Scandinavian Kickstarter projects: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

abbakickstarterThe Scandinavian countries have already been quite prolific on Kickstarter, but the quality of the projects is far from even!

Some quick background: In September of last year, Kickstarter announced that creative types from Scandinavia and Ireland will be eligible to launch campaigns starting October. Finland seems to have been excluded from the mix due to its legislation banning the collection of funds via Crowdfunding. Too bad for the Fins! More

How to write better email and get people to follow you

After re-reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, a couple of more times and reflecting on the subject, I realized that the book’s main lessons are twofold:

1. How to best evoke “eager want” from the prospect – (i.e. how to best communicate so that the why, the benefit of your product is the main focus)

2. How to connect with strangers you want to influence (i.e. pitching or negotiating)

The first part, how to evoke an eager want, is part of a mind-state shift to where you stop talking about what you want and focusing on what the prospect wants. This is accomplished by writing emails without using the word “I” a single time. Only use “you” or simply only write about the benefits of what you are offering. Nobody cares about your story or who you are.  Start with the benefits of your service, don’t waste a millisecond of your prospects time talking about yourself.

Fairly trivial example: I want to get people to join my basketball team. The Pre-Dale Carneige pitch:

“I want to play basketball every Wednesday and I need teammates. Currently I don’t have enough people to play with”. This would be a pitch 99% of the world would write, with the main focal point being “I”. Basically it won’t urge anyone to join. What’s in it for them?

This is post-Carneige: I.e evoking an eager want by focusing on benefits for them rather than talking about yourself:

“Do you want to meet new people and get fit in the process? Join our basketball team on Wednesdays”.

I used this method to create a Meetup-group for public speaking last year in Shanghai and had 30+ people join on the first meetup. [This was very high attendance for a first meetup]. My Meetup-headline stated something like: “Do you want to meet new people and improve your confidence and presentation skills?” The Dale Carneige method works.

First ask:

1. What do they care about?

2. List benefits about your product that makes sense to the target audience.

3. Demonstrate it through imagery, copy, taglines, videos and any way you can.

Try not to use the word “I” or “we” a single time, only “you”.

Go through the 1,2,3 – then write your headline or email or sales pitch.

The extent of your influence reflects the value you provide to others

After digging some Tony Robbins vids on YouTube, I came to a paradigm-shifting realization:

The extent of your influence reflects the value you provide to others”.

Sure, sometimes we provide a shitton of value, yet get paid bupkis, but the fact remains: more often than not, our clout, influence, reach and salary depends on this key metric, the value metric. If you provide genuine value to those around you, be it in simple things as your ability to co-operate and be friendly, or your ability to bring in more business, you will be considered more valuable and be rewarded with money, attention and praise. The value metric is perhaps the most important metric out there.


Example: If someone has millions of twitter followers, it’s a reflection of the value they bring to the world. Enough people perceive that what they do or make is valuable and reward them accordingly. This logic can be applied to almost everything including what salary you are currently getting.

Live to serve

I think there’s room for a key shift in thinking from the old “how can the world serve me”, to “how can I provide maximum amount of value to the world?”. That applies to everything from your performance at work, to your status within your social network. You are rewarded according to how valuable you are to those around you. In social settings, if you are considered very valuable by your friends, it could mean getting the first invites to dinners and parties, and in the work place, it means the difference between getting promoted or not.

Success is serving others.

Your position in society is a direct reflection on the amount of value you contribute to the world. If you are in the blog- or twitter grind and have to work your ass of for each reader, ask if your content is providing the maximum amount of value to the world (within your capabilities, that is)? If you are only piggybacking others and adding to what’s already out there, you are not that valuable. (Harsh but true). In terms of content marketing, the best method is to find a creneau, a hole that nobody is filling and to provide quality content with a unique voice. 

So? Now what? Try applying this piece of wisdom in your own life and witness the results. Try to  answer the question: How can I provide the maximum amount of value to those around me? Align your business goals with providing value to others.

Stratagem and Marketing: Hacking Sun Tzu to position your brand

“The Art of War is of vital importance to the state. It’s a matter of life or death, a road to either safety or ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected”. – Sun Tzu

After reading yet another Al Ries book, Positioning, I would rather argue that: “the art of Positioning is of vital importance to your brand. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected”. -Sun Tzomas

Positioning your brand and the core principles of warfare as handed down by Sun Tzu in the Art of War are extremely similar, or in fact, identical. The core lesson in the Art of War is to attack the enemy where he’s weak. I am going to talk a fair bit of the Carthaginian commander Hannibal Barca in this post to illustrate all my points. Hannibal fought the Romans during the Punic Wars, around 218 BC (he’s the dude who famously crossed the Alps with his elephants).

“in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak”. – Sun Tzu

Hannibal, like Sun Tzu, also realized the core principles of warfare; to attack the enemy where he is weak, which in ancient warfare was always in the flank. On his way to conquer Rome, he faced an army consisting of Celtic tribesmen opposing him during a crossing of the river Rhone. Instead of facing the enemy head-on where he was strong, Hannibal sent his commander Hanno upstream to cross the river in secret and fall upon the opposing Celts from their rear, who quickly routed them and gave Hannibal another victory. During the later battle of Cannae, Hannibal yet again lured the enemy (consisting of the entire Roman army) in by feigning weakness in his center, after which he fell upon the enemy in his flank and rear with his heavy cavalry, slaughtering some 44 000 of the 50 000 strong Roman army, losing only 6 000 men in the process. Whenever Hannibal fought, he achieved victory by being strong where the enemy was weak, and such a modus operandi is also the key to the battle of successful marketing and positioning. More

