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Watch the stories (pun intended)

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 16 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – Leave Comment

You can check the time on your cell phone. Or you could buy a reasonably good watch for less than $100.

So, why would anyone buy a watch that is north of $2500.

Obviously not just to check the time.

So, it must be the stories that the watch makers tell about why you need to buy them.

Here are some samples (photos from the world’s largest mall in Dubai)

First, let us take Omega.

You may want to buy it because it is George Clooney’s choice.

That doesn’t cut it? OK this should do it.  Omega is also Zhang Ziyi’s choice

Second, Jaeger-LeCoultre

Jaeger-LaCoultre thinks you might have never really worn a real watch (that is unless you own a Jaeger-LaCoutre)

Third, Tag Heuer

They have been making watches since 1860 and have a rich history. Plus, you might want a watch that is accurate to a 1/100 of a second.

Fourth and final, Patek Phillippe

You have to look at them because it is multi-generational story. According to them, you never really “own” a watch. You just take care of them for the next generation.

Convinced yet?

Posted under Business Models, Compelling Offers.

A killer app – “Free” + “Social Proof” + Now!

By Rajesh Setty on Sun 07 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 4 Comments

The other day, I was at the Campbell post office standing in the line waiting for my turn. It was a long line so (as usual) I was busy browsing a book. The person in front of me brought me out of my dream when he stepped out asking me to hold his place. I nodded and continued reading.

I couldn’t help notice what the person did.

There was a box to drop off a business card to win a prize at the end of the month. The person dropped off his business card and walked back. I looked at the box again. There were probably 200 other business cards in the box.

Not fully believing what I just saw, I struck a conversation with the person in front.

I asked, “So, what exactly is the prize they are promising?”

He said, “No clue on that one.”

I asked, “But you put in your business card in there…”

He said, “Yeah, what’s there to lose. There are hundreds of them who have already put in their business card. They can’t be wrong.”

We both smiled and ended the conversation there.

I couldn’t help thinking about what happened.

1. There is something “free” that is promised. Don’t know what that is.

2. Around 200 other people thought it was good to get that “free” thing and opted in to the offer

3. A new person thought that if 200 other people are not wrong, he can’t be wrong.

4. It takes only a second (and a business card) to opt-in to the offer

5. The new person takes the bait and opts in to the offer.

Just a simple example that the combination of “Free,” “Social Proof” and “Now” is a killer combination.

Have a great day.

Other articles on the concept of “Free”:

1. Jan 3, 2010: The case for “Free” (again)

2. Jan 12, 2010: The “Free” Dilemma – Bits vs Atoms

3. Feb 3, 2009: The business case for giving away your best work for free

Posted under Business Models, Compelling Offers.

A gentle push…

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 05 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – 1 Comment

When you are on the fence, sometimes all it requires is a gentle push and you will move to one side. But someone or something has to give that gentle push. It does not take a lot of effort (remember: it’s gentle) but someone still has to do it.

With that in the background, let’s put the “proverbial” fence aside and take a real situation.

You are contemplating whether to attend a networking event or not. You want to do it but you also have other competing priorities to take care of. You know that in the long run it will help you but there are some short-term fires to put out.

You are in a dilemma.

In other words, you are on the “proverbial” fence.

You are waiting for someone or something to give you a gentle push – and help you make that decision.

What is that one thing that the organizers can tell you that will give that gentle push?

How about the following?

What if they said:

As of <date> and <time> we have 40 CEO’s or Presidents of companies attending.

You suddenly have that “information” – something attractive enough to give that gentle push and nudge you towards making a decision to go to that event.

I was fascinated by the CEO Counter that was shown on the homepage of the website called The BD Event. It is a networking organization and someone there designed a much needed “carrot” to provide that gentle push.

Something to think about in your own situations –

What is that thing that will provide that (much needed) nudge or gentle push?

Posted under Business Models.

Creating “no-brainers for the future”

By Rajesh Setty on Wed 03 Feb 2010, 11:01 PM – Leave Comment

First, I have to share a personal story to set the context.

This is the “behind the scenes” story of how a book series and now a book imprint was created over a dinner with a long-time friend. A friend who I respect a lot.

