Oct 28

Pumpkin Festival



Pumpkin Festival, originally uploaded by RachelC.

There was a Pumpkin Festival in Central Park at the weekend, there must have been thousands of them. When I was growing up, we never got pumpkins for Halloween – we used swedes. These pumpkins make it far too easy!

Oct 15

Halo3 goodies



Halo3 goodies, originally uploaded by RachelC.

I finally got my prize copy of Halo 3 today, which I won in a draw at the IAB MIXX conference a few weeks ago, along with a XBox360. I was expecting just the game but instead got this special edition, with extra DVDs and a helmet shaped game holder. Plus a little toy model of a Warthog vehicle thingie. Not quite sure where to put it, doesn’t really go with the rest of the place ;-) Now to try play the game!

Oct 11

BIF and Mark Cuban by Walt Mossberg

Mark Cuban  Owner, Dallas Mavericks (among other things)  www.nba.com/mavericks

Cuban is an active investor in leading and cutting-edge technologies and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Prior to his purchase of the Dallas Mavericks, Cuban co-founded Broadcast.com, the leading provider of multimedia and streaming on the Internet. Today, in addition to his ownership of theMavericks, Cuban is also Chairman of the high-definition television station HDNet which he launched in 2001. HDNet is the world’s first national television network broadcasting all of its programming in 1080i high-definition television (HDTV).

  • MC: 1800Vote411,  you all need to vote for me.  I need your votes!
  • WM: is there any guilt about blowing away Wayne Newton,  he’s about 90!
  • MC: yes, there is…he worked hard. everyone does.  I’m doing the waltz….I practiced all day yesterday, I’ll fly  back and do it later.    I’ve lost 27 pounds
  • WM: Why are you interested in buying the Chicago Cubs?
  • MC: there are 100s of opportunities to deliver stuff in a digital universe, and sport and digital not yet joined.  there are great opps
  • WM: the red Sox, they have changed…these guys have won a World Champs
  • MC: people fail to realise this. When I started with the Mavs we were last in revenue and now we are 3rd.  We worked hard to generate the revenue.  There’s a lot of loval stuff that can be done.  There is a direct correlation about marketing and spending on talent
  • WM: the NFL is basically socialism, but how do you become richer?  you can’t spend more money etc on baseball as they have more revenue sharing, you can leverage that?
  • MC: i do not know yet, I’ve not seen the details yet?
  • WM: you were one of the early web pioneers, video, selling it for a bunch of money,  tell us how you think and sustain a great idea.
  • MC: it’s always simple.  I look at myself as a consumer.  I started Microsolutions, I was selling IBM PCs, this was new tech, I was not behind anyone; I looked at coming up with better ways,.  My success was about doing my homework.   In 1983,  I got in touch with Novell, saying it would be good to get the PC connected.  We were one of the first networking solutions companies.   Dell and I used to go head to head all the time,  the most brilliant things I saw Michael Dell do was he would put out an ad every week, the same products, the prices went down.  we were trying to differentiate ourselves, make it better with broadcast.com, we used as our concept being able to listen to indiana basketball wherever you were. In 1995, we used sports to understand the technology, on how use the web for realtime communications.   we started audio in ’96.  we added video, so when big companies wanted to do business meetings, they would have theatres and they broadcast via satellite.  We said we would do it over the net.  in 1998, we could do it over the web.. Dell did it to talk to customers.  Success was about making our customers more profitable and give them a competitive advantage and that is how we made the money
  • WM: we talked with Jason Fried yesterday, about how when you have a product you have to figure out what the product is, what the design is, not build everything or build it for the sake of it, but build for the customers, make it simple,  easy to use?
  • MC: i agree. the challenge with new products is should it be a product or should it be a feature of another.  They do not understand that if you create a product, the other product may add it as a feature..  Does this product create the path of least resistance for the customer to do what they want
  • WM: is video a destination or a data type
  • MC: it is a data type,  it is popular for a few reasons-  they subsidise your bandwidth.  the web does not yet support it at quality or scale level yet. but bits are just bits
  • WM: what about the soviet ministries.  10 years ago, you could design, manufacture and market, i the Palm Pilot.  If it flopped, the you tried again, if a hit you raced to produce more and the next design..  there was this tremendous feedback loop.  Today, so many things have to do with networks, you have to deal with the social ministries, the carriers, the cable tv etc.  Now verizon decide the phones on their networks , the software, the apps and in most cases you need to pay them money to do things.  It has made it harder for the feedback loop.
  • MC: it’s a great question, but not sure if real.   You had to make a choice – DOS, windows, apple. Today you have the choice of OS, Verizon may screw you but MS did the same.   There was ethernet, arpnet, token ring.  it’s not dramatically different.  The companies are being victims of their own mistakes. There are enough networks.
  • WM there are 4. 4 diff orifices as Jobs says
  • MC: and Jobs is the king of the orifices.  The greatest opp now is the developing a new OS.  Vista sucks, mac is what it is, closed.  
  • WM: but you can develop apps….
  • MC: you have great hardware manufactures that come up with all the dev in the PC.   So if you have great PC hardware technology, then opportunities
  • WM: Dell is shipping a Linux laptop, but most cannot use it.  Is there an option for you to take a linux system and finish it.   They are all 80% complete.
  • MC:  It’s the dancing, I do not have enough energy to focus on it.  There should be, you need someone to knock apple and  come up with a different thing.  That’s where the opportunity is.  I just wrote a post about switching,  Never used a Mac product since 89,  until Vista forced me. The Macbook just worked, it’s not that I can’t do a OS backup and restore, it’s  I did not want to.    Most things are now web driven, I do things in the browser. 
  • WM: Vista, they had their world dominating product.  It took them 5 and 1/2 years, and people are not happy, . it requires you to buy a computer….
  • MC: and most is on  the net.   You look at google, any platform . Yes it was a mistake.  I used to call it the n-factorial issue, everything has to work with everything before, and one thing can upset the apple cart.  Vista is being kept alive by corporations.  They tried to make everything backward compatible and there is 20 years work and there is too much bullshit now.
  • WM: Jobs is going to cut everyone off at the knees every 5 years. 
  • MC: he understands the revolution and new devices.  Now you do not care about clock speed etc,  Vista has  more junk in it and it goes slower.  I’m a huge MSFT fan across the board, outside of the PC,
  • WM; has the PC peaked…When I wrote about that, the MS PR team got an editorial against that.  Any mention of this, the PR team get on it
  • MC: there was a day when you were excited.now people look for reasons not to replace,
  • WM: it’s the cellphone?
  • MC: it’s about content where you want and how you want.   It’s cellphone, it’s other devices.  It’s portable, people look for new cures for boredom on travel.   In the house we not spending on pcs, but on consumer electronics, entertainment.  The hardest is to connect TV and music and entertainment.  Everyone wants to push HD over wireless, it is not going to work on what we have.   It’s a race, home networks,   HD networks are increasing faster then the bandwidth.  I’m biased, but that’s why I got into it?
  • WM: why do we need a HD network. 
  • MC: what differentiates us is that you can only receive HD on a HD tv set.    People wanted to watch, there was no content and they looked for someone to fulfil,  I looked at it, in 2001, 2002. The TV was expensive, everyone was saying too expensive and they would stay expensive..  I looked and saw Moores model – it would get cheaper.   I saw that and said there was no content, people did not think it would grow. I looked at the distributors, it was built around bandwidth, they were supporting a number pf channels.   Now I’m growing at 5% a month.  I’m on the basic HD package.  not on Comcast yet,  so call them and ask
  • WM: what kind of programming?   I will watch HD programmes that I may not even like?
  • MC: 70% of men tune to HD first, 40% will watch something in HD even if not liking it.
  • MC: that’s what we had at the start.  We have scifi, we have torchwood. we have news, sports, concerts.  In the past concerts have not worked before well, on a big screen it works well,  all day Sunday all we play is concents
  • WM: how many?
  • MC: we have 7 million subscribers. we pass by 65m homes.  There’s not a lot of HD content.   Networks upconvert and treat consumers as idiots.   They make a deal of networks with HD but not talking about content.   take out ESPN,  us and discovery, there is little in HD. At some point that will be a competitive point
  • WM: is that just physics?
  • MC: no, they gave enough bandwidth.   consumers will know the difference and that will become the competitive level that the number of channels is now.  
  • WM:  you do not think the web can do HD?
  • MC: not yet.  
  • WM: why in France can you get 100mb,, 40 bucks a month.  on FIOS they get 15mb down, the only way to get that.  why cannot we do better?
  • MC: all these companies are public and they get yelled at for making that investment.  The markets is about the big funds, wanting returns, and that will hurt us.  A public company cannot compete, so companies may go private if they need to make investments.
  • WM: so what are you not in?  you have movies
  • MC: landmark
  • WM: I love my landmark 
  • MC: we had HDNet, we started to produce movies, we could make them, distribute on web, , to TV, but not  theatre.   Theatres are still a part of the experience.  Movies need to be an improved experience.  We are  geared towards an older demo.  We bought it so we could control the whole vertical chain. Because we control we can do things differently.
  • WM: so you are Steve Jobs,
  • MC: we want to create things digitally and get it to people where they want.  We have  DVD company,  everything we distribute have no DRM and we are doing just fine.  you can rip and copy but if I see you sell it I will beat the hell out of you.
  • WM: the one  I go to is great, but not all your stuff?
  • MC: it’s for baby boomers, that is how I programme.  it’s programmes for adults. We have 70 locations and 270 screens and we keep on opening more.  We have movies and are going to be doing live events. Mon, tues.Wed are not good nights, so we are looking at programming in different ways.  We are looking at 3D
  • WM: about 3 weeks ago I get a call from Jeff Katzenberg, who I slightly know, he said that 3D is coming back in a good way you have to come and see us.  he said it would be big and everywhere
  • MC: there are going to be over 1000 theaters over the next 18 months.   animation, horror, look at Beowolf.  we are looking at games on ‘TV’ in 3d.  you will see a whole different segment of OOH entertainment because bits are bits.  For example, all Samsung HD Tvs are 3d enabled now. 
  • WM; are your theatres digital?
  • MC: they are both.  The digital business plan not there.   we have it but it is more for special things, and live events
  • WM: how do you motivate your people and your companies?
  • MC: I’m not as good as I was as I used to be a lot more fun.  the first company, we had a company shot, the kamikaze, we all went to the bar.,  I try and make it fun, they have their passions.  Does not always work but we try and make it fiun
  • WM: are Google unstoppable?   their slogan is do no evil
  • MC: yeah, right.    You are always perfect until you are not.  Some 12 year old is coming up with a better idea and it will change.   Someone will come up with a better algorithm, a better way of searching, google is dependent on the PC being the primary device, I do not know if that is a long term bet.
  • WM: but they are about to move to mobile?
  • MC: who knows how that will work, whether it will catch on.  the cellphone outside the home is super competitive.   Google can take advantage, in a way few can, but I still think they are vulnerable to innovation
  • WM: are you going to bid on the spectrum?
  • MC: not going to bid, it is still a shared medium,  it’s not a device connectivity issue it is bandwidth issue.  We still cannot get the bandwidth to work in your homes.  So how much will anyone ever get from the spectrum?.  There will be all kinds of unique opportunities.  The point when things change,  is with 100mb throughput to home, that is when it will change
  • WM: who can do it?
  • MC: Verizon can do it.
  • WM: they are the only ones doing it straight to the house.  they did it too my home.  
  • MC: we depend on the device invented in 1900 to connect.  At the same time we talk about development platforms and APIS.  I talk to them, say give students conenction, give them 100MB, see what they will come up with.  If there was one company I could buy, and I can’t afford it, it would be verizon.  They have bought me and in and talked to me, lets see if they can do things.  If you could hit 100MB today you could hit a GB to the home in the next 15 years
  • WM: is it harder or easier to get funding and sustain a company?
  • MC: it’s a lot easier today, not because it is easier to get funding, but the cost of tech is so small, and the cost of connectivity is so small, even if business is not tech.  You do not need to make the same capital investment.  Sweat equity, IP is a lot more valuable today than it was,  as it is easier to implement than ever before.  Some think about how much money instead of how much work they need to do. The best equity is the customers.  They se the value and want to invest.  If you need to raise capital, start small, get people to see the value and come to you.
  • WM: since you get established and you get going,  Irving Wladawsky-Berger said you near a near death to reinvent youself.
  • MC: he’s right but I try and not wait that long.  I say everyday that there is someone trying to beat me, and i have to work had to stop them kicking my ass.
  • WM: you can never relax
  • MC: that is the fun of it.  it is continuing intellectual challenge and that is the fun
  • WM: what is you next business? 
  • MC: hdNet trying to leverage digital media in new ways,  everyone is so focused on wev when it comes to digital and they are looking the wrong direction.  It’s TV, DVRs, connection in their homes, to movies, looking at ways to leverage it. There’s so many untapped markets, everyone is so web focused that we can do other stuff.

