Friday, 23 August 2013

Newsletter Issue 239, August 2013

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 239, August  2013
Hi guys,
Have you ever wondered what happens when you click on those “One Weird Trick” ads that pop up in your sidebar? Check it out below.
What happens when anyone can sign up for a course, anywhere in the world: and it's free? Education Disruption, that's what. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Those "One Weird Tip" Ads

Alex Kaufman posted a great article entitled "Prepare to Be Shocked!" on 30 July 2013, detailing the "crudely drawn Web advertisements promise easy tricks to reduce your belly fat". 
As Alex notes, they seem like scams, but he got to pondering just what makes these "weird tips" weird, and went so far as to suggest an article on this growing phenomenon might be in order. The Slate website obligingly commissioned Alex to check it out.
Alex started off soft, with a diabetes cure: “discover how 1 weird spice reverses diabetes in 30 short days” (yeah, right!). 
In Alex's words "The ad showed a picture of cinnamon buns. Could the spice be... cinnamon? Maybe I would find out. The link brought up a video with no pause button or status bar. A kindly voice began: 'Prepare to be shocked'. I prepared myself. As 'Lon' spoke, his words flashed simultaneously on the screen, PowerPoint-style. As soon as he started, Lon seemed fixated on convincing me to stay until the end. 'This could be the most important video you ever watch,' he promised. 'Watch the entire video, as the end will surprise you!' Every time Lon seemed about to get to the spicy heart of the matter, he’d go off on a tangent. This video wouldn’t stay on the Internet for long, he said. The cure is for people 'ready to put down the flaky answers'. Indeed, 'if you’re looking for a miracle cure or new age fad, leave this page now.' Lon also took pains to trash the medical establishment. Big Pharma has been lying to you, he said. They profit every time you take their pills, or inject yourself with their needles. But the secret spice Lon discovered can free you of the lies and the needles. You will 'look and feel like you were never sick'. Your doctor will confirm your cure, astounded." 
It apparently took Lon forever to get to the money shot, ie, when you have to take that punt and load your credit card details. The average customer endurance required for any of the weird tip deals is 15 to 30 minutes of blah. There's a reason for that. Alex talked to Michael Norton, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, who said "Research on persuasion shows the more arguments you list in favor of something, regardless of the quality of those arguments, the more that people tend to believe it. Mainstream ads sometimes use long lists of bullet points—people don’t read them, but it’s persuasive to know there are so many reasons to buy”. Lon is actually an actor who works for South Dakota firm, Barton Publishing. Barton market a broad range of 'health' foods... ie, cinnamon. Etcetera.
Michael Norton continues. “People tend to think something is important if it’s secret,” Michael said. “Studies find that we give greater credence to information if we’ve been told it was once ‘classified.’ Ads like this often purport to be the work of one man, telling you something ‘they’ don’t want you to know.” 
The ads have an element of illicitness, secret knowledge, and providing simple, 'natural' answers to complex problems. The long spiel helps to bolster the ad’s credibility, as does the conspiracy of the 'Big Pharma' people who are certainly not going to tell you the truth else they would lose all that lovely moolah if you didn't pay blindly.
So why "weird"? Alex asked Oleg Urminsky from the University of Chicago School of Business, who said “A word like ‘weird’ is not so negative, and kind of intriguing. There’s this foot-in-the-door model. If you lead with a strong, unbelievable claim it may turn people off. But if you start with ‘isn’t this kind of weird?’ it lowers the stakes.” The same for the shonky graphics: you want to look a bit amateurish, to imply "one man against the system".
Alex relates that when you grit your teeth and watch to the end of the videos, you will have the option to eliminate "belly fat using the thoroughly disproven extracts of garcinia cambogia and acai. And diabetes—just add cinnamon. The weirdest trick of all, of course, was getting anyone to click in the first place".
Yep, I am with you, Alex.


Education Disruption

I was sent a link recently advising me of an online course at a US University on Emotional Intelligence. I checked out the course, watched some clips, have only a sketchy idea what I will be doing... so I signed up.
The course takes eight weeks, and while I won't get a qualification, I will possess the knowledge, and will get a certificate of completion. As this is a course on Emotional Intelligence, it will come in useful for teaching leadership, as that is one of the many components that I take my students through. It will add value to my teaching through adding richness to my current level of knowledge. 
The amazing thing is that this knowledge exchange is free. 
This is a MOOC - a massively open online course, being run by "Coursera", the online arm of Case Western Uni in Cleveland, USA. The course instructor is a leadership legend, Richard Boyatzis, writer of many books, journal articles and chapters on leadership, emotional intelligence, mindfulness and competence. 
Who would turn this opportunity down? 
Yep, I am busy. And yes, this is going to be a bit of a wedge. But I figure that it is worth throwing some time at having the chance to learn directly from a real leadership scholar.
All of which made me think. An early 20th century economist, Joseph Schumpeter, noted that significant advances often arrive arm in arm with "creative destruction"; we win some and we lose some (Manyika et al, 2013). Cars moved us faster, further and more smoothly, but farriers, coach builders, saddlers and blacksmiths largely ended up out of business. Those once mainstream professions have now moved into the micro market of specialist artisanship.
Clayton M. Christensen of Harvard has written a lot on this field, which is now known as "disruptive innovation". In an interview earlier this year with Art Kleiner of s+b (Strategy and Business Magazine), Clayton related "At the fundamental level, most jobs don’t change very much, even though the technology does. When he was the emperor of Rome, Julius Caesar had to exchange messages rapidly with his far-flung governors. He used horsemen with chariots. Today, we have FedEx, but the job hasn’t changed. If you’re focused on the job that has to be done, you’ll be more likely to catch the next technology that does it better. If you frame your business by product or technology, you won’t see the next disruptor when it comes along". 
Generally when we think of education, we see a classroom. But fundamentally, it is about one person learning something from an 'expert'. That expert can easily be online, and the learner anywhere in the world, connected via a website - a transfer point. They don't have to be at the transfer point at the same time; in fact, as far as internet learning goes, it is easier on the learner if the expert is not there. It takes the pressure off the learner.
I have done online courses before. However, I have had to pay for them. This will be the first expert-delivered MOOC I have undertaken.
I will report back on how it goes at the end of the year!

