Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kansas City Shuffle

Rolled on over to Truemors and found this misleading snippet:
Eight Years Average Age for Cell Phone in UK

Albeit, it’s not uncommon for a toddler to get a kick out of punching the numbers and imitating Daddy with the phone he manages to grab off the table, but could things be getting a little out of hand when little Noah and Madison have to pick ten friends at the tender age of eight? According to a survey of 1,435 Brits, thirty-five percent of kids have a cell by the age of eight. One of the conclusions of the study was that the buying of ringtones helps kids learn money management skills, though one has to wonder if blowing cash on a cell phone for a kid that age sets a great example of that particular skill. How about deferred gratification and saving for college? Just a thought.

What's misleading? Just the semantics of the headline. Literally, the headline is saying that cell phones in the UK average eight years, as in are used/last for eight years.

The headline should be something more similar to:
Kids- Turn Eight, Get a Cell Phone in UK.
35% of 8 Year-Olds Have Cell Phones in UK
or just a little clarity-
Eight Years Average Age to Get Cell Phone in UK
True, it does seem a big incredulous to believe cell phones are lasting eight years. As far as eight year olds having cell phones, why? How about LEGOs, GI-Joe (now that he's international), or books?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Grasp the obvious.

I read a little snippet about how to present in a room full of Twittering people. As in your audience you are speaking to spends an extraordinary amount of time Twittering rather than watching you speak.

A lot of good points about why it's useful to have Twittering- people can "be there" virtually, instant commentary, and questions regarding the presentation content can be answered by a mulitude of systems.

From there the article started to go down the path of adopting more systems to enhance communications during a presentation (referred to as backchannel), and so did the comments.

When I was in school it was called raising your hand. Whiskey. Tango. Is that a completely foreign thought here?

If you want more participation from the audience, engage them and allow questions. Make being there worth it. If it was really important for someone to be there, they would be. 

Remember: You determine the level of your involvement.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Maybe not quite an atmosphere

Most people have bubbles. Small ones, large ones, and ones that could encompass small planets. But when everyone is in public spaces, there generally is "accepted public bubble space" (APBS) meaning everyone acknowledges a small space where you do not tread. This APBS shrinks and grows as the environment changes. At a bus stop it grows, but on the bus it shrinks.

Likewise in food establishments where food is prepared in assembly-line fashion (Subway, for example), APBS remains relatively constant within the confines of the establishment.

That means you do not need to follow your ever-precious, made-only-for-me-vegetarian-with-black-beans-bowl all the way to the register when there are obviously orders- meaning people- are before you. When you bump the next customer in a Ray Lewis-like action, it is also acceptable to apologize.

A slight bump is always present, as we forget that there are people around us in a public eatery, and we like to follow our food as it is prepared. It's natural. What isn't natural is the bump and no-arm hug as it becomes obvious the person in front of you is not moving, can't move, and you have to slightly ease back. In your selfishness to enhale whatever concoction you've ordered, you have advanced the line behind you, and they, too, have to back up because they are fully aware of the APBS.

No idea what I'm talking about? Short (9 mins) extreme example.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bored of Directors

I was thinking why everyone is so ticked off at businesses today. Then scrolling through my blogroll, Seth Godin wrote this about the music industry. It fits into the puzzle of today's business environment.

Everyone wants to be rich. There are many definitions of rich, mainly some variation of financially independent. However, when those that are rich (CEOs of auto companies or financial institutions, for example) end up driving the business or industry into a tailspin, it negatively affects those who want to be rich. The non-rich lose jobs, cars, homes, etc. That is because the current elite will always have money, regardless of economic situation. Always have, always will. Those trying to make it up the ladder, or even trying to get to a ladder, don't have money to sustain themselves during an economic collapse.

Like the music industry, the labels are focusing on the industry, not the music. Obviously companies are in business to make money, I don't deny that. I argue that companies are focusing more on hording the big green rather than offering products and services people need or want. And companies that fail are because they lacked the leadership to do the right thing. WaMu's Kerry Killinger helped direct WaMu into a premier banking institution. His poor decisions led to the collapse of a terrific story. Where was his board of directors to say no?

I like how companies are ousting CEOs and leadership teams from failing companies. Yet I don't hear of companies replacing the BODs; they seem to be exempt from the problems and have no accountability. Heads of GM and Ford are raking in double-digit million-dollar salaries, and yet both companies have been posting losses. Last time I checked, if I fail to do my job, I get fired.

