Category Archives: Thoughts

Leadership Success Bananas in China

The Price of Bananas in China

In 2010, on a trip to Beijing, China, Mike Duke did what 100 million other people around the world do each week: he stepped into a Walmart to go shopping. But Duke wasn’t just a typical customer, he was also the company’s CEO. Walking through the store’s isles looking at products, Duke noticed something interesting about the bananas. The bananas Walmart sold in in Beijing weren’t from Beijing — they weren’t even from China at all; they were all imported. Duke turned to his teammate Doug McMillon, the leader of Walmart’s international division; “Bananas grow in China. Why don’t we sell local bananas?” Continue reading

Influencer Content Marketing in 2016

Why I Think Zuckerberg is Trying to Kill Influencer Marketing

I have a new theory — call it a prediction — about the future of influencer marketing.

Recently, Instagram has been meeting with some of its latest advertisers and media partners to council them on the social platform’s latest algorithm update — a transition that will rank newsfeed content by relevance, rather than chronology, similar to its parent Facebook’s own newsfeed algorithm. Instagram’s advice to marketers, succinctly summarized, boils down to this: “Make better content to keep up with the aesthetic expectations of users, and get ready to advertise [even more] to distribute it, because Instagram organic reach will ultimately follow the downward trend as Facebook’s.”

While any marketer caught off guard by this shift couldn’t have been paying attention to the last few years of social media history, what’s interesting to me is how the organic reach race-to-the-bottom keeps reaffirming the same, cyclical social advertising sequence: Continue reading

The Year Social Media Moves Beyond Social

The Year Social Media Moves Beyond Social

This essay originally appeared on the Percolate Blog.

Social is entering a new era in the history of its communications potential. In doing so, ‘social media’ companies like Facebook and LinkedIn are briskly redefining their identities, business models and the boundaries they are able to connect people — or brands to people — within. All told, 2015 looks more and more like the year social will formally move beyond social, and the time when advertisers and technologists stop talking about a company, marketing channel, event or job title as ’social,’ and, instead, simply describe it as something that is.

After all, what is or isn’t social anymore? Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are now closely interwoven throughout all modern media — from live event and TV experiences to journalism to federal government policy awareness — and thanks to mobile are now first screen centers of attention.

How do you define a social company? Today, Facebook generates more annual advertising revenue than Fox News, CNN or MSNBC, with a much faster underlying growth rate fueled by mobile device adoption and budget reallocation to digital.


As we’ve talked about in the past, Facebook is also distancing itself from its own company pages and contest tabs, becoming a modern media company that connects people and serves ads across a network that extends well beyond And if the definition of a social company is as open-ended as one that creates or facilitates interactive communities, brands as diverse as Amazon, eBay, Uber, Github, Kickstarter, Venmo, Medium, Pandora, Spotify and a litany of other companies are also intrinsically social businesses. ‘Social’ is where people spend time on the internet, it’s what people intrinsically want to do in their lives and with their phones, and it’s been a central element of human behavior for thousands of years.

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How to Win Anyone's Attention by Chris Bolman

How to Win Anyone’s Attention

The average person now consumes twelve hours of media, checks their phone close to 110 times and sees an estimated 5,000 marketing messages each day. When most of us also regularly put in 8+ hours on the job, it’s no wonder our collective attention span is more taxed than ever.

Data overwhelmingly confirms it too. According to MailChimp 80-85% of marketing emails are never opened, and even in digital video — one of the most promising frontiers for marketers — 56% of viewers regularly skip pre-roll and vocally prefer ads that are fifteen seconds or less. The National Center for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Library of Medicine finds average human attention span decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013, no doubt influenced by the influx of real-time content streams available to us 24/7/365 on social at a moments’ notice.

As a marketer or advertiser, all this is also a reality check and constant reminder about how precious attention has become. If you’re thinking about what this means for your marketing efforts, or you’re producing a lot of quality content but struggling to get noticed, here are four principles you can apply to win anyone’s attention.

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I’m Chris, I’m 29, and this is the most honest thing I’ve ever written. In the first let’s say (hope?) third of my life, I started three companies, visited 26 countries, lost all my money twice, saved one person’s life, and let too many friendships I valued more than I could show outwardly fall into disrepair. I also could have died at the ages of 4, 16 and 21. But I didn’t. Instead, I’m staring into the sunset of my twenties, and this is the story I didn’t know how to tell any sooner. Continue reading