Friday, December 26, 2014

Booz's Joe Logue on Intrapreneurship

Joe Logue talks about how he learned early on that if he applied heart and thought, he could build anything. At Booz Allen, that life lesson led to his building many businesses and putting clients' interests first.
Remodeling a kitchen, running a business, and creating global IT services may be as different as can be.  But Logue clearly had the same underlying knowledge, skills and motivation that made him successful across these endeavors.  I also love hearing how a diehard independent (i.e. entrepreneur) found himself working for a large corporation and how a wise senior partner tapped his ego and gave him every opportunity to remain an entrepreneur (i.e. intrapreneur). 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Booz's Joan Dempsey on Intelligence Work

Reflecting on her career in various government positions and at Booz Allen, Joan Dempsey shares the importance, excitement, and rewards of supporting the nation and the nation's security.
What an intriguing personal story Dempsey relates:  To be an adventurous young woman in the 1970s Navy, working as a cryptologic technician and listening to Soviet military communications, must have been a job of a lifetime.  Booz gave her an opportunity to further that experience and work with Homeland Security in the post-9/11 landscape.  She saw it as an amazing gift to be involved in such programs. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Booz's Mike McConnell on Change Arc

When he was around 10 years old, Mike McConnell made a commitment to never be afraid of change. Here he shares how that outlook translated into anticipating threats as an intelligence officer and embracing technology.
Some of us go on the notion that the status quo is a ballast, an anchor, a mooring; while others seem innately keen to rock the boat, stir the pot, or rouse the sleeping dog.  In Myers-Briggs language, the former may be more Sensing (facts) and Judging (planning) as opposed to the latter who may be more Intuitive (possibilities) and Perceiving (spontaneous).  Clearly McConnell fits the latter profile.  Because there seems to be a mass of people camped in the former, he has had to pound the pavement - that is, with articles and talks - on getting companies to recognize, appreciate and understand that digital technology was afoot and cyber threats along with it.  Not everyone has change in his or her DNA, in the way it was for McConnell, so the challenge is to reprogram that DNA, as McConnell has to had to do with clients, so the CEO himself or herself can see over the horizon.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Killing Box Office

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the year, but will it break records? FORBES breaks down the numbers from the biggest movies of 2014 and offers some lofty predictions.
I love films for their artistic value, personal impact, and business results, and the third film in the Hunger Games series is poised to go through the roof.  Mockingjay Part 1 premiered in London on November 19th and in North America on November 21st, and as of November 24th it raked in $276+ million at the box office.  Just staggering.  Star Jennifer Lawrence packs a killer combination of talent and beauty, and just as Kristen Stewart dominated Hollywood earnings from her Twilight gigs, she is poised to do so for this year.  So add wealth to that killer combination. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Apple in Own Market Stratosphere

Apple, already the world’s largest company by market capitalization, hit a new record value: $700 billion.
Apple has doubled in value, since August 2011 when Tim Cook took over the top role.  For me, the crucial factor is what Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White said at the outset of this Bloomberg interview: That Cook is more innovative than the market gives him credit for.  I was one of those who didn't think he was that innovative, and frankly I am still not convinced he is all that innovative.  However, I am coming to appreciate what is evidently his top leadership prowess.  Apple is producing stellar results since Steve Jobs died in October 2011.  With the iPhone leading sales, iPad growing in sales (despite an apparently declining tablet market), and AppleWatch poised to tap huge market potential, those stellar results may continue for a long while yet.

Monday, December 8, 2014

New York as Number One Financial Center

A string of scandals and uncertainty over Britain’s membership in the European Union have led to New York replacing London as the world’s most important financial center.
As Forbes contributor Jesse Colombo explains in This New Libor 'Scandal' Will Cause A Terrifying Financial Crisis, Barclays, UBS, Rabobank, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, among others, conspired to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), which banks around the world drew on to determine the interest rates they charged.  It is simply mind boggling (a) to think that this manipulation had gone on since 1991 and (b) to estimate the hundreds of billions of dollars their manipulation added to their coffers.  As for the issues surrounding Britain vis-a-vis the European Union, here is what UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage wittily said: I don't just want Britain to leave the EU; I want Europe to leave the EU.  So the rise of New York as the number one favored financial hub, by scores of finance professionals, may be more of a London backlash than anything.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

IBM Transforms for the Future

(a) Never protect the past; (b) never define yourself as a product (and never define yourself by your competition, either); and (c) reinvent relentlessly are IBM CEO Ginni Rometty's guiding principles for transforming a company.  They apply for individuals and countries as well.  She has been under some fire for the lackluster performance of a storied US company, but she sounds determined, cheerful and confident through it all.  I commend her, because after Google, I believe IBM is a major leader for our technology future.  Their smarter planet campaign was terrific, as they played up Big Data and analytics in for a stretch.  But their vision on artificial intelligence and sentient robots makes me feel like IBM can actually pull off what her technology and entrepreneurial predecessors could not. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Google Leads on Technology Innovation

Gmail has been my personal e-mail platform for years, and Google has become the verb for search.  I am active on Google+ and YouTube, and my Samsung Galaxy Note operates on Android.  Google Maps helps me navigate my surroundings, while Blogger helps me navigate the interiors of my ideas, projects and aspirations.  Google News is the default page for my browser, which used to be Chrome, by the way, except it was fighting with Windows 8, apparently, so I switched to Firefox.  It must be clear by now that I am a Google GuyThis short clip on Larry Page tells in a nutshell why I think Google leads the way for technology innovation.  Page & Co. have long solved The Innovator's Dilemma by (a) having a highly successful business model, centered on search; (b) creating a structure and schedule where staff can roam and pursue ideas; and (c) deploying the closely guarded Google X where more diverse, radical innovations are being hatched.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Be Judicious and Strategic with Cash

Whether on furniture or taxes, be judicious and be strategic about how to spend your entrepreneurial cash.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Aha" Moments are not Always Moments

