Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Why Marketing Exists

Marketing exists to generate demand for something. Demand generation is making a market of people who are ready to buy. Ready to buy means a sales opportunity is created. In B2B, this literally means that an account executive creates an opportunity in the CRM.

If sales creates an opportunity, then marketing generated demand.

Demand generation is not optimizing landing pages and calls-to-action in a marketing automation tool.

Demand generation is making a market of people who are ready to buy and marketing exists to make that market.

Marketing does not exist to produce leads. A lead is a person who is not ready to buy.

Here's the thing.

The only way this works is if you let the sales team decided when YOU generated demand. Sales creates the opportunity. Not you. Sales. Sales decides whether you achieve marketing's mission to generate demand.

Are you willing to stick your neck out like that?

I am.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Bernard Baruch On Bitcoin

Bernard Baruch once said, "Lyft drivers told you what to buy. The DoorDash deliverer could give you a summary of the day's bitcoin price range as she handed you your poke bowl. An old out of work java programmer who regularly patrolled the Philz Coffee in front of my office now gave me tips, and I suppose, spent the money I and others gave him on bitcoin. My virtual assistant had a Coinbase account and followed the price of bitcoin on his mobile app. His paper profits were quickly blown away in the gale of 1929.”

Monday, March 5, 2018

3 Things I Learned at Way Too Cool 2018

I ran Way Too Cool 2018 this past weekend. I had a great race. I was not my fastest race. But it might have been my best race. I learned a lot. There are three things I learned.

#1 Things Are Rarely As Bad As They Seem

It rained a lot in the 3 days before the race. The Auburn area received several inches of rain. And the forecast was for it to rain all day during the race. It was even pouring down rain in Folsom when I went to pick up my bib at Fleet Feet. All signs pointed to it being a tough, cold, wet, muddy day.

As is turns out. it hardly rained at all during the race. The sun even came out a few times. It was cold, but not really after I started running. Yes, my feet were cold most of the day from the mud and puddles, and creek crossings, but not numbing cold. Not really. 

In other words, the race conditions were way better than expected. On Friday afternoon, the apparent conditions were screaming, "Don't run. Stay in bed. Try again next year."

Thank goodness I did not listen to my demons. I told them, the night before the race, "Back off. I'm running."

Lesson: Go anyway. Even when you don't want to. 

#2: The Right Equipment Matters

I am no gear geek. I don't get caught up in getting all the cool gear. I have a simple Timex watch. Champion running shirts from Target. Last year, I ran Way Too Cool holding a Crystal Geyser Half Liter Water bottle. That's it. 


The right equipment does matter.

For instance. 

My shoes. I ran this year's race in the Altra King MTs. Despite me switching almost entirely away from Altras because the shoes seem to be getting narrower and narrower, to the point now where trying on a pair of Altra's makes me feel like I am wear a pair of Ferragamos (Read: narrow, Italian leather shoes), I kept my King MTs.


The lugs.

The 6mm lugs.

While other runners were tentative with their footing, slipping in the mud, especially on the downhills, I flew past people with my grippy Kings. These shoes gripped the deep, sloppy, slipperly mud like Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires on the Mount Rose Highway in a January snow storm. 

I passed people on muddy down hills like they were standing still, and I was Max King.

Altra King MT Way Too Cool 2018

#3 This Heart Rate Training Things Definitely Works

I have been training at the Maffetone Heart Rate since 2015, but only recently altered my diet to be more high fat. I felt strong throughout this race. In fact, according to Athlinks, I moved my 118 spots in the race after mile 8. 

Think about that.

Out of 601 racers, I moved up 118. 

You might argue I started out too slow. 

I argue, I started out just right, and just didn't slow down as much as others. Either way, I was able to run well at the end on the flats and downhills. I even hiked up Goat Hill without feeling like my lungs would explode. I did not stop and rest. I just hiked up (slowly, of course) steadily. Evenly. And when I got to the top, I kept walking to the aid station, grabbed two quarter PBJs, refilled one bottle, and started running. 

I'm now more hooked than ever on that heart rate training thing. Who needs speed work? I am getting faster naturally. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Why I am not more effective. Yet.

For the past few months, I have been thinking consistently and deliberately about how I can be more effective in my work. Though most of that time is usually spent thinking about how I can I be more productive, I do not think productive is the right word. 

Productive implies doing more work, or even just being busier. When you look up the definition of productive, the stress is on producing more. You might see the word “results" in the definition of productive, but the bias is towards producing more.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe people who produce more, are generally more successful. You cannot sit on your ass, do the minimal amount of work, and expect to be successful. I think saying to oneself, “I work smarter not harder” is an excuse for taking long lunches and going home early, while everyone else stays to help one more customer, make one more sales call, or fix one more bug.

