“I’ll be in a better mood when I see our two parties cooperating to do something hard. Borrowing billions more from China to give ourselves more tax cuts does not qualify. … the really hard stuff lies ahead: taking things away. We are leaving an era where to be a mayor, governor, senator or president was, on balance, to give things away to people. And we are entering an era where to be a leader will mean, on balance, to take things away from people. It is the only way we’ll get our fiscal house in order before the market, brutally, does it for us.” – Read article
“Unwillingness to implement creative ideas is not only a weakness with companies, individuals have the same problem. Imagine a young person applying for a job with Levi Strauss & Co and having the idea to write her CV (résumé in US English) on a pair of Levis jeans and sending it to her perspective employer. Such a creative approach to applying for a job would almost certainly stand out and grab the attention of the hiring person. It could very well result in an interview – particularly if the company values creativity as Levi Strauss does. Or it could result in the CV imprinted jeans being promptly rubbished as ridiculous….” – Read article
“One bad apple CAN spoil the whole darn bunch. And that’s especially true in the startup world. A negative and selfish employee can start a contagion throughout the company, causing other employees to act the same way and sucking up more of management’s time, says Stanford Professor and author Bob Sutton in this entrepreneur thought leader lecture given at Stanford University. Reforming those bad apples is possible, but there comes a point where you have to cut your losses.” - Watch Video 3:35 minutes
“We are the ones we have been waiting for” – Native American adage
“Most managers, unfortunately, perceive new ideas as problems — especially if the ideas are not their own. More often than not, managers don’t pay enough attention to the ideas of the people around them. They say they want innovation. They say they want “their people” to do something different. But they do precious little to support their subordinates in their efforts to do so. More commonly, they foist their own ideas on others and can’t figure out why things aren’t happening faster.
That’s not how change happens. If people are only acting out somebody else’s ideas, it’s only a matter of time before they feel discounted, disempowered and just plain dissed. People are more than hired hands; they are hired minds and hearts, as well. … If you want to empower people, honor their ideas. Give them room to challenge the status quo. Give them room to move — and, by extension, move mountains. Why? Because people identify most with their ideas.” – Read article
“Washington is catching prize fever. Back in September, the federal government created Challenge.gov, a platform for federal agencies to run Netflix Prize-style competitions. And yesterday Congress passed the America COMPETES Act, which codified the running of prizes by federal agencies. … The competitions aren’t only limited to “point solution” prizes–like the Netflix Prize or the X Prize, both of which seek very specific outcomes. They can also be “exposition prizes,” the Act says, which help “identify and promote” ideas that otherwise might not get a lot of attention and that will help accelerate the ideas by businesses or other institutions.” – Read article
4 ways to transform your employees into social-media marketers
“Ax the fax and socialize your business cards. When was the last time someone interacted with you (or your company) via fax? So why is a fax number still a standard component of business cards while social-media outlets are omitted? It just makes sense. Your staff are leaving behind their business cards at conferences and meetings, so including a link to a blog, a company Twitter account or Facebook page provides potential customers or clients with a meaningful way to interact with your brand. All of the above also applies to your employees’ e-mail signatures. Present your staff with a template, complete with all appropriate social outposts — and watch your network grow.” – Read article
“The number of food stamp recipients increased 16% over last year. This means that 14% of the population is now living on food stamps. That’s about 43 million people, or about one out of every seven Americans. n some states, like Tennessee, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oregon, one in five people are receiving food stamps. Washington, D.C. leads the nation, with 21.5% of the population on food stamps. … The U.S. government considers food stamps to be effective stimulus for the economy, because the recipients usually spend them right away.” – Read article
“Thanks to online tools like Google Analytics or Survey Monkey, it’s easier than ever to capture frequent customer input. But are you interpreting it properly? If the survey results indicate widespread variance, the more important it is to pinpoint the sub-segment clusters. By using the principles behind well-established marketing analysis (especially cluster and conjoint analysis), and grouping results in ranges (e.g. consumers comfortable spending between X and Y, versus those in the Y to Z range), any entrepreneur can get a solid pulse of a customer base. He can then consider the pattern differences among these groups, and adjust his pricing strategy to his consumers’ product feature preferences, or their likely willingness to spend.” - Read article
“Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn’t anyone hiring? Actually, many American companies are — just maybe not in your town. They’re hiring overseas, where sales are surging and the pipeline of orders is fat. … The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, says American companies have created 1.4 million jobs overseas this year, compared with less than 1 million in the U.S. “There’s a huge difference between what is good for American companies versus what is good for the American economy,” says Scott [Robert Scott, The Economic Policy Institute]” …
American jobs have been moving overseas for more than two decades. In recent years, though, those jobs have become more sophisticated — think semiconductors and software, not toys and clothes. And now many of the products being made overseas aren’t coming back to the United States. Demand has grown dramatically this year in emerging markets like India, China and Brazil.” – Read article
“There’s no such thing as an average customer. … roughly 50 percent of the world’s citizens loves hot tea, while the other 50 percent prefers iced tea. Wouldn’t it make sense to manufacture a lukewarm tea that everyone is guaranteed to like? … Still, companies often make the mistake of developing products and features to appeal to the mean. They pore over aggregate results and aggregate averages.
What they should be doing is disaggregating the drivers of these results, and focusing instead on who, or what, comprises those averages. The key to any successful customer-driven strategy is to understand the dynamic sub-segments that make up the average, and then develop the right products, the right prices, and the right go-to-market plans for each of those sub-segments.” - Read article
“Cowlitz County in Washington state is across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore., which promotes mass transit and urban density and is a green reproach to the rest of us. Recently … Cowlitz approved construction of a coal export terminal from which millions of tons of U.S. coal could be shipped to Asia annually. … Half of the 6 billion tons of coal burned globally each year are burned in China. A spokesman for the Sierra Club, which in recent years has helped to block construction of 139 proposed coal-fired plants in America, says, “This is undermining everything we’ve accomplished.” America, say environmentalists, is exporting global warming.
Can something really be exported if it supposedly affects the entire planet?” - Read article
“You had thought about having three co-CEOs.
Yes, because we function as equals on our team. People make the same compensation, except for me—I donate it all. We tend to make decisions by consensus. We don’t have a three-to-two vote. It’s not the Supreme Court trying to work things out. We really want to reach consensus, and we respect each other. …
It’s a little bit like Japanese management decision making—they spend a lot more time trying to develop consensus in the decision group. The virtue of it is that although it takes longer to make the decision, implementation goes a lot faster, because there isn’t resistance or sabotage that works its way through the organization.’ – John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods” – Read article
“Years ago a colleague left my firm and went to work for the enemy, so to speak, during a time of great personal challenge and difficulty for me. I was hurt and felt betrayed and unable to trust him. Years later we began working together again. But for me, every subsequent interaction with him occurred within the context of “I can’t trust him.” No matter what he was saying to me, the background commentary in my head ran, “He’s not telling the truth, be careful, watch out, you can’t trust him.” …
Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan examine this phenomenon in their manifesto on courageous communication, The Three Laws of Performance. “The unsaid is the most important part of language when it comes to performance,” they write. “What’s already there prevents anything new from happening.”" - Read article
“[Recently] President Obama met with the CEOs of 20 of the largest corporations in the U.S. It was a widely praised meeting. But given what the President is hoping to achieve — creating sustained economic growth, which in turn leads to jobs — … Obama is talking to the wrong people. … These are companies at their zenith. They have been through periods of exponential growth, but now they’re mature. America’s economic future is not dependent on the companies that are peaking now; the future is going to depend on the companies and industries that will peak in ten or 20 years time from now …
Unlike the startups that represent America’s future, the big players have an inherent bias toward protecting the status quo. They play a defensive game and face a different set of issues to their smaller brethren … America’s economic competitiveness has always been built upon its ability to disrupt what it already has with something better. That’s a game played by smaller — not larger — companies.” Read article