I've often thought that any publicly-traded company, the CEO's salary cannot be more than 4-6 times the average hourly worker in the company (bonuses based on profits. No profit, no bonus!). So if the average hourly wage $25/hr. ($52,000/yr.), Mr. CEO is limited to $208,000 - $312,000/yr.

That's a simplfied example, but apply the concept to recent events. Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, has a salary of $2 million. That's 38 times the rate of the average worker, in my example. This doesn't include his bonus in stock, which accounts for over $18 million. In contrast, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, pulls in just over $600k/year, with additional bonuses of $300k. And Microsoft actually turns a profit!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Private Jets are Moot

For any leading businessperson, technology has allowed someone to be truly mobile. You can work anywhere, on anything. And setting up a mobile environment is a heck of a lot cheaper than a private plane.


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via Consumerist by Meg Marco on 2/11/09

Did you know that private jets are actually quite practical? We didn't. The Wall Street Journal says that private jet manufacturers are angry at the backlash against private jets and are speaking out to "counter business aircraft misinformation."

From the WSJ:

In a campaign to begin Wednesday, Cessna Aircraft Co. will run an ad that says, "Pity the poor executive who blinks," and gets rid of the company jet. "One thing is certain: true visionaries will continue to fly."
"We think it's time the other side of the story be told, and that support be given to those businesses with the good judgment and courage to use business aviation to not only help their businesses survive the current financial crisis, but more quickly forge a path toward an economic upturn," said Jack Pelton, Cessna's chairman and CEO.

Another advertisement (shown below) reads, "Timidity didn't get you this far. Why put it in your business plan now?" (We assume that question is rhetorical.)

The backlash is hurting Cessna where it counts, the company recently laid off 4,500 workers because of the sudden drop in demand. Gulfstream Aerospace's spokesperson also defended the use of private jets.

"Do you really want a major executive to show up three hours late to a big meeting because of flight delays?" said Robert Baugniet, director of corporate communications for General Dynamics Corp.'s Gulfstream Aerospace, which makes some of the higher-end jets.

Cessna Fights Back On Private-Jet Trend [WSJ] (Thanks, Daniel!)
Cessna Launches Campaign to Counter Business Aircraft Misinformation (Press Release)


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Vote Now!

This is a cool gadget, and I think there are wider applications for a "portable" hand-powered laundry pod. Like in RVs- If you spill BBQ sauce on shirt, you can clean it quickly, instead of waiting until you get home. A little more effort in design could yield a power adapter for automobiles. Your kid has multiple soccer games and the jersey's dirty? Throw it in the laundry pod.


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via Core77 on 2/12/09


For convenience sake, Greener Gadget Top 50 Semi-Finalist Laundry POD, designed by RKS Design Team, combines the salad spinner and the laundry machine, creating a new way to clean our clothes while saving energy at the same time!

While re-engineering and re-designing a salad spinner, we learned resourceful women were buying salad spinners to wash their delicates. This sparked the idea that the salad spinner technology we innovated could be used to create a portable, hand-powered laundry machine that would be far more appropriate for the task, than a salad spinner. The Laundry POD combines innovation and eco-conscious style to save energy, water and answer the need for a quick, easy, eco-friendly way to do small loads.

Like this design? Wanna vote for it or leave a comment? Check out this entry or the entire Greener Gadgets TOP 50 Gallery and help determine the TOP 10 for live judging at the upcoming Greener Gadgets Conference.




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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Mark Cuban Stimulus Plan - Open Source Funding

I wonder how many business plans are going to be the equivalent to:

1. Steal underpants
2. ????
3. Make profit

Oh wait, there's twitter!


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via blog maverick by markcuban on 2/9/09

Its easy to write about what the government or other people should do with our/their money. It's harder to come up with a course of action that I can undertake on my own that possibly, somehow could make a difference. My first inclination is always to try to look "for the next big thing". But the next big thing is just that, next. Its not now. Its Venture Capital. Its not self funding, renewal capital.

Rather than trying to be a Venture Capitalist, I was looking for an idea that hopefully could inspire people to create businesses that could quickly become self funding. Businesses that just needed a jump start to get the ball rolling and create jobs. Im a big believer that entrepreneurs will lead us out of this mess. I just needed a way to help.

So here it is. Some people will love it, some will hate it. It is what it is.  

