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Keep Pulling The String
By Howard Mann | June 28, 2021

“All the roads you regret for not going to the end represent the alternative lives you have missed!” – Mehmet Murat ildan   As the perfectly bound book slid out of the envelope, I noticed the stamped silver foil name of the prestigious investment bank that had sent it to me on the cover. I […]

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He Who Pays, Says.
By Howard Mann | May 11, 2021

Over 25 years ago I was sitting in the office of the CEO of one of my clients and behind him was an embroidered pillow that simply said “He who pays, says.” I was reminded of that saying when, last week, entrepreneurial darlings Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson decided to make some sweeping cultural […]

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Business Survival and Revival
By Howard Mann | March 23, 2020

“Choices are the hinges of destiny.” – Edwin Markham   This current Coronavirus crisis is my fourth such recession/shock/crash I have been through in my career (Makes me feel a bit old writing that). Many people are correctly writing and speaking about how we will get through this together (We will) and how everything will […]

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Gag Me With Your BHAG
By Howard Mann | May 6, 2019

Business is supposed to be fun to run. This core truth has been the through-line for most of my work and career. Through the ups and downs of businesses I have run and for the many clients I have worked with. Just like in a marriage or relationship that has lost its fire, not feeling […]

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The High Value of (Faster) Answers
By Howard Mann | March 25, 2019

In the movie Molly’s Game the principal character, Molly, (Played by Jessica Chastain) was a hopeful Olympic mogul skier before she tripped on a stick during trials. Her life evolves (or devolves, depending on your point of view) to becoming the creator of a high stakes poker game for the rich and famous in LA and then […]

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“Hey, Dad? Want To Have A Catch?”​
By Howard Mann | December 21, 2018

The final scene of the movie Field of Dreams (1989 ) chokes me up no matter how many times I see it. You know the scene, Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) realizes all of his work has brought him face to face with his father when he was a young man (Brought back to life via the […]

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Believe. Innovate. Be Unique.
By Howard Mann | November 10, 2018

This was the first post I ever wrote for this blog back in 2005. Given all that is going on in the economy and in your business world I thought it was appropriate to publish it again. Now is the time to challenge your thinking, embrace a different…

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Don’t Boil Like A Frog
By Howard Mann | November 5, 2018

You probably know the fable of the boiling frog.  A frog dropped in boiling water will immediately leap out but if you put that same frog in cool water and sloooowly bring it to a boil it will stay in the water until it dies. I had two initial conversations with 2 established business owners […]

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Look Better Naked
By Howard Mann | October 29, 2018

Look Better Naked. “Look better naked” was the tagline for The David Barton Gym that opened in New York City over 20 years ago. It remains one of the best taglines I have ever come across.  It’s not great because it has some shock value.  It is great because every other gym in New York (If […]

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Go Slow To Go Fast
By Howard Mann | October 22, 2018

I never thought that I had any aerobic capacity. I have worked out with weights for years but had become convinced that I had smaller lungs or some other lie I told myself enough to believe it as truth. Last year, I decided to follow my own FYP advice and start running. For myself. At first, the […]

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Doing Harm To Your Business On Purpose
By Howard Mann | August 22, 2018

“Decisions. We can think about things, turn them over in our minds a million times, play out possible scenarios, but really when it comes down to it, you have to go with your heart and move forward. Maybe things will go well. Maybe they’ll turn out poorly. Every decision brings with it some good, some […]

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Reliably Attracting New Business – Part 1
By Howard Mann | July 30, 2018

Now that we have started to focus on getting our profit margins to the right levels, let’s discuss how you reliably attract the right business to engage with you (Next week we will talk about how to close/sign all the new business you will attract). It is 2018 and I doubt if most of you are […]

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Profit Matters
By Howard Mann | July 23, 2018

Last week, we talked about a more simple formula to reliably grow profit. This week, my temptation was to focus in on how to attract and sign new business. I bet it was what you would like to focus on too. Not yet. Once you get a reliable attract and sign system in place, nothing will do more harm than […]

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I Am The Luckiest Guy In The World
By Howard Mann | February 13, 2018

I have a son who has a generous heart, a gentle soul and a sense of humor that is wicked smart. He makes me smile with the type of smile that builds from deep inside like nothing else in my life. I get to live in, arguably, one of the greatest cities in the world and feel […]

