Behold the World’s Tallest GIF!

Now that March Madness is over and the UConn Huskies are the 2014 NCAA champions, all the win probabilities produced during the tournament by FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver and his team of foxy data analysts) have been combined. This graphic combines images of the winning probabilities of each team from the end of each day of tournament games, into a single animation that shows how those probabilities changed as the tournament played out.

I’ll be writing a lot about predictive intelligence for digital marketers over the next few months, so if that’s your bag ~ stay tuned or reach out to me on Twitter for a chat… High-res

Behold the World’s Tallest GIF!

Now that March Madness is over and the UConn Huskies are the 2014 NCAA champions, all the win probabilities produced during the tournament by FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver and his team of foxy data analysts) have been combined. This graphic combines images of the winning probabilities of each team from the end of each day of tournament games, into a single animation that shows how those probabilities changed as the tournament played out.

I’ll be writing a lot about predictive intelligence for digital marketers over the next few months, so if that’s your bag ~ stay tuned or reach out to me on Twitter for a chat…

Reading a lot about leadership today after reviewing a few of my favourite authors ~ John C. Maxwell, Hugh Macleod, Simon Sinek, Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, Rick Warren, Marty Neumeier and Tony Hseih.

John Maxwell gave me the title for the book that I haven’t written yet ~ “Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You (Leading from the middle of the pack)”. It was going to be the title of his book but his publisher preferred 360* Leader as it was easier to “brand”. I think it’s a GREAT title.

…If ever a sentence said a thousand words.

Just like Hugh’s five GapingVoid cartoons here. I think they sum up leadership better than most of the leadership / business books I’ve ever read.

Marty Neumeier wrote a tiny book called Brand Gap (voted one of the top 100 business books of all time) ~ the entire book was built around one sentence. Challenging business leaders to fill in the gaps;

My __________ is the only ___________ that ________________.

Many leaders within some of the worlds largest companies still struggle to find their own version of that sentence. Just having that one sentence up your sleeve will save you in many an interview / creative brainstorm or strategy session.

Sinek says exactly the same thing using different words ~ “What’s your purpose? Why do you do what you do? Why does your company exist?”

Rick Warren challenges us to live a purpose driven life that stands for something larger than ourselves.

I had a conversation with Brian Solis recently after he posted his own leadership challenge ~ “What Fo You Stand For?” #WDYSF ~ debating the notion that “what we stand for is more important than what we sell…”

After thinking long and hard about what I thought I stood for in business, the conclusion I came to was ~ I want to help brands stand for something larger than themselves.

I love Simon Sinek’s purpose ~ “I inspire others to do what inspires them”.

Peter Drucker’s purpose was to inspire managers to become leaders. He said, “Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things”.

Everything revolves around purpose. Especially in leadership. Why do you even want to be a leader? Seth Godin throws down seven BIG questions to challenge a leader’s purpose ~

  1. Do you let the facts get in the way of a good story?
  2. What do you do with people who disagree with you… do you call them names in order to shut them down?
  3. Are you open to multiple points of view or you demand compliance and uniformity?
  4. Are you willing to walk away from a project or customer or employee who has values that don’t match yours?
  5. Is it okay if someone else gets the credit?
  6. How often are you able to change your position?
  7. Do you have a goal that can be reached in multiple ways?

They’re good questions worth taking the time to mull over, especially if you consider yourself a leader. Having followers these days doesn’t mean as much as it used to because Twitter seems to have diluted its meaning. Real leaders will ALWAYS be defined by their followers (or lack of)…

A leader with no one following them is just someone talking a walk”. John C. Maxwell

It’s all really good stuff. I must have read the words of some of these guys 100 times. Granted there is a bit of fluff and a lot of cheese here, but their words still feel as relevant and challenging to me as the first time I read them…

Never. Stop. Learning.

Twenty One

Have you ever heard of Freshplum? No, neither had I until I read about them in Fortune this month. They’re a big data company who help companies price goods according to a customer’s willingness to pay.

