Tag Archives: business

MadMen’s Vietnam

Madmen finished a rather interesting season. I only found interest in the season premier when Don sat at a bar in Hawaii and had a drink with a US Soldier on leave from the war.  Many have written about Chevrolet was their “Vietnam” for the season.
madmen vietnam
Other segments throughout this season seemed tied into the cultural change the war took on American society. For example, the necklace of ears segment was rather interesting as the horror of war not only hit home but required the firm to change their advertising strategies.

Did you think their pot smoking scene or the death of a firm’s sibling (killed in Vietnam) reach the audience?  Many didn’t seem to think so — maybe they were not looking deep enough?

Genius Everywhere

BMW will launch a new Genius Everywhere program, an Apple-like Genius Bar in time for the launch of their i3 electric vehicle which is expected in 2014.  Clearly BMW sees Apple’s massive success in retail as a proven solution to support the launch of a new series of electric cars in North America.  BMW will also rely upon Apple mobile technologies to arm their sales staff.
BMW_i3The Genius BMW Genius Everywhere program announced in AdvertisingAge will have pre-sale employees armed with iPads helping educate potential customs about this new electric line.  The major difference as this point is Apple’s Genius Bar is for post sales while BMW will focus on education and pre sales.  This is not the first time BMW has adopted Apple products, design and user experiences.  BMW and Apple collaborated to bring iPod support to BMWs early in the car controls your digital device world and today they are also working to integrating Siri technology into more BMW models.
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My latest read – Corporate Agility

How do organizations compete today?  Corporate Agility: A Revolutionary New Model for Competing in a Flat World provides a good reference on how major US companies have adopted a new business model for competing in a flat world.

corporate agilityAfter reading Tom Friedman’s The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century book series on globalization and the breakthrough work by Jerry Wind and Victor & William Fung in Competing in a Flat World: Building Enterprises for a Borderless World.

I found chapters in Corporate Agility a fit perfectly to the above works.  Corporate Agility supports business case studies throughout the book that span a wide range of industries with lessons for all who are seeking new models for business in the 21st globalized century.

The strongest chapter is early in the book surrounding the shift in company buildings and the move to a mobile workforce that permits companies to break expensive building leases and create smaller ‘offices’ with limited administrative staff and resources.

I have experienced these efforts directly in working with clients who have been forced to trim staff and yet end up in an dry office complex with over 50% of their office cubes empty.

Actually I’m reminded of a PR company who hired temporary workers to “work” in all their empty cubes while a potential client made an office visit.  Needless to say they did not understand the basics of a company’s need for agility as described in the book.

I feel the early chapters of Corporate Agility is an expansion of The World Is Flat while the book’s case studies just touch the surface that is presented in detail by Competing in a Flat World.

Corporate Agility’s book website

Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0

Sometimes a 2.0 release is viewed as a fix for shortcomings in the initial release of just about any product….except this update from Tom Friedman: Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America.
I quickly read version 1.0 as soon as it hit bookshelves and was just amazed at Friedman’s writing about the state of research, business and culture surrounding our planet. Missed reading this when it was originally released?

Yet as of late I have been reading so much about Wall Street’s clusterf*ck that I missed his update Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America.

An overview to the version 2.0 release:Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a planet that is “hot, flat, and crowded.”  In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession.  The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy.  And it could inspire Americans to something we haven’t seen in a long time—nation-building—by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources.

In vivid, entertaining chapters, Friedman makes it clear that the green revolution the world needs is like no revolution before. It will be the biggest innovation project in American history; it will be hard, not easy; and it will change everything from what you put into your car to what you see on your electric bill. This is a great challenge, Friedman explains, but also a great opportunity, and one that America cannot afford to miss. Not only is American leadership the key to the healing of the earth; it is also our best strategy for the renewal of America.