  • Kleiner, Art (June 2013). The Thought Leader Interview: Clayton M. Christensen, The Discipline of Managing Disruption. Strategy + Business, March 2013 online. USA: Booz & Company Inc. Retrieved 19 April 2013 from
  • Manyika, James; Chui, Michael; Bughin, Jacques; Dobbs, Richard; Bisson, Peter & Marrs, Alex (May 2013). Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy. USA: McKinsey Global Institute. Retrieved 16 August 2013 from

Excel's Quick Analysis Tools

Did you know there was a cool wee tool in Excel 2007 on that allowed you to analyse 'instantly'? It is so easy to use, and I bet you have seen it time after time, and not noticed that it was there - I certainly didn't!
When you select a data range, the Quick Analysis tool appears as a tiny icon in the bottom left-hand corner of your data. It gives you single-click access to many of Excel's data analysis tools, many of which you've probably already used, accessible from this icon. 
  • Format: Preview and apply some of Excel's most popular conditional formats. Eg select Greater Than and Excel will prompt you for specifics; greater than what?
  • Charts: Preview and apply specific chart structures. Here's a quick tip: most of the time, you'll want to select the header text when choosing Charts. 
  • Totals: Preview and insert basic calculations like sum, count, average, and so on. 
  • Tables: Preview pivot tables. 
  • Sparklines: Preview and insert sparkline graphics (really automatic).
Thanks to TechRepublic's Susan Harkins for providing this tip. The full article is at   

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:
  • WUG, Windows User Group. A set of people who have interests, goals and expertise in using Windows software, who meet regularly to discuss and share ideas. May be virtual, may be confined to a location. Usually provide expert help and guidance to others, and assist in IT projects.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we look at all zoom shortcuts:
  • Access "Open the Zoom box to conveniently enter expressions and other text in small input areas" Shift & F2 
  • Access "Zoom in or out on a part of the page" Z 
  • Excel "Display the full set of commands on a menu or move to the next page when zoomed out (in Print Preview)" Ctrl & Down Arrow 
  • Excel "Move by one page when zoomed out (in Print Preview)" Page Up Or Page Down 
  • Excel "Move one character up, down, left, or right or move between options in the active drop-down list box or between some options in a group of options or, in Print Preview, move around the page when zoomed in; add ENTER to select an option" Arrow Keys 
  • Excel "Move one word to the right or move to the last page when zoomed out (in Print Preview)" Ctrl & Right Arrow Excel "Move to the first page when zoomed out in Print Preview" Ctrl & Up Arrow or Left Arrow 
  • IE "Display a list of zoom percentages. " Alt & Z 
  • IE "Zoom in. " Alt& + (Plus) 
  • IE "Zoom out. " Alt & - (Minus) 
  • Outlook "Zoom" Alt & Z 
  • Windows Media Player "Zoom to 100 percent" Alt & 2 
  • Windows Media Player "Zoom to 200 percent" Alt & 3 
  • Windows Media Player "Zoom to 50 percent" Alt & 1 
  • Word "Go to end of Document or end of a list of Comments when reviewing Comments or move to the last preview page when zoomed out while working in Print Preview mode" Ctrl & End 
  • Word "Move between options in a selected drop-down menu or dialog box or between some options in a group of options; add ENTER to select an option or move around a document while in Print Preview and zoomed in" Arrow Keys 
  • Word "Move up one screen or toward the beginning of a Help topic in larger increments or In Print Preview, move back by one preview page when zoomed out" Page Up 
  • Word "Scroll down one screen or toward the end of a Help topic in larger increments or In Print Preview, move forward by one preview page when zoomed out" Page Down 
  • Word "Start of Document or go to the beginning of a comment when working in Comments field or go to the first preview page when zoomed out in Print Preview mode" Ctrl & Home

Hot Linx
Don't forget to connect with the Great NZ Employment Survey and get your views in there! Rush off and complete it now at 
For a bit of a laugh, take a tour through Jeff Wysaski's list of "Book Titles With One Letter Missing", where the covers have also been cleverly arranged to support the change in meaning. Go to 
The Guardian has some great tips on how we can improve our health AND our work by being more active. Check it out at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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