Enlightened Conflict

contradictions & test of a first-rate intelligence

June 22nd, 2015

===

human intelligence 1

“Before I go on with this short history, let me make a general observation– the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.

This philosophy fitted on to my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the “impossible,” come true.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

===

 

 

Whew.

 

 

rainbow color amidst dark hopeIntelligence is a wacky topic.

 

Fraught with peril.

 

 

Therefore I will avoid IQs and any test measured intelligence bullshit and focus on what I call ‘non linear intelligence’.

 

 

Some people are great thinkers … extremely intelligent … when logic rules.

 

These people can line up the data and factors like dominoes and point you to the destination result faster than … well … fast.

 

 

They are the drag racers of intelligence.

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

But ask them to veer a little … and … oops … crash.

 

 

 

Other people are great thinkers … extremely intelligent … when illogical rears its head <or maybe a more chaotic path to the destination result>. They can navigate the disparate information gathering up the useful and discarding the less than useful.

 

 

They are the Formula One racers of intelligence.indy car formula one

 

 

I will admit that I thought about computers when I thought about intelligent people <in this frame of reference> because I sometimes worry that people intelligence will be devalued by computer intelligence.

 

 

It made me ponder <if but just for a moment> the possibility of something being developed called Artificial Superintelligence <ASI … a notch above AI>.

 

I thought about it because computers think faster and accumulate information and offer results faster and with more breadth of information viewing than most people even now.

 

 

My worries were slightly salved when I did some research some guy actually gave me the word comparison I was seeking.

 

 

 

===

A key distinction is the difference between speed superintelligence and quality superintelligence.

Often, someone’s first thought when they imagine a super-smart computer is one that’s as intelligent as a human but can think much, much faster—they might picture a machine that thinks like a human, except a million times quicker, which means it could figure out in five minutes what would take a human a decade.

That sounds impressive, and ASI would think much faster than any human could — but the true separator would be its advantage in intelligence quality, which is something completely different.

intelligence staircase

What makes humans so much more intellectually capable than chimps isn’t a difference in thinking speed — it’s that human brains contain a number of sophisticated cognitive modules that enable things like complex linguistic representations or longterm planning or abstract reasoning, that chimps’ brains do not.

Speeding up a chimp’s brain by thousands of times wouldn’t bring him to our level—even with a decade’s time, he wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use a set of custom tools to assemble an intricate model, something a human could knock out in a few hours.

It’s that his brain is unable to grasp that those worlds even exist—a chimp can become familiar with what a human is and what a skyscraper is, but he’ll never be able to understand that the skyscraper was built by humans.

In his world, anything that huge is part of nature, period, and not only is it beyond him to build a skyscraper, it’s beyond him to realize that anyone can build a skyscraper.

That’s the result of a small difference in intelligence quality.

===

 

 

 

This thought helped me feel a little more comfortable that the great intelligent thinkers will always have a place in the world <and will never be replaced by people>.

 

 

 

But.

 

I actually believe linear intelligent people will end up competing against ASI computers.

 

What about non linear intelligent people?

 

Well.

They will use computers to supplement their thinking.

 

 

My main rationale <beyond the wonderful intelligence quality descriptor above>?

 

Contradictions.

 

Yup.

 

Contradictions.

 

 

Now.

 

I am pleased with this thought because I admit that I like contradictions and I do believe they create the most powerful thoughts, ideas and progress in the world.

 

 

And a 1st rate intelligent person has the ability to grasp the contradiction <quality> … sometimes even a multi-dimensional contradiction <super quality> … and resolve it mentally with some speed <speed>.

 

 

I also believe that computers will struggle with contradiction and resolve that struggle with ‘predictatory modeling.’

 

 

It’s kind of like the computer models that simulate a game 100 times and then they tell you the probability of who will win. Many times this modeling it becomes a “55% will win” prediction.

 

As comparison … does a first rate intelligence simply go by the numbers?

 

 

Nope.

 

 

And that is what accepting and understanding contradictions is all about.

 

 

Well.

 

 

I don’t think I am a first rate intelligent person.oh boy excited

 

 

I do think I am simply someone who loves contradictions.

 

 

Regardless of computers and how they accumulate intelligence … the world will remain chock full of contradictions.

And a world strewn with contradictions should make us ponder more interesting questions and not simply debunk existing knowledge because we cannot accept the contradiction <always seeking the simple as ‘the thing’ rather than simplicity within complexity> . There is certainly some satisfaction to be found in being critical & debunking but we cannot lose sight of the fact it is more interesting to find inspiration in the questioning <and learn more>.

 

 

In addition.

 

 

 

Contradictions are almost always at the core of extraordinary bubbling up out of the seemingly ordinary.

 

 

====

The idea of the extraordinary happening in the context of the ordinary is what’s fascinating to me.

—-

Chris Van Allsburg

====

 

 

Contradiction naturally creates fascinating things.

 

And the fascinating occurs not because it is some impossible thing appearing magically as something possible but rather it is something that most people, who do not grasp two opposable ideas well or easily, simply overlook … and it suddenly occurs as a natural output of the contradiction.

 

 

 

In general I have always liked logical thinking <no matter how random the logic may be> and I always love it when someone combines some unexpected or random looking logic.

 

 

And I love the conflict that naturally occurs when the two opposable ideas are bonded together and presented as something that not only ‘could be’ but what ‘is.’

 

 

Two opposable ideas create conflict.

That just is.

 

 

Intelligent people not only accept the opposable ideas but figure out how to bond them.

 

===

“When you have a conflict that means that there are truths that have to be addressed on each side of the conflict.

