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Ferguson, MO – Media use of isolated factoids fosters anger not helpful discussion

This USA Today snippet on the number of blacks killed by white police officers isolates a single data point, without context. The viewer/reader is left without any sense of cause or even useful correlations. This treatment is representative of the mass media approach to every complex issue – sensationalism vs informing the public.

While issues of race are top-of-mind in this incident, they are not the only issue. We don’t even know if they have the greatest influence. Militarization of police forces; varying crime rates among geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic groups;  even the media influence on various cultures all likely play important roles. But we don’t get a sense of any of this from USA Today.

The media’s obligation to inform the public is arguable, but the media’s effort to do so is non-existant. If the “investigative reporter” in the video is even moderately professional, and is not an idiot, I can’t imagine the stress of having your investigative work narrowed down to the single most sensational sound byte and then having to pretend that you’ve done something serious.

Is it any wonder that, among the most thoughtful people I know, very few of them pay attention to mainstream mass media anymore.

Posted in Commentary, Culture.

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Changes to RSS feed location. Feedburner discontinued.

Future updates to this blog will be published to this RSS feed location. Feedburner has been abandoned by Google, the guy who started Feedburner now works at twitter, and anyone still using Feedburner should probably stop. Thanks.

Posted in Announcements.


Spurious Correlations

Spurious correlations. They’re everywhere. Cable news, “venerable” news sites, blogs and, of course, the twitterverse. Every time something sensational happens we’re inundated with out-of-context, misrepresented, isolated factoids trotted out as meaningful insight. Now, thanks to Tyler Vigen, we have a whole website dedicated to useless, pointless statistical relations. Polemics everywhere should rejoice.

Spurious Correlations

Posted in Commentary, Culture.

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Are you sending the right messages to your B2B prospects?

Do you know what B2B prospects are looking for in a supplier? Do you know what B2B prospects want to hear? Is there an opportunity for mid-size B2B companies to brand around messages that bigger players miss?

Recently McKinsey did some research on branding themes among major B2B companies and answered some of these questions. The purpose of the resarch was to determine how well branding messages of global B2B players matched up to the interests of B2B customers. Continued…

Posted in Big Lessons, Management, Marketing.


This is American Government

World's Best Business Plan

I WANT TO START a business. My plan is for a management team that is a revolving committee of 535 people who gain membership through bribery, lying, campaigning and trying to out-promise each other. Advancement in the committee is through more bribery, subterfuge and generally any of the baser human activities. (If you do not understand this method of advancement you should watch the original Star Trek series episode “Mirror, Mirror” from 1967.) Continued…

Posted in Commentary.

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Top 5 blogging misconceptions

Blogging can be an important part of any online business strategy. I’ve blogged here for 7 1/2 years, creating over 2,500 posts and getting as many as 100,000 Unique Visits per month at one point. I learned a lot during that time, but earlier this year I tossed it all out and started over.

Why? Because I didn’t start out with a plan. Conditions have changed a lot since I started in 2002 and a lot of the advice you get today is still based on the old reality. Can blogging contribute to your success? Sure. Will it? Not necessarily. Continued…

Posted in Marketing.

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FTC begins fraud crackdown

ftc-logo1The Federal Trade Commission has begun its crackdown on internet scammers, get-rich-quick schemes, and other frauds. On July 1 the FTC issued a press release detailing some of their actions:

The Federal Trade Commission today announced a law enforcement crackdown on scammers trying to take advantage of the economic downturn to bilk vulnerable consumers through a variety of schemes, such as promising non-existent jobs; promoting overhyped get-rich-quick plans, bogus government grants, and phony debt-reduction services; or putting unauthorized charges on consumers’ credit or debit cards.

The article lists eight (8) early enforcement actions against some high-profile players across a broad range of get-rich-quick niches. Included in the early enforcement actions was TV infomercial regular John Beck/Mentoring of America, which produces “John Beck’s Free & Clear Real Estate System,” “John Alexander’s Real Estate Riches in 14 Days,” and “Jeff Paul’s Shortcuts to Internet Millions.”

Also named was Google Money Tree, for allegedly misrepresenting that they were affiliated with Google and failing to disclose their continuity fee billing.

It’s highly likely that this is just the first of many actions across the get-rich-quick universe, designed to gain some early publicity by tackling a few big hitters. I would not be surprised to see this enforcement trickle down the food chain. Fraud is nothing new, but bad economic times tend to increase the potential market for schemes. Lousy, unethical practices make it harder for legitimate small businesses to use good internet marketing. So I say good riddance to bad practices and let’s see who the FTC focuses on next.

Here’s a video the FTC put together to warn consumers about get-rich-quick fraud:

Posted in Marketing, Policy and Regulation, Sales, Videos.

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Mindmapping as a memory tool

InnovationThis image is a simple mindmap I created several years ago for an innovation project I led.

It does a good job of capturing a lot of information in a simple format. The actual map contained links to several of the sources, which made it even more useful, but it also had a stong visual impact on the audience, and helped us focus on what was important. Continued…

Posted in Productivity.

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Old-school medicine marketing

Bayer Heroin and Aspirin adLooking back at old advertisements is a great way get perspective on how much advertising has changed while staying the same. Internet marketing gets a bad rap for all the worthless get-rich-quick schemes, but the reality is that advertising has been filled with outrageous claims since it was first invented. Here’s a rousing look at early medicinal ads brought to you by Pill Talk. Weed, booze, heroin, cocaine — it’s all here. Including Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup for teething children, which apparently contained 65mg of morphine per fluid ounce. Ha, and we think Red Bull is bad

Posted in Culture, Marketing.

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7 steps to fixing the auto industry

The Hindenburg burnsLike most things the government does, its approach to “fixing” the auto industry/energy/environment problem is broken. Badly broken. Wrong-headed. Misguided. Appallingly stupid. And sad. It always amazes me that when we have an industry more-or-less crippled by poorly thought out government regulation, the answer to fixing it is in more government regulation. What a concept.

Recent polls show that only 26% of Americans think the government’s plan to bail out GM is a good idea, and only 42% of GM car owners are even “somewhat likely” to buy GM again. Clearly, most of us don’t think we’re on the right track for fixing this mess. But there are things that can be done, and the industry can survive and progress without massive government meddling, spending, and regulation.

So here’s my 7-step plan for addressing the auto industry/environment/energy situation. Amazingly, there’s not one single step that requires new regulation or money for the auto industry. Continued…

Posted in Culture, Economics, Management, Policy and Regulation.

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