Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kaplan University Professor Spot

This is a very nice approach to getting away from the clutter.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reading Material: The Cost of Talent

In 1993, Derek Bok, former Harvard University President, wrote a book titled, The Cost of Talent. This book takes an interesting look at how Executives and Professionals are paid, and it looks at how these differences in compensation affect the overall economy. The first paragraph, The Role of Compensation, analyzes Adam Smith's justification for highly compensated professionals - especially lawyers, doctors, and business professionals. As we begin to ponder the many issues with our economy, compensation, with respect to talent, should be at the foundation of the debate.

Mr. Bok pointed out the impact of compensatory variances on the supply chain for educational professionals. It doesn't take a finance professor to understand the return on investment for education. Why spend thousands of dollars on a noble and honorable liberal arts degree, when you can spend a little more to live a more lucrative and stable life? I remember graduating from college and praying six months later to land a $6.50/hour job. It was a very humbling moment in my life, and for many in this country. It's a question of incentive. More than many of the topics on the table today, the issue of talent is the key to recovery in this economy.

What would happen if teachers were paid like pro athletes? What would happen if business executives were paid like engineers? How would this nation function? These are questions that you will more than likely ask while you are reading this book.

Take a look at the public copy, and let me know what you think.

The Blackberry Storm....Storm

1 million sold to date. WOW!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Teavana Rocks

I really dig this product!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

African-Americans and the Internet

According to recent studies, African-Americans are using the internet in growing numbers.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

Pentax Announces Pre-Orders

The white Pentax K2000 is available for pre-orders. The camera brings back old memories.

Monday, January 19, 2009

SEO Experts?

On a recent discussion board in LinkedIn, a member of one of my groups asked the question about the credibility of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts. They went as far as to refer to them as "Snake-Oil Salesmen", which is a pretty funny analogy.

Here's a way to answer this question. If it has anything to do with technology that is rapidly changing, and someone refers to themselves as an expert, then they are more than likely not an expert. Just ask some of the big tech companies that are scratching their heads to figure out how Google is flat out "getting it done". Or look at the job postings that actually look for candidates with 12 years of experience with software that's only been on the market for 5 years. Speed has its downsides like any other performance enhancer.

My answer to the inquiry was to look at the "branding experts" during the web boom. Where are they? What did they accomplish? I won big on a slot machine ($400 on a quarter slot) in Vegas a few years ago. I had a strategy going in, and it worked. However, I'm hardly a slot machine expert. Rather, I'm part of a statistic that forms the inevitable bell-curve. Even if I won a few more times at different casinos, that still wouldn't make me an expert - spreading the gospel to little old ladies at the nickel slots.

Everything has to be taken within the context in which is succeeds or fails, and nothing really works when you make the assumption that all other things remain constant. Are there good SEO professionals and bad ones? Yes, but there are more variables to improving online sales and site traffic than pay-per-click strategies. Can a good SEO professional help you realize an increase in site traffic or revenue? Yes, but the increase really depends more on the product you are selling or the content.

The reality in business is that "Snake-Oil Salesmen" are in business because there is a demand for snake-oil. Yesterday it was branding, today it is search engine optimization. The free markets will remain true. The more you mess with them, or try to cheat them, the more they will seem like huge obstacles to realizing success with your business. Stick to the fundamentals.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Play-Station Success

According to Sony, it has sold its 50 millionth Play Station in North America. I'm no demand expert, but that's a lot of Play Stations.


If I haven't recommended it already, I highly recommend everyone reading the book "Nudge". Please check it out, and send me your thoughts about it.

Unappreciated Progress

The Washington Post announced today that Steve Jobs, Apple's iconic leader, will be taking a leave of absence due to recent health issues. Although the nature of Jobs' health situation is unclear to the public, the rumors surrounding it have taken a toll on the company's stock price.

In the midst of demanding so much from computers, we've failed to realize just how far we've come as a society in the past few decades, which is a direct result of pioneers like Steve Jobs. Pioneers who went off the beaten track to create a world unknown to us all at the time. It seems like only yesterday when the concept of a laser printer was the talk of the town, and now you get one free with a purchase of a $300 computer. Through it all, masterminds like Jobs, Gates, and many others gave their lives to connect one end of the globe to the other, realize unimaginable efficiencies in business and industry, and move the world one step forward in this game called civilization.

Best wishes to you Mr. Jobs on your recovery. And if no one says it to you, I appreciate all that you do.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Content Truly is King

Chantal Todé wrote an interesting article on DM News about the importance of mixing media to attract the younger audience. However, media is secondary to the actual product according to the writer. In Todé's article, intellectual property was more important than the actual execution of the marketing strategy, when it comes to the younger consumer.

Using Hannah Montana and Strawberry Shortcake as an example, the author found that younger consumers didn't care much about the media source in comparison to the actual product. It appears that even with many in the Y generation, the response to marketing and advertising is a direct reflection of the product's relevance to their lifestyle needs. If you look at the needs of the customer and work backwards, you will always have more success than working in the opposite.

I have been in many conversations with associates about the dismal state of the newspaper industry. Instead of ramping up resources in the area of content, many papers are looking to new myopic advertising strategies to realize new revenue. As with many organizations and industries, the confusion comes from valuing the change in customer practices more than the consistency of customer needs.

As with most products and industries, there is an inevitable point of reaching the final stages of maturity and decline. News sources are infinite, but relevant and valuable information are rare. Not many of us would activate the cruise control while driving on a curvy road. But when it comes to business strategy, most organizations still believe there is a magic bullet that will allow them to sit back and rake in the money. There within lies the problem my friend for the media industry. The ability to dynamically understand customer needs at the press of a button is not meant for conversations at a swank dinner party, or a boring conference session discussion. It's meant for businesses to leverage in order to improve the performance of their product.

If media companies have any concern for sustaining the value of their product, it would be in their best interest to (1) look at the content related to the media draw, (2) relate it to the context of the customer's needs, and (3) dynamically develop a pricing and product structure to maximize demand. Otherwise, the act of commoditization will negatively impact their bottom line more expected.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Letter to the editor of Communication Arts

Of all the articles I've seen about the issues related to the creative profession, David Baker's perspective is the best by far. I see the horrible path to irrelevancy that the creative world is heading, and I wonder when someone will tell the industry that they've painted themselves in a corner. The only thing worse than being replaceable is being extinct, which is the apparent choice of the creative world.

I started out my education and career in the world of design. After struggling for years to understand the connection of creative services to business strategy, I decided to go back to school for my MBA in supply-chain management. I must admit, the change feels good, because I function in a more quantifiable business world.

As a design student, I believed in the ability of the creative professional to significantly contribute to the strategic goals of the organization. I believed it could happen from the "creative process" that merged science to art. After a few years in the working world, I soon realized it was the creative professional who was perpetuating the horrible myth that creatives have nothing to do with meaningful organizational results.

I'm glad I got out.