How Bill Gates Is Using His Common Sense to Save The World

This was the cover story back in November 2011 for Forbes magazine. I came across it again today and had a different reaction after reading it a second time. Bill Gates, like many great business minds, thrives on accomplishing what others tell him is not possible. With a goal like “reducing the death rate by 80% from preventable diseases”, you have to be pretty strong willed.

What struck me in this article as different this time, was Gates’ ability to take a very emotional cause (saving lives) and turn it into pure business formulas. I am not suggesting that Gates has no emotional tie to this cause, but when he speaks about it, he refers to it as if it was a business deal. Where can we get the cheapest vaccines (product)? How can we be most efficient?

This approach has helped Bill and Melinda Gates make more of an impact on world health then either of them could have ever imagined. They have saved hundreds of thousands of lives by implementing some simple business strategies….and having a few billion dollars doesn’t hurt either!

What aspects of your life could you apply business strategies to become more efficient? How can you be more philanthropic within your means? Share your ideas and thoughts below!

What Political Attack Ads Can Teach About Guerilla Marketing Techniques

This photo has been circulating the internet for a few days and I think it can teach entrepreneurs some pretty interesting things about marketing regardless of political views. First lets look at the actual photo. On the left, Mitt Romney is sitting in a chair on an airport tarmac getting his shoe wanded for security purposes. On the right, Barack Obama is walking past a janitor and “pounds it” (the modern, cool handshake). Both of these photos are put together to offer the viewer a contrast about the individuals, their beliefs, and ability to lead our country.

Why is this important to entrepreneurs? This is a fantastic job of implementing proven guerilla advertising and marketing techniques. Here are three effective aspects at play:

Use of public perception: The first aspect is the use of priorly held perceptions about each individual. People commonly think Romney is a rich, white man, while Obama is seen as an African-American who is “a man of the people.” This photo plays on those feelings by trying to make people think that Romney is receiving a shoe shine, while Obama is spending time with the everyday person. Right or wrong, these perceptions will persevere and are very powerful.

Use of powerful images: This “ad” uses two photos that are extremely powerful when you first look at them. It counts on the fact that the viewer will not look very hard at either one of them. They will not question them, but they will be in awe of their initial reaction to such powerful images. I must admit that at first glance, I thought Romney was getting a shoe shine as well. Shock and awe is a tactic that can create great results.

Viral Sharing/Exposure: You have heard that “any exposure is better than no exposure.” In this case, as long as people are talking, debating, or arguing over this ad, it is seen as effective. Create emotional responses from people and you will be more likely to get your desired results. Also, the viral sharing aspect is important because someone is much more likely to find an ad effective if it is attached to their friends in social media, rather than a generic ad. The more you can make something viral, the more eyes will see it, which ultimately increases effective exposure.

In the end, this ad accomplishes its goal through very simple means. Get people to solidify their thoughts on political candidates with two very simple photos. Context and delivery are important and affect the effectiveness of a campaign. This guerilla tactics not only work in politics, but in business as well!

Are there any other political ads that have similar traits? What other aspects do you see with this particular ad that could be used in business marketing?



Mark Cuban’s Best Piece of Motivation

I recently read Mark Cuban’s new ebook “How to Win at the Sport of Business” and want to share one of his unique perspectives. Being the owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, Cuban uses numerous sports analogies. One in particular really struck home and can serve as motivation to any entrepreneur.

Cuban says that in baseball if you could get a hit 4 out of 10 at bats, then you would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. ┬áIn basketball if a player is able to hit over 50% of his shots from the field, then he most likely would be voted an all-star. These percentages don’t seem unattainable but they are almost never reached year after year. In business, you face much better odds.

No matter how many businesses you start, you only have to make one successful. Every entrepreneur chases that one successful endeavor that will make them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Instead of having to “bat” .400 or “shoot” over 50%, as a business owner you could be .00001% successful and be considered a genius. These odds are reassuring to any entrepreneur.

With this in mind, we must remember that it is much easier to take a basketball shot or swing a baseball bat then it is to put your financial security at risk and start a business. To combat this, preparation is key in the world of business. To make every endeavor count and give it the best chance for success, put in the necessary time, effort, and work.

Overall, I enjoyed Cuban’s ebook. It was very short, an easy read, and also cheap. He provides insight into his thoughts and advice while including some humorous stories along the way. A great business mind shows once again why anyone can accomplish the level of success that he has. You just have to minimize risk through preparation and believe in your abilities. You can find the ebook here:

How many attempts would you go through in order to accomplish success? Have you ever been discouraged, persevered through it and then realized success shortly after? Share your stories and insight below!

Ethics: What would you do?

I recently heard this dilemma on the radio and thought I would pose it to all of you. The radio host had a MBA professor call in and ask what question could be asked to get individuals to think about the type of person that they were. Not a question about what the student liked or wanted, but what type of individual they were at their core.

Here it is: You are a recent college grad who has been out of school for 6 months. For the last 5, you have been working for a real estate development firm. You are currently leading the development of a railroad track that a partner at your firm described as “the most important project of the year.” As you develop the project, you learn that the railroad track is scheduled to go straight through a low income housing project that houses 200 families. If the project goes as planned, these families will all be displaced with very little to no assistance. While you realize this negative aspect, you and your firm both stand to profit a few million dollars.

What are the different aspects of this problem? What are the possible solutions? What would you choose to do?