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The Power & Glory Of Asking For Help
By Howard Mann | February 2, 2018

Everyone talks about doing the right things to minimize the risks of their business. But here is the problem, owning a business is risky. And the risks that become real are never the ones that we plan for. So, as they say, shit happens to business…

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Nobody Cares About Your Why
By Howard Mann | January 15, 2018

With apologies to Simon Sinek, nobody really cares about your “why.” They want you to care about theirs. Most every business I talk to has figured out their “why” (And cannot WAIT to tell me all about it), but they are no better, and usually worse, at clearly articulating why someone should buy their product or service. […]

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Your 36 Month Year
By Howard Mann | January 8, 2018

How would you run your business if your year was 36 months long instead of 12?  While you consider that question, let me explain why I am asking… Right now, you are thinking about the end of your business year. You are likely in a mad dash to make or break your Q4 numbers and your […]

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Why Business Owners Need a Player-Coach
By Howard Mann | October 12, 2017

What happens when a business owner wants more, is no longer having fun, and is feeling the truism of the phrase, “It???s lonely at the top???? If you dig under the rationalizations, excuses and other superficial factors, not enjoying their business an…

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Yes, You Should Dumb It Down
By Howard Mann | March 3, 2016

UPS has over 94,000 delivery vehicles, 282 airplanes (the 8th largest fleet in the world) and over 425,000 employees across the globe. Over the years they have developed one of the most sophisticated hand held devices ever devised. There are well …

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Burgers, Fries and Shakes
By Howard Mann | February 18, 2016

The Diner in my somewhat sleepy town is painfully empty. It is as painfully empty as most any store or restaurant you walk by these days. No doubt this change causes incredible stress to the owner of each business leaving them way too much time to…

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Panhandler Marketing Strategy
By Howard Mann | February 4, 2016

Panhandlers. Beggars. People who spend their days asking the age old question “Brother, can you spare a dime?” Every big (and some small) city has them and their approach is always the same… “Excuse the interruption. I lost my job, have no place…

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The Simplicity Of A Light Switch
By Howard Mann | December 17, 2015

Virtually every network we have, the water network, the telephone network and the electric power network has enormously complex components that are hidden from consumers. Consumers have rather simple devices that access these enormously complex ne…

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The Man In The Glass
By Howard Mann | October 17, 2013

When you get what you want in your struggles for selfAnd the world makes you king for a day,Just go to a mirror and look at yourselfAnd see what that man has to say. For it isn’t your father or mother or wifeWhose judgment upon you must pass,The f…

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Life Is Too Short To Be A Boring Company
By Howard Mann | November 8, 2012

Spotted this on the blog of Dustin Curtis and thought it was a great find. Despite Groupon getting clobbered in the public markets, the sentiment and approach to how they think about their business and the purpose they want it to serve is terrific…

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Innovating Around Your Customer Waiting Time?
By Howard Mann | August 30, 2012

I just finished re-reading Tom Kelley’s excellent book: “Ten Faces of Innovation.” It remains one of my favorite business reads. There is a section towards the end of the book that focuses on “the subject of waiting – an unavoidable element in mos…

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The Mind Of A Leader
By Howard Mann | July 25, 2012

The mind of a leader must be free???a mind that can dream and imagine. All new things were born in dreams. A leader must have the courage to be a nonconformist, just like a scientist. He must dream, even if he dreams alone or if people laugh at him….

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Seek Defining Moments
By Howard Mann | June 23, 2012

“Instead of setting goals, seek defining moments. Those are the real tests, because you have to be willing to fail in a pressure situation in front of other people. That fear holds all of us back, and that’s the toughest thing about aging. With ag…

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Connected?
By Howard Mann | April 23, 2012

The longer (“Extended mix”) of the piece I wrote for Seth Godin’s ebook – “What Matters Now” There are thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of businesses making many millions a year in profits that have still never heard of twitter, a blog o…

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Double Down or Batten Down?
By Howard Mann | January 31, 2012

To read the papers, blogs and listen to TV news is to get lost in a sea of contradictions. “Now is the time to double down!” some will say as they name the great businesses that were born in past turbulent times. “Batten down the hatches!” others …