And when you have a conflict, then it’s an educational process to try to resolve the conflict.

thinking pieces intelligent

And to resolve that, you have to get people on both sides of the conflict involved so that they can dialogue.”

Dolores Huerta

===

 

 

In the end.

 

 

Maybe a first rate intelligent person simply embraces the education process, the learning process, in trying to resolve contradictions and conflict.

 

 

All I know is that we need to encourage that type of thinking in everyone and we should exalt those who actually portray a first rate intelligence.

college athlete to professional something else

April 6th, 2015

odds never n our favor

“How passionately they explain the numbers and how much they emphasize the deck is stacked against athletes varies between institutions.

It is a message that a lot of coaches don’t want to send.

And it’s a message, frankly, that a lot of athletes don’t want to hear at this stage in their lives.”

=

Mark Nagel

———————-

=

Lloyd Christmas: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me … ending up together?

Mary Swanson: Well, Lloyd, that’s difficult to say. I mean, we don’t really…

Lloyd Christmas: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary.

The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?

Mary Swanson: Not good.

Lloyd Christmas: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?

Mary Swanson: I’d say more like one out of a million.

[pause]

Lloyd Christmas: So you’re telling me there’s a chance … YEAH!

==

Dumb and Dumber

——————-

athletes -collage

 

Ok.

 

 

First.

 

 

Let me be clear in using a dumb & dumber quote I am not going to be suggesting college athletes are dumb. If anything I believe people would be surprised at how worldly and smart and hard working 99% of college athletes are.

 

 

Second.

 

With the NCAA men’s basketball finals tonight I wanted to take a moment and talk about the link, or the lack thereof, between playing collge sports and playing professionally.

 

 

I thought of this when during one of the semi final games I was asked how many players move on to the NBA. I guessed maybe 5%.

 

 

I was wrong.

 

Just using Division 1 it is 1.2%

 

There are 347 Division I college basketball teams. Each team offers 13 scholarships.

 

That’s about 4,511 Division I college basketball players this year.

 

 

 

In addition.

 

 

265 teams in Division II, 325 teams in Division III and 259 teams in NAIA.

 

That’s about another 11,000 players,
Using Division 1 alone … only 1.2% of college basketball players will be drafted by a National Basketball Association team.

 

Less will end up actually playing.

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

This means less than ½ of 1% of total college basketball players will play in the NBA.

 

 

Ok.

 

Sure.

 

“Professional” doesn’t have to mean the NBA because there are a lot of other options around the world, especially in Europe, Israel, Turkey, etc.

 

And, to be clear, there are not a lot of Division III student-athletes who think, or know, they are going to play in the NBA. Overseas professional leagues are pretty numerous <even if they don’t pay as well as the NBA> and the idea of spending at least a year playing in and getting to see another part of the world while getting paid is pretty attractive … especially to students focus more on their studies than many Division I athletes – especially those who want to play in the NBA.

 

athlete 98All the caveats aside … this means 98+% of college athletes never play professionally.

 

 

And while we watched Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin and Michigan State all play an incredibly high level of basketball … 98% of them will not play professionally.

 

 

 

Ok.

 

That was a semi stunning thing to write.

 

You watch Kentucky and Duke and think High School All Americans and it will be a given they play professionally.

 

Yikes. Not so much.

 

 

Ok.

 

 

So maybe the elite of the elite may send 2 … maybe 3 at best to be drafted … in one given year … and then maybe half of those are actually NBA worthy. But this is the best of the best and over a 5 year span the % drops significantly.

 

 

Playing professionally, in any sport not just basketball, is … well … a pretty long shot.
In January a guy named Jake New tackled this topic.

 

==

College athletes vastly overestimate their chances of playing professional sports.

The problem is so pervasive that Mark Emmert, the NCAA’s president, devoted significant space to the issue during his most recent state of the association address, saying that “athletes often have incredibly unrealistic perceptions of their professional prospects.”

According to NCAA surveys, more than 60% of Division I college men’s ice hockey players think it’s likely they’ll play professionally, but less than 1 percent ever go on to the National Hockey League.

About 45% of Division I women’s basketball players think they have a chance to play professional basketball, but only 0.9% of players are drafted by a Women’s National Basketball Association team.

<The NCAA said that it is currently procuring data on a player’s chances of joining other professional leagues, such as those in Europe, but the information is not yet available>

Men’s hoops players are the most unrealistic. More than three-quarters of men’s basketball players in Division I say they believe it is at least “somewhat likely” they will play professionally. More than half of Division II players say the same, as do 21 percent of Division III players. Only 1.2 percent of college basketball players will be drafted by an National Basketball Association team.

==

Now.

 

 

We <colleges and adult influencers in general> don’t help.

 

 

While the NCAA actually does a pretty good job marketing the fact that athletes should have realistic expectations and that ‘the majority of college athletes go on to do something better’ <note: I do like their message and the campaign>.

 

 

Colleges kind of derail the message by promoting their successes <by the way … not in percentages but rather by individuals>.

 

 

For example … some colleges list the individuals who have attended the university and gone on to fame and professional playing <not noting that these are actually exceptions and not the rule>.

 

 

For example … on its recruiting website, UCLA is described as “#1 in Olympic Gold Medals from 1984 to 2008″ and “#1 in professional athletes.” And UCLA is very open in saying that for athletes who do dream of going professional the information can be helpful when choosing a program <note … I used UCLA but I could have used any big time college sports program and maybe not used #1 but some marketing of program success as an example>.

 

 

 

In addition … parents and adults and gobs of books promote “if you work hard enough you can attain it” or even “believing you can do it is the path to actually doing it.”

 

 

This means that colleges simply feed into what has already been planted in an athlete’s head. Some guy named Gershon Tenenbaum, a sports psychology professor at Florida State University, calls it the “self-bias phenomenon.”

