Carl Pullein is a renowned productivity and time management coach. With his hundreds of Youtube videos, podcasts episodes, blog, weekly newsletter, courses and books he helps people around the world to get their things done.

Carl Pullein in conversation with the 2pt5 innovator podcast

Carl Pullein loves to create himself and sees time management as a tool to achieve the things that are important in life. With his work, including his COD system, he is reducing the complexity of systems such as GTD Getting Things Done because he has “an allergy to complexity”.

This episode is for innovators that want to get things done.

Find Carl Pullein on his websiteApple Podcast and Youtube.

The COD system

Find Carl’s free COD course here. It is a great help.

Give a review

If you have liked the show, give it a review on Podchaser, Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Join The 2pt5 mailing list

Videos mentioned

David Allen TEDx Talk

“The art of stress free productivity is a martial art.”

Richard St. John TED-Talk: 8 Secrets of Success

  • Passion – have passion about what you do
  • Work – do the hard work and have fun doing it – Workofrolics, be good at it and practice a lot
  • Focus – focus on one thing
  • Push – push yourself through shyness and self-doubt – have somebody to help you push
  • Serve – serve others something of value
  • Ideas – follow ideas – listen, observe, be curious, ask questions, problem solve, make connections
  • Persist – through failure, crap (criticism, rejection, a**holes, pressure)

Joseph McClendon III

Website

Transcript

This is an automatic transcription which was slightly edited. The text is raw and might contain errors.

Klaus Reichert
This is the 2.5 conversations connecting innovators. My name is Klaus. This podcast is hosted in Baden-Württemberg in Germany. Today I’m talking to a Productivity coach Carl Pullein about the motivation to innovate and about getting things done this an innovator and about the love for creating things with his hundreds of videos on YouTube. His podcast, is blog articles, his newsletter. Carl is helping lots of people around the world getting their things done doing the things that are important for them. Helping innovators to create things. Let’s start the show.

Klaus
I’m here with Carl Pullein and it’s a great pleasure to have you on the podcast Carl. Thank you very much for joining me.

Carl
Well thank you very much for inviting me.

Klaus
This is a great pleasure to talk to you.

Klaus
You’re a world renowned productivity expert. You do a lot of videos online. You do you have your own podcast. I’m really impressed by all the work that you’re doing that you’re putting out there. A lot of it is free. A lot of this is that you do it just to support people to move on. And I think that is very very impressive to see that.

Carl Pullein
Well it is actually my goal is to try and help a million people to become better organized and more productive because I know that that really helps reduce stress levels and you know stress is never a good thing. So my way of helping is by helping people to become better organized and more productive.

Klaus
But but you’re not a doctor.

Carl
No not at all.

Klaus
So it’s like the productivity clinic that you’re doing.

Carl
Yes. That’s probably about it.

Klaus
Do you accept people that have some sort of health insurance to pay for courses and coaching? 🙂

Carl
No I’ve not been FDA approved yet so sadly it’s not the way to go.

Klaus
Carl, please complete this sentence: Getting Things Done GTD is….

Carl
… one of the best productivity methodologies you could invest your time in. It is I think now the foundation of probably almost every productivity system out there because the fundamentals are just well made, they just make perfect sense it’s like collect everything and decide what it means to you put it in a place where you can find it and then do it when it needs doing. That’s a really really really basic outline of what GTD getting things done is but essentially it is now the framework if you like for pretty much every system out there these days you just described GTD in a very short manner a few sentences only.

Klaus
And some people are out there that try to make to try to change that into some sort of science special signs and make it very special and hard to understand. When I look at your stuff and your courses your videos I get the impression that you like simple things are the way you explain GTD is something simple so everybody can relate to it and pick up the methodology quite easily.

Carl
Well I have an allergy to complexity. I just I just complete as soon as something becomes complex I turn off and but if it’s something that I really want to understand I will do it I’ll do go through it and read the books and read the data but then I have to break it down into really simple terms and kind of thing. What was what was the goal here. What’s the outcome that we’re trying to achieve with this methodology or this system or or this approach. And again I will always come back to basic principles because then I can understand it and I can teach it once I understand it properly so.

Klaus
So you’re doing some sort of translation from say complex too easy to understand or make it digestible in the way you present it in different elections for example.

Carl
Well I think for me it’s about how to make it practical for people to use on a daily basis. I think a lot of particularly academics and I don’t have anything against academics but but academics tend to as are on such a high theoretical level it’s very hard to connect that to not necessary the real world but to a practical application and I suppose the way I look at it is I want to be the bridge between that you know between the theoretical idea behind something and the real practical everyday use of that idea because there’s some really good ideas out there but they’re often way too complex for people to want to implement in a daily basis.

Klaus
That’s interesting because I think that of my my consulting and coaching work also. But what I find is that some people don’t take that seriously. They don’t understand the simplest or the beauty of simplicity and confuse that with maybe not knowing enough.

Carl
Well it does that. And I think there’s a lot of things that when you when you dive into that complexity there’s too much to take in. And quite often I mean if I think back to the Getting Things Done book for example you’ve probably got a hundred pages on collecting but really when we’re collecting what are we doing. Something’s on your mind. Get it off your mind. But actually if you read those 100 pages it just it does make complete sense and it gives you so many different scenarios where you would probably not think about collecting an idea. But when she read the book you realize, Ah that makes sense. But you know the idea of collecting for me is important.

Carl
I mean people come up with these wonderful thing it’s the UCT which is ubiquitous collection tool.

Carl
Really it just means a phone these days because it collects everything on a phone or before the smartphone certainly was like a little notebook. Yeah that was the UCT but it has this really smart complex expression for it but I use that jokingly now. But people did actually use what’s your use. I’m going: What? You know ubiquitous collection tool huh? You mean a piece of paper. Yes.

Klaus
It’s like the rocket science term.

Carl
Yeah. Exactly. They’re using way complex terms for somebody that you know something on your mind get into something you know a notebook a phone. Anything just get it written down.

Klaus
Into your inbox.

Carl
Yeah. I mean then you go down the steps you know you go down the road of getting things done or or whatever because then you’ve got to process it you decide what is it what does it mean to use it does get a little bit more complex but you know we tend to we as human beings we have a bad habit of over complicating things.

Klaus
I’ve seen several of your videos or your courses and it was very obvious to me that you’re trying to sort of use the same speed that people have so that they don’t get lost in your course. You are trying to make things very simple and cut it down into small pieces so people can digest it and I found that very very good too to see even. I am also some sort of productivity expert myself but it helped me a lot to understand some things better so I’m. Thank you very much for that.

Carl
It is always a pleasure to help people.

Klaus
Yeah so but we all have to thank David Allen and some say it’s better not to meet your heroes but all you have had recently interviewed him for your own podcast. How was that to meet the creator of getting things done for you as an experience.

Carl
I think he’s a fantastic guy. I mean I actually met him in Seoul three years ago. We had lunch together here in Seoul when he was visiting. He did a book publishing tour in Korea. And I met him here in Seoul and so I’ve actually met him before. So he’s a really really nice guy and one of the things that always struck me when I met him in person was that he is probably one of the most relaxed people I’ve ever met. I mean he genuinely does live the GTD life. Everything is in control and when we had lunch you know he was all there 100 percent. Even though he was waiting for a call from his assistant to give him the flight time to Tokyo. So he didn’t know whether it was going to be later that evening or it was gonna be first thing in the morning. Now if that was me and I was waiting to find out you know sometime in the next few hours I might be flying I would be quite stressed. But he was just well I nothing I can do now I just have to wait for the call and plus I have a system I can rely on.

