SXSWi2009: Change your World in 50 Minutes: Making Breakthroughs Happen

Presenter: Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users

started off by playing a music video … I should probably know these guys … I’m hearing the sound guy say “she just wanted to play this video for walk-in music.” cool.

There’s a huge wall between you and your goal. This is for times when incremental changes don’t work.

Incremental can = an arms race – quality race or features race.

What’s stopping us from kicking ass?
– are your users stuck in P mode (like an SLR camera)?

People don’t want to upgrade …

Anyone can compete.

How to know someone:
– ipod playlist
– flight vs invisibility – which one? We had to choose one and chat about it with the person beside us

Ask: what superpower do we give our users?
– hugely important question
– ie., auto-correct spelling man – not a superpower

Productivity man – it’s a superpower, but looks about as exciting as broccholi “because it’s good for you”

14 more ways to make breakthroughs:

– superset game. ask “what is the bigger thing are these things a part of” when you want to go after something. Can be a lot more interesting and helps you make the bigger jump

– or what cooler thing is my thing a part of. ie – blogging about your company – not cool.

– Outliers thing – 10,000 hours. That’s not acceptable for Kathy, because she’s older. How do you shrink this?

– there are patterns and shortcuts – so learn the patterns. Also shorten the duration.

– Example – how does she get 10,000 hours in with horse riding? She has a work desk with a horse-shaped saddle seat. It’s better for her back, and she’s getting in more hours when she’s not really riding. Nice. (looked sorta funny though)

Kicking ass – 1000 hours of practice.

After 1-2 years, experience is a poor predictor of success – some people do that 1st year for 10 years.

To get better, work on your strengths instead of their weaknesses.

Do deliberate practice of the right things.

5. Make the right things easy and the wrong things hard.

make it easier for users to have a breakthrough than to stay where they are

treadmill gathering cobwebs? It’s not in the corner because you don’t use it … you don’t use it because it’s in the corner. Remove all your chairs in front of the TV, and replace it with that excersize machine.

6. Get better gear (and offer it).

She’s showing a pricey saddle she bought. Her ability made a huge jump – the saddle probably helped.

You sometimes have to convince others of this though… ie., you think you need more monitors and they will make you a better hacker. Your boss thinks – it will make you be a better gamer.

So find, make, and offer higher-end gear that bumps users to a new level.

7. ignore standard limitations

– think clueless. Kathy and her husband were fired from their tech jobs, so they decided to write a book – and make it print-ready. People were saying “you can’t do this” with their headstart books – and they were successful … and stupid. Because they didn’t know what they were doing.

8. total immersion jams.

16 hours over two days vs 16 hours over two months. If you stretch it out, you might not improve.

ABC – Always Be Closing. Gave some examples of groups that get together with a challenge, like writing songs – the main goal? By the end of the time-limit, you HAVE to have a song done, no matter how it is.

(me – this is like the nanowrimo thing or the videoblogger’s weeks and months I’ve participated in – practice makes perfect (or at least improved))

Less Camp, More Jam. Don’t just talk – actually go do stuff.

9. change your perspective.

don’t make a better x, make a better user of x – ie., don’t make a better software developer book. Make a better programmer instead. Nice.

10. ? Missed it …

Who are your users, who’s your tech support (Aragorn or Jabba the Hut)

Your company is to your user as blank is to Frodo

What movie are your users in? (this was an exercise). What movie do they want to be in? … and don’t forget the soundtack.

11. don’t ask your users.

If you want to make breakthroughs, don’t ask your users.

Hugh Macleod’s new book – Ignore Everybody.

Listening to users – what they way vs what they really want

asking users gets you to consensus – you’ll get incremental change – not a breakthrough

Breakthrough – ask other people’s users.

12. Be Brave.

She stopped giving talks at microsoft because there was no bravery there.

13? Death by risk aversion – you got scared, and lost your big idea.

Ease-of-use police stop in, and we end up giving our users less than the big idea.

14. Rethink deadness. Henry Ford said – his users wanted faster horses … so he didn’t ask his users.

Re-examine stuff you sent to the deadpool. ie., $40 billion horse industry (even though the horse is obsolete)

So look at those things and see if they can have a new life.

14. (yes, 14 again). Change the EQ.

Move the slider.

With the headfirst books, they didn’t push around incremental sliders Instead, they added new sliders.

She’s inviting Gary Vaynerchuk on stage again … she did the same thing last year.

She’s asking – what did Gary do?

What did Gary add to the sliders? Gary says he talks about wine from the heart – no other people do that. Gary made wine fun. Gary was confident enough to talk about what HE thought wine tasted like, and shared that.

So – figure out what new labels and sliders you want… – silly website.

A blog about people who mis-use the word “literally”

The blog of “unessessary” quote marks

16. Be Amazed.

Played a funny clip of a Conan interview of a guy who was giving a different perspective on flying (ie., it’s amazing!). So switch that outlook!

