The Power of “I Don’t Know”

First up on Day 2 of World Business Forum, Steven Levitt economist and author of Freakonomics (a best selling book and now a motion picture).

Interesting, funny and humble guy (admitted right up front that he almost failed out of High School math).

His focus was on the difference between academics and and business people, and the contributions (or lack thereof) of many economists.

Lots of interesting insights, you can see the whole speech on-demand at Worth checking out, hilarious bit about working with prostitutes to set the correct price for services.

What I enjoyed most about his speech was this one simple, and provocative thought…the power of “I Don’t know”.

Levitt’s hypothesis

Academics come from the point of view that they don’t know the answer to most questions and must do research to answer them.

They (or at least Levitt) starts every assignment with “I don’t know” as a premise and determine what steps to take to answer that.

Business people are trained never to say “I don’t know” for fear of showing weakness and putting their jobs in jeopardy.

But this could be a big mistake.

A To-Do List For Uncertain Times

Day one today of the World Business Forum #WBF10 kicked off with a bang with Jim Collins, author of Good to Great.

Unlike recent past years where there has been a bit of doom and gloom, I found the session to be uplifting. With messages of hope and beating the odds by staying true to your personal values.

Jim’s message? Don’t give up.

We all suffer staggering defeats in our lives. It’s okay to go through setbacks, but it’s critical to not give up on values and aspirations that make the struggle worthwhile.

Collins next book will be on how companies persevere and even thrive in difficult times. He believes we are in a new normal where change and struggle will be constant.

Here’s his  list of Ten “To Do’s” to start on the path for Surviving and Thriving:

#1 Do your diagnostics (free Good to Great diagnostic on his website).

#2 Don’t focus on career – focus on building pockets of greatness.

#3 Get the right people on the bus. How many key seats are filled on your bus, what are your plans for filling them with the right people?

#4 Double your questions to statements ratio in the next year.

#5 Focus on what really matters. How is our world changing and what are the brutal facts?

Marketing is Not a Spectator Sport

But too often, people who work in this field, treat it like one. We’re afraid to move too quickly, think too boldly or try something before it’s proven or has measured impact.

So we stay on the sidelines, safe and sedentary (and most likely bored).

What if we acted that way on the tennis, soccer or football field?

The balls would come whizzing by us, our opponents would gain yardage, points, etc.  and we’d surely be on the losing side of the scoreboard.

Marketing is Not a Spectator Sport.

Get out and play. Win or lose, at least you’re in the game.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What keeps you on the sidelines?

Twipple: Using Twitter to Ripple Human Kindness

I recently discovered twipple, a movement  that uses Twitter to spread and encourage random acts of kindness.

Here’s a short video about twipple featuring Cunning Creative Director Floyd Hayes. (This is an independent project from Floyd).

I love this idea!

A quick review of the most recent acts posted on their twitter page includes:

95: Give the gift of hard drive space and offer to back up a friends computer!

94: Call I.T support just to ask how they are. (They are people too…)

93: Call in a radio song request for someone sat near you in the office.

The Mis-branding of the Healthcare Debate

I am not heavily into politics.

But, like the rest of America, I couldn’t help watching the whole health care debate and vote this weekend.

At least casually, from the treadmill at my gym/tennis club.

And I overheard some interesting conversations among the members there.

Some of the dynamics I observed seem relevant to me as a more general lesson in good vs. bad branding…