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Oct 11

BIF and Joseph Coughlin by Walt Mossberg

Joseph Coughlin Director, Age Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology web.mit.edu/agelab/index.shtml

Coughlin is founder and Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab – the first multi-disciplinary research program sponsored by government and business to understand the behavior of the 45+ population as decision-makers, consumers, patients, caregivers, advisors and technology users.

  • WM: you run the age lab.  it’s not trying to solve the process of aging, but is about how society deals with getting older.  I buy things, (new cars, the iphone) so what is wrong with the ad industry that they do target me?
  • JC: aging is quite new,,we have this pop of relatively healthy and wealthy wanting something new and different.  for 100s of years, business, old means poor, sick, old and frail so by 35 off their scale
  • WM: so what demo do the ad goes after
  • JC: 18 to 25, then 35.  the belief is that if I can capture you then I have you for life.  The older will continue to be there  and there is more of us than the young.  business has to do new things
  • WM I’m a research free zone, otherwise known as a journalist!  I think they, the ad people,  are not changing.   It is not a shock that the baby boomers are active, living longer, got money.  Surely they know this.  but there is no disruption to the business.
  • JC: it is not about a new idea, it is knowing that the world has changed around you.  Most do not, they have been here long enough, they do not think they need to change.  most orgs do not pay attention to things that are happening. People get paid to do what they have done, innovation happens next you.  most people do not want to admit they are aging, they want to ignore it.  companies do not build old products
  • WM:  want them to adverstise intelligently to me
  • JC: you want them to advertise to you.  We are looking at aging driving personalisation, style, wealth, etc.  as a result, this is not what companies are used to, a customer that want things from them, when they want to, and are willing to shop around.   the age lab is the only place looking at business, behaviours and technology together.  Baby boomers, are in prime chronic disease time.  Have to manage diet etc.  We developed with P&G a personal tool to allow you to monitor salt etc in prudcts in stores.  In Germany , it may go on your cell phone, but at the moment on your shopping cart in.  EU is older then us, so they are there.  Aging is one of the greatest driver of innovation
  • WM: more examples?
  • JC: countries will reduce in population, some people here are looking at the nursing home, so how can we actually change the house, add a health station, make it as a platform for living.
  • WM: how about a 1 floor house?
  • JC: longevity 1.0 was luck.  2.0 was water, tech and vaccinations,  3.0 is longest – personal responsibility, where you live, save, etc, get 30 years of productive living.  that is the greatest driver of innovation around the world.  on 40 years you will have a workforce shortage in China,
  • WM: so what is the message the companies are getting this?
  • JC: you are seeing it by stealth.  Bud use their distribution network.  People are looking to live longer well, the expectations to live well is the difference.  It’s all about women, they live longer, they make the decisions, they make most the care choices,   Now we have an population that have seen a lot of things and have a higher bench mark to make it exciting.  They have the money to pay things. a premium
  • WM: I was reading in the NYT, the 18-35 demo has changed over the last 20 years, they start making money later.  Does that impact the spending power?
  • JC: if life has got 30-40 years longer, so we have prolonged adolescence.  The fact that you have a degree you are educated for life is wrong.  so where do you continue to work, you will have 2-3 careers, how do you go back to school.   The average 50 yo want to stop working…wnat to stop doing what they are working, they still want to do things.  so how do you want to live tomorrow, it’s all about aging

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Oct 11

BIF and another Maverick panel

A panel discussion with the 3 previous speakers, moderated by Bill Taylor, you had William Herp. Robin Chase and Jack Hughes.

