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Happy Birthday Digital Tonto!

2010 August 15
by Greg Satell

It’s hard to believe, but it was only one year ago when, during a late night scotch drinking session, I came up with the dubious idea of starting a blog.  A few days later (with some help from my developer friends: Pasha, Aleksey and Yuri) Digital Tonto was born!

I’d like to thank everybody for their enormous support over the last year.  I never thought anybody would actually want to read anything that I wrote, much less participate in such an enthusiastic and meaningful way.  I’ve learned a ton from your comments and suggestions.

In honor of the occasion, I’d like to share some of my favorite posts.

(Click on the title to read each post)

The Primal Forces that Drive Social Networks: This was the first post that I wrote about social media and network theory and I still think it’s one of the best.  Take a look and let me know if you agree.

How Companies Fail: I wrote this at the height of the crisis and leaned heavily on Jim Collins’ book, How the Mighty Fall, but added quite a bit of my own experiences.  A year later, I think it still holds up.

Advertising on The Brain: I’ve been studying the intersection of neurology and advertising for several years and have found it as fascinating as it is useful.  This post gives a good overview and I continue to use it as a reference for new posts.  I also had a lot of help on this one from ad creative extraordinaire, James Sinclair.

Less Numbers – More Math: I strongly believe that we have way too many numbers in marketing and not nearly enough understanding of them.  Since I’ve entered the agency world, I’ve only become more convinced that there is a serious dearth of basic skills.  I wish more marketers would read this post.

Lessons Learned in a Tulsa Steakhouse: I’ve written a handful of posts based on personal stories, but this one is my favorite.  Having just re-read it I like it even better than I remember.  If you missed this one, I strongly urge you to check it out.

Dr. Feynman’s 6 Principles of Trendspotting: I’ve always been a big fan of the physicist Richard Feynman and thought he has a lot to teach marketers, especially the way he attacked problems.  He looked not only for solutions, but also thought about what new issues those solutions would create and think about how to solve them too!

He not only anticipated nanotechnology and quantum computing, but described accurately what would have to be done to create them.  Read this post to find out how he did it.

Cargo Cult Marketers: Another concept I took from Dr. Feynman is the idea of Cargo Cult Marketers.  These are people who look for facts to support their point of view rather than make the emotional effort to refine their thinking.  Take a look and see if you recognize anyone you know!

6 Ways to Spot False Gurus: I LOVE this post!  Apparently, everybody else did too.  It has been the most popular article since Digital Tonto began.  If you missed it, here’s a second chance.

How to Succeed with Certainty: I’ve written a lot about uncertainty, but this post is still my favorite.  Unfortunately, most of you didn’t agree and it wasn’t one of my most popular.  So I’m including it here both out of spite and as a birthday present to myself!

But seriously, check it out.  Anytime you can read about Albert Einstein, Andy Grove and the alcohol ridden beat poet Charles Bukowski in the same article, it’s worth a look.

The Internet, The Web and The Future of Media: This post makes the very important, but often overlooked, point that the Web and the Internet are two different things and you really do need strategies for both of them.  If you haven’t already made that distinction, read this post and find out why you should.

How to Build Cooperation: This one uses both game theory and evolutionary psychology to explain how to build more successful relationships.  It also explains why all tourists are suckers, so if you’re planning a trip, you might want to take a look.

Justin Bieber, Social Networks and How Numbers Can Lie: Unfortunately, it is often overlooked how the new science of social networks can give us insight into everyday marketing math.  This post attempts to correct that by applying Barabasi’s “fitness model” to the Justin Bieber phenomenon.

Stupid Strategy: We could all be a little smarter if we thought a little dumber.  I was glad to see that so many people liked this post.   It was also one of my favorite, not least because it contained one of my favorite G.H. Hardy quotes: “For any serious purpose, intelligence is a very minor gift.”

So there you have it, a collection of my favorite posts over the past year.  Thanks again for all of the thoughtful support that has made Digital Tonto so much more successful than I ever thought it could be.

Feel free to add any of your favorites and your suggestions of how Digital Tonto can be improved in the coming year in the comments below.

– Greg

35 Responses leave one →
  1. August 15, 2010

    Congratulations on creating a great blog Greg! It’s one of my favourites.

  2. August 15, 2010

    Thanks for all your support, Tim!

    btw. Tim’s blog is one of my favorites as well. If you haven’t checked it out, you should!

  3. August 15, 2010

    Congrats on your first year Greg! I ran across you blog last September. I’ve been enjoying reading it ever since.

