Saturday, December 26, 2009
First, Twitter doesn't suck, despite what every 23 year old I talked to this xmas says.
I know you think it's all about people tweeting their latest bowel movements. That's because YOU'VE NEVER ACTUALLY TRIED IT.
You're looking for a job. Right?
Did you know that almost all of the major job boards, recruiters and employment agencies are on Twitter. As are major corporations. Towns. Government agencies. And your University. In fact, while you've been busy dissing it, Twitter been busy becoming a serious tool for the rest of the world.
So you never tweet? It doesn't matter. If you learn how to use Twitter search (search.twitter.com) or Tweetdeck at least you'll be up to speed on the latest snow conditions at Whistler.
Second, Facebook is NOT the web.
Yeah, you seemed like an early adopter when you and your 17 year old friends all flocked to it. But then you stopped adopting. And learning.
Which really scares me (oldsters set in their ways is scary enough, but do you really want to be like your parents?).
Your personal brand now consists of a bunch of pics of you and your friends - drinking, partying and....what the hell are you doing?!! Looks like fun. Looks really shallow. Brands are important. You might want to work a little harder on yours. I guarantee when you go for that banking job they're going on-line to check you out.
And when they do, that really quiet girl with the blog and the amazing YouTube videos from Australia is going to get the job.
Third. RIM better get it's act together.
It's one thing to see the techie geek dudes off trying everything new. That's not the iPhone now.
This Christmas I saw serious, staid, boring, dull square heads....showing off their latest iPhone apps, giving advice on dumping existing 3 year smart phone plans and generally running from their Blackberries faster than you can say BBM. If this isn't scaring the crap out of RIM I'd be amazed.
Didn't someone there see the app wave coming?
Finally. Get Google Reader. This may be the best advice. I've ever given.
See when you click on Google and it says 'more'? Go there. Click Reader. Get an account. Sign up.
You know why? Because the world is changing - and it's all on line (yeah, that magazine folded too). And the only way to stay in touch is to get a little organized.
Google Reader will let you 'subscribe' to websites and blogs. Every time your favourite site or blog is updated, the update goes automatically to your reader. Then, when you finally wake up in the morning the first you do is go to your reader and ta daaa! - there is your latest information.
And you can be smarter than all the other kids at work (until they get their readers too).
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
OK Blackberry friends. What am I missing? This phone looks very cool. Is battery life a problem? Will it ever come to Canada? Will it ever come to Bell? What about security? i-Phone apps are amazing (and BB apps not so much), what about Google phone apps? Are the Wild West Pinball guys on the case? What happens when Google takes over the world? When will they start building cars? This is very confusing. Just keep it simple and stick with my Curve?
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Some of my least favourite dogs are owned by people who are seriously into saving the environment. So me trying to run them over is kind of like composting?
Cool. Anything for a better world.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
So, in 1000 years, no one will remember the Beatles. Properly.
Do you know what that means for the rest of us?
It means we need to stop taking life so seriously.
Because the truth is no one's gonna care. Most of those things we think are so important now, won't last more than about 12 days after our deaths.
Never mind in a 1000 years.
Which reminds me. I did hear of someone the other day who was building a gazillion square foot cottage. In Temagami. As his legacy.
Dude. It's Temagami. It's already irrelevant.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O'Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas here. The ebook includes Tom Peters, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Anyone into airplanes will find this blog pretty cool. Randy's Blog is done by Randy Tinesh, VP Marketing for Boeing Commercial aircraft. Pictured is a high speed, nose-lifting taxi test from yesterday - clearing the way for first flight tomorrow.
Aside from the pure airplane interest, this blog seems like a great example of a large corporation using a pretty simple tool (blogging) to keep it connected. Randy's blog passes along latest updates including the ups and downs of managing a large airplane manufacturer in a friendly, honest fashion. I doubt there are many industry watchers who don't keep their eye on what's going on here.
By the way - speaking of staying connected - the first flight tomorrow is being webcast starting at 9:45 Seattle time. That's cool.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Seemingly out of nowhere, a crack appears. A dire mistake is made. An Escalade crashes into a tree, a line of cocaine is snorted near a paparazzi's hungry camera, a random drug test comes back positive for steroids, a gay prostitute proves he's had frequent meth-addled sex with a powerful homophobic televangelist Christian nutball. You know: same ol', same ol'.
The actual title of this article is 'Tiger Woods Must Die'. A little daring and over the top...but it makes a point. He probably will come back. A new bad-boy Tiger playing even better golf. It fits a pattern. The American Dream.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Within the first 4 pages I found myself putting down my reader, picking up a pen and making notes.
Do you have a sales force? Read this book.
Are you managing the same way you did 5 years ago? Read this book.
Have you never thought about the inefficiencies in your industry? Read this book.
Do you use Google? Read this book.
Do you work with engineers? Read this book.
Do you read a newspaper, listen to music, watch TV? Read this book.
Are you inventing the next Google? Read this book.
You get the point. Google and others gave Auletta amazing access to themselves and their organizations. As a result he's pieced together a unique perspective of Google and the waves it's created from inception right up to a few months ago.
The picture you get is of a company almost naively focused on engineering and inefficiency. Out to save the world while disrupting it in unforeseen and unrecoverable ways. Awkwardly managed by a couple of geeks and a smart but unremarkable CEO who somehow has managed to hold it all together without either getting fired or going postal.
You get a picture of competitors or those hit by the Google wave, like the large media companies who were both dismissive and scared. Caught between existing constituents and existing revenue streams while watching their entire worlds come crashing down around them.
Auletta spends lots of time discussing Google as the next Evil Empire - and the picture you get is that it sure could be - but hopefully, maybe, probably isn't (depending on what industry you're in) because the current leadership hopefully, maybe, probably still do believe in doing no evil. Given all the data Google's collecting, it does make you think what could happen if Google got into the wrong hands.