Klaus
That’s very very cool. I remember a TED talk he has given where he also seemed very relaxed about his system and that was very very good to see him in person at least in video.

Carl
Yeah. No he really does genuinely live the system and he is a very very nice guy and I love the chat that I had with him on my podcast about you know GTD and everything was just fantastic. Even every time I hear him speak I learn something new it is just you know he’s one of those things that is one of those guys who’s had 40 50 years of you know of living this GTD lifestyle if you like. Mm hmm. And it really shows and you can pick pick up things every time you hear him speak or whatever you do learn something.

Klaus
I guess once you have written the book one could assume that this person doesn’t really develop the whole thing further. But actually it’s once you have started ideas and they have their own life in your head and they further develop and probably you would have to write another book to include all the things he has learned over the past 30 years.

Carl
Well he did update. He updated the GTD in 2015. So that was what 14 years after it first came out he did update it but actually interestingly on the last month I went to Tony Robbins event in Singapore which is an amazing event. But before I went I started reading his books and he’d written two books on self development books and he wrote them in the early 1990s. And what I found fascinating was many of the principles he wrote about in the early 1990s he’s still teaching today but he’s teaching it in a more modern version. So the analogies the stories that he uses to illustrate the principle have been updated. So in the early 1990s he was talking about President Reagan for example because I think President Reagan was not it wasn’t long after he stopped being president.

Carl
I think I see he did mention George Bush as well with the original George Bush not George Bush junior. And so it was kind of interesting that these stories that he wrote then but these days the principles the foundations of what he’s teaching is still the same today but with newer stories.

Carl
So it’s like time proven principles, they still very much apply today.

Klaus
Interestingly enough you are basing your work on the GTD method but you also made it even more accessible with your COD or the two plus eight systems that you have developed.

Carl
Yeah because when I looked at my own way of using GTD I realized I was using it really COD which was just collect organize and do. And I think when I first read the GTD book I was spending 40 50 percent of my time just organizing my system and I realized hang on a bit. That’s not what this is meant to be you know. And so but that’s normal. I think a lot of people do that. But you refine it over time. And what I discovered after a few years is that I wasn’t really following exactly the GTD system anymore. It evolved into its own thing which I when I analyzed it when I kind of stepped back and said Well what am I actually doing here and collecting. Because you cannot avoid that but I am organizing which means that what I’ve collected has to go to its rightful place. And then the rest of time I’m doing so I’m not following necessarily the five GTD steps. I’m just following three steps.

Klaus
But that way it’s much more accessible for most of the people.

Carl
I think it is. I think for most people find it much easier to because the COD system it is just a framework you know you choose whatever tools you want to use you use those tools.

Carl
It’s how you work it because everyone thinks differently.

Carl
How about if you have lots of stuff that sort of enters your system then it’s sort of collecting part will be will take a lot of time. Is that still covered with COD.

Carl
Well it is because the whole point with COD for me when I when I know I said it’s 100 pages on collecting in the GTD book I could probably write a hundred pages and collecting too because what it really comes down to is how fast can you make it. Because the faster you can make collecting the less likely you will resist.

Klaus
OK. Does this come from your experience as a runner, as a sportsperson?

Carl
Well yeah in a sense yes it’s just it comes back was when when I thought about why is it that I don’t do something it’s because it’s too difficult or it’s going to take too much time. So if I can reduce that barrier to doing something so a really really classic example and everyone can try this one of the best things you can do when you wake up in the morning is to drink a glass of water.

Carl
It’s just scientifically proven to instantly give you an amazing amount of energy and it’s just it just makes you feel brilliantly. But the problem the reason why most people won’t do it is because they don’t prepare the water the night before. But if you get a glass of water. Ideally if you get a flask so then it stays cold and you put it at the side of your bed you’ve reduced the resistance so when you wake up it’s there you drink. But if you don’t you probably go put the kettle on and make coffee first OK. And you might even forget to try. Yeah. Often you will forget to do it. So the idea is is that you reduce the resistance so you put the glass of water next to your bed. So when you wake up. Bang.

Carl
So that’s a very simple example for reducing the resistance and you can use that.

Klaus
You should use that for any bigger task that you have if you actually want to get it done.

Carl
Yeah. So when it comes to the COD system it’s about really making sure that collecting is easy even if it just means have a pad and a pen on. If you’re right handed on the right hand side of your desk if you’re left handed on the left hand side of your desk because even that if you think I’ll remember it you won’t do well you will forget it. So if you if you can just pick up with your writing hand and just quickly write it down. You know that’s one way. Another one is learn the keyboard shortcuts on your computer if you’re based you know sat at a desk most of the day. I know for me to collect something into Todoist which is the to do list I use I just use shift command A and I just do that without thinking.

Klaus
I started using my iPhone and Siri to dictate these things. And it works quite well also.

Carl
Yeah Siri is a great one for it as well and I use an app on there as well for the same thing just so fast. But once you reduce the resistance you will collect great learning.

Klaus
It surely helped you to be more productive. Your own system and GTD the last time I checked you created 645 videos on YouTube 100 podcast episodes. Also a bunch of courses and books. Where do you get your energy and your motivation from to do all that giant work.

Carl
Well for me the biggest one is I love creating that that’s just my brain never switches off it’s always thinking of new ideas. So I love the creation part. But a lot of it is I don’t know this is something about helping people. And I remember years ago people say you know I think it was a TED talk I watch was I think it’s the secrets of success by Richard St. John or something I can’t remember his name but it’s a TED talk that was done years ago and he said that don’t do for money do it to serve or something like that. And I was you know 10 15 years ago I get poo Ha ha ha ha. You know that is just rubbish. But actually you do when you start doing it to help other people you genuinely feel like so much better if you’re just doing it for the money. It’s it’s empty. It’s not a good feeling but when you’re doing it because you genuinely want to help people it’s that feeling of fulfillment that you get. That really drives you to keep going and I think for me that’s one of the things I mean I can’t imagine not doing my YouTube videos. I mean that’s free content that I’m doing. I just love doing them every week and a couple of weeks ago I was in hospital having just minor surgery a hernia operation just a minor surgery and I’m laying in the hospital bed having just come out to the operating room thinking when am I going to be able to do my videos.

Carl
I was thinking you know really I should be taking a break here. I don’t think people will be upset if I miss this week but I was really uncomfortable missing the idea of missing doing a video.

Klaus
So did you help yourself with say your iPhone and do a quick recording anyway.

Carl
No I did manage to wait. I came out to the hospital on the Thursday and on the Friday I recorded this video. So I felt very comfortable once it was done.

Klaus
OK. So it’s not wrong to say you are very very driven.

Klaus
When I work with companies I always say I’ll ask for the vision that they are following and because actually it’s the same wording

Carl
If you do it for the money it doesn’t work but if you do it for some let’s say greater thing or greater goal. Lots of things happen. Extra people are more motivated for example or more willing to listen or whatever. So that has to be something very very genuine and the vision that you have for that you combined with your motivation is you want to help one million people.