  • BT: What are the surprising barriers>
  • WH: the biggest challenge, getting the biggest customer group, those who only use airlines and do not think there us an alternative. it is getting all the team to realise there is education to be done before we reach the tipping point to get people to consider it,.  the environment of the public air transport helps, but you have to get people to change their minds
  • RC: using the right words.  thinking about zipcar, you forget there is no much wrestling about using the right words, getting users to understand it.   getting the tight messages
  • BT yesterday we talked about the high concept pitch.  Using the short message.  You use the personal public transport system, a car service with wings, open source meets capitalism.  How do you use the language, is that the pitch that you use?  We use Harvard business review crossed with Rolling Stone for Fast company and every one got it
  • JH it’s all about changing an embedded norm, those are ness changes.  so how do you make people on an individual basis implement the change.  in each of the cases, to get the right message an words is critical.  if the underlying business model has merit, you pull in people and the words will come.  I do not think that any one thinks these models will not happen.  for us, why do people need to go to a place to write software,
  • BT is that your new mantra?
  • RC: I’m testing.  there is power in the words as the words are well crafted and robust.  they are big concepts in a few words
  • WH: one things we found is that there are different things for diff constituencies,  then you throw in time and how things and people change.  in my experience, trial and error has worked well for us.  we build test models.  Car service with wings work at industry.  private travel at airline prices works for customers, they will change as time goes
  • BT: all of you are passionate, there is a tangible product.  how important is it to think about customers buying into you world view?
  • RC: they buy into a quality service, it saves you money, its faster etc,  evangelism , people love it and will talk about it.  they do not buy into what I say, they have to love the service,.
  • BT: about the early adopters?
  • RC we have 3 value propositions and people chose the one they want
  • BT: you have 125k members, doing coding.   What do they think about the future of work
  • JH: some do some don’t they look for what they get out of it, money, learning, to solve problems, they all have an individual need.    We run a high school competition and we do not make money out of it, it is about getting people interested in science and maths etc
  • BT: in an idea driven business, you get feedback from lots of people, and you tweak  what have been tweaks that have been important
  • WH: you need to articulate your vision and be receptive to the feedback.    So far we have been successful in getting everyone to deliver a vision and match inside and outside.  in the previous company, we started off thinking about helping with customer care and we found at pretty quickly that the bigger opps was marketing to them  it was originally ecare and then changed to edialog.  we changed the company as a result of feedback
  • JH: it is not about changing what you are dong as more about being open to listening.   One story was about the members wanting to change the weekly matches we were doing, lasting about 9-0 mins  it would have cost money, I said no.   I went on holiday and when I came back they had built it.  and it was one of the most successful things we do now, the marathon matches
  • RC: goloco is still new, we had a lot of people signing up, bit only 1% were offering a trip.  we redesigned and there are lighter ways t enter, put your favourite places to go and we can start matching on this.  lighter touch
  • BT: what was one of the lessons from your previous companies
  • JH: innovators are very impatient.  you have to give it time.  Topcoder is still new to many, we have to be patient
  • WH: I agree that that is critically important.  One thing I have gotten better at is articulating an idea, get a team rallied around it and then let it go, trust the people to do things
  • RC: continuous improvement, understand the business model, keep on top of it, understand the dynamics
  • BT: there is an ongoing experimentation.

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Oct 11

BIF and Denise Nemchev

Denise Nemchev President, Stanley Fastening Systems www.stanleyworks.com

Nemchev is President of Stanley Bostitch, a Division of the Stanley Works. The Stanley Works is a worldwide supplier of tools, hardware and security solutions for professional, industrial, and consumer use. Stanley Bostitch is a $600M division of SWK headquartered out of East Greenwich, Rhode Island employing nearly 3,000 people world-wide. Stanley Bostitch is a full-line marketer and manufacturer of professional fastening tools and fasteners serving the global industrial, construction, home improvement, and office products users.

  • we started over 100 ago with an innovation,  with the stapler, the staple stick.  Bostitch.  They started in the book binding business.
  • they still are designing, innovating fasteners, tools, nail guns and the whole works,
  • thinking about the structure of the home, what is the base is a wood frame.  Nails keep them together and that is what I am going to talk to you  About innovating to prevent failures
  • Disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes.   The nail fails the house falls.
  • so how do you solve a problem like this? you cannot do it alone, we need collaboration  We worked with the Government, universities, other industries, such as the insurance industry.
  • now we understand more than most to how a house fails
  • in an earthquake, you get shear force, as the house rocks. with wind, you get shear and you get pull through, with the nails coming out of the wood.
  • the team came up with a disaster resistant fastener, the Hurriquake
  •  the nail withstands up to twice the wind and 50% more shear force
  • you get ridges on the bottom of the nail, and you get twists on the top, with a slightly bigger diameter than the hole.  It screws in  It holds together better.  they put more material where the shear happens to reduce breaking.
  • the nail head is 25% bigger and reduces the pull though. 
  • we are being recognised for the innovations, by Readers Digest, Popular Science.

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Oct 11

BIF and William Herp

William Herp President and CEO, Linear Air www.linearair.com/

Herp is the president and CEO of Linear Air, a company offering private air travel to executives and families with superior and personalized service. Linear Air offers flexibility and convenience not offered from big name airlines. Herp is also an Instrument Rated Commercial Pilot.

  • I’ve thought about 3 questions- what do I do, how did I get here, what lessons are there,
  • Here’s a plane, the disruptive tech that I use. Cheaper to use and to run, engine innovation have allowed this
  • Industry, about 30billion dollars. Options for many to use
  • we have about 12k in database, have 6 aircraft, a 1000 customers in the NW North East
  • it started with an interest in aviation, became a pilot in the 90s, i discovered I was good at understanding how aviation works. i was able to convince myself there was an opportunity to create a new business model, with the disruptive technology,
  • around me I had a lot of great people who encouraged me, I put together a team of like-minded people. We are one of 3 companies who are well positioned to take advantage of this
  • My previous company, e-dialog, I started in 1996, around marketing in email. It is about a 250 person company (now for sale! RC: this was meant as a joke, sometimes typing direct leads me to miss this, sorry William:) )
  • So how did I get this way, ready to try all these things, I go all the way back to my early years, where I was encouraged to search out my interests and how they align with my talents. being encouraged to focus on these, that thinking big and looking for opps. The importance of team is great, finding people who think like you
  • lessons learnt, is to encourage young people, help people on their talents, focus on talents is often ignored. In reviews we often try and fix weaknesses instead of focusing on talents. Getting them to know that you often need a team to get things done, not always possible to get things done on your own

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Oct 11

BIF and Jack Hughes

Jack Hughes  Founder and Chairman, TopCoder, Inc. http://www.topcoder.com/

Hughes is founder and chairman of TopCoder. TopCoder is the recognized leader in identifying, evaluating and mobilizing effective software development resources. Through its proprietary programming competitions and rating system, TopCoder recognizes and promotes the abilities of the best programmers around the world. Hughes also co-founded Tallán Inc. a provider of web-enabled business solutions.