They have developed a machine learning algorithm that is able to predict which customers will leave your site without purchasing any of your products (with a 99% accuracy). They then have the capacity to offer only this group a steeper discount than normal to entice them to purchase before leaving. Their pitch guarantees a 5% lift in sales. Many companies are seeing 10-15%+. Using 2006 web behaviour data, they even predicted that Netflix could have boosted profits by $8m in 2006 and $23m in 2012. Impressive.

And why did I find this new little start-up more interesting than usual?

The Chief Science Officer at Freshplum, Sid Patil (the man behind this clever algorithm), was a member of the infamous card-counting team that outsmarted casinos portrayed in the brilliant Kevin Spacey movie 21.

Winner winner chicken dinner….

Marketers Should Be More Like Farmers and Less Like Hunters


A few months ago I wrote a post suggesting that social media managers should be more like profit hunters. It’s a provocative argument that I still believe in but I think it needs wider context. While it is still a priority for most (good) social media executives to demonstrate how they a) Make Money b) Save Money, the story is obviously not as simple as that. It never is…

Five thousand years ago we were all hunters. If you were hungry, you got a rock and a big stick and you went out hunting. The biggest problem that we faced back then was that all of the animals were either dead or really good at hiding. Fortunately, we discovered / invented the idea of farming. Plant seeds, fertilise them, water them, watch them grow, and then you harvest them. It took a while but the returns were far greater. (Rocks didn’t actually get that many hits, so conversion rates were low). The idea of farming spread and it led to the birth of civilisation.

Everyone seemed to get the idea… except for marketers.

Marketers still like to hunt. What we’re discovering though, is that the good prospects are getting really good at hiding.

What we need are more marketing people who act like farmers ~ diligent workers who roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, working hard, cultivating relationships and being patient building relationships until they bear fruit. 

Marketing isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time. I’ll never forget watching Gary Vaynerchuk build his Wine brand from $2m to $60m by blogging and replying to everyone who spoke to him, every day, for 7 years. 15 hour days. 1,000 messages a day. @GaryVee is a farmer. He just acts like a hunter…

Analogy over.

This post was inspired by my current read, “Whatcha gonna do with that duck?" by Seth Godin. I highly recommend it…

Hope is Not a Strategy ~


Hope is a good thing. It powers change and gives people a reason to believe that the best is always yet to come. Hope encourages people to vote at elections and worship with their communities each Sunday. Like all good things it often brings people together and unites them with a common purpose. But there’s a problem with Hope. Applied in the wrong areas it can be a pretty dangerous thing…

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man”.

I don’t think Nietzsche was talking about business but he had a good point. I believe that hope should take pride of place on your fireplace at home, but it should get comfortable living in the stationery cupboard when you’re at work. Professionally, hope can trick people into believing that the best is always yet to come, especially if they’re not doing anything to change things. Things don’t change because you hope that they do. They change when you decide to do something about them..

"It’s not enough to do your best. You must know what to do and THEN do your best."W. Edwards Deming

[Thanks to Joel Book, Herb Kelleher and Shepard Fairey for inspiring this post ~ first published on Ideapod].

I started a new job this week. It’s been pretty wild. 15 minute meetings with no chairs. Kitchen’s stocked full of artisan coffee, Red Bull and Quavers. Teams of people with genuine desires to change things (not just sell stuff). Getting done in 1 day what other teams get done in 1 week. It’s been almost over-whelming. But in a good way…

And my over-riding impression from this week’s baptism of (orange) fire? ~ ‘Culture is the #1 Metric’.

It’s a little thing that means a big deal. I’ve worked with a lot of tech companies in the past and most of them recruit people for talent, not for culture. It feels like we (as an industry) have it the wrong way around. Just because someone has the chops to do a killer job of writing code, managing an account, building a product or selling stuff, doesn’t mean they are going to drive their business forward.

It’s a LOT easier to acquire talent than it is to acquire culture.


