Magic Words

In his book, Magic Words, Tim David shares words that can dramatically increase persuasion.  Magic words are words that use more effective communicators and help motivate others to take action.  For magic words to work, they need a strong relationship and connection.

The first magic word is “yes,” and getting someone to say “yes” before your actual ask increases your odds of success.  In fact, in one study of salespeople, those that got the customer to say yes to anything a few times before they asked for the sale increased their success rate from 18 to 32%.

Our name. What’s the favorite word for any of us to hear? Want to make someone feel important? Use their name when you’re talking with them.

Another magic word is “but.” Saying but makes someone think that everything you said before the but isn’t what you mean.

If you want to get what you want, give a reason.  A Harvard professor studied how someone using a copier shared why they needed to cut in line.  60% of the time, a person successfully cut in line because she shared her “because.”

Help. It’s useful when delegating.  For most of us, “help” is a powerful word.  When someone asks for help, we’re inclined to lean in and give our best.

The last magic word is “thanks.” Many years ago, I was part of an executive coaching, Strategic Coach program.  Quarterly, I’d fly out to Chicago.  The main tenants of the program shared that for us to be successful were to be on time, to what we say, to finish what we start, and say please and thank you.

The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success

In The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, the author shares what makes a psychopath and lessons we can learn from psychopaths.

The book shares that one to two percent of the population could be considered psychopaths.  Psychopaths use charm and polish to cover up their evil side.  They are brilliant and lack emotions like guilt, fear, and shame.  Lack of fear makes them take chances and not worry about failure.  This combination makes them a functioning psychopaths where they can end up in high positions like executives and surgeons.

The book shares an example of how differently psychopaths and non-psychopaths solve a moral dilemma: A train will run into and kill five people.  You have a switch to divert the train to another track that will kill one person.  For psychopaths they don’t hesitate to throw the switch.  Non-psychopaths need time to make the decision, and if it required them to physically push one person into the train to save five lives, they wouldn’t do it.  A psychopath would.

While most of us take time to think through the potential outcomes of our actions, psychopaths don’t.  With a disdain for boredom, they act quickly.  And, once they’ve swiftly acted and had success, they’re more likely to do it again—from a business decision to murder.  Psychopaths do things that others only think about, which is why they could end up in prison or leading a business.

Psychopathy, like other mental conditions, isn’t binary.  Instead, there’s a continuum.  In this continuum, advancement can come from the moderate expression of many psychopathic qualities combined with restraint to not act immediately on every desire.

Psychopaths live in the here and now.  They’re excellent at executing without letting feelings get in the way—because they don’t have them.  Without emotion, this ability to be in the moment makes psychopaths good at high-risk fields like being a soldier or firefighter.

Along with being in the moment, psychopaths stay calm and take action versus seize up in fear when making a hard decision.  This ability to take action gives psychopaths an advantage over regular people.  So, how can an average person use psychopathic traits to their advantage?  Use meditation as a way to be in the moment and use this practice to help make decisions.  Also, like any good psychopath, understand the power of persuasion.

Blue Ocean Shift Tools

In my previous post on Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing, I shared the differences between blue and red oceans and the four principles of blue ocean strategy.  In this post, I outline blue ocean elements and tools.

The earlier post mentioned humanness.  Humanness has three elements:

  • Atomization:  Allowing people to know something is achievable by making larger, daunting tasks attainable by breaking them into smaller pieces.
  • First-hand discovery:  Every team member thinks in new ways and experiences. 
  • Fair process:  This is achieved through engagement, explanation, and clear expectations.  Engagement gets stakeholders in the decision-making process.  Explanation means sharing a deep dive on why the group is passing on some ideas.  Clear expectations mean what it sounds like; everyone understands what’s expected and the objective measure of success.