 

 

And adults clearly exacerbate the situation with some relatively absurd levels of adulation with successful athletes.

 

 

things to know

I actually believe most young athletes are aware the %’s associated with professional sports is very low <even though they may not be aware of the NCAA research or specific numbers> but young people are hard to convince … not only do they want to be seen as some statistic but we actually encourage them to be the exception.

 

 

 

Personally I know I have a love/hate relationship with regard to how my own parents managed my love of sports and whatever ability I may have had.

 

They constantly stressed the low likelihood of being good enough to play professionally and were relentless with regard to me not ‘wasting my time’ on sports and focusing on other things therefore I always had a pretty good perspective on my abilities and ‘chances’ … all the while I had coaches tugging at me to play and practice and ‘maximize’ the ability I did have.

 

 

I am not sure it was the tug-of-war was the best thing for my esteem but it certainly gave me a realistic point of view when the time came to hang up my cleats & glove.

 

 

But it is not easy.

 

By the time you reach college level of sports you know you are ‘good’ … and have attained at least a higher level on the athletic pyramid. For years an athlete moves on to higher and higher levels of competition and by getting to a college level an athlete actually gets to a level that is maybe 95%+ higher level than your peers.

 

 

In basketball … a little over 3% of high school men’s and women’s basketball players make it to the college level. mature 69 percent

 

In football … maybe 6% of high school football players make it to the college level.

 

 

Success breeds some confidence … but the research also suggests it also breeds some delusional thinking with regard to what is possible.

 

 

What the hell.

 

You made it this far … why not all the way?

 

 

And in today’s world <which is NOTHING like when I grew up> we have elevated youth sports to such a level we almost create a celebrity status to not only successful teams <which inflates the egos of the individuals even if they are not stars> as well as the actual stars themselves.

 

 

We, adults, do this because we tend to believe confidence can elevate talent … or that a higher level of confidence can help overcome any real odds of ‘yikes, we should lose this one.’

 

 

 

Breeding confidence in a young person is a delicate balance and we adults are anything but delicate with regard to the young & sports.

 

 

This actually creates the “athlete student” problem <note: I did not say student athlete>.

 

 

We have created a breed of young athlete that considers academics beneath them because they are “going to play professional sports.”

 

 

Yes. This is a delusion for most.

 

But those who could actually judge talent the best, coaches, have no incentive to create a work ethic in academics <or social skills, emotional maturity and improving their reading, writing, and analytical skills beyond elementary school in order to “win” at something bigger> unless it is associated with ‘eligibility.’

 

 

Sure.

 

We can find some coach exceptions.

 

 

But then there are we adults … who fuck everything up.

 

 

The head of the NCAA has clearly stated … “explaining to athletes that their passion — and years of hard work — is not likely to lead to a career is an uncomfortable but necessary conversation to have.”

listen hand

==

“How can we help them understand the realities of what that looks like?

What can we change to give them a more realistic sense of it? How do we get a handle on that?

How can we provide them with a greater sense of the realities and what that looks like?”

==

 

 

The NCAA clearly advertises: “there are 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and almost all of them will go pro in something other than sports.”
Young athletes don’t always absorb the message.

 

But that is mostly because we adults haven’t learned the delicate balance of managing reality, dreams and confidence.
Reality is tough.

Reality is often captured in some harsh truth.

 

 

I could simply suggest that later tonight one team will go home as a loser.

 

It would be harsher to suggest that of the 26 young men who walk onto the court most likely 90% of them, the elite players on the elite teams, will leave the court and do something other than play professionally.

 

 

Has anybody told them that?

 

athlete dream reality

Would they play the game a little bit harder or with a little more passion or a little more ‘this is it’?

 

 

Shit.

 

I don’t know.

 

 

What I do know is that I will watch the game and be amazed by the talent and skill and sheer joy of the game … and know that most of them will have to figure out a way of making a living doing something other than playing basketball.

gracefully letting go

March 29th, 2015

 

 
———gracefully let go card

 

 

 

“Teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.”

 

 

via lilac-veinss

 

 

=====

 

 

 

There are moments in the life of a man, and of a nation, when it is right to say:

 

 

I have done my utmost, and I can do no more, therefore I will cease my striving and seek another road.”

 

 

 

======

 

 

“People will try to hold on when their world starts to tilt.

 

 

They will grab onto whatever is in reach.”

 

 

 

Claire Zorn

 

======

 

 

 

freedom feels like hold

Ok.

 

 

Letting go of shit may be one of the hardest things to do in the world.

 

 

Even more difficult?

 

 

Letting go gracefully.

 

 

These are the moments in which you have decided you have done what you have done, done what you consider enough … and you are … well … done.

 

 

These are the moments in which you actually consciously think:

 

 

How do I let go?

gracefully let go lemons

Where do I begin?

Do I let go memory by memory?

How many goodbyes will this take?

Do I leave words with everyone until I have no more words left to give?

 

 

Oh.

 

 

And if I do all this, will it even matter?

 

 

In addition.

 

Maybe I should do nothing.

=

Maybe I should just stand here and let others let me <or ‘it’> go.

 

This stuff, letting go in general, let alone gracefully … is hard. Really hard.

 

 

And while we typically suck at letting the right things go, let alone anything I imagine, we REALLY suck at letting things go gracefully.

 

 

Suffice it to say..

 

 

 

Most people don’t let go gracefully let alone let go at all.

 

 

You just get stuck.

 

You just hold on tight … and then when you do let go you just want to throw it away and ignore it as if you never held it.

