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December 2007
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June 2008

Are Your Ideas Sticky?

What a fabulous experience it was to hear Chip Heath, Stanford University Business School Professor and best-selling coauthor of Made to Stick speak at the NSA Speaker Palooza recently in San Francisco. Here's a summary of his valuable message.

What makes ideas stick? Think of John F. Kennedy's vision in 1961 for the United States to "put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth before the end of the decade." This idea stuck and mobilized a nation. It embodied the six SUCCESS concepts:

SIMPLE. If you say ten things you say nothing. Have a high concept message. You know it's simple if it affects decisions.
UNEXPECTED. Be surprising. Get attention by breaking a pattern. Find a well accepted pattern and then break it.
CONCRETE. Find and use a concrete description. Which of the following introductions on the online dating service would stick with you? "Hey, are you looking for love?" or "Hand model turned doctor new to NYC." Most of the 1000 introductions Heath studied looked like the first example, yet the second statement is more concrete and descriptive.
CREDIBLE. Cite facts, testable credentials, and authorities. Consider the 1980 presidential election debate where Ronald Reagan closed with this statement, "Ask yourself, 'Am I better off today than I was four years ago?' If no, I would like to be your president." This statement allowed YOU to test it yourself and be the credible source. Find and use a testable credential.
EMOTIONAL. Emotion is the means to get people to care. For example, a public service campaign in Texas sought to decrease litter especially from 18-to-30-year-old truck driving males (referred to as Bubba). Rather than the standard "Give a hoot, don't pollute" message from an owl  (which Bubba likes to shoot) or "Fines for roadside litter start at $500," the successful campaign tapped into Texans' patriotic identity and the notion that you "Don't MESS with Texas." Litter dropped 73% in five years. Most important decisions such as patriotism, religion, and beliefs involve identity. Find and communicate the right identity.
STORIES. Stories are portable across time and borders. Spin in your own mind a springboard story. Find and use stories.

What is standing in the way of stickiness? The curse of knowledge. Drop complexity and abstraction. Instead use messages that are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and have stories. So Passionate Pursuers, make your ideas STICKY!

by Theresa M. Szczurek (


Increasingly companies are investigating how to decrease their costs by moving operations to India. At the same time, companies would like to bring their products to the 1B+ people in India of which 450M are in the growing middle class.  How?  'India is worth pursuing and yet it is not easy,' says Boli  Medappa, principal of India360 (, a consultancy that helps firms successfully do business with India.  Boli, a seasoned executive with extensive experience creating and managing businesses in India, the US and Europe, shared her wisdom on Wednesday May 21, 2008 with a group of Boulder, CO business people who graduated from top MBA schools.

There is great opportunity in India and that is why over 125 of the Fortune 500 firms are operating in India.  The top biotech, pharmaceutical, telecom, and information technology firms from Oracle to GE to Merck have operations.  Should your firm be there too?  Perhaps, but don't try to go on your own. There are many challenges in operating in India including:  lack of infrastructure -- not enough power, roads, or airports, political instability, corruption, regulation, and more.   

Here are Boli's Seven Steps to Successfully Doing Business in India:

1.  Conduct intensive due diligence.
2.  Influence regulatory change.
3.  Choose your states wisely.
4.  Manage corruption.  Say NO and make sure your choose partners who will do likewise.
5.  Understand the antiquated labor laws.
6.  Opt for neutral country arbitration.
7.  Engage qualified lawyers, accountants, and consultants. 

Even though I have extensive global experience having previously managed an AT&T International  division offering customer premises equipment in dozens of countries, I recommend you get sage advice so that the value proposition will more likely be sustainable.  Here's what I learned -- contact Boli!

by Theresa M. Szczurek (

How Do You Keep the Passion Burning for Your Work?

Tim Miller, CEO of Rally Software Development (, and I were having breakfast today at the The Kitchen in Boulder, CO. In answer to the question posed in the title, Tim thoughtfully replied, "Feedback is key. There is a psychology of numbers."

By regularly reviewing key metrics or 'smart numbers,' Tim and his growing team have a way to recognize progress. This progress fuels their pursuit. And it is paying off — Rally Software Development has been growing 40% quarter over quarter for the last several quarters and is hiring 25 employees each quarter to support that growth.

What are the key metrics that reveal if you’re making progress? For one organization the key performance indicator might be revenues. For another it might be meeting a certain level of customer satisfaction. For another it could involve doing meaningful work in line with its mission. Every person is different, as is every organization. The important thing is to know your organizational and your personal metrics and to track them regularly.

Consistent with Kenneth Thomas' work on Intrinsic Motivation, there are at least four intrinsic rewards that ignite internal enthusiasm or passion — a sense of meaningfulness, choice, competency, and progress. These coincide with the four-stage process of pursuing passionate purpose.

Take the "Progress Inventory" in Chapter 6 of the book Pursuit of Passionate Purpose and see how you’re doing. You can also view this Progress Inventory online.

by Theresa M. Szczurek (

What Can You Celebrate?

To celebrate means to commemorate with appropriate rites and ceremonies, honor, make known publicly, proclaim, rejoice, and make merry. This sounds great in theory.

Yet too often even when you have made significant forward movement or succeeded, there is a tendency to focus on what you still need to do or the next goal. Appreciate the progress you've made in your pursuits and the people who have supported you. Otherwise, you may lose a great opportunity to replenish, reenergize, and reaffirm the purpose toward which you and the people around you are working.


Frasier Meadows Retirement Community was doing pretty well. Their 285 residents seemed content and there was a long list of people waiting to move in. Yet the board had a passion for aspiring to greater excellence. That passion was aligned with the meaningful purpose of becoming accredited.

The Frasier Meadows leaders took action. Then the staff and residents mobilized and pursued this purpose with zeal. In less than 18 months, Frasier Meadows became one of only two continuing care facilities in Colorado to be accredited. This is significant. But they didn't stop there!

Now they're going to celebrate their success by holding a big party for residents and family, staff, prospective residents, and the greater community. On May 1st, the community will gather to hear their story, thank all those who contributed, tour the facility, eat great food, and take pride in this accomplishment.

This party gives Frasier Meadows the opportunity to ignite the fire for even greater achievement over the next five years as their accreditation journey continues. What a CELEBRATION!


Have you established a way to personally reward yourself for completion of your important goals? After an intense year in 2007 where I averaged 70 hours a week of work, I cried 'enough is enough.'

I decided with the New Year to reward and celebrate. Besides easing my work schedule for awhile to have more time with my family and enjoy precious moments with my 11-year-old daughter, I did something I hadn't done for 13 years — I booked a scuba diving trip with Nancy, one of my special friends. No cell phone. No computer. No voice mail. Instead, I dove to colorful depths in the Caribbean sapphire water and merged with nature. Ahh!

What are YOU doing to celebrate YOUR progress?


REAFFIRM the value in appreciating progress and smooth going.
REWARD your progress. Determine ways to justly remunerate yourself.
APPRECIATE fellow beings, spiritual forces, and yourself — all those who helped you achieve progress.
BE CREATIVE and acknowledge progress in a variety of ways.
CELEBRATE every success and turn failure into opportunities. Be your own scorekeeper and cheerleader.

by Theresa M. Szczurek (