Overall a very interesting read. And if you're a leader/manager of anything you will find the Auletta's observations interesting and thought provoking.
Xmas is coming. You might want to put Put Googled: The End of the World as We Know It on your x-mas list!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Here's a fascinating look at various forms of leadership through the eyes and experience of Itay Talgam, a renowned Isreali orchestra conductor.
I came across this piece reading Ken Auletta's new book 'Googled:The End of the World as We Know it' - a must read book for anyone wondering about Google, management, the future of mass media, the future of the world, engineers and inefficiency.
Having read about this presentation that Itay gave at Google's 2008 Zeitgeist conference in Auletta's book I naturally went to Google to find it on the internet. And of course it was there.(Update: actually it isn't there - the link to it has been disabled. This - as the title says - is from the 2009 conference).
Leadership, especially inspiring, effective leadership is something I've tried to observe, practice and coach through both my management assignments and my consulting assignments. This look at 5 (actually only 4 in this presentation) different conducting styles and the different outcomes they achieve is both fascinating - and hopefully - inspirational.
Friday, December 4, 2009
You have to feel sorry for the Golf Digest people - putting Obama on the January cover with Tiger and a headline that reads '10 Tips Obama Can Take From Tiger'.
Seriously, here are a couple of the tips - as headlined in the magazine, that Golf Digest suggests Tiger could pass on (seriously) to Obama: 1) The Quick Recovery (probably not) 4) The Trouble with Compromise (a million here a million there, soon you're talking some serious hush money) 6) Controlling the Message (message?) 7) The Swing Change (no comment) 9) You've Got to Deliver (otherwise flying to Australia is just a long trip) 10) The Danger of Looking Ridiculous (like Tiger and Golf Digest?).
As for Obama's advice for Tiger: 10) keep your day job (you're probably going to need it)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
A case in point was a general partner at Flybridge Capital by the name of Chip Hazard. (Great name for a venture capitalist, by the way. If he was a commercial banker, he'd have to change his name to Moral Hazard, but that's a thought for another day.) Chip recently announced that on December 9, he'll be holding his first-ever office hours. "Thinking about starting a new technology focused company?" the invitation asked. "Already working on a tech company and interested in getting feedback from a VC? Facing a business challenge and looking for advice? Ready to get financing and want to review your pitch?" Sign up in advance and you get 20 minutes one-on-one with Chip.
This is either a pretty good idea or an incredibly dumb one. By scheduling people in do you get more attendance/input or less? I'm betting less. But it would be more organized.
Ever read the book 'Free'?. There's a logical discussion about how charging anything - even a penny - takes down the interest level. If the goal is to get more input or questions from customers or students or employees - why not just say 'my door is always open?' Is there something unique about calling it 'office hours'?
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Fortune Magazine's latest issue on 'How to Build Great Leaders' is an anemic, less than insightful view what it takes to be a great leader (magazine woes and thinner issues are having an impact on Fortune's overall quality).
The cover picture though, seems quite insightful.
The picture of 1) a male 2) with an empty head 3) made of bricks 4) wearing a white shirt 5) and tie 6) dressed in a blue suit jacket is a depressing (and perhaps too realistic?) vision of leadership excellence.
And it's an interesting juxtaposition to Fortune's previous cover picture - of Steve Jobs - Fortune's CEO of the Decade.
Here's my ode to white-shirted, empty headers who will never be great leaders.
They can give you every title in the book – CEO, COO, CFO, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer – it DOESN’T MATTER. If the people you’re supposed to be leading think you’re an ass – you’re not they’re leader.
You’re their whipping boy.
This isn’t about you.
This is about them.
This is about them trusting you. Them respecting you. Them looking up to you.
This is about them feeling like you listen. Them feeling like you care. Them feeling like you think they are capable. And smart.
This is about them thinking you are good at your job. Them seeing you take your role as seriously as they take theirs. Them knowing you care about the organization.
You need to change.
Stop being so f’ing smart.
Start learning. Start listening.
Start being nice.
Go for a beer. A lunch. Grab a coffee.
Ask about the kids. The gym. The vacation.
And start doing your job. Otherwise. You’ll never be their leader.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Uh-oh: the Empire — industrial-era business as usual — is striking back. Will the rebels be crushed?
Not a chance. Blocking Google is about as smart as eating a pound of plutonium.
Umar's an interesting thinker. He pounds a couple of key themes - like thick vs. thin value, and constructive capitalism - but I like where his head's at. His theme's are almost impossible for many businesses to contemplate (given their current business models) - but I agree - keep turning out crap or creating anti-business models and there is only one outcome - value fail. Check out his various manifestos. They ring an interesting and consistent bell.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Maybe if there was a meaningful space mission, we could come up with the right rocket. Not to be too much of a downer about it, but space flight has commoditized. We've been to the moon. There's nothing there. We've sent robots to Mars. There's nothing there. These earth-like planets they are finding would take 100,000 years to reach, at the speed of light. Launching satellites is the only meaningful mission, and guess what? Its not sexy and owest cost wins!
Space capsules? That's right, instead of following the Shuttles with something as capable - something that can guarantee American space leadership - we're going to race China, India, and Russia in a competition to build a limited and ungainly spacecraft that America retired a generation ago. And guess what? It will take another seven years before the NASA Orion capsule is ready to ferry astronauts.
Really? Wow. The American space program is going back to space capsules? Seven years from now? Isn't that like going from the i-phone to the 8 track tape player? Seems like a giant leap...backwards. When is Richard Branson planning to start his Virgin space flights? Maybe US astronauts can get a seat on one of those flights.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Here's a blog post from my frustrated buddy John.