 

 

And maybe you get a little confused.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

There is no handbook for “how to let things go gracefully. “

 

gracefully Yep time let go

 

It does not exist and so you must try to find ways to figure it out on your own.

 

 

Frankly … it seems almost cruel that a handbook on “letting go” doesn’t exist <let alone gracefully>. Because it may be one of the most common things we do in Life.

 

 

We don’t seem to notice the almost daily experience as we let go every single day of countless amounts of things:

 

 

Moments.

Minutes.

Objects.

People.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

We may not notice until we are faced with a situation that we want to hold on or that we are the ones being let go.

 

That must be it.

 

 

There comes a moment where we realize we are the ropes in a tug-of-war.

 

Someone holding on at each end … until one decides to let go.

 

 

Someone watches you leave.

 

 

Or maybe you end up watching someone else leave.

 

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

We have lots of personal experience letting shit go.

 

 

Most times things are let go little by little. And in these small but significant changes we don’t really learn the ‘gracefully’ part … just the letting go part.

 

 

In addition.

 

 

Not only do we let most things go in small insignificant increments … often you have no control.

 

 

Things get lost.

 

 

People are going to begin to let you go regardless of whether you ask them to or not.

 

 

I have said it before … but part of growing up is leaving shit – regrets, stuff, people, choices, etc. – behind.

 

 

Well.

 

 

That is the gracefully part.

 

 

Learning to let things go that you not only made the ‘let go decision’ but also the things that were ‘let go’ by someone else.

 

 

In other words … learning to let things go even when your world starts to tilt.

 

 

Simply.

 

 

Holding on is a shitload easier than letting go.

 

 

And, in fact, I am not sure there is such a thing as ‘holding on gracefully.’

 

 

You are just … well … holding on.

 

 

Sigh.

 

 

Let’s end with this thought.

 

Unfortunately … I tend to believe you encounter more things not meant for you than those things actually meant for you in Life.

 
And while we may eventually get better as we get older with regard to sifting through all these things inevitably you will end up with a lot of shit that … well … aren’t really meant for you.

 

And even more unfortunately … there really isn’t anyone to help you sift thru … no one is going to … ‘teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.’

 

 

That is something you just gotta figure out on your own.

 

gracefully Life

Me?

 

I am a work in progress.

 

 

 

I have certainly learned to let go of things … but still learning to do so gracefully.

 

 

I can only hope that I am more graceful on the important things.

when not to let go (and balloons)

March 28th, 2015

—-

hold on let go balloons

“There are times in life when people must know when not to let go.

Balloons are designed to teach small children this.”

=

Terry Pratchett

————–

Well.

 

 

I have written about how difficult it is for people, in business & Life, to let go of things so much I am not sure I can find any new words to share on that topic.

 

 

In fact … if you google “reasons to not let go” you get nothing.

 

Nada.

 

 

You get jack shit on the topic.

 

 

All you get is page after page of ‘reasons to let go.’

 

 

And, yet, there are certainly times to know when to not let go.

 

 

To be clear … a purposeful ‘not let go’ is a different difficulty for us. While not letting go is something that is mostly based on some version of fear or doubt … knowing when to not let go of something seems to be more about our difficulty in discerning what is important, or good, and what is unimportant , or bad.

 

 

In fact.

 

I think part of the ‘not letting go’ difficulty resides in how we learned to hold on in childhood <the balloon thing>.

 

 

We learn very early on that when you let go of something good it floats away never to be seen again. So we have learned to hold on a tightly as possible to goodbye handanything that could be construed as good <even if it is really a crappy balloon>.

 

We have become so good at it we are almost proud of not letting go. Therefore the problem isn’t our ability to actually hold on … it is choosing what to really not let go of.

 

 

Not letting go is complex compounded by the fact we are complex people.

 

 

Why does the complexity matter?

 

Because there is no formula. No ‘rules of not letting go.’

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

 

Some things are obvious.

 

 

The self stuff, the character stuff, the ‘who you are as a person’ stuff you don’t let go of. They are good balloons.

 

 

 

But after a while you have so many balloons you can’t discern the good ones from the bad ones. Which leads me to suggest I sometimes believe the ‘what not to let go’ choice is an acquired intuition thing.

 

Yup.

 

I just typed acquired and intuition side by side.

 

 

I like to remind people that you are not borne with good intuition. You may be borne with a good intuition muscle but experience strengthens the muscle and it takes some time & experience to ‘acquire’ the intuition necessary to ‘not let go’ of the right things.

 

 

Regardless.

 

I suggest intuition because unless one of the balloons has lost all its air and has sunk to the ground you are choosing amongst a shitload of balloons that maybe all look pretty good to you.

 

 

This may sound crazy because balloons float above you and should seem obvious at all times … but the connections to many of the balloons in your life are actually like links of a chain underwater.

==

“The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition.

Such intuitions give the appearance of miraculous flushes, or short-circuits of reasoning. In fact they may be likened to an immersed chain, of which only the beginning and the end are visible above the surface of consciousness.

The diver vanishes at one end of the chain and comes up at the other end, guided by invisible links.”

Arthur Koestler

==

learning to fly hands
You see the balloons.

Okay. You see some of them.

But the strings get all tangled up and you cannot tell which string to let go of <because you are not sure which balloon will go away> and which one to hold on to. Some of the choices you make as you look at the strings is intuitive. And given some time and experience I imagine the string feels a little different in your hand as you pluck it out from all the others. That is this version of intuition.

 

 

So.

 

 

One of the things I admire most in people is consistent great intuition and how they manage what to not let go of.

 

 

It is an interesting characteristic to assess when you meet people and is fairly easy because you can just look up and see the balloons they carry with them.

