Book Review: “Fascinate” by @SallyHogshead, a guest post by @DaveConcannon

Book Review: “Fascinate” by @SallyHogshead, a guest post by @DaveConcannon

This is a guest post by Dave Concannon.  Learn more about Dave at the bottom of this post and how to win a signed copy of this book.
Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate is an analysis of how and why people become attracted to people and ideas, and how understanding these triggers can help you build a better rapport with your customers. Hogshead has years of experience developing brand strategies for Fortune 500 companies and now works as a keynote speaker for brands such as Starbucks and Microsoft. So what’s fascinating?

Seven Fascination Triggers

The author has broken fascination down into seven triggers –

  • Lust – The primal animal brain which anticipates pleasure
  • Mystique – No, not her. Unanswered questions draw us in
  • Alarm – The threat of negative consequences cause us to act
  • Prestige – We naturally gravitate towards symbols of rank and respect.
  • Power – There is an instinct to focus on the things and people that control us
  • Vice – The illicit is very attractive, people like to rebel
  • Trust – We return time and again to reliable options

Every person or brand has a balance of these different triggers, some more than others. Perfume and cologne advertisements push Lust and Mystique, Banks vie for the appearance of Trust and Power, Insurance companies startle us with Alarm. The book delves through a few case studies of brands to see how they balance these seven triggers, and how with changing strategies they eliminate some elements while enhancing others.


There are some interesting takeaways from this book: People will pay an average of around $400 to be seen as more fascinating, and even the most sedate of people would be willing to make some moral compromises in order to make it happen. These are concepts to keep in mind when preparing any sort of marketing, branding, or PR exercise. Her hallmarks of a fascinating message reminded me of Guy Kawasaki’s “Rules for Revolutionaries“, here are a handful to keep in mind:

  • Provoke Strong and Immediate Emotional Reactions
  • Create Advocates
  • Incite Conversations
  • Force Competitors to realign around it

Practical value

One criticism I might have of the book is that while there’s a nice guide at the end to help you develop a marketing campaign using the Fascination triggers, it might not be practical for someone not already very well versed in marketing. The development questionnaire provided is a good brainstorming exercise though.

Final Opinions

Sally’s writing style is very enjoyable – it’s light, funny, and the examples and case studies are never too dry. I got a couple of interesting ideas out of “Fascinate” and it made me laugh in places. Thanks to Giang for getting me a copy!


A note from Giang:

Dave Concannon is a Irish startup guy with an interest in all things Entrepreneurial.  He recently moved to the Bay Area. He writes book reviews and opinion pieces on his blog at  He recently launched Lean Startup Feed, a great one-stop shop for resources on Lean Startup and Customer Development.

Dave is a good friend that I met through Mixergy and Twitter.  He is a book worm and I always enjoy reading his reviews on his site.  I am honored to have Dave’s review on my site.  Thank you, Dave, really appreciate it.

You should say hi to him on Twitter: @DaveConcannon.

Thanks to Sally, I have several signed copies of the book to give away.  Please help me promote this book review by sharing the post through Twitter, Facebook and leaving comments here.  I will select few random names and announce by July 1st.  Thank you.

Stay wonderful!

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New Media Age

New Media Age

I was incredibly honored to be invited to moderate the New Media Age panel at the LA Entrepreneurs Conference yesterday.   The panel organizer, Ryan Jones did a fantastic job of lining up great panelists: Jesse Albert, an independent media consultant, formerly of ICM, where clients included Showtime Networks, Beyonce…, Scott Carleton of Nomad Editing, Mike Farah of, and Ted MacKinney of Mosaic Media Group.  The room was packed, and the discussion was lively. My panelists weren’t shy about bouncing ideas, throwing in interesting & vivid examples and challenging each others, making my job as a moderator extremely easy.

