Artist Round Up
A few favorite artists to inspire after a long Monday. Just because.
Scarred - for Slug Life
Wow. I may never recover from this sight. And I am a big fan of the banana slug (I've even licked a few in my life). But who knew how much goes into their bizarre mating rituals.
Beware... opening this link may lead to places you didn't want to go. But if you do go, be sure to scroll down to at least see the effects of the peptide hormone APGWamide.
Seneca Falls - home of the brave
One of my favorite cities in New York state is a little town in the finger lakes region named Seneca Falls. The home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the place where a famous luncheon over tea was a catalyst for change.
I was reminded of this fabulous little town when reading about how Tom Peters went dressed as Stanton to a costume party, and in the process he "got religion" about the women's rights movement in the U.S.
If you're ever in the neighborhood, or have ever been meaning to go... do it! The National Historical Park and some of the old homes of these women are definitely worth the trip.
It's the most Peepful time of the year
My hometown newspaper, The Seattle Times, has a nutty contest for what can only be described as "Peep Art." (As, apparently do several other newspapers) People have submitted scores of objets d'arte featuring Peeps and clever Peep-related plays on words.
The 2007 contest included a dress made of Peeps, a Starbucks latte made of Peeps, and multiple Peep dioramas like March Maddness, "Green Peeps" and "Project Peepway." The 2006 "Peeptacular!" contest had some real winners, too, including a rendering of Seattle's Space Needle made out of Peeps.
I'm so glad there's people in the world who have the time and inclination to help Peeps reach their full potential.
A Howlin' Good Time
Ok, perhaps it's a little dorky of me, but this is pretty cool. Visit this web site, and you can download ring tones for your phone that have a certain animal quality. Pick your favorite frog, marine mammal or bird. There's even a wolf howl. If nothing else, it will startle everyone around you when your mom calls.
Be Prepared... for Pirates
I read today that the Boy Scouts of Los Angeles have a new activity patch they can earn -- respecting copyrights for music, movies, etc.
Scouts will be instructed in the basics of copyright law and learn how to identify five types of copyrighted works and three ways copyrighted materials may be stolen.
Scouts also must choose one activity from a list that includes visiting a movie studio to see how many people can be harmed by film piracy. They also can create public service announcements urging others not to steal movies or music.
This makes me feel old. When I was a Girl Scout, we earned badges for fire safety skills or going on overnight hikes. I'm wondering when there will be badges for video game proficiency or a stylin' My Space site. Hopefully, the survival skills and communing with nature won't get edged out as these scouting programs try to stay abreast of the times.
On a final note, I do think it's interesting that the new Boy Scout patch is not a merit badge (apparently, merit badges are required to advance in the Scouts, but activity patches are not). And it's also intriguing that the curiculum for the patch was developed by the movie industry. Is "protecting your profits" going to be the next merit badge?
Let it flow, let your site go
There are so many stories of how many people are still trying to figure out what to do on the Web or how to translate their business / idea to this new medium. It seems that what often holds people back is their reluctance to risk engaging in new forms of communication and content creation, largely because it is so foreign to how things have always been done.
My favorite recent example is Friendster, who made the front page of the Sunday Business section in the NYT. Essentially, among other root causes of the Friendster demise, the author captured this [emphasis added]:
Many people working at Friendster sneered at MySpace. The holy grail at Friendster — and the cause of most of its technical problems — was its closed system: users at Friendster could view only the profiles of those on a relatively short chain of acquaintances. By contrast, MySpace was open, and therefore much simpler from a technological standpoint; anybody could look at anyone else’s profile.
The two companies also mirrored their founders: where Friendster reflected the ordered vision of its engineer-founder — early on, the company famously removed the profiles of people who put up joke pictures, like photographs of their dogs in place of themselves — MySpace was more L.A.-laid back. At MySpace, they rode the wave instead of fighting it, and encouraged users to do pretty much as they pleased.
