Game-Based Marketing

I do not consider myself a gamer. Then I realized I am an elite player in American’s AAdvantage program. I have never made a mileage run, but know plenty who have. Games are everywhere. One of the hottest areas of the online engagement economy is gamification, a strategy that meshes games and marketing. Games can be tailored to drive engagement, loyalty and virality. Zicherman and Linder’s Game-based marketing is a must-read on the topic.

The experiential nature of games allows users to sense, feel, think, relate and act. When combined with marketing, games drive a desired behavior. As Zicherman points out an engaging experience has to be authentic. It must align with the experience by it a conference, airline travel or McDonald’s. Games are fun and entertaining. They encourage engagement for users to participate and to contribute. Games are educational. They provide something to learn including levels, points and even virtual currency. Games provide an escape. Escapes are themes, stories or quests that take a user from point to point. Games should have an esthetic or loyalty component. A player must want to be there and willing to come back.

The experiential nature of gaming allows users to sense, feel, think, relate and act. If you are concerned with site loyalty, virality and engagement check out this book. It has ideas on campaign and continuous games that can be used to engage the community.

You can also read this book review on Disclosure, the wife works at but does not read my blog.

How to Look Smarter than Your Lawyer and VC

Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson’s book Venture Financings: How to Look Smarter than Your Lawyer and VC is now available for pre-order on I am looking forward to it having taking a venture financing class as part of my MBA this year. The more you know about venture financing, the better you off you will be when your startup is ready. Plus the less hand holding your lawyer has to do, the better for everyone.

Born to Run

I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall last summer. This great book has had a dramatic impact on my life. Growing up I was never much of a runner. We, my siblings, swam, year round. Running was not my thing. It was only just over 2 years ago I really got into it. At first I could not even finish 3 miles. On one of the earliest runs, my wife pushing the stroller with my son smoked me. My wife is an amazing athlete so it was not a surprise but it did hurt to not be able to keep pace. The odd thing was I felt great physically after the run. I kept doing it and within 4 months I finished a half-marathon. I have not stopped since.

A few things did change. I found that minimalist running shoes worked really well. I ran my New Balance MT100s into the ground just as I was reading Born to Run. I am running in the updated MT101’s now. They are great. The book convinced me that I did not need my orthotics. I ditched them and have not looked back. What is even better, the lingering knee pain in my left knee is gone and the callused skin on my feet is incredibly improved. Yesterday, I ran for 90 minutes on road, trail, beach and stairs totaling approximately just over 10 miles. My legs feel great today. Check out this TED talk and then read the book. Amazing stuff. Your body will thank you.

Be willing to throw it all away

Is this a name dropping post?

Check out this instructive video of Mike Maples, Jr. speaking at the Founder Institute. It is worth the time.

Mike Maples was a co-founder of Motive, where I spent 5 very productive years. Talk of “thunder lizards” is nothing new. His ability to communicate a technical vision is pretty amazing. Internally and externally, he can fire people up. I knew that when he left to head back to California that he would be one to watch. His track record for the last 5 years has been impressive: Digg, Twitter, Chegg, Spiceworks and a dozen others. Lately, Maples seems to be everywhere. From lean startup lectures at Cal to 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and here he is again below. Thanks Mike!

Mike Maples at the Founder Showcase from Adeo Ressi on Vimeo.

TechCrunch Mike Maples: “You Have to Be Willing to Throw it all away” [Video]

8 Summer Reads

Some of the books I have tackled this summer.

The upside of pursuing an MBA has been the rekindling my interest in reading actual books. Here are some of the books completed this summer:

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
A solid, quick and entrepreneurial read by the 37 Signals guys.

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan
Some great lessons on when to zig when everyone zags.

The Financier by Theodore Dreiser
Dreiser’s tale based on the life of Charles Yerkes, financier and “robber baron”. It took about 100 pages for me to root for the main character, Frank Cowperwood.

4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Enjoyable and eye-opening read. Worth checking it out.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
A different historical and enlightening read. I was amazed at how interconnected many of the great men of science have been throughout history.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
An addictive read. Made me ditch my orthotics.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Another great book by the Heath brothers. Some useful strategies that I have been able to successfully implement.

No More Mister Nice Guy by Robert A. Glover
I came across this book from The Art of Manliness blog. At some point everyone has a lack of confidence. This book has some great ideas on how to get it back.

Commoditization Myths

Long time, no-post. Been busy in the good way. A trend over the past few years is talk of commoditization of products, features and generally everything. Is the current market seems to be headed towards rampant commoditization? Check these two excellent articles that say this is not true.

MIT Review: The Myth of Commoditization

WSJ: Raise Your Prices!

Happy reading.