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Shit sandwich – Praise burger

The good thing with marketing people is that they will always try to pass their messages in the best, sweetest possible way.

I often give feedback on presentation techniques given by engineers.

How do you understand what’s really behind the words of a marketeer?

Here’s a few tips on how to interpret those words:
1) “You were perfect.”

- I did not watch the presentation.
- I fell asleep and I am hungry now.
-Just go away.

2) “Good.

Slide 15, just put the scale.

I feel it would be easier to understand the message.

Otherwise, really good.”
-I woke up at slide 15, noticed something I could bitch about, went back into trance-mode.

3)”Very exciting.

You really go into details to give us the full picture.”

-You lost us in  the first minute when you’ve shown a math formula on a slide. A MATH FORMULA on a slide! You should be shot. Don’t use presentations like crutches.

I could go on forever on the subtle back-handed compliments that could spice the days in a cubicle, but just let me tell you about a specific technique.

The shit sandwich.

Imagine you have to pass a message. Imagine it is absolutely bad. It is basically an insult to your audience.

The shit sandwich.

Just sandwich your insult between two compliments. It will go through like a charm.


4) “The presentation had no spelling mistakes in there and the grammar was impeccable.

Your presentation is an insult to the audience intelligence and we all think you’re a fraud. 

I like your tie, is it made of silk?”

Notice how the insultee will be taken off guard following a compliment… Right time to push in for the insult.

Then another compliment will ease the pill, and a question will immediately prompt a response on the compliment – not allowing to react on the insult.

As a funny anecdote, I heard this technique was also called “Praise Burger” which gives it a really nice name for such a devious technique.


Radical honesty. Try it.

What’s wrong with saying what you want?

- Hi. By the way, don’t tell me what you did this week-end… I don’t care.
- Hi. You must be underaged and have some father issues. Would you fancy some intercourse in the men’s room?
- Hi. I don’t really know what I am doing here. My boss told me I had to attend this meeting and payraises are being discussed.
- Hi. Just get me the cheapest wine on the menu… and serve it like it’s very expensive, I want to impress my friends.
- Hi. I am applying to this job because I have been unemployed for 4 months. I’d even settle for your company.
- Hi. I hate you. Yesterday, I dreamt you were eating a hamburger with maggots. I enjoyed it.
- Hi. You look awful today. Stop wearing that dress. It’s making my eyes bleed.
- Hi. Your gibberish corporate blabber is raping my brain. Can I just walk away and play sudoku on my cell phone?
- Hi. Our service is average on the market and is slightly overvalued. But rest assured that you will know every drawback of our product before you buy it.
- Hi. I know you’re just doing your job, but your flyer will jump straight to the trash can. It does not feel right for the tree that was cut down in agony.
- Hi. I have a wallet full of cash, but I don’t feel like giving any change to you. You are probably going to spend it on alcohol as your 5 empty whisky bottles seem to suggest.

Wouldn’t it feel better afterwards?

Radical honesty has been developed as a self-improvement program.
Lying creates stress, as it is conflicting with your values.
Just state how you feel and get prepared to get slapped.

Feels good huh?

As an additional note, here’s a video that I’ve seen lately on the radical honesty topic. It will also give you great insight on how financial markets are being run… in a very honest manner.

Update: Here’s the link to an interview with the founder of the Radical Honesty concept. Page 2 is a delight.


Big bonus = Poor performance

At Airbus, employees get put in 3 categories:
- High performers exceeding expectations
- Medium performer meeting expectations
- Low performers with results below expectations.

Following the ratings your manager gives you, your bonus is impacted likewise.

However, recent studies have shown that higher incentives created poorer performance !
And what people really wanted were:
Autonomy. Mastery. Purpose.

To know more about that, here is a video, I would have liked my bosses to see. – I was on the verge of sending it to them -

Notice how they manage to keep their presentation fresh and entertaining.

This is the original version with Daniel Pink

Don’t get me wrong. I still want a bigger bonus. (if you’re my boss, this is a subliminal message)


2 great videos on excessively bad use of powerpoint

During today’s training on argumentation and public speaking, we have been shown some very good videos on powerpoint.
The first one is a very classic description of a bad use of powerpoints.
-pointless animations
-confusing acronyms
-useless charts
-overuse of bullet points… (errrrrrm)

It is a Don MacMillan video (ex Engineer) who is now a comedian – he still calls himself a recovering engineer.

Here’s for a true gold nugget.
=> Never make a create a powerpoint under influence of alcohol: don’t even think about presenting it during your hangover.

