Tag Archives: twitter

Investing in Social? Understand Twitter’s True Value.

Exactly two weeks removed from Twitter’s IPO, is the upstart social network a better long-term buy, or should you stick with what you know and invest in Facebook?

Sorry! I’ve changed the location of Brendan’s Brainstorms! Read the full article here: http://brendansbrainstorms.com/?p=409

Tomorrow’s Markets (Part 2)

We’re now 3 days into the experiment, not the best start, but that was to be expected. Day one’s predictions we’re essentially halved, “boasting” an accuracy of ~45%. However, as mentioned, there should be a 72 hour layover between the predictions of sentiment based algorithms and actual market trends; Thursday’s picks should in actuality, be indicative of tomorrow’s markets. Both Thursday and tonight’s predictions (for tomorrow) are posted below.

A quick disclaimer: I am NOT a stock broker, equity expert, nor am I an advisor of any sort. I am not licensed nor am I in any way remotely qualified to pick stocks. This is a personal experiment and should be viewed as such. 

Thursday’s picks 10/24/13 

Facebook – FB – Will close up, big 

Verizon – VZ – Will close up, slightly

Bank of America – BAC – Will close down, slightly

Ford – F – Will close up, big

J.C. Penny – JCP Will close up, slightly

Netflix – NFLX – Will close up, slightly

Caterpillar – CAT – Will close down, slightly 

 

Tuesday’s picks 10/28/13 

Facebook – FB – Will close down, slightly 

Verizon – VZ – Will close down, slightly

Bank of America – BAC – Will remain flat (+/- >=.01%)

Ford – F – Will close up, slightly

J.C. Penny – JCP Will close up, slightly

Netflix – NFLX – Will close up, slightly

Caterpillar – CAT – Will remain flat (+/- >=.01%)

 

 

 

The Unfortunate Necessity: Mediocre Content

In an age where content rules, we’ve reached the point of stagnation. Yes, user generated material is still the lifeblood of the internet as we know it, but no longer is content the refreshing, educational, value creator that it once was.

In a 2010 article, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt noted that “Every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” While user generated content; tweets, pictures, blogs, etc. all add to the excess, the glut of information has continually driven down the level of quality, ultimately resulting in a flood of mediocre content.

However, this onslaught of pedestrian information isn’t simply an intangible talking point. Nearly three years ago, a McKinsey study valued the surplus at $171B, a number that has surely increased since the article’s publication.  

Initially, the excess material did very little, it remained dormant, languishing on blogs, many of which had failed to properly manipulate Google’s search algorithms, leaving them uncharted and unseen. Yet, as social media evolved, savvy internet users learned to drive site traffic and optimize content for search, opening the floodgates and drowning the internet in content.

Once the dam had broken, an oversupply of redundant information surfaced as a small group of thought leaders consistently innovated and a mass of “internet gurus” regurgitated their ideas as if they were their own, publishing them on blogs, forums, and social networks, while rarely expanding in any meaningful way.  

Today, as internet users frustratedly peruse the web searching for “new” articles, they often find that something published yesterday highlights the exact same information as a piece authored six months prior. Although, this repetition is nothing new, the frequency at which it occurs is unprecedented. Much the same as an influx in the housing market causes property values to plummet, a glut of monotonous content degrades the significance of an original thought.

Since much of this excess comes from people who are far from experts, a majority of user generated material is marginal at best. That being said, the same surplus that erodes innovative thought, is also what makes the social web great. So, as networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn foster open dialogue and act as a forum for unregulated discussion, it is important to remember that in doing so, they are spawning millions of pieces of lackluster content.

It is a viscous cycle. Mediocre content has become an unfortunate necessity. It is unfortunate that the regurgitation of a unique idea by self-proclaimed experts ultimately reduce the worth of an initial notion, but, it is a necessity, as the open, social dialogue created by subpar material, cause the exact same pieces of content to act as springboards, encouraging readers to expand upon their theories. If there is a gap within a hypothesis or an argument is flawed, the uninhibited exchange of ideas will inevitably result in a resolution.