If I look at the entire last year (2009) and reflect on all the events that I attended and decide to pick on one event that was game-changing, it would be a talk by Charlie Rose at the Flint Center.

To be brutally honest, it was not the talk but the dinner I had with my long-time friend Mitchell Levy before the talk.

So, it was really the “pre-event meeting” that was game changing.

For the ten or so years I have known Mitchell, I don’t remember a conversation that was less than insightful. I always walk away with one or two things that makes me think and reflect and become better in one way or the other.

So, I was not expecting anything less. We talked about a number of things and over that time, I shared about my crazy idea – a book that I had written on Twitter (not about it but using it). The book was called THINKtweet. I shared with him the genesis of the idea and why the format would be increasingly relevant in the future.

For those interested, here is a quick video that provides a sneak-peek into the genesis of this project ( in less than ten minutes.)

Mitchell patiently heard me and by the end of the meeting, we had a plan to publish THINKtweet. We alao agreed that we should partner on this book series and grow it beyond this first book.

Over the next few weeks, my friends at Stresslimitdesign helped us design and package the book. Long story short – the book was published on June 1, 2009.

Over the next few months, we got serious interest from MANY people to publish their work in this format. The general consensus was that these were books designed for the A.D.D. generation.

A couple of months ago, my super-smart friend Karen Kang helped us brainstorm the branding for the series. Over the next few days, we renamed the series to THINKaha ( our books are designed to give at least a dozen “Aha Moments” in less than 30 minutes ) and also finalized a tag line which is:


Bite-sized books for thinking people

As of today, we have close to a dozen books in print and more coming. You can see the entire series here:

While this story was evolving, Mitchell and I realized that we had not finalized our business arrangement. I still remember that day when the arrangement was finalized. It was in a coffee shop (Roasted Coffee Bean) in Cupertino. It was at the end of a brainstorming meeting and we were just getting ready to leave. While heading back to our respective cars, we finalized the terms and the general roles we will play. It must have taken a total of two minutes to “negotiate” the business arrangement.

In essence, coming up with a “No Brainer” arrangement was a no-brainer for us.


The simple reason is that we both trusted each other completely. Trusted that both of us will look out for each other more than we look out for ourselves.

Mind you, that this “No Brainer” mindset didn’t develop overnight. It was the result of a long friendship built over a decade.

That philosophy of creating “No-brainers for the future” has saved me a ton of time, energy and heartache over the years.

The rule if there is any is simple – build lifetime relationships where you care for the concern of others involved as if it’s your own concern.

Many of your current relationships can blossom into “No-brainers for the future” if you put enough care into it.

If you have many such relationships, congratulations. Life is better that way. If not, it is not too late to start building them right now.

Posted under Business Models, Main Page, entrepreneurship.

Sharpening Your Models

By Rajesh Setty on Sat 30 Jan 2010, 12:01 AM – 9 Comments

Photo Courtesy: Lumaxart on Flickr

Stephen Covey’s 7th Habit in his classic book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” was:

Sharpen your saw

The message there was to keep practicing our craft and continue to get better at what we do.

That message is still valid and very relevant.

However, there is a need for a new habit and this time developing this habit is “urgent and relevant.”

That habit is:

Sharpen your models

We all have models about how things work – what works and what does not.

How do you get a job? We have a model for that.

How do you make a sale? We have a model for that.

How do you make a friend? We have a model for that.

How do you build a relationship? We have a model for that.

How do you build your brand? We have a model for that.

How do you know what customers want? We have a model for that.

How do customers decide from whom to buy? We have a model for that.

Take any significant thing that you are doing and you will notice that you will base it on a model that you learned or created on your own.

In the new world, the models that work have changed. Working hard on models that are OBSOLETE won’t make them work.

If you not been looking at it, the time is NOW to sharpen your models.

Not just polish them, revisit them, refine them, recreate them and re-invent them.

This is not easy.

For you, the models that you are using represents “truth.” Just like you don’t question the “fact” that “sun rises in the east,” you won’t question your models once they are in place.

So, the best way to get new models in place is to get “good help.” There are other people who have figured out what the “new models” are. Your job is to “seduce” them and be an “opportunity” for them so that they start sharing with you what those “models” are.

