Thin line between shock and surprise  


Traffic Lights

Although new ideas are needed, it is definitely not a guarantee new ideas are embraced. People are in the operating modus and as a result have the tendency to rely on routine. New ideas are out of the ordinary, have the tendency to brake routines and often take time to be implemented and, most importantly, make money.

That’s why new ideas often are perceived as a shock and that creates resistance. So the challenge is to make the idea come as a uplifting surprise. I made a small analysis of how ideas can be embraced:

How it is told
Most importantly it is the way the idea is told. Actually, it is better not to explain the idea. The best way is to define the problem, translate that into an opportunity and describe it in am inspiring way, so that people discover the idea almost by themselves. Words that help selling the idea are ‘imagine’ of ‘for example’,

Who’s telling it
Resistance can be a result of ego or focus and as a result, not anybody in an organisation can be the bringer of an idea. So the idea maker has to be tactical in choosing people to share the idea with. That also means the idea maker has to set aside his or her ego and focus on the added value it can bring to many.

When is it told
Interestingly enough, ideas are more embraced when others have already done it. Especially when it’s been successful. Problem of course is that it’s not original anymore and is actually not a new idea, but a copycat.

Actually the latter is the proof, that when you’re able to create the right story around a new idea and are able to tell it in an inspiring way, the biggest change people embracing it one creates.

It reminds me of a quote of David Ogilvy:

“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman”

Thin line between shock and surprise  

From push to embrace

a.k.a. from tell to inspire.
a.k.a. from selling experience to buying experience.

That times are changing is not a new concept , but how to deal with it is.

In the past, 80% of what was told about a brand was controlled by that brand…
Today, 70% of what is told by a brand is not controlled by that brand. From push to pull is an understandable and accepted concept, but it is not enough. In a world that is driven by social media, it is necessary to go beyond pull (also because it implicates the brand is still in control), towards embrace.

Embrace is at least a 2 way street.
It is about truly understanding your customer as a person, toward the level of empathy, but also act in a way people are willing to embrace you as a brand. Eventually and maybe, they become a customer as well.

That is about connecting to the Right Brain, connecting to the FEEL, not the KNOW, it is about inspiring.
That is not about telling what you know, but creating a context with the knowledge you have, in which the other is constantly invited to contribute, to add value, ideas and feeling.

Not just ideas, but co-creating a common feeling (between the brand and the people) of understanding and joy.
Right Brain Thinking is about embracing.
Ideas and each other.

From push to embrace

Magic potion for people and brands

TrnasparantWhat makes you laugh?
What makes you adore?
What touches you?

Most of the time it is something out of the ordinary. Out-of-the-ordinary, extraordinary. Ordinary is derived from the Latin word Ordianarius, meaning orderly. Ponder on that for while. Scary word, ordinary, orderly…

Yesterday I saw a number of great artists performing. They definitely were out of the ordinary and the crowd that went wild was humongous! It gave energy.

Painting is from Irene Hoff (visit

The same for Guernica from Pablo Picasso, the numerous paintings of Salvador Dali or the coloured squares of Piet Mondriaan. All paintings that were out of the ordinary and touched a lot of hearts (and souls).

And yet, we most of us try not to be out of the ordinary, but try to blend in. Being ordinary. When everybody’s doing that, the world would become a very boring place and everything will stay the same…

I believe every one of us has something extraordinary and with that extraordinary thing you can change the world!

In fact, with brands it is the same and brands on its own is nothing. All brands are created by extraordinary people. People with a vision and the bravery to resist the usual and be different (thanks Steve). That’s when the magic happens.

The funny thing is that ordinary people admire extraordinary people as long as they’re not working within their company. Interesting contradiction, isn’t it?

The big danger is that ordinary people within the companies do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome and be surprised the outcome is the same or worse because the environment is changing.

In a way it is good that ordinary people exist within ordinary companies with ordinary brands, because it offers opportunities for the extraordinary. And they’ll grab them, and the customers too….

But when you in such a company it is not a good idea.
But no worries. To be successful, the only thing you need to do is to be extraordinary and be able to use that magic.
But, it is scary to be extraordinary.

That’s why I invented a Magic Potion. It is called Potion number YOU.
It’s very simple: Take a glass of water add a drop of lemon or citron, then a pinch of salt. Stir it three times clockwise, than slam it on a table and drink it.

You’ll instantly feel a twinkle to do something extraordinary.
Amazing isn’t it?

This one’s for inspiration:

Make the magic happen!



Magic potion for people and brands

Innovators and Path Creators

The properties of a Path Creator are: Pace, Focus Friends and Patience

The Path

To discover the world I like to run.

Whether I am in a new town or on holidays, I believe it’s a good way to get to know the environment (and stay healthy at the same time ;-)).  Also when I’m running from the house I like to discover new paths. On one on my runs I had an interesting metaphor.