Carl
I don’t know how I’m going to measure that by the way it’s because technically on my YouTube channel when I was looking it’s that I think there’s been over 2 million views but the problem there is how many people how many individual people is that that’s just views. You know the podcast is at well over 100000 downloads. But again that’s could be one person multiple downloads. So I don’t know how I’m going to measure it. But you know the vision is to be able to help a million if not 10 million 100 million people over the next 5 10 20 years. Because I’ve seen the benefits of being better organized and more productive and good with time management. I’ve seen the benefits. I never I never feel stressed. I certainly never feel like I’ve got too much work on and it is actually a really nice feeling because it helps you to make better decisions. And I find a lot of people I work with here in Korea. They said I haven’t got time to get organized. I was thinking aha. You know well here’s where the bigger problem is.

Klaus
You know I don’t have time for time management. Exactly.

Carl
But is there something that you’d tell them like a like a simple sentence that that makes them understand that they should do something about that well use a simple question to ask themselves where do you think this is going to end up know because you are only human you’re not a machine. Something will break you know either you will make a huge mistake one day and get fired and lose the job that you’re spending all this time working on. Or just mentally and physically you will break. And you know you’ve got to get people to really understand like right now they may feel they can manage it but in the long term if you don’t get a handle on that time and the amount of work and how you’re managing that stress level it really can be a huge problem in the long term. And so and another one that you can do is always point out the really successful people in their company I don’t know those people but I say you know how do they manage their time. And you know when they start because modelling you know modelling successful people modelling the people you admire is a great way to learn. And you know we all have different heroes.

Carl
So it’s about finding the right people and thinking how do they do that and you know I’m always looking at how successful people manage their time. And some really fascinating insights.

Klaus
I have read somewhere that for you, productivity and time management is something that is actually comes down to life management not just to get things done but to get things accomplished in life over a longer period of time to get the stuff done that are important for you for your life for the life of the people around you.

Carl
It is I mean that’s to me that’s what it really boils down to is I was about to say spend less time at work and more time at home. But that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. It’s about really being managing your time so that you can spend more time doing the things that you want to do with the people that you want to do it with.

Carl
That’s to me what time management and productivity is all about and what I really like is that you combine that with let’s say the call to action to do like a year planning at the end of a year like right now it’s October and you are asking people to pick up or to start to collect ideas for the next year or two to get into the thinking process and into our planning process for the next year. And I think that’s a very clever and good combination because it’s not about doing things it’s about getting the framework or the priorities for the things to do in the next year.

Carl
It’s about bubbles you know bubbling up the ideas doing it. Now in October because the one of the main reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t work there’s multiple reasons why they don’t work. But one of the biggest reasons is people get to like the Christmas period and the 26th or 27th or the 28th of December until new year. What am I going to do. And then they rush and they just think oh I’ll quit smoking I’ll cut down drinking I’ll lose weight and you’re all the same ones and they fail.

Carl
And then what happens is they get into these cycles. “I’m no good at resolutions or goals.” “I keep failing” but actually it’s not that. It’s not that they’re no good at doing goals it’s just they’re approaching it in the wrong way. If you start in October just brainstorming ideas just thinking about what would you like to change about yourself what would you like to change away about the way you work your lifestyle just thinking about how the things that you would like to change by the time we get to December you’ve probably got five to 10 things that you think you know what I could do something and change that and make things better. And so it’s always good to start. And October is a great time going into the last quarter. We’re all winding down the year and it’s time to get excited about the next year.

Klaus
What about if you if you are in it not just about yourself but about say your team you’re part of the company or your company if you’re like a startup or working for a small company. Is there some process yet that you can recommend in one of your courses for example that helps the team to come to to prepare the next year.

Carl
Well for team based productivity is really comes down to the communication from the top.

Carl
You know whenever I’ve helped companies in general with their productivity I can guarantee that one of the biggest problems is going to be how the objective or outcome of that they’re trying to achieve is communicated in hearing career. There’s whenever they do that in English they have this bad habit of using very big words and long sentences and there’s just no emotion or meaning and it looks good it looks great. I mean there’s a lot of complex words in there but when I’m thinking about death that’s not going to motivate anybody. So the way that the way that project goals or outcomes are communicated or goals for the next year or the things that you want to achieve next year within a team how you communicate those is really really important is to being clear simple actionable terms. And so that people can measure.

Carl
So I’ve had one company where just the sales team had 32 KPI is key performance in the analysis going. How can that be key performance indicators when there’s 32 of them I mean. Which one do I focus on. You know it’s impossible. You know pick one and measure it and stick with it and they will have a lot more success.

Klaus
I sometimes hear innovators talking about something like Oh there’s so many possibilities so many opportunities are so many ideas and there’s just so little time to have an idea of how to select from a large number of ideas and opportunities. If you’re just full of ideas as I say a startup person as a creator as an innovator.

Carl
That’s an interesting when I heard I heard an analogy on this one recently. I wish it was mine but it isn’t. But there’s a guy who I was a teacher at the event I was in Singapore called Joseph McClendon III. And he was talking about the same thing and he said look if you think about it as a horse race and you know you’ve got like these 10 horses when the gates opened 10 horses run out and you have no idea which horse is going to win.

Carl
So what do you do. You just pick one just pick one and run with it. Because how do you know which is going to be the successful one at some point in the race and at some point in the process of developing that one idea you will realize it’s not going to work and you can jump off onto a different horse or you can jump off onto a different idea.

Carl
You know I’ve had loads of ideas for courses and often a lot of them I will just start I think this is a really good idea and I start planning it out and I could spend a week planning it out in my spreadsheets and you know organizing how I’m going to do the lessons and at the end of the week and going you know what.

Carl
This isn’t going to work you know. I don’t feel it and I’ll just scrap it and some may say well you’ve just wasted a week I thought. Now what I’ve done is I’ve learned that that’s not going to work. Here’s the way the way that I’m looking at it it’s taken me a week to figure out but he’s not going to work. But I don’t throw away the actual planning sheets. I just you know I archive them. I might come back to that in a year or two’s time. But it does. You’ve just got to pick something and run with it. I think a lot of people don’t achieve their potential because they get paralyzed by all these ideas and this comes back to GTD or card collect the ideas store them in a place but pick one and run with it. And you know you’ll soon figure out whether it’s gonna be a success or not a success. You know if you think about when Microsoft started and Bill Gates and his team I think is Paul Allen you know was sitting in the dormitory coding all night trying to get dos created you know at that time they did not know it was going to be successful. True. Nobody knew it. It did become successful and we look at it from the perspective of 2019. But if you were back in 1985 or whenever they were writing that code they had no idea if this was gonna be a success or not. But they just went with the idea and it turned out to be a huge success. And I’m pretty sure it is the same with Steve Jobs and Steve was the arc and all the other people like the Google boys when they started Google they did not know at that time whether it’s gonna be successful or not. But they just run with the idea and it developed and it became what is today Google. I bet you the vision about you where Google is today the Google boys as I call them I bet they had no idea it was going to turn out that way when they were sat in their dormitory creating that first google search box. I bet they never expected it to turn out the way that it did. So you’ve got to start somewhere. You just got to run with it.

