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Commentary + Concepts

Today's public affairs environment + How to respond

This is today's public affairs environment:

1. Trust in governments and institutions is at a historic low 

2. Global challenges are putting pressure on businesses and governments  equally

3. The future is now - but not all are equally prepared and ready to move forward

4. Bezos et al. - America loves entrepreneurial heroes

5. Longtail vs. Hitsville - focus on the long-term, be patient, and serve the smallest most profitable audience possible

6. Brand Marketing vs. Direct Marketing: Be a direct marketer and know that the Internet is a micro-media and a personalized media 

7. High or Low: Stand for something - Don't be in the mushy middle 

8. Big Data > Big Oil: Make great use of your data and double down on what works

9. Get offline and have a conversation. Repeat

10. Make relationships scalable by giving more and asking less

How you should respond in today's public affairs environment - focus on these five buckets:

1. Provide education: Provide tools, materials, and sessions that educate and improve people's lives, businesses, pet causes - give, give, give, and give again

2. Think experience: Ampily offline experiences into online spaces and take advantage of unique user experiences for different platforms - Insta, Face, Link, Twitter, etc.

3. Produce entertainment: Make your content fun and make sure it grabs attention and is sharable - If you wouldn't send the content to your friends or share on your networks - well then it isn't that good

4. Be entrepreneurial: Champion entrepreneurship, small business, the little guy doing well in the marketplace - America loves the hero story and those who overcome challenges

5. Impart thought leadership: Send messages and press release, and send a lot of them - overwhelm the marketplace. Amazon has posted nearly 50 press releases so far in 2018 (Read Fortune: Amazon's brag and awe press release strategy), and for Twitter alone, you should have 20 posts daily

Plan accordingly.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Ross Rant: The gig is 9 to 5 and is the employment is formal

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Last Thursday the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found less than 4 percent of workers--5.9 million persons--held contingent jobs.

Contingent jobs are those assignments which are temporary in nature.

In addition to contingent workers, the BLS survey also identified workers who have various alternative work arrangements or what many of us refer to as gigs. 

In May 2017 the BLS data found there were 10.6 million independent contractors (less than 7 percent of total employment), 2.6 million on-call workers (1.7 percent of total employment), 1.4 million temporary help agency workers (0.9 percent of total employment), and 933,000 workers provided by contract firms (0.6 percent of total employment).

So roughly 10 percent of American workers in 2017 were employed in some form of what the government calls “alternative work arrangements." 

This broad category includes Lyft drivers, freelance designers, and people employed through temporary-help agencies — essentially anyone whose primary source of work comes outside a traditional employment relationship. 

As reported by the New York Times, this far from a boom in gig work and goes against conventional wisdom when to comes to employment.

“I think everybody’s narrative got blown up,” said Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

The largest category of alternative workers, independent contractors, are disproportionately in their mid-40s or older and familiar in sectors like construction that have not been disrupted by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. They earn about as much, on average, as standard employees, and are relatively happy with their arrangements: Nearly eight in 10 say they prefer being an independent contractor to being an employee.

Outside of plumbers, roofers, and general contractors, most Americans work 9 to 5 in a formal work environment.

Don't believe the gig economy hype.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Ross Rant: Think populism is slowing down? Check out how Ontario voted

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Populism establishes a beachhead in Canada's most prosperous and most important province of Ontario.

To understand what will happen with American politics and upcoming elections, I find exploring elections in other Western democracies to be an essential tool.

Last Thursday night, Doug Ford was elected as the next Premier of Ontario. A new expansion of populism now confronts Canada. Think Trump lands in Ontario.

CBC's Chris Hall wrote, "Doug Ford — the bombastic, blustering and populist former Toronto city councilor — is going to be the next premier of Canada's most populous province. His victory, convincing as it was, came with an exclamation mark. He put an end to 15 straight years of Liberal rule."

Toronto Star columnist Edward Keenan echoed the same scripting "Ford era promises a rocky road ahead for all of us."