You must post your business plan here on my blog where I expect other people can and will comment on it. I also expect that other people will steal the idea and use it elsewhere. That is the idea. Call this an open source funding environment.

If its a good idea and worth funding, we want it replicated elsewhere. The idea is not just to help you, but to figure out how to help the economy through hard work and ingenuity. If you come up with the idea and get funding, you have a head start. If you execute better than others, you could possibly make money at it. As you will see from the rules below, these are going to be businesses that are mostly driven by sweat equity.

I will invest money in businesses presented here on this blog. No minimum, no maximum, but a very specific set of rules. Here they are:

1. It can be an existing business or a start up.
2. It can not be a business that generates any revenue from advertising. Why ? Because I want this to be a business where you sell something and get paid for it. Thats the only way to get and stay profitable in such a short period of time.
3. It MUST BE CASH FLOW BREAK EVEN within 60 days 
4. It must be profitable within 90 days.
5. Funding will be on a monthly basis. If you dont make your numbers, the funding stops
6. You must demonstrate as part of your plan that you sell your product or service for more than what it costs you to produce, fully encumbered
7. Everyone must work. The organization is completely flat. There are no employees reporting to managers. There is the founder/owners and everyone else
8.  You must post your business plan here, or you can post it on slideshare.com , scribd.com or google docs, all completely public for anyone to see and/or download
9. I make no promises that if your business is profitable, that I will invest more money. Once you get the initial funding you are on your own
10. I will make no promises that I will be available to offer help. If I want to , I will. If not, I wont.
11. If you do get money, it goes into a bank that I specify, and I have the ability to watch the funds flow and the opportunity to require that I cosign any outflows.
12. In your business plan , make sure to specify how much equity I will receive or how I will get a return on my money.
13. No mult-level marketing programs (added 2/10/09 1pm)

Im sure I will come up with more rules as I see what comes along, if anything. 

As I find businesses I like, I will use the email address you provide before you post to get in contact with you. There will be a standard agreement, you can take it or leave it. Once I have done the standard agreement, I will post it here for all to see.  This will definitely be a work in progress. Maybe it leads to great things, maybe it leads to nothing. We will find out. Im not going to claim a minimum or maximum amount or total I will invest. Im not promising I will definitely invest anything. If nothing comes along that I think is viable, thats the way it goes.

Hopefully I will invest in quite a few businesses that will lead to something more



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Friday, February 6, 2009

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

This little quote from Lorrie Foster, The Conference Board:
"But the focus of marketing has evolved toward more strategic, value-added activities that can be quantified and linked to corporate goals. New approaches, methodologies and tools, and technologies are making it possible to link marketing investments directly to revenues and profits, holding marketing executives accountable for achieving expected results."

Note: If your companies marketing department isn't linked to corporate goals, you have bigger problems to worry about than ROI.

Utilizing technological marketing channels today, the quick launch and adoption of it, most of these channels are new themselves, breaking down traditional communication barriers. The hot-properties like FaceBook and Twitter don't even have a sustainable revenue plan, and marketing executives are expected to compute an ROI when using services like this?

Ultimately, ROI is reflected in EBIT. Finding the most successful method of increasing sales is a constantly moving target. Listing the entire properties a company could advertise with, just Internet-based, would be enormous. I'm not saying there shouldn't be ROI, because someone has to watch out for that marketing manager who has way too many events in luxurious hotels.

If companies had tremendous products, there wouldn't be a huge dependence on marketing. I think too many companies focus on the message and not the product.

Food for thought: Will the next version of a "Marketing Coordinator" position just be someone surfing message boards, social media sites, and Twitter, posting raves and shutting down rants? And how is ROI measured on that?

You must reboot at least 3 times.

I took a gander at Windows 7, as I'm sure people will be fawning and chastising it constantly in months and years to come. When you look at Windows vs. OS X, the interfaces are obviously different, and OS X has traditionally improved the computer user's experience. It's simple to use. Why is that? Because OS X focused on the end user first.

Windows, however, is a standard. Everyone uses it (80% can be everyone in this example), therefore everyone is familiar with it. I'm not saying Windows is perfect. And I doubt an OS X user will say OS X is perfect. If they do (on either "side") they are total fanboys and you should slap their Starbucks drink right from their hands.

