The Halo Effect and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers
by Phil Rosenzweig
Many business books and articles have been written about what Phil Rosenzweig calls “the mother of all business questions… What leads to high performance?” This book explains why much of this analysis is “riddled with errors.”
Using the examples of Cisco, ABB, and others, the author demonstrates the phenomenon. When times were good—strong revenue growth and a soaring stock price—these companies were praised for their exemplary strategy, culture, and CEO. When financial performance fell, the same strategy, culture, and CEO were ripped apart as severely flawed.
Why does this happen? Because we love stories. “As long as Cisco was growing and profitable and setting records for its share price, managers and journalists and professors inferred that it had a wonderful ability to listen to its customers, a cohesive culture, and a brilliant strategy. And when the bubble burst, observers were quick to make the opposite attribution. It all made sense. It told a coherent story.”
“Yet there’s a bit more to it. Our desire to tell stories, to provide a coherent direction to events, may also cause us to see trends that do not exist or infer causes incorrectly. We may ignore facts because they don’t fit into our story.”
How does this happen? Introducing the Halo Effect. Continue reading
Don’t Sell Me, Tell Me: How to use storytelling to connect with the hearts and wallets of a hungry audience
by Greg Koorhan
Greg Koorhan’s main message is to “stop sounding like everyone else and tell your own, unique story.”
“A study by the Emory Institute in Atlanta… found that just thinking about an action triggers the same emotional and sensory area of the brain that performing the action does… So by telling a story associated with you or your business, you can trigger the emotions that make your customer feel, even for a brief moment, as if they’ve experienced the same benefit… Assuming it’s a good experience, don’t you think they’ll want more?”
“When looking at data, the language areas of the brain light up, but not the emotional and sensory areas. These areas are triggered only by stories. This means that your story can engage your audience in ways data can’t… When data and stories are used together, audiences are moved both emotionally and intellectually.”
“Your Story IS Your Brand… Your brand is actually tied closely to your values. And by nurturing your values, you develop a theme. And out of your theme grows your story… Start with your values, then your theme, character archetype and emotional tone. Once you’ve got the elements of your story in place, your entire marketing and advertising platform can grow out of it.”
101 Things I Learned in Film School
by Neil Landau with Matthew Frederick
“In my… twenty years of teaching, screenwriting, and filmmaking, I have been continually struck by how the creative process of filmmaking is at once painstakingly deliberate and fortuitously experimental,” writes Neil Landau, who teaches at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.
Creating a film or television program entails a variety of skills including budgeting, screenwriting, directing, acting, and numerous technical proficiencies. Here’s a sampling of the insights shared by the author.
“Film is a director’s medium; television is a writer’s medium. A movie is a one-of-a-kind undertaking: The production team and actors come together for several weeks or months to create a unique world that disappears upon the completion of filming. A strong director is essential in defining this world—form its artistic details to its broad nuances, script approval to casting, set design to special effects, and lighting and equipment to the overall visual style. A successful television series, by comparison, is long running, and production becomes rather standardized during its first season. The greatest challenge becomes the generation of new material each week, giving the gifted writer a proportionately greater opportunity to shine.”
Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business
by Aswath Damodaran
Aswath Damodaran is a professor of finance who has written several books on business valuation, including The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock, and Profit.
In this book, he computes valuation based on the business narrative. “One of the most important lessons I have learned is that a valuation that is not backed up by a story is both soulless and untrustworthy and that we remember stories better than spreadsheets.” Conversely, “when a storyteller has wandered into fantasyland, the easiest way to bring him or her back to Earth is with data that suggests the journey is either impossible or improbable.” Thus, “you need to bring both stories and numbers into play in investing and business, and valuation is the bridge between the two.” Continue reading
One Little Spark! Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering
by Marty Sklar with introductions by Richard M. Sherman and Glen Keane
Marty Sklar was hired by Walt Disney in 1955, prior to the opening of Disneyland. He rose through the ranks to president of Imagineering, the group responsible for Disney’s theme parks worldwide. He retired in 2009 after a 54-year career with the company.
The first part of the book explains Mickey’s Ten Commandments, guiding principles developed by Sklar in 1983. The second half of the book consists of career advice from 75 Imagineers. The most prominent recurring theme in this book is storytelling. Continue reading
Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business
by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine
“Customer experience is how your customers perceive their interactions with your company. Once you understand that, you can manage your business from the outside in… To achieve the full potential of customer experience as a business strategy… you must manage from the perspective of your customers, and you must do it in a systemic, repeatable, and disciplined way.”
The benefits of providing exceptional customer experience are “higher revenues resulting from better customer retention, greater share of wallet, and positive word of mouth, plus lower expenses due to happier customers who don’t run up your service costs.” One example from the book is a $1.7 billion per year savings in customer service costs and bill credits as a result of Sprint simplifying its confusing plan options. Continue reading
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
by Jonah Berger
Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has studied why certain ideas and products get talked about and shared more than others. He refers to the “psychology of sharing” and identifies six common attributes: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.
Berger puts the hype of viral marketing in context. “Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.” However, “Research by the Keller Fay Group finds that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online… Continue reading