Thursday, January 23, 2014

Too Big for Their Britches Syndrome

I'm not going to mention the name of the band, but here in LA for GRAMMY week, I was a part of an event where the band was signed to perform and along with the performance, they were committed to doing some media, pictures, and mingling with the donors who so generously underwrote the event for a great cause.  What happened at the 11th hour was the band decided they wouldn't do anything other than perform.  Even before the show went on, we had a sour taste in our mouths about them.  Before the show I ran into them in a hallway.  They all walked with their heads down, avoiding eye contact so to not be noticed (or that was their schtick).  When they performed, they were just as detached from the audience, never engaging or recognizing their fans who had bought tickets to be there.

If you have any experience with music artists, or any type of performing artist, and yes, even high-profile business people, this is called the "too big for their britches syndrome".  On one hand, you might say, "Well why not?" And you go on, "These guys can't live normal lives as they are recognized and pawed on for autographs and photographs at every turn."  Here is why not.  As Julius Caesar said, "Fame is fleeting."

When fame turns to pride, artists and all of us lose our way.  When we think we are above the rest then we are already on our way to sliding down the other side.  This band, are here today, but they will more than likely be gone tomorrow.  And, I will guarantee this, when they are in the later years of life and walking through an airport, they will love the person who walks up to them and says, "I was a fan of yours".

These guys missed the opportunity for life-long engagement last night.  Had they acted in the opposite, I would be writing a much different post this morning of an example of giving, gratitude and accessibility.

And more importantly, they would have gained a fan.

Hopscotch Work

One of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin, had this to say recently about the pace of how we we now work:

"We skip reading the whole thing, because it's easier to jump to what we assume the writer meant.
We skip engaging with customers and stakeholders because it's quicker to assert we know what they want.
We skip doing the math, examining the footnotes, recreating the experiment, because it might not turn out the way we need it to.
We better hurry, because the firstest, loudest, angriest opinion might sway the crowd."

Guilty as charged?  Sure, we all are, and we need to know the same about our consumers, customers and employees.  Internally, we spend time and energy on things that demand deep-thinking and reading the fine print for success to happen and then we are frustrated when our people say, "I didn't know".  This is not going to get better. With a 140 character, Snapchat, Instagram world, we are only experiencing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attention-span deficit and hopscotching through work and life.  What to do?  We must adapt without losing the ability to place emphasis where attention must be held.  It can be done and those who master this will win the day.  Consider the power of visuals, sounds and stories that make one think and ask follow up questions.  If you have read this far...the answer lies somewhere there.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


This is GRAMMY week.  For me, in my final year as Chairman of The GRAMMY Foundation, I will be at a number of events this week where it will be standing room only, SRO.  I always marvel at the number of people who want to attend The GRAMMYs.  The demand is high.  Behind this interest is a love of music. 

Wouldn't it be great if we could get our customers and consumers to desire our business at the same level?  It's not impossible.  If we know the loves of our customers/consumers and what they desire and why, then we might be able to have them clamoring for us.  

If you think it can't be done, ask Apple what it feels like to launch a new product. It can be done.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2013 Rusty Rueff Books Read and "Best Ofs"

I am pleased to share my 2013 Books completed list.

I've also included what I felt were my "The Best Ofs" for the year.

Another year to also compare reading Statistics/Mediums:

21 Books read

66% read digitally (d) - that's up from 25% in 2012
4.6% were audio books (a)