But I don't really want to delve into a Win vs. OS X argument. What I want to get into is the fundamental flaws in approaching an OS design. If you want to make it simple, "simple" is not a code optimization issue. Because "simple" is defined from the user, not the developer. Case in point, the sample screen shot of Windows 7 (below) have a base-level usability error. The screen capture below shows what the user reads (in red) and the user action (in yellow). The blue arrow is where the action goes.

Even though Windows 7 is in Beta, layout issues such as this are why OS X users feel more comfortable. User design is first, then functionality. Windows has such a large user base (therefore slow to change), it's likely simple design changes would be met with backlash.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"I'm Famous! Gotta get me my 15!"

So what ever happens to stars of our favorite Super Bowl (er.. Big Game??) commercials? Like the Koala from CareerBuilder.com? Why, he splurges on a luxurious hot tub for him and his fellow Kiwis.

Just kidding. But the expression is pretty funny.


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via Neatorama by Queuebot on 2/4/09

Global warming has an upside!

"It has been so hot in South Australia for over a week…40+ degrees Celsius everyday – 104 F, very dry also. These are the photos of a little Koala that just walked into the back porch of a home around the way looking for a bit of heat relief. The lady of the house filled up a bucket and this is what happened!"


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by Trace1138.


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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Which comes first, the product or the marketing?

Seth makes a point that marketing comes before the product. However, that is a non-sequiter argument. The traditional (dictionary) definition of marketing is the transfer of goods from seller to buyer. Marketing is the combination of attributes commonly defined as Price, Place, Promotion, and Product (the traditional marketing mix).

As the Product is a component of marketing, the order of what comes first is irrelevant. In the marketing matrix (adding Who, What, Why, When, and How to the 4 P's), you can work whichever way you wish. Define who you want to target, where you want to, and how much you want to make in margin. Then decide what product will fit those decisions.

If you want to check out a marketing matrix, look here: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/05/the_worlds_shor.html


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via Seth's Blog by Seth Godin on 2/4/09

Well, if you define marketing as advertising, then it's clear you need the product first (Captain Crunch being the only exception I can think of... they made the ads first.) This great clip from Mad Men brings the point home. If the Kodak guys hadn't invented the Carousel slide projector, Don Draper could never have pitched this ad.

But wait.

Marketing is not the same as advertising.
Advertising is a tiny slice of what marketing is today, and in fact, it's pretty clear that the marketing has to come before the product, not after. As Jon points out, the Prius was developed after the marketing thinking was done. Jones Soda, too. In fact, just about every successful product or service is the result of smart marketing thinking first, followed by a great product that makes the marketing story come true.

If someone comes to you with a 'great' product that just needs some marketing, the game is probably already over.


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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hehe... "High" Design

To quote Denis Leary: "Marijuana doesn't lead to other drugs. It leads to @#$%^&*~ carpentry." Or chemistry, glass making, or liquid dynamics. So parents, be forewarned. If your kid is constantly asking for a chemistry set, be cautious. Real scientists forget to eat.

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via Core77 on 2/3/09


There are certain products upon which people will lavish design attention, but will probably never apply for design patents on: Bongs.

Up above is a selection of Roor bongs. Roors--which are more "performance-based" in their design, according to this analysis--is what Michael Phelps was reportedly taking hits off of, and you can see an astonishingly large variety of them here. Unsurprisingly, most of the photos are rather hazy.


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Happy Day! Oh Happy Day!

This is good news. And I'm heading over to the 'tex to see what they're all saying.


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via Core77 on 2/3/09


According to Autoweek, legendary designer Chris Bangle, the man responsible for the much-imitated aesthetics of the BMW 7-series, is quitting the auto design industry to "pursue his own design-related endeavors."

In an interview with the man, Motor Trend mused that Bangle might be "The most influential automotive designer of the early 21st century." For those of you unfamiliar with him, here's a look at some Bangle news, opinions and accomplishments from the past few years:

Bangle on design, from Design Thinking Digest.

Chris Bangle at the TED conference, explaining that "Great cars are art:"

Bangle giving his personal overview of the BMW Design Group's exhibits at the Detroit Motor Show from '06:

Lastly, Bangle's basic bio is here.

For Bangle to quit the biz is horrible news for BMW, but may be great news for the design world at large. No word on what Bangle will be getting into yet, we'll keep you posted of developments.



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Monday, February 2, 2009

Don't be "that guy"

Which guy? That guy.

