getAbstract Blog

Last summer, Jonah Berger released his New York Times bestseller, Contagious. Its premise? To explain virality; in other words, why some things catch on and others, well, don’t.

Berger, a Wharton marketing professor, asserts that there is a secret science behind word of mouth and there are some almost fail-proof tools that entrepreneurs and companies can utilize in order to get more people talking about their product or idea.

We were quite taken with Berger’s “Viral 2.0” premise and we enjoyed his appearances on everything from NBC’s Today Show to Marie Forleo’s web TV channel (which consequentially made Contagious contagious). So we were delighted to have the opportunity to sit down with the Ivy League professor to ask him a few questions and have him explain Contagious in more detail.

Best Book Summaries to Read on the Plane
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Thanks to new guidelines, the FAA has officially given us the okay to keep our phones on during take-off and landing. By the end of the year, we will have more time en route – gate to gate – to maximize our use of our electronic devices.

Best Book Summaries to Read on the Plane

This change means more reading time in transit. And while in the past that required carrying your books and journals on board an airplane, now you can simply download your reading materials to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. When you combine that flexibility with getAbstract’s quick-to-consume summaries, efficiency has never been more, well, efficient. In a three-hour flight, say, from New York to Miami, you could absorb the key content of 10 business books without even turning a page.

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In his best-selling book “Uprising: How to Build a Brand and Change the World by Sparking Cultural Movements“ Scott Goodson explains his concept of “Movement Marketing,”- a fascinating notion that lends brands some soul in our mass-marketed, mass-produced post-millennial world. At getAbstract, we wanted to know more, so we interviewed Scott Goodson to gain a better understanding of how every company can benefit by sparking their own uprisings.

Scott Goodson Speaks to getAbstract about Building Brands and Changing the World

gA: In Uprising you illustrate movement marketing with lots of powerful examples by the likes of Apple, Dove and VW. You also demonstrate how NOT to do movement marketing, via the KFC example, when they tried to align their brand with breast cancer awareness. In your opinion, what could KFC have done to create a SUCCESSFUL movement marketing campaign?

SG: I have had the privilege of building some of the world’s most iconic brands: IKEA, Heineken, Pampers, Emirates Airline, Sabra, and Smart Car. From my early days I believed that movements do more to build a business than advertising. Once you have a cultural movement you can do anything in an evolving media and technology environment.

Every brand can spark a movement but not every brand deserves a movement. When I coined the idea of movement marketing I envisioned that the brand should be aware of its own culture and connect to an idea on the rise in culture in an authentic way, i.e. in a way that aligns with the brand benefit or brand purpose. In the case of KFC they do good by enabling many people to eat. People don’t starve in America. KFC helps provide a consistent quality food product that is accessible to many people. And they do it in a safe and efficient manner. When I was in China recently it was evident just how vital this benefit is. For Movement Marketing to be effective, the key is to align with something that is relevant to the lives of your audience and that it is an issue that they truly care about in their lives. Education is a big one. So too, are empowering women… connecting families together in the age when technology is pulling families apart. Indeed, there are a lot of important issues and breast cancer is an important issue too. Was it the right one for KFC? You decide. Perhaps they should have aligned themselves with a brand that was relevant to their products and aside from chicken “breasts” there was no common ground. The purported linkage between KFC and breast cancer breaks down like this: KFC causes obesity, and obesity increases one’s risk of breast cancer. It can therefore be argued that KFC causes breast cancer. Compared this to Dove, which is a beauty brand that aligned itself with a movement related to beauty with their internationally successful “real beauty” campaign.

gA: Successful advertising and marketing has always tapped into the consumer’s emotional frame of reference via messaging and/ or imagery. How does Movement Marketing take this one step further?