John if it's any consolation I was in an empty Staples around 6:30 and waited 20 minutes for the (only) nice counter lady to figure out how the chip card reader works (the stripe goes to the left. LEFT. Dammit). On Saturday Tim Hortons managed to lose yet another one of my orders because the manager serving me got embroiled in a brawl with an angry customer who was questioning the available options (lettuce or tomatoe and/or lettuce and tomatoe or/and/or nothing) on one of those BELT sandwiches (I'm pretty sure the L stands for lettuce and the T for tomatoe?). When it was all said and done, I was out my coffee and donut. I stayed VERY calm.
See John, apparently you're new to this. Not me. I'm a veteran. Happens to me all the time.
And like you, I've tried blogging and tweeting away my frustrations. Without much luck.
The first time Tim Hortons messed me up I tweeted my pain and got a response from some dude in the US. To this day I'm pretty certain he was just absolving the US of any responsibility. Do they even have bagels in the US?
When Westjet kept us all waiting for almost an hour to self check our bags, I sent out a flock of tweets - then sat next to the hot Westjet marketing lady on my flight to Miami. I showed her my tweets (she's dropping the charges). For three weeks those tweets sat on my twitter profile and on my blog. I never heard a thing from Westjet. I'm not even sure they're still in business?
So on Saturday I stayed calm. No tweeting or blogging. Same tonight with Staples.
John, I recognize that like you, I am doomed to be check-out/check-in challenged and to just grin and bear it. Besides, you think Future Shop is following your blog? Come on. Like Westjet, their customer service is probably still living in the past. Off-line.
Monday, November 23, 2009
It's not on the list because it's a few years old (and perhaps not technically a leadership book?) but Marshall Goldsmith's 'What Got You Here Won't Get You There' is very good. Aimed at achievers who have 'made it' - and who are therefore self-certified that their approaches don't require upgrading - Goldsmith does an inspiring job addressing the needs and approaches for doing just that. A few simple tips from the book made me a better listener and more articulate coach. Like lots of these books - although the backdrop is largely business, the lessons can be applied almost anywhere.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Largely off the radar screen for many including investors, the impact of IFRS on financial reporting for public companies could be significant. Here's an eye-opening Japanese example:
28 September 2009
via Dow Jones Factiva
© 2009 Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc.
TOKYO (Nikkei)--The planned introduction of international accounting standards will significantly change how Japanese companies evaluate and report their business results and financial conditions, and the implications for investors are enormous as well.
Take, for example, Nippon Steel Corp. (5401), which posted a group net profit of 155 billion yen for the year ended in March 2009. Under IFRS's key comprehensive income formula, the steelmaker would have reported a comprehensive loss to the tune of 200 billion yen for the year. That is because a decline in the value of the company's cross-shareholdings and losses on the investment of pension assets would have to be recognized in
Canadian IFRS Timeline. The Canadian AcSB announced in February 2008 that the transition to IFRS will affect interim and annual financial statements for fiscal years beginning on or after January 1, 2011. Here's the Canadian IFRS timeline:
Talking to CA's and CFO's involved in the changeover here's my take: SLOWLY. VERY SLOWLY.
A recently released survey conducted by the Canadian Financial Executives (FEI) Research Foundation verifies this feedback. It indicates that the state of readiness for transition varies widely. IFRS Readiness in Canada 2009 Executive Research Report features results from senior financial executives from over 250 organizations.
The report shows that some companies have barely started migration, while others — many of the large, established public companies — are well on their way to meeting the 2011 deadline. Despite the fast-approaching conversion deadline, more than 12% of the 147 public companies surveyed had not yet taken the first step of starting their initial diagnostic assessments. Furthermore, roughly one in five private companies that intend to convert to IFRS stated they had also not yet begun the migration process.
At the Big 4 accounting firms, there is concern that too few companies grasp the effort required to make the IFRS transition and are leaving the heavy lifting required way too late into the timeline. Ultimately, this could be a billing bonanza for the Big 4 but there's a risk that the resources and IFRS expertise won't be available for a last minute scramble.
So, what's the situation at your company? With time beginning to rapidly run out do your finance people understand the implications of IFRS on your financial reporting and what effort will be required to comply? Will you be ready?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Most of you have probably seen Sales Guy v. Web Dude, a hilarious video on the joys of tech support. If you haven’t seen it, kiss ten minutes goodbye and start there. It ranks up there with the stuff on Best Page In The Universe
in entertainment and laugh value.
The creator, Josh Weinberg
, was quiet for a long time after that video. But in the last few months have been productive for him. And he now has three new videos and posted them on The Website Is Down
. All, including the original, are embedded below:
Episode 1 – Sales Guy vs. Web Dude
The original website is down video web dude tries desperately to get his important work done while assaulted on all sides by rampant incompetence. Will he survive???
Episode 2 – Excel Hell
Video #2 from the website is down! Chip takes us on a wild ride into the life of a master salesman. How many sales can he make in a single video? One? Maybe?
Episode 3 – Remain Calm
Chip Demonstrates his special procedure for a hot-swap hardrive replacement using only his steel-toed boot and his razor thin patience. Watch and Learn!
Episode 4 – Sales Demolition
Biz Tip of the week: Get your clients in the room and shove your product down their throats in a sales demo!
Very, very funny. All of them.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
My it guys installed Win 7 on a new Lenova desktop and were not impressed with the reliability. At least 50% of the time it would lock up on bootup and didn't get past the startup screen. Hopefully the final release will be more stable than the RC but I would wait and let others – and by that I mean real people you know and trust take the plunge first. If it's still got problems you can bet MS will release a Service pack ASAP.
The latest Fortune cover says 'Microsoft is Cool Again'. Man, if they are, I'm missing it. Can Win 7 do that? I'm pretty sure cool is being driven by clouds, smart phones and apps, not outdated operating systems that take forever to start-up and need updating every 4 days. We'll see what Win 7 can do. But by then hopefully I'll have my new Mac.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
There were unconfirmed reports that at one stage the cockpit was unmanned, as the crew was busy fighting outside.
