Reess Kennedy

Ideas, sharings, projections

Category: Media

Trump: Magician for the unwitting

Magic only fools you when you don’t know how it’s done–the technical aspects of the trick.

A magician watches another magician and he might be impressed by the delivery but he’s not fooled by the method. He knows how it’s done.

Trump is a magician, like David Blaine. Instead of using sleight of hand to con his observers, Trump uses “sleight of words.”

People fall for it because they haven’t studied his method–the technical aspects of his use of language.

The good news: We can learn all the “magic tricks” Trump uses to fool people by studying the attached cheat sheet which defines all of the logical fallacies.

These logical fallacies aren’t new, they’ve been around since the beginning of time. They’re just hard to memorize so very few of us do.

Without a solid understanding of these, however, we might be prone to grant credence to dubious and false statements.

But with an understanding of these tricks we see the method.

So use the download below to arm yourself against trickery.

(Or trick others who haven’t studied it just like Trump. Your choice. Free country. Love to all.)


These were modified and simplified for this post from

Thoughts on branded content after watching Tom Hanks in Cast Away for the 8th time

Branded content is everywhere now.

I was watching a normal video on the New York Times website the other day, it finished and another video came on. I assumed this video was the next New York Times-produced video in the same category and I was viewing a playlist. And it was exactly that: a New York Times report on some Wall Street Banker who quit his job to become a triathlete. Oh yeah, side note, he also drives a beautiful new Lexus that they spent a lot of time talking about and the entire production of this video was actually paid for, and served as an ad for, Lexus.

Nothing too egregious here. Most major news organizations now have branded content divisions. And I think news needs to explore new ways to make money.

But in the year 2000, one of my favorite movies of all time came out: Cast Away, directed by the the remarkable Robert Zemeckis.

Watching it again for maybe the 8th time recently, I was struck by how the whole movie is a love story. It’s a love story between a man and woman, a man and an inanimate object (Wilson, the volleyball) and, I’d argue, a man and an employer.

Yes, this man’s priorities change during the film–likely away from the prioritization of employer / work over family. But FedEx is always there and cast as this global private enterprise of incredible efficiency and professionalism. Granted one of their planes goes down and packages are lost but the protagonist writes at the end that a FedEx package “saved my life,” as he delivers it to a sculptor in Texas.

“The World on Time,” FedEx’s motto at the time is seen a number of times during the movie as well. And when Hanks is finally “recalled to life,” it seems FedEx is there for him in a significant way.

There’s even a joke at one point between Hank’s character and one of his co-worker chums about how if they didn’t hold themselves to this high standard of package delivery expedience they’d be just like the U.S. Post Office.

Given the current 2016 climate where brands are paying a lot of money I was willing to bet FedEx sponsored this whole thing so it was interesting to discover that according to this reporting from the Chicago Tribune back in 2001, FedEx didn’t pay a cent for any of this.

Takeaways: I don’t think branded content is going anywhere. As a result, the contemporary content consumer has to be more discerning and aware than ever before. That said, I also think publications need to hold themselves to some disclaimer standard. Nobody likes to feel they’ve been duped. I felt close to this on the New York Times website while watching the Lexus-sponsored content.

Perhaps disclaimers can be standardized in some way just like cigarette box warning labels–similar fonts and visibility standards so consumers know what to look for to clearly understand the origin and intention of a piece of content.

The holy grail for a brand is really what happened with FedEx in Cast Away back in 2000 but this is so uncommon. Still, maybe there are lessons here for brands: like that it’s okay to tell a story involving a brand that isn’t 100% positive and promotional. The authenticity this creates leaves a lasting, positive impression.

Side commentary on Cast Away: The Tom Hanks/Helen Hunt love story and chemistry in this movie is one of the best I’ve ever seen and I get very emotional watching it–even though I’ve seen it multiple times. Hunt is so authentic in her short presence in the movie and the whole thought of unintended distance and the very harsh imperfections of reality resonate. Probably no other movie in history has created a connection so strong in such a limited amount of screen time.

Then again, I also get emotional when Wilson floats off to sea, so …

It’s just a heroic story well told.



Book review and favorite quotes from Marc Cuban’s “How to Win at the Sport of Business”

I like Mark Cuban. I know he is brash and has an ego but he also isn’t afraid to say what he believes and he is humble when he talks about how fortunate he’s been and sincerely likes to help people — both on Shark Tank (a billionaire doesn’t have to make the, sometimes, small investments he makes on that show) and with the short book he wrote in 2011, “How to Win at the Sport of Business.” (Amazon link here.) I read it in two nights as my before-bed read.

Overall review: I’m not sure the book will go down as a classic business read but I like Cuban’s honesty. He was a very average dude who, after some failures, completely committed himself to winning at business. He emphases the importance of finding the right business partner who compliments you. In his case, it was someone who could handle the details of the business while he sold. He stresses the importance of an absolute focus on sales and to putting in the time when your potential clients are sleeping to learning the information your need to close more sales when your potential clients are awake. There are some other good nuggets too. True to form, there were times I wished Cuban had dug into something more or done more research but this just isn’t his style. He’s not bogged down by perfectionism. And that’s actually one of the secrets to his success.

