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Before You Innovate, Ask the Right Questions

Before You Innovate, Ask the Right Questions | digitalNow |
Make sure you're not solving the wrong problem.
Don Dea's insight:

Disruptive Innovation: The most troublesome area is disruptive innovation, which target light or non-consumers of a category and require a new business model, because the value they create isn't immediately clear. While every new Apple product turns heads, when Google comes out with something most people won't even understand what it is, much less how they'll make money on it. From Google Maps to autonomous cars, they manage to fill needs we didn't even know we had. 3M, the company that pioneered scotch tape and post-it notes, derives up to 30% of its revenue from products launched in the past 5 years.

Both companies use a version of the 15% / 20% rule, where employees are required to devote a fixed portion of their time to projects unrelated to their jobs. Other firms have dedicated innovation labs where they can "test and learn" without excessive risk. A VC approach, in which small investments are made in emerging firms, can also be successful.

While focus is important, no company should limit itself to just one quadrant. Apple, for instance, is mainly a sustaining innovator, but iTunes was certainly an important disruptive innovation. While Google might be the greatest disruptive innovator on the planet, they spend considerable resources to improve existing products.

So it's important to develop an effective innovation portfolio that has one primary area of focus, but also pursues other quadrants of the matrix and builds synergies between varied approaches. Innovation is, above all, about combination.

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, March 2, 2013 11:41 AM

We are a quick-fix society. We need a much different approach and this article speaks to defining the problem. I would go one step further and use David Bohm's thinking. Most of what we think of as a problem is a paradox. Problems and their solutions often lead to more problems. Paradox with the right approach lead to understanding, dissolution, and resolution.

Exploring leadership, management, innovation, and technology issues and trends; impacting associations & non-profit organizations in the digital age.
Curated by Don Dea
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Technology Doesn't Change People

Technology Doesn't Change People | digitalNow |
As smart devices advance, they deliver more detailed, actionable data, but it's doubtful whether they will actually make any significant difference in our lives.

Every day, technology beckons with the promise of making us slimmer, healthier, smarter, prettier and better. We buy tech things—lots and lots of tech things—to help us achieve our goals.

For instance, I've worn a Fitbit activity tracker on my wrist for about two-and-a-half years. I try to reach my goal of 10,000 steps per day. I like the device a lot, but has it really changed my behavior? Probably not. I've run marathons and always stayed active. This is simply a continuation of the trend.

On the other hand, if I click on the "Friends" button in the Fitbit app and view "inactive friends," I find 29 people that apparently purchased Fitbits but don't use them. Only five of my friends actually use the tracker. According to Fitbit regulatory filings, about half of all users abandon these devices.
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RAPTURE: Build a Compelling Narrative for Your Personal Brand


Humans have a natural desire to tell stories to ourselves and to each other. Unless you develop a cohesive narrative, it’s easy for your audience to form a haphazard perception of what you’re doing. If you’re making a big change, you have to find a way to describe that transition to other people. You don’t have to seek universal approval, but in order to get job opportunities and client referrals, to be recognized and really embraced in your new role, you need to think about how you’re presenting this trajectory to your audience.

All compelling narratives have a few things in common. You want to enchant and delight your audience. In fact, you might just say that you want to leave them in RAPTURE, the acronym we use for thinking about developing compelling narratives:

Relevant: The story of your brand should center around its most core components, the strongest and most unique features.

Authentic: You need to believe in your narrative and come across as genuine. If you’re not moved by your brand ideals, how could you expect to move others?

Persuasive: Your narrative needs to be compelling enough to draw others in.

Timely: As your brand develops, so should your narrative. It is not a fixed construct, and needs to evolve as your brand changes shape. You should not be working with a brand statement that’s out of date.
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3 lessons marketers can learn from Pokemon Go

The ultimate goal for a brand is to be able to drive purchase of their product. The ongoing quest for marketers is to deliver an ad experience that is relevant, valuable and actionable by the user. The workflow for online advertising goes like this: serve ad, customer clicks, buys product online, or in-store, and action is attributed to served ad. It’s vital to deliver the ad at the right time and in the right place.

Pokémon Go illustrates an elegant way to simplify this flow by literally walking consumers to the door steps of physical locations while keeping them engaged in their quest for monsters. There is an incredible array of things Nintendo can now do with this app — from a pure user experience standpoint and from the advertising and monetization angle.

Think dynamic allocation of sponsored locations based on real-time data such as weather, deals from nearby stores and more. And we haven’t even touched the rich data set and all the ways that it can be leveraged. The best part for marketers: advertising is fitting seamlessly into consumers’ lives and adding value instead of interrupting their tasks. It’s experiential marketing at its finest.