And in the left seat, weighing in at 260 lbs is Captain Hulk Hogan. And in the co-pilots seat is...man, I can't wait for this edition of Mayday!!
Friday, October 2, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Those who are unprepared, those who had been expecting best-case career scenarios, may find disillusionment, boredom, complacency, or even a disregard for procedures and regulations creeping into their professional life.
Interesting post. It's one thing when the junior marketing manager falls asleep on the job (or frankly the CEO of a fund company) - but your pilot?! Truth is - pilots are people too. They have bad days, get pissed off at management, get bored with their jobs. Thanks to technology, good training, and I generally high level of professionalism (right?) most flights end well. Here's hoping your pipeline clears soon!!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
One might argue that the weakened state of business media doesn’t matter much; it’s simply an overabundant commodity in a tightening market.
Hmmm. This isn't an issue I'd given much thought to. The arguments make some sense - fewer outlets for story-telling and learning from others, more fractured sources of coverage, potentially more bias. Those seem like they could be all true. Do they matter? Maybe. But in my mind, small and medium sized companies were largely ignored by the press anyways. Today, thanks to the web I see an incredible opportunity for companies to get their stories out however and whenever they want - regardless of size, location, industry, etc. And for CEO's to learn more than they ever imagined - in just an hour every morning on tools like Google reader. The real problem? Only a small percentage of companies and CEO's seem to take advantage of the cornucopia of opportunities out there. The majority of companies I see haven't even figured the power of search marketing yet, never mind having any hands-on idea about what social networking could do for their story. And I see way too many CEO's roaring around ensuring that the picture of business that they learned 10 or 20 years ago is what their business becomes. Which is a key reason in my mind why there are so many under-performing businesses. So I'm not sure the real problem is the success, decline or failure of the traditional press (speaking of what happens when you operate your business looking backwards) but the failure to take advantage of the changing but phenomenal opportunities to learn and communicate going forward.
Monday, September 28, 2009
For instance, the revamped job description included a requirement that the Senior Manager "understand the following acronyms: RSS, SEM, SEO, PPC, CPM, CPC, LOL, IMHO, WTF, API, B2C, B2B, CTR, IM, PV, RON, WWW, TTYL, LMAO, ROTFLMAO, WYSIWYG and, most importantly, RTFM.
....and have at least 250 followers on Twitter. Hey, I could apply.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The sell-off was a next-day reaction to Waterloo-based RIM's weaker-than-expected sales outlook for the busy back-to-school quarter, delivered after the markets closed Thursday alongside a slight dip in fiscal second-quarter earnings.
RIM's hardly going out of business. But....if I'm thinking of getting an iPhone (ok, looking forward to it) something's changed. I'm not my kids. Although I use and enjoy Blacberry Messenger it's not my primary connection to my contact list. Instead I'm absolutely loving the interface, apps and web browsing I get with the iTouch I've been experimenting with. I've even learned how to type easily on it. As a result, it's replaced my laptop and my Blackberry to a way bigger degree than I ever imagined (opening up the real possibility that my next laptop won't be what I currently use either, it will be a netbook and definitely not anything with a Microsoft operating system). Finally an observation. Now that I'm paying a little more attention to the iPhone, I was intrigued to notice that at the conference I attended this week, Blackberries were almost extinct. iPhones were the device of choice with a few cooler than expected Android phones thrown into the mix. Maybe it was the group (not investment bankers). But something's up for sure.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Here's a follow up to yesterday's recruiting conference post. I'm a big Posterous fan (and clearly using it way below it's potential). Just an idea for those wondering whether/how to break from a pure Twitter/Facebook approach to social networking.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Some thoughts coming out of today.
- managing the talent puddle - forget the pool it's too big (and sounds like most are struggling with basic talent management - when WAS the last time anyone took a candidate for lunch?)
- Twitter - um, not so much - despite experts to the contrary I still say that brand and audience relationship building (never mind sound search optimization) requires a multi-platform approach, not just one (I use Twitter to get you to this post, not to write it)
- maybe a little too much talking to ourselves? - next time let's get some users in the room (clients and candidates) - it would be fun to hear their side of the conversation
- finally, yes it's been a tough year and competition is getting worse but...the most sustainable competitive advantage any company has is it's people - so hang in there. And even though the pricing of bits and bytes is going to zero so a lot of the process crap has no value any more, if you give me the BEST person for the position I'll always be happy to pay you a fair price (it's when I don't want the best - goodbye competitive advantage, or you can't provide it, then...we're both in trouble.)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
It pisses me off. Not that he got fired. It pisses me off that he didn't quit a long time ago. Like I suggested. If he'd done that, then he wouldn't have wasted the last 2 years. His reputation wouldn't be at risk. And he wouldn't be grieving getting fired now.
So it's kind of ironic that I came across Seth Godin's book 'The Dip' on iTunes yesterday.
Although it's only moderately rated by iTunes and Amazon reviewers, there's no way this book won't make you think.
There are a few key concepts:
- set out to be the best, whatever that is (best friend, leader, search engine, blog - Godin talks about being the 'best in the world' - a concept I also believe in although it risks seeming to grandiose for many)
- recognize that there will be obstacles to getting there
- figure out the difference between obstacles and brick walls - what Godin calls the difference between dips and cul de sacs
- the rewards for 'leaning into' the dips and making it through them are generally large because the dips thin the herd, creating scarcity
- quit strategically when it's clear no matter what you do, you're not going to make it - you're facing a cul de sac, not a dip
- quit fast before you waste resources like time, dollars and reputation which would be better deployed being the best somewhere else or in some other, better way
- plan before hand what the conditions must be for quitting - quitting in a dip, just because you're winded, tired and it's raining (and therefore susceptible to quitting) is dumb if the finish line of the Boston Marathon is only 5 miles away
Godin works hard at blowing away the notion of 'never quit'. As he asks 'never quit bed-wetting?'. Really? If you haven't done that yet, it's time.
