Head vs. heart

As Google bought Fitbit (https://www NULL.theverge, the benefits of analog and digital watches came to mind.

Analog watches have unmatched appeal for those who appreciate mechanical excellence. Nothing compares to the beauty of a handcrafted object. A simple appliance can be elevated from pure function to the realm of art.

Billionaires fill their display cases with timepieces made by Patek Philippe and IWC – and not Apple Watches.

But the Apple Watch has beauties beyond appearance. At a glance, you can see the temperature outside, weather forecast, stock prices, what’s next on your schedule – and more.

I’d argue that we need both art and science – both in business and in our personal lives.

A well-run business has team members that focus on the technical aspects of their offerings and those who focus on the art of their offerings.

Customers need to connect with the heart and soul of your business – not just your effective functionality.


Kneejerk Design

Designers love to change things. And that’s not always a good thing.

The latest trend in website and app typography is Arial Light, all mashed together. (See left, below.)


Many websites have adopted the mashed-together type. Google (right) has not.

The very simple moral of the story is that if something works well, don’t change it just to be like everyone else.


Why Selfies?

Paul Merrill selfieTaking a photo of yourself is the latest thing. Even Obama did it at Mandela’s funeral (http://uk NULL.html#ZckgPNe). And he got in trouble, sort of.

There’s a spectrum of personal comfort in posting photos of yourself on the internet. On one end are the celebrities who take selfies many times a day and post them on Twitter. That could fall into the category of feeding your own ego, though it does them little harm and keeps their popularity high.

At the other end of the spectrum are people who never share their photo. In light of Facebook and Google using your personal data for their own benefit, there are reasons for concern.

Like it or not, people identify with you more if they can see you. Posting a photo or two is a calculated risk – the reward of potential clients or connections knowing who you are may be worth the potential negative consequences.

So if you are willing to take the risk, here are a few tips:

  • Selfies are casual. People can connect with you more if you are not perfect. There is a place for studio-perfect shots, but potential clients can get a better idea of who you are if they see you in an informal setting.
  • Put a selfie on your website. A more permanent place for your picture will allow search engines to help people find you.
  • Take several selfies till you get it right. Few people can get a great shot the first time.
  • If you can afford it, hire a real photographer to take a perfect selfie. She can probably capture the essence of you better than you can.

The Best Article on SEO in a While

enlarged view of browser address windowIf you have a website or manage online media for your company, this article on SEO over at Medium (https://medium is a must-read.

Medium is a great website, by the way. (I also wrote a post over there (https://medium, as did Gary Vaynerchuk (https://medium null@null garyvee).)



The Details Matter

Google Offers ads (http://www sends me emails once a day. Their Offers program is a lot like Groupon. But sadly, they must hire interns to create Offers email ads. Or maybe businesses have the ability to create those ads. Several details were missed: a bad photo of a stack of blank DVD cases – and a click through – did not reveal what sort of Monthly Cricket Bill was advertised. And the man changing the oil appears to be under a lot of pressure from the weight of the car.

When something says Google at the top, recipients have certain expectations. Quality is one, and these ads did not deliver. Even though Google’s Offers program might be one of their smallest sources of revenue, it still reflects on their image.

Maintaining a high level of quality across everything you offer can be challenging. Stakeholders demand more and more products and levels of service. Delivery times are growing shorter and shorter. Profit margins can be razor-thin.

Sometimes a choice must be made: wide offerings with low quality or narrow offerings with high quality. Another alternative is to grow slowly enough that you have the proper infrastructure in place before you launch each new initiative.

Which way will you go?


Stay Relevant

Blackberry phone (http://www null@null N03/5675240248/in/photolist-9Dv6cN-nqeg8-8r3k42-6qKpds-dQJkWp-aj9LMt-7dPfns-5nww6M-58WjTT-99X974-7bzqf7)Blackberry is in the process of dying. I was surprised to see a recent Wall Street Journal editorial (http://online NULL.wsj NULL.html) shouting the virtues of an old Blackberry phone. Mr. Allan Ripp declared to the whole world that he is not relevant within his chosen profession, press relations.

His rant against smartphones was similar to shouting in 1980 that personal computers were not a good thing. The tide has turned toward smartphones, and he needs to learn or die. It would be one thing if Mr. Ripp were in a profession unrelated to communication. Unless he experiences how many people consume news today, he will not provide press releases that work properly on smartphones.

This is not a rant against Allan Ripp. Rather, it’s a reminder to stay relevant. Be willing to try new technologies with an open mind. “Everybody’s doing it” is not a reason for you to join in, but it is a reason for you to understand what they are doing. If you want to communicate with fish, you need to learn how to swim.

Photo: Creative Commons licensed from langleyo (http://www null@null N03/5675240248/in/photolist-9Dv6cN-nqeg8-8r3k42-6qKpds-dQJkWp-aj9LMt-7dPfns-5nww6M-58WjTT-99X974-7bzqf7).

Note: The Wall Street Journal’s full story (linked above) is blocked by a paywall. If you are a WSJ subscriber, you can read the full story. But all you need to know is in this little blog post.