  • I want to talk a little about TopCoder.  generally we are trying to do a number of things, the biggest is culture, the nature of work
  • Work is going to become much more like plat.  to keep people interested and happy, it will not be the same paradigm.  there was little leeway before in how people did things, they got told
  • we think the work will not be done for any particular org, and people will do things for many
  • we have tried to create a community that does work in a collaborative format.
  • the community is a diverse group that has a common interest.  For a work community, there has to be some kind of structure to accomplish things.  what we do is do it, figure out what works and get rid of the rest
  • there has to be some set of common values.     there’s a huge role for education, for fun, we weave them all together
  • Diversity is a good thing, allows different points of view.  But you are dealing with many differences, so you end up in a herding cats problem, the structures have to help this
  • Topcoders main theme is competition, this is the thread that runs through it.  Competition lets people find what they are good at.  it is competitive in that there are players at the top of their game and those who wan to learn
  • We have to diverse, large products, so we have a project management methodology that helps this, to define a problem that can be broken up.  Then can be done to standards  we have people who define a problem, then a factory that can break it down, spread the pieces and bring it back together.
  • We do not manage the workforce, it manages itself.
  • members get excited about the competition.  people want to see who they do over time, so we have all sorts of stats to help drive the behaviour.  Work becomes a game and the competition is how well they do at the game,
  • it is all open. the solutions to how to do things often come from the members., how to manage the competition comes from the members
  • something is built across the world from multiple places.  if you structure the world correctly, model the problem, you can get many people quickly from all over the world.
  • we learned a lot by trial and error, ways emerged to manage the process
  • we bring people together as well, to connect

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Oct 11

BIGF and Robin Chase

Robin Chase, Founder and CEO, GoLoco  www.goloco.org

Chase is the founder and CEO of GoLoco. GoLoco is a service that helps people quickly arrange to share rides between friends, neighbors, and colleagues. GoLoco also helps share trip costs online. Prior to GoLoco, Chase co-founded and was CEO of Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing company.

  • I only have one thing on my mind incessantly – climate change and how we can get people motivated to act
  • speaking to climatologists, talking to one of the leaders, looking at their slides – heavy in information.
  • he says that if in 2015, if world wide CO2 gives down, we have a 50.50 chance of avoiding a climate disaster.
  • in 2004, driving personal cars is 20% of CO2, 9% is making the cars and fuel, 17% was house electricity use
  • biggest is car transport.  So what can we do something.  if we start today, when will it play out,
  • politicians say buy fuel efficient car, use alternative fuel,, If everyone started now, then in yr 10, then only reduce by 5%.  In urban areas, changes are often 20-25 years before effect.
  • Carbon taxes are good – people change when money involved.   it would transform demand for walkable communities, change behaviour fast
  • Next piece, what is the role of business?
  • carbon taxes is like that horrible medicine that you have to take, even if horrible.  the role of business is to make the medicine more palatable
  • for people in suburban areas, car ownership can be 20+% of income, they are screwed.  so what can we do for them?
  • i want people to be able to create their own personal transportation system, with their cars and trips – ride sharing.  this is goloco.  the word car-pooling I hate, so I’m looking at a new word and concept
  • built on facebook platform,  tells you how much CO2 I have saved,  it’s based around my friends and their trips.
  • a bike team are using it to arrange their trips,.  the payment system works well, no one gets left with it all.
  • I’ve been called a one trick pony.   My previous company, innovative hire cars.  Goloco leverages the expensive asset, the car, to make it more efficiently used.    I realised I was a two trick pony, how can we get end users to create the infrastructure.  we are going to create a community public transportation network
  • at zipcar, we got a one sentence email, from a customer.   ‘have I told you lately that I love you?’  That is what i am for

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Oct 11

BIF and Ellen Levy

Ellen Levy  Founding Managing Director, Silicon Valley Connect
www.linkedin.com/in/ellenlevy

Levy is currently the founding Managing Director at Silicon Valley Connect. She also serves as the Deputy Chair for the Global Health track within the Clinton Global Initiative; she is the Network Advisor to venture firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson; she is a consultant to the Kauffman Foundation; and she is an Industry Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology in the School of Engineering.

  • want to talk about ‘living the network effect.’
  • I was been giving my lecture by my PHD supervisor to focus, to pick a topic.   A that point I thought about being the masterjack of all trades, instead of master of none
  • I ran Media X at Stamford for a few years.   Earlier this year I left Stamford and did 2 companies. 
  • MediaX – a model for university-industry collaboration,  it looks at getting money from industry to support work.  There were 55 affiliate programme at the time.  No-one told me the rules at the time.   So I put together a programme of taking on questions from industry and providing answers.    If you want to think about questions, universities are not easy to ask them, the challenge is who do you ask.  we are bound by structure so you have to pick a place to ask
  • you have faculty and students, you have disciplines, you have schools, then you have the university on top.  So looking at creating this dialog, how do you do it. The university itself does not know itself well.    My programme looked at being able to navigate the structure.  We had 25 paying partners, entry level 50k, we said come ask us something multidisciplinary – our group did the navigation around the university. we played with the layer of information.
  • Everything was simple, we used simple mechanisms, it was easy to move ideas around.  It was all about the questions.   We ran on a small budget, we put money back to the university, it was not a large infrastructure it was people who could move ideas around.
  • En example, we had a number of partners talking about mobile devices, eg Nokia and cisco.  we got them talking together.  we wrote a one page question, which we took a month on.  Asking who was working on mobile devices and what applications.  What we got back, 17 proposals, and half of them had faculty rom more than one schools.  We had the right question, we got back good answers.  half the money went direct to graduates.
  • Tech transfer is not the same as idea transfer.  We had companies that said that stamford could not help them – they had gone to the tech transfer office, looked at IP,  but if you get to talking about ideas then that is where the richness.
  • Organisational principle is not the same as organisational structure.  Structure can get in the way of the process – this should not happen
  • It’s all about the ROI, for industry this is Investment, University is Research of Interest and Government is Results of Importance.
  • So start with good questions, Look at relationships over transactions  Sufficient Metrics do not yet exist.
  • I’ve started Silicon Valley Connect, work with multiple companies.  The network effect says that every time you add a node, the network benefits.  Everytime I add a new partner, the network benefits.  VCs, Linked in, multiple partners.
  • My challenges: how do you capture the value you create?  How do you scale? How do you answer what do you do?

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Oct 11

BIF and Stephen Lane

Stephen Lane  Co-Founder and CEO, Item (design consultancy)
www.itemnpd.com

Lane co-founded Item Group and over two decades has built up a dynamic and entrepreneurial design and development firm. Steve focuses on defining and executing new initiatives, both corporate and long-range planning, capitalization and strategic partnerships. Lane thrives as an active leader in the design, entrepreneurial and venture communities, and is an adjunct faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the department of industrial design.

  • at the beginning, the former head of the design school Mark Harrison, was the pioneer of universal design,  he created language such as inclusive design.  He embarked on a project called the universal kitchen.  Looked at modularity, integration,  human factors, let people to think outside their specialities.  it was a new way of thinking
  • showed video of an A&E, emergency medicine
  • the place has so many opps to improve and integrate.  So how do we attack such a challenge.  My neighbour was the head of emergency medicine and had seen the universal kitchen. he asked me if the same principles could be applied to the resus room.  We had people in the hospitals who were interested in getting things done, we worked with BIF.  It took a little money and all the parties put 50k.  we all said we would create this ourselves and put this up for a beacon.
  • IN the video we saw 30-40 tech companies that make equipment, that do not talk to each other.  that has to change.   Very splintered, on a good note there is no one large owner of things that happen.  Information keeps flowing around the world, between people,  There can often be 8-15 people at any one time.   There were wires everywhere, there are tubes everywhere, a hazardous environment.
  • We looked at 100s of hours of tapes, 1000s of images, 100s of interviews. 
  • In 10 weeks,  we redesigned. we produced a full scale model.  We organised things together.  If we would get some standardisation into the packaging, so they are easy to sort, it will help all.
  • Getting all the information, consolidated together and making them easy to see,
  • All the neighbours all worked together, that was the lesson here.

