What’s on my Zite? Featuring Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today and New York Times bestselling books “Call to Action”, “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?” and “Always Be Testing.” Bryan is a professional marketing keynote speaker and is also the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Follow Bryan on Twitter: @TheGrokBryan Eisenberg

You’re always speaking at major conferences – what has been your favorite speaking opportunity and why?

There are so many great events I’ve attended. They’ve all been full of wonderful people, places and interactions. One that stands out is an event in Moscow my brother Jeffrey (my business partner) and I did together. The best part was a Facebook post left by one of the attendees a few months after we presented that talked about all the positive impact our recommendations had on her business – it was something like a 400 percent increase in revenues despite their limited resources. That was really moving for us.

What advice would you offer someone who is speaking for the first time?

Giving a good presentation is both about entertaining and educating. You need to ask the audience to think without imposing a burden on them – it’s what great storytellers do. Let me emphasize that by stating that someone reading bullet points from their slides is neither educational nor entertaining.

People constantly come to conferences in hopes of learning and experiencing an “aha moment” from you. With that in mind, what’s an “aha moment” you experienced recently? And how did that moment change your outlook?

This year I attended SXSW as an attendee and went to a session presented by Scott Cook, founder and chairman of the executive committee of the board of Intuit. His company is responsible for products like Quicken, QuickBooks, TurboTax and others. Scott’s also a former Procter & Gamble veteran with extensive background in traditional product development, marketing and market research, so he was there to talk about how he shifted his company to be more agile to deal with ever-changing complexity that today’s increasingly high-paced and chaotic marketplace demands. After his session, I had the privilege of spending some time with him one-on-one. I left with one quote that I have been sharing with many executives since, “The job of today’s leader is to remove the barriers to experimentation. Work with your organization’s team to come up with ‘leap of faith assumptions’ and find ‘the evidence to support those assumptions with tests and experiments.” Just like the title of my last book you need to “Always Be Testing.”

If someone so strongly rooted in traditional marketing methods can work hard to change their corporate metabolism and culture then there is still hope for every company out there, as long as they work at it.

Given your background, it’s clear you’ve probably seen it all, but what is something you wish you would have known early on in your career that you had to learn the hard way?

Being too early or even way too early to a marketplace can be a detriment. The industry leaders know you are a visionary but you spend a lot of time hungry and miss the “mass” part of the marketplace.

Is there a particular trend in tech or business that you’re following closely? If so, why?

Right now I’m really focused on Big Data. I’m not into the tech-geek side of things, but I’m impressed with how the use of data can positively affect individuals and businesses. We’re seeing advances like the driverless car, robots that are better at prescribing medicine than doctors and applications that make marketing easier and more efficient for companies.

We noticed you’re a regular user of Zite – what do you like most about the app? What makes you keep coming back for more?

Like the app? It’s addictive! I remember jonesing for it when it was only available for iPad and I couldn’t get it for my Android phone – now I’m grateful that I can get it everywhere. Google didn’t kill Google reader for me, Zite did ages ago. I used to follow 600+ blogs for my content consumption and curation efforts and now I just log in to Zite several times a day. I love how it keeps finding unique sources while still keeping me up to date with some of my favorite publications as well.

What are three new Zite topics or trends you’ve started following recently?

Austin: I moved to Austin last year so I recently made it a topic so I’d get to know the city better. But I still keep Brooklyn as a topic so I am not too homesick.

Neuroscience: There is more and more coming out about how the brain works. Why people do the things they do fascinates me so this is the perfect topic for staying updated on the latest findings.

Amazing: Doesn’t the topic title say it all :-)

Name a recent article that you discovered and found fascinating. How did this translate to your personal or work life?

Four years ago I began a journey to change my life. I lost over 100 pounds, figured out ways to spend more time with my family and reduced the level of stress in my life – I needed to regain balance. I’ve yo-yo dieted for years; losing 20 pounds then gaining it back. I am amazed at the poor information that gets spread about nutrition and exercise especially as you get closer to 40 years old.

There was a New York Times article I discovered in Zite (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/science/a-mathematical-challenge-to-obesity.html?_r=1) on a mathematical equation for obesity that talked about how we now have such an over abundance of calories that we just end up consuming more and more. It describes how we have been programmed to eat more and how it’s a hardship to eat less. One of the biggest culprits is all the marketing of mal-nutritious foods to kids, even worse is marketing these foods as being healthy. No amount of time on a treadmill or exercise bike is ever going to burn all these calories off. I know from both my weightloss journey and the work I do with clients is that if you focus on using the wrong data, or using the information from the data improperly you will never achieve the results you want.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing on your down time?

My family is my top priority. That would include things like cooking for everyone, making green smoothies, coaching my oldest son’s little league team, photo walks with the kids and working out to keep up with three children.

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