Archives for November 2010

Are you ready to change the world? How big are you willing to play?

November 30, 2010 143 Comments

Charles MulliWhat do Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea) and Charles Mulli (Father to the Fatherless) have in common?

They both know what it’s like to put everything they own on the line to help make the world a better place and the both have ignited wildfire word of mouth epidemics.

About two decades ago, both men had life changing experiences.  Greg Mortenson, after a successfully completing a rescue mission on K2, separated from his climbing party.  Exhausted he wandered into a small village where the family of the village elder took him in.  That event sparked a decision in Greg’s life to build a school for this impoverished town.  Greg’s journey has now led him to build schools across Afganistan and Pakistan.  If you haven’t read the book “Three Cups of Tea”, pick it up for your Christmas read. You won’t be able to put it down.

Charles Mulli had a similar path.   His is a rags to riches story of a street boy turned entrepreneur who then gave up everything to start a school for Kenya’s homeless children.  His story is the most gripping I have ever read.  Read “Father to the Fatherless” and you’ll truly understand how wildfire works.

Every wildfire word of mouth epidemic needs fuel.  A burning commitment to changing the world for the better is the most flammable fuel on the planet.

If you truly want to go to epidemic levels, ask yourself this:

–       How committed are you to bettering the lives of others?

–       How much are you willing to risk to get there?

This week, we’ll be opening a discussion on this topic.  Please join in and leave a comment.  I look forward to hearing your views.

What kind of spoons do you have?

November 12, 2010 103 Comments

A market in Moshi, Tanzania

It was a clear, hot morning in Moshi, Tanzania when my daughters and I walked through the market.  The warm breeze was blowing the brightly coloured Masai blankets like so many waving flags. Rows upon rows of vendors were showing their wares waiting for the few tourists to walk by and notice.  I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sympathy looking at it all – rows and rows of stalls all selling much the same thing.

I stopped at one stall where a serious looking man stood with his young son and picked out several salad spoons sets and a small statue for my family back home.  I had seen similar spoons and statues in almost every shop.  The store at the park gate was selling them for about $6 to $10 each.

“How much?”  I asked with a smile, mentally tallying about a hundred dollars worth of goods.

“Six hundred dollars” he replied quite seriously.

I gasped.  “Are you joking with me?” I asked.  Wondering if this was Tanzanian humour.  I looked over to my guide for help.

“A lot of work goes into the things” the guide said.  “You should pay that.”

“Are they somehow different that the spoons we see in other shops?”  I asked.

“No” the guide said.  “But he worked hard on these things.  You should pay him for his work.”

The interaction stuck with me in a powerful painful way.  I went back to my hotel and tore up my speaker notes I had been planning to present at the Umoja Vocational Centre later that day.  How could I teach word of mouth marketing when business owners were evidently missing the basics of supply and demand, or, more specifically, that over-supply drives down price.

When I walked up to present at the Umoja Centre, the faces in the room were eager and expectant.  Having a business expert from North America speak to them was a big deal.  On the board I wrote in bold letters the Keith Cunningham quote:

“A business owner is someone who solves a problem.

The bigger the problem, the bigger the profit”.

A hush fell over the room and the students stared.  Then as a unit they started scribbling madly in their notes.  This was not a concept to be forgotten.

The next hour turned into a group discussion on supply and demand, asking the students to come up with examples of where over-supply in the local markets could be driving prices down.  Faces were lighting up like light bulbs all over the room.

It’s easy to look at this situation with empathy.  But ask yourself this.  Are you selling the same spoons as everyone else?   The irony is, surf the Internet and you will see hundreds of websites all saying and selling the same thing.  When everyone is the same or “Vanilla” as Cidnee Stephen would call it, the only factor that consumers based their decision on is price.

Today’s tip? – look at your services offerings and take stock of what makes you different from everyone else?   Stop being a spoon seller and solve a bigger more unique problem.

Stop thinking! Are you making this mistake in trying to increase your influence and profit

November 10, 2010 94 Comments

Ever wondered why you’re not developing the powerful relationships that create over-night sensations?  Or why certain people just don’t want to play ball with you?  It could be because you’re thoughts are way more dominant than your feelings.


Pop quiz – How many late nights do you spend thinking about how to increase your success and profit?

a)    1 per month

b)    1 per night

c)    sleep?  You mean people sleep?

Increasing your profit in a world where word of mouth is dominant takes relationships.  Solidifying relationships takes emotion far more than thought.  Authentically caring about the people who can help you in business, will create relationships over night.


Want to increase your effectiveness in connecting with connectors? Stop thinking about how you get into relationship with them and get into your heart.  Connect with their needs and see how relationships develop.

Words as Weapons! Making your feedback more supportive.

November 8, 2010 2 Comments
Feedback is an interesting thing.  You’ve probably been taught to use “I language” when giving feedback.  It’s true, the most generous thing you can do in giving feedback is be selfish and make it all about the impact to you.
“I feel frustrated by what you just did” is far more easy for the person you’re speaking to to hear than “You’re just so frustrating!”.
But here’s the trap most people fall into.    There are a lot of accusational words in the English language.  It’s easy to cleverly disguise feedback as being personal and use accusational language.  “I feel undermined by you” carries an accusation in the word “undermined” that “you meant to undermine me”.
True feeling words are words like “frustrated, happy, sad, lonely, etc”.     If you catch yourself using the phrase “by you” or you’re using a word that carries accusation in it, such as “disrespected”  or “mistreated”,  than back up and try again.  Your more supportive language will ensure your feedback gets heard.

Dancing your way to influence. How you can lead from behind!

November 3, 2010 2 Comments

A man starts dancing on a beach.   He dances as though no one is watching.  Some smile.  Some look away embarrassed.  One man joins in.
Have you ever reflected on the importance of that first follower?
“The first follower is what transforms a loan nut into a leader!”  Derek Sivers says.
Derek has a great video which illustrates how word of mouth epidemics spread.  The importance of the first few followers is something that we often under estimate.  Without them, word of mouth epidemics simply do not happen.
Be someone who supports those loan nuts trying to change the world!  The importance of your role may be over looked by many.   But that one person will remember and be grateful.
If you’re a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”  (or even if you’re not) you’ll LOVE Derek Sivers’ TED video.