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Oct 11

BIF and Clayton Christensen

Clayton Christensen  Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. His research and teaching interests center on managing innovation and creating new growth markets. A seasoned entrepreneur, Christensen founded three successful companies: CPS Corporation, Innosign, and Innosign Capital. Christensen is also author or co-author of five books and is presently completing two books concerning the problems of our health care and public education systems.  Books: The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, Seeing What’s Next

  • WM: I thought I’d start by getting a few reactions.   So, you’re Balmer, what would you do?
  • CC: the dilemma is that the business unit was not built to evolve. A profit model, processes were designed to do the same thing, better and better, over and over.  The org owns those intangibles.  The way that IBM evolved, the mainframe business unit died and others changed,  The corporate stayed, the unit dies.  If someone gets out of the gate ahead of you and you try and do the same the odds favour the first  you have to disrupt them by coming in underneath.  Sony and Nintendo are ahead and the xbox may not work, you have to disrupt them,  Looking at Google, that game is defined, so you cannot beat them, you have to disrupt?
  • WM Google?
  • CC: can’t think of a way now?
  • WM: and you are Apple, what are they doing?
  • CC I had student tell me I was like the Jewish mother in business there is always something going wrong.  what is disrupting Apple is the cell phones, the music, here you see the phones saying you can get the music on the phone
  • WM: I’m sitting here with an apple phone that can download music without going to the computer
  • CC: the handheld product platform is the one that is disrupting the computer.  Apple jumped right ahead of Nokia…but the research predicts that you will put in place massive creative energy in the others.  It is a sustaining innovation, they have stuck themselves right n the path of Nokia, my research would put the money on Nokia.
  • WM: you are working on 2 new books, they are about fixing public education and the other is about healthcare
  • CC: these are 2 very sick industries.  Those that have studied have only studied in the field education in education,  We have been looking at innovation and other things and are looking at the 2 industries from the outside.  On Healthcare, if you look at business history, in a lot of cases the first products were expensive and complicated,  healthcare is in the realm of a mainframe, very expensive and complex.  For a disruption there has been 2 things, one is a technological enabler and a distribution,  In computing the tech enabler was the microprocessor.  DEC did not create a process innovation and could not change the model, IBM did.   IN health, the tech enabler is precise diagnostics.  Molecular medicine is just opening up, what we called type 2 diabetes is looking to be 20 different things.  At the level of our genes, it is very precise.  Over the next 20 years, it will change, being able to say you have this gives you the ability to treat effectively.  And then we need a new business model.  There are 3 generic types of a model; the first is a value shop, this is like consultants or advertising agencies.  The 2nd is a value chain and the 3rd is a value network,  In a hospital it is a value shop, for the diagnosis.  Then you move into the chain activities, to get an operations etc.  a chain works well for a standard process.  As everything is in a hospital the value chain gets overpriced and the value shop gets underpriced.  We need to break the connection.   You would still have to have therapy in the diagnosis, because you still have to test things is diagnosis not there,.
  • WM: ie baby ear infections – they happen enough to make it pretty standard
  • CC: we have not allowed business innovation in hospitals to change things.  to make it happen, by analogy, if IBM wanted to rethink the mainframe they could have, they had the whole system,  If someone wanted to do the PC now, then it is impossible, no one owns it all.  The system is disintegrated that way.  For heath care, the system needs to be re-integrated to fix it.    People can work on their pieces and what is really required is a whole re-architecture.  The most innovative are the Veterans administration,  They use state of art electronic records, they are the most innovative in pushing things.
  • WM: education?
  • CC: the model of my research is about modular architecture or dependent architecture.  To customise something like windows is very difficult.  Modular make sit easy to change,   like a computer, or Linux.  In education, the teaching side is very interdependent.  You have to do this in 7th grade before you do this in 8th.  The interdependence mandates standardisation in teaching and testing.  This buts up against the reality that there are multiple types of intelligence and we all learn differently.  
  • WM: so how do we do this?
  • CC: one of a teachers job is instruction.  if we can migrate instruction from a teacher center mode to a pupil centered mode, then options,  This is computer based learning.  so we could individualise.    You put the great teachers to design the courses.  The software should be tuned to the type of the intelligence. 
  • WM: does the pupil not have a interaction?
  • CC: yes, but spends time 1 on 1.
  • WM: my wide spent 10 years as a learning disabilites tutor.  These kids were often high intelligence, she had to reteach in the way the kid learnt. 
  • CC the teachers would spend time to ensure students were connecting.  A tale about a girl who could not learn to read, until 5th grade.  a teacher noticed that she was a dancer, a teacher talked to her and asked her to choreograph the alphabet.  Asked her to dance a sentence and a paragraph,  her brain was wired differently, so in 8 months she learnt to read
  • WM: do we have to bust up schools for different models, or is it a tech thing that can change it
  • CC: we need to have schools within schools, like setting up different business units. Need flexibility to create new business modules. 
Oct 11

BIF and Irving Wladawsky-Berger by Walt Mossberg

Irving Wladawsky-Berger   Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation, IBM
www.research.ibm.com/  Blog: http://irvingwb.typepad.com/

Wladawsky-Berger is vice president of Technical Strategy and Innovation at IBM, responsible for identifying emerging technologies and marketplace developments that are critical to the future of the IT industry. He has led a number of companywide initiatives like Linux, Grid Computing and, in October 2002, IBM’s On Demand Business initiative. He is visiting professor of Engineering Systems at MIT and adjunct professor in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the Imperial College Business School. Wladawsky-Berger was born in Cuba and came to the US at the age of 15, in 2001 he was named Hispanic Engineer of the Year.

  • WM: how did you change the way IBM worked with research; 15 years ago there was little happening
  • IWB: IBM came very successful with mainframes, but companies that are great do not always stay.  As the environment changes the leadership may not adapt to it.   The mainframes were so profitable; there was all this innovation in the labs that was not been noticed.  Even the PC business was treated as a toy, the profits were so low it did not get the attention.  IN the early 80s we had a prototype of a multithread system, we wanted to do the OS but the message from MSFT was that Billy would be pissed. So we did not do it
  • WM: so how did it get well?
  • IWB: I went through that as I’m not sure that a company can reinvent it self without near death
  • WM: so apple were within 90 days of bankruptcy
  • IWB: so that may be why.  for us, we got a new leader, the internet was a lifeboat.  We had lost the franchise for the mainframes.  so we clutched the internet like a lifeboat and I do not know if you can do great in business without that fear
  • WM: I want tot talk about virtual worlds as a business environment,  but before, Steve Balmer was at my conference in spring and he said he had 2 main businesses, both gifts from IBM, one was the desktop software the other is the enterprise business and he had come to realise in the last 2 years, that the business model they had was not the model that could apply to all products, so needed a multiple one.  One new one was search and advertising and the other was consumer electronics., to go after Apple,\.  So here is the question, when you did not want to make MS unhappy, he had about 100 employees.  Balmer has 72k employees, he’s trying to go after the nimble..so how?
  • IWB: once the near death clears out the brain, we switched fro  being inward facing to be a much more market facing company.   MS does not Linux, have been fighting open documents.  I wonder if the real fight is in MS it self.   When you are doing this in the market you are setting culture, if your people see that your culture is to attach Linux or ODF then how can the people believe that you want to be this innovative company in other places.  I do not know if it can be done, IBM could not.
  • WM: Bill has bragged about the labs, researchers
  • IWB: the labs are the back office, but the game is won in the field not in the back office
  • WM: IBM embrace these things and the latest is virtual worlds, so how do these worlds got to do with business?
  • IWB: if you are smart in a company like IBM, you watch what your smart people are doing and see where we should move.  In 2006 there were ore and more people having meetings in Second Life, on their own.  No one had told them  they found the experience of dealing with each other than a conference call.  an in person meeting is better but if the are all over the world there are only so many meetings.  There’s more chit chat in the SL meetings.  We saw this as an evolution in the social networks, the killer apps are meetings and learnings and training.    We went to see what our clients are interested in.  So much of what people do in business is collaborative, this is becoming a major collaborative platform, these are complementary things
  • WM: there are other ways, with conference calls there are no visual queues, so Cisco and HP etc are working on these video conference
  • IWB: the are missing 2 things-  one their costs is really high, SL is cheap.   And their technology does not scale, 2-3 places only,  In IBM we have built classrooms in the worlds and it is more scaleable.
  • WM: so looking ahead, the number of gestures etc in SL is limited, you would not get the full set of gestures
  • IWB: did you see Happy Feet?  It is possible.
  • WM: in 5 years?
  • IWB: we need to do a lot of research, on what people do,.  At MIT the media lab is doing a lot of research on the digital world.  Hybrid real and digital world.  The tech is cheap, the innovation comes from looking how people are using it.  At IT we look at a global university, the courses are on the web that is the passive content but if they want me, then there is more to do.  Everyone in business can have meetings in virtual .  This is the evolution into a collaborative space.
  • WM: the web, is still mainly text
  • IWB: yes.  but as the visual things take over it will just be one more chance to collaborate and the potential is enormous.
Oct 10

