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Here, use my toothbrush


Everyone has a toothbrush and no one wants to use someone else’s.

Just like ideas .

It’s a major issue within organisations.

See if this sounds familiar.

You gather for an ‘all in’ brainstorming session.

Flip charts. Post-It Notes. Textas.

There’s a flurry of ideas.

You’re given a bit of time to flesh out your best idea and then, standing before your peers, present your work.

People nod along and say good things. 

Meanwhile, what they’re...

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When you ask hypothetical questions, you get hypothetical answers.

So why do we so often rush to ask our customers what they will do? What they will like?

When we pose these hypotheticals, we set ourselves and our customers up for failure.

Because intention doesn’t always translate into action.

Say doesn’t mean do.

Stop asking what they will do. 

 Start watching what they do do.


See: Influencing Action

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Money back is better than a refund


Giving a customer money back is better than a refund.

The more concrete your language, saying “money back” instead of “refund”, for example, the more likely it is you will increase customer satisfaction.

Same with delivering “to your door” rather than “house”, referring to the “navy blue polo” rather than “the top”, and “fixing” rather than “solving” a problem.

Concrete language reduces...

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Floorboards and carpet.

Wallpaper and paint.

Carbs and fat.

High waisted and low-rise.

Slow and fast.

Zig and zag.


There’s always a counterpoint.

Consumerism thrives on it. 

Once one end of the pendulum is saturated, it’s natural to swing back the other way.

So with AI flooding us with generic, derivative content,

with the volume of life getting louder,

 what’s your counterpoint?


See: Influencing Action

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Red flags

hr leadership red flags Apr 29, 2024


It’s not that you don’t see the red flags when you work in HR.

You do.

And you tell the line manager.

But then the line manager doesn’t act.

This points to two problems.

The line managers don’t have the skills – or more likely, the confidence – to influence their team members.

And HR don’t have the skills to influence the line managers.

And when you’re employed to be experts in people, that’s a difficult thing to admit.


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5 Petals



Back when I was in a corporate role, I received media training that I still draw upon. Literally.

It involved drawing a flower with five petals.

In the centre, you write your main point.

In each petal, a sub point that leads you to, or back to, the main point.

If you have to present in a meeting or in the media, it’s a tool I highly recommend.

I had the opportunity to describe this in a recent podcast on how to be a great podcast guest with Dr Sarah Glova. Sarah has a PhD in...

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Wrapping paper


Very young kids are just as happy with the wrapping paper as they are the present.

Sometimes with customers, we think it’s about the present but it’s really the wrapping. 

Because the present can’t ever really live up to expectations. Software has bugs. Training has flat spots. Clothes wrinkle.

But how people feel about us?

That lives on.


See: Influencing Action 


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When real estate mogul Barbara Cororan sends a thank you note to clients, she doesn’t use a letter.

She uses a postcard.

A postcard saves them the trouble of having to open an envelope.

The thanks is right there. 

How can you cut to the good news?


See: The Little Book of Letters and Emails 

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My big flop

One of the projects I cared most about was a massive flop.

I called it the User Shoes program, a way for me and my fellow product managers to visit consumers in their homes each month. 

It was ethnographic-research lite, where the objective was to expand our perspective by seeing how real people were using our products in the real world.

Knowing the corporate politics of the situation, I invited our sister brand to include a team member in the pilot program. 

What a mistake.


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Typing vs. telling


Typing rather than talking changes behaviour.

Customers are more willing to buy, for example, when they type their search rather than use a voice assistant like Siri or Alexa.

When we type, we subconsciously associate it with taking action.

When we use a voice assistant, we instead associate it with gathering information and deliberating.

Unfortunately, customers are unlikely to tell you they decided to buy because they typed rather than talked. They can’t.

They won’t...

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