I’m pretty sure you enjoyed that!
I’ve kept some good ones I’ll publish later…


Persistence vs perseverance

I really consider Philippe as being one of the misunderstood geniuses of modern times.
He’s a friend of mine.
One of the only guys who lived in a messier place than me. He always lived by his own rules and seems to understand only facts. The only things I’ve seen him taking interest in, are drinking beer and flying.
Funny thing: Although he has a masters degree in engineering, he does not believe in probability. Things will happen or they don’t. An interesting guy.

I was discussing with him about my goals. And I told him about the experiment I always use as a reference.

The experiment is the following:
In a famous university, the teacher asked the students if any of them had any written goals with a deadline attached to it. Only 10% had explicit objectives.
20 years later, 3% of all the students had a greater revenue than the 97% others combined. And most of those 3% belonged to the 10% who had objectives in their minds.

After I read about that experiment, I decided to write my owns, and to keep them in mind. That was 4-5 years ago.

Philippe was on the phone with me, when I told him about that.

He told me 2 stories.
1) A pilot looks at his controls, and realises that his aircraft is flying too fast. He reduces the thrust.
But the speed indicated does not change. Therefore he keeps reducing the thrust. Until the aircraft falls and crashes: the speed indicator was broken.
2) Imagine you’re playing a video game.
Your virtual character is locked in a room. But you find a broomstick. Since you have the broomstick you try it everywhere unsuccessfully. But if the broomstick is removed, you start noticing other things, like the secret key that was hidden under the chair.

Then he asked me “what is the difference between being persistent, and being perseverant?”
Well the 2 are the same things, but only the outcome is different.
If you keep trying and you achieve, you are perseverant.
If you keep trying and you fail, you were persistent.

Focusing on the wrong things can make you obstinate. It can cloud your vision.
Philippe says that only if the object of obstination is removed (broomstick, broken speed indicator), then, only then,
the situation can be considered objectively.

Have I confused persistence with perseverence?
I don’t know, but if I ask myself too many questions, I’ll never achieve my written goals.


Time. Time. Time.

28 year young.
The 27th of may was my birthday. My parents got me a brand new flat screen TV.
Now, the whole living-room sparkles with technology.

As the documentary flashes on the TV screen, memories run through my mind.

When I was a kid, I wanted to work in genetics. In a white coat, manipulating the human genome to create life or give myself extra arms.
I was thinking that it was where the biggest breakthroughs would be coming from, and it could also be a way to achieve immortality.
Mess with the genes, and then prevent the ageing process. Just like those jellyfish that were discovered lately. They can revert back to their youth at will, therefore achieving biological immortality ( and by the way, massively conquering the ocean ).

Why did I want to become immortal?
I can recall the exact moment when I became aware of my own mortality. Things around me were bound to stay, and me, being the random assembly of cells that I am, would disappear in the dust someday. I would not matter any more.
I hate turning 14. There could have been so many things I could have achieved before 14. And I realized there was no sports where I could become a champion any more, because I had not started early enough.

What’s the point of doing anything, if it does not matter at the end of the day?

Life would fly by, and I’d have kids, a big house and time to spare doing god knows what. But fast forwarding, I’d be dead. I suppose that’s what buddhism is about. It’s about accepting the idea of death and that nothing lasts… pain, anger, joy… those are just short moments.

Dissolving yourself in something makes life easier. Dissolve yourself in a quest.
Dissolve yourself in your quest for knowledge, accumulating data, money, travels or women. Dissolving yourself gives you drive. Drive to move forward.
You lose yourself. You become something else.

But what happens if you don’t?

I always felt I did not have enough time, and yet I spend incredible hours in front of my computer watching stupid TV series, as anesthesiated, unaware of time flowing.

I was looking for “potentiality”.

What is “potentiality”?

Money and Time are potential.
Money is the potential to buy things
Time is the potential to do things.

The only things that interested me as big targets were being a millionaire or being immortal. But I have no idea what I could do with this potential. Give me a million, I’ll put it in the bank.

Carpe diem. Seize the day They say. Doesn’t help me much in the end.

Some random thoughts running through my mind.


How to sell start-up consulting services

Here’s a presentation I put together for fun.

The imaginary company that produced this presentation is EQ. Another name might have slipped in here and there.


(use the menu on the bottom left, to view fullscreen)


Creativity rush

Like a sugar rush running through my veins, I can recall some exact moments when creativity sparkled unusual activity in my brain. (and I miss it)

- I had the idea of the TADAA algorithm, which kept me awake all night. I was modelling the system, I was imagining the business plan, the marketing pitch… and the morning I woke up (so to speak), I got the project started with a whole new perspective on life.

- Solving a video game enigma. “Little Big Adventure” was a video game I played a lot when I was little. And I was stuck. Desperately stuck… because of what I later understood was a bug of the game . In a half-awake dream, I was playing the character. I was throwing fireballs at groboclones (weird mixThe Grob Clone of elephants and robots.