Five tools implement a blue ocean shift:

  • Pioneer-migrator-settler map:  This tool assesses how an organization’s offering fits in the overall market.  It breaks customers into three groups: pioneers—customers who love your product, settlers—customers who view your product about the same as your competitors, migrators—customers in the middle.  Draw a rectangle with three sections.  On the bottom, list your settlers.  In the middle, list migrators.  At the top, list the pioneers.  Next, draw circles that represent the revenue each offering generates.  Bigger circle = more revenue.  Where is the bulk of your business?  How can you make pioneers larger and flip migrators to pioneers?
  • Strategy canvas:  The strategy canvas rates your offering against your top competitor.  To create a strategy canvas, put the top ten to 12 competitive factors on the x-axis.  On the y axis, make a scale of one (bad) to five (best).  Take one of your offerings and rate each for each factor.  Draw a line through your and your competitor’s data points.  How do you stack up?  Do the curves roughly match?  If so, it’s a red ocean.  If you’re consistently below, they have the better offering.
  • Buyer utility map:  This is a six-by-six table.  Label the columns purchase, delivery, use, supplements, maintenance, and disposal.  These columns represent the buyer’s life cycle.  Label the rows customer productivity, simplicity, convenience, risk reduction, fun/image, and environmental friendliness.  Answer questions like:  What’s the convenience of purchasing your product?  Where are there opportunities for innovation?  What are areas that are pain points?  How environmentally friendly is it for a customer to dispose of your product?
  • Six paths framework:  This tool generates ideas.  The first path questions why a buyer chooses one option over another.  For example, why do some investors use a self-service website instead of using a financial planner?  The second path looks at your specific industry.  For example, why does a buyer choose one offering over another?  Is it cost, convenience, or something else?  Path three evaluates the chain of buyers.  Who is involved with the buying decision?  Is it the ultimate end user?  Who are the ignored people in the buying process that you could target?  Path five asks how this purchase fits in the big picture.  Is this a stand-alone purchase or part of something bigger?  Path five encourages comparing emotion and functionality as it relates to the buying process and production.  Path six looks at things outside your control that could impact your organization (think weather for a farmer).
  • The six paths framework identifies opportunities.  The authors give us a final tool with the four actions framework to break them down into activities.
  • The four actions framework looks for opportunities.  What is something taken for granted to eliminate?  The book shares a hotel chain called CitizenM, where they got rid of the front desk and replaced it with a self-serve kiosk.  What is something to reduce?  Back to the hotel example, they reduced the room size realizing most travelers don’t hang out in their room.  Where can industry standards be raised?  At CitizenM, this meant soundproof walls and high-quality beds.  Where are there opportunities to create?  At CitizenM, ambassadors replace front-desk workers and are available throughout the hotel to help guests, and because all rooms are the same, they used prefabricated rooms.

The last step shared by the authors is a blue ocean fair.  Invite top leaders to the fair.  At the fair, start with a recap of your current red ocean.  Share why a shift makes sense.  Next, come presentations on new blue oceans.  Each blue ocean idea should have a tagline.  Each presentation should include a strategy canvas and the four actions framework.

When presentations finish, it’s time for the fair.  A station represents each blue ocean idea.  Stations have posters or product prototypes.  Blue ocean working group members can be at their respective stations.  The fair concludes with top leaders voting on the ultimate idea.

Blue ocean away!

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing

I’ve just finished Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing.  It has a lot of info.  So I’m breaking it into a couple of posts.  Here’s a recap of the first half of the book:

  • Red oceans are hyper-crowded and competitive, and blue is entirely new markets or models.
  • The two primary red ocean strategies are value-driven by giving exceptional service or low cost.  The blue ocean strategy focuses on unserved markets.
  • Beyond looking at unserved markets, a blue ocean approach uses “humanness” to engage employees to make the change and tools to turn a blue ocean idea into an offering.  Humanness is recognizing people’s fears and needs for a purpose. 
  • Blue ocean uses non-disruptive creation where a market isn’t destroyed or replaced but is a net new market
  • To illustrate the four pillars of a blue ocean strategy, the authors share the story of Comic Relief.  First, Comic Relief took an entirely new approach to fundraise and avoided previous typical fundraising approaches like galas.  Second, blue ocean approaches don’t try to beat competitors; instead, they have new competition through creating a new market.  In the Comic Relief example, they used “Red Nose Days,” where money was raised through small donations, not significant events.  Third, a blue ocean approach looks for a new market.  Comic Relief meant focusing on everyday people buying red noses instead of wealthy donors at galas.  Fourth, they empathized with people’s concerns and shared their role in making it all happen.