My friend needed to quit (his job) 2 years ago. There is no way what he was trying to accomplish was going to happen. It wasn't just the obstacles he was facing, it was how he was facing them. Another of Godin's points - maybe the goal's not the problem, maybe it's the strategy. Maybe that's what needs to be quit.
I couldn't agree more with what Godin's articulated.
Over the years it's not that I've seen too much quitting, it's that I haven't seen enough of it. Too many mediocre companies going nowhere. Too many Boards hanging onto lousy leaders. Too many CEO's hanging onto failed strategies. Too many employees hanging onto lousy jobs.
Laziness - quitting isn't easy.
Pride - "I'm not quitter".
And bad business - "what is it we're trying to accomplish again?"
Anyone looking for silver bullets will find 'Dip' a little frustrating. Is it a dip or cul de sac? Godin, trys to make it as black and white as possible but ultimately he can't answer that for all his listener/readers. But knowing those are the options is a good start.
It's helped me. There are a few cul de sacs I'm quitting as of today.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Cool data representation but...one of the things about knowing aircraft is knowing when they aren't the real aircraft. Like in the movies when a 737 takes off from New York and supposedly the same plane, but now a 747 lands in London. We notice. It's a curse. So...some of the aircraft pictured...aren't. The DC-9 is a Focker and the Airbuses are all 737's. Like I said, it's a curse. Regardless, I still wouldn't fly Aeroflot!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
...of course they are...because I just got an iTouch (free with my daughter's new Mac - kids want Macs and Blackberries).
Getting the iTouch confirmed how difficult typing really is on this platform (easy texting and BB messaging is what the kids love about the BB). It makes me want to put my finger-tips on a Slimfast diet.
On the other hand I was immediately taken (and still am) with the rest of its touch screen interface and most of the other features. I love the wi-fi (not on my BB). In the first 10 minutes I'd downloaded an app costing $3.99 (ooTunes a radio app). Transferred over my address book from Outlook. Synched to Gmail and other Google apps includng Reader. Downloaded the new iTunes, purchased a song. And etc, etc.
Funny, after an hour setting up the iTouch I found myself 'fingering' the screen on my BB. No question, using the trackball now feels a lot retro/old school.
Does this mean if AAPL fixes the keyboard that I could become an iPhone convert?!
Say it ain't so.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I found this via the guys who wrote 'Made to Stick'. Their thinking on why this promo works - it's unexpectedness. For those who haven't read the book - if you sell anything you will find it interesting - the other principles of 'stickiness' from the book are simplicity, concreteness, credibility, emotion and storytelling..... or tah dah....'succes' (you would have thought they'd have come up with one more principle starting with s?). It's a pretty good book that will make you think. It's chock full examples so I find it interesting that the one example that 'sticks' for me is about Norah Ephron's first day of journalism school. Asked to write the lead for a newspaper story, the teacher provided these facts: "...the principal of Beverly Hills High School announced today that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium on new teaching methods. Blah, blah, blah.....". What's the right lead for this story? 'There won't be any school on Thursday'. What's the point? Stickiness is about finding the point, not regurgitating the facts.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Pitty the poor Boeing people. The 787 was supposed to be a game changer - from design, through construction through performance. And it may still be. Just not anywhere close to when it was promised or for the dollars that were projected. Airlines are having a tough time staying committed to it (although generally they are) and delays are opening up nice opportunities for Airbus (who went through their own hell launching the A380). Getting a new aircraft out is clearly a little more complex than creating a box of cookies. And I'm no expert on projects of this scale. It would be interesting to know what the key learning is on simple things - like projecting timelines, identifying and accounting for risk, managing the corporate politics, keeping key customers happy, etc. You get a sense there will definitely be a big sigh of relief when (and if) this puppy (alright, bird) actually takes to the air.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
now announced they’re offering over a million public domain books in EPUB format – the exact format that Sony’s Daily Edition reader likes.
To download a book, search for a title over at Google Books. Public domain titles will have a download link in the upper right corner. Which brings us to the first major difference between the Kindle and this Google-Sony open book strategy: while Amazon only offers 300,000 titles, Google’s million books aren’t, for the most part, the most attractive ones, and Sony’s own ebook library doesn’t offer a choice as good as Amazon – at least when it comes to modern titles.
Sure, if you’re interested in an oldie, such as the Memoirs of Granville Sharp, Google’s library is a good choice, but if you’re looking to buy a digital copy of the latest bestseller, you’re more likely to find it on the Kindle than in Google’s library and Sony’s ebook store combined. You can sometimes buy an ebook online and then transfer it to your Sony ebook reader, but on the Kindle it’s simpler and easier to do.
Google and Sony’s format of choice, EPUB, is also important. It’s an XML-based, free, open ebook standard which can be optimized for different devices, but Kindle does not (natively) support it. So, any titles you have in EPUB format, you can transfer to another device (it’s a bit more complicated than that, since EPUB also supports DRM, but Google’s selection of public domain titles will be free of any restrictions); on the Kindle, it’s forbidden. In geek terms, when it comes to ebooks, Sony and Google are to Amazon Kindle like Linuxlinux
is to Windows: free and open vs. closed but perhaps easier to use. We’ll see which one wins in the end.
...which is great for 3rd world countries like Canada where the Kindle doesn't exist and probably won't exist for a while yet.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Andrew, this one's for you. As always, great discussion today on Waterloo's best smart phone maker, education and leadership. Comments, particularly the first and last (Mark Twain quote) are food for thought. Cheers!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Jim Balsillie, left, and Mike Lazaridis, co-CEOs of Research in MotionResearch in Motion is courting consumers, and Apple is making inroads in the office. Here’s a simple quiz to determine your smartphone type.
