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30 posts from June 2006

X is Different From Y Because of…

This article talks about how AOL is using its arm to test the user-driven content model. Sounds good, but it also sounds a lot like digg. That was the first thing that crossed my mind after I read the article title. Then I saw the heading “Different Than Digg”. I read it and I realize they’re throwing in a few extra bells and whistles beyond what Digg offers, but it’s still primarily about user-driven content, readers ranking articles, etc.

That got me thinking… Why is it that the “new” products which seem to require a differentiation statement such as “product X is different from existing product Y because of points A, B and C” always seem to talk about me-too products? Can you think of a single wildly successful new product that kicked off with that sort of differentiation message? When Digg first hit, I don’t remember everyone saying, “oh, it’s just like slashdot but with rankings.” Although that would be true, it wasn’t necessary. Great, new, breakthrough products have a way of creating that “a-ha” moment all by themselves.

Wiley’s FY06 Results

As this press release notes, Wiley just wrapped up a record setting fiscal year. New highs were achieved for revenue, operating income and earnings per share. We also crossed the $1 billion revenue threshold. More importantly, the division I’m part of (Professional/Trade) had an incredibly strong fourth quarter, resulting in a full-year revenue increase of 9%. Compare that figure to others in the industry and you’ll quickly see that Wiley is doing quite well indeed.

The release also points out that “Virtually all of P/T’s publishing categories and sales channels contributed to the strong results, with standout performances by the technology, business, finance and architectural programs…” It’s great to see the tech group lumped into the highlights. If you read through the details provided for the P/T division you get a feel for just how well diversified this operation is.

Congratulations to the entire Wiley team and here’s to an even stronger FY07!

Mark Cuban’s Questionable Investment

This article outlines Mark Cuban’s latest investment in The site sounds interesting enough, focusing on exposing corporate fraud, but Mark, do you really need to flaunt the fact that you intend to use this information to buy/sell stocks before the stories are published?! Jeez! Don’t you already have enough money without having to manipulate the system like this? Are you really going to short the stock of a company you find dirt on, then report the news so that you can watch the price fall and make a few bucks?

Seriously, I’m not naïve enough to think that Jim Cramer and other investment talking heads aren’t playing games like this too, but are we taking a step in the right direction by admitting and encouraging the practice? Uh, wouldn’t it be better to shame these people/organizations into changing their policies to eliminate this sort of thing?

Mark, I love what you’ve done with the Dallas Mavericks and I seriously hope you’ll one day do the same with my old hometown team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. I frequently read your blog and I respect you as a true visionary, the type of person who can make significant improvements to just about any industry you choose. While this is a fascinating journalism venture, I question your motives. If your ultimate goal is to encourage regulation of some sort, I applaud your efforts; on the other hand, if you’re just trying to get richer, shame on you.

Lencioni via getAbstract

Patrick Lencioni is one of Wiley’s most popular authors. His titles include:

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Death by Meeting

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars

The Five Temptations of a CEO

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

Silos was his most recent publication and my review of it can be found here. I read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting before I launched my blog. Recently I read the getAbstract summaries of the other two Lencioni books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.

Overall, I’d say the Tempations book was a slightly more interesting read for me than the Obsessions one. Here are a few excerpts from Temptations that really hit home for me:

The greatest challenge of being a CEO, or any leader for that matter, is to avoid getting trapped by the daily complexities and details of our business.

It’s natural for human beings to want harmony. But harmony is like cancer to good decision-making.

Many CEOs do this (promote harmony) because they like to see people agree and get along, rather than have disagreements and conflicts.

In fact, conflict is a key component for meetings, which was one of the valuable lessons I learned from readying Death by Meeting.

I like the fable approach Lencioni uses in his books – it makes them an interesting and fast read. More importantly, I love the size of these books. Every business book should be written for this small trim size and no more than 250 pages long. Seriously. If you can’t convey your critical idea, solution, approach, etc., in 250 pages you shouldn’t bother. That’s why I continue to get a lot of use out of getAbstract. It’s a great solution I can use for those books/authors that aren’t concise enough.

P.S. – Although I recommend you read all the Lencioni books, I listed them above in order of which ones I liked best, where the Dysfunctions book is #1.

Scoble Moves On

I never claimed this blog would cover breaking news, and I’m far from the first to report on Robert Scoble’s upcoming move from Microsoft to PodTech…but I’ll bet I won’t be the last either. In the spirit of “all P.R. is good P.R.”, it’s been interesting to watch Scoble’s book Naked Conversations climb the charts each day on Amazon. Ever since his announced resignation it has risen higher and higher. Right now it has a ranking of 1,079 vs. yesterday’s 2,213. Robert, as you publisher, can I encourage you to quit your job at least once a month?…