Carl
Okay. And it was probably just one of these things of their ideas that they worked on that they developed and that they felt good about Yeah it could have been they they may have worked on 20 30 40 50 ideas before they eventually got to the Google we have today so gut feeling is important too.

Carl
Yeah just pick something and go with it. Eventually you’ll figure out this isn’t going to work. And then you can go back onto something else but you’ve just got to go with it because the worst thing you can do is not do anything.

Klaus
Thank you Carl. I think that is a great way to finish our podcast. Thank you very much for having this conversation with me today.

Carl
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me on the show.

Music by

Immex – Soundcloud & conversation

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

M.

Music Producer Immex – about finding new beats, honoring tradition, Unbox Therapy and Mark Knopfler

The very first episode, enjoy!

Music Producer Immex - about finding new beats, honoring tradition, Unbox Therapy and Mark Knopfler

This time I am going to talk to musician and music producer Hristijan Ivanovski from Macedonia also known as Immex about his music and the process to create his work.
We are talking about his love for Mark Knopflers music, the influcence of Jedi Mind Tricks and music producer Gramatik on his development as a musician. Immex is a self taught guitar player, that started with passion for music and with the help of his community as he has a lot of friends in bands, a network he draws upon often.
He likes hip-hop and rock’n’roll and is situated in between genres. He actually prefers this sometimes uncomfortable place between two chairs and accepts it as a source of inspiration.

As an Innovator Immex is switching between classical Guitar and a Laptop as his favorite instruments to create music. Today he is multi instrumental, playing also drums, base guitar, keyboards and even sings. His beats are used on major Youtube channels such as Unbox Therapy with more than 15 mill. fans. He is a master of the computer as a complex instrument but he loves playing the guitar and keeps one around all the time.  

He again supports his friends bands regularly in their shows. He has build his own style as a musician and a producer and believes he is still on a journey with more to come. Immex is using the digital platforms to his advantage to address a global audience from his hometown in Macedonia.

In our conversation Immex also talks about the right place and time to be creative and about the Vision that starts his projects.

His dream is to play with Mark Knopfler from the Dire Straights.
Immex is also the creator of this show’s theme song.

the start

Starting the podcast with a conversation with a musician seemed appropriate. The bandwidth of the creative as well as the commercial process a musician has to cover is enormous and serves as a good example for innovators I think.

find Immex on

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/immexbeats

Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/dj_immex

Youtube https://www.youtube.com/immexbeatz

Twitter https://twitter.com/immexbeatz

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/immexbeatz/

Unbox Therapy https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsTcErHg8oDvUnTzoqsYeNw

influences

Mark Knopfler https://www.markknopfler.com

Jedi Mind Tricks https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi_Mind_Tricks

Gramatik https://www.gramatik.net

Mark Knopfler Song mentioned in the conversation: “Boom, Like that”

Listen on Apple Music & Spotify

Transcript

In preparation

thank you to

Immex for his music and time

David Nebinski https://twitter.com/nebinskids

Alex DiPalma and Seth Godin from The Podcasting Fellowship https://podcastclub.link

Andreas Urra from the University of Konstanz https://streaming.uni-konstanz.de

Colin Gray from the Podcast Host com https://www.thepodcasthost.com

Niklas Leck von Start Summit St. Gallen

Peter Frischknecht und Timur Sagirosman von Startfeld St. Gallen

connect with The 2pt5

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/the2pt5/

Twitter https://twitter.com/the2pt5

Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/company/the2pt5/

Mailing list http://eepurl.com/gepMD1

D.

Designer/ideas man/brand expert/teacher Marty Neumeier – about his no BS approach to ideas, the purpose and limits of business books for innovation, achieving minimalism in creating and learning from The Grateful Dead

In this episode my guest is Marty Neumeier a Designer/ideas man/brand expert and teacher. We are talking about

  • that you don’t have to be a genius to be an innovator
  • about the importance of dreaming as an innovator as well as making and continous learning
  • about the importance of a vision for making to get to results
  • about focusing and leaving out the bs in business books
  • and about learning from The Grateful Dead.
Marty Neumeier in conversation with The 2pt5

Marty Neumeier is an ideas man and a teacher in the best sense of the word.

He has written several books about branding, creativity and innovation which became classics in their field. Marty is full of energy and ideas, and the conviction and hope that his ideas truely add value for the readers or his course participants (he just added Masterclasses to his line of focused business books).

Marty Neumeier’s Books

Marty is no fan of business BS. He cuts straight to the point without oversimplifying things. “I have just tried to make it simple” is one of the hardest thing to do, dodging the irrelevant to focus on the important.

THE BRAND GAP (2003) and ZAG (2006) come to mind instantly. The phrase “A brand isn’t what you say it is—it’s what they say it is.” is common knowledge now. In his third book, THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY, he addressed how business leaders can build a culture of nonstop innovation. One of his secrets: “If you wanna innovate, you gotta design.”

Masterclasses

In his live Masterclasses, he is bringing his teaching to a next level: the classes are for professionals that put in an effort and want to evolve their knowledge, networks and careers. Find more information and enroll for classes here.


find Marty Neumeier on

read Marty Neumeier’s books

at Amazon

watch and listen to Marty Neumeier

  • on the “How Brands Are Built” podcast
  • Innovation Workshop Video


music by Immex – thank you!


The 2pt5 mailing list


Transcript

(This transcript was created automatically and still includes some typos and errors.)

Klaus
This is the 2.5 conversations connecting innovators Episode 2. My name is Klaus. In this episode my guest is Marty Neumeier a designer, ideas man, brand expert and teacher. We will be talking about that you don’t have to be a genius to be an innovator about the importance of dreaming as an innovator as well as making and continuous learning about the importance of a vision for making to gets two results about focusing and leaving out the B.S. in business books and about learning from the Grateful Dead. Marty Neumeier is an ideas man and a teacher in the best sense of the word. He has written several books about branding creativity and innovation. The Brand Gap, ZAG and the Designful Company among his books that became classics. He is full of energy and ideas and the conviction and hope that his ideas truly add value for the readers or his course participants. He just added master classes to his line of focused business books. Let’s start the conversation.

Klaus
Marty. Thank you very much for taking your time talking with me on The 2pt5 podcast. I’m very honored and I’m a big fan for a long time now. Welcome!

Marty Neumeier
My pleasure Klaus.

Klaus
Marty are you aware of the Neumaier station in the Antarctic near the South Pole.

Marty Neumeier
I am not. Maybe I should be looked at up. Is it spelled the same.

Klaus
No actually it’s not spelled the same. But Neumeier is is a German name actually. And and it’s the name of this the Antarctic station situated on some iceberg in the south. And experts have some sort of iceberg.

Marty Neumeier
Might my ancestors came over to turn to the US in probably 1880 something like that. My great great great grandfather and grandmother. I think they got married and then came here came to the US. And that’s kind of all we know because it’s like we don’t know about are past. It’s all been sort of erased by immigration.

Klaus
I like that you have kept your name new Maya which is kind of the German spelling. But kept the English pronunciation.

Marty Neumeier
Yeah we just give up trying to correct people right. If they want to call you knew my or you just nod and go. Yes.