BIF and Richard Wurman by Walt Mossburg

Richard Saul Wurman, Author, Architect, Founder of TED, www.wurman.com  http://www.192021.org/

With the publication of his first book in 1962 at the age of 26, RSW began the singular passion of his life: making information understandable. He chaired the International Design in Aspen in 1972, the first Federal Design Assembly in 1973, followed by the National AIA Convention in 1976, before creating and chairing TED (Technology/Entertainment/Design) conferences from 1984-2002. He is the current Chair of the TEDMED Conferences. A B.Arch and M.Arch 1959 graduate with highest honors from the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Wurman’s nearly half-century of achievements includes the publication of his best-selling book Information Anxiety and his award winning ACCESS Travel Guides. Each of his 81 books focus on some subject or idea that he personally had difficulty understanding. Presently, he is working on his latest project 19.20.21. which he created and chairs with his four partners: Larry Keeley, Jon Kamen, Michael Hawley, and Robert Friedman.

  • WM: Richard started off as an architect; ended up as an information architect.  he has published 81 books. he invented and conducted the finest conferences I know of, the TED conference.  He sold it for a lot of money…did a good deal there.  It’s not the same conference now.  It was like going to college for 3 days.  You got the best, all speaking for 15mins.  The dinner party he always wanted to have.  He did this for 18 years.  So. with refs to virtual worlds, avatars, online community, I’ve been online almost everyday since 1983.  So why is everyone here?
  • RW: we live in an age of also, we do this, we’re also online, we get snail mail etc.   we choose the best…i could not live without email
  • WM; he sends everything in caps!
  • RW: I can’t type nor spell, so just do caplock.  I make lots of phone calls, but email has advantages.  Nothing is better than face to face.  Conversation is the best…go to school you are not taught communication.   In the last lot of books, I’ve tried to capture how to do a conversation.  It’s not as good as a face-to-face. We look at making the connection.   Matt talked about piracy…I did a conference, created a fable, ‘what if could be’.   First thing was to change copyright to the right to copy.  A book I did in 2000 I did not copyright, I put it out there.
  • WM: I’ve stolen lots of things from you,  I called him up and asked him what to call it – he said call it D so we did.  
  • WM: we are talking about leadership and how ideas stick.  I’ve been a reporter for almost 40 years.   When I started, the first place I went was Detroit, 1970, the auto industry was like the tech business today.  The CEOs of the companies, they did not talk to press, customers, they did not talk to anyone.   I drove across the state to catch the head of GM for 5 minutes.  The CEO was nothing to do with the message and brand.  Now, Jobs could be the quintessential CEO, he’s a public figure, he is the brand.  Is that good for business?
  • RW: I don’t care if they should or should not.  I know that I never had a politician nor a head of a company speak..they cannot tell the truth in public, I want people to tell the truth and they can’t.  We were all surprised at the Police Chief candour, because we do not expect.  Jobs does not tell the truth, he can’t be.     I tell the truth, I may not be factual but it is my truth! 
  • RW: last December I was thinking about what I was going to d.  I picked up a business week, all these companies were calling themselves Global.  I spent time with Fedex and National Geographic etc.   There is not directly comparative data.   So I started 192021, so 19 cities, will have 20million in the 21st.  we are usign the same way of collecting data, this is what I’m starting to do.  we are going to do an exhibit, live, one for each city, it will change as the city does.  It’s going to be online, on a memory stick going to do 40 books, slices of the data
  • just starting on that; last night we received our fund raising DVD, it explains about the project.  it’s a complicated thing to get the data with reasonable accuracy and to understand it.  There’s a group in Maryland that collects medical data everyday for all over the world and the countries call them for info (except for the US as the CDC won’t let them).
Oct 10

BIF and Juan Fernando Santos

Juan Fernando Santos

Chief Creative Officer, Studiocom (digital marketing agency)
www.studiocom.com

Santos is the creative director for Studiocom, where his responsibilities include leadership for the design team, user experience concept creation and strategic consulting for highly engaging interactive experiences. Prior to joining Studiocom, Santos was the chief creative and technical officer for iKioskos Communications Corporation, a leading provider of Internet enabled public access kiosks in Latin America, and founding partner/creative director for Azurian, one of the largest new media design and consulting companies in Latin America. Santos holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of Visual Arts as well as studies in industrial engineering from Universidad de los Andes of Bogotá, Colombia.

  • ugc? cgm? both weird and nasty terms
  • I want to touch a little on the democratic publishing
  • the definition of publishing has changed.  At studiocom I tell stories about complex things that cannot be simplified
  • It started with the tools to create; desk top publishing,  It changed the world for a lot of people.  It made some things easy, it made some things standard
  • Desktop video changed things.  Amiga video, allowed a ‘TV studio on your desktop’
  • Now it is desktop everything
  • democratisation of the creation of content, we empower individuals to express themselves
  • we had tools to share.
  • But for a long time, you could only create, there was no successful way to share.  So technology helped there…the web
  • the definition of community has also changed…from people who live in a particular place and are usually linked by common interests to one where people exchange ideas through a network (but still people you ‘knew’) and now to just a people who exchange ideas via technology and networks.  the WOM factor, tech enhanced
  • if I want to find info on Fried Turkey then I use the web.  DP review was started b one person and is now a premier place for content on cameras.
  • you can write a book or a blog,  you can lifecache, record your life with images,
  • in my work I often have to answer brands who want to empower UGC…but I have to educate them with the legal issues.   They can sponsor places, they can do mediated content.  Mediated content is often done with a set of tools that are provided, gives an expected range of results.  
  • A mantra – every action, if shared, is content
  • look at relations as content, create points in the mesh, ie Facebook
  • as we understand the changing role of the individuals, it is a great way to innovation.  The network can provide sources of innovation,

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Oct 10

BIF and Matt Mason

Matt Mason Author, The Pirate’s Dilemma and ex-pirate radio DJ The Pirate’s Dilemma

Mason began his career as a pirate radio and club DJ in London, going on to become founding Editor-in-Chief of the magazine RWD. In 2004, he was selected as one of the faces of Gordon Brown’s Start Talking Ideas campaign, and was presented the Prince’s Trust London Business of the Year Award by HRH Prince Charles. He has written and produced TV series, comic strips, and records, and his journalism has appeared in VICE, Complex and other publications in more than 12 countries around the world. He recently founded the non-profit media company Wedia.

