Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pecha Kucha Nashville

I would love to host an event, but I'm not sure if there is a big interest in Pecha Kucha. Please respond to this post to let me know if you are interesting in attending, and hopefully presenting, in a fall Pecha Kucha event somewhere in downtown Nashville.

The District Concept is Brewing up in the South

This is an interesting article about Lexington's plans for a brewery district. Most southern cities take pride in being "spread out", but does it really help the existing industries to survive and find new forms of innovation? In my opinion, it not only supports a non-mass-transit philosophy, but it also creates a false sense of a monopoly for many businesses. This in turn starts ghost-inflation, and in times like these, it turns into isolated despair.

Business districts are much more than a planned community concept. It is a way to concentrate and leverage core competencies. It streamlines Business-and-Industry connectivity with higher education, and can influence the relocation of other industries related to it.

Microsoft & Yahoo - Going After Google

It appears that the deal is close to being official between Microsoft and Yahoo for a search product. It seems that Microsoft's excellent cash position has allowed them to be aggressive at this crucial time in the economy. The recent noise about Bing, and Cramer's reference to another possible tech boom may make things interesting in the next six to twelve months.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Design or innovation

Can anyone define the relationship between the two?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

German Automaker Drama


- Kenyatta Lovett

Sent from my iPhone

Strategies for Creating Widgets

This is for you tech geeks. This is good stuff.


One Bad Pop Song

Prior to this economic "moment of clarity", I would say to my friends, "America is one bad pop song, and no one has a clue why it's hot." I mean for a while, the sheep were saying, "Earth to people, MAN UP!" Anyway, I wrote a blog entry the other day about sustainability. I like the concept, but I was incorrect in my assumption about sustainability. I thought I was just discovering it, but it seems that sustainability is news to much of the marketplace.

Jennifer Rice wrote an article in the Marketing and Strategy Innovation blog titled, The Elephant Under The Table, which talked about the Sustainable Brands Conference - more importantly sustainability in today's marketplace. The author's position can be best summed up by this inspiring paragraph.
Sustainability is bigger than using harm-free materials or using less energy. It requires a fundamental shift in thinking, a long-term view and an exploration of new business models. It means redefining what success looks like, such as measuring the number of PCs leased and recycled instead of millions of units shipped per quarter. It’s the difference between GM and ZipCar. In the not-too-distant future we’ll be building products to last, reversing the trend of consumerism and disposable thinking.

In no way am I belittling the responsibility and challenges of the leaders of the world's Commanding Heights. However, I would think this particular business issue would cause panic in the board room back in, oh let's say, 1995. It goes back to my statement about perceived risk, and the cost associated with it. In fact Alan Greenspan supports my point better than I can explain it (see video). He saw a risk in clamping down on the economy, which would have created 10% unemployment. The decision to avoid the risk of 10% unemployment may very well have introduced the reality of 15% unemployment.

Although we, as a nation, are coming off a very bad high. I believe this was necessary to head back to the fundamentals of a good economy and a great society. Free markets open the door for new ideas, but they do not free you from being responsible. Like it or not, every CEO needs the modest janitor to buy his pack of gum, or the hard-working teacher to watch his cable station. We are all connected to the CEO's bottom line and his brand. This doesn't require a change in leadership, but a monumental shift in values - for every business and every consumer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Clarity Phones: A Well Designed Product, A Well Designed Plan

Allison Gorman reported, in Business TN's latest issue, about a Chattanooga-based company called Clarity. Clarity designs phone products for the senior community. These phones are very basic in nature - no camera or internet connection (that I've read so far). These devices are equipped with dual power source options - meaning a standard cell phone battery or AA batteries. It also has a red panic button that can call five preset numbers to alert them about a potential emergency.

We often hear about the latest technology, as it relates to the younger generation. However, we sometimes forget that technology is being developed to enhance or improve the lives of our senior citizens. Clarity is currently working on expanding their marketing channels. I see great utility in their current product line. Products and strategies like this one will find, in my opinion, prosperity in the near future.

