The X Effect

 {AN A-Z of almost everything in 1897 words}


The idea for this blog is simple, but hopefully not simplistic.

A grown-up version of a kid’s alphabet book crossed with the Devil’s Dictionary; dissecting business, cultural and historic effects.

Originally, I posted part one covering A, B, C & D in Sept 2012.

Subsequently I decided it would work better as a single piece.

Readers will inevitably disagree with some of the subjects chosen and observations made.

And that’s fine, naturally it reflects personal bias.

However, I imagine most people will at least agree with the beginning.

As every kid knows, A is for Apple.

The Apple Effect

The Apple effect is an exceptional user experience based on intuition instead of research.

Technology that’s so intuitive, and childishly easy to use, it’s almost anti-technology.

And paradoxically is probably the best technology in the world.

That’s how valuable intuition can be.

Of course it helps when you have a grown-up child running the company.

Steve we miss you.

The Boutique Effect

The boutique effect is the growth of small thinking.

From boutique hotels to boutique law firms, via financial boutiques and boutique spas, what was once a 60’s word for a groovy clothing store signifies what exactly?

It's the antidote to soulless and corporate.

The promise of a personal touch that’s increasingly hard to deliver and therefore more sought after than ever.

It’s the notion that personal and nimble service is better and worth paying more for.

The Churchill Effect

The Churchill effect is victory in the face of overwhelming odds.

He knew when your back is against the wall, you need resolute creativity to stop the wall falling on your head.

He not only played a huge part in saving the free world, he was witty and smart.

He didn’t just write books, he won the Nobel Prize for literature and enjoyed bricklaying and raising pigs.

He was the stuff of legend.

The Da Vinci Effect

The Da Vinci effect goes beyond mere beauty and even beyond genius.

Although it usually takes both to make it happen.

It’s that moment when the sublime connects us to the divine.

People most commonly experience it as a result of great art.

Or when they get lucky, great sex.

However you experience it, you’ll know when you do, because if only for a moment you and the universe will be completely in synch.

The English Effect

The English effect is ubiquitous, the most widely spoken language in the world.

Of course it was spread through Empire and colonialism.

But there‘s more to it than that.

English was the first killer app.

It’s the world’s lingua franca, because it’s easy to learn, fun to use, and comes with some great and truly global literature.

If you only speak one, make sure it’s this one!

The fcuk Effect

The fcuk effect shows how far misspelling a good old Anglo-Saxon word can take you.

Originally an acronym used on internal faxes between the Hong Kong (FCHG) and London Offices (FCUK).

Somebody at TBWA realised it was a gold mine and used it to turn a moderately successful fashion company into a very successful global fashion brand.

Of course it doesn’t hurt to have Jason Statham modeling either.

Sometimes the answer is under your nsoe.

The Google Effect

The Google effect is revolution.

It made algorithms sexy and the internet truly useful and accessible.

It showed the power of a simple idea (ranking sites by number of links) allied with complex layered execution.

On the way it re-wrote media buying with pay-per-click advertising.

Re-wrote corporate slogans with Don’t be Evil.

But the Google effect is changing as the revolutionaries inevitably become the establishment.

What the next five years will bring is far from clear, but one thing’s for sure – we’re going to find out.

The Halloween Effect

The Halloween effect is the commercialization of any and everything.

Halloween used to be a one night event which has crept to a week and is still creeping.

Now Halloween merch hits the shelves in August.

True, holiday creep affects other days like Christmas and Valentine’s

Christmas merch hits the shelves Nov 1.

But when even the supernatural and pagan is haunted by the profit motive, be afraid.

Be very afraid.


The IBM Effect

The IBM effect is innovation, which may surprise some.

But it shouldn’t, IBM has been innovating since its incorporation in 1914.

In 1915, long before think different, IBM’s one word mission statement was THINK.

And think they did inventing the electric typewriter, the mainframe, the web server, and the hard drive.

Today IBM holds over 6,000 patents more than any company in the world.

And IBM employees have won 5 Nobel prizes.

You can never count IBM out.

The Jargon Effect

The jargon effect is content without meaning.

Jargon and especially business jargon, seeks to camouflage a lack of clarity or substance, through dogma and ritual incantation.

By moving forward to drive deeper consumer engagement and nurturing long-term multi-channel relationships to promote true brand champions delivering an excellent brand experience through a great culture underscoring robust vision.

Jargon is a smokescreen for the absence of thinking and thrives in the echo chamber.

Don’t do jargon.

The Knowledge Effect

The Knowledge effect is paradoxically, uncertainty.

Partly because the more we know, the more we’re aware of what we don’t know.

And also because there is no single definition of knowledge, just numerous theories attempting to explain it.

And finally because the gaining of knowledge starts with questions, and those questions, spring from uncertainty.

The only certain thing about knowledge is that it is infinitely preferable to ignorance.