 Three days ago, Allison Benedikt published a provocative manifesto, explaining why parents who send their kids to private institutions are “bad people.” While noting her argument wasn’t “quite as outrageous as it might seem”, John Carney, a senior editor at CNBC had an alternate view of the situation. Among several intelligent rebuttals, in his response, Carney explained that “Benedikt’s premise that creating a public school monopoly would improve education is demonstrably wrong. Monopoly education would, like every monopoly known in the history of humanity, produce a poorer quality product at greater cost. Competition improves education.”  

The example above not only highlights the open exchange of ideas spurred from content (Allison’s piece was far from mediocre), but John’s argument about monopolization can be adapted as well. To his point, competition fuels both innovation and quality. That being said, if we were to eliminate 85% all user generated content, leaving only what is (mostly) unique thought, competition would drastically decrease. As a result, quality would fall, innovation would slow, and stagnation would ensue, leaving us right back where we started, in a vicious cycle fueled by the unfortunate necessity that is mediocre content.

At the end of the day, the timeless adage still holds true. Regardless of whether the chicken came before the egg or the egg before the chicken, both mediocre content and the innovative ideas they spawn and destroy, are integral pieces of the social lifecycle.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe via email and follow me on Twitter: @BrendanBrandt

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

 

Additional Reading:

Every 2 Days We Create As Much Information As We Did Up To 2003

The Web’s €100 billion surplus

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person

Sending Your Kids to Private School Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person

The Future of Facebook as a Social Content Farm

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Picture via Ogilvy.

2 Real World Resolutions and Their Social Applications

We’re officially one week into the New Year and resolutions are in full swing. From weight loss to dietary alterations, we all attempt, regardless of sincerity, to alter our lives for the better. Fortunately for us, these common resolutions are not only practical in the everyday, but digitally applicable and can change our online image, better our reputations, and bolster our brands.

1. Be Punctual

Everybody’s rushed, we all oversleep, and sometimes, possibly often, we run behind. That being said, timing is everything, especially when we’re talking social. In a digital world where a Tweet sent 30 seconds ago is obsolete, business owners and professionals alike must be acutely in tune with the timing of their posts.

So, when is the best time to publish your content? The short answer, weekdays around 4pm. The long answer, it varies greatly between networks and target market. If you’re shooting for the highest number of active users, Monday through Thursday 1pm to 4pm is your go to, but, if like many, you’re shooting to reach educated, employed, professionals or business owners, you’ll need to post with a bit more precision. Professionals utilize social media during the workweek, early (7am-8am), at lunch on their smartphones (11am – 12:30pm), and when they head home (4pm – 5pm). Of course this is by no means an exact science, but by remembering the importance of timing you can significantly increase the visibility of your content.

2. Consume Less

Regardless of the product; alcohol, tobacco, food, etc., many resolutions involve the practice of moderation. While consuming “too much” social content may not have proven adverse health effects, it can certainly be detrimental.

While many talk about a “work / life balance” few actually practice what they preach, and of all professions, social entrepreneurs are they absolute worst. Think about it, I mean actually think about it, how many hours a day are you active on social media? For most, 2, 3, 4 hours, or even more when taking into account mobile usage, is not uncommon. Not only does this leave little time for you to focus on other, probably more important areas of your life, family, friends, etc., but it actually inhibits your ability to differentiate between high quality, important information and the irrelevant opposite.

The people you follow and subscribe to generate a multitude of information, while not all of it is relevant or quality, much of it is. However, after being connected for hours, witnessing a constant stream of information, you begin to monitor for certain keywords or topics, usually extremely niche, that pertain to your immediate goal or problem rather than foster creative thought and enhance logic. Occasionally you may hit the jackpot and read that perfect article or blog that sparks a revelation, but far more often than not, by zoning in for hours on end and unintentionally filtering out content, you risk missing hundreds of pieces of slightly less relevant information that when compiled, could have solved your problem or helped you reach your goal in a fraction of the time. It certainly seems that the old adage holds true, less is more.

 

At the end of the day, any resolution, socially applicable or not, is more than likely a good one and is well worth attempting. I wish you all the best as you strive for personal improvement in 2013!

