattern and even how well you sleep!

Yes and… cars are getting online as well. I have heard about a BMW experimenting with connection to Facebook, where you could learn that your brother-in-law has travelled the same route, and his mileage and average speed was so and so. Next time he would learn the same about you.

There are works on self-driving cars (see the Lexus material in my previous post). Be it good or not, it is an alternative to a cruise control, which was a hit some thirty years ago if I remember well. On the other side, there are many men (mostly men) who so much enjoy driving that this particular innovation may be somewhat frowned upon.

Two further car innovations included:

  • Ford Sync – new apps for onboard computing platform which can ‘talk‘ to your smartphone – can’t wait to get it!
  • Voice recognition system introduced now by Hyunday

And finally, there was a fantastic session on how women are often missed in new technologies development and marketing. This just made me realize that in fact all new technologies achieved fantastic growth only when WOMEN started using them – look at smartphones for example. Women have that practical judgement that is often missed by men – so they can often judge much better if a particular innovation will be a hit. Or adopt it – and then it will certainly be a hit. Greetings to all ladies‘ readers!

The World Looking at CES

CES, Consumer Electronic Show, starts officially tomorrow in Las Vegas. I am very fortunate to have a collaborator from Poland on the spot – Natalia Hatalska, whose trip is sponsored by Intel, went there to see everything with her own eyes.

This year, despite all the talks worldwide about economic crisis, number of visitors to CES broke a record – it’s the highest ever. CES in fact changes – it becomes not only a Consumer Electronic Show, but more of a Customer Entertainment Sessions. More often than not it regards understanding customers and what they choose in entertainment they crave.

For example, there is a session co-hosted by Ad Age and IPG: ‘Women and Technology: It’s a Lifestyle Thing’.

Yes, and CES is already a trend-marking event.

There is also a point in the agenda on branding & marketing developments – neatly titled Brand Matters. The brand and marketing-related sessions cover such topics as:

  • “How the Internet and Audience Have Grown Up Together”
  • “Rethinking How We Interact With Technology Using Voice, Touch and Gestures”
  • “Second-Screen Experiences and Revenue Opportunities”
  • “Trends and Technology: Changes in Consumer Buying Habits”
  • Branded Media Marketing: Across Platforms – TV, Film, Broadband, Mobile, Virtual Worlds, Music and Games – Reinventing the Commerce & Media Model”
  • “The Brand Matters SuperSession: How Are Your Consumers REALLY Engaging with Digital Media?”

Look forward to hearing more on that… watch this space!

CES 2013 started with premiere of a new processor, a new charger of mobile devices which does not need cord connection, and… it’s just the beginning.

The expectations for this year’s hits include:

  • Brainwave and eye tracking technology which can identify human’s intention BEFORE his / her actual movement (new Kinect?)
  • Glasses with augmented reality (I knew I would not have to carry a phone for that any more someday!)
  • A self-driving car. Yes, and with such precise navigation it is truly possible.

To see a preview of Lexus introducing the self-driving car, check this link:

http://pressroom.lexus.com/video_display.cfm?video_id=22811

So let’s keep an eye on it… The eye trackers will be able to register that 🙂

May I end with thanks to all those readers whose presence and kind words encourage me to keep writing, from Poland, USA, France, Singapore, Argentina, Austria, UK, Holland – and now Belarus – hi Vassilen! Thank you for reading!

Apps Worth Downloading – Things

Hi,

Holland joined reading this (hello to my friend Bart!).

As I have more than 500 apps on my tablet and phone now, I am often asked about apps worth downloading. Today and symbolically at the start of new year, I thought I would recommend one.

It’s called Things.

It’s an app helping you organize all your tasks. It’s great: you can put in your task first and then you can assign it: you can add person next to it, tag it, assign it to specific time category (next / scheduled / someday – which is nice because here land the things that I thought of doing on weekend, but before weekend came, I was forgetting).

You can also create projects into which tags are grouped.

Usually the apps provided with new tablet or phone were of good quality and hard to replace; yet in this case Things went clearly ahead the Reminder – and the Reminder was redesigned and is now almost as good as Things. However Things is not only better but also looks better than Reminder. So it’s functionality and esthetics in one.

Naturally, you can input a task in your phone, and it gets synchronized with your tablet, so you can then organize all tasks in your tablet and the order will remain so on your phone. Elementary, but very helpful.

Have a great Sunday!

Books Worth Reading – Daniel Kahneman – ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’

Hi again,

Thanks to all of you reading my words in Poland, France, Singapore and the US!

