Concept cars

Every year, Audi, Ford, GM and the rest of the auto companies bring concept cars to the big shows. These swooping, modern, magical cars are in stark contrast to the cars that are actually for sale.

Why do they bother? It’s not a form of market research.

Begin with the fact that car companies need their product to be stylish. By making older cars seem ‘old’, they create social pressure to get rid of your existing car (even if it’s running fine) and keep up with the trends. And so, every year, cars are a bit different. Not in performance, really, but in the way they look and feel.

At the same time, though, consumers are really hesitant about buying a car that they’ll regret. It’s such a big purchase, it feels very different than buying a pair of purple uggs that might only be in style for a month or two.

Concept cars, then, are an assertion by the company: here’s where we think we’re going, thanks for paying attention, car nerds! Tell the others. We’re here to entertain you, have fun. We know it’s outlandish today, but by exposing you to these features over and over for five or ten years, by the time the cars actually arrive, you’ll say “of course,” not, “what’s that?”

They’re normalizing design progress. Making it safe over time.

As you’ve probably guessed, this doesn’t only work for cars.

Any idea that needs to move from early adopters to the masses can benefit from a preview that simultaneously delights the nerds while warming up the masses for what’s to come.


50 Productivity Tips to Boost Your Brainpower

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The 5 Essential Skills Required for Building an Effective Website

Over the past decade I’ve analyzed and advised on hundreds of Websites, many as part of the coaching services I offer to participants in the Tony Robbins Business Mastery events I speak at where I offer my New Marketing Mastery online learning program. I’ve found that the best websites are built by a team of people who collectively have these skills: Graphic Design, Content Creation, Platform-Specific Developmental, and Search Engine Optimization. I’ve also learned almost nobody has all four of these skills, so a team approach is the best way to build an effective website.

Loud voices vs. important ones

Broken systems get worse when we confuse the loud voices with the important ones.

Spend a lot of time listening to the loudest complaints and you will elevate those voices to importance, because you’re no longer carefully listening to the more easily overlooked constituents.

A persistent typist with a keyboard might be a cranky critic, but is this the person you set out to serve?

If an airline makes 84% of its profit on leisure travelers, it’s not clear that the person who flies once a year on a last-minute first class fare is the person they ought to be paying the most attention to.

We can acknowledge that someone is upset, we can see them, respect them and help them. But we shouldn’t get confused that there’s a correlation between their ALL CAPS EFFORT AT ATTENTION and our agenda to serve the people we seek to serve.


How Image Recognition Software Is Transforming Business

Across the world, the image recognition market is expected to reach $38.9 billion by 2021. Clearly, this technology is growing in use and demand — but why?  

Many industries differ with regard to how they use new tech products, and the same applies to image recognition software. From improving the customer experience to streamlining operational procedures, Precision Printing — a specialist in digital printing — explores how the software works and why it could enhance business. 


What is image recognition technology? 

Essentially, this technology is designed to retrieve, process, examine, and interpret pictures, photos and high-dimensional data. It takes this from the ‘real world’ and produces useful information in multiple formats. This could be anything from uploading a photo of a group of friends to Facebook that automatically tags each person to their accounts, to taking a digital fingerprint scan in order to determine a person’s identity.  

Partly because 80% of the content online is visual, image recognition technology is rapidly growing and is becoming more and more adept at mimicking human vision and understanding.  

How is it transforming customer engagement and business processes?  

Generally, image recognition software is benefitting industries across the board. Many companies now have a digital presence, whether on social media or via an online store. A major advantage of this technology is that it can offer real-time insights into consumer behaviour — but not only your consumers. Visual analytics will allow you to monitor the consumer behaviour of your competitors, which will allow you to address their concerns within your own campaigns and potentially attract them to your brand instead. 

Keeping an eye on your online competitors is essential — but tricky. With image recognition software, you can now find similar content to what your brand is putting out on social media and track down social mentions of your company — no more manual, time-consuming searches. Not only will this help you monitor the competition in your industry, but it will also allow you to be more responsive to marketing opportunities that would otherwise have been missed and pick up on trends that may be flying under the radar 

Many brands are opting to launch apps — not a surprise considering that it’s predicted that global gross app revenue will hit $102 billion by 2020. Clearly, there is money to be made and customers to be won with apps, but how does image recognition assist? This technology can help brands boost engagement levels with their consumers, letting them extend beyond the standard boundaries of online and offline and making the app more immersive. As a result, promotional material and discount offers should be able to pack a greater punch and potentially offer a greater ROI.  


How image recognition affects individual industries  

This technology offers opportunities for all brands and sector — but which in particular are already seeing benefits?  


Image recognition promises to play a major role in the fashion industry. Firstly, a consumer, when leafing through a magazine, can use image recognition software on their mobile devices to scan a product they’re interested in and land straight onto its product page or relevant online marketing content, which could increase the chances of a conversion. Similarly, consumers can upload images of clothes they like and shop online for similar or complementary products — streamlining the shopping experience.  

From a brand perspective, image recognition makes picking up on trends much easier and quicker — due to the rapid evolution of trends in this sector, this could prove invaluable.  


