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How Colors Influence People: The Psychology Of Color In Business Marketing [Infographic]

Colors, Colors, Colors…

infographic: How Colors Influence People: The Psychology Of Color In Business Marketing


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3 Reasons Children Need A Video Game Vacation And 1 Reason They Don’t

Our fondness for digital connectivity exists in parallel to our skeptical apprehension. We’re tortured by our own anxiety. These days, most adults spend the majority of their time staring at screens. We use laptops, tablets, and smartphones. So-called ‘digital literacy’ is a prerequisite to professional success. However, folks also regularly post social media updates lauding the bliss that comes with the experience of temporary disconnection.

When it comes to our children we are equally conflicted. We project our ambivalence into our parenting conventions. On the one hand, we recognize the importance of a familiarity with screen based interactions. On the other hand, we worry that if they mediate their entire experience through a virtual interface they will lose the ability to relate to the physical world.


According to a 2013 study by Common Sense Media, children one year and under currently engage in fifty-eight minutes a day of screen time. Children two to four engage in one hour and fifty-eight minutes. And children four to eight spend two hours and twenty-one minutes in front of a screen.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends eliminating screen time for children under two years old. I’m on board with that. But they also suggest only two hours for children over two. Despite Common Sense Media’s findings, I’d bet most modern parents consider that to be unrealistic. My kids regularly rack up two hours playing Spore in what feels like five minutes.

In addition, the black and white approach to children’s screen time seems foolish. It does not take into account the benefits of joint media engagement, the ubiquity of ebooks, the obvious benefit that my nine-year old receives when he constructs Google Docs Slideshows to teach me about his experience in Minecraft. Not all electronic media is created equal. We need to be much more nuanced in our parental approaches.

Still, when I took my kids to a house in the country surrounded by rolling hills and a giant yard last week I went for an on/off strategy. I instituted a ‘no devices before dark’ rule. It was a big change from our urban lifestyle in Philadelphia. Not so much because of the nature, in Philly we are privileged to have an exceptional park system; hikes in the woods are part of our normal family routine. A week in the country was different because my kids had acres upon which to run around freely; they had a rare chance to enjoy unsupervised outdoor play. To guarantee that my kids would take advantage of this opportunity, I needed to keep them away from digital devices. No Minecraft. No Nintendo DS. No IPad.

At first they did not know what to do. They were confused. No devices? It was disorienting. After all, their father plays video games with them for a living. I am an advocate for video games in the classroom. I write books about the psychology and philosophy of gaming. Together, the three of us regularly review new gadgets and games. I rarely restrict screen time. I do, however, require that their energy also be dedicated to things like reading, writing, science, art, and music. Restriction emphasizes the negative. Rather than turn video games into a forbidden temptation, I usually choose to emphasize the importance of other activities. I let them play as much as they want as long as it is balanced with other forms of intelligent exploration and expression.

Still, after a summer with more Minecraft playdates than I’d like to admit, it seemed like they needed a video game vacation. They needed to be disengaged from their ordinary routines. They needed a little bit of parental regulation to nudge them toward just the right kind of freedom. I hoped that during a week in a country farmhouse they would spend all day outside, creating magical fantasies, adventurous scenarios, and getting their hands dirty.

In the beginning, they were sullen and despondent. “I’m bored,” they’d huff, “am I allowed to use my computer for email?” Was the laptop some kind of security blanket? I told them to go outside. But that only kept them occupied for about seven to twelve minutes. By the time I had moved my chair into the yard and grabbed myself a cold beer and a book, they were done with nature. They believed they had exhausted all the possibilities for outdoor play.

They ran inside and got their own chairs and books, lined them up in a row next to me, and started reading themselves. Ten minutes later they were hungry. “Dad, will you make us a snack?” The kitchen table was full of fresh produce that we bought at the farmstand that morning. I told them to grab a fruit (it was not just a hiatus from devices; there was also no junk food in the house). They came back out with plums and peaches. I tried to finish the paragraph I’d been interrupted from reading all morning. They sighed with frustration.

It was a constant struggle, but it paid off. By day two, they were getting better at playing outside. And by the end of the week I didn’t even have to suggest playing outside. They did it themselves.

So what did I learn about parenting during the week? It shifted the way I think about screen time in surprising ways. Here are three reasons children need screen time vacations and one reason they don’t.