I want to be more effective, not more productive


I don’t want to just worker harder. Just do more. Just work longer hours. Just spin my wheels. 

I want to be more effective.

Like you. I have plenty to do. More work than I can get done. The choices I have for work to do is enormous. 

Oh yeah.

I have choices, baby. 

More choices of thing to work on than I do choices of spaghetti sauce. 

The question, of course is, “What to choose?"

But what is effective?

This has been on of those times when I needed to consult Peter Drucker. As I have done more than a few times in my career, I turn to Drucker for advice, in the form of his book, The Effective Executive

I turn to Chapter 3: What Can I Contribute?

And it hits me like a ton of bricks in the opening paragraph:
“The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward towards goals. He asks: “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?” 
“His stress is on responsibility.”

1950s pronouns aside, this always wakes me up.

At least for a moment.  

The intoxicating allure of busy

I find it easy, intoxicating, to get bogged down on everything I could do in a day. And in the quest to do more, I do a lot more tasks that make me feel busy and productive and helpful, but do not answer the question, “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?”

After all, I have to prepare for that meeting at 11. I have to say “Yes” to helping create that campaign.” I have to help Cynthia with her project because she has a deadline tomorrow, and her customer needs it done.”

I am not saying these urgent tasks should be ignored (well, maybe I am), but I have been working hard to spend most of my time on the fewest tasks that can make the largest contribution to the most important results of my company (I should apply this idea to my family life, as well. Another blog perhaps?).

Every day, I struggle with the push and pull of being effective and being busy. 

I lose. 

A lot. 

But I am winning more. 

As Drucker advises me on page 57: “Commitment to contribution is commitment to responsible effectiveness.” 

A daily effort to commit. A daily practice.

My commitment is growing. Even though, for some reason, I do not make such a definitive statement as “I will ONLY work on tasks that make a contribution to results” or “No more busy work for me” or “I will never eat fried foods again. Ever.” 

Maybe you have that level of discipline. I do not. But I am consciously thinking about being more effective. Every day.

There is a deeper truth to all this, but I do not trust you enough to share that yet. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

This Heart Rate Training Thing Worked For Me and I Have the Strava Data To Prove It

Metabolic efficiency training. Heart rate training. Slow down to speed up. The Maffetone Method. Just do whatever Sally Edwards tells you to do. Just drink UCAN all day. Eat nothing but liver and avocados. Whatever you want to call it…it kinda worked for me.

Here is how it happened:

It all started in December 2015.

It actually started in 1999, when I first read one of Sally Edward’s books on heart rate training (I think this is the book I read: Heart Rate Monitor Guide Book). Sally Edwards has a new book which is pretty good: Be a Better Runner.

Long story short, I bought a Polar heart rate monitor and started doing my easy runs at the slow heart rates recommended in the book. It was slow.

Too slow.

I didn’t stick with it.

I couldn’t.

I wouldn’t.

I was impatient.

I was embarrassed.

Running that slow was awful and so unintuitive and a seeming anathema to speeding up that I could not stick with it.

Fast forward to December 2015.

I listened to two Trail Runner Nation podcasts about metabolic efficiency training and one with Phil Maffetone about speeding up by slowing down. Something in these podcasts clicked for me and I decided to go for it. The best part of the Phil Maffetone podcast was when Maffetone talked about Mark Allen (the famed Triathlete he trained. Allen: "I can’t train that slow." (implying it being embarrassing). Maffetone: "Train at night."

I immediately bought Maffetone’s book. You should too: The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing.

When I started off….my heart rate target was 135. I did not get tested in a lab. I didn’t want to spend the money, so I just used the Maffetone formula. That put my heart rate target at 135 beats per minute. So, when I went for a run, I would not allow my heart rate to exceed 135….I wanted to burn fat a fuel and train my aerobic system. 

My pace from a run in December 2015. Avg HR 133.

In other words, just do what these experts said to do. They were my coaches, right?

So, when I ran, I ran slow. And I mean slow. 13 minute mile pace. Sometimes it was 14 minute mile pace. It was not running or even jogging. I was trotting. Frankly, I could have walked at the same pace, at a slightly lower heart rate and saved some energy.

I feel you, Mark Allen. It was embarrassing.

For the most part I stuck with it. Embarrassing as it was. It’s not like I made steady, linear, “up-and-to-the-right” progress, either. It seemed like a long, frustrating plateau of slow misery.