He went onto say "the next four years under Premier Doug Ford: constant reasons to wonder about the malice vs. incompetence debate, with a loud portion of Ford’s supporters hoping and cheering for the former option. And many of the rest of us hoping instead for the latter, because perhaps if a problem is caused by incompetence, there is some hope it will be fixed, as those who caused it realize their mistake or grow more competent and capable."

@Richard_Florida tweeted: Ontario went from being a pro-urban province/ state like California or New York to joining the ranks of anti-urban Red states ... 

I don't see the expansion of populism around Great Lakes stopping any time. Until CEOs of multinational corporations, Governors, and Mayors show leadership and engage voters in the Midwest on the value of globalization, this will be the result at the ballot box.

Endless outrage by the coastal elites will do little to change election outcomes.

Cross the Hudson and be in Cleveland.

Cross the Potomac and be in Detroit.

This is the three-part question facing US voters in 2018 and 2020: Do we protect the jobs of the past or invest in the jobs of the future? Do we subsidize the grey hairs or invest in today's 8th graders? Do we want to be part of a global world or not?

Voters today want protection, subsidies, and unilateralism.

Plan accordingly.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Continuous partial attention and the presence deficit

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The art of staying focused in a distracting world.

That is the title of an article I dumped into to my Evernote "Must Read" folder five years ago.

Five years ago.

Someone sure is distracted.

This article from The Atlantic is actually an interview between James Fallows and a longtime tech executive Linda Stone.

Stone has been working on technology longer than many of us reading this were even cognizant of activities beyond our neighborhood, and our only escape was playing floor hockey, reading the latest issue of National Geographic or mastering the foreign lands of Dungeons and Dragons.

She began working on emerging technologies for Apple and then Microsoft in the 80s. 

In the early years of this century, she coined the term "continuous partial attention" to describe the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything. 

Stone isn't critical of this paradigm stating that "continuous partial attention is neither good nor bad. The important thing for us as humans is to have the capacity to tap the attention strategy that will best serve us in any given moment."

This ability to execute an attention strategy is within all of us.

Most of us learned this skill in our childhood when engaging in sports or crafts or performing arts. However, some of us might need additional training that involves managing our breath and emotions—what Stone calls "bringing one’s body and mind to the same place at the same time."

She reminds us self-directed play allows both children and adults to develop a powerful attention strategy, a strategy she calls "relaxed presence."

As a kid, you developed a capacity for attention and for a type of curiosity and experimentation that can happen when you play. You were in the moment, and the moment was unfolding naturally.

Stone says" when we learn how to play a sport or an instrument; how to dance or sing; or even how to fly a plane, we learn how to breathe and how to sit or stand in a way that supports a state of relaxed presence. My hunch is that when you’re flying, you’re aware of everything around you, and yet you’re also relaxed. When you’re water-skiing, you’re paying attention, and if you’re too tense, you’ll fall. All of these activities help us cultivate our capacity for relaxed presence. Mind and body in the same place at the same time."

Maybe this is why I long for a black diamond ski run on a daily basis?

I find propelling my middle-aged body down a deep, steep, heart pounding, and knee grinding ski run to be the ultimate state of relaxation - it's just so darn fulfilling.

Descending a ski hill is by far when I am at peak relaxed presence.

How do you get into peak relaxed presence? 

For me to find this state, I must put it on my calendar. I put this relaxed presence time there today, this week, this month, and this year.

I find being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything hurts my performance, my relationships, and my health.

Making relaxed presence a habit you'll find getting offline for a spell is fine. All the noise from a distracting world you left behind will be there when you get back.

I promise.

No need for FOMO.

But there is a need for peak relaxed presence.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

The Presence Deficit, Cities, Walkable Streets, HyperNormalisation, YouTube

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The Presence Deficit, Cities, Walkable Streets, HyperNormalisation, YouTube

The Weekly | Brigadoon
June 10, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Brigadoon is Education + Events + Engagement for Entrepreneurs and Thought Leaders.