Klaus
Yeah. It’s the same with with my name. Oh I was so happy when Star Trek introduced Commander Riker. His name is sort of spelt differently a bit but now I can say it’s like in Star Trek, since Reichert is just impossible to pronounce.
When everyone’s zigs. What do you do?

Marty Neumeier
You zag! Obviously.

Klaus
You zag. Why obviously? Is it about breaking rules all the time?

Marty Neumeier
I know not all the time but where it counts. You have you know you have to be different. So you know we are. We all have a tendency to follow the leader. That’s how we learn. But you can’t be a leader by following the leader. Eventually you have to break away and ask people to follow you. So the most successful companies are the ones that have followers that have imitators so imitators don’t do well in the marketplace though they always make their profit margins are less and so forth. So you want to be number one in your in your niche or your your marketplace your space and you can’t do that by copying number one OK.

Klaus
Basically what you could do is copying number one and reduce the price which is actually not a nice position to be in I think.

Marty Neumeier
Yeah branding isn’t about lower prices unless unless that’s your whole idea. That could be a strong brand but usually it’s about getting more people to buy more stuff. Higher prices for more years.

Klaus
Yes. Have some consistency in the the way you deliver a product that you build trust with with your customers and that people can know what to expect when when when they buy something from you. But that’s sort of sometimes in the wave for for innovators because if you do something really new people don’t know about this. They don’t know what to expect because it’s something that was not around before.

Marty Neumeier
Yeah it’s difficult if you have something completely new you have to teach people what it is and why it’s of some value to them and that’s difficult. So it’s usually better to to relate it to something they already understand.

Klaus
I understand that teaching is really an important thing for you. You’re not a university teacher you’re not a teacher at school and stuff like that. But you write business books you picked up the business book as a medium for teaching and you have a very different approach to business books. I think your books are very different. There’s always not a lot of pages. There’s always a worksheet there might be a video and they are always shopped to a point or to the point that they want to make. There is no B.S. involved at least from my point of view. How come you don’t like B.S.?

Marty Neumeier
Well you know it’s it just took time consuming for people. Why not just get to the point. That’s the whole idea of of being a communicator. Right. Is to get to the point quickly and make it stick. And that’s a skill that I’ve honed by being a graphic designer for many years early in my career and then a copywriter and the whole idea of being a copywriter is you grab somebody with a headline with some sort of promise and you buy it.

Marty Neumeier
After about 100 word you you’ve got them to buy something or at least be open to buying something. And I don’t see why a business book should be any different. I don’t I don’t think more is better business but whether it’s why just throw you know hundred thousand words at people with you know you know ten thousand ideas when they can’t remember more than four or five in any way. So I just think stick to a couple of good ideas make sure people remember them and can unpack them over time.

Marty Neumeier
In other words every time they think back about a principle they find a way to apply it. So so simplicity doesn’t mean simple mindedness it means compression. That’s why I look at it you take a big idea and you compress it down to something small enough for people to get their heads around. And but all the information is still in there. And so that that thing that they remember reminds them of all the other things they need to know rather than treat all information as equal. You know because in a business book some things are more important than others other things so you need to make sure people understand the hierarchy of importance.

Klaus
But everybody else or many other authors are taking a different drought. And so what do you do basically is you’re not taking the safe route that everybody else is doing.

Marty Neumeier
Yeah that’s right I’m differentiating OK. Takes guts. Yeah. Well yes it does but it’s almost the other way is almost guaranteed to be to be a failure. So by just doing what other people are doing you have no reason to be in the world. We need you. So that me that’s that’s dangerous. It’s much safer to strike out at least Bill you know be a little bit different and try to try to find an audience a constituency for what you’re doing than it is to just be a pale imitation of somebody else or copy someone else and make a few superficial changes to what they’re saying to me that’s that’s a waste of time. And and you know it’s dangerous to your career because you spent all that time doing something that nobody is going to care about.

Klaus
Well there’s still a lot of books that aren’t. Let’s put it that way famous but probably also end up on the couch table have a being read for just a few pages or the first chapter. And and you know you could you could argue you’re just plain lazy because you don’t write a lot. Sorry. But I’m also quoting or paraphrasing you I’ve just tried to make it simple. And but from my experience it is much harder to make something simple and to come up with something minimal than to sort of elaborate yeah yeah.

Marty Neumeier
That’s where the work is is continually polishing it to you get it to the simplest possible expression. That’s true and useful right. I mean something could be true and not useful. So you want it to be both. And you know I arrive at these I call them conceptual toys they’re just little ideas that you can play with that are fun and don’t demand too much. You know cognitive work to understand and you know I spend every morning in the shower just trying to figure out how can I explain this to somebody you know whatever point I’m thinking of what’s the best way to explain this. And so I put a lot of work into it. Hours just for one sentence sometimes but those sentences are all pieced together into one integrated whole. And so that that make it even a little bit harder so everything I hope that everything I say in all my books makes sense with everything else I’ve said in books that I don’t count myself.

Klaus
So have you encountered that situation that you contradicted yourself in a later book.

Marty Neumeier
Yeah early on. Yeah not so much anymore because I’m aware of it now but the thing is once you read a book it’s there forever. Yeah. Yeah.

Klaus
Has in my from my PhD research I spent a lot of time in the libraries looking at really really really old books like a three 400 year old books and that’s quite scary. If you think about that that things can be around for such a long time.

Klaus
But even then let’s wonder if there will be like an e-book reader far into a hundred years that will be capable of reading today’s books but still I have the problem with this book that I’ve got from you it was the first book that I got and it’s the innovators innovation toolkit sorry and it’s a combination of video and and a book and I am running into the problem that I don’t have a DVD player anymore. That’s why me so I can still read but the stuff on the electronic stuff on the on the silver silver disk is just not accessible anymore.

Klaus
But I’ve seen that you have you’re also offering this video as a download on the web which is why I don’t even think it’s available as a product other than a download. Yes you know that that whole technology is gone so.

Klaus
You can see that you contradict yourself sometimes in later books which sort of is a thing that is connected to learning also so well for you.

Klaus
As a person as a designer as a human being is it very important to have be such a lifelong learner.

Marty Neumeier
Well of course it is. That’s been that’s the advantage of living long. You have more time to learn things and get better at things and be more yourself. All those kinds of things. It’s a gift if you can. You know the longer you live the more chance you have. Although I don’t think I’d want to live forever. Big fan of a nano life’s lifespan but some people do you know there are people that really want to live forever and would if they could they could take a pill and live forever they do it.

Marty Neumeier
They’re all in Silicon Valley.

Klaus
So I understand that that might be a nice possibility. There’s also vampires that live forever and I understand. It doesn’t really appeal to me to lead such a life away from everybody else.

Marty Neumeier
I’m not really that person either.

Klaus
Me too. I like the mornings. But actually to be able to see these things and to to you have to be sort of knowledgeable of a lot of things you have to have made a lot of experiments. You have to have. I have talked to a lot of people. And then there’s this big phrase and I don’t remember from whom this is. That’s the more you know the more you wonder about what you know. It’s that sort of a problem for you always.