I’ll cover the key elements and tools to make a Blue Ocean shift in the next post.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Congratulations To Intertech STEM Scholarship Winner Alexander Chambers

One of the Intertech Foundation’s focuses is the inspiration of young people towards the building of science, engineering, and technology skills. To further that pursuit, the Foundation has selected two STEM scholarship winners for 2021, each excelling in Math and Science, just graduated from high school, and pursuing college studies in computer science. We’ve long believed in the importance of giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve our customers. The Intertech Foundation STEM Scholarship is just one of the ways we have chosen to do this each year, offering a $2,500 scholarship, and this year was no exception. Amidst a challenging landscape, what resonated with our Grant committee was the hope and excitement the applicants have for our future. Join us in getting to know our scholarship recipient for 2021, Alexander Chambers.

Congratulations to Alexander Chambers


Alexander, a senior graduating from Valley High School in Clive, Iowa, a National Merit finalist, and the concert band lead trumpet player, will be attending Iowa State University in the fall, pursuing a degree in Software Engineering. One thing that stood out to us about Alexander was his interest in developing new ways to defend and protect people’s personal data, an area we at Intertech focus on in every aspect of every project. His appetite for community work and focus on Calculus, Computer Science, and Chemistry have set him up to achieve his goals, and as the Database Lead for the school’s computer club team, competing at the Cyber Defense Competition at Iowa State University, we have confidence that Alexander has a bright future.

Find out more about this young graduate through our scholarship winner Q&A session included below:

Q: When did you first decide you wanted to be involved in Computer Science?

That would have to be in my sophomore year of high school. That year was the first time that I took a computer science class, introduction to programming fundamentals. After that, I knew that I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could about programming and computer science.

Q: What was the first program you ever wrote?

The first program I ever wrote was a game that I created on the website, Scratch. In my game, you were a butterfly trying to dodge objects as they came toward you. I remember really struggling to make the game function, but I was very happy once I finally got the code to work.

Q: Which educational or extracurricular experiences during your k-12 years helped you decide on the field of Computer Science?

I would say that all 4 of the Computer Science related classes that I took in my high school years really helped motivate me to continue my education into college. Outside of school, it would have to be the Cyber Security club, Hyperstream, where I first became interested in Cyber Security.

Q: What school have you selected to attend?

Iowa State University. (ISU)

Q: Why did you decide on this school for your undergraduate education?

I chose to go to Iowa State University because of all the colleges in the state of Iowa, it has by far the best Engineering college, more specifically, it has a high quality Software Engineering program.

Q: What is your dream job after college?

After college, I hope to work at a progressive company that is on the cutting edge of innovation. I want to be working on the newest and toughest problems in the technology world.

Q: Tell us something about your time as database lead while involved with your computer club Hyperstream?

The club Hyperstream was probably the highlight of my sophomore year. This club was the first time I applied coding concepts outside of the classroom. While a lot of the things that I learned in class were helpful, for the most part we had to learn completely new concepts, including how to use the language Django and how to navigate in Linux.

Q: Please describe the Silvercord Volunteering Program and how it has impacted you?

My involvement in the Silvercord Volunteering Program has helped me become more invested in my community. It has helped me give back to the community who has supported and helped me throughout my high school years. It also showed me just how much hard work and effort is required to make this community as special as it is.

Q: And finally, would you be willing to share your thoughts about the value of the Intertech STEM scholarship to your academic journey?

The Intertech STEM scholarship will help me greatly on my academic journey through higher education. This scholarship will help allow me to stay focused on my studies rather than worrying about how to pay for my education.