* [Thanks as usual to Hugh at GapingVoid for expressing my thoughts in a few scribbles clearer than I can in 1,000 words]

The Case for Optimism


18 months ago Bill Clinton wrote a powerful essay in TIME Magazine in which he suggested that we now have a much more “communitarian view of our future”.* I love that phrase…

He cited a 2010 UN study which stated that cell phones are one of the most effective advancements in history to lift people out of poverty. There may be a digital divide between cultures and countries adopting technologies at different rates, but the fact is that cell phones foster equality and bring communities closer together. Think Haiti where only 10% of the population have a bank account but 70% have access to a cell phone. Think Egypt. Turkey. China. 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee even went as far to suggest that this “open and connected world” (as Zuck likes to call it) can even bring about world peace ~

"If you’ve just been in conversation with somebody, or somebody’s parents about some common interest - whether it’s bird watching or global warming - you are less likely to shoot them."

The fact that the device in the palm of your hand is currently more powerful than all the communications channels the US President had access to 25 years ago is mind-blowing. The mobile phone now has more technology to connect communities than a $60m supercomputer the size of a building did 40 years ago.

We don’t just hold a lot of technology in our hands ~ we hold the opportunity to use these devices to create something truly meaningful.

As Facebook’s first data scientist Jeff Hammerbacher reminded us ~ let’s not let the greatest minds of our generation spend their time trying to figure out how to get people to click more ads… because that sucks.

* Thanks to Jason Silva for inspiring this short post via his brilliant video ~ We’re On The Right Track.

Everyone who knows me knows I’m not one for the hard sell, but if you’re interested to know a tiny bit about the new company I’m joining ~ this might help…

Hello @Salesforce @ExactTarget @MarketingCloud


This Monday I am very excited to be joining Salesforce ExactTarget @Marketing Cloud as the Head of Digital Strategy for EMEA.

One of my heroes Jack Dorsey always speaks about the inter-sections of life. Steve Jobs said that he loved Apple because it existed at the inter-section of humanity and technology. I’ve always loved that quote so I thought about it a lot when I felt like I arrived at an inter-section of my own…

I had an amazing time @Adobe and worked with a great deal of amazingly talented people. I was lucky to be a part of the launch of Adobe Social and to be involved in some outstanding events. I also got to play with some very sexy technologies. I had a lot of fun and I will certainly miss Adobe. No question about it being the best company I had ever worked for.

But this inter-section presented me with the opportunity to work with one of the most exciting technology companies in the world. What started out as a collection of brilliant tools a few years ago (Radian 6, Buddy Media, SalesForce, Exact Target) has now taken shape as something quite special with the Salesforce ExactTarget @MarketingCloud. The company is also led by some real superstars of technology, social media and digital marketing. So I feel very lucky to be heading up digital strategy across EMEA covering mobile, email, web and social business.

“The goal in business isn’t to sell to people who need what you have. It is to do business with people who believe what you believe”. Simon Sinek

I’m sure I’ll be speaking about it all in much more detail soon enough, but for now I just want to say “a massive thank you" to everyone who has supported me Adobe over the last two years ~ and "a BIG Hello!” to everyone at Salesforce ExactTarget who I will be working with from next week.

Exciting times…

Just Because You’re A CEO Doesn’t Make You A Thought Leader…

[Analysis of The Top 100 “Most Wanted” Tech Speakers]

Earlier last week Bizzabo (creators of killer software apps for conferences) put together a list of the top 100 most wanted speakers on the tech circuit. The speakers were picked based upon feedback scores from over 3,000 conferences and keynotes, search data and social media buzz. The list consisted of all the usual suspects (the top 10 are below but you can see the full list here), so rather than have the usual conversations about who we agree with and who it’s currently cool to hate (Schmidt?) ~ I thought it would be more interesting to have a deeper look into the rankings…


It’s always interesting when you make a “most wanted” list like this because if you appear on the list, it highlights you as being a (generally) good egg and someone credible who can speak with authority. Personally, I think this is a GREAT list of thought leaders. I’d pay good money to listen to any of them speak at a decent conference. But many of the people on this list choose not to speak very often. Some of them don’t even see themselves as thought leaders at all, but we’ll get to that shortly…. 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. Margaret Mead

So while we want these guys (and yes it is almost all guys) to inspire us at whatever conference we mortgaged our house in order to attend, I wondered if this list of tech superstars really were the thought leaders that we thought they were. And if they are not ~ should they aim to be?