There's more than one way to get to the top of Mt. Fuji, they say: Same with becoming an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs cut the grain from those who see themselves in jobs and career, but their aha moments may not always be moments.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Entrepreneurs Inspired, Entrepreneurs Inspiring

It is our responsibility to disrupt, to laugh in the face of conformity, to create our own reality.
So this little bit from Entrepreneur is simply a take off on those iconic Think Different commercials from Apple.  But it is still quite inspirational.  Entrepreneurs can be a peculiar, obnoxious lot, but they shoulder a lot and they move the needle.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Quick Hits on Success Fundamentals

Meiko Patton reminds us that the fundamentals of business lie in what we do and how we do it:
  • Write down a bad habit, and work at flipping it, first by writing down its opposite.  The key is focusing on just one for now, and putting your attention and effort into it.
  • Do it now is good, and if that it is huge, then take a small step now, then another small step next.
  • Maintain your health.  From exercise, to rest and nutrition, plus any relationship or sustenance, upholding this non-business stuff holds up your business stuff more than you know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quick Hits on Advancing your Business

These are quick hits from Entrepreneur on advancing your business:
  • Manage your distribution channels carefully, so as to avoid slipping into a commoditized environment where price is the first casualty.
  • Tell a compelling story about your business, but don't forget specific facts and hard numbers to back up why everyone else, like journalists, should be gaga over your stuff, too. 
  • Finally, think big, think dominant, and look at Jack Welch and Mark Cuban as your frame of reference.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quick Hits on Launching your Business

Certainly we can learn from, and be inspired by, CEOs of successful multinationals.  But keep in mind, as Trevor Owens encourages us, their companies are fundamentally different from our startups.
  • So don't mortgage the house, as if you even had a house, on developing your products.  Do what it takes to create a working prototype, but keep a lid on effort and expenses à la principle of Minimum Viable Product.
  • Don't get weighed down with expectations, commitments and, last but not least, debt.  You have to be so agile as to pivot direction, strategy or offering, when you have to.
  • Find early adopters as best as you can, which means putting yourself in their shoes so as to grab their attention and secure their buy in.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Persistence

A point US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand makes about failure resonates well with Theory of Algorithms and The Core Algorithm:  If you've failed at something, it doesn't mean that you're a failure or that you'll fail against at that thing.  The outcome can be very different the next time.  I do find that some people generalize from one incident, or even a handful of these, and ascribe an entire set of enduring characteristics to those involved in that incident.  It's like: make a mistake, and you (and everyone like you) will always make mistakes.  Instead, things can be different down the road.

Another point about failure:  Both failure and success are have comparable potential to teach us important lessons.  So, contrary to some people, I avoid glorifying failure as the better teacher.  Any experience or outcome can be an opportunity for learning, if we reflect on it vis-a-vis what we're trying to accomplish.

Don't give up.  Gillibrand is walking proof, I imagine, who's persisted in her life and achieved a rank in government.  But I think the advice is far trickier than a simple call to keep going.  There are times when it makes sense to keep going, and other times when it is better to stop, shift course, or abandon the effort altogether (i.e., give up).  The challenge is that we don't always know which situation it is that we're in.  But if you believe something deeply, and you know it to be right, and you feel it in your bones, then it makes sense to keep going.  In any event, it's a matter of personal judgment and personal choice.  At the very least, reflect on how things are going vis-a-vis your purpose, and decide thoughtfully about how to go forward.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Sleep = More Income? It Depends!

The relationship between sleep and income is undoubtedly more complex than what these WSJ Tanya Rivero and Karen Damato can cover in three minutes.  But I'm sure we've heard the cautionary notes:  That if we're often relying in espresso, pills, cigarettes or the like to stay awake and keep going, then we're probably sleep-deprived.  If we're chronically in this state, then we impact our performance and we impact our income.

I eschew any practice that take research findings and apply them wholesale to our lives.  Instead, as Rivero points out, we need to find out what is indeed optimal sleep for each of us.  To the extent that we need to sleep more to get to an optimal amount, then work at it, perhaps in gradual, step-by-step fashion.  Just tacking on one more hour of sleep in our schedule may not work so easily for some of us.  But chunking that additional hour into, say, 15-minute segments, by sleeping a little earlier, then this may work.  It may also mean, of course, cutting down gradually on that espresso, pills or cigarettes.

So if we are indeed chronically sleep-deprived, and we make concerted efforts to remedy that, then we're bound to see improvements in a host of things, from how we feel and think, to how we perform on the job and what income we earn.

Full reference on the study Rivero and Damato discuss (PDF):  Time Use and Productivity: The Wage Returns to Sleep

Monday, October 13, 2014

How do you survive on a deserted island?

We simply cannot put a lot of stock into what goes on in a reality show, because a good amount of it is scripted and fabricated.  But the idea of putting two rivals together, in order to survive on a deserted island, is intriguing indeed.  What if you as the head of one business unit were to hook up with the head of a department function, and make for a truly reality scenario like "Rival Survival?"  More challenging and intriguing, yet, what about partnering up with a willing and able competitor and having at it on a deserted island?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Women Entrepreneurs: Have vs Not Have Children

NOI Solutions founder Saima Chowdhury got pregnant the same month she started her company. Here are productivity tips she learned along the way.
Whether or not she has a partner who's available and willing, women often face the daunting balance of work and family.   For Chowdhury it was about creating a To Do list of priorities and segmented her day into manageable chunks.  When she was with her son, it was quality time with her son.