You might say that you are intelligent enough to figure out the new models. I am not doubting that. There are a small percentage of people who can do that on their own. For the rest of us, we need teachers and mentors who can shepherd us through this process.

Whatever path you choose, may the Force be with you :)

Posted under Business Models, Main Page.

Faster, better and cheaper OR…

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 28 Jan 2010, 12:01 AM – 7 Comments

I watched the keynote speech for iPad and was fascinated by what I saw. For those of you who missed it, you can now watch it on the Apple website at the link below:

This post is not about singing praises for iPad but simply to highlight how the iPad has been positioned to make the Kindle or any other e-reader irrelevant.

How did they do that?

First, by simply by making it clear to everyone that with an iPad you get (almost) everything that Kindle offers for no additional cost.And, you don’t have to carry another device to carry your digital books.

Second, by making it clear (in case it was not clear from the above slide) by stating it explicitly. Steve Jobs said,

“Amazon has done a great job pioneering this functionality with their Kindle. And we are going to stand on their shoulders and go little further.”

Third, by announcing current Publisher support and giving a sneak peek of future publisher support.

I am confident that Amazon and others out there are busy updating their battle plans on how to counter this.

Just shows that one cannot stop innovating wherever they are in their lifecycle. Time will tell how this will play out in the next few months and years.

I want to leave you with a quote from #ThinkTweet that I posted about ten days ago. Here it is:


Just I was giving the final touches to this blog post, I noticed my friend Mari Smith echoing similar thoughts and couldn’t help smiling. The writing is clearly on the wall unless there is a new bag of tricks from Amazon


For an alternate viewpoint (which I disagree) you can read a NYT piece by Brad Stone

Three Reasons Why the iPad WON’T Kill Amazon’s Kindle

You be the judge!

***** Update at 11:37 am (hat tip: Guy Kawasaki)

Please watch this quick video where Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) shares his opinion about iPad. Most of his two minute talk is about how iPad will be a better eBook reader

Posted under Business Models, Compelling Offers.

The link exchange problem and what you can learn from it.

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 21 Jan 2010, 12:10 AM – Leave Comment

Photo Courtesy: Leo Reynolds on Flickr

A typical link exchange request looks something like this ( if you have already seen a lot of link exchange requests, you don’t need to read the email below.

Dear Target-Website-Owner,

My name is Link Hunter and I manage and operate the recently re-launched website Our site caters to the luxury real estate community in the United States and Canada.  Our site contains luxury home listings in every Canadian Province and US state as well as several other countries.  As one of the premier destinations online for luxury real estate we would like to exchange links with websites such as yours.

If you are interested in having your website listed in our partners directory please link back to our site using one of the following text links:

1) Luxury Homes  – Visit the internets destination for luxury homes and real estate.

2) Luxury Home Listings – Visit the internets #1 destination for luxury real estate. Find info on luxury homes in your area.

3) Luxury Real Estate – Looking for your dream home. Visit Luxury Home Web to find luxury homes for sale or rent in your area.

To select from a larger variety of text links and banners please visit our partners exchange page at:

We are limiting our site to a maximum of 100 partners so you can be sure you will have good visibility.

Once you have provided a link to our site simply fill in our automated web form on the page above and we will add your site to our directory.

Link Hunter

Now, let us look at this from a Link Hunter’s perspective. The deal is simple – they will send you a link and they are asking you to send a link back. So it must be a fair transaction.

So, why do so many people get annoyed when they get a link exchange request?

The answer is simply that the faulty assumption:

Similar actions will create a similar impact

This is an example of a seemingly win-win relationship which is mostly one-sided.

Depending on what their website is, the value of the link from them won’t be equal to the value of the link they are getting back although the actions are same – LINKING.

While the actions make it look like an equal transactions, the varying impact of these actions show that it is a totally unfair transaction.

Hence the problem.

Now, that was a link exchange scenario. So we can talk about it without any emotional attachment. But, unfortunately this happens all the time in real life too. IN the name of creating win-win relationships, people propose business arrangements that are equal in “action” but totally lopsided in “impact.” Then they wonder why people are not able to “get” it.

