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48 posts from January 2007

Mavericks at Work, by William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre

Mavericks_at_work_1I generally rate business book by two factors: How many pages I've highlighted by folding them over and whether it causes me to stop and think about how the content applies to my world.  Mavericks at Work scores very high on both points.

Here are some of the more interesting excerpts I flagged as I read this one:

Southwest didn't flourish just because its fares were cheaper...Southwest flourished because it reimagined what it means to be an airline.

If you want to renew and re-energize an industry...don't hire people from that industry.

If your company went out of business tomorrow, who would really miss you and why?

The most effective leaders are the ones who are the most insatiable learners, and experienced leaders learn the most by interacting with people whose interests, backgrounds and experiences are the least like theirs.

We must begin all things in ignorance...otherwise we never start at the beginning.

The next frontier for making products more emotional is to turn them into something social -- to create a sense of shared ownership and participation among customers themselves.

Why would great people want to work here?

You could (and probably should!) spend hours thinking about the answers to those two questions (If your company went out of business... and Why would great people want to work here?).  I also found the authors' thoughts on the use of ad-hoc teams to build new products/services within an existing business, and thereby avoid The Innovator's Dilemma, to be very helpful.

The authors have a very readable style and provide loads of examples from companies and executives they interviewed for the book.  Highly recommended.

Happy Horse Hoopla

Happy_horseI don't talk much about home life on this blog, but this item is too important to skip.  Our youngest daughter (Hannah) has been riding horses for a few years now and is in more competitions than I can count.  Don't ask me the details...I'm a total horse novice but I enjoy watching her ride.

The IHJA had their annual banquet last night and we were invited because Hannah finished the year 5th in the state in the "Beginner Rider (Junior)" class.  I can't even tell you how proud I was last night, hearing her name called and watching her head to the stage for her ribbon.  It was definitely one of those images that I'll remember the rest of my life.

Currently 5 Listed in the Top 25 on Amazon!

Smiley_faceAs I was winding down for the night I decided to take a quick look at the Amazon Computers & Internet bestseller list.  What a great way to end the day: My editorial team has 5 of the top 25 on the list:

#5: Lifehacker
#11: Windows Vista Secrets
#14: Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, etc.
#17: Second Life: The Official Guide
#25: Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day

Besides coming from our group at Wiley, what else do these books all have in common?  They're all one-off's, not part of any series, written by outstanding author teams with great platforms.  Congrats to everyone associated with each of these fantastic books!

Can Satellite Radio Survive?

SatelliteradioHere's a good article from my local paper today regarding the state of the satellite radio industry.  There are two reasons I'm holding out hope that the key players, XM and Sirius, can create successful business models.  First, I own an XM player and I totally love it.  Great product, great service.  Second, and more importantly, local radio stinks, period.

The scariest fact from the article above is the point that subscriptions were down in 2006 compared to 2005.  Ouch.  What little momentum XM/Sirius had recently is now apparently long gone.  Despite all the listeners Howard Stern brought with him, I've got to believe Sirius doesn't consider that deal to be a great investment.  Both companies have been spending money at an insane rate, trying to lure new subscribers, but they obviously can't pedal fast enough.

What to do?  A big part of the problem is also highlighted in this article: Even as a gift, satellite radio is an awkward product, thanks mostly to the never-ending subscription fees.  Sounds like your typical cell phone, no?  I mentioned this before and I keep coming back to it: The only way I see satellite radio "crossing the chasm", "reaching the masses", or whatever trendy phrase you want to use, is to marry it to a cell phone package.  Most consumers don't think twice about adding the latest, greatest new feature to their cell phone plan.  If convergence is really the name of the game, why not put the satellite radio electronics in a cell phone and add $5 to the monthly fees?

(Btw, that Sprint Ambassador program I got to test last year included a stripped-down pseudo-satellite radio service, but the signal came through the phone line, not direct from the satellite itself.  The stream was unreliable and the channels were very limited, so it's not a fair test and I'm betting Sprint doesn't have too many subscribers for that feature.)

TED Talks

TedLooking for some inspiration?  Want to hear some of the brightest people around talk about what they're most passionate about?  If so, you need to check out the TED Talks.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, is an annual conference featuring the best and brightest speakers on the planet.  I just finished watching this session with Malcolm Gladwell.

Fortunately for those of us who can't attend the conference, the kind folks at TED offer freely accessible audio and video archives of every speaker.  Isn't that the way every conference should be, btw?!  I've often wondered why more conferences don't do this sort of thing.  Yeah, I know...they're afraid it will affect the in-person attendance rates, and those fees are where the hosts really make their money.  Maybe they ought to consider more sponsorships to help fund the operation.  TED obviously benefits from both in-person attendees and loads of virtual attendees after the show.

You say you don't have the time to sit around watching this sort of thing?  Then do what my friend Bryan Gray (CEO of MediaSauce) did: Download the audio versions, put them on a CD and listen to them on your way to/from the office.  Do it.  You won't regret it.