The Orchid Boutique owner and co-founder speaks out about her decision to lean in at work.
Lean In is a reference to the book by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg.  From what I understand, Sandberg advances the notion that women can take higher leadership roles and balance whatever they need to balance.  In any event, Myra Jimenez adopts what must've been a broader principle of the book, that is, to make choices forthrightly and own up to them, without, as Jimenez points out, caving in to what society or culture may demand.  Her choice was not to have children.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Melissa Kieling on Founding PackIt Freezable

Melissa Kieling explains how she made her idea for PackIt Freezable lunch bags into a reality.
Her children bemoaned that they couldn't eat a fresh lunch at school, so Kieling worked methodically to help them and scores of other children.  It is truly easy to research any idea via Google, but running a patent search isn't something many of us entrepreneurs would've thought about right away.  So that's cool.  It made sure that there was no one else out there with her idea. 
  1. File a provisional patent was a key first step.
  2. Attend trade shows led Kieling to prospective buyers.
  3. Invest in marketing didn't just focus on mothers and children at home, but also educated those prospective buyers on the unique aspects of her products.
How to Get on the Shelf at Target found Kieling being herself and talking honestly:  That she was a Mom, who had a great product, that Target customers would love to have.  Target didn't buy into it at first, though.  Keiling and her team ran a multimillion dollar campaign to advertise her products, and Target got onboard.

We don't hear the story of how she funded such a campaign, but that of course is a crucial piece of the puzzle.  In one way or another, we entrepreneurs have to solve that piece.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mona Bijoor on Founding JOOR

Mona Bijoor, founder of JOOR, a wholesale fashion marketplace, explains how she took years of experience and started her company.
Bijoor found the pain point in the fashion industry through writing and blogging.  She may not have sought out such pain points deliberately, but as it is in the course of lives and our work, inevitably we encounter these.  It didn't sound like a logical or rational process of identifying what her new business was going to be, but rather an intuitive, gut feeling and an unrelenting preoccupation with the idea.  Then, it was about research | analyze | act.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Entertainment is Big Bucks: Music and Writing

Forbes Electronic Cash Kings editors Zack O'Malley Greenburg and Ryan Mac run through Electronic Dance Music's top five earners.
At $66 million DJ Calvin Harris brought in more than Jay-Z, Diddy, Toby Keith and Taylor Swift individually.

Forbes senior editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg takes us through the five highest-paid country acts in the world.
You can call her "country" or you can call her "rock," but either way Taylor Swift is golden at $64 million.

The world's richest writers made a combined $342 million dollars between June 2013 and June 2014. Meet the six top-earning authors who prove penmanship can be profitable.
Finally these authors cinch the fact that entertainment of all sorts is truly big business. 

That spells good news for me, not just an aspiring writer but also an aspiring filmmaker.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Entertainment is Big Bucks: TV and Modeling

The names on our list haven’t changed much from year to year — until now. The industry is evolving due to the rise of online streaming, DVR playback, VOD and changes in the way viewers consume shows. All of this has brought newcomers, surprising comebacks and sudden drop-offs to our list, which consists solely of male actors.
Actor Jim Parsons is proof that nerds not only rule, but also rake in the cash with $12 million.

The top 10 women on our list this year earned a total of $140M between June 2013 to June 2014 – a far stretch from the combined $214M male TV actors earned this year. But no one can beat the most powerful woman in television right now: Sofia Vergara.
When an athlete performs at a superb level, we say he's beast mode. At $37 million actress Sofia Vergara is beast mode.

The top 10 women on FORBES’ list of highest-paid models made a combined $105 million dollars between June 2013 and June 2014, proving that flawless genes and business sense are a winning combination.
Model Gisele Bundchen is far and away beast mode in raking in $47 million.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cautions on Dark Triad Qualities for Leaders

This is really a tricky issue to navigate and explain, that is, of leaders adopting so-called dark triad qualities.  But Inc. columnist Minda Zetlin does it with grace, care and encouragement.  Let's step back, and discuss this a bit more, though.

Terms like narcissist, manipulator, and psychopath come from clinical psychology, and they carry definitions that speak to disorder, dysfunction and psychopathology.  These terms have seeped into everyday culture and conversation, and they mean a host of things for people and they resonate with different sorts of images, emotions and figures.  In other words, semantics matter. 

That said, I think it's better to focus on the qualities that Zetlin teases, and that I add to, and essentially dispense with the terms themselves:
  • Narcissist | self-absorbed, impassioned and confident
  • Manipulator |  observant, calculating and strategic
  • Psychopath | courageous, steely and detached
To the extent that you want and can to adopt these qualities into your leadership efforts, then go for it.  The caveat, of course, is to use for adaptive, not inappropriate, purpose. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

LeBron James Returning, Cleveland Rising

In the sports world, this has been a remarkable summer for Cleveland.  Its prodigal son, superstar basketball player LeBron James, came back home, and signed a deal with the Cavaliers, four trips to the NBA Finals in tow and two championship rings on his fingers.

Plus, the Browns drafted the much heralded, arguably overhyped Johnny Manziel in the first round.  The verdict is still out on the football trajectory of the rookie, who has yet to play his first NFL game.  But the young man they call Johnny Football has added quite a lot of media and fan attention for the oft-loser of a team. 

Recently a colleague of mine, who's a director with the Case Western University school of management, whose hometown is also Cleveland, mentioned that the Republican Convention for 2016 will be held there.

So no wonder real estate valuation in Cleveland is on the rise.  I was happy to hear that city officials have done a lot to combat crime, pollution and corruption, the plagues of modern day cities.  All told, they've certainly grabbed my attention.  I'd love to invest in that city, but at the very least visit Case Western and grab a ball game or two.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Staggering Figures for Transformers Series

It goes without saying that box office dollars differ from one market another.  Companies, including movie houses, have options at their disposal:  They may employ different business models for different global markets, or they may stick to the same fundamental one but with alternative strategies and adjusted finances.

Reporter Ben Fritz boils it down clearly:  For every $10 a movie makes in the US, the studio gets $5 of it, whereas it's $2.50 for the same $10 in China.  But penetrating such a major market as China may pay dividends for future movie offerings and business deals.  So we mustn't scoff outright at the wide discrepancy between US and China. 