SG: Traditional advertising finds a creative way to present a product so that it’s memorable and distinguished. Movement marketing starts with an idea on the rise in culture and ties it back to the brand benefit. Advertising is exclusive; movements are open. Advertising is about inspiring people to buy, movements get people to do something or change their behavior. Movements are all about crystallizing and curating consumer passions, advertising is all about the product. Advertising starts as media dollars flow and stop when media dollars are shut off, whereas movements are sustainable. Advertising happens primarily in traditional media; movements start by honoring the community, using social to spread the message like wildfire, and traditional media to amplify that message to a wider audience. Movements tap into core beliefs that individuals have a passion for outside of the consumer market. And now there is a movement for movements. Some of the greatest marketing minds of our time are arguing for a deeper use of brand such as Jim Stengel in Grow or Denise Lee Yohn in What Great Brands Do. Indeed, Daniel Pink, Adam Morgan, John Gerzema, Guy Kawasaki and even Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Facebook, all touch on this in their recent literature. They are right and it is true.

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Derek Sivers is the quintessential serial entrepreneur and TED speaker who time and time again has successfully challenged the status quo. Sivers has given three short and concise Ted Talks including, “How to Start a Movement,” “Weird or Just Different” and “Keep your Goals to Yourself.” He’s let us know that the way we think about leadership, motivation and goals or the notion of weird is all wrong. This is a recurring theme in his career which started with the creation of CD Baby – a start-up that changed the way independent musicians distribute their music. In “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur” Derek described his motivation for selling CD Baby for $22 million and donating the proceeds to charity.

Sivers grew up in the United States but moved to Asia in 2010. In 2013, he launched his new company Wood Egg, which publishes guides for entrepreneurs interested in starting a business in Asia. He now resides in New Zealand where he focuses on his latest project MuckWork, a business designed to help musicians with the “mundane, boring work that wasn’t (about) making music.” He recently talked to us about changing his “operating system” and his experience preparing his TED Talks.

Derek Sivers Changes his “ Operating System” but Will He Do Another TED Talk?

You had the idea for MuckWork the day after you sold CD Baby. What happened in the time between selling CD Baby and your decision to create MuckWork?

For the first time in 10 years, I had free time. So I thought of what seemed to be most needed next. In all my conversations with musicians for 10 years, the main thing people said they wanted was someone to help them with all the mundane, boring work that wasn’t making music. So I got inspired to try to solve that problem.

That said, I got halfway to completion before pausing it, and deciding to go explore the world instead. I felt that if I started another company immediately after selling my previous company, I’d just go right back to my workaholic ways, without making a real change in my life.

So that’s why I started travelling the world, going to TED, speaking at TED, moving to Singapore, learning about Asia, and basically changing my operating system.

Can you talk about that concept – changing your operating system – in relation to your decision to move first to Asia and most recently to New Zealand?

We all hit a time in our life when we feel we need to make a major change. Maybe it’s a breakup, a graduation, or quitting drinking. For me, it was when I sold my company. Literally the day after I sold my company of 10 years, I started the next one. I incorporated it, registered the domain, started programming it, and even hired a manager. A few months into it, I realized that if I stayed on this track, I was in for another 10 years of the same thing I’d been doing for the previous 10 years. That’s when I decided I needed to make a major change, instead.

I call it “changing my operating system” because it’s about looking at the way you do things and make choices, and replacing your previous habits with new ones. For years I had been very head-down in my work, so I decided to go head-up and take in all kinds of new experiences. Say yes where I used to say no, and say no where I used to say yes.

Moving to a very different place is a great way to make a big change. That’s why I moved to Singapore. For three years there, I immersed myself in every new experience I could.

Then, after three years, I found I wasn’t getting any real work done, because I was so busy immersing myself in new experiences, and meeting with everyone who wanted to meet. (Singapore is a very small and very social place.)

I felt it was time to go “head-down” again, and focus on my work. So I moved all the way to New Zealand, where I don’t know anyone, and nobody comes to visit. It’s a wonderful place to work without distractions, and also a great little country I’m really proud to be a part of.

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How to Pitch a VC


Today’s business climate revolves around innovation and new product development, so entrepreneurs increasingly need support from venture capitalists. The individual entrepreneur’s problem is determining how to stand out in a sea of other impassioned visionaries.

The flipside of the growth in entrepreneurship is an unprecedented increase in the competition for funding. So, to catch a VC’s attention you need more than just a good idea. But how do you hook and reel in bankers and other investors, and convince them in to fund your venture when the competition is so steep? Your edge may simply come down to your pitch. Its content and its delivery may matter even more than your product or service itself.