 

 

So, in the end, maybe the balloon metaphor is bad … or maybe I simply overused it … but suffice it to say that while there is a lot of free advice on ‘letting go’ there isn’t a whole shitload of advice on ‘what to not let go of.’

 

 

I think it is obvious that there are certainly some ‘be yourself’ characteristics that you should never let go of <although figuring out what to not let go of as you try and improve yourself is not easy either>.
What is less obvious is the other stuff in your life. Experiences, knowledge, even people.

 

birds on hand

I don’t have any answers today. Just questions. And maybe some prompting that this is something we should think about a little more.

 

 

Most letting go advice online is vapid and a waste of time <albeit with good intent>.

 

 

I don’t have any advice for ‘not let go’ other than think about it. We all learn to hold on to balloons because they represent freedom and hope and good things waiting above us. Those should be the things we hold on to and not let go of.

new normal in marketing … demographics are dead

February 26th, 2015

new normal old normal

———

Demographics are dead.

Successful products, services and brands will transcend their initial demographics almost instantaneously.

As a result, executives who continue to attempt to navigate using demographic maps, with borders defined by age, gender, location, income will be ill prepared for the speed, scale and direction of change.”

==

Trendwatching.com

—————-

 

 

 

So.

 

 

While gobs of people talk about the effect of ‘social media’ on marketing <which is kind of crazy because it is simply another tactic and not a strategy> not many people discuss how people’s attitudes are shifting … and the effects on HOW marketing approaches the voodoo it does.

thinking attitudes change
What do I mean?

 

Well.

 

 

 

 

Not many people talk about the impact of globalization on marketing this way … but … an overall impact of a more connected global world is that marketing is a shitload less about demographics than it is about attitudes.

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

That thought is going to make a shitload of people in the marketing business tear their hair out.

 

Why?

 

Because targeting via demographics is much much easier than targeting attitudinally.

 

 

In addition … the foundational attitude everyone is tapping into is … well … unlearning <wow … that sucks for marketers>.

 

 

What I mean is that as we become more globally aware we also then begin challenging conventional wisdom more often <and change what we think more easily>.

 

 

That is the new normal.

 

Yup.

 

Conventions are increasingly being overturned as we … well … encounter a new normal.

 

The new normal attitude is more often reflected in “why?” … instead of “of course.”

 

 

To a marketer this can seem disconcerting.

 

Shit.attitudes behavior humans

 

To someone looking from the outside in with regard to the world this can seem disconcerting.

 

 

But … you know … while it may seem like you may be suffering from a mild form of chronophobia <fear that time is moving so fast I’ll never be able to catch up> … the reality is that most people like the changes occurring around us … and are quickly changing their behavior to accommodate what, overall, they see as improvements.

 

 

Therefore … as a marketer <or business in general> this behavior shift is less about convincing anyone to do anything … it is more that the bulk of the people are simply seeking permission to do the changed behavior.

 

 

This should change how marketers view what they are doing and how they are encouraging change … because permission is significantly different than convincing.

 

 

It becomes more about reducing barriers and embracing less negative product impacts for a consumer.

 

==

Understanding consumers’ needs and wants remains critical.

However, it will be those that take a broad view and learn from innovations that are satisfying consumers by reducing negative issues in seemingly dissimilar or even opposing demographics that will succeed, regardless of which ‘traditional’ demographic(s) they serve.

==

 

 

In today’s world people can <and increasingly do> pick and choose what products and services they purchase and the brands they identify with, without any regard to demographic ‘conventions.’

 

 

They are sharing a product, and the product experience, regardless of age.

 

This means the only way to sell <or give them permission to buy or do> is to tap into some ‘shared attitude’ of a group you have identified of interest to your product or service.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

This will confuse a lot of marketing people because … well … shit … they are already confused.

 

Huh? … Why do I say that?

 

Well.

If you stay focused on demographics it becomes easy to become confused when looking at behavior.

 

 

It looks like consumers are constantly not behaving as they ‘should.’

 

 

That said … I come back to attitudes … and permission versus convincing.

 

 

Trendwatching called a version of the idea I am discussing – POST-DEMOGRAPHIC CONSUMERISM.

 

 

==

People – of all ages and in all markets – are constructing their own identities more freely than ever.

As a result, consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more.

==

 

 

 

Now … to be clear on demographics … in general … younger, affluent people are the most likely earliest adopters of new products and services. They are certainly more open, more experimental and have fewer commitments.

 

 

But now innovations are being rapidly adopted by, and almost instantly reshape the expectations of, any and all demographics.

 

 

Society is now too fluid, ideas now too available, the market now too efficient, the risk and cost of trying new things now too low for any and all people to ‘up their game’ with products & services. The ability to experiment and, ultimately, identify personally with a wider variety of brands and products fuels increased personalization and yet creates a larger collective attitude <whew … there is an interesting dichotomy>.

 

 

Just look at smartphones.

 

 

While we look at the disconnected/connected world as a ‘young person issue’ … smartphones has an almost 75% penetration of people aged 12 to 54.

 

Yes.

 

 

I just said almost ¾ of anyone under the age of 54.

 

bond smartphone why attitude

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

If you end up skipping the whole demographic thing and are not clear where to start … let me help you out.

 

An attitudinal marketing world actually almost begins not with the people … but the enabler.

 

 

Huh?

 

 

If I am selling an app I look to smartphones <and attitudes of smartphone buyers>.

 

 

If I am selling a book I look to amazon <and attitudes of amazon users>.

 

 

If I am selling a car I look to car lots <and attitudes of car lot shoppers>.

 

 

Attitudes get driven by who uses, and likes to use, the enabler.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

This actually makes this whole attitudinal thing slightly easier because now I have a place to at least start … some existing behavior <and the attitudes attached to that behavior>.

