Today Show


Check out the video clip of us on the Today Show — Meredith Vieira was great and we even got to give a shout-out to our Mom. Good times. Bonus round: We ran into Jim Cramer in the green room and Matt Lauer in the hallway. We managed to find nothing intelligent to say to either of them. We just shook their hands in a semi-mute manner.

My hopes of meeting Al Roker, however, were dashed. Next time, Al, you will not escape me.

A teacher making a difference

What a great story in this Jay Mathews article: Lisa Suben, a fifth-grade math teacher in DC, wrote her own math curriculum for low-income children. One comment in particular stuck out to me: “Understanding is built by making connections between as many strands of knowledge as possible.”

Sticky ideas make use of what’s already in the heads of the audience. Sticky ideas make reference to ideas you already know, they tap into different kinds of memory, they use familiar story structures. There aren’t many details in the story about specific elements in the curriculum — maybe when we get a chance we’ll call up Lisa and ask her more. Sounds fascinating.

Google’s hiring process

Saul Hansell has an interesting NYT piece on Google’s use of unorthodox interview techniques, like challenging applicants with brainteasers and asking people, “Have you ever made a profit from a catering business or dog walking?”

There is a brief mention in the piece of an earlier recruitment campaign that Chip and I think was ingenious Here’s the challenge for a recruiter: How do you lure in the right people while deterring the wrong people? One way to do that is to talk: “Google is looking for the brightest, most motivated technology whizzes in the universe!”

A better way to do it is to tease. Imagine a black equation on a white billboard (better seen than described). More precisely, an equation + a “.com” text string. No other markings. No clue as to why there’d be an equation on a billboard, or who was responsible for it. The “.com” ending hinted that if you could crack the equation, and then add a “.com” to the end of your answer, you’d be rewarded somehow. This is a great example of making an idea stick via a “curiosity gap.”

The answer led to another riddle. Eventually, having made the cut, you’d find out that Google was behind the mystery, and you’d arrive at a page where you could submit your resume to Google.

What a smart way of enticing the right people–people sufficiently analytical to solve a rather tough riddle–while remaining invisible to the wrong people.

The Release

Our book went on sale today! I am looking forward to seeing it in an actual bookstore. I think it will be hard to resist hugging someone at the counter or otherwise.

It is probably not a good idea to do that in NYC, now that I think about it.

As if that weren’t enough exciting news for one day, Amazon is also offering a special promotion, which gives you a special rate if you choose to buy our book along with a book called Waking Up On The Toilet. I don’t know quite how to feel about that.

It is true that we open our book with the “kidney thieves” urban legend, in which a guy wakes up in an ice-filled bathtub sans kidneys. So maybe Amazon has sniffed out a “waking up in a weird place” theme that links the two books. In fact, maybe there is a whole segment of readers that enjoys a book precisely for its ability to identify new, weird places to wake up. I hope it’s a very populous segment.

And someone please get to work on the book Waking Up In The Trunk of Kurt Rambis’s Car. We’ll work out a bundling deal.

Diversity, felt

In Made To Stick, we talk about situations where communicators had to make people experience something, because talking about it was inadequate. We talk about an elementary school teacher who made her students experience prejudice. We talk about how HP got its engineers to experience the value its technology could bring to Disney. We talk about how the NBA made players experience the risk of AIDS.

The WSJ’s Phred Dvorak writes about the innovative training efforts of the French food-services company Sodexho Alliance. The training mission: To inspire respect and appreciation for diversity. Don’t roll your eyes yet. You haven’t heard this one before:

TWO YEARS AGO, Rod Bond, an executive at a U.S. unit of French food-services company Sodexho Alliance SA, accompanied female colleagues to a meeting of the Women’s Food Service Forum, where he was a rare man among roughly 1,500 women.

“That’s a profound experience,” says Mr. Bond, 57 years old. It prompted him to wonder how women managers of his generation had felt when they started their careers amid a sea of men. “I can begin to feel what it must have felt like to be different,” Mr. Bond says. …

Ms. Anand [Sodexho’s Chief Diversity Officer] asked Mr. Bond to sponsor the affinity group for women employees when it formed about four years ago. Mr. Bond, who runs the Sodexho division that serves public schools, says participating in the group helped him appreciate the concerns of women employees. One of the group’s first requests was for a lactation room at headquarters, where new mothers could pump breast milk. “It’s just one of those things I’d never thought about,” says Mr. Bond.

Working with the group also made Mr. Bond more sensitive to women’s feelings, he says. Recently, he found himself annoyed by a TV comedian making jokes about divorce, all at the wife’s expense. Mr. Bond says he has also changed the social activities he plans for his colleagues, arranging excursions such as dinner cruises instead of golf outings, which he thinks appeal primarily to men.

Being the only man in a conference of women. Contributing to the plans for a lactation room. That’s the way you make the value of diversity stick.