Outliers: The Story of Success

OutliersYesterday, I finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, “Outliers: The Story of Success”.  Easily, the book ranks as one of the most interesting and insightful I have ever read – I could not put the book down.  If you have read one of Gladwell’s other books, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I recommend that you pick up The Tipping Point, Blink (which I still need to read) or Outliers when you get a chance.

Outliers details how there are a variety of circumstances and factors that contribute to someone’s success, which are beyond a person’s circle of influence or control.  Yes, many successful people have passion, intelligence and ambition, as is so often conveyed in success literature, but often times there much more that is actually going on.

A Difficult Decision

I made a tough decision over the weekend.  I pulled the plug on Sip Social Group, a social club which I co-founded with my friend in May 2007.

Actually, my mind was already made up a few weeks ago, but I wanted to take some time and ponder whether it was really something I wanted to do.

And it is.  When I took over as organizer for the dining out group on Meetup.com, I really felt that there was a need in Vancouver for an open, inclusive and fun social group geared towards young professionals. I also wanted to explore Vancouver’s food and restaurant scene, and help promote establishments that truly stand out as being unique and first class.

Initially, we had aspirations of transforming Sip into a business, and we discussed ways that it could be monetized. Membership structures and advertising packages were conceived, with the hope of creating a unique brand that would be synonymous with fun and friendliness – one that could be extended and franchised to other cities.

In total, we held over 30 events at restaurants and pubs in Vancouver, including Irashai Grill, Salt Tasting Room. and Central Bistro.  We made a number of great friends at our events, which were well attended and generated positive word-of-mouth – as you know, the most powerful form of marketing. In the end, through Meetup, and group on Facebook, and our mailing list, Sip grew to over 1200 participants – making it one of the largest social groups in Vancouver.

However the reality is, Sip was not poised to generate revenue, not even a minimal amount to justify a part-time venture. In spite of the quality of events we created, and the reputation we garnered, there are just too many free social group alternatives in and around Vancouver. They may not be well-known, in fact part of our goal with Sip was to grow awareness outside of Facebook and Meetup, but their presence made it very difficult for us to even charge a nominal fee for our events.

In the end, with many lessons learned (more than what I can summarize here), the time has come to focus attention elsewhere.  In the success literature I have read, over and over again I learned about instances where entrepreneurs failed once, twice, three times and even more before achieving success.

I think Sip taught me a lot. And for that, I am grateful.

A Bus Shelter Ad That Works

Bus Shelter Sign I was riding my bike in Coquitlam the other other week, when I came across this bus shelter advertisement. Completely baffled, I was really curious to check out the website mentioned at the bottom – D-9.com.

Of course, the ad was for the new move District 9, which is now in theatres.

From my perspective, the ad is brilliant, in part because it follows several important rules of communication.  First, it was completely unique and unexpected. Definitely not your typical bus shelter ad – I did not know what was being advertised,and I was drawn to find out more. My curiousity was perked.

Second, the ad was very concrete.  There really was not much opportunity for misinterpretation due to abstraction. D-9.com was going to have something to do with humans and aliens.

Finally, the ad was simple. The website address was very easy for me to memorize. I didn’t try the phone number, but I imagine that there was an interesting recording on the other end.

Brilliant.

Off and Running!

I have been active in social media for quite awhile now. I use social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn and Twitter quite regularly. I also co-founded a social group with a friend, Sip, which leveraged several social media platforms, including a blog, Twitter, Ning and Meetup. Sip actually grew to over 1,000 participants, it was a lot of fun running the group.

Yet, for one reason or another, I hadn’t started my own personal blog. I suppose I didn’t blog because I wasn’t yet sure what I wanted my blog to be about . I didn’t want to write for the sake of writing, I would much rather create a blog with content that will be of value to those who read it.

Which leads me to this, “Running with Scissors”.

I’m a marketer, branding is very near and dear to me. Given the significant changes the profession is enduring, with the evolution of social media and the shift in spending to new media and non-traditional platforms,  it is a very exciting time. I would like to use this blog to to share my thoughts and opinions, and hopefully hear yours, as I develop and advance my career in the field.

I am also very interested in topics related to personal development, innovation and leadership. I am an avid reader of publications such as Fast Company and Success, and I regularly read books from authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin and Stephen Covey. From time to time, I will provide some insights on what I’ve learned, as well as book reviews.

Regarding the title of this blog, well … I really enjoy running! I have completed several marathons and half marathons.  I also have a somewhat whimsical nature, and in life I believe it’s important to take risks and experiment. Thus, “Running with Scissors”.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to the journey I am now embarking on.

Eric