Marty Neumeier
Yeah it’s true the more you know the more you question everything including yourself. I’m threatening to write a book someday called Confessions of a brand man. As a sort of tribute to David David Ogilvy who wrote Confessions of an advertising man back in the 60s when you read his book The Confessions aren’t really confessions. They’re basically stories of how great idea. But I haven’t those stories like that. I have no stories of greatness about me. But I think it might be interesting to see what a struggle it is to to learn this kind of thing and be successful in a an area like branding which is fairly abstract branding or communication or strategy. These are all fairly abstract disciplines with a lot of failure and the only reason I can write about this at all is because I’ve failed so many times. I don’t think there was any other way. I used up all the ways of failing. So I’ve tried them all and I’m the kind of person that always does the wrong thing first.

Klaus
OK so you hit you. You hit your knees a lot and it hurts a lot and left your marks on the legs. That sounds like you. You don’t think you’re a genius yourself.

Marty Neumeier
I do not. Well let me take that back. I think everybody’s a genius at something almost everybody or at least they have the opportunity to be a genius at something but probably not everything. I really believe that people should in the course of their lives specialize in something fairly early to master it and get a feeling for what you know what that’s like to master something and then spread out from there as opposed to learning everything a little bit and then find the thing that you don’t know anything really very deeply. I think that experience of going deep into a subject is really important. It’s also important to know enough about the world that you can bring other ideas into your specialty. And from there you can leap over to another specialty and add that on. You can go laterally but that’s what I’d like to see people learn. I think it works better but that’s maybe that’s just me.

Klaus
Does that mean that you focus on the strengths you have or focus on the weaknesses and build on that?

Marty Neumeier
I think you want to neutralize your weakness does while you build on your strengths. And eventually maybe some of those weaknesses turn around or they become strengths but I think you know the problem we all have is we have to compete in the world. We have to find a place to stand that where we can do something better or in a new way to liberate ourselves from everybody else. Otherwise we’re not very valuable. We’re just you know interchangeable parts in a in a business world. So we want to have something we can say like this is the thing I do better than anybody else and I want to be paid for that right. I will be paid more than someone else. So if you don’t have that it’s just more of a struggle. And so that’s what I wrote a book called meta skills that talks about that many skills are skills that lets you learn other skills like if you’re a good learner that helps you learn about other things you know that’s that’s gotten similar to meta cognition. It’s knowing what you need to know or feeling what you need to feel. These sorts of things five of them I think are important in a world where innovation is crucial. And the book was really a watershed for me because I learned a lot from the research I did. It’s unlike my other books it’s you know it’s big it’s three hundred and fifty pages 30 pages of notes you know tiny type where all this stuff came from. So I really started to think about how how much we need to change education to be in tune with the world that requires more problem solving more creativity more human interaction and because because the old way of learning and the old schooling system just doesn’t work doesn’t work as well. Much like it’s built on a factory model where everybody learns the same thing and they come out at the end with the same time they stop in time. The end at the same time they learn the same things. Everything they learn is already known you know. So how do you teach people to learn things that aren’t.

Klaus
No I I think it’s really interesting that you coming from the US say something that everybody in for example Germany which I have a better grasp on on what is going on is also saying and and from what I understand you say is something that it starts with feeling. It goes on with scene and there’s dreaming making which sort of is the opposite of dreaming. And then again learning and I was quite fascinated by these seemingly different things are contradictory things in this list.

Marty Neumeier
Yes they are there. I think they’re complementary. So so feeling and seeing our complementary feeling is about intuition and emotion and that sort of thing and then seeing is more about systems understanding systems. So it’s more logical those two things need to be together they’re sort of opposites but they need each other. And then making and what’s the other one. Dreaming dreaming dreaming is kind of wishing or thinking to yourself wouldn’t it be cool if what if what if and you can work yourself to death and never achieving anything. You know I mean you have to make stuff. So yes dreaming is no good without making it. And if you don’t know how to make money so you need you need those skills design skills making skills but making without having a vision is not going to get you anywhere either. And then learning is really a possible farm of the five things learning is just kind of accelerates all the other for that kind of learning and talking about there is really more formal learning either by reading or going to school or taking classes going to workshops or formal things. And some people are good at that and somebody bored so it’s but it’s good to be good at those things feed off of each other. They all relate to each other and make each other better.

Klaus
For teaching or for learning this several mediums to do that. And you talk a lot about all you have written a lot of books and you talk about books and books are a great way an accepted way for several hundred years to learn something new and also get into some bring the reader in some sort of transformation to do his or her job better for example to learn something about something that this person has never been exposed to before some new point of view or a new skill. But a book also has boundaries. Now we have video we have courses courses that were around for thousands of years but we have online courses for example and stuff like that. So what is not teachable via a book or what is best teachable by a book.

Marty Neumeier
Well that’s a good point. I think what’s teachable by a book is we’re writing so you can learn to be a writer from reading books. You don’t even need to take a class. Although I still think having a class and having a mentor would help anybody. Yes. And having peers who could review each other’s works all that’s really important. They all have their advantages. I think people overvalue what video can teach as opposed to books. I think books just pack a lot more inside but you need to be able to unpack it. You need to be a good reader a critical reader. You need to be willing to take those ideas and try them out. So people who don’t have that sort of they’re not self-propelled into doing that might do better if they’re in a group where there’s some peer pressure to do the work right. So that would be school. Yes classes. But I think they’re all you know everybody has their own way of learning and I think I think they should gravitate towards those things that work for them. But I certainly wouldn’t rule out reading. I’m not counting books on the on the endangered species list. Oddly enough I mean I think they’re just they’re under appreciated in the US because we have so much technology we’re doing so many cool new things that people are distracted from from books. And that’s one of the reasons I prefer Europe. People read that bookstores here. It’s great it makes me feel great. So I’m actually thinking of maybe moving my publishing activities to Europe where there’s there’s more effort going into the production of books and there’s more readers making the centre by centre of gravity. So I’m looking into that on this trip. Among other things and I probably will do video courses someday if I should live long enough. But right now I’m focusing on live masterclasses. Yes. For people who are really serious.

Klaus
So what do you started to do is offering these live master classes and what I understand is is that one of the first ones or second year now is is happening in Europe in this October.

Marty Neumeier
Yes. Well we. We did the first one in London and that was in March and that was a big success. So we decided to do more cities with the same class. It’s the level one class. There’s gonna be five levels. Level one is the basic you know branding one or one. It’s a great class in a lot of people that’s all they need is that first level and they’ll be transformed their whole idea of branding will be transformed. So we’re bringing it back to London and also Hamburg and Glasgow Bordeaux is now closed. But those five. And then we’ll be coming back again in probably April. I think something like that with the second course and so you can take two if you want. If you’re very ambitious you could take one then two things might be too much for people to do that.

Klaus
But it would be for the genius amongst us.