Subscribe here: http://thebrigadoon.com/subscribe/


ROSS RANT

Continuous partial attention and the presence deficit

The art of staying focused in a distracting world.

That is the title of an article I dumped into to my Evernote "Must Read" folder five years ago.

Five years ago.

Someone sure is distracted.

This article from The Atlantic is actually an interview between James Fallows and a longtime tech executive Linda Stone.

Stone has been working on technology longer than many of us reading this were even cognizant of activities beyond our neighborhood, and our only escape was playing floor hockey, reading the latest issue of National Geographic or mastering the foreign lands of Dungeons and Dragons.

She began working on emerging technologies for Apple and then Microsoft in the 80s. 

In the early years of this century, she coined the term "continuous partial attention" to describe the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything. 

Stone isn't critical of this paradigm stating that "continuous partial attention is neither good nor bad. The important thing for us as humans is to have the capacity to tap the attention strategy that will best serve us in any given moment."

This ability to execute an attention strategy is within all of us.

Most of us learned this skill in our childhood when engaging in sports or crafts or performing arts. However, some of us might need additional training that involves managing our breath and emotions—what Stone calls "bringing one’s body and mind to the same place at the same time."

She reminds us self-directed play allows both children and adults to develop a powerful attention strategy, a strategy she calls "relaxed presence."

As a kid, you developed a capacity for attention and for a type of curiosity and experimentation that can happen when you play. You were in the moment, and the moment was unfolding naturally.

Stone says" when we learn how to play a sport or an instrument; how to dance or sing; or even how to fly a plane, we learn how to breathe and how to sit or stand in a way that supports a state of relaxed presence. My hunch is that when you’re flying, you’re aware of everything around you, and yet you’re also relaxed. When you’re water-skiing, you’re paying attention, and if you’re too tense, you’ll fall. All of these activities help us cultivate our capacity for relaxed presence. Mind and body in the same place at the same time."

Maybe this is why I long for a black diamond ski run on a daily basis?

I find propelling my middle-aged body down a deep, steep, heart pounding, and knee grinding ski run to be the ultimate state of relaxation - it's just so darn fulfilling.

Descending a ski hill is by far when I am at peak relaxed presence.

How do you get into peak relaxed presence? 

For me to find this state, I must put it on my calendar. I put this relaxed presence time there today, this week, this month, and this year.

I find being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything hurts my performance, my relationships, and my health.

Making relaxed presence a habit you'll find getting offline for a spell is fine. All the noise from a distracting world you left behind will be there when you get back.

I promise.

No need for FOMO.

But there is a need for peak relaxed presence.

-Marc

FIVE ARTICLES TO READ

Report: Cities generated nearly all of US job growth in 2017: AP reports, American cities accounted for about 96 percent of the country’s job growth in 2017 as they added nearly 2 million new jobs, according to the latest annual report from a bipartisan coalition of mayors. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is gathering in Boston starting on Friday, says in its latest “Metro Economies” report that 10 metropolitan areas alone generated $6.8 trillion in economic value in 2017, surpassing the output of most states. Those metro regions included New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Boston, and Atlanta. http://bit.ly/2kYQOwQ

50 reasons why everyone should want more walkable streets: From making you live longer to making cities more resilient: If you want a reason to make your city more walkable, it’s in here. http://bit.ly/2sL7E5W

The midlife tuneup: Whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, the Well midlife tuneup will put you on a healthier path to improving your body, mind, and relationships. https://nyti.ms/2Hq6FNH

How Reese Witherspoon is flipping the script on Hollywood: The Hello Sunshine founder is channeling women’s voices into top-tier entertainment–and altering the dynamics of the entire industry along the way. http://bit.ly/2sDivOY

The Atlantic: Why no one answers their phone anymore https://theatln.tc/2HjosWO

READING LIST

What are you reading this summer?

I am putting together a summer reading list and would love to know what books the Brigadoon community is digging into.

I heard from a dozen of you yesterday and the list is diverse and insightful, as one would expect from such a talented community. 