For my mini social experiment I turned to the Twitterwebs and decided to mine all the data associated with each leader. A deeper piece of research is crying out to take into account book sales, video views, search traffic, interviews and published articles. All I did here was examine the last 3,200 tweets of each person from the Twitter firehose (or as many tweets as they’d sent if it was less than 3,200) and ran text analysis on what they had actually said in their tweets. The text data was quite messy but once I cleaned it up, it revealed a some interesting stuff.

Top 20 Rankings (with basic follower stats)


* Rockstar VP Peter Thiel has never tweeted (from his own account) and my good friend Brian Solis is leading the charge in the top 20 with most minutes spent on Twitter each month.

Most Mentioned Words

Our top 100 most wanted ”thought leaders” shared 4,164 common keywords out of their combined 1,000,166 tweets. (I excluded common conjunctions such as “and”, “the”, “twitter”)


I’m not usually a fan of word clouds, but on this occasion I can’t argue that it provides an interesting snapshot of their conversations. I think it’s pretty cool that these tech leaders are so affirming and positive in their tweets (a good sign of leadership). “Congrats”, “awesome” and “excited” ranked as the top keywords. Interestingly ~ I noticed a distinct lack of humble-brags and ego-surfing, which was nice (and un-expected).


Most Followers (as of 23rd March)

  1. Ashton Kutcher15,859,189
  2. Richard Branson ~ 3,982,235
  3. Tony Hawk ~ 3,604,808
  4. Jack Dorsey ~ 2,572,930
  5. Mark Cuban ~ 2,102,844


Heaviest Twitter User

  1. Gary Vaynerchuk with 109,590 tweets sent.
  2. Robert Scoble was a distant 2nd with 65,906 tweets

Most Active Twitter User

Kara Swisher ~ (Co-editor of Re/Code) tweets 40.4 times per day! (Makes my 15 tweets a day seem relatively pedestrian). This works out at approx. 32 hours a month of time spent on Twitter. Just over an hour a day.


Who Tweets the Most “Real” Words?

  1. Peter Fredell (CEO, Seamless) ~ 96.79%
  2. Cyan Bannister (CEO, Zivity) ~ 96.46%
  3. Richard Branson (“Dr. Yes” at Virgin) ~ 96.08%

In case you wondered who was last, it was Niklas Zennström. But I guess when you are the founder of Kazaa and Skype (as well as Swedish), you’re allowed to pretty much tweet whatever you like…

But seriously ~ it’s not all fun and games…


Putting the fun aside for a moment, I took the liberty of assuming that Twitter might be the number one place that a thought leader would speak to the world. If that is the case, the vast majority of the thought leaders on Bizzabo’s list aren’t really thought leaders at all. But they could be…

  • Peter Thiel (possibly the world’s most famous VC) ranked #12 on the list has never tweeted ~ or at least not from his own current account.
  • 39 out of 100 speakers tweet less than once a day
  • 41% of Top 100 spend less than 1 hour a month on Twitter
  • The Top 100 tweet on average 5.4 times per day

This is where things get interesting ~ especially if you enjoy math or work in marketing, digital media or technology. It looks like this lack of activity raises a big question and a huge untapped opportunity…



We all know it’s a pretty poor metric. I wrote a post about it here, so I’m not going to labour the point ~ suffice to say that it doesn’t usually mean a whole lot. eg. There will be a lot of duplicates in the list. The vast majority of people will never even see the tweet, despite Twitter and many social measurement tools counting it etc. etc…

TweetRank (bear with me I’m building up to something….)

Unlike Facebook, who operate the EdgeRank algorithm in your newsfeed to only show your friends the “most relevant posts” ~ Twitter doesn’t have any kind of filter. Facebook claim that an average of 16% of your friends or fans see your posts, but it depends on a lot more variables ~ not least of which the amount of friends or fans that you have.

Twitter though doesn’t operate any such filter or algorithm (yet), but based upon the sheer volume of over 500m tweets now sent each day and the average user having over 165 followers, many marketers believe that it may* be safe to assume that only 20% of your followers will actually see your tweets.

*(Obviously run your own tests if this is important for you to know).

So…. What Does This Mean For Our Group of Thought Leaders?