The following gross figures for the highly popular Transformers film series are staggering:

Sure, there are intricate financials and complicated business and market factors that go into topline and bottomline, but the gross margins for Transformers are figures that many movie houses would die for:  a whopping 387% in returns. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Jessica Alba Scores with The Honest Co.

The WSJ’s Lee Hawkins discusses the strong likelihood that Jessica Alba’s non-toxic products company, Honest Company, will do an initial public offering after an announcement that the company received a $70 million round of financing from venture capital investors.
The Honest Co. had $12 million in revenues in 2012, its launch year, then climbed fivefold to $60 million last year.  It's expected to hit $100 million by end of this year.  Wow.  Moreover, with the latest $70 million, Jessica Alba's company now has grabbed $152 million in financing from several participants.  Another wow.

Here's the story behind The Honest Co.:
Once upon a time...

A dad named Christopher and a mom named Jessica found themselves utterly frustrated trying to find the perfect products for their babies and homes.

We both wanted an ideal: not only effective, but unquestionably safe, eco-friendly, beautiful, convenient, and affordable – everyone should have it. We believed every baby deserved the best we can create for them. We are dreamers.

But, more importantly, we are doers.

You know what they say, if you want it done right, you gotta do it yourself.
Dreamers and doers, eh.  That's the ticket.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jacqueline Whitmore on Coveted Listening Skill

Jacqueline Whitmore, Founder of Etiquette Expert, is right that you don't have to be an extrovert to succeed.  Indeed there is a host of personalities that make up leadership and success, including introverts.  But as Lauren Covello suggests in her lead-up, regardless of personality we do have to convey confidence.  Where we fall on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, such as the extroversion-introversion dimension, doesn't mean we must behave or interact in a lockstep, bound manner.  So while someone outgoing can work a room full of people easily and gracefully, the more reserved person can do the same with a bit of skill development and practice.  Introverts are more inclined to listen, as Whitmore points out, and that's such a crucial thing in a corporate or social milieu where people simply have difficulty listening to each other.  But if this skill is lacking in any other personality, they too can learn it and adopt it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Arthur Joseph: Both Message and Messenger Matter

Arthur Joseph, Founder of Vocal Awareness, offers sound advice about how leaders ought to carry themselves.  It isn't just what we say, but also how we say it.  It isn't just the message, but the messenger as well.  Communication really is the whole constellation that goes into getting our message across and connecting with others.  Our physical self matters, for example, speaking with good breaths and good pace.  Also, what Joseph suggests about sitting up with a string above your head is this: In T'ai Chi we hold postures and do movements, while imagining there is a string attached to the very top of our head.  That string is pulled taut, but gently, from the ceiling (or sky), and the result is a more upright, more open demeanor for leaders.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Boston Beer Founder Jim Koch on Leadership

Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Company, gives his best leadership advice after three decades at the helm of the brewhouse that makes Sam Adams beer.
The leadership lessons Koch learned are organic.  That is, they are outcrops from what he has experienced in running a company and working with people:
  • The leader is never tired, and never has a bad day.  The leader has to have more energy and spirit than everybody else, because you cannot expect more of your people than you expect of yourself.  
  • Culture and values can substitute for resources, like good equipment, food or supplies.
  • People don't care what you tell them, instead they care about what you do.  You're always visible.
Indeed being a leader can be a tall order.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dinner Lab CEO Brian Bordainick on People First

This is sound advice from Brian Bordainick.  It was management guru James Collins who found out many years ago that great leaders put people first, before mission, vision and strategy.  Such leaders make sure they have the right people on the bus, and in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus.  Hiring slow, firing quickly certainly resonates well with Collins' findings.  What helps to ensure company success over decades of time is a leader who cares deeply about people but are tough as nails around results.  If you fall short or encounter problems, a CEO like Bordainick will take the time find out what happened and work with you to succeed.  But an issue that recurs may simply mean that you don't belong in that company.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Non-Rational Approach for Entrepreneur Partners

Caroline Ghosn and Amanda Pouchot
Ghosn and Pouchot met with Minshew and spent 85 minutes describing why they thought she should no longer be CEO. 
They claimed that [Kate] Minshew was emotionally volatile, prone to outbursts, and not viewed positively by people outside PYP. As an example they cited an email to Pouchot in which Minshew claimed how disappointed she was that Pouchot had not completed a project on time. 
Minshew was stunned. As she said, “I was blindsided; it came as a total shock. Whatever they suddenly decided about my competence, it was contradicted by the deals I had put together, the team I had built and the investors and supporters I had lined up.”
Reference: A Cautionary Tale: Friendship, Business Ethics, and Bad Breakups (Acts III and IV), by Peter Cohan.

A Non-Rational View and Approach

Sometimes things simply have to shake themselves out, and people in the midst of it all must have at it, and go at it, in whatever they see fit.  So while engaging an attorney makes sense, as Cohan suggested, he or she may not make one stitch of difference as far as making a business venture work.  People will be people, and if fate deems their future together as one of peaches and cream, then so be it.  Otherwise, if they are not meant to be, or if their business venture isn't meant to be, then none of it will be.  Coaches, advisers or mentors may have it in their minds that they can actually effect a particular outcome for their clientele, such as these four bright, dynamic ladies whom Cohan talks about.  But as it turns out, they may have little impact on what is to come.  In essence, it may be about a higher purpose or a matter of God's will, which none of them can readily discern or grasp.

It may take a lot of time and effort for entrepreneurs to get to this deep of an insight as Hamlet did

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Rational Approach for Entrepreneur Partners

Kate Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos
Things don’t always go smoothly when four work colleagues decide to start a company. That’s why those colleagues should hire a lawyer to hammer out an agreement that will describe clear steps for resolving conflicts that might arise. That’s no fun at all — except when you compare it to the alternative.