(Fortune Magazine) -- For two Canadian guys who've spent the past 17 years together building one of the world's most important tech companies, Research in Motion co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have surprisingly little in common.
Balsillie, 48, is tall, sinewy, and bald. He likes to spend his free time doing triathlons or jetting off to Europe to ride his bike up the Tour de France's toughest mountain climbs. Lazaridis, also 48, is stout and unathletic with a thick shock of white hair. He laments that by the time he could afford to drive a Porsche, his posterior was too big to fit in the seat.
The extroverted Balsillie (Ball-SILLY) is a freewheeling conversationalist who will talk your ear off about his quest to buy the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team and bring the NHL franchise to Canada. The reserved Lazaridis (Laz-a-REE-dis) would rather not discuss his personal life but admits that at age 12 he won a prize for reading every science book in the Windsor Public Library. Balsillie is the financial whiz who drives corporate strategy. Lazaridis is the engineering genius who spearheads product development for the BlackBerry maker.
The two don't socialize outside of work. Their offices in RIM's headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, about an hour's drive southwest of Toronto, aren't even in the same building. But the lack of personal connection doesn't hinder their effectiveness. Quite the opposite, in fact. They say it just makes them more efficient. "We each know what we're good at," says Lazaridis. "We don't even have to ask."
Individually, Balsillie and Lazaridis may not be the equal of a certain black-mock-turtleneck-and-jeans-wearing consumer-product-design genius in Cupertino, Calif., who just happens to be their biggest rival. But together the pair is pretty darn formidable. Do two collaborative Canadians match up to one Steve Jobs? For the moment, at least, they're more than holding their own.A crowded and competitive business
Despite the incredible success of Apple's iPhone, Research in Motion (RIMM) retains a dominant position in the ultra-fast-growing smartphone business -- the combo phone/e-mail device category that Balsillie and Lazaridis essentially created.
Over the past decade RIM has sold some 65 million phones to its now 28.5 million subscribers, increasing its stock market capitalization from $96 million to $42 billion in the process. (Balsillie and Lazaridis each have a 6% stake, good for roughly $2.5 billion apiece.)
RIM has a commanding 56% share of the $12 billion U.S. smartphone market. And its sales are still accelerating. In fact, according to industry tracker IDC, the bestselling smartphone in the U.S. so far this year by units is not the iPhone but the BlackBerry Curve.
Thanks to those booming sales, Research in Motion ranks No. 1 on Fortune's 2009 list of Fastest-Growing Companies, with a three-year average earnings-per-share growth of 84% and revenue growth of 77%. Even after last year's stock market meltdown, shares of RIM have a three-year annualized total return of 45%. Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500), which is three times the size of RIM in both sales and market value, checks in at No. 39.0:00 /3:00Free Wi-Fi but at what cost?
Once considered mostly a business tool, of late the BlackBerry has made huge gains as a consumer product. RIM launched its first television ad campaign targeting a mass audience in 2008, and last quarter 80% of its new subscribers came from the nonbusiness crowd. Teens, for instance, love BlackBerry Messenger, RIM's proprietary instant messaging feature. Then there's the influence of a certain e-mailer-in-chief. "President Obama carrying a BlackBerry was a tremendously sexy marketing tool," says analyst Philip Cusick of Macquarie Research Equities. "It keeps my nephews thinking it's cool."
The good news for both RIM and Apple is that the overall smartphone market is growing faster than ever. In 2008 a total of 1.19 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide, according to IDC, of which some 155 million were smartphones, or 13%. In 2013, IDC predicts that 20% of the 1.4 billion phones sold will be smartphones, or 280 million.
The competition, though, is getting increasingly stiff. New entrants like computer manufacturers Acer and (if rumors are true) Dell (DELL, Fortune 500) are rushing into the market. A revitalized Palm (PALM) has taken aim at the iPhone with its Pre, which debuted on the Sprint network in June and will be available on Verizon next year. And Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) is pouring resources into its Android smartphone operating system and training its sights on the enterprise portion of the market that Research in Motion currently dominates. Motorola (MOT, Fortune 500) is poised to debut two new devices running Android this fall.
"There are going to be more smartphone launches in the next couple of months than we've ever seen before," says Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney.
While BlackBerry is making inroads with consumers, the iPhone is winning over an increasing share of business customers. According to ChangeWave Research, as of May Apple had 20% of the enterprise market, up from 6% just a year ago. (Much of the gain came at the expense of Palm's Treo.) Over the same period RIM's share dipped slightly from 76% to 74%.
Apple also makes more on each sale. According to Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, Apple currently has an operating margin of 40% on its iPhones vs. RIM's average per handset of 20.7%. (The industry mean is 9.7%.)Keeping up with changing demands
Another challenge is that the consumer's expectations about what smartphones should provide are also evolving rapidly. Mobile phone users increasingly want to access the web more than they want to make calls. They're gravitating toward Tweeting rather than long e-mails. And they want applications, those programs that let you check the weather, play games, and even balance your checkbook. Apple now boasts some 65,000 choices in its App Store that range from the über-practical to the ultra-absurd. The new BlackBerry app store, by contrast, which launched only in April, offers just 2,000.
Whereas RIM led the mobile-phone industry into e-mail, it is a follower in the race to build a dominant software ecosystem for handheld computing. "The Apple model will be one portion of the community, and Android will be another," says Cusick of Macquarie Research. "It will be tough for RIM to remain competitive."