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Mr. Ford and Mr. Jobs
By Howard Mann | January 18, 2012

???If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.??? – Henry Ford With respect to Mr. Ford, I don’t think he asked the right question. How can you properly evolve your company and innovate with value if you have no idea wh…

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Greatness and Uniqueness Are Symbiotic
By Howard Mann | January 10, 2012

A pre-requisite for a course I was involved with is the Kolbe “A” Index test that reveals one’s instinctual abilities. From the site… “What people can do usually has little in common with what they actually end up doing. The reason? People have …

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Here. Forward.
By Howard Mann | December 12, 2011

Many clients I talk to are apprehensive about how to approach 2012. I have two words of advice: Here. Forward. It???s only natural: how we view our past experiences shapes how we tackle future opportunities. We can???t help being informed by the past….

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Most Entrepreneurs, Aren’t.
By Howard Mann | October 25, 2011

I hate it when people call themselves ???entrepreneurs??? when what they???re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so the can cash in and move on. They???re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is…

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Democracy Is Overrated
By Howard Mann | September 17, 2011

Group think and getting everyone to have their input is all well and good. But at some point the debate has to be over and decisions have to be made. And they do not have to be popular to be right. Seems obvious when you read it but how many leade…

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The Basics. Always.
By Howard Mann | August 26, 2011

The current economic situation sees a lot of people talking about the power of returning to the basics. (Hooo….rayyy!) Get inspired to do it yourself by reading the posts linked below and then set aside a few hours (or a day) and figure out what…

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Beat “Business Bonk”
By Howard Mann | August 24, 2011

The constant refrain I hear from almost every business owner I meet is “Get us to the next level.” Ah.. the illusive “Next Level” and the very real feeling of stuck. What it means is different for every business but many of the factors that block …

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Purpose Powers Scale
By Howard Mann | August 18, 2011

While up in Portland Maine not too long ago I had dinner at The Flatbread Company. In addition to truly amazing pizza, I noticed a great sign hanging over the bar: Flatbread Company is growing. Are more restaurants bad? Not if we follow our purpos…

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10 Perfect Touch Points
By Howard Mann | August 5, 2011

Customer touch points. It is a concept that is often mentioned but rarely focused on as an opportunity for persistent innovation and impact. Trying to consider the big question of “How do I improve our customer service/experience” winds up being t…

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What Is Your Business For?
By Howard Mann | August 2, 2011

You may disagree but I don???t think you really get to understand your business till you know EXACTLY WHY you???re doing it. Knowing why is harder than it looks. Learning is expensive. Making innovation work to grow your cash account comes from this e…

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The Lost Cachet of Air Travel
By Howard Mann |

Do you remember when flying on a big airliner (and with a major airline) was exciting?Only 10 years ago I was a very loyal United fan. I told everyone how much I enjoyed flying them, my frequent flier points often bumped me to business class and I…

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Not Everything Should Be Shared
By Howard Mann | July 19, 2011

Love this quote from Ari Emanuel answering a Q&A about how he could not be on social media sites: I don’t need your influence. I don’t want your information, so you don’t get mine. Not everything should be shared. If somebody wants to share their …

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Are You Fascinated By Your Clients?
By Howard Mann | July 12, 2011

From Tim Sanders “The Likeability Factor.” In it, he paraphrases a line from Dale Carnegie’s “How To Make Friends and Influence People”… “You will win more friends in the next 2 months developing a sincere interest in 2 people than you will ever…

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What if the sales process was fun for everyone?
By Howard Mann | July 7, 2011

Almost every business I have come across sells in a similar way. Call, meeting, live presentation, written proposal, negotiate and… pray. It’s a tedious and painful process I am certainly guilty of trying to follow the same path. Boy does it suc…

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Business Should Be Fun to Run
By Howard Mann | July 6, 2011

Business is supposed to be fun to run. It felt that way when you got started, right? But somewhere along the way, stress and complexity buried all the fun. Getting through the day became the focus in- stead of realizing your business???s true potent…

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Don’t Sell. Inspire!
By Howard Mann | June 21, 2011

The imagery is great but the copy is incredible: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect fo…

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Buy The Premise….Buy The Bit
By Howard Mann | June 14, 2011