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow on Twitter: @BrendanBrandt

 © 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

Additional Reading:

Best Times To Post Social Networks (Infographic) – http://socialtimes.com/best-times-to-post-social-networks-infographic_b104584

Maybe Using Less Social Media Is The Path To Online Success – http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/05/30/maybe-using-less-social-media-is-the-path-to-online-success/

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Want To Unleash Top Talent? Go Social.

As large, powerful corporations continue seek out and recruit young talent, much of which has grown up on the internet, they are realizing that the demands of today’s top recruits are far different than they were 10 years ago.  While dress codes, flexible work schedules, and gym memberships are easy fixes, the prospect of high level executives joining the social frontier is often a tough change, but is a must have for many top tier prospects.  That being said, leadership “going social” can be good for your business as it increases productivity, sparks collaboration, and attracts talent.

In case you didn’t know, the young recruit with a genius IQ you just hired doesn’t want to be stuck under mediocre, middle management leadership, where in their eyes there is little growth potential, and no place to showcase their talents. Many of them are impatient and the prospect of starting on the ground floor of a company, no matter how prestigious, is frustrating to them, regardless of its inevitability.

Since there is little chance you have the funds or the recruiting prowess to pull a swath of great leaders into your extremely exciting middle management positions, go social to appease the talent that is the future of your business. Doing so breaks down barriers within your organization as employees are given a forum to showcase their talents to both peers and decision makers. In turn, employee productivity increases, collaboration booms, and creativity skyrockets, all because your top young talent feels that they now have a chance to shine on a bigger stage, and you are no longer leaving them “parked” on the ground floor.

If you’re the micro-managing, control-freak of a CEO who is sitting in a stuffy office, thinking how this will open Pandora’s box, create a myriad of management issues, and let loose a floodgate of useless ideas, just remember that you probably won’t be sitting there in 3 years if you don’t adapt to change.

While social media certainly does give ALL of your employees greater exposure, it does not do away with the traditional management progressions or the previous methods of information dissemination within your company, it simply enhances collaboration, creativity, and gives the impression that entry level employees can actually influence C-level execs, regardless of the truth in that statement. 

“The illusion has become real.” – Gordon Gekko

At the end of the day the way your employees, or potential employees view you is all that really matters. Executives going social causes a slight change in perception and can transform seemingly mediocre employees into the creative, productive, superstars you want, and need them to be.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow on Twitter: @brendanbrandt

 

Additional Reading:

Motivating Millennials – http://www.inc.com/eric-v-holtzclaw/motivating-millennials-take-a-cue-from-video-games.html

Harnessing Young Talent In The Age Of Impatience – http://fleishman.co.za/2011/04/harnessing-young-talent-in-the-age-of-impatience/

 © 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

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3 Social Tools Smart Entrepreneurs Use and Why

While many understand that social media is an invaluable marketing tool for businesses, smart entrepreneurs see the true value in social and it has nothing to do with advertising. Here are 3 tools intelligent business owners use to grow their businesses.

“If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” –Benjamin Franklin

1. Twitter Search

Sure we all know how to use it, but Twitter’s search bar is wildly underutilized. The social network has quickly become the most powerful news and information aggregator in the world. Rather than browsing Inc., Forbes, etc. for news, try searching Twitter to see what you customers / potential customers are saying. Learn from their complaints, wants, wishes, and praise to prevent your business from making the mistakes of those before you.

After taking a look at your customer’s preferences, search your competition, see what they’re doing, what they’re not doing, and what people are saying about them. Taking into account your findings, adjust your marketing strategy accordingly, if they’ve seen success with a contest it might be in your best interest to do a bit of gamification, if they hosted a conference and it was a flop, learn from their mistakes.

2. LinkedIn Answers

LinkedIn Answers provides a forum for users to interact and find solutions to problems of all sorts. If you’re a small business owner LinkedIn Answers is your personal support center. Have an IT issue? Try LinkedIn Answers. Have a question about SEO? Try LinkedIn Answers. Bottom line, you have a question, they (users) have an answer.