But if RIM's co-CEOs are daunted by this changing environment, neither is showing it. While artfully dodging direct questions about Apple, they come across as defiantly confident. The pair seem more concerned about managing the company's explosive growth than about its coming to an end. "Sometimes we have to put the brakes on," says Lazaridis matter-of-factly. "We've shown that we can handle annual 100% growth. I'm not sure we could handle more than that."How RIM foresaw the smartphone
Look south from Lazaridis's second-floor office window, and you'll see a cluster of new buildings that have crept down a slope in recent years to nudge right up against the edge of the University of Waterloo, a math and engineering school the caliber of MIT. On the other side of the campus is the horse-and-buggy Mennonite community of St. Jacobs.
In a typical year, 2,000 Waterloo students are spending their "co-op" semester of work placement as RIM employees. They serve as a much-needed supplement to Research in Motion's ballooning operations. Last year alone the company grew 50% in headcount to 12,000 employees. RIM has easily supplanted once-mighty Nortel as Canada's flagship tech company.
Lazaridis dropped out of Waterloo in 1984, just one month shy of graduation, to start Research in Motion as a computer science consulting business with his childhood friend Doug Fregin. (A behind-the-scenes guy, Fregin served as vice president of operations until he retired in 2007.) The two biked daily to their first office, a 500-square-foot space above a bagel store in a strip mall. One early application they created enabled businesses to conduct credit card transactions. In the late 1980s they helped develop technology that made for faster direct-to-video movies (making RIM indirectly responsible for the Olsen twins' fame and fortune).
Then they had the insight that would eventually make them billions. Watching Waterloo students eagerly embrace e-mail, they realized it would be the communication medium of the future and would eventually move to devices much like phones. A company that could provide those products would have an enormous opportunity. "We knew e-mail was going to be the foundation of business, that it'd replace fax," said Lazaridis. "We basically had to wait around and get ready." Unfortunately, they had nearly run out of money.
So in 1992, Lazaridis and Fregin turned to Jim Balsillie, a management consultant they had previously worked with on a failed project. Balsillie, a onetime college roommate of author Malcolm Gladwell ("The Tipping Point") at the University of Toronto's Trinity College, invested $125,000 for a one-third stake in the business. He took the co-CEO title and threw himself into fundraising. In 1997, RIM went public with a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange and raised $115 million from investors. Two years later the company introduced its first BlackBerry brand e-mail device, a bulky rectangle with a narrow screen that ran off one AA battery.
Balsillie took an unconventional approach to winning the company's first customers that proved highly successful. He sank his energy into investor relations, crisscrossing the U.S. to sit down with analysts and bankers.
"Every time I'd go up there and present, I'd sit there and ask, 'Who here uses Microsoft Exchange?'" he remembers. "And two-thirds would raise their hands. Then I'd say, 'Who here would like to get e-mail on their belt for free?'" He collected business cards and sent "e-mail evangelists" -- kids just out of college -- back to get the bankers up and running. Within a year the BlackBerry had become a staple on Wall Street. "It was a puppy dog sale," he says. "'Take a puppy dog home, and if you don't like it, bring it back.' They never come back."BlackBerry's growth strategy
Most people think of Apple as RIM's biggest threat. While that may be true, there is probably no single event that has done more for RIM's business than the iPhone launch. It was Apple that convinced consumers that they could enjoy the ease and power of a desktop in a handheld device, thus opening a vast new market. Overnight the smartphone became, by popular demand, a consumer device. Since the iPhone's introduction in June 2007, BlackBerry quarterly sales have more than tripled, from $1.1 billion to $3.4 billion. Three of the five top-selling mobile phones in the U.S. are now BlackBerrys.
While Apple has chosen to develop one phone on its own through one carrier (AT&T (T, Fortune 500)) and wait for customers to seek it out, RIM has pursued the opposite strategy -- what Balsillie calls "constructive engagement." Rather than creating devices independently, RIM partners with carriers to make individualized products. It produces numerous versions of its seven basic handsets. And because RIM works with every major carrier, consumers are able to buy a subsidized BlackBerry no matter what their plan.
This approach has paid great dividends. For instance, when Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) needed a strong competitor for the iPhone it sought out RIM to develop the Storm, which introduced a sensory touchscreen keypad. Verizon provided a generous subsidy for the device and put a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign behind it. Though early reviews were mixed, the Storm has become the third-best-selling smartphone since its debut last year.
RIM believes one way to continue growing in the crowded U.S. market is to develop targeted products for specific groups of customers. On July 27, for example, RIM announced the Curve 8520, a new BlackBerry aimed at social media maniacs (read: tweens) with buttons that allow users to upload media directly to YouTube and Facebook. It went on sale this month at Wal-Mart for just $48.88 with a two-year T-Mobile contract.
Balsillie and Lazaridis, however, think that their biggest growth opportunity may lie outside the U.S. Foreign consumers are only beginning to embrace smartphones in large numbers. And Finnish phone giant Nokia (NOK), long the global powerhouse, has been losing share rapidly.
So RIM has begun positioning itself in foreign markets, forming partnerships with 475 carriers in 160 countries in recent years. "The thought that Latin America and Western Europe could someday be like North America in terms of market penetration gets us very, very excited," says Balsillie.
But the act of going global alone won't be enough for RIM to succeed in the long run. Just as it once made e-mail in a phone into its Killer App, the company must adapt to a world with thousands of killer apps. "What you carry on your belt is now your MP3 player, will be your plasma TV, is your social-networking machine, is your Internet terminal, your camera, your personal navigation device," says Balsillie.Apps, apps, and more apps
More and more, phones are becoming devices for users to download the software programs, or applications, they want. (As Apple's TV commercials promise: "There's an app for that!") No single company can come up with the massive portfolio of applications that will please consumers, however. That would be like asking Wal-Mart to make all the products it also sells.
And that's why smartphone makers are trying so hard to woo software developers to make the programs that will run on their phones. The market for this software is relatively small now, but it's growing quickly. Juniper Research estimates sales of mobile applications could hit $25 billion in 2014, up from $7 billion last year.
