Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Predictive Streams

It was only a matter of time before predictive search became the topic of the day.  Yesterday the New York Times ran an article on what Google Now is doing and how getting technology to think one step ahead of us is going to be the next big thing.  If technology is about solving a problem, then I think they are right. I for one am inundated with so many inputs from multiple sources that I can't keep up with the things I want to do that really make a difference.  When we get to the point that we want to shut it all off to find time to think, then we should know that we are in need of better ways to manage all of the data and information that is flowing towards us.  If predictive search works and through anticipation and pattern recognition, technology can create prediction streams to lessen the burdens and relieve the hiccups that might occur, then I think we will forgo concerns of privacy and tech companies knowing too much about us. I stand ready for whatever this next wave will be in this area and we'd be smart to all watch the trends here.  It might seem silly to us now, but give it a few years and our consumers and customers will be expecting us to comply and fit into their prediction streams, not ours.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Production Values

While sports analogies can be overused and leaned on too easily, we can also learn sometimes from the sports world and bring that learning into our businesses.  What sports does better than most is measure the production value of players and teams very predicatively towards an ultimate outcome, a well-defined, win or lose.  Right now baseball is buzzing about the "long-term deals". These are the 10-year contracts at the time when a player's production values can fall because of age.  Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols are exhibits one and two right now.  As we age in the business world, we might want to say a thank you that there are not such tangible and easy to see measurements as baseball.  We might be very surprised at how we decline with age. But we should measure ourselves and be sure that we are still keeping up, fitting in and staying current. If we are not measuring and watching carefully, we need to know that others are and will make their own decisions for us, without us.  Consider what playwright and Nobel Laureate George Bernard Shaw had to say about the subject:

“The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measure anew each time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect them to fit me.”
(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Monday, July 29, 2013

One Thing

I watch the smartphone category with much interest and intrigue. What I find most fascinating is that the market remains bifurcated along the lines of work and personal interactions and no one has figured out how to blend those two so that the working person actually isn't caught in between.  RIM (makers of the Blackberry) owned the working market. They had, and have, the support of the security people inside of corporations and government.  The President of the U.S. carries a Blackberry, so it's proven that they have the security advantage.  Unfortunately, they don't have an application economy and marketplace, so that means that a business person can't access those fun apps that others can, and really, just because we are at work doesn't mean that we can't and don't need a little fun at the same time.  They have tried to blend the two together by allowing us to have two firewalls but that still isn't enough to make them unique above all others. The one thing that Blackberry has going for it, that all other other smartphones have abandoned is, the raised tile qwerty keyboard.  Business is about speed and accuracy.  As we all know who are sitting in front of a keyboard right now, a raised tile keyboard is the only way to ensure both.  Yet, I never see RIM featuring this, what is now their unique feature. In each of out businesses we have one thing that the other doesn't.  Do we know what it is?  Are we bold and courageous enough to bring it forward and market, sell and stand behind it? That one thing may be the one thing that takes you to number one!

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Three Boxes

About once every 18 months or so, I would have to ask my assistant to come in on a Saturday with me and help me clean out my office. I was a pack rat. I just felt like I needed to hang on to “stuff”, just in case I needed it for the future. Most of it, I never needed ever again.

When Sarbanes-Oxley came along and record retention went from ensuring that the right records were retained, to making sure everything was gone that wasn’t absolutely necessary, I had to get even more aggressive about keeping my files clean. I took a course on how to best clean out your office. You start with three labeled boxes in the middle of your floor. The first one is labeled; "trash/shred". The second one is labeled; "file somewhere else other than in my office". The third one is labeled; "refile in my office". Every file and drawer in the office is emptied and is to be put in one of the three boxes (or piles) before anything goes back in a drawer or a file. If you are disciplined, what happens is that only the essential stays and all the rest gets trashed or moved out to be determined over time if it is needed (like clothes in our closets, if we haven’t worn them in a year…they can go) or not.

With the three boxes, a feeling of fresh and new can come into your office.

