Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Gladwell’


October 24, 2013

Really why write when Seth does it so much better. Easier just to copy and share. A must read below.

In case you didn’t know, Seth was our guest speaker at Aspen Live in 2004.  Over the last 17-years, we have also welcomed the likes of Malcolm Gladwell (Journalist Researcher), Michael Moore (Film maker), Al Ries (Marketer and first to use the word Branding), Sergio Zyman (first ever CMO, came up with the title while at Coke where one of his claims to fame was “New Coke”), Jon Spoelstra (one of the leading sports marketers and author of Marketing Outrageously), The Innocence Project (CEO + a man who served 17-years for a crime he didn’t commit), Tim Bronsan (VP, Business for Major League Baseball), Steve Martin (President, The Agency Group, NA), Marc Gobe (Leading Packaging expert and author of Emotional Branding), Michael Rapino (CEO, Live Nation), Ian Rogers (now CEO, Beats Music), Chris Sacca (Google, now tech investor), Nic Adler (Owner, The Roxy and CEO, Adler Integrated), Dede Gordon (Leading Trend Researcher), Irving Azoff (CEO, Azoff Music Management), Bob Lefsetz (The Lefsetz Letter), and the list goes on.

Don’t be left in the dark.  Aspen Live 2013 dates are December 12-15 at the St. Regis, Aspen.  Register today at  See you then…again, please read below.

When free collides with powerful

One of the lessons that Microsoft taught Apple and Google is that ubiquity can be incredibly profitable.

By changing file formats, Microsoft forces every person in an organization to upgrade Word to the current state, because one of the reasons to use Word is that everyone else uses it. This isn’t often true for products in the real world–cars and whiskey and apartment buildings inevitably gain variation, whereas software tools are pushed toward a common standard–a new form of monopoly.

The strategy at Microsoft was always to put in power user enhancements, though, so that the power user (the weird one, the one on the edge, the one choosing to care) would hear about the upgrade and insist that everyone else on her team would upgrade as well.

Free, though, turbocharges the movement toward ubiquity at the same time it sabotages the power user. When the ‘upgrade’ is free, when the new version requires everyone to upgrade and is free as well, that’s sort of irresistible. The problem is that free destroys markets even faster than monopoly does, because it’s incredibly difficult for competitors without the other income streams to find a reason to compete.

And so, the new version of Pages from Apple is widely reviled by those that want a powerful tool. And the new version of Keynote, a program I use eight hours a day, is on the same path. It has the same one-way path for data structure (the new version forces all old users to upgrade if they want to collaborate) but it abandons a focus on professionals. Features and the goal of building for a craftsman are exchanged for the cross-platform ease and gimcracks that will please a crowd happy enough with free.

There are few deadends in the software business. When a platform gets dumb, the power users push for someone else to come along and make a better one. And when the monopolist gets greedy (as every dominant word processor vendor has) then the people who care take a leap and move to another tool.

In the meantime, the users who made the platform work in the first place spend a lot of time cursing the darkness that used to be light. Too often, power tools in software turn into entertainment platforms instead. There’s more money in it.



January 18, 2012

I have been a fan of Seth Godin since he first released Permission Marketing.  Not only was the book groundbreaking when it was written, if you picked it up today for the first time, most of the material would feel extremely relevant for today’s markets.  Seth’s name is also a great example of fan loyalty.

There is no question I’m a loyal fan of Seth’s, reading almost everything he’s written since Permission (Unleashing The Idea Virus, Purple Cow, Linchpin, the dip, Tribes, Small Is The New Big, Meatball Sundae, Free Prize Inside, and All Marketers Are Liars “tell stories”)…only missing a few.  Like most fans, I wanted to share my passion with friends (which I’m also doing now). So about 10-years ago (can’t believe it is that long) we brought Seth in as the keynote speaker for The Aspen Live Conference.  He is one of the few speakers we have had over the years (the only other two I can think of is Malcolm Gladwell and packaging guru Marc Gobe) where every guest was floored.

More recently, for some reason, I fell-off Seth’s blog subscription list, so after re-reading Permission Marketing, signed-up again.  Today was my first-day back and believe he must have been thinking about the music business when writing this post.  See for yourself

Have a great day!


August 29, 2010

I finally got around to reading Jeff Jarvis’s book, What Would Google DoChris Sacca (ex-Googler turned investor) had suggested it to me a while back and am now mad at myself for not picking it up sooner.  It inspired me to re-think the Aspen Conference.

For over 15-years, the Aspen Conference has had the privilege of hosting some of the most provocative and timely speakers (Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Moore, Chris Sacca, etc), but what truly makes it special are those who attend.  The Aspen Conference is a collaborative effort.  Just ask anyone from our family (community). 

This December, we have discussed moving the conference from Aspen to Park City (one flight vs. two), recruiting new blood, changing the format, and with inspiration for Jeff Jarvis…having YOU decide almost everything that happens. 

Please send me any and all ideas related to a collaborative conference.  This will be your conference and you will decide everything from agenda topics to guest speakers, to what hotels…even the new name.   

Our dates this year are December 9-12.  Please write back…give input…tell me what you want.




January 13, 2009

Last week, Bob Lefsetz wrote about a Malcolm Gladwell speech he had found online, that used the band Fleetwood Mac to point out the flaws related to  myths about genius and success (the same found in his book “Outliers”) .  “Outliers: The Story of Success” shows us that there are many factors that play into a person’s success including; where they are from, where their ancestors are from, how hard and for how long they practice, their religion, even when they are born.  When Gladwell gives his talk in the video, it is prior to the book’s release so he uses the Fleetwood Mac story to make his point about hard work and experimentation.  As Bob says in his letter, the video is worth checking out for sure.  But what really got me, was the question and answer period at the end of Malcolm’s talk.  As the moderator was wrapping up the session, Malcolm brought up AIG.