Simply put, the participants were fighting with the ferocity of bottled scorpions over the spoils of their year-old startup despite the complete absence of any spoils — except for the possibility of avoiding lawsuits financed by the offspring of one of the world’s leading automobile executives.
Reference: A Cautionary Tale: Friendship, Business Ethics, and Bad Breakups (Acts I and II), by Peter Cohan.

A Rational View and Approach

There are fundamental steps to take first, well before engaging a lawyer to hammer out an agreement among would-be entrepreneurs.  It's a matter of talking through what it means for you and your partners to launch a business, that is, personally.  It's putting your thoughts and aims, excitement and fears, if any, on the table.  It's inquiring openly about what you expect from each other and responding honestly and constructively to these expectations.  None of this psychology stuff may be compelling to entrepreneurs hell-bent on a business idea, but these are critical for their ultimate success.  You may need an experienced coach, adviser or mentor to facilitate this process.  But once sufficiently undertaken, you can bring in a lawyer to formalize via obtuse legalese language a deeper, more elemental agreement that you and your partners have forged.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Online Conversations and In-Person "Tweetups"

Two key points from this Short Takes on Melanie Spring: First, social media is not just about posting, but actually more about conversation: for example, responding, commenting, and asking.  Second, I gather that her company's "DC Tweetups" were meaningful and productive.  There must be a balance between online and in-person.  Some people may value or prefer one over the other, but I see them both as integral to a business.  What balance to forge depends on you and your company.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Holacracy of No Manager Titles at Zappos

I know of companies where entry-level and mid-level leaders focus their career a lot on title and salary.  These are the things that matter most.  In one example, the senior manager bemoaned the unwillingness of his top leadership team to make lateral career moves, even for development purposes.  The underlings want to move upward in prestige and remuneration.  

Which brings us to Zappos.  The elimination of titles doesn't mean managers have disappeared, but rather, as I understand John Bunch in this Entrepreneur interview, it means managers are more open and accessible as well as more responsible and accountable.  In brief, what they do and how they do it have far more import than what they are called and what position they hold.  This is one essence of holacracy, about which Steve Denning elaborates in Making Sense Of Zappos And Holacracy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meaningful Networking for Introverts and Extroverts

Jacqueline Whitmore is right in that being prepared, actually for both introverts and extroverts alike, is key to a successful, meaningful networking event.  Craft a plan that's specific enough to remind you of your purpose and give you direction about fulfilling it, but not so specific as to make your efforts rigid or stilted.  I scored just on the extroverted side on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which means I have a good amount of introversion in my personality.  So I detest the practice of working everyone in the room just to shake hands and exchange cards, but prefer instead having more-than-passing conversations with a few people.  This way, when we do contact each other afterwards, we have already had the beginnings of a relationship that we can build on.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Commentary on GE Leadership Capabilities

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  1. Make sure you, as the leader, and your team grasp what the company goals are and ensure that the goals you set follow from these.  
  2. Remember that whatever leadership approach you adopt, or adapt, vis-a-vis team culture and values must inviolably account for your own personality and values.
  3. Take stock of your leadership skills always in reference to company and team goals, never in a generic or abstract vein.
  4. Focus on, and develop, the skills you lack, only if they are vital for you and your team to achieve these goals.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Tough Call, an Inevitable Choice

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People, and others around them, may or may not have a sense for how close they are to success, at any given point in their effort.  But because no one has a true bead on the future, they are as comparatively prone to make an error: in giving up, when in fact success is close, as Thomas Edison suggests; or in keeping at it, when in fact success is far away and perhaps no longer worth pursuing.  It can be a tough judgment call in any given moment, but it is inevitably a choice that people have to make.  The aim is to get it right, of course: keep at it, when success is close; or give up, when a particular success ought to be given up.  I see both as viable choices.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Our Mind, Our World

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The title is what many now call headline pornWould You Rather Be Alone With Your Thoughts Or Get Shocked?  It's a ploy to capture readers to otherwise sound but conventional content.  That said, there is a curious point in it:  While it's no surprise at all that people, young and old, have difficulty sitting quietly with their thoughts, maybe we have fashioned our surroundings and gadgetry merely to reflect the outward, engaged nature of our mind.  Writer David DiSalvo suggests we do a little experiment to see how long we can sit still and quietly, until it becomes uncomfortable.  I suggest, too, that we reflect on how true that notion is of our world as a derivative of our mind.  What insights do we gain about ourselves and that world, and, given the nature of our mind, how well do the things we do work out for us?  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

People for Smarter Cities: Clever IBM Campaign

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IBM is committed to creating solutions that help cities all over the world get smarter, in order to make life in those cities better. That’s why IBM and Ogilvy are working together to spark positive change with the “People for Smarter Cities” project, and unite city leaders and forward-thinking citizens. To spread the word, Ogilvy created outdoor advertising with a purpose: a bench, a shelter and a ramp that are not only designed to be beautiful, but to be useful to city dwellers as well.
This is a variation on the clever IBM theme of Let's Build a Smarter Planet.  For me, innovation is not just wild, breakthrough ideas that we've seen from the likes of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, but also the simplest of things that are positively inside the box.  This ad campaign does the trick beautifully:  It's colorful, simple and practical.  Plus it's lovely irony that a high technology company like IBM creates a low technology solution for the most mundane of needs among city dwellers.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A+E Abbe Raven Breaks Ground with FYI

A+E Networks is trying to take the energy of sites like Pinterest and Yelp, and translate it to TV.
What A+E Chairwoman Abbe Raven talks about may be more ground breaking than Forbes interviewer Dorothy Pomerantz realized.  The last time I looked at numbers, TV remained boss as far as global media reach was concerned.  Many of us may talk about social media and high technology as if these were the only conduits people had for information, entertainment and connection.  But for Raven & Co. to tap into all that hullabaloo, and bring it into tried-and-true mainstream media, has to be phenomenal.  Of course we still have to see how it all works out, but A+E has good track record of launching new brands.  She points out that FYI Network may be for your information, it may be for your inspiration, it may be for your innovation.  The possibilities are, in her exuberance, for your infinite as well.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Business Lessons Jessica Simpson Learned