So, here is the final comment:

Even if you are not engaging in such practices, you should be alert to notice others who (knowingly or urn-knowingly) proposes lopsided “win-win” relationships.

Posted under Business Models, Compelling Offers.

The race is not complete if you don’t run the last mile…

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 18 Jan 2010, 12:10 AM – 4 Comments

I was at CES show a couple of weeks ago. The show was fascinating by all counts and in some ways it was overwhelming. The article is not about the show but I want to make a point based on a few incidents in and around the show.

First, at the show:

I visited many booths – domestic and international and was super impressed by what was in store. At one of the booths, a company from South Korea had an interesting technology that intrigued me. I wanted to learn more but unfortunately nobody there understood what I was asking. If they only had someone who was able to converse (the last mile) they would have gotten a lot out of the show.

Next, at the hotel:

Hari (founder and CEO of Jiffle) and I were staying at Excalibur and were checking out from the hotel at 5am. Hari decided to use the checkout option on the hotel TV. It took us through a series of steps and finally gave us a message that you can make use of “express checkout” on TV only between 6am to 11am.

lastly, at the check in counter at JetBlue:

We were early at the airport and the counter was not open. But the automated check-in option at the terminal was open. Hari and I were wondering how could the logistics work as we do need someone to pick up our bags after we complete the checkin procedures. But we wanted to go ahead and try it anyway.

The system took all our information and in the last screen printed a “Oops” ticket and asked us to take it to the counter and give it to an agent. Remember that the counter was not open.

No race is complete without running the last mile.

A time for you to revisit your own actions. The question to ask is:

Are you sure your helping your customers in the last mile?

Have a great day.

Posted under Business Models.

The “Free” Dilemma – Bits vs Atoms

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 12 Jan 2010, 12:10 AM – 11 Comments

Photo Courtesy: Julia Manzerova on Flickr

I have written about the power of “free” multiple times before. Here are are a few links:

1. The Business Case for Giving Away Your Best Work for Free

2. The Case for “Free” (Again!)

Every time I write about free, I get a few emails about the topic. Every email is different but at the heart of every email are a few things:

1. I like free. I believe in it. How will I make money if I give something for free?

2. I don’t have enough time to give things for free.

A blog post can’t do justice to properly respond to the “free” dilemma. However, if “free” is something that you want to experiment with ( I strongly advise you do ) then you should understand the one of the differences between atoms and bits.

  1. Atoms don’t scale. Bits do.
  2. Incremental cost of work by atoms won’t decrease with more work. Incremental cost of work by bits is almost zero.
  3. Atoms take up a lot of resources to work. Bits don’t.

Your “free” strategy should be mostly based on bits (of course, you require atoms to create those bits) if it has to scale. This means you have to create content that spreads without your ongoing effort to provide the fuel for the idea to spread.

  • Providing 1-1 free consulting is atom-based. Creating a free report on the top ten mistakes to avoid is bit-based.
  • Doing a free security audit is atom-based. Providing a free tool to a self-service audit is bit based.
  • Creating “office hours” is atom-based. Conducting a webinar and providing replays of the webinar is a hybrid model (first part is atom-based and subsequent replays are bit-based)

Use the atom-power to create remarkable bit-based free stuff that spreads :)

Posted under Business Models, Main Page.

The case for “Free” (again)

By Rajesh Setty on Sun 03 Jan 2010, 12:10 AM – 2 Comments

A few months ago, I wrote on the topic – “The Business Case for Giving Away Your Best Work For Free” at

My fascination with free started in early 2000s when I was leading an open source company. I continue to be amazed at the power of free.

I was checking the bestsellers on Kindle. Can you guess the price of each of the top ten books?

Zero. Zilch. Nothing.

The top selling book “The Crossroads Cafe” by Deborah Smith has been in the top 100 books for last 9 days. There are 40 customer reviews almost everyone of them have given a 5-Star rating for the book. Deborah has another book “Mossy Creek” on #3.

If that’s not enough, note that book #11 is Alex, I Cross by bestselling author James Patterson priced at $9.99.

Free an unfair competitive advantage on price. How can you compete with something that costs nothing?

By giving something even higher quality for nothing.

By giving your best work for free.

Think about how you can incorporate “Free” into your offerings.

Posted under Business Models.