 

 

The enabler also enhances a latent ‘purchase desire’ … for other things.

 

 

What do I mean?

 

 

The enabler enhances a desire to ‘do more like this’ or a desire wrapped around a sense of ‘shit, if I can do this this way … why can’t I do this thing this way?”

 

 

That is a powerful desire to tap into.

 

perfection looking at htings differently

And that innate desire simply comes down to ‘permission to do’ rather than ‘convince to do.’

 

 

This attitude is an odd <interesting?> aspect of democratization of purchasing.

 

 

This attitude also bleeds into a larger ‘how will I enter the world’ type attitude.

 

 

Because there is this democratization of the purchase it almost eliminates an aspect of early adopter <which has a “get ready for me world’ attitude> and instead almost forces a mass of people into more of an ‘I need to get ready for this world’ attitude.

 

 

This democratization of purchasing impacts attitude so significantly <creating this ‘new normal’> because the overall ‘heads of the people’ has changed at the same time. The ‘head change’ has been driven by a world where, increasingly, conventional <traditional> basics can no longer be taken for granted.

 

 

What i mean by that is because people perceive they are facing a seemingly never-­‐ending onslaught of challenges and issues, people tend to see today’s world as a tough, difficult place where someone needs to focus on survival long before someone can consider ‘thrive’.

 

 

 

And, once again, this is not a demographic thing … this is a pervasive attitude among all demographic groups.

 

 

This is the new normal.

 

 

And the new normal attitude leads to some rebelling against, or complete rejection, of conventional beliefs, conventional way of ‘doing things’ … and also traditional businesses. As people reluctantly adjust to today’s version of a mature reality, all the while professing they will never lose touch with how it feels to be young and relevant, the democratization of purchase feeds into an ‘I can be young & old at the same time.’

 

 

This attitude is easy, and difficult, to track because while almost all the ‘individuals’ carry this mindset around wherever they go … the actual ‘individual’ chooses when & where to apply it in Life.

 

 

“They choose when and where they will attack.

If the issue seems below their threshold of importance, they save their energy and let it go entirely.”

Neil Howe, Demographer

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

This means that if the issue seems below their threshold of importance, they save their energy and let it go entirely. This thought captures an overall attitude among all people.

 

Ok.

Maybe not everyone … but it is an increasing attitude among a significantly increasing amount of people.

 

 

We could call it simply … a survival response.

 

 

Survival?

 

Well.

The world has shown people that shit happens <and some pretty fucked up shit> that you can’t plan for … but you can kind of prepare for.

 

 

 

Sort of prepare for.
Anyway.

danced on the edge

 

With this new normal attitude and the fact marketers have to focus on tapping into attitudes and not demographics … I feel the need to say that … well … edges matter when you talk about attitudinal.

 

 

No.

 

 

I am not talking doing something ‘edgy’ … I am talking about drawing some lines in the sand. Avoiding fluff and focus on the fold. Eliminate ambiguity and dial up some certainty.

 

 

Why does it matter?

Raised on a steady dose of truth <and untruths>, straight talk <and double talk>, honesty, and some heavy doses of reality, people today expect the world to be a tough place.
They’ve been taught the motivations of brands, corporations, and institutions are seldom what they seem.

 

 

This translates into the fact that if businesses that pander, condescend, or rely on lazy stereotypes … they will not connect.

 

 

Speak truth, the harsh truth, or die. Get out of the gray. Place an edge on everything you say and create some distinct feelings about whatever it is you 19 speak the truthwant to sell or say. Avoid ambiguity. Clarity & certainty are almost mandatory <and, please, do not confuse this with ‘simplicity’ … because one can provide clarity without overt simplicity>.

 

 

 

That said.

 

 

Standing out, being distinct, may matter more than success.

 

 

This is a reflection of an overall societal thing … kids are more and more raised by parents less obsessed with winning or their kids obtaining traditional status symbols of ‘success’. This results in an attitude more focused on standing out rather than being #1.

 

 

Suffice it to say … being distinct matters.

 

 

Not being better or being ‘unique’ but instead simply being clear with regard to who and what you are. Distinct differentiates in a fluffy grey world.

 

 

 

Both of those things, edges and distinctness, matter when it comes to attitudinal marketing.

 

 

I say that because while the world may feel overwhelming on occasion <mostly driven by what social media fake journalists keep telling us we should be overwhelmed> most of us are becoming quite good at judging … well … the turn on, tune in, or drop out choices.

 

Frankly … it’s a survival mechanism people have honed as a reaction to the babbling insanity that surrounds everyone and which can eat life away if permitted.

 

 

We actually have learned relatively well on how to choose wisely with regard to what to pay attention to.

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

If you are a marketer … shit … if you are a business owner … success may often not be found in focusing on some ‘demographic appeal’ to what you are selling or saying. Success may actually be found in tapping into some attitude.

 

The business world is becoming more and more ‘age democratized’ and therefore you are just as likely to piss off potential customers focusing on a demographic as you are in appealing to the demographic you are trying to attract.

new normal marc johns

 

More importantly?

 

 

You are probably leaving potential customers at the table if you use a demographic focus.

 

I can’t remember the source but I know I have read that attitudinal marketing & targeting can be 6x more effective than a demographic approach.

 

 

 

I imagine if I wanted to close this article with a factoid that’s a good one.

plain packaging and the burden of non deceitful messaging

February 23rd, 2015

So.

 

 

This is about marketing and communications and plain packaging versus branding … as well as truth and deceit.plain packaging invisible naked

 

 

 

 

“In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market.

In practice, if everyone went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed.

To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds.

There is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.”