Jessica Simpson must define what it means to be a celebrity: someone who's in the media, and the public eye in general, a lot and subjects herself to the best and the worst that that public hurls at her.  For instance, there are only a few comments on this Forbes YouTube video, but they're virtually all negative and a couple are offensive.  But she is sitting on a fashion line that is doing very well, and she's grown thick skin apparently, finding humor in the fact that people who criticize her still buy her shoes.  I don't know how much of her success is due to her business acumen or that of her backers.  Still she managed to position herself well in an industry that is tough even for lifers in that industry.  No one can really knock that.  No, she is not a billionaire, at least not yet (rf. Jessica Simpson Net Worth and Meet 20 People Who Became Billionaires This Year [2010, scroll to the end of the article]).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Billionaire Lessons from Michael Jordan

It is quite a feat for an athlete, more than 10 years retired now, to keep his brand alive to the tune of millions of dollars and to crack the surface, according to Forbes estimations, of $1 billion in net worth.  Michael Jordan's Hornets played better this past season, but they were bottom dwellers for a few years.  Despite that, the team is worth $600 - $675 million, and Jordan has inched his ownership stake up to nearly 90% at this point.  

As a point of reference, the Clippers were perennial losers for years and years, but their value was estimated to be close to $1 billion.  This increase apparently came at the heels of the Sterling ownership, which didn't invest much into carving out a winning ball club, until relatively recently.  The Cowboys, playing mostly at a mediocre level, are the most valuable franchise in the NFL.  So, evidently, the relationship between sports performance and business performance isn't so simple or linear.  I want to research this.  

Estatua a Michael Jordan frente al United Center
4 Lessons From Michael Jordan On How To Become A Billionaire

In any event, Forbes staffer Mike Ozanian parcels out the secret sauce to Jordan's billionaire climb, in an article I reference in the above caption:
  1. Get a percentage
  2. Buy distressed businesses in great industries (rf. Warren Buffet)
  3. Use your brand as leverage to strike a favorable deal
  4. Use social media to keep your brand relevant (rf. LeBron James)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Erik Wahl on Thinking Differently à la Einstein

Sometimes it pays to take a risk, to take ownership, to take action on an idea.  One of the first steps on becoming an entrepreneur is to not only dream big, but then to be engaged and take action.  
Erik Wahl is someone I hadn't heard of, until now of course.  I love this dude.  I love how he painted that portrait of Albert Einstein, and quoted him before some people, maybe many of them, realized it was Herr Professor himself.
F.E.A.R. is false evidence appearing real.   
Creativity is daring to be different.  But as Wahl suggests à la Einstein, creativity doesn't always mean acting differently but maybe just thinking differently.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Identifying High Performing Candidates

A clear, succinct and useful video on how to pinpoint candidates who are likely to be high performers on the job.  Here are some additions and emphases: 
  • Using valid, reliable psychometric tests can help in that process; resumes are helpful only to an extent, and interviews ought to be structured and behavior-focused.  
  • Intelligence gets the short shrift in some circles, but it's de rigueur and it's the basis for learning, performing and growing.  
  • Work ethic is akin to Stephen Covey's be proactive, that is, taking initiative to get things done and seeking to contribute beyond listed duties are prized attributes indeed.
  • Along with hypothetical scenarios, asking candidates for specific examples of how they dealt with a moral dilemma or ethical faux pas will help illuminate their integrity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Embattled Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer
The word this morning is that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer overslept and missed the bulk of a key advertising meeting in Cannes. 
Some of the chatter on social media suggests that if this is true, she should get a pass. Um, not necessarily. In Yahoo's position, with its flat revenue and its need to sell a new digital magazine strategy, this would be the equivalent of oversleeping for a key job interview. After the Henrique de Castro debacle, Mayer needs to show she's personally plugged into the needs of the ad community. It doesn't help that she has a storied history of making people wait. Now, there's the important question of whether a male CEO would get the same scrutiny. Frankly, I think he would. De Castro caught similar heat when he seemed unprepared for ad industry gatherings. And Steve Jobs, though he could be mercurial, was a master schmoozer when he needed to convince a partner to do what he wanted.
Reference: Tech Buzz @ CNBC pre-Squawk Alley: Mayer, Rascoff & Micron

CNBC Technology Editor John Fortt posted an article on LinkedIn, and I weighed in:

Maybe Mayer was not feeling well. Nevertheless, I would have simply but sincerely apologized for being late, left it at that, and kept focused on the people and business at hand. Obviously her absence was an issue, but her presence was all that mattered, upon arrival. I very much agree with Joe Shanahan about not crucifying Mayer: She's only human, and she's not the only top executive who's ever been late for a meeting.

Shanahan remarked:
Let's not crucify Marissa for oversleeping- there was an article on here not 4 months ago stating how she was sleeping 4 hours a night. She needs to delegate a few more big tasks to who she deems fit. Humans were meant to sleep 8 hours a night, be well-hydrated, and operate on high carb diets. I feel quite badly for her- and I wish more people would understand this is the key to a productive, clear mind. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sleep as Much as You Actually Need

For the longest time, I have had the pattern of sleeping only five hours a night.  It's such a pattern that when I vary my sleep times, from 11 PM, say, to 1 AM or to 9 PM, I am awake five hours later.  This is such a pattern that I can use my sleep as a gauge for how I'm doing: If I sleep more than that, then I must be exhausted and need the additional hours.  If I sleep less than that, then something is stressful or troublesome for me, and it is needs attention and resolution.  As much as I can, I also give myself the freedom to nap.  I don't drink coffee, and I minimize caffeinated drinks.  So when I'm tired or sleepy, I find a way to take a nap.  With my naps, then, I sleep 6 - 7 hours in a 24-hour day.  Which is more typical of others, apparently. I am alert and mindful, I have good concentration, and I have the energy to work a long day.

