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.  In 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!

The Greatest Profession In The World

I was once asked what the most important job in the world was.  The group I was with had answers such as the President, a doctor, and a trash collector.  When it came my turn to answer, I thought that I had a common sense answer (never works out for anyone this way!).  I said a teacher.  The reaction around the group was astonishing.  They acted as if there was no way, or that I had gotten the answer wrong!  I felt I had to explain my answer to try to get them to see my perspective.  Here is my best attempt to recreate my explanation and elaborate on it.

A teacher may not get any attention or credit in the public arena, but that is what makes them even more important.  These individuals show up everyday to work to teach the children of our country and they are usually never known outside of the students and parents who come through their classrooms.  They are hoping to share knowledge with their students that will be beneficial for a lifetime.  Each one of you reading this post was taught by a teacher that most likely had a lasting impact on you.  The impact of our teachers is far beyond that of Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, or the best doctor in the world.  They teach us to enjoy learning, they teach us what to learn, and last but not least, they teach us that we can accomplish anything we want in life.  Sounds like a very powerful and important profession to me!

This leads me to a question that many never think about.  Why are teachers not paid like they have the most important jobs in the world?  The easy answer is because as a country we can’t afford it.  I believe it is not that we can’t afford it, but instead that we choose to spend the money elsewhere.  The second reason is that teacher unions have created a system where tenure and job security for all teachers is more important then financially rewarding the good teachers.  In essence, a good teacher can get paid significantly less than a really bad teacher depending on how long they have been teaching.  Even worse, the school can’t get rid of the bad teacher if they wanted to!

This leads to a system where the best teachers are not given recognition, and the entire teacher work force is not compensated appropriately for the importance of the job they do.  Instead of complaining, many people have come up with a solution that I agree with.  Teachers should be treated as employees, and allowed to enter into healthy competition.  Every year a school should be able to hire and fire teachers based on performance, and they would all be paid according to their abilities and effectiveness in the classroom.  This would allow the school to make an effort to attract the top teaching talent and get rid of their bad teachers.  The teachers would be making much more money which would also help to attract more students to join the profession.  All of this leads to students getting taught by better teachers, who are getting rewarded for the work they do.  Ultimately, the students getting the best quality education possible is the main concern of the school system right?  Imagine if young kids said “When I grow up I want to be a teacher!”  We will have truly created change then.

Have thoughts on teachers and their pay? Agree or disagree with this proposed new system? Please leave a comment below!