We discussed how media content consumption and distribution have significantly changed over the last few years.  Technology has enabled distribution in many forms, from mobile to online and the traditional media distribution of box office, DVDs or TV are suffering.  Users are now ever more fragmented, with a different consumption behavior.   A viewer is more likely to be watching the TV while tweeting and playing a Facebook game on the computer and texting on the cell phone all at the same time.   Creativity is needed to capture the audience attention and engagement.

Online distribution now enables everyone to be content creator.   Instead of just celebrity featured films, media now comes in all forms, from 30 second prank jokes on YouTube to hours long serious educational videos like Mixergy to everything in between.   The viral spread through social media of these forms of content capture large viewers.  Stakeholders in the industry including big studio with large budgets and advertising agencies are trying to react to this, but there is so much of inefficiency built in to their system, from issues such as union, permit…, making it difficult for them to respond to the market change timely.   This opens up a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to enter the market and create content faster and at a much lower cost.

Because of this market trend, we are now seeing a huge increase in the quantity of content.   This also beckons the question of quality versus quantity.   Will quality content remain to be “the king”?   Yet what defines quality has morphed with consumption behavior. Shock factor is still something that is driving viewing.   The increasingly large amount of content creates yet another opportunity for entrepreneurs to aggregate content or to come up with filtering technology to sort quality and relevancy to the right audience.

While traditional media is not going away for some time, it is clear that the shift to the new media is strong.   Yet the monetization model is not cleared.  Everyone is trying out different things, but some panelist noted that traditional media is still a substantial funding source for new media.  We all agree that the new media age is at an adolescence phase right now, and the best way to figure this out is to jump right in rather than standing on the sideline waiting.

The Q&A session also brought up some important discussions around monetization and financing models, around how to establish expertise status in the industry, and what the 3D bandwagon is about.

I was very touched and honored to be approached by those in the audience afterward.  Thank YOU.   Many of you said you read my blog, or follow my tweets.  It really meant a lot to me.  A friend later said “it must be nice to be noticed”. No, not that. At lunch, my fortune cookie said “”You will touch the hearts of many”.   This is how I feel:  I felt privileged to know that I touch someone’s life in some way.  That made me very happy.

Overall, the day was a great event. I get to meet and talk with so many amazing people, doing so many exciting things.  I also get to catch up with some dearest friends of mine.  Among the excitement, my friend Seth Burns won the Fast Pitch competition for his Biogas & Electric startup.  (It was an anaerobic digestion technology for waste processing to produce biogas without NOx generation.  He also won the Rice Business Plan competition.)  He really deserves it – I know he has been working very hard on this for what seems like forever.

I was also very proud that and were the media partners of the event.  Thank you, the Harold and PaulinePrice Center for Entrepreneurial StudiesMichael Walsh and his team for a great event and for allowing us to be a part of it.

Next stop for me: Bright Lights conference by MDB Capital on “untold stories of disruptive technology”.  I am looking forward to see there the showcase of 50 of the most innovative public companies ranked in the 90th percentile for technology leadership from over 1,600 small cap companies.  Bright Lights conference is a private, by-invitation only event, so there will be no reporting from there for me.  But after that, see you at Big Omaha from Thursday.

If I didn’t see you yesterday at the event, I hope to meet you soon at another event?

Stay wonderful!

Photo credit: Thank you, Jeremy Przygode and Alfredo Fajardo for taking the photos.  I would otherwise be very sad not having a photo of the panel. My Mixergy friend Michael Wills once again came to the rescue, added colors and brought life to the photo. Thank you, Michael.

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Networking: “It’s the thought that counts” – say it ain’t so…

Networking: “It’s the thought that counts” – say it ain’t so…

You very likely have, on some occasions, received presents that you don’t desire.  It may have been a hideous T-shirt that you don’t know what to do with, or yet another generic coffee mug that looks just like many hanging by a pharmacy checkout.  As the other person babbling their apology for not knowing what to buy, you probably heard yourself blurted out something politely “thank you, it’s the thought that counts”.  But does it really?  What does it say about how much the other person really knows you?

