Danger Word Search

My kids love Ellen’s Game of Games.

My kids love the mini-game Danger Word. The premise is for one player to get their teammate to guess a word. The wrinkle is that the winning word (sofa, ocean, etc.) is similar to the danger word (couch, sea, so-on). If a guesser says the danger word, they get smothered and covered. If a guessers says the winning word, the other team gets hit with it.

It’s an interesting game because the best clues have multiple levels. They give information about both the danger word and the desired word. One winning moment was when a woman gave the clue ‘otter’ and her partner guessed ‘sea’. It was a winning clue that also avoided the danger word of ocean.

Knowing something is this, and not that, will become more important as things move from single-issue-tangible to many-copies-digital.

  • YouTube is an amazing resource but the search options are mostly by name. The most challenging queries are for people who share names with pastors. One side effect from weekly sermons is regular content and what better way to reach the flock than via YouTube.
  • Websites used to have a .gov, .org, .com structure that hinted something was this and not that. In some recent research I found a dot-org domain that looked pretty legitimate. However, going to the About page showed that it wasn’t what it appeared to be.
  • Visual evidence used to be clear. Screens though are shaded windows. Rather than asking is something manipulated, the default is now to ask how something is manipulated.

In Ellen’s game, the goal is to give a precise clue.
In YouTube searches, the goal is to search a precise query.
In website scours, the goal is to find truthful facts.

As more information goes online there will be more, not less, statements about being at war with EastAsia. The skill we’ll all need, my daughters included, is separating one category from another. Danger words from winning words, helpful queries from unhelpful ones, real from fantasy.

Escaping College and Commodity Competition

When one product is similar to another there is competition. Businesses which compete on price lead to low-cost-high-volume winners. Thankfully, being dissimilar isn’t difficult. Many brands (Advil, Coca-Cola, Harvard) differentiate commodities by framing the context.

Differentiation avoids the market mechanism. But that doesn’t mean things will be easy. Being the low-cost provider or being different both take extreme amounts of work. That said, jobs-to-be-done thinking may lead to a slightly easier slog

The JTBD idea is updated on Twitter, but Michael Horn’s TAG brought up an easy idea for escaping competition. Instead of asking who are your customers, ask what do customers want?

Typically businesses count things. This is easy data. Plus, the more math the less career risk: a bit of math in itself.

Through their book, Choosing College, Horn and Bob Moesta encourage people to think about new categories. To count less and consider more. Get past demographics (high school graduate) and to demands (level-up).

What is the demographic profile of someone who eats at Panera Bread? That’s a hard question. However, what’s the JTBD of someone who eats at Panera Bread? That’s easier. Ron Shaich explained that Panera is “the kind of space where you want to sit and do an interview, a place for a bible study group, for a team meeting.” 

People hire Panera for group space and bagel spreads. That’s the JTBD. That’s the differentiation.

Being different is easier—though not easy—because it offers many directions. If a business competes on price, that’s it. If a business finds a new JTBD they might have that market all to themselves, temporarily.