If our group of chosen ones have a combined reach of over 2.8 billion people per month, we could cut that down straight away to 562,863 people (with our 20% assumption). Again, there will also be a large amount of duplicates in here, so these are not unique users obviously, but we still have a small group of people generating over half a billion impressions each month. Impressions though? Seriously? Meh…. but wait….


If you look at the frequency of tweets per day of our top 100 and the potential reach of each person, just 2 extra minutes spent on Twitter each day would generate an additional 1.4 billion “impressions” for this group.

We Want Our Thought Leaders To Lead…

Even if only a tiny percentage of these additional impressions get seen ~ it raises some interesting possibilities ~

  • What difference could these impressions make to a cause?
  • How many more problems could be solved through crowd-sourcing?
  • How many more start-up’s and entrepreneurs could be inspired?

What Difference Could These Thought Leaders Make In Just Two Minutes on Twitter?

  • Sheryl could encourage thousands more female leaders to “Lean In
  • Eric Schmidt could make more people aware of the real challenges that we face protecting our personal data
  • Gary Vee could motivate the next generation of Vayniaks to build a new start-up
  • Reid Hoffman could encourage more founders to not give up and help them connect with each other
  • Reid, Jack and Thiel could have Twitter chats about improving mobile payment systems
  • Zuck could campaign more powerfully for coding to be taught in many more schools etc. etc..

Even if we assume that only 20% of their followers would actually see whatever they tweeted, that’s still 286,318,034 people. And yes, there would be duplicates… but if we are encouraging thought leaders to lead, wouldn’t it be cool to think that for an investment of less than 2 minutes per day, they could reach over quarter of a million more people each month?

It seems like a missed opportunity and it baffles me every time I see “thought leaders” chose not to use Twitter. It was the same when I looked at the top 100 marketing leaders a few months ago and wrote a post ~ “Why do the best marketers in the world suck on Twitter?

Why are thought leaders important? ~ According to Harvard research, 1% of any given group can influence and bring about change with the other 99%.

I think the truth lies in the fact that this list of tech luminaries might not actually see themselves as thought leaders. Maybe they are the most wanted tech speakers because they don’t speak very often! (You only had to experience the 2 hour queue round the building for Zuckerberg’s talk at MWC in Barcelona a few weeks ago). Maybe they are brilliant because they don’t tweet. They don’t want to. Or they are just too busy being brilliant…

In The Age of Digital Media, The Thumb is Mightier Than The Pen


Whatever…. it does show us mere mortals though the power of Twitter. Even if you do only have 165 followers, don’t under-estimate them. Once they start sharing stuff the numbers start to get REALLY interesting. 165 x 165 x 165 means that even the smallest Twitter user in theory can generate a reach of almost 4.5m within just three ‘generations’. That’s how things go viral. Ideas are born. Causes are fought. Revolutions started…

[Note: If you work in marketing like me and bitch about reach and impressions all the time (and we are right to do so), we still shouldn’t under-estimate what a really well placed tweet can do, to just the right audience, at just the right time].

Anyway ~ it’s all good food for thought and a geeky debate down the pub….

~ The Best Teams Are Made Up Of Misfits Not Superstars ~

Whenever we want to put a team together (whether it’s in business, sports or a start up) we naturally want to surround ourselves with the best talent.

One of the reasons I love the film Moneyball is that it challenges the notion of what “talent” really is. Using ‘Saber metrics’ and an innovative method of scoring players, Oakland A’s coach Billy Beane put together a winning team with only a fifth of the budget that teams like the Yankees had. A lack of funds forced him to find a different way to recognise potential.

"By reducing all the data that we had down to one number, we were able to find value in players that no one else could see".

To the un-educated, the A’s team looked like a bunch of rejects but they went on to create the longest winning streak in history. It was a team of mis-fit athletes. Steve Jobs would have called them the crazy ones…

And as we see time and time again, it’s usually the crazy ones that change the world ~

(Not the ones with the most talent).


Ps. Talking about teams, I love what Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) said about the way he creates teams ~ “If you can’t feed your team with two pizzas, your team is too big”.

[Originally posted on a Ideapod ~]