If you haven't, please drop me an email so I can add to this collection.

Thanks.

BRIGADOON EVENTS

Brigadoon Annapolis | Salon Dinner + Lectures = September 20-21, 2018

Brigadoon Detroit | Salon Dinner = October 11, 2018

Brigadoon Cincinnati | Salon Dinner = November 1, 2018

Brigadoon Scotland 2018 = November 11-13, 2018

Brigadoon Sundance 2019 = February 24-26, 2019

More details and ticket information @ thebrigadoon.com

PRODUCTIVITY

75 apps that will save you time as a busy professionalhttp://bit.ly/2sTfAlz

DOCUMENTARY

HyperNormalisation: A 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. In this doc, Curtis explains we live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Global events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, random bomb attacks. And those who are supposed to be in power are paralyzed - they have no idea what to do. This film is an epic story of how we got to this strange place. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening - but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them. http://bit.ly/2sXkez3

SONG

Joe Jackson - Steppin' Out http://bit.ly/2sWIWPQ

STAY

Hotel Iroquois (Mackinac Island, MI) http://bit.ly/2sUvRXu

EAT + DRINK

Rose's Luxury (Washington, DC) http://bit.ly/2sWkLRN

SPORT

Own goal: The inside story of how the USMNT missed the 2018 World Cup: The Ringer reports, in October, the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in more than 30 years. A loss to Trinidad and Tobago sealed their fate, but according to players, coaches, commentators, and executives across American soccer, the disaster doesn’t come down to just one unfortunate result. No, it was the culmination of nearly a decade of mismanagement that broke the team’s spirit and condemned them to failure. http://bit.ly/2sIff5

COTD: YouTube is tops for Gen Z

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With market penetration of 85 percent amongst US youngsters and 32 percent of the respondents stating that it is their most used online platform, YouTube evolved into the most important online platform of the Generation Z. 

10 Trends Shaping Commerce + Culture

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1. Can we meet? Americans schedule approximately 25 million meetings per day. Apps and AI that reduce the friction of finding times and places to meet will be a winner.

2. Opioids: More than 200,000 people in the US have died from overdoses involving prescription opioids over the past two decades. Drugs that can't be crushed and snorted plus reduce pain will be a winner.

3. Drinking: People in their 20s and 30s are drinking less alcohol. One in 5 millennials doesn’t drink, and 66% say that alcohol isn’t important to their social lives, according to a survey by Demos. Companies that provide beverages that also have health benefits will be a winner.

4. No phone vaca: According to a survey of 2,000 US travelers from Asurion, a mobile device insurance company, and OnePoll, a UK-based marketing research company. More than 20 percent of respondents said they checked their smartphones once per hour during their most recent vacations while about 14 percent said they checked it twice per hour. Activities and holidays that require full attention and participation will be a winner.

5. Sensible shoes: Women's sneakers sales increased by 37 percent last year, while high heels fell 11 percent. Clothes that are flexible, less rigid, and provide performance benefits will be a winner.

6. Voice is the new thumbprint: Interpol is considering using software that identifies criminals using audio. Apps and AI that provide access to information as simple as a voice command will be a winner.

7. Better, stronger, faster: Adding a bionic vest to a work uniform will augment human abilities. Performace clothing that takes the strain off the arms and backs of people working on tasks that require specialized attention and repetitive actions will be a winner.

8. The plastic straw is losing status: California, New York City, and the EU are all looking to outlaw plastic straws. Restaurants and cafes replacing straws with paper, metal or providing no straw at all will be a winner.

9. Having your smartphone nearby takes a toll on your thinking: Recent research investigated whether merely having one’s own smartphone nearby could influence cognitive abilities. In two lab experiments, nearly 800 people completed tasks designed to measure their cognitive capacity. The results were striking: individuals who completed these tasks while their phones were in another room performed the best, followed by those who left their phones in their pockets. In the last place were those whose phones were on their desks. Activities and business meetings that are smartphone free will be a winner.