Lessons Learned: How to pitch a VC, tips from Guy Kawasaki and David S. Rose

Of course, a strong “advanced elevator pitch” requires a working prototype and a strong presentation,” but what else do you need?

First, make sure your PowerPoint presentation follows author Guy Kawasaki’s oft-quoted 10/20/30 rule? (that is, 10 slides, lasting no more than 20 minutes, and containing no font smaller than 30 points.)

To get the scoop on pitching to VC’s, we turned to two well-regarded speakers, both leading authorities on gaining start-up funding. Kawasaki himself and David S. Rose, who offer their top tips on pitching a VC:

David S. Rose

BusinessWeek calls David S. Rose a “world conquering entrepreneur;” he calls himself the “pitch coach.” He’s an investor who has raised millions in venture capital and invested millions in more than 75 pioneering tech start-ups. His top tips on how to pitch venture capitalists successfully include:

Top Tip # 1: Entrepreneurs themselves are the most important aspect of any business investment. They must display as many of the following characteristics as possible: integrity, enthusiasm, experience, expertise, skillfulness, leadership, commitment, vision, realism, and willingness to learn.

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We’ve scoured the web – starting with our library from 2013, and then turning to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, and other best-seller lists and more – to uncover the leading business page-turners of 2013. We found some great contenders, so compiling a top-5 list was pretty tricky. We wound up putting it to a good, old-fashioned in-office vote. So, here, the getAbstract office team’s top reads from last year:

1. Contagious, Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger’s Contagious itself became, well, contagious during the warmer months of 2013. The best-selling, easy-to-read sales and marketing manual takes a look at why some products and ideas catch on and others don’t. Using a plethora of entertaining stories, Berger explains and demonstrates the how and why of a very modern concept: viral marketing.

Top 5 Business Books of 2013

2. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg’s Lean In was the other much-hyped business book of 2013. As COO of Facebook, Sandberg explores the role of women in the workplace. Using anecdotes, exploration and factual information, Sandberg lays out the case for professional women, helping them make their voices heard and achieve their career goals. At its very core, Lean In explains that women need to break down societal and personal barriers to strive for – and lean into – leadership roles and to create more equitable opportunities for everyone. As Sandberg says, “A truly equal world would be one where woman ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

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It can be all too easy for leaders to settle into familiar patterns and habits over the years. But if you haven’t looked up from your hectic schedule and evaluated areas where you could stand to improve, you might be stuck in a leadership rut. So even if you’re wary of personal New Year’s resolutions, consider entering 2014 with a focus on leadership resolutions that can strengthen your entire organization.

Refine Your Leadership Focus in 2014

Forbes shares four common pain points that leaders often struggle with: becoming more thoughtful, focusing on employee benefits, transforming talent recruitment and investing in continuing education. These measures not only address frequently overlooked areas, but they directly drive improvements in employee satisfaction and retention rates, which can, in turn, fuel organizational stability and long-term success. To learn more about these four leadership resolutions, read the full article here

How many meetings leave you feeling as if nothing was achieved? The meeting did not achieve its purpose; the people who attended did not meet their goals. In essence, it was just a time-wasting conversation and you would have rather been at your desk, answering the pile-up of emails and tending to your work.

If you find yourself trapped in the hamster wheel of hapless meetings, you’ll empathize with Jason Fried’s TED talk, Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work. He discusses the time wasted at meetings that don’t move projects along and that serve only to prevent people from working.

Murphy proposes Workflow<br />
Management as an alternative to traditional meetings

Given that such meetings are the traditional course of business, how do you get out of the rut and find a more effective vehicle for communication and project development? Turn to Martin Murphy’s book No More Pointless Meetings.

Murphy proposes a technique called Workflow Management. First, managers assign a facilitator to run meetings. Facilitators choreograph workflow sessions to assure that the group is collaborative, productive and efficient. The impartial facilitators assume responsibility only for process – not the meeting’s content. They do not join in the discussion, instead, they use separate content (the focus and purpose of the meeting) from process (the logistics of the meeting: place, seating layout, tone, energy level, numbers and types of attendees). Surprisingly, Murphy suggests that meetings are more effective when a junior ranking member officiates.