What more can one say? Surf the wave of the people who are using it, and it will feel to users like they can make themselves at home and be authentic. And that is irresistable.
Letting your customers get their hands dirty
Customized cruise and vacation experiences, made-to-fit Levis, design your own Barbie and personal blends of M&M colors. It's all part of the pattern that trendwatching.com calls CUSTOMER-MADE.
I'm an avid subscriber to Cook's Illustrated - the magazine, the web site, the cook books, etc. And as the constant champion of recipes being accessible to the home cook, they recently invited me to test a recipe. And it was a blast. At some point, I hope it'll get published. It was a brilliant recipe, and I filled out a survey afterward about the experience and suggestions I had. And when the thing finally gets published, I'll feel a little proud.
That said, I wonder if a time will come when they'll offer me a customized recipe. One that I can call my very own.
'Not so nice' might be just right?
There's been so much emphasis on managers that help encourage and empower their teams in recent years. In a Feb article in Havard Business Review, Roderick Kramer offers a perspective that flies in the face of that compassionate wisdom. A review in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said:
Roderick Kramer, professor of organizational behavior, has lobbed a rhetorical grenade into the ranks of academic theorists who lionize emotionally intelligent managers. Kramer's recent article in Harvard Business Review, titled "The Great Intimidators," advances the heretical notion that fear and coercion, when applied strategically, can be better motivators than positive reinforcement.
"In all our recent enchantment with social intelligence and soft power, we've overlooked the kinds of skills leaders need to bring about transformation in cases of tremendous resistance or inertia," Kramer writes. "It's precisely in such situations, I'd like to propose, that the political intelligence of the intimidating leader is called for."
Kramer offers several examples of effective intimidators: Motorola Inc. Chief Executive Ed Zander, a Data General alumnus, pulled his company out of a steep decline by firing dozens of vice presidents and espousing the philosophy "whack yourself before somebody whacks you." Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein used high-pressure tactics -- jabbing a finger in the face of associates -- en route to establishing Miramax as a recognized brand name. Martha Stewart, demanding, impatient, and brusque with subordinates, prodded them to keep up with her and build a homemaking empire.
Intimidators can be found in any field but gravitate to government, technology, and entertainment, Kramer suggested in an interview, citing such leaders as Lyndon Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Carly Fiorina and Rupert Murdoch. "Those worlds have a winner-take-all structure, and the jockeying for spots at the top is intense," he said. "Leaders willing to engage in intimidating behavior often have advantages over those that don't."
Drawing out strengths or exploiting weaknesses? The former jives more closely with my own philosophy, but if the results are equally effective perhaps intimidation is a valid management approach. I just wonder what that does to the heart of the intimidator.
Blogging is still good for business
Business blogging -- yet another sign that companies are starting to recognize that the back channel is the only channel. Formal lines of communication, demarcated by org charts and reporting relationships, have always been only a part of the story about how work gets done. How many decisions have been made at the water cooler? How many times have you heard that "[insert individual contributor] really runs the company"?
An interestng primer from HBR provides some compelling examples of how blogs are being adopted by more and more mainstream companies (once you read through the introduction about "what is a Weblog").
When Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of product development at General Motors, wants to get quick feedback from consumers on the company's latest product launch, new strategy, or something as specific as the quality of the sheet-metal fits on the latest Chevrolet, he knows where to go: his corporate blog.
Lutz is among a small but growing number of corporate executives who have started to experiment with blogs—Web-based commentary sites usually written in a first-person, conversational manner—to connect with customers online and advance corporate communications and marketing goals.
This ability to engage with others is what gives blogs their power. "Blogs are all about conversations," says Sifry. A corporate blog allows a company both to keep an ear to the ground to hear what's being said about it and, if necessary, speak up with a correction.
"If you're not blogging, you're missing out on the chance to contribute to the conversation taking place in the blogosphere," says consultant Debbie Weil, creator of the BlogWrite for CEOs blog and author of The Corporate Blogging Book.