We’ve said before that Micro-Scripts can be a weapon of good or evil, depending on who’s holding the weapon. Al Qaeda’s most famous phrase to date may have been the ultimate summation in 9 words of what the civilized world has been facing with this breed of fanatics: “We love death as much as you love life.” Sums up what you’re dealing with in a hurry, doesn’t it?
Well I read another one just the other day, attributed to a Taliban. I’ve been saying for a while that fighting a war against a civilization from a different time warp may be an untenable propostion.Why? Because we want an end and want to go home someday. They don’t. Big difference. They’re already home in the dust, the mountains, the caves, the burkas and the 3rd century. Their expectation is not an end-point or a conventional “rational” form of victory (living vs. dying) which has defined Western Warfare since Biblical times. We want to go home someday soon. Even the Japanese on Iwo Jima harbored the hope of someday getting off that wretched island in the Pacific and returning to their homeland when the war was over. But our enemies in the Taliban are home. They’re going nowhere else, ever. And that is our ultimate strategic weakness and their ultimate strength. If you view your life story in a timeframe of thousands of years vs. decades, you can wait anything out–unless the other side is willing to man its forts in the Korengal forever, which they know we are not.
The anonymous Talib’s Micro-Script says it all in 9 words? “Americans: You have the watches. But we have the time.”
Chills to the bone. No gun, figher jet or smart bomb–and certainly no American kid– who wants someday to be home with his wife and family–trumps that.
A lot of people have heard famous Einstein gems like “God doesn’t play dice.” But the man who could simplify the most profound secret of the universe down to three letters: E=MC(2) was also pretty amazing at tossing out aphorisms that get directly to the heart of everyday wisdom. He said, “You can’t solve the problems of today with the thinking that got you there.” I wish the Democrats and Republicans sometimes remembered that one. And for all the people out there who think that high tech and the Internet are unmitigated tools of human progress, Einstein would remind you that “My biggest fear is that our technology is exceeding our humanity.”
The other day, I read another pithy little pearl: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
He has so many more. For all of us on the planet, he will forever be a gift that keeps on giving.
Just returned from speaking at the 2011 ArtezInteraction Conference in Toronto which, although you might not know from the name, is a premier conference for Canadian Charities and non-profits interested in fund-raising online. You come back thinking that Canada is really ahead of us in all kinds of things: quality of ATM machines, affordable healthcare, sane and humane law making, reasonable gun control, financial system checks and balances (unlike all the rest of the Western world, Canada had no financial crisis because they have common sense limits on banks’ gambling with depositors money), and so on.
I think they are also ahead of us in attitude. If Paris has its picture in the dictionary next to: ‘Rude to Strangers’ Toronto is the antonym. I’m not the only one who thinks this, either. It’s usually the first thing out of anyone’s mouth who’s just back from Canada. Canadians don’t seem to take themselves as seriously. And most are simply old-fashioned gracious and polite. They are a little self-deprecating, but there’s no reason to be. They are as fresh and bright and interesting and sophisticated and AT LEAST as beautiful as we are any day. Definitely thinner.
And that’s just the women.
You might be able to tell that the folks at the conference liked my speech. Okay, I believe they did. But this little bit a gratitude is long overdue. I’m glad you won the hockey medal. I’m glad after all our political and social shenanigans south of the border, not to mention some of the Presidents we’ve stuck you with, you never seem to hold it against us when we come to visit.
Thanks for just being you. Bill Schley
Candidate Mitt Romney found out the other day that whatever you say may be turned into a Micro-Script, whether you want it to or not. The people who hear it decide if it has that magic, repeatable quality that makes it a Micro-Script. You don’t. All of a sudden, you’re looking down the barrel of this weapon from the wrong end. Case in point: Romney says “Corporations are people, too.” His enemies couldn’t have been handed a more compact, concise little package to illustrate how they think Mr. Romney thinks if it had been written by a Hollywood scriptwriter. I not only saw it on every news channel, I started hearing my Democrat friends saying it within hours. That’s a Micro-Script all right.
I know he didn’t mean it that way. He meant corporate money is ultimately distributed to people who own it. But the hecklers in the audience heard an entire negative story in that short sentence. To them, it triggered a tale about corporate greed and the attitude of a candidate who got wealthy buying companies and down-sizing their employees to enrich a very few people–all in just four words. Once the Script is out there, it has the power to get away and to take on a power all its own. Remember when John Kerry foolishly said, “I was before it before I was against it?” He became “The flip flopper” and lost the election for that. And when George Bush I said “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Same thing.
Remember our definition: It’s a Micro-Script if it tells a story or a piece or one in a few short words that people like to repeat. The politicians who win today, understand the flip-side, flash fire danger of Micro-Scripts and do everything they can to create story bites that control of their message, and re-frame the other guy so he or she loses control of his or hers. It’s a scary game of fighting fire with fire. But there’s no other choice in today’s incendiary political game.
I remember being at the store with my mommy sometime in 1960. A wanted a toy. It was $1.99. My mother gave me two dollars to give the cashier. I was so happy that the price was only $1.99, We’d have lots and lots of money left over to buy candy!! The clerk gave me back a penny. I waited for the rest. My mother said, that’s right dear, that’s what’s left from $1.99. I knew then (I’m not kidding, I remember thinking this) I’d been hoodwinked by some slick pricing trick. The 99 cents was right in front of my eyes but all my mind let me see was the one buck.
Fast forward to 2011. I see a car priced at $49,999. Wow. It’s only in the forties. I can justify that. I’m wide awake when I rationalize this. I even know I’m doing it. But my brain won’t let me see a ‘5’ on the front of that price. No-sirree. I’ve been hypnotized. Again. My brain is in an economic partnership with the devil.
It’s the single greatest insight any marketer has had in the history of selling, maybe the greatest human intellectual achievement of all time, after Einstein’s theory. I bet this single tactic is responsible for more merchandise sold than any ad or commercial or brand positioning strategy since Noah put a for sale sign on his Ark after the flood. It worked on me when I was 7. It worked on me today.
There should be a statue in bronze erected on the front lawn of the marketing hall of fame for whichever hero of capitalism, known or unknown, came up with __ dollars ninty nine.
Think about effectiveness like this, the next time you see a $6 million Superbowl commercial with two talking dogs trying to jump-start a rabbit.