Jan, 2020

Fusion by Denise Lee Yohn

The Big Idea: The best companies fuse their (external) brand with their (internal) culture into one.

  • Culture is “the way we do things here.”
  • Brand is “how others feel about us.”
  • Herb Kelleher says that culture is the key competitive advantage of Southwest Airlines.
  • Brand-culture fusion improves employee retention, improves employee motivation and productivity, differentiates you in the marketplace, makes your brand more authentic, and improves customer loyalty.
  • First step is to understand your purpose (why we do what we do).
  • Second step is to understand your core values (how we do things around here.)
  • To align your brand and your culture: 1) communicate, communicate, communicate, 2) remember that actions speak louder than words, 3) engage every leader from bottom to top, and 4) get the right people on the bus.
  • Your tools to implement brand-culture culture are: Organizational Design and Operations.
  • Design your organization to cultivate your desired culture. Do this through Structure (org chart), Standards (company-wide rules), and Roles.
  • Operations is “how you run your organization”. Do this through process and workflow design.
  • Put someone in charge of “Employee Experience” (EX), just like you put someone in charge of “Customer Experience”.
  • Design the Employee Experience by paying attention to environment, tools, and intangibles.
  • Continue to make sure the Employee Experience aligns with your desired culture.
  • Design and nurture Rituals and Artifacts that reinforce your culture, your purpose, and your core values.
  • Make your employee handbook compelling and unique to your culture.
  • To engage employees, consider using videos or letters that highlight your brand and reinforce the brand-culture fusion.
  • If you have a stronger culture than brand, consider building your brand on top of your culture. Examples: Unilever and REI have focused on communicating their core values to customers and thereby, building a culture-first brand.

The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway

The Big Idea: In the end, relationships are all that matters.

  • Balance when establishing your career, in my view, is largely a myth. However, you can still experience a lot of reward while working hard on the way to success.
  • The most important decision you’ll make is not where you work or who you party with, but who you choose to partner with for the rest of your life.
  • Get to a place that’s crowded with success.
  • Money can buy happiness, to a point. But once you reach a certain level of economic security, the correlation flattens.
  • Invest in relationships. The payoff, small at first, is immense much later.
  • The definition of “rich” is having passive income greater than your living expenses. Keep your living expenses low and you can be rich quickly.
  • Consumption of alcohol predicts unhappiness better than any other factor.
  • Invest in experiences over things. Drive a Hyundai and take your wife to St. Barts.
  • Providing comfort for someone you love at the end of their life is deeply satisfying.
  • The happiest people are those in monogamous relationships who have children.
  • Everyone experiences failure and tragedy. The key to success is the ability to mourn and then move on.
  • Talent alone won’t get you within spitting distance of 0.1 percent. Hard work is more important.
  • Passion is overrated. Find something you’re good at and passion will follow.
  • It takes much less money than you think to be a great dad. Don’t let your ego mislead you.
  • Boring is more profitable. I try to avoid investing in anything that sounds remotely cool.
  • Help take care of your parents. Start now.
  • Show up early. Have good manners. Follow up.
  • If you’re good at working at a big firm, then you are likely better off doing just that — and not struggling against the long odds facing a small firm.
  • Entrepreneurship is a sales job with negative commissions until you raise capital, are profitable, or go out of business.
  • You don’t need a Nobel to see the similarities between 1999 and 2019.
  • Recessions are great times to launch a company. People, real estate, and services are all much less expensive.
  • Boom times are better times to develop your career at a big firm, when others are leaving to get rich during the boom times.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur or find yourself sitting on assets that represent a large portion of your wealth, I’m comfortable saying that while a bull market may not be the best time to sell, it’s most certainly not a bad time to sell.
  • I’m 80 percent in cash in 2019, which most reasonable financial managers will tell you is stupid.
  • Your gains and losses in the market are never as good or bad as they seem.
  • Take care of your credit score.
  • I’ve started nine companies: three were wins, four were failures, and two were somewhere in between. Only in America.
  • Reach out to friends on a regular basis.
  • Professional success is the means, not the end. The end is economic security for your family and, more important, meaningful relationships with family and friends.
  • My willingness to endure rejection from universities, peers, investors, and women has been hugely rewarding.
  • Love and relationships are the ends — everything else is just the means.
  • The key decision you’ll make in life is who you have kids with.
  • There is one shortcut to happiness: finding someone who chooses you over everything.
  • Here is the advice on marriage I offer: Don’t keep score. Don’t ever let your wife be cold or hungry. Express affection and desire as often as possible.
  • Nobody has an algorithm for successful parenting.
  • Exercise is the only real youth serum .
  • Marketers hate old people. Old people spend their time and money on things that matter, like healthcare, loved ones, and college funds for their grandkids instead of vintage sneakers, iPhones, and Keurig pods.
  • A house isn’t a much better investment than any other asset class.
  • A better proxy for your life isn’t your first home, but your last. Where you draw your last breath is more meaningful.
  • Where you die, and who is around you at the end, is a strong signal of your success or failure in life.
  • I believe parents want two things: 1. To know their family loves them immensely. 2. To recognize that their love and parenting gave their children the skills and confidence to add value and live rewarding lives.
  • I don’t think we go to an afterworld, but I do believe we can get to heaven while still here on Earth.
  • We are hunter-gatherers and are happiest when in motion and surrounded by others.
  • My life is easy compared to the billions of people who have trouble putting food on the table or who struggle with illness.
  • How can you live to be one hundred? Have good genetics, live a healthy lifestyle, and love others.
  • The successful are often rude and greedy. The super-successful people I know are usually nicer, more generous, and generally better mannered.
  • Gratitude is consistently correlated with greater happiness.
  • Nobody ever says at a funeral, “He was too generous, too kind, and much too loving.”