What better way to mark the middle of the year?

(For a further faith-based application of this post you can visit:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Immigration to the Future

There is lots of talk about U.S. immigration and whether or not we will figure this thing out and rewrite the laws to make sense for where America is today.  I didn't grow up with first generation immigrants, but Patti did and she saw firsthand what it was like to have the courage and drive to immigrate from one country to another, to make a better life for oneself and  family.  Living in Texas in the 90's and California today, we have met many immigrants and they are no less ambitious, hardworking and courageous than those who came through Ellis Island. 

Which brings me to a point to consider.

We are all immigrants when it comes to moving from the past to the future.  We come from a place of yesterday (as the Facebook posts like to remind us that we in my generation grew up without cell phones, Twitter, without flat screens, ipods, etc.) and walk into the future as unprepared and bare of belongings as the immigrant who goes to another country with nothing but the clothes on their back. And yes, this takes no less courage to not get stuck where we are, but instead to move forward into the future with optimism, hope and an open mind. 

The same is true with our businesses and our careers.  If we are not willing to immigrate to the future with all that comes with it, then we are, and will literally be, stuck in the past.

(for a further faith-based application of this post, you can visit: )

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bye Bye Anonymity, Part 2 - The Amplifiers!

I just finished Marina Gorbis' book; "The Nature of the Future".  It is a great read and lays out a very plausible path to the future and how our social structures, influenced by technology will make the future a very exciting place to be.  She brings forward the idea of "Socialstructing", which means that we need to consider that the transparency and openness of data and who we are by both passive and active deposits into the large data scheme collection of the internet, changes everything going forward.

Gorbis unpacks the power of access of information about others (friends, influencers, and aggregated unknowns) into buying transactions, reputation interactions, recommendation engines, advice, and even lending and investment practices. 

She says, "We are moving away from the dominance of the depersonalized world of institutional production and creating a new economy around social connections and social rewards."

To her, this is "socialstructing". She goes on to say that this shift leads us away from anonymous participants to active "amplified individuals" who will make the difference.

Do we know who the amplifiers are of our business?  They are armed with technology, their social network, and an audience of curious minds who with a nudge of momentum jump onto the bandwagon.

Now is the time to take heed and understand the buttons of our business amplifiers.

(For a further faith based exploration of this post you can visit:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bye Bye Anonymity, Part 1

It wasn't that long ago that we didn't have a clue who bought and used our products and services.  Think about it for a second; in walks a person to a convenience store.  She buys a single serve diet Pepsi and a bag of Lay's Baked potato chips.  And then she is gone. PepsiCo has no idea who she is and neither did the 7-11, where she bought both of them.  She had come and gone and both PepsiCo and 7-11 counted her as a positive sale.  All good, right?

Well, maybe not so good because while driving away from the store she opened the diet Pepsi only to find that it was flat and date expired.  She had already opened the chips and started to eat them, which were fine, but she was so upset with the Pepsi being flat that recognizing that Frito-Lay and Pepsi are the same company, she started finding problems with the chips to support her anger.  They were too salty, broken and the bag was not filled, or so she had made up in her mind.

A few minutes later when she gets to her house, she takes a picture of both the bottle and the bag (in an unflattering pose) and posts the pictures with some not so kind of words about both of them as well as 7-11 as the retailer.  This young woman happens to be a good and creative writer so her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts blow up and within the next 12 hours over a hundred thousand people are piling on with their complaints with the three companies. And to think, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, 7-11 never even knew her.

This is not a farfetched scenario. It happens every day, all day long.

If the first time we are going to get to know a customer is through a complaint, the shoe is already on the wrong foot.  Consider that we can get ahead of this type of introduction by finding ways to engage and lose the anonymity be inviting our customers into a relationship earlier and then keeping it alive with positive dialogue.

 More tomorrow on this...