But I stuck with it.

What made it more frustrating was that my heart rate monitor (a Polar FT60) seemed very unreliable. I would be going along at 132 beats per minute……then all of a sudden, it jumped to 155. Nothing changed. I did not hit a hill. I did not speed up. A black bear didn’t just appear out of that bush on the Juniper Mountain Trail between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows like it did in 2013.


The heart rate monitor just spiked. As soon as I started walking, it skipped back down to 132. Cool. I started running again. Boom. Back up to 155. That happened all the time. I changed batteries. I washed the chest strap. That helped a little. This went on for two months. I finally gave up and just ran based on breathing out of my nose as a gauge. I figure I was running at basically the right heart rate if I could run and breath out of my nose. Its not perfect. But I was able to overcome the frustration of technology that seemed to make things worse.

By the way. Is this normal for a heart rate monitor? For a Polar? What’s your experience?

After going along with this “nose breathing” method for a month or so, my pace did not seem to pick up. Looking at my Strava data my pace did increase. But, I thought, maybe because I was running at a faster heart rate. And since I was not using a heart rate monitor, I did not know for sure.

Finally, I sent my heart rate monitor in to Polar to get it serviced. That charged me about $25 and repaired the transmitter.

I guess they did. Who the hell really knows?

It seemed to work, so...since April 2016, I went back to using the heart rate monitor. I noticed my speed did increase. I was running in the 11-12 minute per mile pace on runs now. Hmmmm. That’s cool. Still slow. But better. Is it really working?

Maybe so.

I was inspired.

And with the InsideTrail Rodeo Valley 50K coming up in June, I was gaining confidence.

Anyway, in December, when I started this. I had a secret goal that I would run under 10:00 min/mile pace at that heart rate. I mean…..if this works, and I speed up, why not go for a big goal. 9:59 pace consistently for these “easy” runs. Maybe even on my long runs.

That would be awesome.

April and May were productive months of running for me, with a (mostly) reliable heart rate monitor, I stuck to the plan. Except for one day a week, when I ran the trails at Rancho San Antonio Open Space and just bombed straight up for 4 or 5 miles before turning around and running down. No heart rate monitors on those days. I just ran as heard as I could without bonking to the point when I would have to walk up the hill.

I stuck with it.

I did get faster.

Way faster.

In June, I did a five mile run. All splits were below 10:00 min/mile. Can you believe it?

When I did this run, I did not go out with any goal to do any split targets. It was not a test run. I just did an easy, normal 5 mile run. On the morning route a take for many of my weekday runs. 

My pace on a run in June 2016. Same route about the run above. Soooooooo fast for a slow run. Avg HR: 134

It was just a normal run.


Now I am hooked.

I love running slow. Because I am speeding up.

Love it.

Because I love running fast.

I ran the Rodeo Valley 50K in Marin on June 11. I ran it pretty slow…..but I was not that sore afterwards and was running by 3 days after the race. Feeling great.

Then I ran the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52K 7 days later. I dropped, but not from being tired. That’s a long story worthy of a blog post.

I am hooked.

Did I say that already?

I am also hooked for another reasons. Running at this pace provides other benefits:
  1. It takes the guess work out of what’s an easy run. That's “easy" now. Run at a pace just under that heart rate. Done.
  2. It takes the guess work out of how hard or fast run run on any given day. My heart rate tells me that.
  3. I don’t get sore anymore. Hardly ever. So I can run more consistently, and I can run more. 
  4. I don’t carry food or water on runs up to 2 1/2 hours, unless its hot.
I left out a lot of details. But that is the story.

What questions do you have? Has anyone else had similar results?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Company Culture Decks Are So 2012: Enter the Culture MOOC

Cushard Confidential MOOC Culture Deck

There has been a lot of recent activity surrounding the importance of company culture and its link to company success. Netflix caused a notable stir with their culture deck called, "Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility," which Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg described as possibly "the most important document ever to come out of the valley." Hubspot made a similar splash with their Culture Code presentation about what makes Hubspot tick. And don't forget about Zappos and its culture focus. The Netflix and Hubspot presentations are slick and may well be the secret to these two very successful companies.

The problem is that these presentations follow a one-to-many distribution model and much can be lost in translation. It turns out there is a potential solution to this problem. The Massive Open On-Line Course (MOOC) Let's look at three principles of MOOCs to guide how an executive team could teach it's culture to all employees.