Will Pokémon Go endure? Yes, as long as Nintendo keeps a strong product-thinking lens that puts superior game quality and user experience front and centre. The short-sighted approach is to push augmented reality into everything we do, inserting advertising content at every possible turn. There will be countless mobile app copycats who will attempt to do just that.
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The ROI of AdWords Spend for B2B Firms

The ROI of AdWords Spend for B2B Firms | digitalNow |
What is the return on investment for B2B companies when they spend on Google AdWords search advertising?

To find out, Bizible examined 1H16 data from 120 B2B companies in six industries. The researchers obtained a wide range of information from each firm, including monthly lead count, lead count attributable to AdWords, revenue, marketing spend, AdWord spend, and projected future revenue.

The share of leads brought in by AdWords and the ultimate impact on revenue varies significantly from industry to industry, the analysis found.

For the marketing agencies examined, AdWords spend is responsible for just over 20% of all leads and just under 10% of all revenue, on average.

For B2B financial services firms, AdWords is responsible for more than 30% of leads and revenue
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Little Things Can Make or Break the Consumer Experience

Little Things Can Make or Break the Consumer Experience | digitalNow |
Consumers leave clues everywhere

Abandoned shopping carts, bad reviews, unused features, high return rates, and a bad reputation in social media are all examples of consumers voicing their opinions.

In addition to reading all those signs, marketers should also test, test, and test even seemingly small new features.

For example, image carousels are popular with marketers today. They seem modern and eye-catching, but studies indicate that they only perform better than static images when they load quickly and are placed so as to not distract from written content.

Digging deep into behavioral feedback will put your focus where it should be—on the consumer.

By taking a granular look at how consumers interact with your brand, you can make their experience easier and parlay all those seemingly insignificant interactions into a big win
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Strategy Hunt | Management Excellence 

Strategy Hunt | Management Excellence  | digitalNow |
Some teams get it right. When I’ve worked with those teams, what you see and hear and observe feels like trust, diligence, passion, respect, tenacity and commitment.

They trust each other enough to let down their political defenses and focus on what’s right for the firm.

They understand that diligence is required to accurately assess their situation. They do the work before they espouse their positions.

They argue passionately for their perspectives. Sometimes passion sounds a bit like fighting.

The respect for each other is reflected in the fighting over the ideas, not over the people bearing the ideas.

They are tenacious and keep plowing through the fog of strategy because they know they must.

And finally, when the choices are made and the dust settles, regardless of prior opinions, they go forth with arms linked and do what they committed to doing.
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Open-Ended Questions Enhance Employee Communication

Open-Ended Questions Enhance Employee Communication | digitalNow |
Try these common open-ended questions:
Help me with your reaction to what I just said.
Give me some feedback on the choices I just presented.
What are your thoughts?
Would you tell me more about ___?
Can you help me understand that a little better?
How does that process work now?
How do you see this happening?
What kind of challenges are you facing?
What’s the most important priority to you with this? Why?
What other issues are important to you?
What is it that you’d like to see accomplished?
What opportunities do see in the coming weeks to open the conversation and engage employees?
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The 5 Fundraising Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Now!

The 5 Fundraising Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Now! | digitalNow |
Mistake #1: Tell the Prospect She Should Give Money
Sometimes a donor has lots of capacity and personal reasons to love your mission and its work.

But never say the “should” word aloud. That’s arrogance. Instead, speak from the heart, listen to the prospect’s interests, and then make a specific ask if (and ONLY if) there appears to be a good fit.

I have made this mistake. A prospect was a natural fit for my organization but had not given. Our research told us he hadn’t really done much giving commensurate with his capacity.

My pitch included the words, “You should make a significant contribution.” I went even further and made a very thoughtless and ill-conceived argument that he was conspicuously absent from our major donor list.
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We All Make the Choice to Transact or Transform 

We All Make the Choice to Transact or Transform  | digitalNow |
As leaders, managers, and contributors, we make the choice every day to transact or transform in our encounters with colleagues and customers.  Many opt for the former, exhibiting the bare minimum amount of energy to reasonably fulfill their obligation to the other party. These people transact. In most cases their firms perpetuate a transactional culture that flows from the corporate offices out into the customer environment.

You see the transaction effect in the big, impersonal retail stores where cashiers seem to be trained to not make eye contact and almost never smile. You experience it at the airline counter and your doctor’s office and in so many other encounters in your daily life. These organizations and those in them who run the business simply don’t care.
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Leading a purposeful, positive, productive culture

Culture matters! Whether you’re a small business owner, team leader, department head, regional executive, CEO of a multi-national, or anything in between, you need to spend time and energy on culture.