Whether it is true or not, it makes a great story (I’m too lazy to do the homework).  AIG, a company built over decades into a multi-billion dollar insurance and financial services giant is brought down by a small 600 person unit in England.  Turns out (according to Gladwell) most of these traders are in their 30’s.  So if Gladwell’s idea that we need 10,000 hours of practise to be great at something is correct…and it certainly seems to have a lot of merit… than the employees that got AIG into trouble should have never been in a position to do so in the first place.  They obviously didn’t have the experience to see what was coming and managed to ruin many people’s lives in the process. 

Gladwell brought up two words that are worth repeating…Seriousness and Integrity.  Put both of those into your business plan along with 10,000 +++ hours of training, research, study, practice, etc, and maybe you won’t end up like AIG.

Talk with you soon…


Book To Read

November 20, 2008

It must of been at least a week or more since Bob Lefsetz wrote about Malcolm Gladwell’s (prior Aspen Live Speaker… 2008 dates Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen) new book, “Outliers, The Story of Success”.  Bob talked in his letter about “how he couldn’t put it down.”  He was and is right.  Go pick “Outliers” up today.  It is a great book!  I also believe (haven’t confirmed, but how many Floms who are famous lawyers in NY are there?) there is a whole chapter on our friend Jason Flom’s father, Joe.

I’m in New York this week for the Billboard Touring Conference.  So far in speaking to people attending, the news is not good.  Concert promoters from across North America are saying that sales are down on everything “except slam dunks like AC/DC” (I can’t tell you how many times I heard that exact line on Wednesday).  The news reported the U.S. automaker B.S. as the stock market dipped below 8000.  Michael Moore (prior Aspen Live speaker…2008 dates Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen) is on Larry King right now on my TV giving his solution to Detroit.  He says, give the automakers the money, but make them build what the government tells (hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, mass transit, etc) them to build, like Roosevelt during WWII (aircraft, tanks, etc).   This is some out of the box economic thinking from a film maker, don’t you think.

We in the live business need to innovate and think more like Michael Moore (will leave the shameless plug out this time).  Since the shit storm seems to be hitting New York and Detroit the hardest at the moment, let’s work on ideas for helping the Detroit Live Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment businesses.  New York is a lot to take on with a plethora of entertainment options.  Detroit is a better target.

With the doom and gloom hitting Detroit right now, what ideas do you have to help our friends there sell more tickets to more people more often?

BTW, if you are in New York for the Billboard Conference, please come to the Festival Panel at 10:45 am that I’m moderating.  It is a great group of people to ask questions to about big event and festival producing.

Please send me your ideas and talk to you soon…


Political Marketing

October 22, 2008

The October 20 issue of Advertising Age announced that Barack Obama was the “Marketer Of The Year”.  His “electorate” were hundreds of marketers (at CMO level), agencies and the like who had gathered for the annual Association of National Advertisers.  Obama not only creamed his political competitor John McCain(who still made the list), he beat out mega-brands like Nike and Apple who are know for their marketing.  It all started (and ends) with passion and world-of-mouth.

In 2003, my friend and artist manager Ann Marie Wilkins called and asked me to contribute money to a politician I had never heard of named Barack Obama.  Because it was Ann Marie, I did it first and then did the research (she manages my friend Branford Marsalis who I’ve been friends with for over 20-years).  Turns out she could not have been more right about Barack and I became what Malcolm Gladwell would call a “Sneezer” or early adopter….and game on.

As Ad Age pointed out, the Obama campaign has won over voters with a mix of “grass-roots appeal and big-media-budget know-how”.  THAT MY FRIENDS IS A MOUTH FULL!!!  To put it in artist and record label terms for those in the music industry, Obama has marketed like an artist on an indie label with major label money and staff.  Of course, it starts with grass-roots and that’s where a lot of us go wrong…by starting big (like Hilary Clinton’s campaign).

Barack Obama started out as a community organizer and boy can you tell.  There are “Ann Marie’s” all over this country spreading the word one person at a time.  In Pennsylvania alone, there are now 80 Obama campaign offices…thousands of kids on the street.  Everyone involved feels empowered and part of the process.  Obama has used a combination of social networking and other 2.0 tactics along with traditional political organizing on the ground, to go for virtual unknown to one of America’s best known brands.

By breaking traditional with typical campain fund-raising and marketing, the Obama Camp has been able to not only out market and probably out spend his competitors (Democrat and Republican), but create a real passionate army of disciples to spread the message.  And that message has been clear from the start and has never changed!  This is another important lesson and what makes a great brand (staying on message).

Of course to reach those voters needed to win the election, mass-media (TV, Radio, Print, Outdoor, etc) was incorporated into the marketing mix.  Again, the campaign’s message stayed the same and the mass-marketing re-enforced everything coming from the street.  The Ad Age article points out that as the economy became most important to potential voters, the McCain campaign changed their ads and messaging.  “While Team McCain threw up ad after ad and tried to carve out a position during the financial crisis, Team Obama seemed to move at a slower pace, content to let Mr. McCain flail and then use his own words against him”  Consistency pays off.

As many have said before me, you can’t really market something you don’t believe in.  Since Ann Marie’s call in 2003, I have been a supporter, “sneezer”, contributor, and sometimes stalker for the Obama brand.  After his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention, many more bought into the brand (mass marketing).  This was followed by great grass-roots marketing, organizing and ultimately fund-raising that fueled the Obama becoming a household name…and the marketer of the year.

See what you can learn from the Obama campaign to help put butts in seats for your next event.

Talk to you soon…