NEWS FLASH TO STARBUCKS - There Comes a Time When You've Had Too Much Coffee

I'll let the article speak for itself - http://blog.futurelab.net/2009/07/a_starbucks_by_any_other_name.html

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Unemployment in Silicon Valley - A New Experience

In the August issue of Wired Magazine, Paul Boutin wrote a brief article about the upside of people being laid off in Silicon Valley. He positioned the article to deal primarily with innovation through startups. Adobe Systems is a good example of this process. Thus, the stagnation and lack of opportunity should spark new ideas to reshape technology in the near future. Although I like the point, I think 2009 is a little different from the rule.

Silicon Valley will always go down in history as the place where technological innovation brought great rewards to the global economy. But 2009 doesn’t quite have the circumstances necessary for a significant green shoot of innovation to solve the problems related to this economy – not to mention technology is now more engrained into mainstream society.

I’m sure there are plenty of venture capital opportunities on the sidelines ready to support any potential of an idea, but the impact of any discovery is unsure at this time. Unlike the times of old when the infrastructure of technology was not quite developed, this downturn, for Silicon Valley, will provide the same challenges and problems as the rest of this nation.


Does the new Kindle have a chance - http://www.pcworld.com/article/168765/barnes_and_noble_please_avoid_these_kindle_mistakes.html


Monday, July 20, 2009

Visual Complexity and MIT

(un)photographed Spain from senseablecity on Vimeo.

Let's Talk About Sustainability

To hell with margins, competitive advantages, and all the other business jargon. Organizations are talking about sustainability.

My point being that I have no point at all. But it's a good topic for discussion.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why People Go Online

In a recent article by eMarketer, Fuder Rinn found that 100% of the people go online to pass the time.

What does that mean?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dismal Mall Traffic

After hearing Today's retail reports, and similar ones over the past
few months, I'm beginning to wonder if the problem is over-capacity or

What are your thoughts?

Defining Attributes

In order to differentiate yourself from your competition, you have to talk about the features that make your product/service different in the marketplace. During the typical purchase decision process, a consumer will more than likely remember one or two attributes about your brand after the problem recognition stage. This Mizuno commercial is one of many approaches to selling a unique feature/attribute, as it relates to stability control on their running shoes.


I ran across WireDrive during the Creativity & Technology (CaT) Conference in May. WireDrive was a feature sponsor for the event, and a major presenter. If you're in the video editing business, or a related discipline, WireDrive may offer some beneficial solutions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Camelbak® - Equipped For A Turbulent Economy

If you don't know by now, I'm very big on running these days. I love the Mizuno brand of shoes, and I love Nike gear. In one of my recent blogs, after my big run in April, I mentioned a young lady I met before the race. She inspired me in many ways, including running in a marathon in Iraq. The conversation started because her interesting backpack, which had a water spout.

Well, I now run with this same backpack, and I love it. The brand is called Camelbak®, and these particular products are part of this brand's Sports & Recreation line. They are very durable, but lightweight. Also, these backpacks are equipped with well-designed storage areas for phones, id cards, and mp3 players.

Camelbak® is a privately held company, based in Petaluma, California. The US military is one of many clients, which adds to the quality statement. You can even find Camelbak products in the Tour De France. The competitors, from a brief Google search, are Nathan Sports and a handful of small shops.

There's a lot that can be learned from a brand that stands alone, and still maintains a high standard of quality and innovation.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Roy Williams - Let's Talk?

In 2004, I was introduced to an excellent series of books titled The Wizard of Ads, by Roy Williams. If you are a marketing or advertising professional, this is a highly recommended piece of work that brings critical thinking back into the profession. Seeing how this is not the point of this entry, please jot that down, and I'll move on.

It would be my luck that Mr. Williams would be speaking at Belmont University that year - about the book and all things advertising. He spoke of neurology, the absorption of information, and the perception of word compositions. All of this was fascinating information, but none stuck with me like the small mention he made about generations.