SXSWi2009: Presenting Straight to the Brain

Jared Goralnick, Productivity Evangelist, AwayFind
Cliff Atkinson, BBP Media
Craig Ball, Pres, Craig D Ball PC
Kathy Sierra, CreatingPassionateUsers

#brain is the hashtag

Jared says:
– we’re distracted
– engage your audience
– introducing the panelists

Cliff says:
– no research that says what we’re doing with presentation software is the best way to learn and communicate
– talking about research that shows stuff in presentations like charts, bullet point words, etc don’t really work
– we have an “eye of the needle” task in presenting – we have a lot of info we want to share, and our audience’s limits of short-term memory
– sync the two channels – visual and aural
– guide attention – show and say what we want our audience to pay attention to
– we’re shifting from looking at presentations as a sheet of paper to more of a filmstrp approach with a beginning, middle and end

Kathy Sierra says:
– your brain and mind are in an epic battle
– the brain’s spam filter – we can’t tune it very well
– the brain cares about chemistry – stuff that sends a little chemical signal
– novel, strange, or a little weird get noticed. stuff that stands out (a purple duck in a sea of yellow ducks)
– thrilling, exciting, scary, innocent and might need help
– sense of joy
– faces – real, drawn, etc
– brains love to resolve things and fill things in

The brain does not care about:
– tablet PCs, code
– cheap trick vs useful tool (putting cool face with code) – makes people think about their girlfriend, and not the code
– talk to the brain, not to the mind (her main point)

Craig Ball says:
– he’s been a trial lawyer
– talking about juror retention. ear input only, not so hot. eye also was better. hearing & seeing – bingo!
– showing how he pulled the imprtant stuff out of boring documents
– uses Ken Burns effect sith backgrounds of slides
– he actually took parts and pieces of a photo out, then put them back in using the animation feature of powerpoint (that almost no one uses)
– showing how he uses those animation techniques to introduce complex ideas to people

What’s the biggest mistake people make?
– Cliff – using the screen as speaker notes. Instead, use the screen as visual cues
– Kathy – showing a slide of a brochure vs an instruction manual. Don’t teach about the tool. Instead, teach about what people want to DO with the tool.
– think more like a marketer
– Craig – when you talk AND put text on the screen at the same time, you’re forcing people to make a choice, and you wil lose

Lightning talk format or going through lots of slides quickly – is this helpful?
– Kathy – that’s not the important question – it’s a technique. The better question is what is it that happens between your ears when you present?

Visual persuasion tips?
Craig – go to my website, I’ve written lots aobut it

When is it appropriate to use bullet points?
– Cliff – that’s a loaded question.
– our culture is stuck in a bullet point mindset …
– when is it appropriate to put bulletpoints in a filmstrip? Never. Does anyone ever put up the script in a film? No.
– instead, think story with a beginning, middle and end.
– Kathy – she sometimes uses bulletpoints. Sometimes you just want to show a collection of stuff
– Craig – it depends. But don’t read the bulletpoints to people.
– if the bulletpoint has to wrap, it’s a bad sentence – change it.
– is there a better way to present it? Then use that instead of a bulletpoint

How can we present so that we don’t leave just with a good reaction, but with good stuff to take away?
– Kathy – orientation is everything – how you view the audience and your role to the audience is everything.
– in a panel on doing better presentations – that’s the wrong focus. Instead, we need to focus on what YOU do.
– Focus on how to make individuals int he audience do whatever they do better.
– Cliff – like a modern website – focus on the user!

Backchannel thing – how does that affect people’s ability to retain info?
– Craig – he knows he has failed his audience when his lawyers go into “blackberry prayer” mode.
– Cliff – it depends. If you use it as a note-taking device, that’s cool. Audiences don’t put up with bad presentations anymore. We can now hear when we’re off the mark.
– Kathy – not that important of a question. She trusts that we’ll do whatever we need to do. If the presenter has done their job, it’s ok.

end stuff:
– powerpoint is a lousy word processor
– never use a template!
– tap into popular culture

– use puppies.
– ask this for each slide: does it have a pulse? Is it begging to be there?

– … read his book.

Q: she works at NIH – there’s an expectation for slides to be … boring. What to do?
A: Cliff – powerpoint culture – it’s strong in research organizations. So start by educating people that what they’re doing is not based in research
A: Kathy: Include both, switch back and forth.

Q: Varying education levels, lots of computer-based training. Not sure if she’s engaging them… what to do?
A: Cliff – how people learn is the same in live and online training. So use the same types of concepts.

Q: he presents to executives – they interrupt a lot – what to do? and his presentations need to be portable – how to do it when there’s no voiceover?
A: Cliff – include text notes in with the slide in a handout, pdf format – works both live and later.
Cliff – on the first part of the question – open slides up to dialogue – prompt the conversation so they feel like they can talk without interrupting.
A: Craig – record your presentation while you’re doing it – then you have the audio too.