The automotive industry is also benefitting from image recognition technology. Self-driving vehicles are an emerging market and they’re being developed with the assistance of image recognition. To ensure that self-driving cars are safe, they need to be able to detect hazards immediately and make informed decisions regarding their next action to avoid causalities. That’s where image recognition comes in. With this technology, self-drive car sensors will be able to spot dangers on the road in the same way as a human motorist does, reacting in a way that should avoid crashes and accidents.  

Although we’re still a while away from having motorways full of self-driving vehicles, image recognition is certainly already playing a part in the automotive industry and will help some brands in the sector capitalise on a trend that may be huge in the future.  


Image recognition software is also a useful tool for healthcare professionals. The technology is currently being used to help process the huge numbers of medical images that need verifying and checking in the sector. As a result, doctors can diagnose conditions and diseases at faster rates and with great accuracy, meaning less stress for the patient and easing the pressure on the doctor when it comes to arranging the best course of action.    

Image recognition is a growing technology that looks set to benefit companies on many levels. Are you clued up on how it can help your business in 2018?  



“We meet all Federal regulations”

The excuse made by large corporations for the impact of what they produce is that they simply follow the rules.

Of course, at these companies, there’s often a different department in charge of lobbying to change the rules so that they can increase short-term profits while being less beneficial to customers and communities.

It would only cost the car companies a dollar per car to prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills dozens of people. When you can run the car without the key (most modern cars), it means it’s easier than ever to pull your car into the garage and accidentally leave it running, which can kill everyone in your home before morning.

When the government worked to put in a regulation requiring this fix, the car companies lobbied against it.

Why would they do that? (Now, due to outrage, they’re fixing this particular problem. But in the past, the car companies fought seatbelts and other safety measures).

Why does any organization actively fight to lobby to lower its costs when it might benefit customers and their communities? The rules are not going to lead to lower industry sales. All the standards do is raise the bar for all the competitors. I don’t think many of us want to live in the world of Sinclair Lewis.

The restaurant industry fought a smoking ban, and the baseball bat industry fought one on aluminum bats for kids…

Sooner or later, humans are involved. And when someone says, “not on my watch,” they commit to making things better, not simply more profitable. The rules are one thing, but what if you’re better than the rules?

“We can make it better” is a far better motto than, “we meet all the regulations.”


To vs reply vs bcc

How much of your inbox activity is initiated by you? What percentage of your email threads started with an email you wrote?

And how much is spent replying to others?

And finally, how often are you bccing or being bcced?

I hope we can agree that the percentage for the third category should be close to zero.

But for the first two, the simplest way to change your day is to dramatically alter the percentage of the first two categories so that you’re adding way more value for others. In whatever way works best.


Truth in bots

All day we interact with others.

And sometimes, they’re bots.

Perhaps you’re in a chat room, and after a few Eliza-quality backs and forths, you realize that this helpful voice isn’t actually a voice at all, it’s simply a bot, here to interface with a tech support database.

Or you’re talking to a next-generation bot on the phone, and it’s only a minute or two into the interaction that you realize you’re being fooled by an AI, not a caring human.

Wouldn’t it be more efficient (and reassuring) to know this in advance?

But we can take this further. If you’re on the phone with American Express and the person you’re talking with has no agency, no ability to change anything and no incentive to care, wouldn’t it be helpful to know that before you had the conversation?

Or what about the publicist or direct marketer, sending you an email that purports to be personal but is in fact only personalized? Spam decorated as human interaction is still spam.

The problem with not labeling bots is that soon, we come to expect that every interaction is going to be with a bot, and we fail to invest emotional energy in the conversations we could have with actual people. I feel bad for all the actual customer service professionals (doctors, bureaucrats and others who help) who have to deal with impersonal interactions simply because their customers have been fooled one too many times.

The bots should announce, “I’m not a person, or if I am, I’m not allowed to act like one.”

Or, if there’s no room or time for that sentence, perhaps a simple *bot* at the top of the conversation. That way, we can save our human emotions for the humans who will appreciate them.


“I don’t like your work”

That doesn’t mean I don’t like you.

The difference is critical. It’s impossible to be a productive professional if you insist on conjoining them.

Here are two useful things to consider:

  1. There is plenty of disliked work from people (and things) where I don’t even know the creator. I don’t like John Adam’s operas, and I’ve never even met him. If it’s possible to dislike something without knowing the person behind it, I hope we can embrace the fact that they’re unrelated.
  2. If we need everyone to like our work in order to feel grounded, it means that we’ll sacrifice the best of what we could create in order to dumb it down for whatever masses happen to be speaking up. Which will make it more average (aka mediocre) and thus eliminate any magic we had hoped to create.

If someone cares enough to dislike our work, the best response is, “thank you.”

Thank you for taking the time to consider it, thank you for caring enough to let me know…

You can choose to listen (or not) to the rest of the feedback, but all you’ll learn is how one person reacted to something you built.


On feeling incompetent

At some point, grown ups get tired of the feeling that accompanies growth and learning.

We start calling that feeling, “incompetence.”

We’re not good at the new software, we resist a brainstorming session for a new way to solve a problem, we never did bother to learn to juggle…

Not because we don’t want the outcomes, but because the journey promises to be difficult. Difficult in the sense that we’ll feel incompetent.

Which accompanies all growth.

First we realize something can be done.

Then we realize we can’t do it.

And finally, we get better at it.

It’s the second step that messes with us.

If you care enough to make a difference, if you care enough to get better–you should care enough to experience incompetence again.