48% were Fiction

(a) Rod: The Autobiography - Stewart     *most new surprising information about someone                 
(d) Telegraph Avenue -Chabon     *I love everything he writes - so he is in his own league                    
(d) Behind the Beautiful Forevers -Boo   *most non-fiction that read like fiction                       
(d) NW - Smith     *most hyped that didn't turn out to blow me away                                               
A Grace Revealed - Sittser                      
Circle Makers - Batterson                
Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey - Veach                       
(d) We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves - Fowler     *best twist                      
(d) The Lion in the Pit on a Snowy Day - Batterson                
(d) The Fault In Our Stars - Green                      
The Nature of the Future - Gorbis     *most thought-provoking                   
The Centrist Manifesto - Wheelan     *most made me take action and get involved                 
(d) The Sound of Things Falling - Vasquez     *best use of language                 
(d) The Silent Wife - Harrison     *best page turner - but not 2013's Gone Girl                 
(d)  Beautiful Ruins - Walter     *best read of the year. Beautiful language and great story                     
(d)  Give and Take - Grant     *most intellectually stimulating                    
(d) The Circle - Eggers     *most frightening - because it is happening                     
(d)  Double Down - Game Change 2012 - Halperin/Heileman     *book doesn't compare to being there   
(d) Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore - Sloan     *I'm recommending to everyone and best book you've never heard about      
(d) All In - Batterson     *most read author of the year - but read Circle Makers and you've got it all      
The Art Forger - Shapiro               
First completed in 2014:
The Goldfinch - Tartt     *great start to the year. will be hard to beat this one

Next up in 2014:

Americanah - Chimanmanda Ngozie Adichie
The Good Lord Bird - James McBride (2013 National Book Award winner) 


Friday, January 10, 2014

No Catches...No Ties...Nothing Hidden

There is a great AT&T commercial running, called, "Supervisor"  . It's filled with so much of how we think. 

First, we are cynical and disbelieving of any offers (maybe rightfully earned). 

Secondly, we distrust that we are receiving the right level of authority and attention from service people.

Thirdly, we think that we have "won" when we escalate the problem to someone higher in the authority chain. 

What the ad is saying back to us, or is at least trying to do so, is that all three of our assumptions are false.  But, will we change?  Not likely, so we might as well accept that our consumers and customers all think this way. 

The only thing that gets over the fears of ties and catches are trust, authenticity and transparency. Might in the AT&T advertisement the service been better had Lily identified herself as the Supervisor from the beginning?

Something for us all to think about!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Emotion, Choice and Distraction

All good sales people know that they must know and recognize, and then be able to respond to, the answers they receive that are the beginning of a deal slipping away from them.  But the rest of us try and close deals everyday with our teams, partners, investors, employees and yes, even with our bosses without the same experience or skills.  Here are three responses to watch out for: 
  • The "Emotion" - "I just don't know how I feel about this...."  
  • The "Choice" - "I have some alternatives that I need to review first..."  
  • The "Distraction" - "Right now, I just have too much going on to pay attention to this... "
 How we anticipate and ready for these common responses can make the difference between being able to close the deal, or not.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"First Let Me"

How many times have we heard, "I'll get to that, but first let me..."?  How often do we actually think this way and after we have had gone through all of the "first let me" options, we find that we haven't gotten anything important done.  

"First let me" is a dangerous thing and can cause disastrous hesitations.  How do we keep from these moments happening from us?  Steven Covey wrote a great book. "First Things, First".  By having our priorities defined and held firm, we can remove the "First let me" syndrome.  

Think about how many times you have let something else get in the way and distract the important from getting done.  

If you can think of one example, that's one too many.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Crossing the Generations

A favorite opinion writer of mine is David Brooks.  I am fascinated with those like Brooks who can cover a far-ranging set of topics.  Brooks is a also a sociologist and brings interesting insights into communities, behaviors, norms, etc. A while back he wrote a column in the New York Times on how we change throughout the decades of our lives.  He placed these descriptors on each:

In our 20's - superman (person), possibilities, feverish energy, joiner, brave, entrepreneurial, unsympathetic to others

In our 30's and 40's - political scientist, lower estimations of own power and greater estimation of the power of institutions where you participate, faith in your navigation skills, adaptation, responsive to the "market" around you

In our 50's and 60's- sociologist, understanding of the power of relationships over individuals, managing and coaching, ambition fades and is transferred to the appreciation of ambitions of others, reflective and sentimental

In our 70's and 80's - historian, favoring tradition, appreciation of luck/fate, recognize the power of the dead over the power of the living

See yourself in this set of descriptions?  See your customers/consumers anywhere in here?

This is a path we will all walk, the question is what we will be like when we get there and what we will do to make the most of the understanding of what it means to successfully cross the generations.