Or consider the following accolades for his writing:

  • A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
  • A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
  • A Businessweek Best Business Book of the Year
  • A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year
  • A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
  • A Business Week Best Business Book of the Year
  • A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year
  • A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Book of the Year
  • A Booklist Editors’ Choice Best Book of the Year
  • Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

My latest read – On the Brink

A financial crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson faced the largest crisis in our country’s modern history with a great opportunity.  His first hand account of the near collapse of our financial economy is detailed in On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System.

on the brinkHis strongest writing are the 20 pages in the book’s Afterward, written one year after his departure from Treasury with the opportunity to look back and reflect upon the events and the solutions including TARP and the role of the G20.

Paulson was certainly the right type of person for the job having served as the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.  He previously served in the Nixon administration as an assistant to John Ehrlichman during the Watergate scandal.

Although reluctant to accept the job as United States Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush, Paulson acknowledged upon his arrival in Washington a credit crisis was on the horizon.  Clearly Paulson notes he was naive of regulatory powers in Washington and any suggestions of financial reform in an election year were all dead on arrival.

It’s worth repeating that between March and September 2008, eight major US financial institutions failed — Bear Stearns, IndyMac, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Washington Mutual and Wachovia.  Six of them in September alone.
Paulson jumps right out of the gate on page 1 as all Americans would have wanted:

Do they know it’s coming Hank? President Bush asked me.  “Mr. President we’re going to move quickly and take them by surprise.  The first sound they’ll hear is their heads hitting the floor….For the good of the country I proposed we seize control of the companies, fire their bosses and prepare to provide $100 billion of capital support for each.”

Regrettably its not Wall Street but rather Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government backed lending institutions (GSEs) that Paulson is addressing.  Paulson should could have done the same for Lehman, Bear Stearns.and ALL the other institutions since they received taxpayer money to keep them afloat….on their yachts.
–When you learn that someone at a financial company made a 1 Billion bonus (yes a billion for one person) you can see where the ship was heading…right into the rocks.

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Wired magazine for tablets

wired_miniWired Magazine has arrived for the iPad.  Initial reports indicate each issue is ~500MB and will be $4.99/episode app via iTunes.  Wired will be shipping additional tablet formats in the coming weeks.

As initial reports are indicate this is a new, in depth re-birth of magazines for the digital world.  By exploiting the iPad’s technologies the premier issue is loaded with interactive multimedia extras simply not available in print.

So now comes the business end of the release:  $5 an for each app issue while you can get a full year print subscription for just $10.
–Since I have a print subscription — can get all my back issues on the iPad?  Doubt it.  Lets not be foolish – publishers are setting elegant revenue models for their print to iPad app conversions…..

Reviews:
Wired’s internal review (duh) – Wall Street Journal review – Business Insider review – Gizmodo review

Tags: iPad, publishing, design, trends,

Impressive update to Google Docs

Google’s impressive tool just received a nice upgrade.  For most users the new updates further justify migrating away from Office.  When you consider Google gives this away for free (especially to schools)….well a good thing just got even better.

From Google:

A better document editor
We’ve brought the responsive, real-time editing experience you’ve come to expect from our spreadsheets over to documents, which means you can now see character-by-character changes as other collaborators make edits. We also added another popular feature from spreadsheets: sidebar chat, so you can discuss documents as you work on them with colleagues.

The new technical foundation also helped us improve document formatting, which means better import/export fidelity, a revamped comment system, real margins and tab stops, and improved image layout within documents. These improvements have been highly requested, but previously impossible to create with the older documents editor on older browsers.

A faster spreadsheet editor
With the new spreadsheets editor, you’ll see significant speed and performance improvements — spreadsheets load faster, are more responsive and scroll more seamlessly. We’ve also added a host of often requested features, like a formula bar for cell editing, auto-complete, drag and drop columns, and simpler navigation between sheets. And as always, real-time collaboration in spreadsheets is easy with sidebar chat and the ability to see which cell each person is editing.

A new collaborative drawing editor
In the year since we launched the Insert drawing tool, we’ve received many requests for the ability to collaborate on drawings and make them accessible directly from the docs list. The new standalone drawings editor lets you collaborate in real time on flow charts, designs, diagrams and other fun or business graphics. Copy these drawings into documents, spreadsheets and presentations using the web clipboard, or share and publish drawings just like other Google Docs.

Tags: Google Docs, performance improvements, Network, trends,