People are often asking me for books worth reading. Therefore I thought I could bring up some of the books which are essential now for understanding how people think and take decisions. This knowledge can be helpful both in private life and for marketing purposes.

Marketing practitioners have often one major difficulty: stepping into consumer’s shoes. They think differently as buyers and sellers.

As buyers, they are cautious like everybody, and resistant. As sellers, they often believe that their target audiences will notice that small change in the packshot of a commercial…

Or as buyers, they fall into traps of our minds. As sellers, they believe that people would behave rationally and the decrease of price for example will certainly be a strong motivator to buy. Or that their customers would think rationally and then not fall for a trap set by competition, who has worse product, but markets it better and sells it at higher price, and all go to them. Phew…

A useful tool to understand all these traps, biases and the ways of making decisions is a book by Daniel Kahneman – ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ (for Polish readers: translated with a title of ‘Pułapki myślenia – o myśleniu szybkim i wolnym). All my friends can contact me and I will tell you where to get it.

Daniel Kahneman won a Noble prize in Economics in 2002. He is a psychologist though. How could a psychologist be so valuable in economics? In plain words, he had proven that all of our decisions are driven by emotions.

In his recent book, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, Daniel is like a virtuoso who does not have to prove his greatness any more, like a skating champion who has won and is now showing his own free programme. ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ is also a book, where Daniel often quotes his friends from all over the world – all well-known psychologists, and gathers the most recent knowledge about why people behave as they behave.

“Imagine that you are about to purchase a jacket for $125 and a calculator for $15. The calculator salesman informs you that the calculator you wish to buy is on sale for $10 at the other branch of the store, located 20 minutes away. Would you make a trip to another store?”

So the price of a calculator in another store is $5. The price of a jacket in another store is $115 if the jacket is discounted too.

The fact is tough, many people would go for 20 minutes to save $10 on a calculator, while fewer people would go there to save THE SAME $10 on a jacket.

So how is the jacket manufacturer supposed to behave in order to bring people to his store? This is then the type of questions what we, practitioners, respond to, based on the knowledge which Daniel uncovered.

The same also concerns judging people.

In the first few pages you may find a simple question: “Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful but with little interest in people […] A meek and tidy soul, he has a need for order and structure, a passion and a detail. Is Steve more likely to be a librarian or a farmer?”

We jump to conclusions quite quickly, right? But, as Daniel says, “Did it occur to you that there are more than 20 farmers for each male librarian in the United States? Because there are so many more farmers, it is almost certain than more ‘meek and tidy’ souls will be found on tractors than at library information desks.”

Have a good weekend and a good reading!

5 Points on How to Keep New Year Resolutions

Yes, a lot of us are used to making the resolutions. A lot of us then watch with certain surprise how they are not achieved. Usually the strongest people stick to them for up to three weeks only. Plenty of us don’t make any resolutions then next year.

Why don’t we keep the New Year resolutions, whereas in fact many of them are quite right and we would be quite happy if we managed to stick to them?

There is a bit on that in my yesterday’s text. There is a body in our brain, called nucleus accumbens, which is our ‘center of pleasure’. Speaking plainly – it is connected with emotional, rational and motoric systems and will steer us out of anything unpleasant here and now. Which, by the way, is quite right, because if we were to stay in unpleasant state for ages, why bother?

If the advantage of something to us seems far-fetched and distant, and here and now it does not mean pleasure, then nucleus will most likely sooner or later, discourage us from doing it. It will also prompt our rational system to invent all excuses for not doing this thing (no time, more urgent issues now, blah blah blah… know it, right?)

So how to make these resolutions achieved?

1. Formulate the RIGHT resolutions.

The nucleus brain will select, which of them are right for us, which will create us pleasure, and which ones will just be an unnecessary hassle.

Sometimes we do not really think things through when we make resolutions. Sometimes we just look at ourselves by eyes of other people. We think about what we should do in order to satisfy other people – but not ourselves.

When we decide to lose weight, it should be for ourselves, not for other people. When we decide to spend more time with our kids, it should be also for us feeling better with the relation we gain with our children. It will help them, but it will help us – and our brain is egoistic. It’s better to know that rather than to live in illusions and fail.

Or maybe sometimes, in fact, deep inside we want something different than what the resolution says. Thinking about it upfront will prevent us from further failure.

2. Make them POSITIVE and PLEASANT.

Avoid using negative language when articulating the resolution. All resolutions are stronger when stated positively. I will not just ‘lose weight’, I will ‘look better’. And the light in your mind flashes right away, huh? There are many nice ways to look better. A slim yet unstylish person will not impress anyone. You know it.

