We’re big on books at Jaggers Communications, as you might imagine. I’m fond of both the paper and the e-reader kind. Business books, however, have to be REALLY GREAT to capture my attention, and to keep me reading through till the end. Just a few authors have made it onto my short list for business guidance and this guy is one of them. I’m thrilled that Dan Pink is the keynote speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book tomorrow (March 19, 2014) at the Omni for the Leadership Breakfast. We’ve invited a handful of clients to join us at the event and hope the room will be filled with inspiration and networking.

At a slightly less-crowded venue, later in the week at the Touring Virginia session, I’ll be talking about and autographing copies of my new book, 100 Things to Do in Charlottesville Before You Die. You should come to that, too.

We’re snowed in and working from home offices today and we’ve been noticing a TREND. Schools (and other organizations) are so tired of cancellations and closings they’re starting to get really creative with their announcements. Here’s a collection of our favorites for your snow day enjoyment:

 

 

 

And then there’s this local favorite from a previous season when we WANTED more snow days.

 

 

A colleague of mine complains about them: “If I have to read ONE MORE POST about FIVE WAYS to this or SIX THINGS that, I’m going to throw up.” Funny thing is, he’s reading them and, like most of us, is attracted to the headlines that draw us in with lists and numbers.

Why are we drawn to this content?

Maria Konnikova of the New York Times says our brains prefer to process information this way. We like lists because they’re digestible and reassuring. Our brains can make quick sense of the information and in our content-flooded world, we can read, absorb, and move right on to the next piece.

That’s convenient and necessary because we’re expected to absorb much more content using the same daylight hours as our ancestors.

Slate and Michael Agger says that we read online in a lazy way: we crave:

  • white space
  • bulleted lists
  • bold text (see what I did there?)

Back to another New York Times piece by Maria Konnikova telling us what makes things “go viral”: it’s a lot of crap, to be candid. It’s emotion-grabbing, Internet-typical headlines of which we saw a version of in supermarket checkout lanes for years, with a compelling tag that people just can’t resist clicking …

Headlines with OMG or WOW or LOL or “Nothing Could Prepare me for …” or “You Have to See the Rest…” or “Will Amaze You.” Every journalism teacher must be just cringing constantly. ViralNova, now the 7th most popular website, ever  (WOW!) is a constant generator of this garbage and you know what? WE’RE ALL FALLING INTO THE TRAP.

So yes, if you want your content to go viral, it  must be sensational. It must have that WOW factor and it must be in a list format with an attention-grabbing headline that goes for emotions.

It’s annoyingly simple, but that’s the secret.

 

LinkedIn has just added a nifty contacts tool. It allows the user to include information about the contact including how  you met, (context is always good) any notes, and reminders for linkedin newfollow up. (I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more faulty my memory is with these details. It’s helpful to have some kind of reference.) Since so many of us are in the role of reluctant sales people, this is the kinds of nudge that can really be helpful in relationship development. People who are really working the sales and development angle use these sorts of tools all the time. This integrates the lead generation and follow up work right into your business social network.

It might look like just another task to manage in your online profile, but the long term benefits of strategically using these tools cannot be ignored. Take a look at some of the best profiles in your network and I bet if you ask those individuals about what they get out of using LinkedIn, you’ll be swayed.

There’s some signage I encounter almost daily that to me, seems completely clear and easy to understand. It baffles me, however, how many times I witness others floundering about trying to figure out the directions and screwing it up over, and over again.

The parking lot I typically use has a pay to park machine with steps listed, 1, 2, 3 for gaining paid right to a space for 1, 2, or 3 hours of use.

Help me out, here, guys: what’s wrong with this signage? What could possibly be done better so people don’t have such trouble figuring out how to pay to park in this lot? Is it a little bit like when we pull on a door clearly marked push? Do our brains just override what we’re seeing? What do you think the issue is? photo 1

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