If leaders want a purposeful, positive, productive culture – where team members thrive and LOVE to come to work – leaders must invest time in examining their current culture and refining that current culture.

My proven culture refinement process helps leaders understand their current culture, define their desired culture, and close gaps to make their desired culture a reality.

The process starts with discovery. I interview all senior leaders and often next level leaders to learn how the culture – of their leadership team and of the overall organization – operates today. I review employee survey results and performance trends. I analyze this information and craft an interview summary and recommendations document that all leaders review in advance of our face-to-face kickoff session.
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Four intangible leadership qualities that you can acquire 

It takes hard work and persistence to embody these qualities, but it is possible! Here they are with some information about how leaders grow these qualities in themselves and how they can support others in developing them too:

Energy: Leaders with charisma have a lot of energy. They seem to be able to keep going no matter the circumstances around them. Energetic leaders work hard behind the scenes to take care of themselves by exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, and paying attention to what makes them happy including spending time with friends, family, or hobbies. These leaders are well rounded, and don’t feel that there is anything missing from their lives. You can develop charismatic energy by putting a priority on taking care of yourself in all areas of your life.

Drive: Daniel Pink describes drive as being made up of autonomy (self-direction), mastery (working to get better at something) and purpose (connecting to something larger than oneself). That definition seems just about right. I’d also include the ability to work within one’s personal values (which might be aligned to the higher purpose too). When you are well connected with, and aware of what matters most to you, you too can develop drive.
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Social, Mobile Driving Millennial News Consumption 

Social, Mobile Driving Millennial News Consumption  | digitalNow |
Coupofy surveyed more than 2,000 millennials aged 18 through 34 and found that nearly 70 percent get their news from Facebook, 33 percent use Instagram and 21 percent turn to Twitter. News sites viewed in browsers were the second-most-popular source. In fact, there seems to be a renewed focus on browser activity, which reinforces the importance of optimizing for all viewing experiences.

Timeliness is also important, as the majority of millennials check social media or check news first thing in the morning. 41 percent check and update social media sites, and 14 percent purposefully browse the news. 52 percent said that checking the news and social media is the main benefit of owning a smartphone.

Social sites have the advantage when it comes to news readership, with the collected audiences browsing relentlessly. The relationship is mostly symbiotic, as social sites need the content to provide keep users engaged throughout the day. However, with news consumption, social engagement and smartphone use rising together, there is a growing power struggle between social media and publishers.
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The Great Leadership Cop Out: Why “That’s Just Who I Am” Is Derailing Your Results

The Great Leadership Cop Out: Why “That’s Just Who I Am” Is Derailing Your Results | digitalNow |

Have you been told you’re overly direct? Pause 10 seconds before you open your mouth and ask three genuinely interested open-ended questions (and really listen) before offering your opinion.

Is your team trying to tell you something you don’t want to hear? Try again. Promise to really listen. And then shut up. Stay curious before responding. Ask probing questions and listen some more.

Does your team think you’re an SOB? Pick one day and only look for what’s going right, point it out and thank people for their contribution. Notice the impact.

God (or the Universe) didn’t create anyone to be mean and nasty, clueless, or obtuse. Your parents didn’t mean to raise you that way. For better or worse, we pick up our behaviors along the way. And they ARE changeable.

Behaviors are not WHO you are, they are WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

And if you’re a leader, when you won’t change, you give everyone on your team permission to dig their heels in and use the “that’s just who I am” cop out too, and the whole team begins to accept toxic behaviors.

Imagine the possibilities of starting with admitting to yourself that WHO YOU ARE is a fallible human being with great intentions.

And then picking just one thing to change, and prove to yourself it’s possible.
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Advance your strategic plan with an agile strategy process 

Advance your strategic plan with an agile strategy process  | digitalNow |
Traditional Strategic Planning & Implementation is Dead!

If you set out to tackle this strategic planning back bone in the traditional way, you will be disappointed.  You know the kind of thing:

You spend a few days offsite
Doing a SWOT analysis beforehand
Capturing everything in spreadsheets
That’s what I call “waterfall” strategic planning (read more: Waterfall vs Agile/Sprints/Scrum – Pivoting to the future of Agile-Teamwork), whereas, what we need these days is an “agile strategy process” – an ongoing, dynamic process of strategy which is on all the time.  That requires a cadence of meetings, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly (and yes, annually).  Yes, like it or lump it, agile-meetings are at the heart of your enterprise-agility!  (Read more:  Agile Meetings … are at the heart of your Enterprise Agility!) That’s the secret to be translating agile strategy and agile execution into traction on your desired trajectory of profitable growth for all, with the agility required to avoid wheel spinning!
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The age of digital possible

The age of digital possible | digitalNow |
An era of digital possibilities

Challenges aside, there is no question that digital is the key to opening the door to a new era of innovation and possibilities.

