How to Change Things

I just finished reading Switch, a book about how to effect change. Very Dale Carnegiean, the substance of the book was nothing revolutionary, per se. But I liked the way the Heath brothers broke things down to the Rider and the Elephant (borrowed from The Happiness Hypothesis). Here are a few of my favorite pointers from Switch.

Follow the Bright Spots - Pretty obvious but often neglected. Find out what is working and seek to replicate it. In the book there's a great story about a man who successfully fought child malnutrition in Vietnam using this method.

Script the Critical Moves - Similar to a S.M.A.R.T. goal, this means just taking great care to specify and record steps to achieving a goal in manageable, exact behaviors.

Shrink the Change - Make the task appear smaller and manageable. For example, issuing a rewards card with two of ten spaces stamped will generate more repeat business than an empty card with only eight spaces.

Overall, this was a very helpful book and I would recommend it to anyone (and don't forget to read Made to Stick, by the same authors!).


One of the few lessons from high school science classes that has actually stuck with me is the difference between velocity and acceleration. Simply put, the velocity is the speed at which an object is traveling, whereas acceleration is how much an object is increasing in speed.

To put it another way, one is an indication of a current status and one is an indication of rate of change.

People love ranking things. Best business school. Best company to work for. Best mustache. Rankings are designed to show how something compares to similar items in a particular category. It shows velocity. And people like that because it helps them make judgements based on what they see.

Velocity has played a part in a lot of the decisions I have made in my life, including what schools I have chosen and what companies I have worked for (not so much with mustache decisions :{ ). Despite this, my view on velocity as an important decision metric has begun to change. Lately, I've been learning to appreciate acceleration as a better measurement.

No Excuses

Last year, I posted about my opinion that ideas are easy, that it's the execution that is hard. The more I learn about business, the more I believe this to be true. I think we all know how great of a resource the Internet can be. But how many of us effectively use it to solve problems? I'm not just talking about Google, but also the vast landscape of knowledge in the form of databases, forums, libraries, connectability to bloggers and industry experts, and so many more tools. The best part is that most of this is free and (forgive the cliché) literally at our fingertips.

I'm just beginning to fully embrace this as I work towards my MBA and future career. Since the time I was in high school and starting participating in FBLA, I have had a number of ideas for new businesses. But up until this point I haven't followed through on them because I didn't have enough money or enough knowledge or both. I think that the time has come for that to change.

There's no excuse for not knowing or not acting.

Sloooooooow dowwwwn!

For some reason, I find this incredibly stupid commercial hilarious.

Despite loving the commercial, Jimmy Dean's superhero campaign hasn't exactly become viral (less than 11,000 views in two months). It will be interesting to see if this campaign will be a success for Sara Lee, or if it will share the same fate as slow motion man and disappear into thin air.

Oh no!

Life Lessons from Yogurt Leaders

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Minneapolis, Minnesota and tour the world headquarters for General Mills. I had the chance to meet with and hear from some very amazing people who work there. Here are just a couple of the takeaways I wrote down from Becky O'Grady, President of Yoplait.

New products are extremely difficult to introduce, and less than 20 to 40% of them succeed. A brand manager must be courageous and resilient in order to last in this type of work.

Active engagement is necessary to be successful. Often, it's just the "what" that matters, not the "how". As long as you are results-driven, there are many ways to come about a solution. In addition, collaboration is key. Brand managers must have the ability to communicate and inspire effectively.

In all, it was a great visit! Thank you General Mills for hosting the CBPM MBA students!