Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Do what they love, with what you love, and the money is sure to follow." Tom Asacker

"Scarcely anyone would have become a great actor if the public had been born without hands." Karl Kraus

"Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be." Jose Ortega Y Gasset

Today's image: Southern Alps around Milford Sound and Queenstown, the South Island of New Zealand by Ron Fell. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Google is your home page
The new reality. Like it or not.

Above, text from the first slide of my brief at NAB this year.

Three points from Martinizing: The Nine for 09 brief:

1. Your home page is Google. A significant game-changing strategy that needs to be deeply understood by your team. They need to stop obsessing about your home page as it's becoming increasingly irrelevant. Your assets must be digital and discoverable. Google is your home page, practically everything else related to your online strategy is subordinate to this single issue. When you can Google the name of your firm and/or the products, services, attributes you think you "own" and using I'm Feeling Lucky returns one of your pages, you win (but only in that moment - remember, it's not a static but dynamic environment). Try it. Then Google Search and carefully study the first page of results. That's the real you as the world sees it. Think landing page optimization. [Time to revisit Peter Morville - Ambient Findability - What We Find Changes Who We Become]

4. Mobile is the new black. Back to the future. Broadband wired still counts but now, it's back to wireless (again) and this time around it's the third tribe of wireless that rules. The battlefield is the third screen, the handset. The only limiting step of what's possible with mobile remains energy related, that damn battery. The first person to deliver a cost-effective solution set solving this power issue will, no doubt, get Bill Gates rich. Video becomes ubiquitous. [FD: During Q&A I was called on pushing WAP in my 1999 NAB brief. Guilty as charged, too early. My 2009 response is the iPhone represents more breakthrough OS than simple, sexy user-centric form factor innovation. Sidebar: My thought is a second or third order effect of the Jeff Bezos Kindle is a cool new form factor between the second and third screen. I want my iPhone to be the size of my Kindle.]

7. Local being redefined. Defined not by DMA or any US census def, but by exactly where the customer is NOW, in the moment, within three meters or less. Think GPS.

The obvious is often the hardest to see: The past, and the apparent present, does not equal the future. Exhibit A - thirty something months from a cold start to POTUS. Exhibit B - An international star is born via YouTube in less than two weeks. She's Susan Boyle, 47, and unemployed (still looking). Of course, you'll agree with exhibit B having watched the YouTube video I recommended to you last week.

Closed circuit to Google: Please share the analytics related to the record breaking Susan Boyle video. What were the drivers, the sources of significant traffic? What traffic did MS, FB, Twitter, blogs and other social media produce? What did the links by news organizations, entertainment shows and other MSM contribute to the record views? What country, what metro ranked highest in views, second highest, lowest? How about a timeline track of traffic? What about repeat views by uniques against the norm? There's a simply great case study in the making here.

Congrats & cheers: Kurt Hanson, Paul Maloney and team RAIN. Not only did they stage another killer RAIN Internet Radio Summit but they took the lead in making the first NAB Show Tweetup happen. Kudos to digital evangelist Kipper McGee who worked behind the scenes and helped to make the Tweetup a success.

: Tom Asacker, the best-selling author, renowned speaker and provocateur known for bold, fresh thinking, has written a wonderful piece that you should read and share. Do What They Love is now available via PDF here. Bravos, Tom.

P.S. The cool kids have Tom Asacker's blog in their reader. It's a must-read.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"The block of granite which is an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping stone in the pathway of the strong." Thomas Carlyle

"Hurry is the weakness of fools." Baltasar Gracian

"Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game." Goethe

Today's image: The Atomic Explosion and Mushroom Fallout at Sunset by Stuck in Customs. Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

"...the essential skill of the next fifty years: crisis management." Joshua Cooper Ramo has written a thought-provoking book that deserves your attention. The Age of the Unthinkable. Why the new world disorder constantly surprises us and what we can do about it. Good read. Amazon info, here.

Bonus: Connect the dots and you'll enjoy reading The Pretence of Knowledge, the Nobel Prize lecture by Friedrich August von Hayek here.

Have a wonderful weekend. See you next week in a brand new show.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem." Woody Allen

"Passion is born deaf and dumb." Honore de Balzac

"You are a victim of the rules you live by." Jenny Holzer

Today's image: Clothes Pins by thenewclotheshorse. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

Minding the Gap

Improving performance
The three questions
The five action steps

To achieve your objective, to reach or exceed your goal you'll need to become obsessed with the gap. The gap is that territory between where you are now and where the goal resides. In my experience, leaders that focus only on the objective, singularly on the goal, are the ones who are most likely to fail in reaching their goal.

The three questions

On a daily basis leadership must ask three questions...

1. What is happening?
2. What is not happening?
3. What can I do to influence the action?

The five action steps

On a daily basis leadership needs to ensure decisive action is taken...

1. Measure. Observation is certainly very important. Being aware of what is happening and what is not happening is critical. Reducing these observations to measures, to data, is key. Establish a scorecard or a dashboard and track metrics. Data is everywhere - capture, organize and share it. Remember Drucker ..."Information is data endowed with relevance and purpose." What are the numbers?