“Ten years ago, when we send out communications, it is like ‘spray and pray”. We just send them out and hope something happens. We had no way of knowing the effect of our communications with regards to the amount of revenue,” said Ng, as he pointed out how the situation is different today.

“Today, the technology is available where you can track every activity after sending it out, whether it is social, EDM or other communications. We are now able to establish through digital technologies that the 100 emails you sent out resulted in the company gaining $20”, he said.

It was clear from the discussion that participants agree that digital offers tremendous opportunities and promises for the savvy digital CMO to shine. All it takes is an open mind for new initiatives, and the leadership to put the requisite technological and organizational structures in place.
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Downstream Consequences of Marketing Decisions 

Here are a few key points to consider when making a marketing shift:
• What is the immediate impact on revenue associated with making this shift? (This is the one that everyone seems to get right.)
• If the decision/change will drive a shift downward in the number of active constituents (for example, in pursuit of better net revenue for an immediate financial period), has the impact of that loss of constituents been mapped out against two- to four-year revenue trends using retention, average gift, etc.?
In other words, if you strategically are going to make the decision to bring in 10,000 fewer new donors this year, what would those 10,000 represent in revenue in the coming years? Or, if you strategically are going to stop marketing to a deeper lapsed audience for a year to save money, what is the predicted impact of not communicating with that group of people for 12 months? Will they bounce back the next year? What data supports that?
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Cybersecurity Is More Than a Tech Issue

Cybersecurity Is More Than a Tech Issue | digitalNow |
Ignoring Cybersecurity 101
The guide has additional issues, including that its analysis assumes that all attacks can be detected — a big assumption to make which is not credible in my view. It leaves out any mention of risks introduced by mobile or cloud applications and services.

The report also omits any discussion of threats to the organization through attacks on the extended enterprise. Many organizations have outsourced services to a third party, which potentially may be at risk. Attacks on partners in the extended enterprise may give intruders access to your network and systems.

Finally, many intruders are attacking employees’ personal devices and systems — and could gain access that way.

Even the basic tactic of educating the organization to be security-conscious — including avoiding clicking on links or attachments that introduce malware or creating better passwords — is ignored. 
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Truth is the fuel of uncommon growth 

Truth is the fuel of uncommon growth  | digitalNow |
Five keys to achieving this kind of quality sharing are:
Self-respecting humility. You know you are the leader; you don't ask for direct or implied assurances on that score.
Assuming the best of your listeners. Don't suspect their motives. You are open to discovering the truth and assume they are, too, unless they demonstrate otherwise.
Consulting your listeners. Check with them frequently to be sure you have made your thoughts clear, that they understand your thinking. Regularly solicit their reactions to any critical or controversial points.
Listening. Take as long as you possibly can to hear and respect the thinking (and feelings) of your listeners. Stay open. Stay present.
Communicate outcomes. Share progress, even setbacks, to the plans agreed upon.
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In pursuit of cheap

In pursuit of cheap
The race to the bottom is unforgiving and relentless.

I ordered some straw hats for a small party. The shipper sent them in a plastic bag, with no box, because it was cheaper. Of course, they were crushed and worthless.

I wrote a note to the company's customer service address, but they merely sent an autoreply, because it was cheaper.

And they don't answer the phone... you guessed it, because it's cheaper.

Of course, you have competition. But the big companies that are winning the price war aren't winning because they've eliminated customer service and common sense. They're winning because of significant advances in scale and process, advances that aren't available to you.

Organizations panic in the face of the floor falling out from under their price foundation, and they often respond by becoming a shell of their former selves. Once you decide to become a cheap commodity, all of the choices you made to be a non-commodity fall victim to your pursuit of cheap.

Cheap is the last refuge for the marketer who can't figure out how to be better.

The alternative is to choose to be worth it, remarkable, reliable, a good neighbor, a worthy citizen, leading edge, comfortable, trusted, funny, easy, cutting edge or just about anything except, "the cheapest at any cost."
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6 Ways To Deal With Chronic Complainers

6 Ways To Deal With Chronic Complainers | digitalNow |
Some people turn into chronic complainers because they feel they’re not being heard. They repeat the negative commentary until someone validates what they have to say, says empowerment speaker and coach Erica Latrice. "Complainers may want you to try to talk them out of their woe-is-me complaining. If you are in an environment where you have to be around complainers a lot, just use the phrase, ‘If I were you, I would feel the same way,’" she suggests. That allows them to feel heard and may short-circuit the need to repeat a negative message.