=

Edward Bernays

—-

gift responsible

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

We can vulgarize that society.

We can brutalize it.

Or we can help lift it to a higher level.”

=

Bill Bernbach

———————–

 

 

Last April the Guardian had a small editorial on plain packaging because Great Britain is thinking about having plain packaging for cigarettes.

 

Within the short thought piece it poses the question of “what if there were only plain packaging … for everything?”

 

 

 

Well.

 

giving yourself convenient

That topic is something anyone in the professional communications industry should ponder not from a true business perspective but rather a philosophical ‘what do I really do for a living’ type perspective.

 

 

Why?

 

 

One of the hot topics among young people when I speak to them is “the moral depravity of capitalism” and its flag bearer “the morally corrupt advertising.”

 

 

Stand up in from of today’s youth and make sure you bring your A game … cause you will need it.

 

 

A discussion about plain packaging for everything spans capitalism, brands & branding and … well … people themselves <how much they can actually be influenced to do something they don’t really desire doing>.

 

 

I remain steadfast in this discussion.

 

 

 

Capitalism, in and of itself, is not morally corrupt. Only people can be moral or immoral.

 

 

Advertising, in and of itself, is not morally corrupt. Only people can be moral or immoral.

 

 

But regardless of my steadfastness … plain packaging for everything sparks an interesting discussion … not just about the morality of marketing & advertising but the role, and importance, of brands in people’s lives.

 

 

I will begin with the short editorial:

 

—————-

== The Guardian ==

Unthinkable? Plain packets for everything.

Brands allow us to choose, but they also sometimes stop us choosing wisely – perhaps everything should carry a warning

Could the plain wrappers, which the government has said it will introduce for cigarettes, be usefully extended, to other potentially harmful products?

Alcopop could be divested of its deceiving glamour, fatty food could be labelled as just that, sugar could be generically dispensed.

Whisky would just be a brown liquid in a bottle without pictures of terriers or a chap striding along.

Marmalade would just be a brown substance in a jar (after all, when you buy oranges they often put them in a plain brown paper bag).

Ice cream would no longer carry names reminding you of heavy handguns or novels by Mark Twain. Except, of course, in very tiny letters at the bottom of the pack.

High heeled shoes could be stripped of their fashion names and carry a warning about muscle strain and bunions to come.

Fast cars could have their badges pruned.

The more we extend the list the sillier it becomes.

Yet we know how many designs for marijuana packets were patented in the hope that it would be legalised: the magic wand of branding could then be waved over them to bring big profits to these far-sighted entrepreneurs.

Brands allow us to choose, but they also sometimes stop us choosing wisely.

Perhaps the problem could be tackled more directly by simply attaching a label to everything saying that branding should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Naturally a label like that on an actual packet of salt could cause confusion, so that one might have to say in that case that branding could be a snare and a delusion.

————–

 

evil good hands

 

I imagine beginning the discussion you have to use the end of the editorial – … branding could be a snare and a delusion.

 

 

The mind has plenty to grapple with from such a short grouping of words.

 

Brand <and branding>.

 

Exchange Value.

 

Deceit.

 

Caveat emptor.

 

Influencing.

 

Information and disinformation.

 

 

Now.

 

This issue has been discussed for decades.

 

 

The most famous public discussion may have occurred sometime in the1950’s. Printer’s Ink <a magazine I believe> published an editorial … Toynbee Vs. Bernbach on Advertising <oddly … in this day & age where you can find almost everything online … I can’t find a copy of it … therefore I am dependent upon a sole bad hard copy I made years ago>.

 

 

 

The summary?

 

 

—–

Arnold Toynbee:

Advertising is moral mis-education.

Advertising is an instrument of moral, as well as intellectual, mis – education. Insofar as it succeeds in influencing people’s minds, it conditions them not to think for themselves and not to choose for themselves.

It is intentionally hypnotic in its effect it makes people suggestible and docile. In fact, it prepares them for submitting to a totalitarian regime.

toynbee berbach advertising

=

Bill Bernbach:

Only people are moral or immoral.

Advertising, like so many technologies available to man, is neither moral nor immoral. Is eloquence immoral because it persuades? Is music immoral because it awakens emotions? Is the gift of writing immoral because it can arouse people to action?

No.

Yet eloquence, music and writing have been used for evil purpose.

No, advertising is not moral or immoral.

Only people are.

—–

 

 

capitalism desperate

When I discuss capitalism & advertising I place both of these thoughts on screen and suggest people have to make a choice.

 

 

 

Are people sheep … or smart enough to make decisions on their own?

 

 

Are all people who do marketing & advertising immoral?

 

 

You realize that plain packaging isn’t the issue.

 

And that the topic is complex.

 

 

Suffice it to say … selling shit <marketing or manufacturing> is always about balancing sales & ethics & values.

 

The moment you lose sight of that is the moment your moral compass, or business, goes off the tracks.

 

 

And you have to pay attention to your moral compass if you are in the communications business because there is gobs of research showing that the degree of brand loyalty increases sharply from the age of ten, and peaks around the age of 30.

 

 

There is gobs of research showing that the degree of emotional involvement a person invests with a brand increases their irrationality.

 

 

 

Why the hell did I include those factoids?

 

 

Because that means if you are in the communications business <this includes packaging by the way> you have a responsibility. And that responsibility is being ethical & being truthful and not being deceitful.

 

 

Basically people know and love brands.

 

People know the names of brands, remember what they see and hear about them and form opinions of them.

 

 

And people actually do NOT like plain packaging … they like all the wrappings around the shit they buy.

 

 

And the trappings are important because brand relationships don’t form in a vacuum.