Innovation is creating paths in the wilderness

Old paths are just there. Everyone takes them, so the ground is worn and the surface flat. Even in the dark, just a little moonshine lights up the light colour of the path. That is easy and relaxed running. At any pace.

The thing with new paths is that they’re new.
Therefore they are not there. It’s a potential path.

A potential path is just a very attractive area. To create a path means running from where you are to some point at the horizon. The point of freedom, freshness, new things, an adventure!

But because there’s no path, the ground is rough, rocky and unequal. The grass is high and robust and the risk of twisting an ankle or trip is always present.

That’s also why other people are not running there. They are afraid of the unfamiliar and the risk of twisting an ankle or fall over on the face.

It is the innovator that has to create the path and the best way to create a new path is to adapt speed and stay focussed on the surface so you don’t trip. You need to keep in shape to run the same track over and over again.

At this point it is good to inspire other runners to join. Together it is easier to create a path faster. The more feet on the rough ground, that faster it wears out.

Suddenly you see other runners are joining in, speeding up the path creating process. Let’s call them early adaptors and yes, we’re talking about the Adaptation curve.

After a while when more runners join in, you’ll notice your speed increases, thoughts start wondering again and suddenly you realize the rough track has turned into a path.

Not only that, more people are lining up to start running your path. Young, old, female, male. Their hesitating, but eventually they’re inspired enough to take the change to start running your new path as well. This is closing the gap or chasm.

Schermafbeelding 2013-09-12 om 12.01.47

Actually, the path becomes boring again.

It’s time to start finding a new path, but remember:
Pace, Focus, Friends and Patience.


Innovators and Path Creators


reciprocityFeeling the obligation to give what you receive. It was the first point in 6 scientific principles of persuasion.

That is nice and sounds contra-productive to many of us. Many of us have the natural tendency to go for the money immediately. That’s why we’re here, making money and so we’ll find the ‘shortest cut’ to make money.

What this video demonstrates is that before earning money we have to give. Money, attention, a gift, a good story, something like that. That creates the time to get to know each other. Yeah, I agree to that you might say, but we don’t act that way. We rather say ‘Look I AM nice’ buy me. Try that on a girl and there’s a solid 100% non-success rate.

Well, doing business in a world that is dominated by social media, it is the same. Don’t tell your great, show you are. Invest time. It is like the Hindu mantra (and probably more religions): Everything you give you receive back in three-fold. But be aware, it starts with giving.

Hence my re-interpretation of the word marketing:

Enjoy the film, it’s worthwhile!


Increase the box

I used to work as a strategist in a ‘foreign’ country that scores very high on Uncertainty Avoidance on the cultural dimensions of Geerts Hofstede (which is by the way very interesting reading, also when dealing with multi-national environments).

The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.

The Dutch for example on the other hand, score very low.
Anyway, this experience taught me a thing or two that are applicable everywhere.

cbe9caa6_945404b3_2374_4941_9fc3_d8842b86a34bOne thing is, that it is not (just) about a great, world changing, creative, out-of-the-box ideas. Those ideas are scary. For people with a high Uncertainty Avoidance, these ideas are, eh, preferably Avoided. And not just uncertain people, it is a common human trait…

That made me think.

It is not about the ideas, it is about reducing fear and create acceptance for new ideas.

That changes the out-of-the -box way of thinking. Out-of-the-box ideas are great and necessary, but it’s also necessary to increase the box. Only then the world changing ideas have a chance of landing inside the box.

This is also a responsibility for creatives and strategist. Not just dropping the idea, but creating this new context, in which the idea has to – or can be – seen. This way it turns uncertainty into opportunity and changes into achievable challenges.

This way great ideas can change the world.

Increase the box

Balance the Un-balance

Nik Wallenda

The dark side of ‘Balance’ is you become lazy. Things go right, so why worry.

The risk is, that when there’s a sudden change, you’re not prepared at all. That isn’t a problem of course, a sudden change is an opportunity as well. The real problem is, that because of this laziness you’re not quick enough to move and see the opportunity, let alone to seize it.

That’s why I preaching the Balance of the Un-balance, in other words, not becoming lazy. It is about ‘staying alert’ let’s say it’s being on the positive side of ‘What if’ scenario’s.

The good thing of embracing un-balance is that you train some kind of muscle.

I had to think about my 12 month old son who just started to walk. Looking at his cute little feet, there are 2 things I notice:

1. The wobbling of his feet when he’s standing still. It is really great to look at and amazing the boy can suddenly walk!
2. His feet are flat, they don’t have the ‘arc’ adults have and it is exactly what the wobbling is doing. Training the muscle that creates the arc and ultimately Balance.

That is what Balance the Un-balance is, the wobbling, training the muscle for the ark. In this case it is training eyes and mind to be alert for changes and opportunities.

It is also training the Serendipity Muscle: Finding what your not looking for.

Balance the Un-balance