To take it a step further, make sure you provide insight and help solve other people’s problems anytime you can. Not only will this ensure your questions are answered in a timely fashion and receive multiple responses, but it will help to establish you / your business as a thought leader and valuable resource within your industry.

3. LinkedIn Groups

Similar to their counterpart (Answers), LinkedIn Groups provide users with the ability to learn, teach, and share information of all kinds. Join groups in your industry and actively participate, share relevant articles, and learn from others. Groups’ real value lies in the fact that they are filled with like-minded people. If you own a hotel and need advice on staffing and payroll you probably don’t want advice from a SEO expert, fortunately your Group is filled with thousands of hospitality professionals, most of which are willing to help in any way they can.

While these are by no means “new” tools, they are certainly underutilized. As “social marketers” we often fall victim to tunnel vision and only look at intrinsic marketing value, however, it is important to remember that social provides an enormous wealth of information and at the end of the day knowledge is the most valuable tool anyone can have.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow on Twitter!
@BrendanBrandt
http://www.brendansbrainstorms.com

Additional Reading

7 Epic Marketing Uses of LinkedIn Answers – http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/29581/7-Epic-Marketing-Uses-of-LinkedIn-Answers.aspx

LinkedIn Groups Add Marketing Power – http://mashable.com/2009/03/20/linkedin-groups-marketing-features/

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

3 Ways To Promote Post Virality

Across the board, influencers are relentlessly attempting to differentiate themselves from the sea of 1,500,000,000 (1.5 billion) combined tweets and posts per day. While everyone wants to be the next Red Bull and blow up with half a million shares, virality is rarely ever achieved. Here are 3 tips to remember as you construct your next campaign and push for social infamy.

1. Want to go viral? Remember the basics.

When constructing a post remember what your audience, in this case anyone who consumes social content, is looking for. Make sure your wording, including a call to action, is interesting and concise. Chances are, if your introductory verbiage is bland, so is your content.

Avoid blocks of text. A few paragraphs are perfectly fine but nobody wants to read a wall of text. Break it up, use bullets, indents, and alter font (bold / italics) to create some visual relief.
Always include media. Let face it, we’re lazy and it’s much easier to glance at a picture or watch a video than it is to read, even if your text is short, say 140 characters, a picture or video brings a missing aesthetic element that will help your post standout.

Post on multiple platforms. Promote your content and make your call to action visible wherever you can. Publishing your information on various different sites will boost cross promotion, that is, a retweet on Twitter could ultimately translate into a comment on LinkedIn. At the end of the day the old adage still holds true, any publicity is good publicity, it doesn’t matter where that comes from. Fortunately, multiplatform integration has made simultaneously publishing one post to multiple sites extraordinarily easy.

2. If you want something, ask for it. Better yet, require it.

Unfortunately, you cannot expect your average social media user to retweet, reblog, or share something just because. While there certainly are some that do, it is important to remember that they are the exception and not the rule. However, by simply including a purposeful call to action within your post, you can often incite social consumers who typically remain on the sidelines into promoting your content. That being said, when aiming for virality, content creators should head in a different direction.
At risk of getting too far into gamificaiton, by hosting a contest, i.e. “Submit an offroad picture of you and your Jeep. The owner of the photo that receives the most likes wins a weekend at Jeep Adventure Camp! Users must share this post to win.” , influencers can directly drive virality.

For instance, the above post, includes not only a call to action “Submit an offroad picture of you and your Jeep”, but promotes sharing on 2 levels. First, and more overtly, the forced share – “Users must share this post to win.” The second tier of sharing or subshares, occur when uploading users (users who posted photos of their offroading Jeeps) ask that their friends, followers, connections, etc. interact on the host page, in this case Jeep’s Facebook, because the uploading user needs something (in this situation likes on their uploaded photo) in order to win the contest. This creates multiple waves of activity that drives traffic, prevents your content from going stagnant, increases total reach, and ultimately gives you a shot at virality.