All that said, the notion of a pill that helps us sleep less is disturbing.  There are incidents or events that require us to sleep less or to interrupt our sleep.  As long as that isn't a pattern, then it's manageable.  But I am of the belief that we must sleep however much our bodies need.  Subjecting our bodies to unnatural situations for a length of time is a recipe for trouble.  Case in point: Arianna Huffington, who suggests to a group of women that they ought to sleep their way to the top.

Friday, June 13, 2014

FIFA World Cup Expects Record Draw

The FIFA World Cup is only a week away [it started yesterday], and is sure to be filled with action packed soccer moments, but will it draw in the record crowds other sports events tend to see? Goviva president Robert Tuchman joins the News Hub.
The World Cup is held every four years.  In 2006 it was in Germany, and I was in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, leading a consulting team of multinational staff: English, Swedish, German, Chinese and me Asian-American.  In South Africa for 2010, the World Cup saw me in Dubai, as a resident, having the pleasure of inviting friends over at the posh Capital Club to enjoy two of the games, including the Final one.  Now, it is in Brazil, and I plan to tune in again.

I am not a soccer fan, football as it's called outside the US, but my mates in Dhahran helped me understand the strategy behind the sport.  That was the key for me.  If I could discern what the players were doing on the pitch, not so much with their actual play, but more the intent, the plan, and the purpose, then the sport was quite enjoyable for me.

Robert Tuchman is sure that I will only be one among millions who will tune in and enjoy it.  He expects a record turnout.  Let's see.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Championship Leadership of Pat Riley

From the Stanley Cup Final, to the NBA Final, we come to Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat.  In the 1990s heyday of the Chicago Bulls, he fought fiercely, as coach of the New York Knicks, to knock off his nemesis Phil Jackson.  He never succeeded.  The Bulls won three championships in a row, twice in fact, in that breathtaking decade.  I knew that Riley came up with the phrase Three-Peat, as his Lakers aimed to win three in a row in the 1980s.  They didn't, but he had trademarked the phrase, which meant he could cash in with royalties from any formal use of it.  He couldn't beat the Bulls, but drew cash from theirs and the NBA's winnings.  Ironically, Jackson won another Three-Peat with the Lakers once, and was poised for a second.

As a player, and as a leader in two different capacities - coach and executive - Riley has won championships.  At this very time, his Heat is gunning for a Three-Peat, caught in the midst of a rematch Final with the San Antonio Spurs.  The Heat are so good that they seem like they can just switch it on and win ballgames.  It's hard to see the Spurs stopping them from their destiny with a Three-Peat.  But let's see.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

LA Kings: Lose a Battle, Win the War

I am a Chicago Blackhawks fan, and it was disappointing to watch them lose a tightly-fought series with the Los Angeles Kings.  It went seven games, and needed overtime to decide the winner.  So just one goal separated them, just one goal between another Stanley Cup Final and summer rounds of golf.  Not to worry, though, I love hockey, and was glad to watch the SCF.  

The Kings have proven themselves to be an inspired, resilient team throughout the playoffs, winning three Game 7s on the road.  In the SCF Game 1, the New York Rangers found that out first hand, in rather rude fashion, as they staked out a fast 2-0 lead in the first period, including a short-handed goal.  The Kings methodically turned the tide, mainly by superb checking in all three zones and amazing opportunistic play.  They will not score a goal every single time, of course, and they will give up a lot of scoring chances themselves.  But when push comes to shove, they clearly have the toughness to lose a battle, but ultimately the resolve to win the war.       

The SCF is far from over, but the Kings are looking mighty good so far.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Goldie Hawn on How Meditation Calms

I practice T'ai Chi, I meditate, and I exercise everyday.  I have an inner drive and strong confidence, that borderline on stubbornness and impatience.  So I am by no means the epitome of calm, centeredness, or mindfulness.  But Goldie Hawn is right, in that meditation can quiet fidgety children and adults alike.  That meditative mind is the platform, then, for reflecting openly on, and assessing effectively, what is going on and doing something, if anything, about it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

First Clarify your Purpose

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Thousands of people today don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to discover or pursue in life. And others believe in a life purpose but won’t take the risk to identify or honor it. Those with positive influence feel otherwise. They have found that there is a purpose to their life, and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “mess into a message,” or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others. People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and lit up from the inside – unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path. It informs them of what they wish to attend to in life, and what they need to walk away from because it doesn’t support their higher purpose.
Reference: 9 Core Behaviors Of People Who Positively Impact The World.

I work at avoiding hyperboles like "unable to be deterred" or "inexhaustible drive," that writer Kathy Caprino resorts to.  Nevertheless, having a sense of purpose is crucial to making a difference.  It is at the heart of Theory of Algorithms and The Core Algorithm, the conceptual framework and practical applications model, respectively, that speak to how I aim to have worldwide impact.

While there may be common behaviors among them, I'm sure that their actual profiles are as unique as they are.  I see an article like this less as an actual representation of behavior and more as an aspirational model for would-be altruists, philanthropists and humanitarians.

  1. For those who feel compelled to make difference, they  must first clarify what their life purpose actually is.
  2. Then, it's about taking stock of what they actually need to do to fulfill such a purpose.
  3. Finally, they must actually work at it.

And I've just described the 3 steps of The Core Algorithm.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Forbes Most Powerful Women on Earth

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tops Forbes Most Powerful Women on Earth.

She was elected in 2005, and has been on this list 10 out of 11 times, parked at number one, it seems, 9 out of those 10 times.  To think the US Government had her on its phone-tapping roster.  Even as public sentiment toward the European Union is clearly undergoing a marked shift, Merkel seems particularly in influential.