The late, great Johnny Carson once said about comedy… “If you buy the premise..you buy the bit.” It seems to me that when you dig all the way down, so much of the discussion on sales, marketing, buzz, tipping points, etc.. come down to figuring …

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You Are Not Groupon. Phew!
By Howard Mann | June 3, 2011

There is much buzz, chatter and opionion over the announcement of Groupon going public (And this smart post from David Heinemeier Hansson should tell you why it is not as rosy as it seems). Much the same as so many that ogled over the previous dis…

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Perfection = Nothing Left To Take Away
By Howard Mann | April 5, 2011

“Have you ever thought, not only about the airplane but about whatever man builds, that all of man’s industrial efforts, all his computations and calculations, all the nights spent working over drafts and blueprints, invariably culminate in the pr…

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Shorter Lines – Disney Style
By Howard Mann | December 28, 2010

Compelling story in the NY Times about the focus Disney places on decreasing the amount of time their theme park customers wait in line (And the better experience they create while they are on line). For every business that have customers wait on …

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Too much of X and not enough of Y
By Howard Mann | December 8, 2010

In this great talk by, my hero, Tom Peters he references the book Enough. by John Bogle and says that you need only read the table of contents to get the (powerful) message about the times we live in. I say, totally true. I have posted it below. S…

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Complaining Has Become Too Easy
By Howard Mann | December 7, 2010

Complaining is easy. In the end, it only provides some temporary relief from frustration. Figuring out and executing a smart solution is the hard part. One shouldn’t come without the other. I worked with a company a few years back whose President …

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Don’t Let Them Put Your Business In a “Bucket”
By Howard Mann | December 4, 2010

We all seek to find powerful ways to differentiate our companies. We search for new ways to market, new strategies and the big new idea that will give power to our claim that our business is truly unique. We may be missing the most important road …

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Dear Business Book Authors and Publishers
By Howard Mann | November 28, 2010

We all have stacks of business books on our nightstands. We rarely read them and finish less. Why? 1) You can get the whole idea of the book in the first 25-30 pages but you insist on writing 300 pages more 2) You focus so much on the idea that yo…

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People Just Don’t Read Anymore
By Howard Mann | November 23, 2010

Is this twitter, digital, frenetic short attention span world. Nobody will take the time to read anymore. I have said something similar a bunch of times in the last month. And, in many ways, it is true. But do you know what people are reading and …

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How Innovators Keep Winning
By Howard Mann | November 15, 2010

Booz & Co. is out with their annual study on the top R&D spenders and it shows why innovative companies consistently outperform their peers. You can download the study here: An excerpt – The three types of organizations that consistently excel: Ne…

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Wall Street Journal Headcuts
By Howard Mann | November 10, 2010

If you have ever noticed the unique headshot drawings that are a staple of the Wall Street Journal you may have guessed they are done with a computer or special Photoshop filter. Nope. Each one is drawn by hand taking from 2-5 hours each. Artisan.

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Ralph Lauren 4D Light Show
By Howard Mann |

To celebrate its 10th year of e-commerce success, Ralph Lauren is launching a 4D light show at their flagship stores in London and New York. All produced by Netherlands based projection wizards, NuFormer. Here is a behind the scenes video of how i…

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It’s What They Hear
By Howard Mann | October 21, 2010

???It???s not what you say; it???s what they hear,???- Red Auerbach

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Mrs. Fine
By Howard Mann | October 14, 2010

My wife, a 5th grade school teacher, taught me about Mrs. Fine a number of years ago. There are always a number of kids in her class that, when asked how they are, always say “fine.” It does not matter the day, week or month or if they just had an…

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Begin by Beginning
By Howard Mann | October 7, 2010

Ideas pouring in from every direction, internal/external problems to solve, the drive home filled with ideas/plans and a continual burning sensation that you should be doing more things to grow the business. Every business owner (including me), at…

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Bring The Champagne
By Howard Mann | September 16, 2010

“The secret is respecting the consumer.You are interrupting their life. All advertising is unwanted, so if you’re going to crash the party, bring some champagne with you.” Bob Thacker, senior VP-marketing and advertising at OfficeMax

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Your “Perfect Basic”
By Howard Mann | September 9, 2010

