The problem with “Do your own research.”

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“Do your own research” is one of the most pernicious phrases on the internet. Hucksters use it to fool people. It will lead you astray. Based on my 20 years as a researcher, I’ll delve into what research actually is, what it means when someone writes “do your own research,” and why it leads to … Continued

Expert speakers or trainers are not interchangeable

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If you hire experts to train on areas outside their expertise, you’ll pay too much and get a really poor result. It’s like paying a painter to rewire your house. Experts specialize. It’s what makes us experts. I’ll use myself as a case study here, but the same applies to anyone you hire. Imagine that … Continued

Memeflinger or influencer?

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There’s a way to generate influence that bugs me. I call people who do this “memeflingers.” Here’s how it works. First, identify the memes that are spreading most widely on social media, especially if they include meaningless platitudes about behavior and careers. Maybe even hire people to track them down for you. Second, repost as … Continued

What is an idea?

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We need a new definition of “idea,” one that makes you think about how ideas create change. If you want to conceive and work with ideas, you need to know what an idea is. But most of the definitions available to you are useless. Here’s Merriam-Webster: idea, noun. 1: a formulated thought or opinion2: whatever is known … Continued

Skills vs. expertise: a 12-month thought experiment

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I used to be an expert in marketing. And yesterday, I skipped the Super Bowl and didn’t watch a single $5 million commercial. I must be a fraud. Here’s a secret: I don’t know all that much about marketing. (Shh, don’t tell anyone.) So how the heck did I get to be an “expert?” I … Continued

Always doubt what you want to believe

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Good morning. I trust you slept well and soundly last night. As I write this, no serious news organization has declared the winner of the US presidential election. Based on current vote counts (9:15am) and the likelihood of remaining Democratic-skewing mail ballots being counted, Joe Biden is more likely than not to win the presidency, … Continued

How to blog for influence (if you’re not a freak)

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A friend who is a highly effective PR person sent me this note regarding challenges she has with her clients: I wanted to let you know that I’m a daily reader of your blog.  . . .  I have introduced several of my clients and prospective clients to it.  They are learning a lot, especially … Continued

The Smartass Manifesto

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I’m a smartass. That’s my brand. I might as well admit it. What does that mean? It means that in any given situation — meeting, client interaction, blog post, reaction to news, Facebook post, romantic date — my mind immediately tries to find a unique, snarky, counterintuitive take. The ultimate smartass remark, intended to get … Continued