And then I realized that at the precise moment I was stuck, that there was another path to avoid conflict. I unlocked a whole new level of the game before 8 am.

- Some maths problems really keep creeping back in your background memory. You can solve a problem while you’re not thinking about it, eg: while you’re doing something else. It works with names or other things that are impossible to find at that very moment. Then EUREKA!

- Some books or concepts are really key to my thought process development. Reading books like the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris, the tipping poin by Malcolm Gladwell or other big ideas, really help me name the concepts. Naming the concept is not discovering it. The concept described is something you were more or less aware of, but describing it and putting a name on it, is like assigning room into your brain  dedicated to that concept. Which is now ready to grow, if fueled with further experience. Give names to what you think, Write it down. Make it real and trigger action.

Unfortunately, as I’m becoming more productive in my work, I start to be less creative. Once a path of least resistance has been created, my lazy mind wants to take the known and seemingly easier road, sometimes overlooking some very nice details that could have produced value.

But in a task-killing mode, you only focus on fininshing your TO-DO list. You’re not looking for other stuff to put  on your list, because you’re already too busy.

Your brain needs time to creative.

Relax. Let the ideas flow.


Brahim’s way to become a millionaire

Brahim is a friend of mine.

We went to the same engineering school.

Brahim never talked about becoming a millionaire. But he’s on the fast track to becoming one.

Let’s rewind a bit.

Back when I was in Supaero (engineering school), most people were fated to work for Airbus or any of its supplier.

Some of us, wanted to do something else. We wanted to be corporate guys. Men in black.

We were aiming at becoming:

- Full fledged traders; loose tie and corporate cowboys. “Buy, Sell”, they would shout with dry mouths. We heard stories about those crazy 30 something making millions, paving the way to easy women and expensive sport cars. Crazy parties and jet set surrounding.

Trader was the dream of all the finance department students. Becoming a front-office trader would give you a surefire way to leverage your studies to make millions. But being selected was harsh.

I was in the finance department. For some reason, I discarded that path. I wanted to create value. I wanted a job I could still have after 35. Silly me.

- Corporate consultants; “suit up!”. Here are some free quotes involving consultants:

  • “We were on the edge of the cliff, the consultant helped us make a huge step forward”
  • “The consultant, when asked for the time, asks you to give him your watch, and charges you for that.”

I went through that path. Why?

The consultant leverages pure ideas and stays very high level. He has to think on his feet and react fast. He talks to the CEOs and other guys. He structures and creates value out of chaos. The glamorized vision of the consultant held true within the scope of my jobs. I helped design some pretty big organizations, and the pay was good.

Normally people would put an incredible amount of hours. Some people would finish at 1am and start at 9am because their time was expensive. But that’s because customers pay for their time.

Read my entry on Consulting companies being hidden Ponzi’s schemes.

==> That’s why I went into trying to become an entrepreneur…

Back to Brahim.

Brahim works for a bank in London. He’s been working there for 2 years. He’s doing complicated business plans, and hardly takes any holidays, nor sleep.

But it pays off. He bought his appartment, got some very nice bonuses, and has a nice girlfriend he spends his WE with. He’s waiting for a promotion, to have other people working for him.

Following his calculations => He should hit the “million mark” before 30.

Back to me

I went to a magic shop. Learnt some tricks, such as how to make coins appear.

It makes enough money for coffee.


A personal touch

Marketing differenciation is at the root of value.

Frankly speaking, I have nothing new to offer.

Everything’s been said, done. And even then, a mere 100 000 people will still do it. Sometimes putting a little spin on it, to give it a different perspective.

Becoming a marketing millionaire is one of those competitive niche markets, where one battles to make a name. One should therefore produce a flurry of posts packaging the same content. The title just have to grab you by the balls.

- Get rich quick

- How to become ridiculously rich

- The Scrooge McDuck guide to go from rags to riches

-How to make sure you fail at getting rich

-10 reasons you’ll get rich after reading this

-30 seconds guaranted millionaire

-The secret to becoming filthy rich

-Sell your soul to the devil and start spending your millions

- What every millionaire knows and try yo hide from you

-Are you working for the others or are the others working for you?

-The easiest million I made

- If a monkey can make a million thanks to marketing, so can you!

- What your bank should have told you

- Don’t read this post, unless you are ready to become a millionaire

-Money does not mean success, it IS success

-A penny foir your thought, a million for this incredible idea

-What Warren Buffet paid me not to divulge

-Bill Gates secret formula to uncanny fortune

-Reading this will just make you rich

-Being wealthy is just a choice

-Aim low: Guide to becoming a simple millionaire

All these titles seem used and overused. But they are effective! I would like to go deeper into that whole  concept and unravel the mechanisms behind.

This week, I sold my company, and what a relief! I’ll spend more time blogging. Lucky you.