The Luxury Effect

The Luxury effect is largely illusory.

The democratization of luxury means what passes as luxe is essentially just packaged aspiration.

Your “Italian” handbag may be finished in Italy but is likely mass-produced in China.

This doesn’t mean luxury itself is an illusion; it just lives at a more rarefied level.

A place where if you have to ask the price – you simply can’t afford it.

The Mobile Effect

The mobile effect means anywhere is your office and your office can be anywhere.

Which puts you everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

And that’s the same coffee shop as everybody else.

Which is why everyone is confused about mobile.

It’s like the first few seconds of a Tsunami.


The News Effect

The news effect is both hard and soft.

From CNN to Fox, 24/7 news channels need feeding 24/7.

And when there isn’t enough hard news.

They engineer soft news like another Lindsay Lohan story.

So it’s harder and harder to trust the news when half of it is fiction.

Especially when you can’t tell which half.

The Obama Effect

The Obama Effect turns underdogs into overdogs.

From the 2008 primaries to the 2012 second term impossible became is-possible.

And history got made more than once.

Whether you like Obama’s politics, or not is irrelevant.

His significance is indisputable.

As is his organization’s social media nous.


The PayPal Effect

The PayPal effect is monopoly of the first-est.

Inventing the category and then owning the channel is very powerful.

Most people are conservative when it comes to money and brand recognition breeds confidence, as it should when you handle 60% of all web-based payment processing.

This puts you in the enviable position of low price sensitivity.

You can get away with high fees and double down on currency exchange.

The Quantitative Effect

The Quantitative effect is exponential growth, as human understanding increases at an inhuman rate.

We experience this primarily through our daily interaction with consumer technology.

But 90% of what we know about our brains was discovered in the last 10 – 15 years.

And neuroscience is only one area where the enchilada is getting bigger.

Ditto nanotech, astrophysics and bionics - more fields where more leads to more.

The Recreational Drugs Effect

The Recreational Drugs effect is double-edged.

A $400 billion global market that’s bigger than big oil.

At 1% of global GDP it’s big enough to bolster the legit economy.

The other side is an increasingly vacuous, jacked up or strung out populace.

Most people wish they were somewhere else.

Hence the phrase “Travel’s addictive.”

And drugs are often more convenient than travel.


The Starbucks Effect

The Starbucks effect is the effect of camouflage.

Most people don’t like coffee that much.

If they did, they would drink just black-unadulterated-coffee.

What most people really like is the coffee buzz from the caffeine.

You can disguise the coffee with whipped cream or caramel and still get the buzz.

People like whipped cream and caramel, so now you can sell a load of coffee.

The Twitter Effect

The Twitter effect is dichotomy.

Twitter is a superficial community whose lingua franca is fluff.

Twitter is a powerful grassroots news source that levels the playing field.

That both statements are simultaneously true is testament to the power of Twitter.

As is our increasingly limited 140 character attention span.

These 398 characters (with spaces) are probably boring you already.


The Urbanization Effect

The Urbanization effect is greater than mass-migration.

True, the majority of the world’s population living in cities for the first time has huge implications, especially for developing nations.

It’s the price of globalization.

And part of the price is our separation from nature.

Our race is literally moving away from nature and this is hardly reassuring.

How do you treasure and preserve something you’ve never experienced?

The Virgin Effect

The Virgin effect is getting the customer to trust you.

This is the single most powerful thing any brand can do.

When you do it consistently for 40 years your customers will fly with you, communicate through you and invest with you.

They’ll even pay you to take them on a potentially dangerous journey to space, the final frontier.

But the first frontier is trust.

The Walmart Effect

The Walmart effect is the militarization of retail.

From the second largest satellite network after the US military, to a scorched earth policy when it comes to mom and pop shops.

It’s the logistics/machine needed to become the #1 retailer of pretty much everything.

And sell practically anything cheaper than anyone else.

The quest for always low prices is a serious business here.

And everyone likes low prices.

Whatever the cost.

The X Effect

The X effect is unknown.

It lives in a garage or a basement.

Existing as a hazy intention, a feeling, a thought that doesn't quite form.

But it’s going to be big, very big.

So keep working on it and consider this blog as:

a) Inspiration

b) A gentle kick up the arse

It's really up to you.


The YouTube Effect

The YouTube effect is the promise of going viral.

It plays to our narcissism.

Why be a bit player in someone else’s movie, when you can be the star of your own?

The fact that you can’t act, edit or direct is irrelevant.

This very lack of talent may be all it takes to make you an overnight sensation.

What are you waiting for?

The Zebra Effect

The Zebra effect is to be avoided, as the Zebra is a horse invented by a committee.

If you avoid committees, you’ll not only avoid loads of boredom you’ll also avoid creating zebras.

This is a good thing.

They may look cute but by all accounts, even in their natural habitat, they’re fairly useless animals.

Unless you’re a lion – yum yum.