Do AT&T executives experience dropped calls when they use their cell phones? Do travel agency execs ever try to book their own tickets online? Do Doctors go to a Doctor, wait in the waiting room for 30 minutes to receive 5 minutes of medical atten…

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What Is The Personality Of Your Business?
By Howard Mann | September 8, 2010

Great businesses should posses the qualities/attributes of a great person. The kind of person that you want to be around. Everyone knows a person like that (I hope) but do you know a Company like that? Is it your own? People are intrigued and attr…

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The Secret of Marketing
By Howard Mann | August 18, 2010

Persistence. There, I just saved you months of marketing book reading and countless dollars as you burn through another group of marketing agencies that claim to have the next “secret sauce.” Sure, you need to have a message that is rooted in a co…

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Edit and Amplify
By Howard Mann | August 12, 2010

Loved this piece by Ellen McGirt on Nike CEO Mark Parker. It warms my heart to see a CEO of a giant corporation that balances the left brain AND the right. This bit summed that up nicely: He repeats a mantra I hear early and often: Edit and amplif…

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Simple Is Clever
By Howard Mann | July 22, 2010

When it comes to marketing and messaging, why do we equate complicated with clever? All too often, taglines and communication messages have been analyzed and tinkered with so much that they could not possible be understood in the mere seconds when…

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All Gas…No Brakes
By Howard Mann | July 15, 2010

Two of my favorite sayings: “Big hat, big boots… No cattle” and the similar… “All smoke…No roast” It occurs to me that too many businesses suffer from my own variation: “All Gas… No brakes” The hurry to reach what realistically should be t…

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Purpose Worksheet
By Howard Mann |

Many thanks to all that attended my Executive Session at the CUNA 1 World Conference in Las Vegas earlier this week (and for getting up so early to do it). As promised, below is a link to download extra copies of the worksheet we used during the w…

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An Uncommon Interview by A Smart Bear
By Howard Mann | July 13, 2010

Jason Cohen was kind enough to ask if I wanted to take part in his smart “Uncommon Interview” series for his blog. He asked great questions and I hope my answers did them justice. Please stop by his site and read the interview. I hope it helps spa…

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It’s All Unimportant Until It’s You
By Howard Mann | July 9, 2010

I met with a client a few weeks ago and got into a debate about what it was like to be a client of their firm. As I kept banging my head up against their story… I persuaded them to humor me and try something new…. I asked the President of the …

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Keep Calm and Carry On
By Howard Mann | June 29, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 to raise morale during Word War 2. It regained popularity in recent years but was never used for its original purpose. The phrase jumped into my head after hearing one …

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Michael Jordan “Failure” Nike Commercial
By Howard Mann | June 18, 2010

(via @bfeld)

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The Man In The Arena
By Howard Mann | May 21, 2010

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…

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On Big Ideas And Being Uncomfortable
By Howard Mann | May 18, 2010

Found this great gem buried in the back of “Buzzmarketing:Get People to Talk About Your Stuff” by Mark Hughes. “Rule number one is, if you want big ideas, be prepared to be uncomfortable. Big ideas will always make you uncomfortable in some respec…

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Miles Nadal’s 6 Rules of Partnership
By Howard Mann | May 14, 2010

So many mergers and acquisitions fail that I am surprised how so many look for it as the path to growth. One of the biggest reasons they fail is that the people involved did not figure out if they could work together well after the “marriage” was …

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Rise To The Top – Video Interview
By Howard Mann | May 7, 2010

David Garland understands the basics of doing an interview. After you watch this, do yourself a favor and go check out David’s site for more of his RISE interviews. Thanks David!