Based on the book Generations, by Neil Howe, America is following a sort of time-pendulum, according to Williams. The time-pendulum's origin point falls on the 03's - 1923, 2003, etc. The time-pendulum origin marks a significant time in American History, as it relates to music, innovation, and business. To use music as an example, 1923 brought about Jazz in the mainstream, 1963 Rock-n-Roll, 2003 Hip-Hop. Additionally, generations have 20-year swings, instead of the typical 40 year swing - broken into a civic society and idealistic society. Civic societies can be summed up as, "I can change my world", and "I can change the world" for idealistic.

I agreed with everything Williams analyzed about Howe's findings, but his overall statement about the current time was wrong, in my opinion. Williams found America to be at the same point as 1963 (see graphic). Here's the problem with this perspective, if it's a pendulum, the societal fabric would be shifting the other way - more toward 1923.

What does this mean? It means that 2009 matched up with 1929. It means we are 30 years from another music revolution. It means that this new wave of protectionism will lead to another global conflict. It means public policy will have to revisit or reinvent new ways of operating. It means Hayek and Keynes will have to move aside for new theories and thought about economics. It means that open-source may become closed to support the interest of the nation. It could mean a lot of things, but it all depends on you.

If you go through these points in history, it's pretty scary. There are significant things going on, and they sort of resemble the momentum shift of the pendulum.

If anyone knows Roy Williams or Neil Howe, tell them to call me. I need to get it straight.

1863 - Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln
1883 - Supreme Court declares Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional
1903 - Ford Motor sells 1st Model A car
1923 - U.S. unemployment has nearly ended
1943 - U.S. defeats Japan and wins Battle of Bismark Sea
1963 - John F. Kennedy flies to Texas
1983 - President Reagan signs $165 billion Social Security rescue
2003 - United States, Briain, Australia and Poland invade Iraq without United Nations sanction

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Rokia Traore

I accidentally discovered Rokia Traore in Indianapolis a few years back. I stopped by a cultural festival in the park, and watched the rehearsal. I've been a fan ever since. There are many Rokia fans, but I had no idea TED was on to it. I was actually searching for an Edward Tufte speech. I'll have to get to that later.

I highly recommend buying any of her albums, and I definitely recommend seeing her in concert. It's an awesome experience. This is coming from someone who only witnessed the rehearsal.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Marc Lasry - Hedging on Distressed Debt

Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital Group spoke today on Squakbox. He claims that $400 billion of debt will need to be refinanced by 2015 (from 2010 to 2015), which may mean bankruptcy for many companies. He also anticipates the default rate to double. Is this a small wave we are experiencing - to be followed by another wave five years later?

Mizuno Running Shoes

The Wave Creation 9 running shoes rock! It's the perfect balance
between support and performance. I'm ready to improve on my time.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Purchase Process Still Applies!

In a recent eMarketer article titled, "Click! So What?", Gian Fulgoni, Chairman of comScore, was interviewed about Direct Response Marketing on the internet. The initial question related to the relevancy of clicks as a measurement of success for internet marketing. In Mr. Fulgoni's opinion, internet marketing should not be viewed different from other traditional forms of media, such as print or broadcast. Thus, branding is always a crucial component, even in the midst of direct response.

In all, I have no problem with Fulgoni's statements, but I do have one big problem with one particular question/answer during this interview. But isn’t search often the beginning point for many consumers? Fulgoni starts his answer with, "It can be ....". What? Doesn't the fundamental stages of the purchase decision process still apply? If I remember it correctly, it starts with problem recognition. At the point of search, consumers have already passed the first point. Point 1 is the first and best chance of existing in the mindsets of a potential buyer. Additionally, after point one, branding can be a non-issue, because at this point decision factors are very objective, and brands have already been considered in the search pool.

I'm starting to hear whispers of the term, "engagement", instead of "clicks". Engagement on the internet is the equivalent of free beer and wireless internet at a furniture store. The store will have more traffic for longer periods of time, but there could be no correlation between the promotion/engagement and increased sales. With all the data and functionality the web offers to e-marketing professionals, it's interesting to know that ROI is still a subjective science. The new age of marketing and advertising should be about transparency and efficiency. However, it seems that we are not yet to that point.

If you don't center your marketing strategy around the purchase decision process, it's not marketing.

Sad About Steve McNair

Rest in peace Air McNair.