 

 

To become truly loyal to a brand, you have to create strong attitudinal foundations. The peak loyalty is a strong attitudinal allegiance to a brand.

 

Some suggest this is a ‘bond.’

 

 

 

I cannot remember who built this “brand loyalty pyramid” but , in general, it says pretty much the same thing as every ‘loyalty pyramid’ you will see when you walk thru the door of any credible communications company:

 

 

compete connect smart

• Presence: does the consumer know anything about the product or service?

• Relevance: does it cater for their needs?

• Performance: does it deliver?

• Advantage: is it better than others in some way?

• Bonding: nothing else can beat it.

 

 

All consumers, whether kids or adults, form brand relationships in this way.

 

 

On a side note … interestingly, research shows that among kids, around half of all brands change their typology every two years, highlighting an extremely rapid ‘migration’ of attitudes.

 

 

But, in general, Millward Brown research shows that brand allegiance changes very little across the generations. In two out of three categories, adults and kids are bonded to the same brands. Many brands manage to tap into needs and desires that transcend the age of the consumer, and many do this through careful product segmentation.

 

 

loyal to brand

I included a lot of this stuff because we use the word ‘brand’ often in a very simplistic way and it is a very non simplistic concept.

 

It has to do with perceptions, attitude and expectations … leading to specific behaviors.
And all this gets me back to plain packaging and, conversely, discussing ‘brand.’

 

 

Plain packaging suggests everything is equal. Toynbee would like that.

 

Everything equally good and equally bad.

 

 

Unfortunately for Toynbee … whether you believe it or not … the shit we buy varies in quality.

 

 

Could we exist, or subsist, on the lowest quality?

 

I am fairly sure we could.

 

 

But our everyday existence is made up of more than simply existing. What I mean is how dull would life be if that is all there was?

 

 

To be clear … even within the lowest income purchasers, those who have a heightened sense of survival, there remains hope for something better and the occasional indulgence of something better.

 

Non plain packaging permits a manufacturer to showcase ‘better’ or ‘different’ so we, the people, can make choices.

 

 

Ah.

 

Making choices.

 

 

 

People make choices. Non plain packaging helps them make choices.

 

 

Professional communicators also make choices.

 

 

 

This leads me to something called … “Do this or die.”

 

 

Do this or Die is a manifesto written by Bill Bernbach <one of the founders of the advertising agency Doyle, Dane & Bernbach – DDB> and it is written to those who CREATE advertising and messaging … the professional communicators in the world.

 

 

It is a directive ‘the creators of messaging’ to create inspiring truthful meaningful messaging.

 

 

He suggests in his manifesto to the ‘creators’, those who should bear the burden of ‘non deceitful messaging,’ that the people are not a nation, or world, of stupid people.

 

People are smart.

Do-this-or-die-Bill-Bernbach1

 

And maybe ‘the people’ can be tricked once … but very very rarely twice.

 

 

“DO THIS OR DIE” is a warning, a promise, a call-out to the lazier advertising and marketing and communications professionals.

The ones who accept and produce mediocrity.

The ones who don’t understand the power of truth and the ones who compromise ‘truth’ in the interest of sale or ‘false differentiation.’

 

 

 

Do this or Die.

 

What we professionals communicate must be truth:

 

 

==

“… the messages we put on those pages and on those television screens must be the truth. For if we play tricks with the truth, we die.

Now.

The other side of the coin.

Telling the truth about a product demands a product that’s worth telling the truth about. Sadly, so many products aren’t. So many products don’t do anything better. Or anything different. So many don’t work quite right.

Or don’t last.

Or simply don’t matter.

If we also play this trick, we also die.”

==

 

 

Discussing plain packaging is discussing the symptom of a larger problem.

 

 

It becomes not a discussion of marketing or communications or even capitalism … it becomes a discussion about people and doing what is right versus what is wrong and choices.

 

 

I love this discussion with young people.

 

 

It is a hard discussion in which they may approach it with some naiveté … they also approach it with truth in hand.

 

 

Truth that while there are moral and immoral people in the world … that even moral people will slide down the slippery slope of mediocre ethical behavior under the guise of either <a> not knowledgeable enough to do anything better, or <b> everyone else is doing it.

 

 

 

In the end.

 

 

 

Let me say I despise what Arnold Toynbee suggests with regard to people.

 

 

I refuse to believe people aren’t smart enough to make knowledgeable decisions.

 

 

I refuse to believe people can be influenced to such an extent they desire things they shouldn’t desire.

 

 

 

I refuse to believe people can be manipulated to do wrong things <but certainly can be inspired to take positive actions>.

 

 

 

 

I do believe communications can influence attitudes.

 

I do believe communications, done well, can affect behavior.

 

 

But I don’t believe communications can make someone do something they don’t want to do … nor convince them in any consistent way to do wrong things.

 

 

 

Just as you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink … communications can lead someone somewhere <immorally or morally> but inevitably a person makes the moral or immoral choice.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

Here is something I am emphatic with when talking with young people <and as often as I can with older people>.

 

 

 

I do believe professional communicators have a higher responsibility than other folks.

do things right don nothing

 

 

I do believe … all of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

 

 

We can vulgarize that society.

 

We can brutalize it.

 

 

Or we can help lift it to a higher level.

 

 

 

Plain packaging?

 

 

Why am I against it?

 

 

Well.

 

 

I would lose an opportunity to help lift society to a higher level.

 

That’s what I tell people.

 

 

And that is what I believe.

 

===

shirking responsibility
===

This old post is not about communicators … but business responsibility to shaping society.

===

responsibility in business (or … shapers of society)

http://brucemctague.com/responsibility-in-business-or-shapers-of-society

Enlightened Conflict