2. Study. Once leadership has metrics at hand attention should be focused on doing the homework. The process of reflection leads to analysis and helps one to develop a cold unvarnished interpretation of process and events. This step requires thinking out loud, encouraging dissent and open, intellectually honest debate. THINK. RETHINK. What does your "gut" tell you? What do the numbers mean?

3. Decide. Set standards of performance. Begin reading "through" the numbers, get a feeling for what's working and why. Make informed, considered, carefully measured decisions. Create a daily action plan. What are the numbers suggesting we do next?

4. Act. Put things into motion. Make something happen. Leadership must instill a bias for action. Remain flexible, keeping the team focused on the finer points of execution. All the rules and discipline of great performance art are in play. Celebrate success no matter how small. Catch people doing something right. Are we executing on plan? What numbers are our actions producing?

5. Learn. Leadership must lead learning. Leaders are responsible for developing a deep understanding of what's driving their business (and what's not). The great leaders know their numbers cold. The temptation is to be seduced into putting the numbers aside, which leads to confusing activity with progress. This is where metrics play a vital role. The scorecards or dashboards, the numbers, work to keep the team honest. Discover what activities are working (i.e., producing effective results, the best numbers) and which are not. Experiment and learn to fail faster. Keep the words of the great Sir Ken Robinson in mind "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." Score and evaluate all activity. Step up, fine tune, productive practices and abandon practices that fail to meet established (and dynamic) standards of return. What are we learning? What have we learned? What do we need to learn? What needs to be done? This is the essential step where game-changing innovation is fostered.

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."

One of the biggest challenges of leadership is nurturing the important process of unlearning. It is the responsibility of leadership to produce results and this requires the constant questioning and testing of all conventional wisdom. One must not simply accept industry dogma as is but dare to break free from accepted practices. This is the price to be paid in any quest for true greatness.

It's all about daily discovery within the context of workflow. It's not a matter of getting better but rather an exercise in changing up activity, and getting dramatically different. To reach or exceed your goals and objectives you and your team will first have to get serious about doing your homework, concentrating on all the factors at play around and near a constantly moving target. To succeed consistently you'll need to learn to think like a merchant which means you'll have to focus on today's receipts, weekly and monthly tracking is too late to matter in today's changing world. To win dedicate yourself to becoming a master in the game that is minding the gap.

(FD: Today's post was inspired from materials developed for one of our popular 2008 workshops "Leading the successful station brand: Lessons learned from America's best local retailers." As many of you are aware we also happen to be merchants, accordingly, we closely follow and study retail. Our retail operation serves as a real-time working lab. One of our favorite questions to ask those who propose to teach others how to sell retailers - or charge for insights into how the business of retail works today - is "Please, tell us about your retail store?" The answer too often reveals ... 1. No retail ownership experience whatsoever 2. Little or no actual retail management experience. 3. Little or no recent experience advising retailers. Buyer beware.)

P.S. If you have not done so already, please do not forget, today is the day to pay Sam. He's expecting it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Wit and fine writing doth not consist so much in advancing things that are new, as in giving things that are known an agreeable turn." Alexander Pope

"If you do not want to conquer the world anew every single day, you will lose more of it day by day." Christian Morgenstern

"The second step in the right direction is the most difficult."Theo Mestrum

Today's image: you can play with it... by Pensiero. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Closed circuit to CEOs: One of the next superstars, a person you need to hire to help save your company, is now unemployed (still looking), crowding fifty and probably female. You'll find irrefutable proof of this bold assertion via a YouTube video available using this link. Thank me later.

P.S. The next time you are told "there's no one out there" - your response should be "I just don't believe that's true."

Bonus tip: Take "there's no one out there" for what it is - an excuse. As a practical matter, this line serves as a wake-up call, a critical early warning sign that important, serious work is not getting proper attention.

You did watch the video, right? Trust me, it's an inspiration. Please, do watch it by clicking here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Larry Bentson

N. L. Bentson started his storied career on the radio as a child actor. He was a bigger-than-life original, a gifted visionary, a true legend in the American media and communications industries. Larry pioneered FM radio, television, cable tv and mobile telephony.

A brilliant business leader, Larry was also a philanthropist.

He cared deeply about issues that mattered, his involvement in a project always ensured a positive and lasting difference was inevitable. Larry concerned himself with a great many charitable efforts including those focused on improving the lives of children, especially the quality of their health and education.

Larry was always preoccupied with the possible, the what if, the why not. His thoughts were often on the horizon, one he knew certain to be filled with unlimited promise and incredible opportunity. As of this year, there are 250 Bentson Scholars. Those college students and their graduated fellows are part of one of Larry's many dreams come true - the largest private scholarship program in America.

This great gentleman was my dear friend and mentor. He passed away last night. Larry Bentson, sui generis. Godspeed.

Related: Midcontinent Communications release, here.