  4. Ajoy permalink
    August 15, 2010

    Congrats Digital Tonto!

  5. August 15, 2010


  6. August 15, 2010

    Greg, happy birthday to DT, thanks for it, and keep it up. Your blog is sharp, touches important issues and is fun to read. What more could we ask for?

  7. August 15, 2010

    Congratulations Greg!!!!!!

  8. August 15, 2010

    Thanks Clara!

  9. August 15, 2010

    Thanks Dan. How’s the new venture going?

    – Greg

  10. August 15, 2010

    Happy Birthday!

    I am one of your lurkers, reading your posts avidly each week.

    My own blog about the media has gained a lot from your insights and info. It’s in French, so I’m not sure I can return the favor;-)

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    Danielle Desjardins

  11. August 15, 2010

    Merci Danielle!

  12. August 15, 2010

    Hi Greg,

    Only one year? I have been reading your blog almost that long. I just assumed that you’d been at this for longer. Great great content. I quote you frequently. Thank you for a job well done.

    James Snider

  13. August 16, 2010

    Congrats Greg, I love reading your insights into the business.

  14. August 16, 2010

    Congrats Greg! Great work on Digital Tonto. I look forward to your thoughtful and witty posts I always learn something. Many more years of health, happiness and prosperity.

  15. Varsha Peshavaria permalink
    August 16, 2010

    Well done and congratulations Greg! Looking forward to the future for more of your interesting contributions.

  16. August 16, 2010

    Happy Birthday Digital Tonto. I have enjoyed your posts, shared them with others, and look forward to more. Thanks Greg 🙂

  17. August 16, 2010

    Having a bit of trouble posting comments here. Tried once here and once on an earlier item. It hung on the earlier item and never posted and my congrats here never showed up. Registered with comluv so I’m going to try again. (Greg feel free to edit this part out if you want.)

    Congrats Greg!!! You’ve had a great year, lots of good posts here. I think I read your blog more often then any of the other ones in my reading list. Always gives me something to think about! Thank-you!

  18. August 16, 2010

    Yes, James. You were one of the very first to support the blog. I really appreciate it.

    (btw. – let this be a lesson to all those young, aspiring bloggers out there – launch your blog full!)

    – Greg

  19. August 16, 2010

    Thanks Andy.

  20. August 16, 2010

    Thanks Sue. I really appreciate all of your comments and tweets.

    – Greg

  21. August 16, 2010

    Thanks Varsha.

  22. Innes Doig permalink
    August 16, 2010

    Congratulations Greg. Digital Tonto is excellent, entertaining and insightful. I frequently quote you.

    Keep up the good work!


  23. August 16, 2010

    Thanks Innes. How are things in Hong Kong?

    – Greg

  24. August 16, 2010

    Thanks, John. I appreciate your support.

    – Greg

  25. August 16, 2010


    Sorry about that. You were stuck in spam. Akismet has been a bit overactive lately and I haven’t been checking my spam box as much as I should. In anycase, thanks for both comments and sorry for the lapse.

    – Greg

  26. paz0r permalink
    August 16, 2010

    thanks for knowledge you spread. keep rockin’!

  27. August 16, 2010

    congrats Greg! i always enjoy the posts, keep up the great work.

  28. August 16, 2010

    Thanks, Max. Best of luck with the new thing!

    – Greg

  29. August 16, 2010

    Thanks, Matt.

  30. August 16, 2010

    You say it’s your birthday…

    All the best my friend and here’s to many more !!
    Steve O

  31. August 17, 2010

    Thanks Steve. Feel free to enjoy a cheesesteak in honor of the occasion:-)

    – Greg

  32. August 17, 2010

    Happy B-day Greg!

    Coincidentally I just did a post off a retweet you did yesterday from the Ad Contrarian Whether it’s your posts or your tweets, I’m always paying attention to where your attention is. Looking forward to another year of your musings.

    Oh and also I didn’t say “thanks” for visiting my site. You had mentioned that lil’ bit ago. I know you’re busy so I definitely appreciate you checking out our stuff!

    A birthday toast to blogging and ongoing adventures in the networked economy.


  33. August 17, 2010

    Thanks Rasul. Ironically, my post tomorrow is about The Ad Contrarian.

    – Greg

  34. Irina Shkarovskaya permalink
    August 19, 2010

    Hello Greg!

    Congratulations! Happy birthday to Digital Tonto!
    Your blog is very usefull, the essential part of my development. Thank you very much for it.

    My best,
    Irina Shkarovskaya

  35. August 19, 2010

    Spasibo, Irina!

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