Massive, Open, and Asynchronous

MOOCs allow for a many-to-many approach to teaching culture, and for executive teams to participation directly with all employees who choose to participate. Because a MOOC is massive and open, companies can open culture discussions to employees all over the world and even to prospective employees who are currently in the recruiting process. What better way to educate prospective employees about your culture than to invite them to participate in the company culture MOOC?

The asynchronous nature of a MOOC allows for executive-level participation because it remove the necessity for busy executives to be available in person at a certain time. Senior leaders can participated in off hours, between meetings, on airplanes, or where ever else they have a few free minutes.

Structured and Facilitated

Following the model of a typical MOOC offered by Coursera executive team members can facilitate discussions on specific culture topics and truly engage people in conversations about the company culture and what it means to live and act on the culture. This is an excellent way to feel the pulse of an organization and to engage in on-going conversations on specific topics related to its culture. This kind of insight does not come out of employee surveys.


During each weekly unit of a MOOC, participants are assigned to take action on culture values and report back to the group on their results. "Last week, I tried to put the customer first, but my manager reprimanded me for giving away the store." Think about how valuable it would be to share that result in a facilitated discussion with peers, managers, and an executive-level facilitator. People will really know how the company wants people to treat customers after that discussion. The silver bullet of culture success is to get a large group of people to guide their actions using the principles laid out in the company culture.

What makes MOOCs compelling for an executive team is two-fold. First, a MOOC provides an executive team a persistent opportunity to get their message across about culture. Second, it allows a many-to-many model of engaging employees on an important topic. I'd venture to say that for any company touting teamwork and collaboration as a part of their culture, they should already be using MOOCs as a means for teaching culture.

This blog originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This Kindle Sample Made Me NOT Buy the Book 

Cushard Consequential Trendology Building Advantage through Data-driven Real-time MarketingI like getting samples on Kindle. Sometimes I load up a few samples, so that when I have a few minutes to read, I can jump into a sample. Sample books are great ways to test the waters and decide if a book is worth buying. Great move by Amazon.

Samples are also great because it does not take a huge investment of time, and you can read in spurts. I don’t like to read in spurts with full books. I feel like I need to have at least 30 minutes to get into a read reading session. Anything less, doesn’t allow me to get into the book, so I feel like it is a waste of time.

But if I have 10 or 15 minutes, starting a book sample is great.

Often times, after a read a sample, I buy the book (ok, sometimes I get it from the library).

In this case, however, a sample made me NOT buy the book. I knew from reading this one story, that I would not like the book.

The book is called Trendology: Building an Advantage Through Data-Driven Real-Time Marketing.

The story early in the book is about how Arby’s tweeted Pharrell Williams because he was wearing a hat that looked like the Arby’s logo hat. Arby’s tweeted….in the moment, during the Grammy’s, while everyone was watching:


The likes and retweets and fun engagement took off. It was one of those tweets that went viral. What a success. So many lessons I could learn and might be able to apply in my own work to increase engagement and create buzz for the products I market.

What a great book this is going to be, right?

Not so fast.

That story of a huge marketing success made me not want to buy the book.

Wait. What?

Why did a successful story, a story that turned out to be great, make me not want to buy the book?

Because the punchline of that story was that it was a success because it generated buzz and lots of retweets.

Don’t get me wrong. I would love to have lots of retweets. I guess. I know I am supposed to say that. So I said it.

But……what I was really thinking while reading that story was:

"Who cares about social engagement?"

I was waiting for the punchline to be, “…AND…traffic to Arby’s restaurants increased by X% and sales increased by X%."

But. Sadly. No.

I was actually sitting there thinking Arby’s was in the business of selling roast beef sandwiches.

This hit me hard because, by coincidence, I had recently finished listening to an episode of PNR This Old Marketing podcast with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose.

PNR told a story about how XEROX generated over 1,000 new sales appointments and increased its sales pipeline by $1 billion with a content initiative, Chief Optimist. At the end of the segment Joe Pulizzi commented, “Yeah, but how many Facebook likes did Xerox get?"

And that’s the point.

Why the hell do I care about social media engagement? In fact, I am in marketing, and I do not run reports on page views, likes, shares, or anything of the sort.

We track three metrics:

  1. Subscribers (to our newsletters, blog, etc)
  2. Number of MQLs and SQLs and the conversion rates
  3. Dollar value of pipeline revenue

That is pretty much it.

Maybe I should do more. But ultimately, if our marketing efforts contribute to increase the revenue pipeline, sales will close many and the business will grow.


Have you read Trendology? Does it get better later in the book? Should I revisit it? Comment below and set me straight.