  • pirates can cause a lot of problems but a lot a lot of solutions; pirates are innovators
  • I grew up in London, fascinated by music, listening to the pirate radio stations.
  • I spent a lot of my youth as a pirate radio DJ, playing to London.  There are 150 at last count, about 10% of the audience tune in
  • it is illegal but sort of tolerated; the DJS are providing new audiences, new music.  In a different space.  The most popular tend to be the ones that are the most experimental
  • by day i worked in a record store and then got into advertising.  I found myself being approached to be the editor in chief of RWD…a music magazine with a terrible package.  All about pirates.  The mag acted as a pirate itself, in a different space to the other mags.  We gave the mag away for free but only in cool places.  We had a cool audience, so could charge a premium for advertisments.  Went from 5k to 30k
  • Then I got bored.  And something amazing happened.  I met a girl.  And got married.  And we moved to the US.
  • I was trying to work out what to do once I cold work; i started volunteering at a non-profit – trying to get news teams in Africa, Mali, etc, Action Against Hunger.  The mainstream media here all do the same big stories.   They all said that if they had footage then they would show it.  I then used my contacts to try and find a cameraman to go out there.  This email went out…I heard from 30 cameraman from 3 continents…(2 Emmy winners) we got people there and all the stations took it.  The media people were sating they never got to do it with the mainstream.   It was the same model as pirates..all these media people, all these non-profits.  We worked on bringing them together.  Wedia-  send news people all over the world.
  • I’m obsessed with the spaces outside the mainstream…where the people are.  where there opportunities.  Look at music and film piracy…it’s the pharmaceutical industry, look at the Indian market, providing affordable drugs.
  • Pirates are at the sharp end of innovation.  The usual response is to throw lawsuits..sometimes right, but what if it is not, if there is a real need.  They will keep coming back.  so the best thing to do is compete with them, use the opportunities
  • The Pirates Dilemma – to compete or not to compete

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Oct 10

BIF and Mavericks at Work

Bill Taylor Author, Mavericks at Work  www.mavericksatwork.com/

Co-Author of Mavericks at Work, Taylor is a provocative and inspiring voice on the future of business – an agenda-setting writer, speaker, and entrepreneur who has shaped the global conversation about the best ways to compete, innovate, and succeed. As a cofounder and founding editor of Fast Company, Taylor launched a magazine that won countless awards, and earned a passionate following among executives and entrepreneurs around the world.   Blogs: http://www.mavericksatwork.com/ and Game Changer: http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/taylor/

Dan Heath Author, Made to Stick www.madetostick.com

Heath is the co-author of the best-selling book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. A consultant at Duke Corporate Education, Heath designs and teaches executive education programs for clients such as Microsoft, Dow, and Home Depot. Heath also co-founded a company called Thinkwell, a company producing innovative new-media textbooks that incorporate new approaches to learning.   Blog: http://www.madetostick.com/blog/

Dave Balter Founder and CEO, BzzAgent, Inc. (word-of-mouth marketing firm)  www.bzzagent.com

Balter is the founder and CEO of BzzAgent, Inc., one of the advertising industry’s most recognized word-of-mouth marketing and media firms. A co-founder and board member of The Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Balter currently serves as Chair of the Association’s International Committee. In 2005 Balter co-authored Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing.   Book: Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing – http://www.amazon.com/Grapevine-New-Word-Mouth-Marketing/dp/1591841100    Blog: http://blog.bzzagent.com/

Paul English,  Founder, the gethuman project,  Co-Founder & CTO, Kayak.com

English is the co-founder & CTO of Kayak.com a travel search engine. Recently, English has gained recognition as the founder of gethuman, a consumer movement, with the goal to change the face of customer support in the United States. Gethuman provides company contact information so consumers can talk to actual employees instead of automated machines when they call a helpline.    Blog: http://paulenglish.com/

Dan Heath

  • asked us to write down in 15secs everything that was white and then everything that was white in your fridge.  A limited challenge often produces better results.   Everyone says think outside the box, but thinking inside a box can produce better.  you have to be able to improvise on something
  • so I want to go to bat for the box.  we need to find the right box and get in it!
  • Paul Sawyer looks at improv comedy – and good improv needs a setting, some fodder to get going
  • Improv actors get trained…ask direct questions, guide the dialog, which can make it easier to riff.  The box can be liberating
  • Hollywood uses this…the High Concept Pitch.  Die Hard on a Bus – Speed.  Jaws on a spaceship – Alien.  Business: Blockbuster by mail – Netflix  Used on education etc.  Quebec City says – we are like France without the attitude!  All have a flavour of concreteness and specificity  – aids decision making
  • Look at the set design for Aliens – diff form previous spaceships on film.  So Jaws on a spaceship gave ideas for the set, changes the mental image
  • Chip Conley, created boutique hotels in CA, each needs to have own identity  He wants to bring magazines to life, to drive creativity.  Framing it this way got the team to come up with innovations. 
  • Savings and Load – does not want to be first but definitely does not want to be third.  They are fast followers, they do things better/
  • Staying in the box can be a guide to thinking, an inspiration to thinking.
  • About 10 years ago I created thinkwell, to re-create the college text book.  Not too hard to get seed money as it was in the dotcom era…the only thing easier than getting the money was blowing through it in 9 months.  We were spamming the VC community with business plans.   My mentor, Kevin, worked with me to get money…I used to always say how great things were but never followed through.   He had to tell me that no-one were ever go and say no, as you were so passionate.  they will pat me on the back and never return calls.   He told me I had to stop pitching a textbook and start pitching an investment.  I had to change things – do a business model, revenue model etc.  Someone had to tell me.
  • So the right box can make all the difference, I was trapped in the educational product box, I had to change the box. It made all the difference.

Dave Balter

  • in 2001 I was told it was the worst time to start a business….it was the best for me.  cheap rent, lots of talent.  So we started bzzagent
  • we wanted to start a bit of a lifestyle company…a relaxed place.  But it turned out to be more a creative plce..the whole business was about creativity.  We wanted to turn marketing on it’s head.  We grew and grew, we focused on building, profits etc.   And lost some of the magic.  In 2003 we started a blog called insidebzzagent.  We were transparent, we opened up.  We asked an author to come in for 90 days on 2005 and get him to write about us transparently
  • we got corporate passion but could not keep the creative passion…talked to others and they agreed once profit was there, it goes.  So we looked at keeping.  In 2006 we started a project, 10 days at BzzAgent, we invited a painter in everyday to do something.  It was fun and frenetic and did not work!   We found that the artist itself was too polarising….staff would not going nearby, the PR agent jacked up the prices
  • on the last day, the staff joined in for something…got 16 bird paintings.  it worked
  • the staff liked being part of the project,
  • next was 180 days, everyone could write about the porject….it was fun, enticing, exhaustingly complex.  Some did not like it, it was hard work
  • we thought about giving up.   But Seth (the painter)_had moved in and was painting in the back room.  Started to be part of the team
  • We invited Seth to be part of the agency days, where we trained the agencies on how to do it.  He painted all day and the people all went away with a painting.  He painted the staff, we used the images
  • it became part of the company, he came the artist of residence
  • we removed the constraints, the blog, the time limits etc,.  it became part of the process and the team
  • it creates WOM for ourselves, people talk about it
  • it has all the WOM elements-  exclusive, storytelling, souvenirs,
  • we needed to fail a few times to get to this stage
  • we decided it would be fun to have Seth talk about his art.   We took this and used it as our hold music…recently a big CEO heard the talk..he hung up  After it being explained..he hung up again./  We are still working out the kinks.

Paul English

  • talking about gethuman.com.   My mom passed away, left me as primary caretaker for my dad.  (early stage Alzheimers).  I took his keys away, removed his freedom.   Then I started to take care of his finances, realised that he had a very difficult time on phone calls.   As the banks grew, it went to an automated system and my father got frustrated, he could not get to people.  Many times he would try and call people, he could not get a real person.
  • I started to help him with the photos.  one time too many O could not get in touch with someone.  Too much.
  • I wrote a blog entry one day about this change to off-shores and machines.  We were getting our dignity taken away.  I started to get a big response to this post.  I realised that it was not just me,   there were others.
  • I did some research, found a WSJ article that listed phone numbers for about 10 companies
  • I did more work and came up with 100 companies.  I started posting more tips, took it off the blog and to a website.
  • I stopped having to do work – the community got involved and started giving information.  we got tips from the companies themselves, from support reps giving out secret numbers.
  • The web will not let people hide anymore. 
  • We started seeing companies pushing this as a benefit now, that you could talk to a human
  • Hiring engineers, I see that they are lazy….when they have problems they look for ways to reduce the hassle, looking at ways of never having the problem again.  As a product, service, the only way to do this is to talk to people.  Let your engineers talk to your customers you may get some good things out of it, remove issues
  • kayak.com has 39 employees, does about 1 million sessions on the website a day.  We give personal answers to all, even with the small numbers of staff.  IT was a requirements…so forcing us to communicate with customers, the engineers make sure there is little need for the customers to ask the same questions – it works!
  • i wrote a few years ago about DELL being in a customer service death spiral – too many layers between the customer service rep and the engineer who could fix the problem.  Companies try and do it efficiently, cost save.  the engineers do not have the heat or accountability to fix things,
  • so gethuman is to restore some dignity and get the ability to talk to them.  if a company won’t let you talk to them – you should switch

