Currently Reading

  • The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About ItThe E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
  • Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition IrrelevantBlue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant
  • The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the WorldThe Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
  • Knowledge Ponderings

    I have been away from my blog posts for way too long and I am missing the act of writing things down.  I have been busier with a lot of projects lately, but that is really no excuse. I have a few small articles that I will be publishing over the next week or so and then hopefully will get back on track with a more normal publishing schedule.


    My son, Eric, is a musician.  He has played in bands for 7 years now and is a sousaphone player for the Illinois State Redbird Big Red Marching Machine. At the end of Eric’s emails, he includes the quote:

    Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ~Victor Hugo

    As a non-musician, it always seemed to me to be a little strange.  How can music express that which cannot be said? I enjoy music and my kids have introduced me to new stuff that I never would have heard without their help.  But, really, expressing things?

    Then I saw this video showcasing Bobby McFerrin (of Don’t Worry, Be Happy fame) and how music is innate within all of us, everywhere.  To me this showed how we all have the basic music sense within us. It is astonishing how quickly the audience “gets it”.  Most of the audience members would not consider themselves musicians at any level, could not tell you what note they were singing, yet they were able to use these unknown skills to generate lovely music, under the direction of a “real” musician.

    So now, of course, the question is what other types of knowledge are innate at least at the basic level? What else can we do that we don’t know that we can do?  I don’t have the answers, but I am interested in the discussion.

    Seth, IRS, Taxes, Customer Service and Clips

    In time for the holiday season (well, actually too late for Hanukkah) I give to each of you the following links:

    • Seth Godin provides a free e-version of his latest book, What Matters Now, a compilation of short essays on single topics by a raft of 70 big thinkers.  People like Chris Anderson, Jason Fried, Arianna Huffington, Kevin Kelly, Dan Ariely, Gina Trapani and Tim Sanders.  Absolutely worth every penny :)
    • Amazing story about how the IRS terrorizes audits a young mother who makes $10 per hour because they can’t believe that she can support herself on that income.
    • Mark Cuban has an interesting idea on how to fund some of our most pressing problems.  I think he is on to something.  This type of tax has the benefit of being a very small amount on a huge number of transactions and will be almost invisible.
    • Customer service and large companies.  Go hand and hand like a horse and carriage?  Not so much at American Airlines.  See what happens when an employee reaches out to a customer who has some issues with their web site.
    • If you ever have to give a big presentation and you want to add video clips of famous sayings from movies, you have to catch this site.  There are over 12,000 clips and they are approved for use by the studios.

    Video, Fun and Politics

    We need to take a break from all that Health Care stuff and I thought some fun links might be “just the ticket” as Jon Lovitz might say.


    Video: I can’t believe how Al Franken created this hand drawn map.

    Fun: For trivia buffs, here is a tough quiz, using circular logic.

    Politics: Another Sanctity of Marriage act for California?  Maybe.

    Fun, Video and Management x2

    I haven’t done a good listing of links lately, so here you go…

    Fun: Gotta love this picture

    Video: Regular readers know that I love Seth Godin.  If you have never heard him speak, take an opportunity to view this video of a speech he gave last year to a software developer’s conference.

    Management: Netflix, a company that I admire for a lot of really great things, has posted a slide deck of how their corporate culture works.  It is long (128 slides), but it reads quickly.  It is a must read for any entrepreneur trying to establish a coherent and successful culture.

    Time: I read this article a couple of weeks back and it keeps coming back to me with a simplicity of the content and yet the relevance.  Paul Graham writes about Maker’s Schedule and Manager’s Schedule.

    Networks, Video and Entrepreneurship

    Networks: Kevin Kelly wrote a book called New Rules for a New Economy in 1998. He has reprinted them as a series of blog posts and they are more relevant today than when they were first published.  A recent post talks about the mathematics of networks.  Don’t be scared.  The math is not difficult but the results are critical to our understanding of social networking.

    Video: If you ever get the chance to see Seth Godin in person, do so.  If you can’t find the opportunity or want to see what I mean, check out this video from 3 years ago.