(For a further faith based exploration of this post you can visit: )

Friday, July 19, 2013


There are lots of reasons to delegate and many times we will use the argument of growing and developing others as an incentive to get someone to take things off of their plate and to give to others. It is a great reason and maybe the most important one, but there is even a more baseline reason. This is; if we try to do it all ourselves we are setting ourselves up for burnout, overload and ultimately failure.

No one can take it all on their own shoulders and succeed. The underlying reason we don't delegate is our own insecurities around the work not getting done and reflecting poorly on us or the fear that if we have others do the work then we won't be valued as much. In this day and age that translates into a fear for job security. This is a real fear, but if we are prioritizing correctly then we can offload the little stuff, or the less strategic and then get back on track in getting the bigger work and projects completed.

Believe me, if we show that we can multiply ourselves we will have more work than we know what to do with.

(For an expanded faith based application of this post, you can visit:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Story Layering

It was once unheard of that someone could/would be able to take a piece of fiction and be able to manipulate the story or add their own layers.  It would be considered somehow disrespectful to add on or have an idea that is different than what the creator intended.  And the, copyright laws would be the enforcer of this sacred ground. But, the world has changed. 

Not only has the internet opened up the possibilities, but even creators and artists realized that having other collaborators, including fans, get engaged had a positive multiplying effect. My best friend from college went to work for Disney in the early 90's.  He was given a Disney character bible that detailed what characters could do and not do and as you can imagine, it was strict.  No one messed with Mickey Mouse.  By the early 2000's Disney had licensed their characters to the makers of the Final Fantasy video game for a successful video game called Kingdom Hearts.  This week Disney promoted their Story Theater apps where kids can now manipulate the characters and story lines to create their own stories for others to experience.  The same is happening in the book industry as Amazon Singles now give a place for these types of layered stories to live.  This all points back to the desire and advantage of engaged consumers and fans.

I can also make the argument that Mark Twain understood this better than anyone when he created the character Tom Sawyer who knew that getting others to paint the fence for him was the best way to go.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit: )

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Personality Power

In April, a random book hit the bookshelves in the U.S. titled, "The Cuckoo's Calling".  Since its' publishing date and through this last week it had sold a whopping 500 copies. The author Robert Galbraith had received some good reviews but the sales were like most first novels, weak and uninspiring.  With only 500 copies or so sold, there wasn't much opportunity for social buzz to get it going.  So, like most other books, the author wouldn't recoup his advance and the book would be out of print before it got started and Mr. Galbraith would be able to call himself a published author and get on with his next novel, or back to his day job.  That is until this past weekend when the world found out that Robert Galbraith was actually someone named J.K. Rowling.

Since that discovery, "The Cuckoo's Calling" has run through it's print run, the publisher is scrambling to meet demand, and I predict in a few weeks time Robert Galbraith will be a New York Times best-selling author, if not a #1 spot holder.  Lest we think that there isn't power in personality? 

This is a great reminder that we need to use all we have when launching new products or services. We so want to idealistically think that the great idea we have will take off on its' own, but in truth to make it through the clutter, it does not hurt to have personality behind it to give it the power to get off the launch pad.  This is why considering partnerships, strategic alliances, or even letting others take the spotlight in the promotion or branding may be the better way to success.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Distilling it down to "Be Kind"

This past weekend Patti and I attended the Memorial Service of Bill Mahoney (William Patrick Mahoney).  Bill was the first sales and marketing leader for Bridgewater Capital.  He died earlier this year of pancreatic cancer at the age of 55.  Among his many accomplishments and achievements in life, what stood out for everyone at the event, was not "what" he had done in his professional and personal life, but "how" he went about conducting his life and business. After all was said about him and the love and accolades expressed, it all came down to two words that Bill lived by and was the memorial's focus; "Be Kind".  Kindness is a great word that we don't use enough of in business.  Sometimes we pass over those who are too kind, as in, "He's a kind person, but maybe not tough enough".  The antonyms of kind are: cutting, edged, stinging, harsh, rough, hurtful, unkindly, and unsympathetic.  There is nothing in these that are positive traits to successful people.  Kindness is a trait we can adopt and establish as a part of our corporate cultures, if we so choose.  Bill Mahoney was not short on kindness and beyond being remembered, he will be long admired, for keeping this front and center in his attitude and actions.