“The Wikileaks revolution isn’t only about airing secrets and transacting information. It’s about dismantling large organizations—from corporations to government bureaucracies. It may well lead to their extinction. At the most basic level, organizations have two functions: They make stuff (loosely defined) and they coordinate the activities of makers of stuff. The efficiency with which they do these things helps determine the organization’s size. …
In a Wikileaks world, the greater the number of people who intimately understand your organization,* the more candidates there are for revealing that information to millions of voyeurs. Wikileaks is, in effect, a huge tax on internal coordination. And, as any economist will tell you, the way to get less of something is to tax it. As a practical matter, that means the days of bureaucracies in the tens of thousands of employees are probably numbered.” – Read article
“One of the inevitable things you will hear at a brainstorming session is “there are no bad ideas.” Well, guess what? There are plenty of bad ideas. Nazism, for instance. Arena football. Bow ties. … The key? To find the value in what seems to be a “bad idea” and then use that extracted value as a catalyst for further exploration. The following technique, excerpted from Awake at the Wheel, shows you how…” – Read article
“Here’s how it works: you get a $20 bill and walk into the nearest Starbucks. And then you walk up to a random person and tell them you’re worried about your brother and you’d like to buy them a cup of coffee if they’ll just give you a couple of minutes to talk.You tell them your brother is about to put all his life savings into a business idea that you think is totally crazy and your brother’s wife has enlisted you to come up with arguments about why the idea sucks.
…And then you pitch them your idea, and take note of all their objections. Rinse and repeat until your $20 are spent. The “worried about your brother” part is great for two reasons. First: when making your first impression, people are less likely to brush you off if you say you’re worried about your brother. Second: if you pitch your idea as your own, people are apt to use kid gloves and be insincere. If you’re talking about a brother who’s not there, people will be more candid in shooting it down.” – Read article
““Am I good enough?” “Am I ready? This is my big opportunity, but now I’m not sure I’m prepared.” These thoughts plagued Jason, an experienced manager, as he lay awake one night fretting about a new position he’d taken. … Jason arrived at his new office on a Monday morning, excited and confident, but by the end of his first week he was beginning to wonder whether he was up to the challenge. …
Key members of his group barely talked to one another. Other publishers in the company, whose materials and collaboration he desperately needed, angrily viewed his new group as competition. … the group was about to miss some early milestones—and a crucial partnership with an outside organization had been badly, perhaps irretrievably, damaged. On top of all that, his boss, … offered little help. “That’s why you’re there” was the typical response whenever Jason described a problem. By Friday he was worried about living up to the expectations implied in that response.” – Read article
““Managers rarely ask themselves, ‘How good am I?’ and ‘Do I need to be better?’ unless they’re shocked into it. When did you last ask those questions?” … What are your first steps toward improvement? Start with a clear realization of what managers do, namely that they are responsible for the performance of a group of people. This work is achieved through exerting influence that “makes a difference not only in what they do but also in the thoughts and feelings that drive their actions” …” – Read article
“Oil is back above $90 a barrel. Copper and cotton have hit record highs. Wheat and corn prices are way up. Over all, world commodity prices have risen by a quarter in the past six months. So what’s the meaning of this surge? Is it speculation run amok? Is it the result of excessive money creation, a harbinger of runaway inflation just around the corner? No and no.
What the commodity markets are telling us is that we’re living in a finite world, in which the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices. And America is, for the most part, just a bystander in this story.” – Read article
“China is ramping up its investments in–and friendliness with–the Muslim world, and a $4.5 million investment in development projects in Jordan, announced over the weekend, is the latest addition to that effort.
This week also marks 20 years of diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, where a Chinese delegation is present to commemorate, and earlier this month China announced $200 million in unconditional aid to Pakistan. Then last week China issued the China-Africa white paper, which reinforced an impression the world is increasingly getting–that China is very much interested in Africa’s natural assets. And as Africa is almost 50% Muslim, it certainly works in China’s favor to buff relations with the Muslim world.” – Read article