3. Timing is everything.

Remember, social networks utilize the feed system, until a post starts seeing some activity, the playing field is level – the newer the better. With that in mind, it becomes clear that attracting shares and retweets immediately is the key to your dreams of virality. If you don’t see some activity almost immediately upon posting, there is a good shot your content will plummet into oblivion. In order to avoid this, influencers must time their posts properly. Social networks see a spike in activity early in the morning (8am-9am), late afternoon (3pm-4pm), and late night (10pm-11pm). While posting in these windows by no means guarantees activity, they gives content creators the best shot to attract users.

A word of warning.

The odds of achieving virality are certainly against you. Remember that it takes time, potentially multiple posts, and is much easier if you already have a substantial following. However, it can be done. That being said, if you’re a small business, make sure you can handle the traffic. Just because you can handmake 500 cupcakes a week does not mean you’re ready to handle 5,000 a day, no matter how delicious they are.

Merry Christmas!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter!
@BrendanBrandt

Additional Reading:

37 Viral Post Ideas You Can Use Today – http://www.skelliewag.org/37-viral-post-ideas-you-can-use-today-103.htm

How To Create Facebook Posts That Go Massively Viral – http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-create-a-viral-facebook-post-2012-8?op=1

Viral Digitial Marketing

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

2 Easy Ways to Measure ROI on Social Campaigns

If you’re familiar with the Rodger’s adoption curve, you understand that the innovators, early adopters, and early majority have already hopped on the social media bandwagon, are marketing online, and are reaping the benefits. Unfortunately, these marketing trends have not yet taken hold with the late majority and laggards. Many of the business owners residing in the latter two groups cite various, valid, reasons for holding out, most commonly, their “inability” to track the return on their social investment.

However, by leveraging tools like SocialBro and Google Analytics, diligently monitoring, and properly tracking your campaigns, you can measure ROI with relative ease. Here are 2 things you should take a look at when considering your return.

1. Have your marketing costs decreased or sales increased?

At the end of the day it’s about dollars and cents. Social media, and digital marketing in general, is far less expensive than traditional means. A Facebook business page and user generated content is free, a month’s worth of billboard advertising is roughly $1,000, you do the math. When working with business owners this is an easy idea to pitch, option 1, we save them money by cutting back, not eliminating (I would never recommend that – a topic for a different day), on traditional advertising and in turn decrease their marketing expenditures, or, option 2 add free digital marketing to their current traditional campaign and increase revenue, either way, we put more money in their pockets.

2. Has web traffic increased?

Not only is this an easily translatable, tangible piece of data that makes sense to business owners, it is by far, the easiest metric to track in the history of metrics. It really is a no brainer, by simply tracking the number of hits month over month, you can easily determine whether your social media campaign has seen some “success” or needs a bit of tweaking.

A side note on this – while increased traffic is great, it can certainly ruffle some feathers. If traffic increases 50% and sales don’t increase at all, you might reveal some underlying issues related to conversion, management, etc. that business owners may shy away from.

One final thought – at the end of the day, it is important to remember and relay, that although it does need to be leveraged correctly, social media is FREE, and any return puts you in the black.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter: @brendanbrandt.

Additional Reading:

Calculate the ROI of Social Media – http://www.briansolis.com/2012/10/calculate-the-roi-of-social-media/

5 Simple Steps to Measure Social Media ROI – http://socialmediatoday.com/node/463590

Rodger’s Adoption Curve – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_adoption_lifecycle

Rodger's Adoption Curve

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

How to Market Like a Drug Dealer

Across the board, marketing efforts are becoming increasingly digital with every business trying to push out the next viral advertisement in hopes garnering millions of likes, shares, and retweets. Unfortunately, not everyone is the creative genius type, and enlisting the help of a Don Draper can break even the biggest of startup budgets. Thankfully, you don’t need to, instead, stick with what you know, generate your own original content, and market like a drug dealer.

Content marketing has grabbed the limelight as of late and has seemingly become digital marketing’s golden goose. In reality, content marketing is not a new idea, for all intents and purposes, a business that participates in “content marketing” is giving away something for free in hopes of hooking the would be customer to their product or service, forcing them to come back for more, at which time they will be forced to pay for the previously free product or service.

