"That's just an illusion."

Happy Sunday, folks! (or Monday morning, if you’re east of India)

Hey, I want to reduce my uncertainty about something, so here’s an invitation to help me with that. If you have been directly involved in deciding to spend $20,000 or more on consulting, marketing, or custom software development services that were marketed or sold with a cold outbound high-pressure approach, would you be able to take 5 to 10 minutes and tell me about it via a brief voice survey? No need for any scheduling - you can take the survey whenever is most convenient for you: https://alpharun.com/i/aSRxUyr_P26wPWU-Zh1Tm. Your contribution to the research will be kept 100% anonymous if/when findings are shared.

Thanks in advance for any contributions to this micro-research project!

Lead Generation Learnings

I’m fully aware that I’m looking at the world through a filtered lens, and these days that lens is: the role of networks and relationships in business development. That’s why this caught my attention:

Here are the especially intense statements Susan Athey makes:

  • “The leaders in your field will be from peer institutions or better institutions than yours. Their choice of conferences to attend probably tells you something about what's important.”

  • “…young people sometimes think that the refereeing is random and anonymous, but, in fact, it is quite predictable. As an editor, you look at the references in the paper, and you try to find the experts in the area. It's actually pretty easy to figure out who the fifteen or twenty people would be that might referee a particular paper.”

  • “…you might think that there's a bunch of referees and tenure letter-writers out there who, when given your paper or packet, will dutifully sit down and spend an entire day reading your paper or two days reading everything in your packet. That's just an illusion. A lot of people will do things very quickly, and they'll base a lot of their efforts on things they already know. And so, if you've presented in front of them, and if you've talked to them, if you've explained things to them, if you've gotten their questions, and incorporated their feedback in advance, you're going to be much, much more successful in the process.”

I’ve quoted almost the whole thing. Heh. That’s because while Athey is speaking specifically about academia, I see all kinds of direct parallels to the world of business at both small and large scales. To our world.

Also from the world of academia, this paper is relevant: Editorial favoritism in the field of laboratory experimental economics. Here’s a useful simplification of the paper’s claims:

  • Editors manage journals and decide which papers get published

  • Authors compete to get their papers published in the best journals

  • Editors should choose papers based only on scientific quality

  • This competition should lead to the best papers being published

  • But sometimes editors choose papers based on social ties to the authors

  • This is called editorial favoritism and can lead to lower quality papers being published

  • Social ties between editors and authors can influence publishing in several ways:

    • Editors might accept a colleague's paper while rejecting a better paper from someone they don't know

    • Social ties make it easier for editors to find and evaluate papers from people they know

    • Editors might share information with colleagues about topics they want papers on

    • A social tie could be a signal that an author is high quality in ways that aren't in the paper

  • Editorial favoritism can slow down scientific progress by leading to lower quality papers being published instead of higher quality ones

Drilling into the “social ties make it easier” point, the study suggests a few potential mechanisms by which editorial favoritism may operate:

  • Reduced search costs: Editors may be more likely to become aware of and select papers by authors they have social ties with, because their familiarity with the author's work reduces the effort required to search for and evaluate papers.

  • Information sharing: Social ties may facilitate communication between editors and authors, allowing editors to share information about the types of papers they are looking for and encouraging connected authors to submit.

  • Unobserved quality signals: A social tie between an editor and author may serve as a signal of the author's quality or qualifications that is not directly observable in the paper itself, leading the editor to view the paper more positively.

  • Conscious or unconscious bias: Even if not intentional, editors' judgment of papers may be subconsciously influenced by their relationship with the author, leading them to overestimate the quality of work by connected authors and underestimate the quality of other submissions.

  • Quid pro quo: In more extreme cases, editors may consciously choose to accept papers from colleagues and frequent collaborators out of a sense of reciprocity or mutual benefit, even if those papers are of lower quality than other available options.

The paper authors see all this stuff as risks to scientific progress, but when transposed out of the world of academia and into my world I see it as: ways I can help my clients intercept more opportunity. The question that drives my innovation efforts is: How can I help my clients benefit from favoritism based on social ties?

Speaking of that, a past client — a Shopify front-end developer — has some availability while he is rebooting his consultancy. If you need help from someone like that, let me know and I’ll connect you with him.

OpportunityLabs done-for-you services can help you:

  • Reach director or executive-level buyers without trying to cosplay a thought leader

  • Produce good educational content without writing or needing a ghost-writer

  • Expand your professional network without travel or uncomfortable networking

Prices start at $2,500/mo, and there are some of you that ought to start investing in positioning your business as a source of educational value now during this down cycle in order to be ready to reap your harvest when things get better a few years from now.

To learn more hit REPLY and we’ll take things from there, likely starting with a consultative, not-salesey conversation.

Last Issue’s For-Fun Poll

The question was: How much does your musical taste overlap with that of your parents?

 🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 0% (1)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 As much as 25% overlap (4)

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ As much as 50% overlap (2)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ As much as 75% overlap (1)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 100% overlap (1)

A few elaborating comments:

  • “I found this is not a fixed percentage! ”

  • “I am an old soul mixed with a headbanger so I can listen to Dean Martin sing Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime and Glenn Miller's orchestra swing to the Chattanooga Cho Cho and on the same playlist listen to Adrenaline Mob sing C'mon Get Up and Halestorm's Freak Like Me. I just love music.”

This Week’s For-Fun Poll

Surpassing The Source: Cover Songs That Are (Almost Certainly) Better Than The Original

The original:

The self-cover:

I’m already breaking from my self-imposed format of comparing originals and covers that are either an interesting departure from the original or flat-out better than the original. This is a self-cover from Lucinda Williams re-recording of Sweet Old World.

It’s awesome to listen to these two songs back to back because you’ll hear the passage of 25 years of time in her voice. Also, you’ll hear an attempt to make the words “casserole” and “tire iron” sound kinda sexy, which is also worth your time and attention. (How many of you youngsters even know what a tire iron is without looking it up?)

I’m already getting user-submissions of covers-better-than-the-original. Keep ‘em coming and I’ll drip them out later down the road.

I hope something nice happens to you this week,