    Entrepreneurship: Raman Chadha, from DePaul’s Coleman Center for Entrepreneurship writes a great article on venture funding.  I have long had the same kind of thoughts on entrepreneurship and whether angel or venture funding is right for even a small percentage of start-up ventures.

    Graphics, Big Idea and Economy

    Graphics: I recently pointed to the Seth Godin graphics lens which talked about getting better at graphic design.  To go one better, Kristin pointed me to this site with 50 totally free lessons on graphics.

    Big Idea: Ever wondered what it would take to become a blog writer?  I am living that life, but was intrigued by the manifesto posted by Chris Guillebeau.

    Economy: Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs fame, talks about work in general in this entertaining TED Talk.

    Technology, Marketing, Ethics & Movies

    Technology Paul Heinz wrote a thoughtful essay on Lost Arts.  It is a riff on all of those things that we used to be able to do. Now, technology has changed things, mostly for the better, but it is fun to wax nostalgic.

    Marketing: Mental Floss has a good article on the marketing of the movie Coraline.  Lots of good tidbits here, but what hit me most was the viral marketing campaign around the alphabet cards.

    Ethics: Freakonomics looks at the law of unintended consequences in two articles and how it affects the disabled.

    Behind the Scenes: On my list of all time favorite movies is Raiders of the Lost Ark.  A transcript of the story conference between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan (the writer) has been posted to the web.  Lots of interesting examples on how creative people think and then execute in the film.

    Entrepreneurship, Friday Fun and Video

    Technology: One of the fun things that I get to do as an advisor is read through lots of business plans.  OK, not so much fun, but interesting.  While a business plan is a serious document, the best business plans have some life to them.  You want to be able to use color, text formatting and some graphical images to help make the best case and to keep your reader engaged.  Full pages of 10 point Times-Roman will put anyone to sleep.  A new feature in Office 2007, called SmartArt,  can help to give your business document a little life. Don’t overuse this or it will become like clip art, but a judicious use of these types of elements will go a long way to ensuring that your reader is still awake at the end of your document.

    Entrepreneurship: New ideas for products and services are out there folks.  I pointed last week to Mark Cuban’s Open Source Funding idea. From the reader of this blog, I got a business summary for a new magazine that could be developed.  And lastly, with  a combination of technology and social action, Joshua Silver created a new product that literally allows people in poor areas of the world, to see.

    Friday Fun: So, in these turbulent financial times, maybe you should go back to basics.  How about becoming a semi driver? It may not be as easy as it seems.

    Weekend Video: Public television station WGBH in Boston produces Frontline.  If you are at all interested in finding out more about how the financial crisis developed, take an hour this weekend and watch this video.  And if you want Mark Cuban’s humorous look at the crisis, check this video out.

    Marketing, Food, Politics, Video, IQ, Credit, Project Management, Job Search

    Marketing: I am not a big fan of Hugh Macleod‘s (Updated 2/6/09 since I found this one) cartoons, but he has an interesting post today on futility marketing.  The point here is that some of the world’s most interesting successes (not just business) were started as futile projects.  Everything from the British defeating the Nazi menace with Spitfires (WWII) to getting people to buy software apart from hardware (Microsoft).

    Food: Count me in on those who think that barbeque should be a separate food group.  A competitive BBQ team in Kansas City has created an Internet sensation with the Bacon Explosion.  Please note that friends who keep kosher or are vegetarians need not flock to this link.

    Politics: An angel in Washington?

    Video: Stop action videography is not dead.  Check out this music video by Oren Lavie for a fantastic journey.

    Intelligence: Ever wonder about those IQ tests?  Here is a short description of what the IQ Test really tests.

    Credit: Did you know that FICO is changing the way they calculate your scores today?

    Project Management: Is running a project anything like rowing?  My friend, David Kelly, seems to think so.

    Marketing: I have been thinking about this one all day.  Could you define yourself with 5 brands?  Right now, I am leaning towards Blackberry, Famous Dave’s, Lands’ End, Google and Lexus.

    Job Search: As the economic conditions worsen, many more of my friends are looking for new places to call work.  Here is a consise list of top web based job sites. While this is interesting information, my advice is to not waste too much time on the web, but keep your networks alive via personal contact.  A personal reference from someone who knows you well will push your application to the top of the pile, in many cases.