Marty Neumeier
It’s one of the on geniuses only for that. Yeah. So yeah the second the second masterclass will be focused on strategy. It’s a brand strategy goes deeply into that. There’ll be a very fascinating classic and I’m loving these classes because the people who come are very very motivated. They’re pros already they’re already in the field working in the field or at least the graduates of a of a program in marketing or strategy business something like that. And and they just bring a lot of energy to it and it’s for some of them. Some of them it’s the first time they’ve worked collaboratively with other people in other disciplines. So you know we break into teams and we take a fictitious. We can we create a project for each team and then they take it in two days they take it from beginning to end and a prototype that brand. And what’s really kind of surprised me is how much people bonded over the first one. I mean it’s a little business to start it up after people met in this class. They started working together and collaborating either sort of unofficially or even creating new business to business relationships with each others and other people got better jobs after this really better jobs. Thumbs up thumbs up. The idea though is that if you take all five at one end you graduate from all five levels in the program you are able to take on the role of CBI chief brand officer in a large company which is a new role that’s just emerging. And it’s a very it’s a role of high responsibility and high compensation higher than anyone ever thought. I mean it’s it’s almost up there with CEO status so that’s not for everybody. We’re not going to have a lot of graduates but we’ve already got people from the very first class taking those kinds of roles just from the first class. Amazing. So I can’t explain why I think they were already very talented before they took the class but I think it just gave them probably a better understanding of where they fit and what their value is. Other people reported that they just landed huge clients that they never thought they could handle and now they have a really better understanding of how to structure the work. So I’m really encouraged just to keep doing this and I hope that some of some pros from Germany come to the Hamburg class it’s October 29 and 30.

Klaus
I will provide a link in the podcast show notes and the episode’s description.

Marty Neumeier
You can go to https://levelC.org to see what it’s about.

Klaus
Yes. So that way you you introduced another way to interact with the brand education let’s put it that way it’s not a good word. I’m just lacking some words. Another way also to interact with you because in the book it’s just it’s there’s the personal voice on the pages but you will be attending these classes you will be hosting the classes. Yes. No it’s the it’s the most fun thing I do is interact with everybody and.

Marty Neumeier
Just get in the playpen with them you know and you know we can learn to gather and I have my partner Andy Starr who helps you help set them up and runs the business part of it. And he also is a great teacher and helps the teams. He goes around it helps the teams compete with each other. Okay. It’s really fun and very learning the full learning that we’re learning from.

Klaus
It’s a good word. You referred to that brand office on that new role that is sort of upcoming. Does that have anything to do with the popularity of design thinking.

Marty Neumeier
It would definitely include design thinking because branding is depends on the design design thinking which means design thinking is essentially thinking with your hands you know. So you you imagine something that wasn’t there before you you prototype it you see if it works you make changes to it you prototype it again you test it in the marketplace. That’s the process for creating anything new so. So I would say the Chief Brand Officer is the most important person in an in teaching the company how to do this at every level. I mean I think design thinking isn’t just for designers it’s just a way of approaching a problem where you don’t know the answer in advance know there’s no formula for finding out the answer you have to the test. You have to try other things you have to imagine a solution. And if you haven’t been taught how to do that. That’s pretty scary. So I would think that chief brand officer would be running classes or making sure that people understood the process of design thinking because it applies to anything in the business really it’s how honest a salesperson persuades a nice client and a good client to come along with with the program you know with to buy something from the company. It could be how strategists think how all that all the the elements of branding are put together. New processes in the company how do we work together. That’s all design thinking can explicate that too.

Klaus
And it introduces the idea of creativity that people can be creative even if they themselves don’t really think of themselves as being creative.

Marty Neumeier
Now we’re all creative here. We don’t think so often and often we’re not consciously creative but we don’t we don’t understand the process of creativity and so I think that’s something everyone could could learn from. I think they’d be really surprised at how key they are if they’re doing it deliberately and they’re actually you know there ways to to get at that. And you know I’ve taught workshops on that too. And I can say that almost everybody surprises themselves when they know how to do it.

Klaus
So you don’t need to be a genius to be an innovator?

Marty Neumeier
No you don’t. I do believe in genius but I believe that everyone’s. Everyone has the ability to be a genius in something if they can find it and develop it. And what happens is a lot of people don’t realize they have that potential or are afraid to to explore it because maybe it doesn’t exist already. Maybe there is no category for that kind of genius that they would fit into. They have to create it. And so now we’re all learning how to express ourselves in the best possible way and make the most of our lives. And I think there’s a lot to learn from design thinking processes about that and the fact in fact there’s at Stanford that they’re running classes on using design thinking to to to envision your career and to to to to guide you along your career.

Klaus
I think it would be a great help for young people. Sounds strange but I’m 50 to have such a course done by you because you come to the point. Straight to the point you would you could help a lot of young people with doing such a course.

Marty Neumeier
Yeah I hope I am going to do and cause I’m writing books about it and giving workshops where I’m where I have a sponsor but I don’t have a way right now of running design thinking workshops on their own but it’s it’s folded into my brand workshop. So it’s part of those. OK. We’ll hit the wall. We’ll hit that pretty hard in the level three. I think it hasn’t been designed yet. So we’ll see.

Klaus
OK great. Maybe there’s a small spin off far especially aimed at the young people trying to find that certain thing in their lives.

Marty Neumeier
Well I hope it’ll just be taught in that university should be it should be.

Klaus
It should be taught at school.

Marty Neumeier
Yeah. School period or trade school. Know it’s not it’s not just a white collar skill. I mean everyone should learn how to do this.

Klaus
So you’re a believer in some sort of method tool kit that helps us to to sort of develop creativity develop some sort of idea methodology to to see a vision to sort of create create things to create things and it doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor or a lawyer you know you don’t think of lawyers creating anything but I think that can be very creative and often are creativity and problem solving therefore they are almost siblings.

Marty Neumeier
You know they use the same skill set you know Sherlock Holmes you think of him as really logical but he was inventing solutions to problems that he could imagine a solution and then he wasn’t just reading the tea leaves and then tracking back to the to the original of the of the problem to the murderer and stuff.

Klaus
Yeah. And I see what you mean. Is there an exercise we could name in the Sherlock home exercise. No but it’s an exercise that you. Like a simple thing that you recommend to people to do something like that to be individuals to be innovative but one that I like and it’s it’s not mine.

Marty Neumeier
I mean it has existed for years is where you you you try to fight. You look at a subject area. Let’s say you’re trying to invent something new with a brand or a company or product. You you you you make a list of everything that’s known about that. Like what are the assumptions about that subject area. And then you reverse those and you see what happens when you reverse it. Usually you come up with the world’s worst idea because there’s a reason why that successful thing is the way it is. But that’s successful industry but in reversing it. You’ve you look at it from a different perspective and you can say OK so that’s horrible. But what would we have to change about that reversed idea to make that a winner. So you’re starting from a different place a very wrong place. I said I do everything wrong at first. I think it’s helped me quite a bit in some ways. So you know let’s say that you want to reinvent banking retail banking. That’s a subject everybody knows a lot about because we all use a bank right. So you make a list of all the things that banks are like. What’s it like to go to the bank. What does the bank look like. What is it what the bankers do. Well see when you go to the bank it’s usually in a retail space and it might have some columns in the front and maybe some teller windows where you go to the and you know you wait in line you go up and you do your transaction. It’s got a safe in the back. It’s usually very solemn because it’s serious business it’s money. Yes. And you don’t you don’t you don’t you know take your lunch in there and eat it you know you wear shoes. It’s not relaxed not relaxed and that’s fine. But what if you just said well what’s the opposite of that. Well it’s it’s it’s not in a retail space it’s you could eat. You can go with barefoot. You can bring food you can bring your dog. There’s no teller windows maybe there’s no motels. So you go. Well that’s that would be the weirdest bank ever. But then you think well OK maybe maybe it’s it’s not in a normal know it’s not in the high rent district in town it’s in like where all the art galleries are and it’s got a concrete floor and it’s all painted white and there’s no people come up to you. They have a laptop or a tablet and they ask you how they can help and you sit down you have some coffee and conversation look the whole conversation. Then you can come there and sit there with you or your cat. Oh yes. Are you snake right. Well chair for the snake. And so that sounds pretty crazy. On the other hand one of my readers a group of people who read my book Zach did exactly that in Prague. And it spread to the rest of Czechoslovakia Czech Republic. It’s called Air bank and you go in and everything’s green and white plastic and fun. And you know it’s. And you can here’s a sign in the window that says you know take off your shoes bring your food. Know that’s OK. If you sign up for an account. You don’t get 30 pages of contract to sign you get one simple page that you can understand. You know they just did everything. They just fixed all the problems and reversed everything and it’s hugely successful OK.

