Friday, January 27, 2017

Important CEO Lesson from This Year's NFL Super Bowl Coaches

Last weekend's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on the head coaches of the four remaining NFL teams (of which two, the Falcons and Patriots, will now play in Super Bowl LI).

Out of the four coaches, three of them were what the article called "CEO coaches", by which they meant that the coach did not call offensive or defensive plays.

All head coaches in the NFL get hired based upon their proven performance as a defensive or offensive coordinator.  But, as super-coach Marshall Goldsmith has said "What got you here, won't get you there."

In the article, former Ravens coach "Brian Billick said that being a play caller and head coach is like having two 24/7 jobs." The article went on to mention statistics that the head coaches who were previously hotshot offensive coordinators, and continued to call plays, saw their offensive stats fall.

This leads to one of the most important lessons for success as a CEO or senior manager.  It is also, in my 27 years of experience, one of the most important lessons for driving innovation:

You have to get out of the weeds or, stated another way, see the forest from the trees.

A leader and/or innovator needs to get away from focusing on details in one area, and be able to see the whole picture.

As I learned from super-consultant Alan Weiss, the way to move your perspective up is to ask "Why?", while you move down by asking "How?".

HGTV Now #3 Among Cable Channels–Implications for Innovative Marketing

Recently, HGTV (Home and Garden Television) passed CNN in the ratings, to become the third most-watched cable channel (after Fox News and ESPN).

Why did this happen?  Has everyone become a house-flipper?  The answer is no.  Instead, the channel operates as a form of "comfort food" at a time when people are overworked, anxious, and burned-out on global channels blaring bad news 24/7.

What are the lessons for innovative marketing?

Well, as I mentioned in a post last year, we are no longer in the Information Age.  We are now in the Age of Attention Scarcity.  People are bombarded with data and noise and a lack of time.

I said that the Art of Marketing can be boiled down into: "Give so much value that they can't ignore you".

HGTV knows it's audience and gives it tons of value:

1. They dropped the more far-out shows (like astrology-based real estate) and focus on plain vanilla "fix 'er up" shows.

2. While other shows concentrate on house-flipping in extravagant homes on the coasts, HGTV (based in Tennessee) shows many homes from the heartland between the coats.

Thus, for marketing, businesses need to think of themselves as a channel such as HGTV or Food Network. They can't just give value in the form of data–they also need to package it in an entertaining  way.

Using WWII Guerrilla Tactics For Medical Innovation

Last year, I read an interesting book called "Operation Jedburgh: D-Day and America's Shadow War".

It was about how, during WWII, the OSS (precursor of the CIA), British, and exiled French intelligence services parachuted operatives into German-occupied France to organize the Resistance.

They organized regular people into guerrilla units.  They couldn't fight head-on against the German army, but they did things like bomb bridges, sabotage railroad tracks, etc.

They had two main missions:

1. When D-Day started, they had to delay German reinforcements from reaching Normandy from western and southern France.

2. After the Allies were winning control of France, they had to delay German units from escaping back to Germany (where they could regroup).  At the very least, they had to force them from traveling by back roads and village-to-village, so they would have to use the highways, where they would be siting ducks for air attacks.

Today, I got to thinking that this might be a useful metaphor for medical and drug research.  For diseases like certain cancers, we now have multiple drugs on the market, and they seem to make incremental improvements in survival rates.

Maybe, as an innovation, drug companies should also start to look for "Jedburgh" drugs.  Drugs that don't combat cancers directly, but aid the drugs already on the market.

In other words, what if we look like drug vs. cancer as a war.  For example, maybe a drug is targeting a certain protein that the cancer needs.  Why isn't it finishing off the cancer?  Is the cancer replicating itself too fast (getting replacements) that it can keep ahead of the loss of protein? Or is the cancer taking counter-measures and releasing some other chemical to protect the protein?

Maybe they can then create a drug that slows down the replication, or a drug that reduces or eliminates this secondary chemical.  By itself, neither of these drugs would be effective against cancer but, they might enhance the success of the main one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"If innovation is an accident, then we need to make employees more accident prone."

- Praveen Puri

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Unexpected Connections #35: Tabloid Sales and CellPhones

To keep my edge as an expert on strategic innovation, helping clients turn problems into opportunities, I'm always looking out for key trends and unexpected (or unusual) connections / correlations in the marketplace.
Recently, while stuck in a checkout line at the grocery store, I noticed that I (and others) were using our phones. In the past, people waiting in line used to read the tabloids. It struck me that, now that cell phones are widely available, tabloid sales must be suffering.
I did some research when I got back, and found out that this was indeed the case. Sales were not just down for tabloids, but also for the other merchandise (like mail clippers, candy, mini-flashlights, etc.) that stores stick in the checkout aisles.
Companies need to think about how the accelerating changes around us affect their sales, not just through direct competition, but through indirect means–such as competing for our attention, which is getting more precious as it becomes less and less.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

12 Year Return of My "Stock Trading Riches" System vs. Total Return on the S&P 500 (Including Dividends)

For the last 12 years, I have been trading my investment account according to the system I wrote about in my book Stock Trading Riches, and have been publishing the results on my book's message board.

In 2016, My "Stock Trading Riches" account beat the S&P 500 again (20.88% vs. 11.96%). 

Here is the cumulative 12-year return: 

(Source for S&P500 returns = )  

Year, Me, S&P 500  

2005, 13%, 4.91%  

2006, 14%, 15.79%  

2007, 22%, 5.49%  

2008, (40%), (37%)  

2009, 44%, 26.46%  

2010, 22%, 15.06%  

2011, (5%), 2.11%  

2012, 13.3%, 16%  

2013, 23%, 32.39%  

2014, 13%, 13.69%  

2015, 1.49%, 1.38%  

2016, 20.88%, 11.96% 

My portfolio had a cumulative 12 year return of +202.4% vs. +135.7% for the S&P 500.  

That translates into a 12 year average annual return of 9.66% vs. 7.41%