Always think ‘TO’, not ‘FROM’. Where you go to, not where you escape from. It will guide you and will help you find other pleasures on the way.

And the pleasure is what you ultimately are after, not the pain, right? I feel now your nucleuses nodding.

3. Create a REWARDING SCHEME.

This point is especially important if your resolution is still to quit something. Then make sure you find a REPLACING PLEASURE.

As said before, nucleus accumbens ‘influences’ emotional, rational and ‘motoric’ areas. So if you want to quit smoking – remember that your brain will not accept it unless you really feel it (deep inside emotionally – not only saying ‘oh yes, smoking kills’), unless you understand it well rationally (why bother?), and unless you know what to do what to do with your hands (your ‘motoric’ system needs to be kept busy).
Remember that emotions are key in decision-making process – so yes, once you get to love non-smoking yourself, you won.

Once you resign from something, make sure to find something in return, something bigger. Get the balance right. I know it’s not easy – but it’s necessary to win. The replacing pleasure can be something completely different. It can be something you do in time which you gained after getting rid of the former habit. Just use this time with pleasure to yourself.

4. Create a ROADMAP and CHUNK IT.

Yes, planning is hard. Yes, things happen in between. Yes, sometimes when you climb up a ladder, you realize it stands against the wrong wall.

And yes, the only thing constant is change.

This is why good plan saves some reserve for unpredicted circumstances. If they don’t happen – you’re even better off. But without a roadmap you get lost in day two. ‘An elephant can only be eaten by chunks’, someone said.

Remember that nucleus again will steer you out of anything unpleasant here and now. If the goal is too remote – ‘I will learn Japanese’ and there are no milestones in between, then unless you really have a plan, the process of achieving it will not seem a worthwhile nor pleasant. And the pleasure is… (your nucleus already knows it).

5. Make it HABITUAL.

Many people fail keeping their resolutions – because they have a moment of high, when they make it, and then ‘life takes over’. It is because other routines and habits prevail.

We value habits and routines highly, even though we despise it often loudly. Once a habit is formed, then the resolution really is achieved.

If you perform a certain activity for 21 to 28 days, it will most likely get habitual. If you change your toothpaste to a healthier, yet less tasteful one, after 28 days you will most likely not feel the unpleasant taste.

In a digital era, there are many apps helping with reminding us on things. Reminder on your smartphone can be set so that it reminds you of something once you get to a specific place. Also, when you face something written down – even on your smartphone – then you face it day by day. For many people, a written word means more than spoken word. If that’s the case, then such a simple thing as writing something down in your calendar or a reminding app, can keep you on track to achieving something really big. Just make sure you put a pleasure next to it too!

May I take this occasion to wish everyone the Happiest 2013! If this text helps someone, I will be very happy myself. I look forward to hearing about your resolutions, if you wish to share them. In case you have any issue about how to stick to them – then I look forward to hearing about it too and perhaps a solution can be found.

Why People Don’t Keep New Year Resolution… And How To Keep Them

The average length of keeping New Year’s resolutions is three weeks. Maximum. Apparently there is a date in second half of January, called also the saddest day of all, when most people realize they cannot keep their resolutions.

What is responsible for that? In short: it is a small part of human’s brain called nucleus accumbens.

It is our center of pleasure. Nucleus always steers us into pleasure – and that in essence, is good. What is pleasant for us, keeps us develop. The best human accomplishments were achieved in order to satisfy someone, bring him or her the joy of life.

Nucleus accumbens is smart. It is connected with emotional, rational and even motoric system. Therefore, for example, when a smoker wants to quit, he or she feels an urge to do something with their hands. Most anti-smoking messages appeal to rational area: ‘smoking kills’ or ‘can cause dangerous diseases’. Yeah, we know it… But a smoke NOW is more important – it can bring the relaxation we need NOW, not later. Nucleus accumbens urges us to take care about our pleasure IN THE PRESENT MOMENT, not later. Nucleus is a ‘carpe diem’ body and it understands that when we delay gratification, it may not come at all. Or will not make us so joyful later, rather than sooner.

Therefore, how to keep the resolutions? Find a replacing reward. Not just appeal to rational sphere – ‘I need to lose weight, as I will be prettier in some time’ – find a reward for each and every pound lost. Make it emotional. Find pleasure in losing weight. As soon as we master it, our resolutions will be kept.

So much for now, dear readers. If you’re curious about understanding humans, watch this space. All the very best to you in New Year! And think about your resolution… If you want one.