(For a further faith based application of this post, you can visit: )

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ephemeral Messaging

Communication that is here today and gone tomorrow seems to be the rage. 

Ephemeral messaging like SnapChat and now the newest entry are finding their way into the mainstream. For those not familiar, ephemeral messaging are texts or pictures that once sent and read/viewed disappear forever. At first glance we might think that those who use these apps have something to hide, but too many people are using these applications for that to be all there is to it. 

It might well be that ephemeral messaging is just the ticket for those who are more carefree than the rest of us. I'm on the opposite extreme having been taught and trained to always be able to point to a "paper trail".  Although, in these litigious days there is more emphasis on not retaining than retaining for retrieval. 

Ephemeral messaging skews young right now, but we should count on it aging with the rest of us.  We don't keep track of text messages and we are texting more today than ever.  What implications can we foresee from this?  Sharpen our memories?  Expect that there might be more, "He said, she said" going on?  Likely, but might we see also a return to more face-face-face communication?

As we know, for every action there is a reaction and while it seems that we might be heading one way, the reaction might, and will likely take us somewhere else. As I write this I just finished a chat session with a customer service agent that would have taken many emails back and forth with maybe days in between.  Ephemeral speed messaging.

(For a further faith based application of this post, please visit:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Social Better Than Solo

We've all known it and sometimes it just takes time to get it and figure out how best to apply it to our businesses; social is better than solo, at at least when it comes to advertising. 

This week New Balance running shoes releases a new advertising campaign called "Runnovation".  In their ads they break away from the traditional focus on one athlete (typically a celebrated runner) and instead start to show running going social with ads that show women running together in the "Redefining the new Girls Night Out".  There is also an online profile of a Running Club in Boston where we can get a little of the reality TV feel.  The point that New Balance is trying to make is that showing social activity will inspire us more to want to participate because we will see ourselves there and imagine that we too can truly participate. 

Aspirational ideals to be the like the best in the world (if Roger Federer wears a Rolex, so should I, right?) aren't going to go away, but when we try to reach the everyday, what feels like the ordinary, we might well stand a better chance by taking the position social.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Taking It To The Streets

Benjamin Moore paints came up with this very cool marketing program where they committed to repaint 20 Main Streets in America through a crowd-sourced voting process.  They pushed out the marketing of the program on TV and print and then executed a great local ground program to get people in local towns to vote.

The program caught my interest because the our closest Main Street to our home here in Rhode Island is Main Street, Westerly, RI.  So, both Patti and I voted online at their "paint what matters" website.  On Monday, Benjamin Moore released the 20 towns, and Westerly was one of them. You can only imagine what this does for a little town.  You might say, it puts them on the map. 

Benjamin Moore nailed this campaign. They went big and broad and then got me and tens of thousands of others to take it to the streets for them.  When we think broadly and locally at the same time and put a program together that allows for both the air and ground game to work together, amazing things can happen. 

It's worth thinking about what programs we have that could follow the same pattern and be very effective for our businesses.

(For a further faith-based application of this post you can visit:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two-Way Links

The recent and ongoing learning of government knowledge and data gathering using digital technology continues to increase the apprehension of many people across the world.  A conversation has been created about the role and use of technology as it relates to the knowledge of what each of us do, who we converse with, where we go (both physically and online), and what we are interested in (as evidenced by our online searches).  It's above my pay-grade to understand and comment on whether or not these efforts are making us safer or putting us at greater risk, but I do know that technology continues to invade and redefine what is considered personal and proprietary information. 

What is that information? 

Jaron Lanier, in a recent interview in San Francisco Magazine with reporter Scott Lucas said this, "I'm building on the very first idea for a network, which is based on two-way links; that is if your data is being used by somebody else, there is always a link back to you so that you know if and how it is being used. You could set your own price for it - and if you didn't get paid, you could shut off access." 