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What is the Cognitive Surplus?

Clay Shirky author of the business book “Cognitive Surplus: creativity and generosity in a connected age” and of the Ted Talk “How Cognitive Surplus will change the world” coined the term “Cognitive Surplus” to “describe the free time that people have…to engage in collaborative activities” particularly online. People worldwide are allocating their free time to connecting with each other instead of passively watching TV alone. Fueled by enthusiasm and passion, they are using their creative energy outside of work to fulfill social goals, not economic ones.

Clay Shirky - Every year there are a trillion hours of participatory value up for grabs

Clay Shirky a Technology Optimist

Shirky, a social media theorist and technology optimist, sees Cognitive Surplus as part of a positive evolution. “Now, we have technology that allows us to create, not just consume,” he says, urging former couch potatoes to take advantage of new opportunities to make a difference. “The wiring of humanity lets us treat free time as a shared global resource, and lets us design new kinds of participation and sharing that take advantage of that resource.” This new resource means that “every year there are a trillion hours of participatory value up for grabs.”

Cognitive Surplus Erring on the Side of New Technology

The trend toward online collaboration is emerging as the Internet shifts from “old technology“ to “new technology.” Old technology locked users within specific systems, while new technology embraces openness and chaos. As it matures, it lets its users develop their own rules and protocols. New technology is very effective at coordinating people with different skill sets and competencies in many different places. The Internet now lets individuals pool their Cognitive Surplus to accomplish major goals at minimal cost in a variety of areas, including software development, content creation, art, design, entertainment, crisis management, and much more.

Shirky: the gap between doing nothing and doing something often provides the freedom to experiment with the creation of junk

Cognitive Surplus’ First Step: Participation

Even though Cognitive Surplus has social ramifications, it doesn’t always focus on making the world a better place. Even the LOL Cats Shirky says represents a joint effort. “Even the stupidest collaboration still shows that they’ve tried something.” It’s all part of a selection and learning process, wherein “the gap between doing nothing and doing something often provides the freedom to experiment with the creation of junk.” Individual motives don’t always have to be noble. LOL Cats are just a stepping stone to better things. He likens LOL Cats to the events that followed the invention of the printing press, when erotic novels got published before scientific journals. So, don’t worry if your kids are addicted to LOL cats; in the grand scheme of things, it is for the greater good.

Cognitive Surplus: How Sharing and Collaborating Accelerate Innovation

If you are looking for a solution to a problem, chances are that someone has already found it and might already be sharing it with the rest of the world. You might even be able to access an online tutorial detailing the steps to follow to implement that solution. And, if no one has looked for a solution yet, a community of experts awaits on line to research your problem for you. People online constantly ask, “How do I do this?” or “Is this possible?” Those who freely share their solutions are fueling a virtuous circle of improvements and building in an accumulation of knowledge.

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You have already started a blog with the intent of making it your job. You provide relevant information and views on important topics. You blog frequently and people are returning to your site for information or entertainment. Your blog entries now rank in Search Engines and drive new visitors to your website. You can measure the results of your efforts with your blog’s PageRank and Domain Authority. Personally, you are well on your way to establishing yourself as a thought leader in your “community” or industry. In short, you have found your niche. You have successfully launched your own blog. So what’s the problem? Well, you can’t make a living with it, at least, not yet.

Eight Tips that Will Help You Monetize Your Blog

So, how do you monetize your blog, the traffic it draws and your blogging skills? How do earn money from your blog without compromising its content or your integrity? Charlie White and John Biggs, authors of “Blogger Boot Camp: Learning How to Build, Write, and Run a Successful Blog” – offer some valuable insights that inspired the following tips:

1. Skip the Donate Button and Try Selling Merchandise Instead

The donate button is popular among bloggers whose site’s traffic volume is not sufficient to be monetized any other ways. PayPal, the most commonly utilized service for this purpose, may have been overused. Donations work only if your blog is connected to a charity or a worthy cause. Without that strong connection, asking for donations does not work. The online audience has gotten tired of seeing buttons that say “buy me a beer” or coffee, and that killed the random personal donation button.

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