How to win the battle for the mind of the consumer

How to win the battle for the mind of the consumer

The Meta: The past months I’ve been studying Al Ries 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, and his previous work, 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. It’s absolutely awesome, and here’s why:

First there was the Word

Marketing is a battle for the mind of the consumer, or rather positioning in the mind of the consumer. Each brand we relate to in our lives, equals an attribute or category that we equate with the brand. Let’s say I’m a consumer looking for a car, and my primary concern is that it is safe. Which car brand is the leading safe car? I would say, Volvo is the leading safe car. Let’s say prestige is my main concern, then I would probably opt for a Mercedes, the leading prestigious car. The task of branding is to become the leader in a niche preferably so narrow you could replace your brand with a single word. Volvo = Safe. Mercedes = Prestigious. What is the word or attribute that could be replaced with your brand? If you are starting a business, this question should be a main concern. Another good question: how do you communicate this one word?

“Forget the brand. Think categories. Prospects are on the defensive when it comes to brands. Everyone talks about why their brand is better. But prospects have an open mind when it comes to categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better”. -Al Ries


What makes a visionary company?

What makes a visionary company?

The Meta behind this post: I read Jim Collin’s Built to Last some months ago, and the book was so brilliant, and filled me with so much creative fuel and confidence in regards to starting my own business, that I jotted the following post down in sheer panic, to try to summarize the ideas of his book.

For Jim Collins, it always starts with a question. Before writing the book “Built to Last”, Collins asked himself “What makes a visionary company?” After studying 20th century business and stock market performance, Jim, and his Stanford research team, working for many years, found a small number of companies which performed well over the market average, year, after year, after year. And by carefully studying the actual day-to-day practices of these over-performers, he found that they had a few key traits in common which set them apart from the rest of the competition. (Disney, Boeing, HP, Merck, 3M and Sony were some of these “Visionary” companies). Guess what? Even the smallest business can mimic these key traits.


5 Simple Compliance tactics that will lead to increased conversion and loyal customers

5 Simple Compliance tactics that will lead to increased conversion and loyal customers

After reading Robert B Cialdini’s Influence, you come to the conclusion that human decisions, although seemingly irrational from the outside, do follow certain behavioral patterns which can be learned and understood. Cialdini uses the term “click and whirr” throughout the book, meaning that if you get the right trigger out there, you will almost certainly get an automated response from your customer. Here’s the most useful tips and tricks from Cialdini’s Influence: More

Starting an e-commerce brand part 1, getting the foundations right

Starting an e-commerce brand part 1, getting the foundations right

The meta behind this point: I have put together a brief guide to starting your own E-commerce brand, based on lots and lots of landmark management books, podcasts, and interviews with top entrepreneurs and though leaders.

STEP 1: Establish a model

In the book good to great, Jim Collins outlined a great business model which can be used to create a foundation for your business; it will answer the important questions and put you on the right track. Establishing solid fundamentals is imperative, since the whole business will rest on this foundation. The idea is to connect your passion, with what you can become the best at, in model that is profitable. Let’s quickly look at each item.

Step 1: Work with something you are deeply passionate about

Passion, passion, passion – the fuel behind any successful endeavor. What is your passion? What can you do for hours day in and day out without any thought of reward? What gets your juices going? What makes you motivated to get up in the morning? I think everyone knows instinctively what their passion is, (although sometimes you might have to dig a little deeper). You need to connect your passion with your business to be able to stand the hard work and the many unpaid hours you usually need to put in to develop a product or service – it simply won’t work if you don’t have a strong passion to fall back on when times are tough. More

Leverage Empathy: How to Win Friends And Influence People

Leverage Empathy: How to Win Friends And Influence People

The meta behind this post: HTWFAIP is one of those timeless classics that needs to be read, and re-read again and again, because of the value it will add to your life if you apply even a small part of it. The book outlines a few simple, core principles which in hindsight seem like common sense, yet the truth is that very few of us rarely apply these principles when trying to get what we want from other people.

HTWFAIP was written by Dale Carneige who started as a public speaking coach in New York in 1912, but his classes gradually developed into training people’s ability to deal with other people, rather than public speaking. After decades of work, in 1937, Dale Carneige wrote his seminal work, HTWFAIP, which has since had countless updates and remains an all-time classic. It is as valid today as in 1937, because it deals with human-nature type issues which are timeless.


Canvassing the web for value – July

The-22-Immutable-Laws-of-BrandingGo ahead and click the red!

The past weeks I’ve been reading 22 laws of Branding by Al Ries and picked up a lot of good information regarding how branding works. Owning a word in the consumers mind and narrowing your focus until you find a slot where you can eventually become a brand leader and resisting the urge to overextend and dilute your brand are powerful lessons.

In terms of Podcasts, I had a blast listening to Tim Ferris guest Joe De Sena who talks about how he built up a global “Spartan race”, and how he created a hilarious “death race” (that seems more hilarious to talk about than to actually participate in).

I also read The Lean Startup, which perhaps would have been more relevant if I was starting a new tech company or solean-startup_book-covermething similar, yet it gave me some insights, like the value of quickly shipping a minimum viable product and just focusing on getting anything, something out there which you could stand behind instead of procrastinating and having hypothetical focus groups. I put both books up in my Review section.

I akickstarterlso read a great article on Kickstarter about why wallets is often a springboard into bigger things.

I’m currently listening to a podcast on Tropical MBA about how to design and sell consumer electronics products.