April 06, 2016

Business Entertainment


Panda bears are entertaining. You look at one eating leafy greens and think to yourself, "well, isn't that cute?!" You see a handful of tweets about panda bears being cute, and you've been entertained. It's a better feeling than being yelled at by a rogue merchant for spamming customers with four email campaigns per week.

Have you ever watched a Ted Talk (click here)? People pay thousands to attend. Millions watch the videos online. There is no doubt that the format is entertaining, or there wouldn't be millions of views of Ted Talks online. Somebody tells the audience that schools squelch creativity or that introverts are powerful or that there are fourteen secrets to success, and the audience nods and applauds.

Does the audience change behavior when they leave the auditorium?

Do you change your behavior after viewing a Ted Talk online?

Or were you simply entertained? Like after you watched a panda bear gif online?

There's a place for entertainment. At 8:00pm, for instance, after a long work day.

There really isn't a place for business entertainment. The stakes are too great. If somebody tells you that the secret to business success is "Facebook Ads" (as suggested in an article that I read this morning), and you listen to business entertainment, and you fail, you lose your job. Not the person issuing business entertainment. You. You lose your job. Or worse, if you are Macy's and you listen to omnichannel business entertainment, thousands lose jobs. 

Thousands.

I couldn't help but think of business entertainment when I spoke at the VT/NH conference last week. When you speak at a conference, you are constantly trying to get a read of the room you are speaking to. You utter a sentence, then you read the reactions on the faces of the attendees (and you take mental note of those who are sleeping). You hope the attendees are there because they want to change. You don't want to hear an attendee say "I attended because the speakers are always entertaining."

I recall attending a conference two years ago - the keynote speaker walked a robot through the audience - talked about merchandising brilliance - and generally entertained those in attendance. A week later, the keynote speaker (the CEO) announced that his business was seeking Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. Clearly, his keynote was all about business entertainment.

Do me a favor. The next time you attend a conference, document how many of the sessions you attend provide truly actionable content, and then document how many of the sessions represent business entertainment.

Similarly, do me a favor. For the next week, document whether an article that you read provides truly actionable content, and then document the articles that represent business entertainment. What is the mix of actionable content and business entertainment? Who, specifically, provides you with actionable content?

Send me an email (kevinh@minethatdata.com) citing the articles and authors that provide actionable content.