What I really want to write about today is not so much about buying gifts for a friend but how we live and interact with others, especially those that we care about on the internet.  No, I am not talking about internet dating.  I am talking about forming intellectually satisfying networking relationships with those that you admire and hope to work with.  These could be other entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs, authors, bloggers…  These are the ones whose voice and actions you identify with.

These days, we are all bombarded with so much information and stimulus that are crying out for our attention on the internet.  Every moment of the day.  Every where we look.  You name it: Twitter, Facebook, Email, Mailing lists, Blogs, Podcast, Webinars, News, Websites…  I thought this quote from a chick flick “He’s just not that into you” is hilarious and appropriate:

“I had this guy leave me a voice mail at work, so I called him at home, and then he emailed me to my BlackBerry, and so I texted to his cell, and then he emailed me to my home account, and the whole thing just got out of control, and I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine, and that one answering machine had one casette tape, and that one casette tape either had a message from a guy or it didn’t, and now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies.

It’s exhausting.”

It’s exhausting indeed.  As such, the most valuable thing we can and should do for those that we care about is to give them our attention.

How do we give someone our attention?  This is easiest today than ever.  The persons you care about probably have a personal or company blog that talks about what they do, they probably have a twitter account that you can follow, a facebook page that you can become a fan of…  You can even set up a google alert on their name and their company to keep up to date with any news about them and their work.  You don’t have to be obsessive and spend too much time but intentionally become aware of what they are working on, and what matters to them.

But paying attention is only the first step.  If we do care about someone, the next step that we must do is to act.   How would they know if you don’t act?  It does not count.  Unless if you convert those caring thoughts into some actions.

OK, so you decide to act.  Have you felt so inspired that you wrote them long fan emails and desperately waited in vain for no responses?  Well.  I hate to say it, but as well meaning and sweet as it is, writing long (fan) emails is as good as buying that hideous T-shirt or that generic coffee mug.   (And don’t worry. I’m guilty of this sometimes.)   Misdirected action.  A mass of text from a stranger is overwhelming at the very least, if not intrusive.  If anything, it is an indication of a likely hassling relationship, if ever formed.   The receiver is thus inclined to reach for the alluring “delete” button as a quick solution.

A better alternative to show them that we care may be by giving.  Slowly.  In small steps.  Retweet.  Pass on their Facebook event.  Comment on their Facebook status or blog.  Talk about and link to them on other forums.  These are public gestures that are generally welcome and not intrusive.   If you have been paying attention then you should know what important to them and be able to choose what relevant to them to respond to.

They may not respond straightaway.   But if you are consistent and non intrusive, they will likely respond in some small ways over time.  That is an indication that they know that you are paying attention, that you value their opinions, and that you care.  If they don’t respond, don’t take it personally.  If you admire the person, continue to pay attention on what they do – for your own satisfaction.  Or you can choose to move on and look to build relationships elsewhere.  At the very least, you didn’t have to feel embarrassed about that long emails that you don’t know where it has ended up to.

Taking small actions over time is a way of testing the water to see if they will likely respond to you.  Once you have built a rapport in the public places, you can judge the situation and move it to the next level, such as email or coffee time.  By then, they will feel as if they already know you a bit.  (Even then, be brief and to the point with your emails.)

This is by no mean full proof but it’s quite simple really:  If we care, then we should pay attention.  If we pay attention, we should let them know by our action.  When we act, start out with small non-intrusive gestures and build a rapport before emailing them in length or approaching the person face to face.  I realize that this is a slow process, but anything meaningful and worthwhile is worth the time and effort.

Let me know your thoughts.

Stay wonderful!

