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What can your business learn from the Toy Testing Council?

By Leo Valiquettecttc_logo-001

If you are not familiar with it, the Canadian Toy Testing Council is a 55-year-old non-profit that enlists the volunteer aid of families to subject toys to the most rigorous testing possible – at the hands of kids.

The council’s philosophy is to evaluate each toy from a child’s perspective and gain their input. Each toy is evaluated based on its design, function, safety, durability, battery consumption and play value.

My wife and her sisters were toy testers for many years. We were given toys based on the kids’ genders and ages, they would play with the toy for several weeks and the parents would submit written evaluations.

Each year, these efforts by the various testing families are distilled into a report, just in time for the holiday shopping season, with the council’s recommendations for the best toys.

This process falls into the category of exploratory qualitative research, something for which a client of ours, Macadamian, is a tireless proponent.

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November roundup: What does it take to bring technology to market?

By Daylin Mantyka 2013-calendar-november

Last month’s contents were newsworthy and informative. Leading the pack was Francis Moran’s post on angel investors and crowdfunding, followed by Maurice Smith’s post on the definition of “Digital Media.”  As always, we had some great contributions from our guest bloggers on presentation skills, leadership, government policy makers and entrepreneurs, among others.

In case you missed any of it, here is a handy recap of our posts, as ranked by the enthusiasm of our readers:

November 14: Angel investors can’t sit on crowdfunding sidelines, by Francis Moran

November 13: ‘Digital media’ evades easy definition, and so proper measurement, by Maurice Smith

November 11: Join Startup Canada for an entrepreneurial invasion of Parliament Hill, by Francis Moran

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Great articles roundup: Misfit and millennial entrepreneurs, marketing teams and content marketing

By Daylin Mantyka link

It’s Friday — which means that it’s time for the great articles weekly roundup. This week. we selected worthy content from Fast Company, Under 30 CEO and Marketing Tech Blog.

First, an article that dives into the definition and value of a misfit entrepreneur, followed by a post on how to  achieve success through innovation. Next, we selected a slideshow that outlines how to create the optimal marketing organization. Closing the roundup for this week is some real-world advice on developing a unique content marketing strategy in a dev shop.

A brief manifesto for misfit entrepreneurs

Sunmin Kim defines a misfit entrepreneur as a person who has shifted from her or his formal training, such as engineering, to explore other industries by means of developing a business. In this post, Sunmin explores whether or not career pivots offer an edge on the competition or act as a hindrance to progress.

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‘They didn’t do any marketing. They just went to SXSW’

By Francis MoranBell Curve

I’d be a semi-rich man if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone point to one of the spectacularly successful companies that have exploded onto the marketplace over the last few years and say, “They didn’t do any marketing. They just …” and then fill in the blank with some seemingly trivial thing, like “They just went to South by Southwest,” or “They just did social media.”

I heard it again just last week when I guest lectured to a University of Ottawa MBA class, with Twitter and Facebook held up as the examples of companies that “didn’t do any marketing.” As I told the students, Twitter and Facebook are no more examples of predictable startup success than buying a lottery ticket is an example of sensible retirement planning. I drew a bell curve in the air and said that if that bell curve described the distribution of success for a given collection of technology startups, then Twitter and Facebook — and here I moved several meters to the right and stretched my right arm out — are way over here. They’re not even outliers; they’re in a completely different orbit.

And still the mythology persists. I can understand it. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are all wildly successful companies, and who wouldn’t want to emulate them. The truth is, though, that most who do, fail. We hear about the (very) odd one that succeeds but, by definition, we hear nothing about the failures, of which there are countless.

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Build more than just a great product

By Leo Valiquettebobs

Legacy.

It’s been top of mind for me the past couple of weeks while wearing one of my other hats – editor of the Ottawa Chamber magazine, The Voice.

The next issue of The Voice will serve as a takeaway for the Best Ottawa Business Awards gala taking place in Nov. 21. The awards, previously known as the Ottawa Business Achievement Awards, recognize local business excellence in a number of categories. I’ve been busy interviewing this year’s Lifetime Achievement recipient (Wes Nicol), the CEO of the Year, Halogen Software’s Paul Loucks, and a host of other business achievers.

From this, I thought I would share some of the gems I’ve picked up that speak to legacy, which, from a business standpoint, I define as creating something that endures and has a distinct identity and reputation in the marketplace.

I have to start with a quote from Wes Nicol. This isn’t something he said to me when we spoke recently, but was part of a convocation speech he gave at Carleton University in 2006. It says a lot about the man himself and what has led to his business success:

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