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5 Ways To Get Paid Faster
By Howard Mann | April 16, 2010

We have been here before. Economic downturns are not new, or, for this one, even that old. And while what we now face may be more severe, the reactions and behaviors of businesses feel all too familiar. One of the most insidious by-products of tim…

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Paul Rand on Logos
By Howard Mann | April 14, 2010

I stumbled on to the web site for Uber designer Paul Rand the other day. Many amazing articles and I highly recommend the visit (Click here to visit the home page). I thought this excerpt from an article entitled “Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons” wa…

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A Phrase To Lose Forever
By Howard Mann | April 10, 2010

“That won’t work in our industry” The biggest road block to breaking free from the gravity of past habits (yours AND your competitors) is to conclude that any new idea won’t work without running through a quick gauntlet. Simply exhaust a discussio…

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Is Your Brochure An Interesting Read?
By Howard Mann | March 29, 2010

I recently received a catalog from Zingerman’s market in Michigan. They are renowned for their customer service… they teach courses on it and released a book about it. What they also get right is making their marketing literature a fun and engag…

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Find Your True Story
By Howard Mann | February 12, 2010

There is a lot of talk about businesses discovering their ???story.??? What I don???t hear much about is how to decipher your true story from your false story. When I say ???false story,??? I am talking about the lies and rationalizations we tell ourselves …

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What Matters Now. A free eBook from Seth Godin
By Howard Mann | January 8, 2010

“What Matters Now” is an e-book that was created and curated by Seth Godin as he invited writers, bloggers, thinkers and doers to contribute 20-200 words about what they were thinking about as we head into 2010.I was honored to have been asked to …

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Consumers Communications Bill Of Rights
By Howard Mann | November 28, 2009

Spotted an article in Crain’s NY (Free reg. required) highlighted the new hiring spree going on at many of New York’s advertising agencies. What really caught my eye was the image associated with the article. It lists Wunderman’s top five “Communi…

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Lose Your Story
By Howard Mann | November 20, 2009

Everyone has a “story.” I am not talking about telling your story or telling a story. When I say “story” I am talking about the lies and rationalizations we tell ourselves that prove ourselves right or wrong about things that happen to us in life….

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Is Your Web Site Alive or Dead?
By Howard Mann | November 18, 2009

Good morning everyone and thank you for coming today, Today is a big day in the evolution of blogs as a communication tool for every business in the world. Ironically, today I am here to announce the death of Blogs. (pause for audience gasp) It’s …

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Eject From Your Desk
By Howard Mann | November 12, 2009

Ever notice How great things happen every time you peel yourself away from your desk and meet with clients, prospects or partners? But how often do you feel able to do it? Like many business owners, my office has become a place to push paper and, …

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Tom Peters “Cool Friend” Interview
By Howard Mann | September 9, 2009

I was honored to be selected as a “Cool Friend” by TomPeters.com. Really happy with how the interview turned out. Hope you enjoy the read. Howard Mann – “Cool Friend” Interview – TomPeters.com

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Tell Them How It’s Made And Add Real Value
By Howard Mann | August 1, 2009

A while ago I wrote about the impact an organization can make when they take the time to show the audience how something is made. We often forget all the work and thinking that goes into the products that we take for granted. (Original article is …

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Singles and Doubles
By Howard Mann | March 9, 2009

Profitable Growth is Everyone’s Business, a great book written by Ram Charan, has a key section that gives a fitting name to the best business building strategy I know. It has become a mantra we continually preach to our clients and is at the core…

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Lose Your Nemesis
By Howard Mann | March 5, 2009

I have been fiddling around with something I call my “Nemesis Theory” for a few years now. The more business owners I work with, the more it seems to be a key impediment to getting to their unique truths, creativity and power. I believe that every…

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ALL First Impressions Count
By Howard Mann | February 4, 2009

The always great 37Signals Blog points to an interview with John Gruber. In it, Mr. Gruber mentions the importance that Steve Jobs(Mac) places on the first start up experience a user has with their operating system: In particular… Your first-run…

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Innovation Doesn’t Have to Be Sexy
By Howard Mann | January 23, 2009

This great post from Hugh about his current work and thinking about Dell Computers reminded me of the below post I wrote back in 2005. Despite their new challenges, I still find it relevant to their future (and every business). The deeper I go int…

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Waiting In Line
By Howard Mann | January 14, 2009

This post from Seth Godin got me thinking about all the bad things that come from waiting in line. My local Citibank has 12 teller windows. I have never been there when more than 3 had tellers were behind them. I have never been there when there w…

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Create Your 1 Page Dashboard
By Howard Mann | December 4, 2008

“Power is nothing without control??? That declaration from Pirelli may be my all-time favorite advertising tagline. It was a hit for Pirelli???s high performance tires years ago but comes into my mind in so many diverse situations. Businesses that…

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