10. The AI arms race: Algorithms trained on mountains of Chinese data may soon be making decisions that profoundly affect the lives of people in the US. The world's wealthiest companies are powerhouse data collectors and data users. Companies that capture the full value of their data will be a winner.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Does a Coach or CEO matter?

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When it comes to management, the answer is an unequivocal no.

Soccernomics, the beautiful book written by Financial Times Columnist Simon Kuper and University of Michigan Professor Stefan Szymanski, makes the convincing case that "it turns out that coaches and managers simply don't make that much difference."

When studying years of soccer matches, the authors conclude that "the vast bulk of managers appear to have almost no impact on their teams' performance and do not last very long in the job. They seem to add so little value that is tempting to think they could be replaced by their secretaries, or the chairman, or by stuffed teddy bears, without the club's league position changing. The importance of managers is vastly overestimated."

How can this be?

As a culture, we laud coaches and CEOs for their superior management skills. Give them deity-worth reverence. Put them on the covers of magazines, see them interviewed on television repeatedly, and even some nations elect them to the top government job. 

The Great Man Theory of History happening in real-time.

What really matters are the players and the employees. The market makes this clear.

Johan Cruyff, the famous Dutch international soccer player who went on coach FC Barcelona to four straight La Liga titles and a Champions League title, said simply, "If your players are better than your opponent, 90 percent of the time you will win."

Those that can perform a specific task repeatedly, with few flaws and consistent enthusiasm are treasured and well compensated by the market. Often there is a shortage of the best talent, and there is massive competition to secure their services. 

You see, soccer teams have perfect market information on thousands of players. It is clear who on the pitch can play and who can't. Either you can play soccer, or you can't play soccer. Either you can perform the task at hand, or you can't.

Soccer players more or less get the job they deserve.

However, when it comes to coaching this is not the case. The market for managers does not work well. Many of the best managers rarely get proper attention while numerous managers who add no real positive value continue to get promoted to better-paying jobs.

You see this off the pitch as well.

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from MyLogIQ LLC and Institutional Shareholder Services, among S&P 500 CEOs who got raises last year, the 10% who received the most significant pay increases scored—as a group—in the middle of the pack in terms of total shareholder return.

Similarly, the 10% of companies posting the best total returns to shareholders scored in the middle of the pack in terms of CEO pay, the data show.

Quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Herman Aguinis, a professor of management at George Washington University School of Business, reinforces this point, “Stars are often underpaid, while average performers are often overpaid.” 

The disparity between CEO compensation and performance appears to persist over more extended periods as well. Professor Aguinis analyzed the earnings of more than 4,000 CEOs over the course of their tenures against several performance metrics and found virtually no overlap between the top 1% of CEOs in terms of performance and the top 1% of highest earners. Among the top 10% of performers, only a fifth were in the top 10% in terms of pay.

On and off the field more coaches and CEOs are more sun god and head of public relations, less visionary executive. 

The forte of best-paid coaches and CEOs is often not winning matches or generating more revenue, something frankly they have little control over, but keeping all the various constituencies united behind them. Hence why as a culture we frequently prize charisma over competence.

Chris Tomlinson, a business columnist for the Houston Chronicle, penned recently, "There is also no shortage of CEO candidates and little competition for them. Few companies need CEOs with unique skills, and boards tend to buy charisma rather than skills anyway. The general economy and market forces within an industrial sector are far more accurate predictors of a company’s performance, regardless of how much the CEO earns."

All of that being said, I do think thought leadership and vision matter immensely, regardless of how it pays.

Leadership is different from management, but that's for a separate post.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Brigadoon Events

BRIGADOON EVENTS

Brigadoon Annapolis
Salon Dinner + Lectures = September 20-21, 2018

Brigadoon Detroit
Salon Dinner = October 11, 2018

Brigadoon Cincinnati
Salon Dinner = November 1, 2018

Brigadoon Scotland 2018
November 11-13, 2018

Brigadoon Sundance 2019
February 24-26, 2019

More details and ticket information @ thebrigadoon.com/events

 

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