  1. Forget Moderation, Choose Reverence.
    Don’t believe the platitude. Everything is not fine in moderation. All the moderation in the world is useless if your children have no reverence for the power of the temptation in question. Screen time is great for adults and for children. It is pleasurable. This is why we all choose to binge watch George Carlin on YouTube once in a while. It offers a welcome distraction. It keeps us in the flow of something other than the everyday stresses of our lives. But kids need to learn that the strength of electronic media is also the danger. Screens can turn us into lotus eaters, apathetic and lazy. A vacation from screen time made my kids appreciate their devices more and simultaneously demand them less often. They discovered that there are other fun ways to fill their time and, at least for the time being, video games are now not always the first choice.
  2. ‘Where’ Is Just As Important As ‘What’ Kids Imagine.
    Many critics of video games worry that they inhibit children’s imagination. Anyone who believes this has never watched an eight year old play Minecraft. There is a whole world of fantastical play going on inside this universe. They wander this virtual reality, constructing imaginary scenarios for one another. In a world deemed unsafe for sidewalk play, Generation Blockhead has founxd an alternative in Minecraft. We should be happy about it. On the other hand, it is our job as adults to help our children learn to direct that same imaginative creativity into other areas of their lives. The more capable they are of shifting their power of self-expression into myriad parts of their lives, the more successful they will be in the long run. When we allow them to be caught up in a singular outlet for innovation and experimentation, we do them a disservice. The problem here is not the technology, but rather, the relationship to it.
  3. Children Should Think Critically About The Role Of Technology.
    How do we make sure we raise kids that don’t take electronic media for granted? Usually, when we talk about taking things for granted, we are pointing to a lack of appreciation. But in this case, I use the phrase because I worry that our kids might forget that electronic media is a tool that we choose to use and not necessarily a ubiquitous fact of life. Certainly, in the modern world, digital technologies are here to stay. But our children need to understand that their experience in the world is malleable and that one of the ways they can take control of their own lives is by creating and using the tools of their choice. When we initiate screen free zones in our houses and vacations from video games, we teach kids that our relationship to tech is always optional and flexible. We teach them to constantly analyze, evaluate, and consider how they want to relate to technology. We teach them to plug-in cautiously with an opened mind and a critical eye. We teach them that they can approach the world however they want and that if they want, they can build new tools to do so.

And one reason NOT to require your kids to take a video game vacation:

  1. Don’t Just Unplug On Vacation.
    While I love the idea of a video game vacation, I also worry that it may send the wrong message to my kids. It might teach them that constant electronic media is normal and that it is only on special occasions that we unplug. There are many things that only happen on holiday that should be a part of our everyday lives (siesta comes immediately to mind). A healthy relationship to electronic media shouldn’t be one of those things. How can we teach our children good habits around video games? How do we make sure that they learn a balanced relationship to digital tech? Rather than a video game vacation, I suggest adding an hour of family reading time to your everyday schedule. It doesn’t matter what you read (and, of course, an eReader doesn’t count as screen time in this instance). Just meet in the living room and spend an hour focused on written text. The kids can read for school while you read a novel. They can read a comic book while you read that report from work. This is not about the quality or quantity of text, but rather about modeling a lifestyle. Regular walks in the park are another good idea. Intentional conversation and family political debate model the importance of good argumentation. And, of course, when a family eats meals together, appreciating the importance of good flavor, the kids learn that aesthetics and sensation are good criteria with which to measure the value of everyday experience.
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Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Lifestyle, Technology


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How To Hire The Best Social-Media Director For Your Business

In 2007, when Ford hired Scott Monty as head of its social media, it made CMOs look up and take notice.

In his seven-year tenure, the respected blogger and social-media expert transformed the automotive giant. It went from being a company that fought one social-media crisis after another, into a social star.

Here are 10 ways to do the same for your business…


Social media is evolving. It’s becoming more nuanced and fragmented. The tools we have to help us manage it grow like kudzu.

So keeping track of everything and integrating it into company life requires a specialist.

In a tacit acknowledgement that social media isn’t going away, many businesses have since created a similar position to Monty’s. If you’re thinking of joining the likes of Ford, HP and Coca Cola in appointing a social-media director, then the question is: What should you look for?

Despite the fact that social media is now a business requirement, directing it is an ill-defined job—and one that’s likely to evolve during that person’s tenure. So how do you make sure you make the right choice in those you entrust to steer your profile across the Web?

Here are ten competencies you need:

1. Social Media Network Experience
Yes, it seems like a no-brainer—but apparently not.

There are still businesses today who hire a social media director simply because they have a marketing degree, without checking to see if they understand how social media works.

2. Strong Writing Skills
Although the Web is going visual, text still works.

Strong writers understand how to use words for impact. And they know how to tell stories. This means they also understand the target audience and the principles that go into building a strong brand—one that customers can relate to.

3. An Analytical Mind
Despite its difficulties, social media isn’t rocket science.

What happens across social media networks and the broader Web is governed by principles that have been active forever. The difficulty lies in being able to see that and make use of them to achieve desired outcomes. Strong analytical skills are a must for any social media director hoping to achieve some success.

4. Great Communication Skills
Among the requirements a social media directors need, this is the most critical.

Not only must they be able to communicate effectively outside the company, but there’s a need for strong, clear communication within it. This requires building bridges across different parts of the company, and developing a common understanding of goals, impact points and perceptions.

5. Empathy
For a social-media director’s effectiveness, this is make or break.

Social media, by definition, is not a top-down, command-and-control medium. Those active in it can see many different points of view, understand what motivates different people, and identify where the common ground is. Empathy helps humanize the organization and make the task of communicating easier. (It’s arguably the hardest requirement to test for, though.)