Klaus
And they’re probably still learning and improving stuff and reacting on things that are good or bad and he’s building on that. Yes they are. Continuous learning is very difficult for him to do in companies and be innovative all the time. You might start us out innovative but then you get you get sort of frozen in time. Is there like a go to exercise that you recommend. And I think No I’m asking for a lot for companies to sort of keep on learning.

Marty Neumeier
I really think that there should be every company should have its own training program. That’s that’s aligned with their own brand. They should develop their own it shouldn’t be something you can learn at a university because anyone can get that from you they should have their own special branded training. Yes. So whatever it whatever it is that’s important to success of that company if it’s continuous learning then they should teach to continuous learning. They should know the matter skill of learning would be great. And then you can put in some processes that make that we feel for people. Let me. One of the things that I did that I thought was really is pretty successful was for Hewlett Packard HP back 15 years ago. Their company was a mess because they had acquired another company and the two cultures didn’t really fit together very well. And they had a culture of everyone for himself. Like every division every region could make up its own rules and use its own brand elements and so it was just a mess. It didn’t look like a single company at all. And they they find something that works and they just keep repeating that for endlessly until it didn’t work. And then they find out that gee that product is no longer needed in the world. We’ve got to start over. So there’s no need for that really. You just have to have continuous innovation. So we work together with HP and they had adopted the slogan of invent invent but it’s for customers it was for them. Okay. Right. We need to invent let’s be invented let’s design stuff and let’s keep doing so because the company was so democratic in a way and diffused all over the world. It was really impossible to force anyone to do anything in a certain way. They just resisted it. That’s just wasn’t in the culture of the company. So we tried something else we created a competition an annual competition around the HP brand which included products and brand communications and processes and partnerships and just about everything the company did was part of the brand effort and we would send out a call for entries and people would fill out a form and send in examples of something they had done that they think pushed the company forward and made a big deal out of judging it at three different levels including outside famous people from the outside coming in and judging the final the final winners. And then we made a big event out of it three days someplace in the world where people would be flown in or the finalists would be flown in and they’d be treated to great talks by important people at a big banquet. And just like you know the Academy Awards you get a beautiful trophy if they were were among the winners and it just inspired everybody to do the right thing without and without forcing it to do it they wanted to do it. They wanted to be seen in the company. They wanted visibility. And that just kept building on itself. And then we had kind of internal magazine online learning where we would take the winners and write an article about the team and how they did it. But the fetishes of their solution where were the takeaways were so if you want to try it here’s what you should learn from this. And then we took those and made those case studies in a training program and we flew around the world to different regions and taught people how to be more creative and innovative. And that that worked. And I think we ran it for five years until they finally knew enough about it that they could take it over internally. So you know I don’t know if that’s a good solution for everybody but for them it was it was it was perfect was just what they needed.

Klaus
Given their size and their culture to establish such a like an internal university established curriculum established questions answers establish media people that are running such a show and that could be from outside people at least for a while until things start to run smoothly and then it has to be done by people from the company themselves. I think because I think the better acceptance.

Marty Neumeier
And that’s that would be in my view the one of the roles of the CBO chief brand officer to make sure that that is operating perfectly.

Klaus
Okay great. Marty I’m I’m really fascinated by our conversation. I have a last question. And I think it shows a lot about you. You named a navigation point a section of your Web site. Steal my idea. Yes steal this idea steal this idea right. And what on earth did you think to name this section. That way it’s just very different from everything else on the web.

Marty Neumeier
You know it was just a feeling I had now that you know I think about it. I do know where that came from. I heard a story maybe 20 years ago about a rock and roll group that you may know called the Grateful Dead and The Grateful Dead had a very fanatic group of fans. So you know their audience was they just loved the Grateful Dead and they show up for every concert. The same people would show up every time and whenever the Grateful Dead had new songs there’d be people in the audience with high end tape recorders you know taping these songs and then selling them to each other or making them available online. And the Grateful Dead were going oh wait a minute they’re they’re ruining our business right there. They’re taking these recordings which are not very good live from somebody sitting in an audience and they’re getting them out before we can even put them on vinyl. And stealing our sales and so they’re trying to figure out what to do about that. And one of the people not anybody in the group but somebody like a man the manager or something similar. So we’re just thinking about this wrong. These are our fans without without our fans we have nothing if if they want to you know steal some music and give it to each other is that does that theft or is that advertising that I see that. I’m just. I know people are going to steal stuff out of my books. Why don’t I just ask them to do it and make it easy and given it the actual slide you know given the actual work and they could put it in their slideshows or use it any way they want. I don’t even care if they use my name with it they just want those ideas out there. There’s that. There’s more where those came from so I just keep coming up with new problems to solve and why not give them away. I mean it’s not like there is a limited number of these ideas.

Klaus
There’s just many many ideas and the good thing about ideas is once they are good for something at least for a certain point in time they become something like a general thing of life that it’s accepted to the and the society accepts these ideas. SS Now own and integrates that into the development of the society in that way. And the simple idea of a person a single person can become very very powerful if it sort of resonates with lots of other people at this point of time organic and people don’t even know where it came from so much the better.

Marty Neumeier
It just seems true. And I get it sometimes I get people online and social media saying oh the brand gap. Well that old thing. Yeah. You know or that and others say oh yeah I read that book. You know everybody knows all that stuff. Yes.

Klaus
Yeah. You have read the books we have talked about it for a long time. We have discussed these things and yeah it’s common knowledge.

Marty Neumeier
They were new at the times. It reminds me of a time my wife and I when we were in London and we went to see Romeo and Juliet and on the way out there were an American couple in front of us. We heard them talking and the man says “Well what did you think of the play?” She says “Oh I loved it. It’s just that you know there were so many cliches I’m not very myself with Shakespeare but I think the principle holds.” It’s like after a while you know when things become common knowledge they sound like cliches.

Klaus
So Shakespeare wasn’t such a big author? He just stuck together lots of cliches 🙂

Klaus
Great. Thank you Marty. I think we should leave it at that and thank you very much for taking the time of talking to me and and adding something to the library of the 2pt5. I think that was very very helpful and it was a great pleasure to talk to you.

Marty Neumeier
Likewise. Thank you so much.

Klaus
Thank you very much. Thank you for listening to my conversation with Marty Nemeier.