If I wanted a pool table


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via Core77 on 2/2/09


As part of his senior year ID project, Australian Craig Nottage designed a transparent billiards table; now he's founded his own company in Adelaide, Nottage Design, and made the table a reality. A special combination of glass and resin provide the same resistance you'd get with felt, but are completely transparent; the tubing of the slick ball-return mechanisms are also exposed. At AUS $40,000 it ain't cheap, but it's nice to see someone turn a senior project into a reality--and build a company around it.

via slash gear



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A New Location for an Iconic Conference–and Here Come the TED Fellows

I so want to go to this Conference. Someday I will.

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via BoomTown by Kara Swisher on 2/2/09

The well-known Technology, Entertainment, Design conference–better known to its techie fans as TED–will make its move from Monterey to Long Beach in California, starting tomorrow night.

It's a big change for the longtime gathering of digerati and others who have come to love its eclectic and outward-looking program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

First held in 1984, Chris Anderson's Sapling Foundation bought TED in 2001 from its founder, Richard Saul Wurman. TED has since grown to include an international conference, TEDGlobal; media initiatives, including TED Talks and TED.com; and the TED Prize.

TED2009 is titled "The Great Unveiling." And BoomTown is glad to be attending after several years away, especially since I always learn something new at TED (and I have a lot to learn).

It certainly has a varied line-up of speakers again this year, such as Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates, neurological anthropologist Oliver Sacks, writer Elizabeth Gilbert, tree researcher Nalani Nadkarni, Web political phenom Nate Silver and many others.

But I am perhaps even more intrigued by the introduction this year of the TED Fellows program, initially 50 individuals, picked because of the "world-changing potential of their work."

They will be invited to participate in the TED community each year, and some of the fellows will come for longer stints to future conferences.

The fellows program is supported by the Bezos family, the Harnisch Foundation, private donors and Nokia, with additional in-kind support from Kodak, Lightscribe and One.org.

According to the press release, the fellows program was inspired by TED's Africa program in 2007:

"The TED Fellows program will focus on attracting applicants living or working in five parts of the globe: the Asia/Pacific region, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East, with consideration given to applicants from the rest of the world…The program focuses on innovators in technology, entertainment, design, science, film, art, music, entrepreneurship and the NGO community, among other pursuits."

Said Tom Rielly, TED Community Director, who is responsible for the program: "TED will help them communicate their 'ideas worth spreading' to a much larger audience."

Given the troubles all over the world these days, we could all use a much broader perspective.

You can read the longer list of fellows who seem to deliver just that here, but some of the first participants include:

• Erik Hersmann and Juliana Rotich, co-founders of Ushahidi.com, a Web site for citizen journalism, covering crises such as the Kenyan post-election violence

• Faisal Chohan, CEO of Cogilent Solutions and founder of BrightSpyre.com, the leading job portal in Pakistan

• Juliana Machado Ferreira, Brazilian CSI: Wildlife biologist who uses genetic markers to track, interdict and convict illegal songbird traffickers

• Gerry Douglas, founder of Malawi's Baobab Health Partnership, which builds touch screen terminals that allow non-doctors to diagnose, treat and correctly prescribe drugs for people with HIV

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

I thought the Doritos' "Crystal Ball" ad was the best of the bunch. It was funny and unexpected. When is it not funny when someone gets nailed in the nuts? When it's you, of course. The Monster.com was ok, much better than previous years, and the CareerBuilder.com repeater commercial was funny, just because of the lady screaming before going into work.

GoDaddy.com continues to be dumb. And Teleflora was so busy explaining the boxed-flower gaff, everyone was going "Huh?" when the punchline came at the end.

Audi's commercial was good, but it will be difficult to top the "Godfather" commerical from last year. Pepsi had some good ones: "I'm Good" and "Pepsuber" (for the 5 people who still watch SNL). NBC's "LMAO" was, well, lmao. And the Hulu.com commercial was hilarious.

The dueling tire commercials, Firestone and BF Goodrich were both funny, yet I'd lean towards the Potato Head getaway topping the Moon Rover theft.

Budweiser Ads were not that fantastic, yet Bud Light was funny (not super-funny), with the exception of Conan's spot. Some people didn't get Conan's spot, but it was funny if you've seen foreign commercials with Hollywood stars.

The anticipated Transformers 2 trailer drew no excitement from me. I think the trailer had 3 cuts per second for a 30 second spot. Why not strap me in a chair, pin my eyes open and turn my brain into mush. Oh wait, Hulu's already doing that. HA!