Panel discussion

  • BT: themes that i have seen today, one is the power of humanity.  So much of innovation is about the human connection.  Second is the power of locality.  Finally, the power and value of simplicity.  So Dan, what can the folks learn about making more effective connections with humans,
  • DH: simplicity.  It’s almost become a cliche; I fear that people think simplicity is dumbing down, but really this is about priorities.  Too much choices can make people freeze.  As innovators, you have to keep things simple, priority, break log jam at point of decision. 
  • BT: Dave, you are in the business of getting your agents to talk about stuff.  what works best?
  • DB: when we started we believed the incentive was the stuff.  We had a whole reward syste,  But we found that people reacted better to a pat on the back from the brand, or recognition for their knowledge.  We talk to the individuals, we recognise them
  • With marketers, we try and get them to talk in this way, treat them as real people.
  • BT: you site, it spread like prairie fire.  why did it connect so well?
  • PE: it was a problem, did not require work about the story, everyone already had their story about it.  
  • BT: when mass media talks, people still listen.  gethuman was in the mass media as well; we think about social media strategies, but there is still an option to get mass and use that
  • PE: you had to do something the journalists care about as well, it resonates and that helps to get mass media.
  • BT: what makes a good story?
  • DH: one of my favourite pieces of my brother’s research was about stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul…3 main types in the series – connection plot, when 2 people share a moment, transcend a boundary.  Second is a challenge plot, avid vs Goliath, 3rd is the creativity plot, the McGyver plot.   What they have in common is the power to inspire. 
  • DB: a lot of companies forget that you need a great punchline – the great product.  Look at how Borat grew.  You need great product and it will grow
  • BT: what advice do you give entrepreneurs telling stories to funders
  • PE: make sure you believe your story, your idea. I like co-founders, you see what people bring to it, some diversity.  Have belief.
  • BT: another theme is authenticity, if you have an idea, you have to believe it and you have to be the idea, so this story about the advisory board
  • DB: the board had a lot of bigwigs, over the years they stopped paying too much attention.  We sent them board decks every quarter.  In the last deck, we out a slide in the deck about lawsuit and 2 out of 15 responded.  So we asked the blog audience what we should do…the agreement was to disband
  • BT: so companies understanding that who we are internally is who we are externally?
  • DH: FedEx is good at mirroring internal and external – reliability is what they do.  There reward people for doing this.  They had a driver in NY, truck broke, by the time it got fixed it would have been too later.  She talked the driver from another company to drive her around.   Motel 6 had a ‘we’ll leave the light on for you’ sold a promise , friendly, that was never real
  • BT: Paul has insights into how to conduct yourself as a CEO
  • PE: it starts with belief; if you have a vision, you think you will make the world better, people will galvanise around that.  Self doubt can be seen..  In what you say and in what you design,
  • BT: what is the one parting gift/advice that you would give?
  • DH: ideas do not stick naturally.  give time to figuring out how to translate it and get people behind
  • PE: have fun.  have a great time
  • DB: everyone has passion for something…look for passionate people.

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Oct 10

BIF and Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson

Author "The Ghost Map" and founder Outside.in
www.stevenberlinjohnson.com
www.outside.in

Johnson is the best-selling author of five books. His most recent work The Ghost Map tells the story of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London. Johnson is a contributing editor to Wired magazine and is a Distinguished Writer In Residence at the New York University Department of Journalism. Johnson’s latest project outside.in, is a website that collectively builds online conversation about geographic locations neighborhood by neighborhood.

  • In 1995, I started an online mag called Feed.  had established writers etc.  We had 2 people doing all of it.  went on for a year or so, building an audience.  A year later, Walt Mossberg was writing about web mags, we did an interview.  We had a new design and tried to get it up for when the column was going live.  As I was trying to get it up, we had about 150 people subscribe..they had read it online.  I was then racing against 1000s of trucks around the country bringing the newspapers to all.   New and old media combined.
  • After this, I wrote a book, Interface Culture.  I was reading about brains and cities, trying to decide what to write about
  • on my 30th birthday I got a book of 19th century of maps.   Looking at a map of Hamburg, it looked like a brain, and I started to think this may be one book.  I followed the hunch for 8 months, turned into the second book Immergence.  that hunch took a long time to evolve.
  • the idea for Ghost Map came to me in the middle of Seabiscuit…I got up and called my agent there and then.  It came to be suddenly, a different way of getting hunches
  • London in 1854 was the largest city the world had seen, a city as an organism, having waste problems,  Led to large breakouts of disease,
  • the existing health institution were in the grips of a bad idea, the miasma theory, that all smell was disease.  London was very, very smelly.
  • For innovation you also have to understand why bad ideas stay around.  For this one, we evolved avoidance of smells, there were bureaucracy reasons, people were stubborn
  • People in Flickr trace the map landmarks – There is a John Snow pub there now
  • Snow did a number of studies.  He saw an opportunity in this outbreak, to prove his theory.  Slowly he managed to convince people.  Whitehead was also key – a connector.  Knew all.  He had a social intelligence that was couples with Snow’s science intelligence.  They were inside the community, the experts on the ground
  • As I was writing the book, I wasted time by reading people who were blogging their communities, who wrote about what was happening.  I started to see connections, when we look at the scales of our lives,, our local place is somewhere we care about.   the placebloggers are amplifying their knowledge, most was stuck in direct WOM face to face.  I started to think there were some opportunities.  I chatted with a friend who then funded the building of outside.in  Allows people to see things on maps, see queries on different scales. 
  • Idea is to amplify the voices.  All the debates about bloggers fade away at the local community level, the community is the best source, the local bloggers are the experts.
  • the connection and key thing, the moment of insight the quick hunch is not always the way.  Most ideas need time to develop, take time, the source for some of the best ideas.  
  • we need to build hunch supporting environments, to incubate ideas, to build things
  • organisations not normally structured for these things, this way of thinking.

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Oct 10

BIF and Jay Cohen

Jay Cohen

Under Secretary for Science & Technology, Department of Homeland Security
www.dhs.gov

Under Secretary Jay Cohen, vice Rear Admiral, USN Retired, serves as the Under Secretary, Science & Technology Directorate with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Having led the US Office of Naval Research office for an unprecedented 5+ years, Admiral Cohen is now responsible for structuring research and development activities for the DHS.

  • a big confederation of departments, still coming together
  • created to try and do away with seams, anything we can do to reduce seams is good
  • there are 35k fire departments in the US, 80% are volunteers.  When I say to them I’m here to help, they ask me to by a raffle ticket or a muffin.
  • There are 700k police, 571 bomb disposal units
  • we are going to talk about the perils of innovation…for you it is to put bread on the table, meeting the payroll.
  • I get to take risks with millions of your dollars to keep billions safe
  • I get most of my ideas for innovation mostly from fortune cookies!
  • In 2001 they were being told they needed to be more innovative (the US NavY0.  they say the Navy is 230 yrs of tradition unhampered by progress
  • They built an experimental ship, manned by navy and Coastguard.   A prototype to teach them lessons about new ways of doing things.  An XCraft.  SeaFighter  Fastest large naval craft.  1400 tonnes that does >50knots
  • Have modular weapons and sensors – swap in and out as needed.  Keep it flexible
  • Built for <90million.  Been tested.  Now being used for risk reduction – demonstrated how to do it
  • But building production models, running into problems.   The bureaucracy slows things down; once it was in the system, it changed everything, overlaid new requirements.  The ship that was contracted for was not the one they had to build. It’s got huge budget overruns.  The test worked, the end product did not.
  • Now looking for places to demonstrate technologies and practices, to try things out.  For first responders etc.  We will not have a failure of imagination on my watch.

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