Marketing Playbook: Microsoft’s Negative PR Attack Against Google

Scroogled_Keep_Calm_Mug

The Microsoft marketing playbook isn’t known for being out of the ordinary. This is changing, however. Recently, the company started promoting anti-Google products in the Microsoft store through a product line called Scroogled.

Microsoft is selling everything from hats and t-shirts to these “Don’t Get Scroogled” mugs in an attempt at a negative PR attack that brands Google as a privacy crook who steals its customers private data for a profit.

Many of the products play-on the popular internet “Keep Calm” meme with products featuring the Google Chrome logo and the statement “Keep Calm While We Steal Your Data.”

Microsoft further questions in one t-shirt’s product description:

Are you being Scroogled?

Breathe in, breathe out. It won’t be long before Google has attempted to make money off of every aspect of your digital life. This t-shirt lets them know that you know. It’s 50% cotton, 50% polyester blend, and pre-laundered for minimal shrinkage.

Microsoft itself was the victim of a Negative PR attack from Apple back in the Steve Jobs era.  Although the mud slinging was not as harsh as this.  I’m sure you remember the famous Apple Vs. PC television commercials.  So it’s not necessarily a surprise that Microsoft is using a similar play against Google.

A negative PR attack like this initiated by a Fortune 100 brand isn’t too common so I expect it to get plenty of buzz across the net.  I’m very curious to see if and how Google responds.

What do you think?  Would you attempt a campaign like this against one of your competitors? Would you respond if you were in Google’s shoes?

Beat Stress with a “To-Relax” List

File:JRT Puppy Lola.JPGToday, I’m trying a new way to beat stress.

In the past, I’ve tried a simple to-do list to help me gain control of stress. However, to-do lists seem to exacerbate the stress.  Seeing a long list of stuff to do just doesn’t help me.

As an alternative, instead of keeping a to-do list, I’m now keeping a “to-relax” list. The “to-relax” list is a list of outcomes that will relax me.  For example, if I’m stressed out about doing a specific task, I will write that down.  Next, I will write down the best case scenario to remove the stress and allow me to relax.

I tried this today and it worked great as a stress reducer.  The main reason why is because once I wrote down the best case scenario, it became obvious on what I needed to do to trigger this scenario. Once I did that, I relaxed.

What do you think? What do you do to reduce stress?

Why I Now Only Watch the 4th Quarter

The 4th quarter is all that matters in football.  From my perspective, the other 3 quarters of football just don’t mean anything. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Above all else, I just don’t have time anymore to waste my entire Sunday watching a bunch of people I don’t know live their dream
  2. If I wait until the 4th quarter, I can decide if the game is worth watching, then catch the highlights of the early part of the game and watch the most exciting part of the game live.
  3. In a close game, the 4th quarter is all that matters

This is the first season I started taking this approach to watching football and I couldn’t be more happy with the results.  I spend more time with my two boys on the weekend, so they are happier.  I spend more time with my wife, so of course we are a happier couple, and in the process I think I’ve discovered a valuable lesson about life.

In life, there are hundreds of options for spending your time.  Each of these options fall in 1 of 3 categories:

Category 1 –  The things you enjoy that don’t produce a lick of value in your life other than a few hours of pleasure

Category 2 –  Things that you don’t enjoy that produce a tremendous amount of value in your life and those of others

Category 3 –   The sweet spot that combines the two, enjoyment and value.

I’ve learned that watching Football is in category 1.  Instead of eliminating category 1 activities, I am finding a way to discover the equivalent of that activities 4th quarter.  Instead of avoiding category 2 activities, I try to schedule these activities right before I start a category 1 activity. That way, I am giving myself a carrot.

As for category 3, it’s all about recognition. Recognizing that an activity is in this category and maximizing how often I spend my time with these activities.  I’ve found that writing, running, family outings, and taking my two sons to wrestling practice fall into category 3.

Up until recently I spent way too much time in category 1 and too little time in category 3.  Now that I am aware of this, I’ve flipped the script.

If Each Year of Life Was A Football Game

File:US Navy 051203-N-2653P-482 Army and Navy square off during 4th quarter play at the 106th Army vs. Navy Football game, held for the third consecutive year at Lincoln Financial Field.jpg
Army and Navy square off during 4th quarter play at the 106th Army vs. Navy Football game

If you treated each year of your life like a football game, New Years would be the 1st quarter and Thanksgiving and Christmas would be the 4th quarter.

In a football game, there are two things that are critical for winning:

1. Getting off to a good start

2. Finishing strong in the 4th quarter

Most people I know, me included, have mastered the art of getting off to a good start.  We are all practically brainwashed into playing the New Years resolution game.  Playing this game is a great way to get the year off to a good start by setting a goal to change your life.