Sometimes, negative people just need a bit of perspective adjustment, Galford says. Try helping them reframe the situation. You might offer a different perspective on the situation or action that is being criticized. For example, if a coworker is criticizing a company policy, you might offer insight into why the policy was instituted in the first place and the good that it does. "When you say, ‘Let’s think about this in a different way,’ or, ‘If we start first by understanding the reason things are this way,’ you can change the nature of the dialogue," Galford says.
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Don’t Put Up With Bad Management 

You deserve to be treated well. You should not put up with a demeaning manager who does not value your work.
You are worthy of being valued. Do you believe this? You should. You are good at what you do and you should be told you are from your manager.
You need to be in a place where you are lifted up, not torn down. Why subject yourself to that kind of behavior? It actually says more about you that you allow that to happen to you.
You are in charge of your own career. Not your manager, not your co-workers—you are in control of it. So act like you are.
You are worthy. I said it again, because I don’t know if you believe it. Life is too short and amazing to let yourself be subjected to a bad manager who brings you down. Don’t allow it to happen.
Again, I want to say you are in control of your own situation. Gain the confidence you need to believe it and work in a place that brings you joy! Yes, joy. Not only will you be in a better place, but the donors you work with everyday will feel it too.
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6 Reasons Your Training Program Isn’t Working

6 Reasons Your Training Program Isn’t Working | digitalNow |
If your training need feels urgent, your training program isn’t working, or, if your team is reluctant to attend, dig deeper. Here are six issues that so often get in the way00that with a little up front work, can change the trajectory of results.

Poor Leadership Behaviors at the Top
Yes, in Winning Well we teach and encourage the skills and behaviors to create a cultural oasis.  In fact I receive calls every week from managers reading Winning Well who are doing just that. AND, if you’re the guy hiring us to train Winning Well,  please know we’re going to be very interested in your willingness to read the book and model the behaviors you’re hiring us to reinforce.
Unclear Expectations
If people are unsure of what to do or why they are doing it, training to do “it” better just won’t work.
Lack of Support Systems
For example: If you want people giving great behavior-based feedback, please be sure your performance systems focus on behaviors. So many more…let’s talk.
We sat in front of an HR exec the other day who was crystal clear, “All the field wants is a one day training they can attend. No pre-work. No follow-up. No-reinforcement. No action plans.” That’s dipping not training, and won’t create sustainable change. Save your money.
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The Most Overlooked Habits of Great Leaders

The Most Overlooked Habits of Great Leaders | digitalNow |
1. Great leaders admit mistakes. No one wants to stand in front of people who look up to you and admit that you made a mistake or experienced an epic failure—when you know people trust you and count on you, it’s hard to say things that you know will let them down. That’s why so many leaders will do everything they can to cover up their failures. But great leaders do swallow their pride and admit their mistakes. They know the importance of taking responsibility  and they understand that the best way to salvage value from a disaster is to model integrity and face the consequences of their actions. The best leaders are humble enough to admit their mistakes and honorable enough to learn from them.
2. Great leaders give credit. It’s the flip side of taking responsibility for what goes wrong—giving credit for the things that go well. Egotistic leaders are quick to take credit for their team’s achievements, but when people stop feeling appreciated and recognized, their personal investment and care in their work begin to decline. Great leaders are quick to take the spotlight off themselves to express gratitude and appreciation to those around them whose hard work led to success.
3. Great leaders tell the truth. It’s always tempting to gloss over the differences that can lead to conflict or challenges, but great leaders understand that the experience of resolving those conflicts gives their team better communication skills and deeper connections. It also means that no one has to feel their concerns are off limits, leading to more transparency that benefits everyone. At the same time, great leaders know that honesty doesn’t have to be brutal or blunt, and they show their teams how to express honest thoughts in a spirit of respect and kindness.
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 Book readers experienced a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over a 12 year Yale University study over non-book readers

 Book readers experienced a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over a 12 year Yale University study over non-book readers | digitalNow |
Although books can expose people to new people and places, whether books also have health benefits beyond other types of reading materials is not known. This study examined whether those who read books have a survival advantage over those who do not read books and over those who read other types of materials, and if so, whether cognition mediates this book reading effect. The cohort consisted of 3635 participants in the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study who provided information about their reading patterns at baseline. Cox proportional hazards models were based on survival information up to 12 years after baseline.

A dose-response survival advantage was found for book reading by tertile, after adjusting for relevant covariates including age, sex, race, education, comorbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression.

Book readers live an average of two years longer
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