6. Blogging Skills
Some social-media directors are active in one or other social networks, and some have a strong following. But, the best one is blog.

Blogging is more than just writing. It’s communication. It’s conversation. It’s opinion. And it’s experience. In other words, blogging is irrefutable evidence of familiarity with the social media space. (Conversely, absence of blogging skills is an indication of deficiency in critical skills.)

7. Adaptability
The best social-media directors embrace change.

When Google+ came along, most companies with a social-media director stayed away while trying to understand it. But Ford’s Scott Monty leapt right in and gained ground quickly, becoming one of the first to have a Google+ Brand Page of its own. A social-media director who can’t adapt to fast change is unlikely to do well at the job.

8. SEO Skills
In many ways, search is marketing.

It’s also central to building reputation, authority, trustworthiness and expertise. All of these make search critical to branding. A social-media director who doesn’t get search—and search engine optimization (SEO)—has a massive blind spot.

9. Community-Building Experience
Communities are underpinned by certain dynamics that are extremely specific.

Understanding these and being able to plan for them is key to success across the entire social media spectrum.

10. Cultural Awareness
Marketing needs a market. And markets are made of people. And people have cultures.

When the Vidalia Onion Committee used search and social to successfully make their brand a household name, the then social-media director, Wendy Brannen, allied with Shrek and its association with onions, for an easy media win. She also clinched the argument for the need to have a 360-degree view of the cultural landscape—both online and offline—in order to find winning marketing opportunities.

The Bottom Line
You want your social-media director to lead the change, not react to it.

Someone who doesn’t have all these competencies is unlikely to do the kind of job that will help transition your company into the social-media communication landscape of tomorrow’s business.



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E-Commerce 2.0: Six Companies You Can Learn From

Unlike physical retail stores, e-commerce companies are much more capital efficient because they don’t require brick and mortar stores and have a direct distribution channel to their end customers. With online shopping platforms like Shopify, Magento, and Bigcommerce, the cost and time associated with getting an e-commerce store online has decreased significantly. Additional platforms like Symphony Commerce and Shipwire help with outsourced fulfillment and managing logistics when your company scales. Never before has it been easier to bring an e-commerce business to life. As a result, these companies can focus more time on building their brand and connecting with customers and less time worrying about logistics and infrastructure.

Many of these new companies understand the power of connecting their brand with a particular lifestyle. In doing so, they can engage with niche customers and celebrate them in a much more intimate and authentic way. Here are just a few companies that are leveraging this new age of e-commerce in the best of ways:

1. Superior End-to-End Product Experience

Today social consumers have more power to impact brand reputations than ever before. In addition to having a high quality product, many companies are also focusing on the entire product experience which includes marketing, packaging, and the post sales experience. These companies go above and beyond to “delight” the customer which typically includes free shipping, free returns, and sometimes free gifts.


Bevel is the first end-to-end shaving system designed for men with curly hair. In addition to having great packaging, its founder hand wrote thank you notes to many of its early customers.


Chubbies is an SF based company that produces “The best shorts ever” for men (from their website). They produce one of the best customer newsletters out there that is both immensely entertaining to read and on-brand. They don’t just spam you to buy new items; they showcase hilarious photos of their customers doing crazy things. (Disclaimer: Chubbies uses our product, but it’s unrelated to the newsletter.)


2. Story Behind the Brand

There’s nothing better than a good story. The ability to engage consumers at more personal level rather than simply peddling a product, is a powerful way to grow customer engagement and brand affinity. David Aaker, a guru in building brand equity, talks about the importance of finding and leveraging customer “sweet spots,” which he describes as shared interests between a brand and it’s customer base. Whether it’s music, hobbies, or a sense of authentic goodwill, shared interests bring a new dimension to e-commerce.

House of Marley

These producers of high quality and trendy headphones have sustainably crafted products and give a portion of their proceeds to charity. The enlist a deep group of influencers in a variety of different industries who share their experience and what the product means to them.

Herschel Supply Co.

This Vancouver based company not only has trendy backpacks, but it got its name from a small town with a population of 30 residents. It’s founders adopted the name of the small town where their family were raised and their brand resonates with many young consumers around the world.

3. Mobile and Social Friendly

According to Phil Carter from Trinity Ventures, the rise of mobile commerce represents the most important wave in retail innovation since brands first began selling online 20 years ago. In addition to having mobile friendly websites (a bare minimum) these companies make social an integrated part of their marketing initiatives for a better end user experience.


Shwood helped pioneer the wood sunglass look that has been replicated by several major brands. Their website often gets recognized for its design and the company took great care to create a stunning mobile experience.

Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway changed female formal attire by allowing women to rent (instead of buy) designer dresses at a fraction of their retail price. They also integrate social photos on their websites so customers can see other customers wearing the product. It also has a mobile app that enables customers to submit reviews and photos directly from their phones.



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