On the flip side, we all end the year relaxing a bit too much.  Most people put off starting any new routines or setting new goals until the New Year.  Instead, we spend October through December putting on 5 to 15 pounds (among other bad habits that set in) forgetting about any New Years resolution we set 10-12 months prior.

If this was a football game, we would all risk losing every game if we performed like this. Starting the game with an early lead then consistently losing the 4th quarter has never been a recipe for a championship team.

This year, I’m challenging myself to do something different.  I want to win the 4th quarter.

Instead of putting 5 pounds on as a result of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am going to lose 5 pounds.  Instead of waiting to New Years to set goals, I am setting goals and working to achieve them now.  Instead of forgetting about my 2013 resolutions, I am dusting them off and doing whatever it takes to meet them before year end.

I will still use the New Year to start strong, however I’m not going to allow the opportunity to start fresh in 2014 blind me of my opportunity to take full advantage of 2013.

Remember, games are never won in the 1st quarter, but they are always won or lost in the 4th.

Measuring The Value of Your Side Hustle

File:Don't Go Broke. After the War Buy More War Bonds - NARA - 534094.jpgGenerating money from a side hustle has little bearing on its intrinsic value.  The last thing you should want is a j.o.b. from 9 to 5 and then spend your 5 to 9 creating yourself another j.o.b. (Just Over Broke).

Instead, you should view a side hustle like a series of projects with specific start and end dates.  Then measure the value of those projects based on two factors:

1. The amount of money you continue to generate from that project once you finish the “work”

2. The scale at which you can grow that amount with each additional hour of “work” invested

Call it passive income, call it working less and getting paid more, call it whatever you want. The point is, if you already have a job in which you trade your time for a fixed amount of money, don’t spend your time on a side hustle doing the same thing.

(BTW…I put the word “work” in quotes because many people don’t consider it “work” when you are getting paid to do something you love. I’m one of those people)

The Day I Quit My Job

File:Arctic stratospheric cloud.jpgIt was a day just like any other day.  When I woke up in the morning, I didn’t know I was going to quit my job.  My morning routine was no different.  I ate the same breakfast, took the same route up 85 North to Druid Hills Road as always.  Listened to my favorite jazz station just like I always do (which happens to be the best jazz station in the country 91.9 WCLK).

However, something happened to me that morning that I can’t explain. Something clicked. It was an emotion brewing inside of me for many years that awakened. It’s an emotion that is hard for me to describe, but the closest word that comes to mind is peace.

That morning, for some reason, I finally made peace with who I was as a provider for my family.  As a father, as a husband, and as a son.

You see, what was holding me back from full-time entrepreneurship for years and years was the fear that I couldn’t take care of my family while bootstrapping a business. The fear that I would fail and disappoint my mother and father.

This fear left me waiting for some magic moment when I would either make enough money doing side-hustles or raise enough money from investors to quit my job.  That morning I came to peace with the fact that this day would never come.

It took me 10 years. 10 years of waiting. 10 years of living in fear. 10 years of searching for approval from high net worth kingmakers.

That morning, in one profound moment, I took control of my life. I started living life to the fullest.  I became the master of my universe.

Define the Number That Will Change Your Life (It’s Not X Million)

File:Bingo numbers (green).jpgThe number that most people think will change their life is X million. X million dollars in the bank, X million visitors to their website, X million downloads, X million album sales, X million books sold, and on and on and on.

The reality is that whatever your X million is, it’s not a life changing number. It’s too easy to put on a pedestal. It’s too easy to dream about without taking action. It’s an event, not a habit.

The number that will change your life will create a daily habit.

For example, right now my number is simply “1”, as in 1 new insightful or inspirational blog post every day.

In my world, when I achieve my “1” every day, everything else will fall into place.

  • If your goal is to write a book, then your number may be “10” as in, write 10 pages every day.
  • If you goal is to grow your business, then your number may be “20”, as in 20 sales calls every day.
  • If you goal is to lose weight, then your number may be “30”, as in a 30 minute workout everyday.

Whatever your number is, own that number. Embrace that number.  Then use that number to build a daily habit that will change your life.

Using a Daily Blog to Change Your Life

File:Berlin Wall Graffiti 'Change your life' by Indiano - geograph.org.uk - 1225773.jpg
Attribution: PAUL FARMER – Berlin Wall Graffiti ‘Change your life’ by Indiano This section of the wall outside the Imperial War museum was acquired in 1991, it was originally sited by the Brandenburg Gate.

