Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You

This post really captures what the ride and the graphic, pasted below, hit home.

The crisis of meaning does pass and then the stage of informed optimism begins!

Friday, December 24, 2010

How Does Happiness Co-vary with Age and Why 46 Is a Tough Year

Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris are the creators of We Feel Fine. They have built a crawler that indexes the blogosphere to analyze occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling."

Every day, 15,000-20,000 blog posts are indexed and the system extracts, where possible, the authors' gender, age, country, state, and city. The net result is an incredible data set that helps understand the covariance between feelings and age, gender, weather, location, and season.

The analysis on age found the following "major emotional themes as we age.",
"We start simple (11-14), but soon fill up with angst (15-18) and feelings of confinement (19-22), until we leave those behind to go conquer the world (23-26), before gradually trading ambition for balance (27-30), developing an appreciation for our bodies (31-35) and our children (31-35), and evolving a sense of connectedness (36-40), for which we feel grateful (36-40), then happy (41-49), calm (41-49), and finally blessed (50+)."

Their analysis and amazingly cogent summary are truly fascinating. While the site is impressive, the authors also released a book, We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion.

The data is increasingly the study of economists, who are looking to move beyond GDP per capita to a more satisfactory measure of human well-being.  The Economist recently published "The U-Bend of Life: Why, beyond middle age, people get happier as they get older."

The Economist study, noted in the graphic above, finds a different relationship between age and emotional well-being. For Arthur Stone, the nadir of life is 46 - this is a global average. A few explanations for the covariance between older people and happiness are listed in the article - the death of ambition, greater acceptance of oneself and setback, not being prone to anger, being more mindful of mortality and hence more present.

Between the two studies, we find that age materially impacts our well-being. While we are all unique, on average there are times in our life, or the lives of loved ones, when we must recognize larger forces at work on our psyche.

We are all familiar with teenage angst and the mid-life crisis, however, we can now see that all chapters in life come with a set of expected feelings and, thankfully, that as we age it will get better!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ad Innovation and the Joy of Product Market Fit

In June 2010, Eric Schmidt noted that future display ads "...would be mini-Web pages. That means they could allow users to watch a video, leave a comment and see real-time content updates..."

The article below highlights how we do exactly that. 

The key is allowing rich media to both morph into app-like ads, while allowing it to scale through a powerful platform.

Who needs a website? Enter the nanosite ad unit

Rich media ads continue to evolve, effectively becoming mini-websites in a box.  Tech publisher IDG and developer Widgetbox have teamed to create a new “nanosite” ad unit that can include video, real-time content, social media and other interactive elements.
The Nanosite Ad Unit, announced today, basically turns an ad into a microsite, housing multiple, clickable assets.  A sample unit that IDG and Widgetbox created (shown at right) includes a branded white paper, a video, case studies and editorial content from IDG publications such as CIO. In a press release, the companies claim the nanosite unit “can dramatically increase brand engagement, brand recall and purchase intent relative to traditional display advertising.”
The nanosite unit is the latest in a number of display advertising types that are adding more functionality and interactivity as advertisers seek better ways to engage website visitors and publishers look for ways to boost digital revenues.
Increasingly, these ads blur the lines between branded and editorial content. AOL’s Project Devil, for example, can include a mix of what AOL CEO Tim Armstrong calls “real content.”
For their nanosite offering, IDG and Widgetbox will collaborate on the creative direction for campaigns, design the ad, and provide the underlying technology and metrics for the campaigns, which IDG will sell across its brands, which include Computerworld, CIO and Network World.
“We are providing more value to marketers by delivering innovative ad concepts that provide highly engaging content choices for readers,” Jeremy Rueb, vice president of program development for IDG Strategic Marketing Services, said in a press release.
IDG has emerged as a pacesetter among B2B publishers expanding their custom publishing offerings into full-blown marketing services businesses, in an effort to drive more digital revenues as advertisers embrace “vendor as publisher” models.  

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The US$/RMB: China's 16 year trade war and what we should do about it

Ten Years Ago Paul Tudor Jones Had An Acute Case Of Plantar Fasciitis « Dealbreaker: A Wall Street Tabloid – Business News Headlines and Financial Gossip

This article fundamentally changed my view of US-Sino relations. We need to deal with China' currency, unilaterally if need be.

A 30% tax on Chinese imports is not the start of a trade war, but instead of awakening to the pernicious effects of China's currency manipulation on our manufacturing base, employment, and future.

Hear, here, Mr. Jones!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Jeff Immelt on Leadership

The Sunday NY Times ran a very good piece on GE. The article centered on GE's strategy to focus future growth and profits on manufacturing vs. financial services. GE Capital used to deliver 50% of GE's profits, however, the recent financial crises led GE to return to its roots.

The barrier to entry - scale and capital - highlight the strategic value; "heavyweight products that take patience and piles of cash to develop, weigh tons and last for years — next-generation jet engines, power turbines, locomotives, nuclear plants, water-treatment systems, medical-imaging equipment, solar panels and windmills. Mr. Immelt notes, for example, that the cost of a good-sized solar-panel plant, about $70 million, is more than twice the total investment in Google in the six years before it went public in 2004."

The article also touched on his leadership style. I loved this quote. "Leadership by fiat when done in moderation, Mr. Immelt says, can drive change and set a course. “I think that if you run a big company, you’ve got to four or five times a year, just say, ‘Hey team, look, here’s where we’re going,’ ” he says. “If you do it 10 times, nobody wants to work for you. If you do it zero times, you have anarchy.”

We hear all the time about Steve Jobs, perhaps the ultimate rule by fiat leader.  However, I personally believe that strong teams, decentralized decision making, and not top-down central planning lead to better companies and stronger results.

The genius CEO, Steve Jobs, is sui generis. Not a scaleable model to mirror one's company or leadership style after. There is only one Steve Jobs. However, all leaders can hire well, empower their teams, and set strategic direction, while avoiding the micro-management and rule by dictate.