I find his idea fascinating.  Two-way links would make each of our life patterns, interests and activities all pieces of intellectual property. 

What a new definition of supply and demand this "marketplace" might create.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Lost Art of Storytelling?

Storytelling is an art.  We know a great story when we hear, read, or see one and we recognize a bad one even more quickly. It's hard to put a finger on what makes a great story, but the power of the story in advertising and getting the message across of our companies, products,cultures and services is measurable and should not be ignored. 

A question for all of us is if we continue to live in the world of shortening media forms and truncated communication, who and how will the storytellers of tomorrow develop their craft?

I've recently taken to exploring the middle ground of "long form journalism" and have been looking at companies and people who are interested in this space. (If you are interested you can check out,, or

Telling a story that engage the heart and minds of others might well be a resident skill that we want to develop and keep current within our organizations.

(for a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

True Freedom

"We are going to get to the bottom of this!", said the CEO with a raised voice and emphatic tone.

The room emptied in a scramble and everyone was in search of one thing and one thing only; what was the truth?

This is not an unfamiliar scene.  It happens everyday in companies across America. It's not always the CEO who is in search of the truth, it can be anyone who feels like something has been hidden, a corner cut, a shortcut taken, a little white lie told, a misrepresentation made, a pointed finger position held. If we calculated the cost of searching and finding the truth in corporate America, I believe we would be staggered with the number we would find.

So, why does the truth matter?  Because the truth is what truly sets us free.  Tomorrow we celebrate our county's independence and ultimately our freedom.  That freedom, which brings certainty and security, is based on a set of truths that we are to always pursue. Finding the truth is not always easy and it is frustrating to think that we must spend as much time as we do on retrieving it, understanding why the truth was compromised and bringing to justice and accountability those who broke the truth, but that is what we must do.

Any organization, whether a business, a club, or a community must adhere and pay attention and also share a commitment to the truth if they want to truly experience what freedom can be.

Happy Independence Day and don't forget to give thanks tomorrow for all of the freedoms that we do have in this great country!  Enjoy the couple of days away from the office.  See you Monday!

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Innovation That Is Just Too Good?

The conversation probably went something like this:

"If we extend the current capability of our best product so that the user can experience greater benefits, then we will also be able to bring this new product to the market to broaden our offerings. It won't be easy to get acceptance, but if we get the right people using the product with some success then we can market them for greater consumer adoption".  

Sound familiar?  

This is the conversation of innovation. 

When the details behind the words are real, then innovation becomes a reality. And sometimes, that innovation can be too good.  

This week the PGA Tour and the PGA of America sided with the United States Golf Association to reaffirm then "Anchored-Stroke Ban". Dead is the long putter.  Innovation that was just too good!  Seldom does this happen to us that what we invent and gain acceptance with is rejected in the marketplace (unless it is something of danger like drugs, foods, chemicals, etc.).  The long putter wasn't about causing harm, it was about causing a threat to making the average player too good.  

The lesson here is to not look at the result from this ruling and extend it into our thinking on innovation.  

Let's not stop testing the boundaries and extending our thinking because someone might shoot us down. Instead, let's continue to innovate and think "new" and not worry about those who will want to stop innovation.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Monday, July 1, 2013

One Divided By Two = Freedom

Today, one entity becomes two.  

NewsCorp has split into the new Newscorp and the new 21st Century Fox. Newscorp keeps all of the print and digital media and Fox gets the broadcast and cable media.  Their theory being that by dividing the company, the two entities will be more focused and therefore stronger than the one put together.  

We will find out later today how the shareholders respond.  

There is nothing new with the spinout or the splitting of a corporation, but with each of these moves what is truly desired is that the freedom from the other creates new opportunities for creativity and leverage.  In my experience what I have seen is that one of the entities will immediately flourish and one one will stay somewhat the same. 

In this case, we will also have to wait and see.  

What we can predict is that the one that feels the greatest amount of freedom will be the one that exceeds the expectations.

( For a further faith based application of this post you can visit: )