RIM has long had one of the largest enterprise developer communities, but more recently it has worked aggressively to court a wider group by doing what it does best: partnering with them. That challenge falls to RIM's vice president of business, marketing, and alliances, Jeff McDowell. Though his division brings in only a tiny portion of the company's revenues, Balsillie and Lazaridis shower him with attention. "I talk to Mike at least once a day, and Jim usually four times," says McDowell. "I can show up at Jim's office anytime he's in and he'll see me."
McDowell oversees the BlackBerry Alliance Program, which offers its 1,700 partners dedicated teams of RIM developers, technical expertise, and marketing support. Last fall the company held its first developer conference in Silicon Valley, a packed event in which it gave developers insight into plans for new products as well as one-on-one instruction and a chance to hobnob with the company's most prestigious engineers.
And in April the company launched BlackBerry App World, a virtual storefront that collects most BlackBerry applications in one central location. Developers keep 80% of what they charge for their programs. (Apple offers developers 70%.) "Our objective is to help developers make money," explains McDowell. "That creates the buzz, and then I don't have to worry about the benefits to RIM."
Ultimately, though, Balsillie and Lazaridis know they'll need more than buzz. The challenge is to anticipate the fickle tastes of a new consumer market. And in their own pragmatic way, they're confident that they're up for the task. "We don't just throw spaghetti at the wall and see what works," says Lazaridis, a touch defensively. "We have a lot of faith in our own capabilities, and we do a lot of research into what people want and don't want. Our products just keep getting better and better and better." With the iPhone as a competitor, they need to be.
This is an article that will make Blackberry users smile. RIM is kicking Apple's ass despite the fact that Apple gets all the hype. Heck, even my kids would never trade their BB's for an iPhone ("it's a toy" is a direct quote). RIM ranks #1 in Fortune's 2009 Fastest Growing Companies list - Apple is #39. Three year total return for RIM (what market meltdown?): 45%. Best selling smartphone in the US?: Blackberry Curve. RIM total market share of US smartphone market 56%!! Thinking of developing a cool mobile app? Thinking Apple? WAKE UP!! Build it for the Blackberry.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
According to Gartner, Twitter, ebooks and web tv are heading for/into the trough of disillusionment. Web 2.0 and cloud computing will still take 5 years to become mainstream. That's way slower than they predicted a couple of years ago. Proof once again that hype and excitement in the on-line and tech worlds are still very different from the day to day grind of the real world.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Data visualization on a very sophisticated level. Scroll or click anywhere on the graphic to drill down on the data. Refine by group by choosing from the top right.
This is a powerful visualization. However, it still requires some serious effort to come to serious conclusions. Without it, you get this: we spend a lot of time eating, sleeping and working (the headline helped). The unemployed don't work as much. 11am is the peak work time. At 5am most people are sleeping. At noon, only 12% of people are eating (that seemed surprising). We spend less than an hour/day socializing (does that include all that time at work?) and at any given time no more than 10% of us are doing it. 5pm is peak travel time with 13% of us out there going somewhere. People 65+ don't spend much time on education.
Actually, oversimplifying doesn't do justice to what's here. Presenting tons of data this way is very impressive. Try it.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
"His publisher supplied him with a list of 400 words, ones that the publisher thought children would be learning in school. His publisher told him to cut the list in half and to try and write an interesting enough book for children. Nine months later Dr. Seuss finished The Cat In The Hat, which used 223 words from the list plus 13 words that did not appear on the list.
The story is 1626 words in length and uses a vocabulary of only 236 distinct words, of which 54 occur once and 33 twice. Only a single word – another – has three syllables, while 14 have two and the remaining 221 are monosyllabic. The longest words are something and playthings." Wickipedia
Monday, August 3, 2009
micropayments aren't new (or very popular). and it seems hard to believe that 'progress' will lead to paying for much internet content. but...the car is rolling (premium twitter?)...and lot's of players have a vested interest in seeing it happen. inevitable?
Friday, July 31, 2009
Years of building and maintaining my Wordpress blog have resulted in my learning a lot about Wordpress and getting a lot of grease under my fingernails. Weeks of using Posterous has resulted in a media-rich blog with several posts per week. Tell me which service is more powerful.
I've had the same reaction to Posterous. Easy to use. Dynamic. Powerful. And I'm barely using its best features. Did I mention it's easy to use?
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The latest improvements to the Club are impressive and well done.
Donalda has been true to its mission of "providing a high quality, well managed, family oriented golf and multi-activity country club in the city of Toronto that provides year round recreational and social activities to meet the needs of its members".
Keeping a club like Donalda on track isn't easy. With volunteer Boards of Directors and Presidents being elected directly from the membership (independent directors? it's more like having your employees be your Board) - frequently from a population that is aging, and not necessarily with any experience in strategic or long range planning - leadership and decision making can be daunting. Who wants to be the President who raises fees to build the new club house, then golfs with his/her buddies on Tuesday mornings?
Like any organization, having a clear mission is clearly helpful. Donalda's mission to be both family oriented and to provide other activities besides golf has helped ensure a young, vibrant and capable membership with strong vested interests in looking to the future. It's paid off in terms of membership and revenue. Downturn? There hasn't been one.
Donalda's experience probably makes an interesting case study in private club governance, direction setting and execution. I know a Director or two who would benefit from a quick drive down the Don Valley to check it out.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Perhaps my biggest beef with 15th Ave is that it's fundamentally dishonest.
A friend used the term 'anti-branding' in the context of what Starbuck's is doing to not be Starbuck's. Not sure the term is original. Not sure anti-branding is new although it's goal - to not be something (as opposed to for example, diversifying and/or reorganizing to enable a different financial model) seems unique. What other brands might want to anti-brand? Some airlines? Some banks? Some newspapers? Other restaurant chains (like, say McDonalds)? Some car companies (Saturn didn't work out so well for GM). Interesting to see how this goes.
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