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Drops of modern wisdom for entrepreneurs

Drops of modern wisdom for entrepreneurs

I have previously talked about how I collect quotes from other entrepreneurs that I respect.  They are on yellow post-it notes all over a whiteboard in my home office.  Sometimes I read random ones, and that motivates me.  Today I want to share a random few from my list – in no particular order:

  • Entrepreneurship is in my DNA. – Mark Suster (GRP Partners)
  • That was the secret ingredient. I would not be a wage slave. I would not take “NO” for an answer. I would not give in. I was going to be rich. Somehow. Some way. Someday soon. – Felix Dennis (Dennis Group)
  • I was frighten out of my mind. There is nothing like the fear faced by entrepreneurs. – Andrew Warner (Mixergy)
  • Your most vivid fears… are almost certainly not the most important ones. – Seth Godin (author)
  • One key thing is, don’t think you have a revolutionary idea – that’s just the starting point. The 1%. 99% is all execution. Go out, and get it done. And get it done masterfully. – G Chahal (gWallet)
  • You have to know exactly what your concept is and then you gotta shout it out to the hills so that everybody knows exactly what that concept is – Stephen Chao (WonderHowTo)
  • Never give up. Never let failure be an option. Look at a clear path to execution. – G Chahal (gWallet)
  • What separates entrepreneurs from those the offer tons of advice but sit on the sidelines? Entrepreneurs guide themselves by the Nike slogan, “Just Do It.” – Mark Suster (GRP Partners)
  • Genius is actually the eventual public recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts at solving a problem. Sometimes we fail in public, often we fail in private, but people who are doing creative work are constantly failing. – Seth Godin (author)
  • Remember that there is no shame in failure but there are honorable and dishonorable failures. If you’re going to lose the game, remember that it’s just that: a game. There will be another and another and another yet to play. Don’t lose your cool and don’t get depressed. Just get yourself back up, dust yourself off and get back in the game. The precursor to success is almost always failure. – Jason Calacanis (Mahalo)
  • We are in a “stupid phase” (referring to the exploratory journey that startup entrepreneurs go through) – Keith Smith (BigDoor Media)
  • I don’t like the advice “hey, you’ve gotta spend money to make money.” I just don’t believe it. – Andy Liu (BuddyTV)
  • At the point we made the million, I was confident that I was going to make beyond a million, because the run rate was up and to the right. What it really meant to me was that I reclaimed my life. – James Hong (HotOrNot)
  • Every time you hire somebody you should picture that you might have to fire them. That forces you to be careful in the hiring because the most painful thing for me at least, as a CEO, that I ever had to do was fire somebody – Stephen Hsu (Robot Genius)
  • You need to do one thing extremely well, stay focused, and maybe you might do one or two slight bets just to see if they work but that’s it. – Andy Liu (BuddyTV)
  • Maybe not everyone is going to be Bill Gates, but everyone can be an entrepreneur. – Andrew Warner (Mixergy)
  • (Entrepreneurs have) a deep desire to shape the world around you – Keith Smith (BigDoor Media)
  • Everything is negotiable, and if you don’t ask, you’ll never know if you could have gotten a better deal – Andy Liu (BuddyTV)
  • Nothing terrible has ever happened except in our thinking. Reality is always good, even in situations that seem like nightmares. The story we tell is the only nightmare that we have lived. – Byron Katie via Brian Johnson (Philosopher’s Notes)
  • You know startups are hard. It’s never easy. There’s no quick riches so you need to have fun during the journey – Andy Liu (BuddyTV)
  • People’s reputations are made in the bad times more than the good times.- Jason Calacanis (Mahalo)
  • At the end of the day, you want to align yourself with enthusiastic people who care, and who want to make a positive impact in the world. And I think the lesson from Think and Grow Rich is you create in your life what you think about. – Ryan Allis (iContact)
  • The excuse department is now closed. – Mark Suster (GRP Partners)

So what are some of your favorite ones? Who do you like to read from the most for your entrepreneurial motivation?

Stay wonderful!

