Monday, June 28, 2010

Perceptual Reality

Poet John Godfrey Saxe famously tells of six men of Indostan …“To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy his mind.”

Those who have read the poem will recall that the first blind man felt the broad side of the animal and proclaimed the elephant “is very like a wall.” The second, feeling the elephant’s tusk cried, “This wonder of an Elephant is very like a spear!” Struggling with the elephants squirming trunk, the third said, “the Elephant is very like a snake!” The fourth man feeling the elephant’s knee said, “’Tis clear enough the Elephant is very like a tree!” The fifth, feeling the ear said, “This marvel of an Elephant is very like a fan!” The sixth man, feeling the tail said, “the Elephant is very like a rope!”

In perceptual reality, each of the men was correct.

Often my job is to not only see all six points of view, but to convince “one blind man” to see the elephant as I wish.

My father, a lawyer by profession and a historian by nature, often would remind me to “focus in the grey” since, as he believed, the world is rarely black and white. The advise he ingrained into my psyche, along with the countless books I have engulfed on the human brain, have taught me that focusing in the grey was really forcing me to understand the delicate dynamic of perception and reality.

Although I will not generally use this blog to tout my company’s unique skill sets, the way we delve deeply into perceptual realities has become a stable quiver in the arrows of our arsenal at STIR-Communications. Not wishing to appear too nerdy, we tell our clients it’s simply segmenting.

“Perception is a dynamic conflict between the attempts of an outer world to impose an actuality on us and our efforts to transform this actuality into a self-centered perspective. Perception is a confrontation between an inward directed vector of external reality compelling awareness and an outward-directed vector of physiological, cultural, and psychological transformation.” An excerpt from The Dynamic Psychological Field by R.J. Rummel. 

We all see everything differently, even if we both can agree on a specific color or taste, we are actually seeing or tasting something different. Knowing this, have you ever considered your co-workers, consumers/clients, friends and family live in their own private perceptual reality? Instead of expecting them to see the elephant as you do, why not try and see what they are seeing?

Who knows … you might finally see enough of the animal to make sense of it all.

All my best,

Greg Salsburg
The Big STIR
Miami | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064
o: (305) 407-1723

Monday, June 21, 2010


I was thinking yesterday about gravity and its delicate balance between simplicity and enormity. A force so great it holds the planets in our galaxy in line, the rotational direction of the earth, moon and sun. It causes all that is suspended in mid air to fall to the ground, without expectation. However, this force can be broken with the simple action of picking a penny from the ground.

I have determined that just like gravity, our lives are punctuated in the same delicate balance. Live a life of enrichment and the powerful forces are aligned; falter and we crash to the ground. In life and in business, when missteps occur in numbers, it becomes a daunting task to break. It appears moments of clarity and goodwill are quickly erased by additional acts of disappointment and failure. However, just like the picking up of the penny, it’s as simply to put things back on track. In uncertain economic times it can seems we are spending more time fighting off challenges and issues rather than celebrating successes.

Last week I spent many hours meeting with three extremely accomplished individuals to discuss a project in which we are all involved. One is the former head of a major global film studio and most recently lead the broadband direction of the world's largest Internet provider; the second is a leader in digital media, technology, business consulting and capital investment, and the third is in charge of a highly influential non-profit educational center focused around the world of entertainment. The specific project is significant and not without major obstacles, not only requiring an assemblage of many tangible components to achieve success, it requires an assemblage of shifting mind sets. The former is underway, the latter, is the real issue and a hurdle many of us face.

Anyone can have an idea or create a product, but only a few know how to create like-minded demand. Apple didn't invent the smart phone, MP3 or a digital book reader, however, they have been able to move the mindset of the masses to embrace their vision, brand philosophy and product design in an evangelical manner.

Some companies seem endlessly successful in making us see the inherent needs of their product offerings or overall business vision. Others seem like Don Quixote shooting at windmills.

