In September of 2015, I received a short email with an invitation:

Hi Jason,

I am part of a non-profit public relations association that is interested in having you speak at our annual conference. Are you currently accepting speaking engagements for 2016? We don’t have an exact date but are looking at spring and would be willing to work with your schedule if we find that we can afford your fee!

Thank you for your consideration!

The email was from Robyn Bridges, the Vice President of the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau, and a member of the East Alabama chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA).

So began a fascinating journey which culminated with my giving a 90 min keynote presentation at the Auburn University Hotel this past Wednesday to kick off PRCA’s annual state conference. Here’s how it happened.. Continue reading

We all want to work in teams that exhibit high performance and solve problems effectively. But while it’s often easier to understand what drives individual performance, team performance is a more complex activity.

There is some great research done by folks at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Google that shows how we can make smarter teams, and the answers are not what you might think.

Building Smarter Teams

In a paper published in Science, researchers split a few hundred participants into randomly assigned 2-5 person teams and spent upwards of 4 hours on a diverse set of activities, including solving visual puzzles, brainstorming, negotiating over limited resources, and playing checkers (as a group) against a computer. Continue reading

We talk a lot about the war for talent: the idea that organizations need to fight to recruit, retain, and grow great people. Harvard Business Review recently put it this way:

“Finding and nurturing ambitious, hard-driving, and international-minded managers and technical staff are major challenges for multinationals and will become ever more crucial. HR operations at many companies have traditionally been seen in terms of compliance, record keeping, and support. But as talent shortages grow more acute in idea-intensive industries, human capital management should become a much higher strategic priority.”

The Future and How to Survive It (HBR October 2015)

But one of the biggest challenges in the war for talent is identifying who those top performers are. Continue reading

I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to the growth of certain popular products — both physical and media [1]. The pattern looks like this:

Company develops a breakthrough product

A unique product hits the market. It looks or operates in a way that feels distinct in an important way. It’s aggressively different from other things on the market.

  • iPod: bigger, heavier and more expensive than the tiny mp3 players on the market, but has a solid battery life and a massive amount of storage
  • Vibrams: shoes that look like gorilla feet, but some people swear it gets rid of their knee pain / plantar fasciitis
  • Marvel’s X-Men: a fictional team of superheros who are ordinary people with mutant abilities – depicted in comic books, tv shows, video games and movies

Continue reading

Six weeks ago, I launched a site called Great Fucking Startup Advice.

It’s a single page site that loads a random piece of startup advice every time you click or swipe – 62 unique suggestions so far. And yes, every piece of advice has the word “fuck” in it because I still have a juvenile sense of humor and find that kind of thing funny. Most of the advice will sound familiar as it is a recycling of the many aphorisms and admonishments doled out in within the ecosystem. Continue reading