Quick Cuban story: In 2011 I was at an event at the Wynn Las Vegas and went to grab a drink at a bar surrounded by slot machines in a quiet part of the casino and I look over and Mark is sitting two seats to my left on his Blackberry with a Michelob Ultra in front of him. Looking back, I should have said “What up Mark dawgg!” But I didn’t have anything to pitch him and didn’t want to bother him. About a minute later a group of people came over to ask for a picture and I left.

Anyway, below are some of my highlights from his book.

On finding a business partner who compliments your skills:
“We could drive each other crazy. He would give me incredible amounts of shit about how sloppy I was. I would give him the same amount back because he was so anal he was missing huge opportunities.”

On the power of a knowledge advantage:
“Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage.” AND “Of course, my wife hates that I read more than three hours almost every day, but it gives me a level of comfort and confidence in my businesses.”

On Bill Gates stealing two women from him at a party when they were both much younger and unwed:
“As I would learn later in life, money makes you extremely handsome.”

On never turning off and always learning:
“Relaxing is for the other guy. I may be sitting in front of the TV, but I’m not watching it unless I think there is something I can learn from it.”

On the competitiveness of business:
“That’s what makes business such an amazing sport. Everyone plays it. Everyone talks about how good he or she is or wil be at it. Just a smal percentage are.”

On being an obsessively productive salesman:
“every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time, and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me.”

On how to properly measure the success of your investment of time:
It would have been easy to judge effort by how many hours a day passed while I was at work. That’s the worst way to measure effort. Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results.

On choosing something you can get lost in:
“Maybe I wasn’t the best programmer in the world, but in combination with business and sales skils, I found something that was a blast to me that I could and did do 24 hours at a time and not miss a beat.”

On the importance of learning how to learn:
“In my humble opinion, once you have learned how to learn, then you can try as many different things as you can, recognizing that you don’t have to find your destiny at any given age—you just have to be prepared to run with it when you do.”

On avoiding debt to allow you to take chances on your dreams:
“The greatest obstacle to destiny is debt, both personal and financial. The more people you are obligated to, the harder it is to focus on yourself and figure things out. Your first house, car, whatever you might want to buy, is going to be the primary reason you stop looking for what makes you the happiest.”

On the need to delegate so you can focus on your core strengths:
“pretty much every other strategic element of my businesses I have learned to delegate— that’s not easy for an entrepreneur to do. In the past, I would have taken on anything and everything that I thought I could add value to …. You may work 24 hours a day, but those 24 hours spent winning your core business will pay off far more. Bottom line is this: If you are adding new things when your core businesses are struggling rather than facing the challenge, you are either running away or giving up”

On the fallacy that more cash or investment is always needed to grow:
“So what’s wrong with that? Nothing! It’s okay to start slow. It’s okay to grow slow. As much as you want to think that al things would change if you only had more cash available, they probably won’t …
The reality is that for most businesses, they don’t need more cash, they need more brains.”

On never creating silos and wanting to make sure all customer emails get sent to him directly:
“I don’t know how they do it. I make my email available to everyone and anyone. Not only that (and more importantly), I make sure that al the customer service emails get forwarded to me.”

On the permanence of the sales profession:
“If you can sell, you can get a job—anywhere, anytime.”

Debunking myths about sales people and framing what the best really do:
“It’s not the hustler who is a smooth talker. The best salespeople are the ones who put themselves in their customer’s shoes and provide a solution that makes the customer happy … The best salesperson is the one the customer trusts and never has to question.”

On individuals being a poor judge of their own skills:
“The best salesperson is the one the customer trusts and never has to question.”

On starting the right business for you:
“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.”

On creating deals that are win-win situations:
“Every good deal has a win-win solution. There is nothing I hate more than someone who tries to squeeze every last penny out of the deal. Who often raises the aggravation level to the point where it’s not worth doing the deal.”

Is Google’s facts and answers search result strategy sustainable?


Seen these Google queries inline, on search results pages without having to click through to a publisher’s page? I’m sure you have if you’re a frequent Googler but but I wonder how the publishers of these answers feel? You know, the ones that actually do the work of providing the answers? Given the attached example, how many searchers would have clicked through to the top result and given some ad revenue as a result had Google not lifted the content and made it unnecessary to support the publisher?

I think this is a major issue. How is a balance between convenience and sustainability created? This is a broad question that can be applied to a lot of tech disruption but this is a great example. To me, this seems like a breach of Google’s original “Do no Evil” motto. In theory, if this makes it harder for digital publishers to monetize their journalism this also makes it hard for Google to provide quality search results because no one will be able to afford to produce it for them.

Generalizing, our current convenience here may mean a long term breakdown in this amazing search and retrieval system we’ve grown accustomed to.

It used to take people days to find the answers to a query. They had to go to the library and bumble around for awhile until they found what they needed. Or make a bunch of phone calls to experts. Given this perspective, I think I am okay with clicking on a link to find my answer if it supports the publisher and allows for the proper feeding of this system I value.

Perhaps I am missing something here. Maybe publishers are charging for API access / database calls like Amazon and Google do for their cloud computing services. I DOUBT it though.



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