This morning I came across a profound statement about consistency:

People value consistency in their leaders. Consistency removes uncertainty and leads to trust. Trust, in turn, leads to influence.

The above statement comes from Bob Burg in a post he wrote on his blog titled The Awesome Value of Consistency.

Reading this article got me to thinking, anyone could use a daily blog to change their life.

What Burg states makes so much sense in the context of blogging.  Show up everyday with an insightful and inspiring blog post, earn trust, receive influence.

This is powerful, because influence is a currency that never loses its value.

Even if earning trust and influence is not the goal of your blog, trust and influence serve as a foundation to help you achieve hundreds of other goals.

At this point, as you consider this concept, chances are you’re thinking one or more of these 3 questions:

How long will it take to earn trust and influence?

Will it take too long?

Is the time it takes worth it?

Obviously, I can’t answer these questions for you.  However, I will say that these are the wrong questions to start with.  When you are trying to change your life, you can’t start with trying to earn trust and influence.  You can’t start with worrying about how long will take and if it’s worth it.

Instead, start with the reasons why you need to change your life. If your “why” is compelling enough, then the answers to the questions above are irrelevant. Your “why” becomes the only thing that matters and everything else naturally falls into place.

Taking More Breaks Helps Productivity

File:Sleeping Cat on lap.jpgThere’s a fine line between taking a break and procrastinating.  In my world, an unplanned break leads to procrastination, while a planned break leads to a super productive day.

The main reason for this is that when I work all day to complete a task, I burn out my focus.  When I lose focus, I get less done.

On the other hand, If I break my work up into one hour chunks with pre-planned 15 to 30 minute breaks at a designated time, I notice that I start working faster the closer I get to the time when my break is scheduled to start.

When I schedule my day this way, I won’t take a lunch either.  So the net hours worked in the day goes up even though I am breaking more often.  So in my typical 12 hour workday, I end up with 8 to 10 productive working hours and 2 to 4 hours of break time.  In addition, I often find that I am able to get in the zone after the first half of my day and end up not needing any breaks at all as the day comes to an end.

When I first started trying this method, I have to admit that breaking after every hour of work made me feel a bit guilty.  My initial thought was that I was being a slacker.  As it turns out though, when I get in the zone I do my best work and I don’t often get in the zone when I start my day working straight through to lunch.  This method often leads me to an unfocused afternoon filled with procrastination activities such as surfing the web and chatting with colleagues.

I am a true believer in taking more breaks to boost productivity.  What do you think?  Will this method work for you?

3 Reasons Why Blogging Daily is Easier Than You Think

File:Easy button.JPGWriting and publishing a daily blog is an excellent mental exercise in commitment.  As I previously explained, publishing a daily blog is like building a muscle. So while you would think that blogging once a week or once a month is easier than blogging daily, nothing could be further from the truth.

Blogging everyday is actually easier and hurts less.  It’s just like when you workout your muscles regularly versus the pain you face when you work out only occasionally.

Below are the three main reasons why this is the case.

1. Less Pressure

When you blog once a week or once a month, the expectation when you sit down and write is that you must publish something noteworthy.  Something insightful. Something amazing. Something that reads like it took you a week or month to put together since it’s been that long since your last post.  Putting pressure on yourself like this is self defeating.

I can say from experience that there’s much less pressure on you when you sit down and write when you’re on a daily blogging routine.

You can write shorter post, and discuss more nuanced topics.  You can even venture off  your normal topic when you’re in a rut since you always have the next day and the day after to bring things full circle with your audience.

2. Practice Makes Perfect

Writing something noteworthy and insightful takes tons of practice.  So if you are only writing once a month, you only get 12 chances to practice. If you up it to once a week, you get 52 chances.

However, if you go all out with the daily blog you get 365 chances every year.

With 365 chances to practice your blog writing techniques, you have a much greater chance to write a few amazing home run blog post each year than the person who only has 12 or 52 chances. As the say, practice makes perfect.

All things being equal, the person who writes everyday is going to become a better writer, and find success faster that the person who is only writing weekly or monthly.

3. Streaks Breed Commitment

When I was blogging once a week or once a month, it was so easy for me to miss a week or month, then allow that to turn into several misses. I am a firm believer in the power of blogging, so I know I can’t continue with a sporadic routine and still achieve my goals.

This post is now my 10th into my second attempt at a daily blogging routine. The first time I tried a daily blog, I got up to 45 days before I fell off the wagon.  This time around, the last thing I want to do is start back at zero.

My first goal is to break my 45 day record.  Next, I want to go after a streak of 365 days. Then, the bigger my streak gets the more committed I’ll get.

This type of strong commitment is what ultimately leads to success.