It’s funny how significant past success can influence people’s perception for future success. During a moment of clarity (or bathroom break) it was asked why this group was so positive that they can bring to market this monumental project, alter mass perception, and do something no one else has ever done before. The answers: "That's what being a leader is about" … "The world is truly built on those few who lead and the majority that follow" … "It is because no one has been able to do it before, that we are positive we can" … "Think of all the great inventions in history that almost all you either didn't know you needed or others felt it would not be a demand." Somehow when coming from this group is didn't sound like palaver. I have always said, "The problem with the "norm" is it fails to see the "new" as a viable mechanism."

So here we go, with full recognition of the pull of "gravity" from the task at hand. We remain confident we can alter the force of nature.

What forces are controlling your life? How will you pick up the penny?

(For the record and I know what you're thinking, I am acutely aware I am least qualified in all aspects of life to be part of this group.)

All my best,

Greg Salsburg
The Big STIR
Miami | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064
o: (305) 407-1723

Monday, June 14, 2010


"If it ain't broke don't fix it" or "If it ain't broke, don't break it" have each been popular clich├ęs I have heard uttered by some well regarded leaders in business, as if they were mandates. Only problem, both can actually be counter-intuitive to business success. Change, even change for change's sake, is a vital business organism to evoke creativity, innovation, efficient resource allocation and adaptability. I am not talking about blowing up a company to start fresh, nor am I suggesting a move from being a farming widget maker to a pharmaceutical widget supplier. However, if you can pull off that niche go for it, we will provide our services for free, just for the ride.

James March of Stanford University eloquently explained: Exploitation (doing what works today) drives out exploration (seeking out risky but potentially valuable new ways of doing things). A company that is seemingly healthy and well performing for sometime without any change, can actually be vulnerable to major disruptions.

Harvard professors have determined that even the change you implement needs to change from application to application in order for the productive disruption to take place.

Do you workout? Ever hit a plateau and growth becomes stagnant? It's not because you are doing anything wrong, it's that the body has become comfortable and has anticipated the output. Switch up the routine and progress will immediately return. Many companies operate in the same manner, maintaining business functions around a single criterion and creating a silo effect. I saw in a span of three months one company almost have a mutiny and mass exodus of top employees and then double digit growth in the same year. All caused by changing personal office locations within the company's offices, removing solid doors and replacing with clear glass ones, and insisting each key personal in each division share information with other service lines at staff meetings. Many people love well-established routines and are uncomfortable and will reject change. However, top performers are that way because they know how to adapt. Some will even find it a new challenge. For the rest, change reminds them this is a place of business and performance is the indicator. (Some will simply disappear.)

At our company, we have made major shifts in the past 18 months. It’s been difficult, but now are we seeing the positive returns that come with strategic change.

The risk of not assessing your internal and external business functions, directions, market condition is costly. Not allowing for your business to change to capitalize on those opportunities is deadly.

All my best,

Greg Salsburg
The Big STIR | STIR-Communications
Miami  | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064 | o: (305) 407-1723

Monday, June 7, 2010


So this is my first blog, a new start. I've tweeted, facebooked, YouTubed and various other elements of "Info sharing" but never a blog. I read others; some religiously, some occasionally and many begrudgingly but consistently felt the world never needed to be initiated with my dribble. Sure, for years I have been blessed to be paid for many of the very ideas I felt you would not want to read about for free. May say something about who I hold in highest regard. However, recently not just our global clients are tapping in, but an ever increasing number of people have been reaching out to me or our company, STIR-Communications, seeking opinion on various subjects. So, with great humility I begin.

Since this is all about firsts, let's talk beginnings. If you are in the sales business, make a cold call, if you're in the creative industry come up with an idea, any idea. If you're a chef, throw some ingredients in a bowl and see if it works. Bottom-line, whatever industry you're in, remember to begin. We measure success too often on the sales and final outcomes. However, there is something very noble and commendable in "the start." Don't get bogged down in details for the pursuit of success. Those are stifling. Nothing great can ever be achieved if you don't start.

greg salsburg / The Big STIR /

c. 561.386.8064 / t. 305.407.1723 / f. 305.407.1729
miami / london / new york