Bounce by Matthew Syed

The Big Idea: Talent is overrated. Mastery is developed through many years of deliberate practice. Child prodigies are no exception, they just start early and practice more.

Examples mentioned: Wayne Gretzky, Mozart, Tiger Woods, David Beckham, Brazilian futsal, Polgar chess sisters, Enron collapse, growth mind-set, placebo effect,

Contagious by Jonah Berger

The Big Idea: word of mouth relies on six principles: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical values, and stories.

  • Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50 percent of all purchasing decisions.
  • Word of mouth is more effective than advertising because it is more persuasive and more targeted.
  • As widespread as social media is, only 7% of word of mouth happens online.
  • Malcolm Gladwell argues that social epidemics are driven mavens/connectors, but science says that word of mouth happens because shareable messages exhibit certain traits that make them contagious.


Principle 1: Social Currency

  • Knowing about cool things (like a blender that can tear through an iPhone) makes people seem sharp and in the know.
  • Leverage game mechanics to give people ways to achieve and provide visible symbols of status that they can show to others.
  • Examples mentioned: Will It Blend, Snapple Caps, The Blair Witch Project, Foursquare, Rue La La, Disney Vault, McRib, Please Don’t Tell bar.

Principle 2: Triggers

  • Prompt people to think about related things.
  • Design products and ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and create new triggers by linking our products and ideas to prevalent cues in that environment.
  • Examples mentioned: Cheerios, BzzAgent, Mars Bar, voting in schools, Kit-Kat and coffee, Budweiser’s Wazzup, hot dogs and July 4th, Weekends are made for Michelob, Friday song.

Principle 3: Emotion

  • Craft messages and ideas that make people feel something.
  • Emotional things often get shared.
  • Examples mentioned: The Mysterious Cough, Susan Boyle, Google’s “Parisian Love”.

Principle 4: Public

  • Make products and ideas more public.
  • Design products and initiatives that advertise themselves.
  • Examples: Macbook’s upside down logo, rejected kidney donations, No Shave November, Sent from my iPhone, Livestrong, I Voted stickers, Tiffany and Victoria’s Secret shopping bags,

Principle 5: Practical Value

  • People like to help one another.
  • Highlight the incredible value of what we offer — monetarily and otherwise.
  • Increase value using principles of behavioral economics: smart pricing, limited availability, Rule of 100.
  • Examples mentioned: Ken Craig’s Clean Ears Everytime, Vanguard Funds

Principle 6: Stories

  • People don’t just share information, they tell stories.
  • Make your message so integral to the narrative.
  • Examples mentioned: Trojan Horse, The Three Little Pigs, Jared Fogle and Subway, Barclay Prime’s $100 cheesesteak, Egyptian dairy company Panda, Vietnamese nail salons.


  1. Social Currency: Does talking about your product or idea make people look good? Can you find the inner remarkability? Leverage game mechanics? Make people feel like insiders?
  2. Triggers: Consider the context. What cues make people think about your product or idea? How can you grow the habitat and make it come to mind more often?
  3. Emotion: Focus on feelings. Does talking about your product or idea generate emotion? How can you kindle the fire?
  4. Public: Does your product or idea advertise itself? Can people see when others are using it? If not, how can you make the private public? Can you create behavioral residue that sticks around even after people use it?
  5. Practical Value: Does talking about your product or idea help people help others? How can you highlight incredible value, packaging your knowledge and expertise into useful information others will want to disseminate?
  6. Stories: What is your Trojan Horse? Is your product or idea embedded in a broader narrative that people want to share? Is the story not only viral, but also valuable?