Reference: The World's Most Powerful Women 2014.

Do these women "firsts" mean that their proverbial glass ceiling has been shattered? I hope so.

But it'll take a long while, yet, I daresay, to clean up the shards on the floor and otherwise remove any remnants of that glass ceiling.

"Women are as good as men, because they're no different, and they're as strong, as tough, as smart as men."

I love how these marketing and editorial consultants recommend one of their own, the Most Powerful Pincher, Oreo the dog, and Eve's Mom to be on the cover.  Altogether a brilliant move by Steve Forbes to seek their consultation.    

Forbes' Most Powerful Women are behind many of the brands we have, or encounter, in our daily lives. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Leadership Breakthrough (3) Anne Sweeney

Anne Sweeney, President of Disney-ABC Television Group, may not be able to explain it entirely.  But while her team apparently used the best of their analytic and planning skills, she drew on a moment of insight, maybe from her gut, that they all had to go faster.  Her approach, as she describes it, was understated but pivotal:  She put it on the table for her team to mull over and come back to.  She didn't impose it, she didn't demand it, and she didn't cheer-lead around it.  The team came back, and must have drawn up the road map for getting it done on an accelerated time frame, and ended up having an exciting year in the process.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Leadership Breakthrough (2) Anne-Marie Slaughter

What Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of the New America Foundation, relates is a perfect counter-argument to our social media preoccupation with Likes, pluses, and endorsements.  Sometimes to do the right thing means subjecting oneself to criticism, opposition or dismissal.  But one must hold steadfast and go forward, as she did.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Leadership Breakthrough (1) Annie Young-Scrivner

Annie Young-Scrivner, President of Starbucks Canada and also Executive Vice President at the company, points to a number of key things about leadership teams, which are easier said than done.  For one, it isn't just a matter of her team agreeing with what they have to do, but they also have to buy into it heart and soul.  Moreover, she appreciates the fact that at the same time they must different from her, leverage their skill sets and personality styles, and work collaboratively and forthrightly toward a tough target (e.g., drastically altering a growth trajectory).

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

David Karp on Essence of Tumblr Advertising

Tumblr Founder and CEO David Karp discusses his company's business model and mobile strategy. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "Market Makers."
I am skeptical about the Yahoo! acquisition of Tumblr, and its efforts to monetize its platform.  But while he was cagey a bit, David Karp relates the essence of its business model vis-a-vis advertising: more like TV and print.  Not hyper-targeting, not Big Data and analytics driven.  But via brands that aim to impact us more evocatively, more sustainably.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Self Reflect Well Before You Start Your Week

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The title is catchy and pertinent enough for many of us - 15 Things Successful People Do on Monday Mornings.  So we run through it, in however way we run through articles like this.  It's meant to be run through, that is, quickly, as the points are in bold and their discussion a model of brevity.  

But its flaw is apparent from the get-go.  If your pattern, or inclination, is to get up at a certain time, and to work out at a certain time, and neither is early in the morning, then you are not likely to wake up earlier for exercise.  

The flaw is that an article like this neglects to ask how your Monday mornings go to begin with; what if any problems or aims you weigh at the beginning of the week; and what works best for your purpose, personality or circumstance.  Moreover, in the Middle East, the work week begins on Sunday, so it misses possible cultural and regional factors.

Beginning with these questions via a self-reflection, for instance, perhaps over the weekend, helps to ensure that you can have the best possible start to your week and in the long run carve out the best possible success vis-a-vis your purpose.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Need for Speed, the Need for Context

Retail is built on customer service, but even top retailers sometimes have to pick their battles. Here's how these top 10 retailers perform in answering phones, resolving email inquiries, delivering packages and processing refunds.
I reminded others, when I posted this, that customers may value speed above all, but brand, convenience and cost are no doubt part of the purchasing choices.

I detest simplistic points of view on matters that defy simplicity.  I don't begrudge creators or editors for producing simplistic content, because that may be all that we as viewers or consumers can handle intellectually.

That said, this trailer for the new flick `Need for Speed dominated ESPN advertising for several weeks, it seemed.  So perhaps Forbes had an ulterior motive of letting a piece of content, that is, the above video, resonate with a popular film and thereby maximize its own viewership.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Selfies for Health, Security and Fashion

What is the future of the selfie? We take a look at medical and business innovators that are using "selfie technology" to better our health, security, and even fashion sense.
If you thought selfies were just for fun, time to rethink that thought!

Selfies have been around a while now, especially with the advent of smartphones with features to take self-portraits easily and social media sites to post them on just as easily.  But it was Ellen DeGeneres at the recent Academy Awards ceremony who revitalized an old modern-day favorite among young people.  But clearly there is more utility to selfies than just social fun.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Kat Cole: From Hooters Girl to Cinnabon President

How Kat Cole Made It

When I posted this article on Google+ I prefaced it with:  The real story here is Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon, not those cinnabons per se; and it's an awesome one. 
In business circles, Cole’s origin story is becoming as well known as her rolls: She got her start as a teen waitress at a Florida Hooters, taking on increased responsibility until she was managing the location. At 19, the chain tapped her to open a restaurant in Australia — until then she had never left the country — and her days of working to pay for her engineering degree at North Florida were soon over. She was now working to work.
Cole was, and no doubt still is, a scrapper, even as a young woman, working at a joint - Hooters - that openly flaunted sexy women in both name and attire.  Her manager must've seen not just her go-getter attitude, but also her leadership potential.

I remember having read about her a year or two ago, and annotating the article in one of my journals.  She is intelligent and beautiful rolled up into one not-so-common combination.  Here are more about her:  How Kat Cole Went from Hooters Girl to President of Cinnabon by Age 32 and From Hooters To Hot Buns: How Kat Cole Turned Cinnabon Into A $1 Billion Brand.