So, that coffee shop down the street that is giving away hot chocolate samples for free, is participating in content marketing. The lead aggregator company, that gives you a one month, no risk trial is no different than the digital marketing firm that publishes weekly whitepapers. In every situation, the premise is the same.

The easiest way to understand content marketing, and realize how, why, and where it occurs is to relate it to…a drug dealer. Often, dealers will give a “prospect” the first dosage of a hard drug for free because they know, that the user will quickly become addicted to what the dealer provides and will continuously return, as a repeat buyer, to purchase the drug that had been given to them “just to try”.
If we apply that to content marketing. it’s easy to see why firms invest so much time and money into publishing unique, quality content when a few good articles are no different than bag of meth.

Ready to start?

1. Publish unique, original, addicting content that is related to the product or service that you are selling and leaves your would be customers wanting more.

2. Be consistent, but don’t overdo it. Think supply and demand, if you flood the market with your product, its value goes down. You want your customers to anxiously await your next freebie until they become so hooked on it that they have no choice but to buy what you’re selling.

3. Make it visible. Publishing a good blog post with a few relevant tags is no longer good enough. Post and repost your information on every social network at your disposal.

Additional Reading

10 Content Marketing Tips You Can Employ Now

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/10-content-marketing-tips-you-can-employ-now/

Your Publishing Content Has a 72 Hour Shelf Life

http://mashable.com/2012/09/28/content-shelf-life/

Twitter: @BrendanBrandt

Content Marketing

Content Marketing

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

Has social made gen. Y (including myself) lazy?

Hundreds of emails come across my desk each day. On a good day I read, I mean actually read, 5. Those 5 come from people I deem extra important or contain a subject line that extraordinarily excites me for some reason or another. What of the other 95 you ask? I skim them. I briefly read them before filing them away into some miscellaneous Outlook folder or deleting them forever. Frankly, I don’t have time to completely read and / or respond to every email that I receive each day, that being said, I don’t want to. Does that make me lazy? Because I don’t want to spend 8 hours a day sorting through pointless emails? No. Rather, myself – and i argue, gen. Y as a whole is/am efficient. Why waste our time reading countless emails that contain an unearthly amount of unnecessary information? Maybe it’s growing up with internet, smartphone, and social media at our fingertips that has conditioned us to be lazy as many gen. Xers see it (efficient in my eyes). Why would I spend 10 minutes reading an entire article in the New York Times when I could follow their columnist on Twitter and get the 3 major points in 30 seconds? If I’m interested / want to learn more, I’ll click the attached link and read the full article. Social Media has completely revolutionized the way we take in information, I no longer need to browse Fox News, CNBC, and various blogs to get my morning fix (insert CNN and MSNBC if you lean to the left). Instead, I can follow The Factor and Jim Cramer on Twitter and get the exact same information, only condensed and delivered to my smartphone with the click of a button. However, the laziness / efficiency doesn’t stop there. I’m an avid reader – not books (they take too much time) but I do frequent certain websites – Mashable, Inc., and Entrepreneur to be specific. Each day I read roughly 30 articles. That takes me 20 minutes. First of all – if the title doesn’t have some sort of number in it i.e. “5 Ways Really Smart People Better Themselves”  I don’t read it. Articles like the afore mentioned are the easiest for me to breeze through and pull the important points. I can pull up that article, read the 5 bullet points, and in 20 seconds I’ve comprehended the same amount, if not more than the reader who spent 15 minutes reading through all the nonsense just to get to those same 5 points. I’ve been asked why I do this by several people, most of them much older than I, as I assume the equate this with not “taking the time to stop and smell the roses”. I give them the same answer every time. I skim through articles, stow away various tidbits of information I find useful and then formulate my own ideas rather than those outlined specifically in the articles at a later date. Since I only spend 20 minutes a day reading and not 2 hours, I have an extra 100 minutes to stop and smell the roses.

Follow me on Twitter @brendanbrandt

P.S. I wrote this article in 15 minutes while listening to a video by McKinsey’s David Edelman.