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Networking advice from a legendary Silicon Valley networker, Heidi Roizen

Networking advice from a legendary Silicon Valley networker, Heidi Roizen

Heidi Roizen is known as the legendary networker of the Silicon Valley.  She is one of very few people in the world that is a personal friend of both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.  Imminent tech industry events are frequently held in her backyard.

She achieved amazing success as an entrepreneur in the tech world as a woman in the 80’s without a background in tech.  She founded T/Maker in 1983 which was later acquired by Deluxe Corp.  She later became VP of Apple, then Managing Director of Mobius Venture Capital (a $2B technology fund).

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Emotional support system for entrepreneurs

Emotional support system for entrepreneurs

There is a question raised in FoundersMix by Dan Blank:

I’ve chatted with folks who have started their own business, and many of them talk about sleepless nights, the need for encouragement, emotional support, ways to deal with pressure and uncertainty. How do you deal with these things?

This is something very important to me, so I wrote a long response and thought it’s perfect for me to re-post it here as well (with minor updates) – to start my blog here.  So here is my response:

I think the emotional support system is so critical. You work on something you are passionate about, it is hard to not get emotional. Some needs it more than others, but we are all human.

Few things that are working for me:

1. “Support group”:

I have a good friend who is building his own business. We do a phone call every week, at a specific time for 1 hour. We provide each other support, feedbacks and hold each other accountable for what we said we would do the previous week. I found this very valuable (and I think it can only work) because:

  • this is someone I trust & respect;
  • someone who know me enough to know my strength and weakness;
  • someone who is willing to provide constructive criticisms if I fall off the track;
  • someone who is looking into my business with an outsider view; and
  • someone who is also building a business at a similar phase as me, so can understand the same challenges that I’m facing.

I also try to provide him with the same. Few other friends occasionally called in with us, but they don’t end up sticking around for long. The consistency of the weekly call is important.  (Keith Ferrazzi talked about this in his Mixergy interview – I just happened to do this weekly call for sometimes now.)

2. Helping others:

I teach and coach entrepreneurs at various places (UCLA, local city…) and I found that I learned a lot and get supported through helping others. When my students sign million dollars deals or achieve their goal no matter how small it may seem, it is a great booster because I know another fellow entrepreneur, and of anyone, my student, is crushing it. When I need someone to bounce ideas, I also go back to my students to bounce ideas with.

3. Reaching out:

I love the interactions with other Mixergy friends. We started to be like old friends now, and I started to bounce my ideas with them.  For example, I have a very tough day one day, pushing against a wall of “NO”, and Mosses sent me a hilarious email about Mixergy. It made me burst out laughing and that really helps.

I am geographically challenged, but otherwise, making friends with other entrepreneurs through networking events do the same for me.

I seek out to people that I respect to be my formal and informal mentors.  When I am beaten down by something, I reach out to one of my mentors, and their response usually give me the insight and strength to get back to the rink.

4. “Testimonials” & Goals:

This is something I have been thinking about but I haven’t done yet. I think it will be helpful if I started to put together in one place my achievements, the nice comments, praises about me from people that I respect. Like a personal scoreboard to look at when I feel in doubt.

Michael commented to my list that another useful thing is to have a list of goals posted somewhere visible everyday.  This is so true.  This is a good reminder of what you want to achieve in the long run.  The difficulties you face daily should pale in comparison.

5. “Quotes”:

One of my whiteboards in my home office is filled with yellow sticky notes of quotes that I took from Mixergy interviews and other readings. I see them everyday, and read random ones sometimes. For example few I can see right now “A deep desire to shape the world around you” – from Keith Smith interview; “Everything is negotiable” – from Andy Liu interview,… They motivate me.

6. Reading & listening to music: this is self explanatory.

7. Reflection:

I love to swim. It sets me free. When I face a difficult problem, I go for a long swim, and the solution almost always comes.

What about you? What do you have in your emotional support system?


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