Selling the sizzle, remote work: productivity at home and creativity together & getting deep monthly reporting right
8 May 2022 Newsletter
“Invention happens in the lab, Innovation happens out in the marketplace.”
Hope you’re Thriving!
I’ve enjoyed a good week, with meetings and workshops as usual, and I recorded a podcast with a couple of guys who’ve got a large audience talking Scaling Up vs EOS. More on that next week!
Let’s jump in!
Sell the Sizzle
In last week’s newsletter, I discussed the drop in the Netflix share price and outlined the four main issues:
- Increased competition from services such as Apple TV, Disney+, Amazon Prime
- Talk of an ad-supported version
- Customer complaints that there is a lot of content, but not a lot to watch
- Raising prices
And you know, during the week, I turned on Netflix, and I found myself thinking that there wasn’t a lot to watch. So, as I considered this common complaint that there are thousands of shows but nothing to watch, I started looking at the synopsis that Netflix presents for shows on its app. Then I realised that Netflix isn’t selling the sizzle.
Hey Netflix – want to turn subscribers and the share price around?
Sell the sizzle!
Let me elaborate with four examples of Oscar-winning movies from Hollywood, looking at the Google synopsis and the Netflix synopsis for the same film.
Bohemian Rhapsody Movie
Google: “Freddie Mercury — the lead singer of Queen — defies stereotypes and convention to become one of history’s most beloved entertainers. The band’s revolutionary sound and popular songs lead to Queen’s meteoric rise in the 1970s. After leaving the group to pursue a solo career, Mercury reunites with Queen for the benefit concert Live Aid — resulting in one of the greatest performances in rock ‘n’ roll history.”
Netflix: “A shy misfit transforms into iconic queen singer Freddie Mercury in this biopic inspired by the band’s tumultuous rise to fame and personal struggles.”
Google: “In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.”
Netflix: “In May 1940, soldiers and civilians struggled by land, sea and air to evacuate the British Army and their allies, Europe’s last hope, from Dunkirk.”
Google: “Set in Roman times, the story of a once-powerful general forced to become a common gladiator. The emperor’s son is enraged when he is passed over as heir in favour of his father’s favourite general. He kills his father and arranges the murder of the general’s family, and the general is sold into slavery to be trained as a gladiator – but his subsequent popularity in the arena threatens the throne.”
Netflix: “Tapped for the throne after the death of the emperor, a Roman general instead finds himself condemned to die by the late rulers power hungry son.”
Dallas Buyers Club movie
Google: “In mid-1980s Texas, electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is stunned to learn that he has AIDS. Though told that he has just 30 days left to live, Woodroof refuses to give in to despair. He seeks out alternative therapies and smuggles unapproved drugs into the U.S. from wherever he can find them. Woodroof joins forces with a fellow AIDS patient (Jared Leto) and begins selling the treatments to the growing number of people who can’t wait for the medical establishment to save them.”
Netflix: “Refusing to accept a death sentence from his doctor after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, Ron Woodroof smuggles medications from abroad.”
Let’s now look at the synopsis for the movie Dallas Buyers Club from Apple TV+:
“When Texan cowboy Ron Woodroof is diagnosed with HIV, he is prescribed a highly toxic drug and given thirty days to live. Refusing to accept this death sentence, Woodroof taps into the world of underground pharmaceuticals and becomes a kingpin of an unapproved alternative treatment that is both restorative and life extending. Woodroof struggles with the FDA as he helps spread awareness of the government’s misinformation, taking a stand against the politically corrupt who prefer to profit from the sick instead of aiding them in their recovery.”
It’s the same movie, but I’m more curious to watch the third synopsis.
What if Netflix has lost $221 Billion because the intern is writing the content synopsis? What if the content is good, but the synopsis isn’t selling the sizzle? Or, (and this is my suspicion), what if the program synopsis is limited to 150 characters, including spaces, and this isn’t enough characters to develop a compelling synopsis?
Netflix is in the entertainment business, and selling the sizzle gets viewers to watch shows and receive value. However, simply having the content isn’t enough. We need to look through the lens of the customer. Viewers make a small decision every time they look for something to watch. That decision is likely based solely on the synopsis. Is the decision to limit the synopsis to 150 characters having enormous second-order consequences for Netflix?
How well do you understand your customers’ user experience through their entire journey, not only the buying process, and where could the equivalent of your second order consequences be?
Where are you not selling the sizzle?
You may enjoy this 2-minute video from America’s self-proclaimed number one salesman Elmer Wheeler which includes Don’t Sell The Steak, Sell the Sizzle.
Airbnb employees can now work from anywhere
This week Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced that all employees can now live and work anywhere – a new policy with five key features:
- You can work from home or the office—whatever works best for you.
- You can move anywhere in the country, like from San Francisco to Nashville, and your compensation won’t change.
- You have the flexibility to live and work in 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location.
- We’ll meet up regularly for team gatherings. Most employees will connect in person every quarter for about a week at a time (some more frequently).
- To pull this off, we’ll operate off of a multi-year roadmap with two major product releases a year, which will keep us working in a highly coordinated way.
In his announcement, Brian connected this to a few key themes that we should all take note of:
Broader talent pool
“Companies will be at a significant disadvantage if they limit their talent pool to a commuting radius around their offices. The best people live everywhere.”
“We just had the most productive two-year period in our company’s history – while working remotely.”
A blend of Efficiency and Effectiveness
“The most meaningful connections happen in person. Zoom is great for maintaining relationships, but it’s not the best way to deepen them. And some creative work is best done in the same room. The right solution should combine the efficiency of Zoom with the meaningful human connection that happens when people come together. Our design attempts to combine the best of both worlds.”
So what if we can find the right balance to increase our talent pool, increase productivity, and find the right mix of individual deep work and collective creativity?
You may also want to check out this article: The case for remote work.
Productivity at home, and creativity together
A couple of months ago, I discussed this trend of productivity at home, and creativity together in a creative environment when I discussed the Salesforce wellness retreat for workers.
Of course, this isn’t a concept that will fit every environment, but it could significantly affect the job market. And depending on your approach, it could either limit or massively increase your available talent pool.
Research released in Nature this week talks about the effect of video conferencing and changes to in-person work. And it supports Brian Chesky’s work anywhere policy above. It outlines that remote video working can speed decision making but stifle creativity.
Check out the article here: How video conferencing can stifle creative idea generation.
103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known
Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, turned 70 this week, posting 103 bits of advice he wished he knew when he was young.
Here are my top 5 from his list:
- Habit is far more dependable than inspiration. Make progress by making habits. Don’t focus on getting into shape. Focus on becoming the kind of person who never misses a workout.
- Actual great opportunities do not have “Great Opportunities” in the subject line.
- Getting cheated occasionally is the small price for trusting the best of everyone, because when you trust the best in others, they generally treat you best.
- You can be whatever you want, so be the person who ends meetings early.
- Speak confidently as if you are right, but listen carefully as if you are wrong.
- Your growth as a conscious being is measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have.
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
Getting deep monthly reporting right for your business
How do you get deep monthly reporting right for your business?
If you only skim financial and performance results on a monthly basis, you’re missing an opportunity to course-correct, learn and improve on what you’re doing.
Instead, teams should go line-by-line through financial statements, KPIs and Priorities monthly to deep dive into results and look for any trends or problems that may require action.
We discuss why it matters and how to do it.
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