SXSWi2009: Video Blogging: Turning Wine into Gold

Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV), someone else who is interviewing him – can’t read the name…

Gary turned 30, realized there was alot more that he wanted to do. He watched ZeFrank’s videos and some others, and thought “I can do that.”

Claims it’s hard being an extreme extrovert. But you have to be who you are.

Gary has a new book coming out  it’s about “business.”

You can be an expert in social media marketing. But if your product’s terrible, it won’t help.

If you’re a jerk, your intern is flip-camming you

Don’t email Gary about camera or lighting. The content is king – not the tools.

When Gary started, he went to every single wine blog and left comments with links back to his blog.

You have to find your audience – not by pitching them, but by sharing & joining in the community

How funny – Gary grew up around wine tasting and wondered why people weren’t saying “this wine tastes like Big League Chew?” So he started doing that with his blog.

You can only live your life once. Gary wants to do it 100% happy. No reason not to make yourself as happy as possible.

None of this works if you live for weekends and vacations. He didn’t touch on this much, but – this is a HUGE point. Thanks for saying this!

(fyi – this is a Q&A session now). How do you deal with being “known?” Ask yourself “who am I” – if you don’t want people to know that, then you need to stop.

When did you start making money with video? He makes money becuase people know him. He got his book gig because people know him … etc.

Wow. he reads over 1000 emails a day! It’s his job.

Too many people don’t make decisions to survive – you have to decide to run your business like a business.

People who are unfocused – stay unfocused, but do that stuff really well.

Never wait for something to happen – go get it instead

Being successful – part of it is just keeping on doing it – outlast the competition

Delegate everything except what you love

Gary’s goal – owning the Jets.

Q – how do you “get in the zone?” Gary – “I’m there when I wake up every day.”

(aside – you REALLY have to be here – Gary is hilarious!)

Numbers/followers don’t mean anything. What matters are the people who CARE.

Puting out your content is only the FIRST thing to do – you have to do lots of work after that, too

And a couple other quotes/questions that I didn’t get…

SXSWi2009: From Flickr and Beyond: Lessons in Community Management

Panelists: Heather Champ – flickr, Mario Anima – CurrentTV, Matthew Stinchcomb – Etsy, Jessamyn West – MetaFilter (aside – LIBRARIANS ROCK), and Micah Schaffer – YouTube

Excellent – Jessamyn introduced the Metafilter part of her jobs, then mentioned I’m a public librarian in my day job. Awesomeness.

Metafilter didn’t have moderation for about the first 5 years. Started out as some dude’s blog, and grew from there. They recently added flagging, to mark content as breaking the guidelines.

Youtube – harder to perceive trends as they grew. They’re figuring out how to do it by slicing metrics in different ways

Etsy – Challenge – how to grow big but to stay small at the same time. A goal – make sre they’re having a dialogue. Have to remember the community is king before they do anything.

CurrentTV – they have different types of communities, ie., viewers and producers – they have to balance that.

They all mentioned mean names their communities have called them at times.

The YouTube guy – probably speaking the truth about YouTUbe – but he’s talking about bikinis and sex a lot. His point was that their site has a diversity of content, and sometimes you might not want, say, a bikini to mix with your hedgehog videos.

(aside – dude – don’t sit by two women and say “the internet’s about sex” and talk about liking bikini videos. Just sayin.

CurrentTV guy talks about content of conversations. IE., your comment will be taken down if you say “I will hunt you down …” etc. They actually say edit that out, and we’ll put it back up.

YouTube – criticism is good. They have to balance good, constructive criticism with crazy person criticism.

Flickr – Heather has learned when NOT to respond. She lets craxy people “dig their hole to crazy town” by not responding – it allows the community to notice and ignore the crazy person.

CurrentTV has multiple ways to deliver feedback – email, twitter, video responses, etc.

Etsy agrees – communicate in as many ways as possible.

YouTube – realize you’ll have to adapt your policies and guidelines as your site and your product evolve.

Etsy – people use site and communicate in ways you don’t expect – because of that, they have to revisit their policies every few months.

Metafilter – be able to explain your rules, and why you think that rule is a good one

Q&A now:

Q: How do you get community engagement in flickr?

A: You get what you give. You have to participate in groups for example. I’d add that you have to have a real community / network first – they’ll view and comment. Also wondering if he’s actually ASKED for comments?

Q: Does YouTube delete comments?

A: Their community guidelines apply to comments. Comments are the lowest barrier to entry at YouTube – it’s easy.

A: Allow members to determine what’s ok and what’s not.

Q: question about being logged in and being stupid …

A: Etsy – login name is same as their shop name, so your reputation follows you big time.

Q: Clay Shirky asked a question – funniest thing with community disagreeing with them…

A: Jessamyn – they banned someone, community started an “unban this user” …

A: Etsy – the Etsy 5 thing …

A: CurrentTV – a guy constantly complained a lot, then “asked for a divorce”

Q: what happens when another user community invades your own

A: flickr … you have to protect your own community first, really watch it – she gave a few examples. She calls them community crashers