William E. Pearson is the co-founder of Mental Floss, a bi-monthly magazine, which he started with Mangesh Hattikudur when both were students at Duke University. The idea was to blend knowledge with entertainment in such a way that it would be educational and fun. Mental Floss then started as a magazine, and has since found a way to capture the attention of the Millennial generation through engaging in multiple forms of social media, which is, as many of the most successful brands will tell you, no small feat. Will’s talk was around how they have learned to engage their fickle audience, and how to embrace the way they view the world when you deliver content. Continue reading
Category Archives: Work
Gary Hirsch co-founded On Your Feet alongside Robert Poynton in 1996. His premise is that business leaders benefit greatly from the skills imparted in improvisational comedy – most notably the concepts of co-creation, acceptance, and “throwing away the script.”
In Improv, you can’t force your partner in any particular direction. You have to respond to what they say, and them to you, without any preparation beforehand. This often brings unexpected results, and laughter. The takeaways are so important! Everything in Improv, in business, in life, is an offer. Continue reading
Rebecca Henderson- Building a sustainable organization, culture, and values
In a riveting display of her professorial skills, this co-director of the business initiative at Harvard University “schooled” me on the subject of her career’s research: exploring how organizations respond to large-scale technological shifts, most recently in regard to energy and the environment.
Her success stories, or companies that seem to have been successful in navigating potentially damaging changes to their business, have done so by talking about some previously taboo subjects in capitalism: their values. She contends that because values are a powerful motivator, and positive motivation has shown to make employees 3x as effective, sharing corporate values could have very positive economic effects.
Industry must become more self-regulating, because national governments just don’t have the jurisdiction to propose meaningful protections everywhere they are needed. Having clear corporate values can drive to this goal.
Johnson & Johnson has been putting values at the heart of its business model for over a century, and it has paid off. Even after devastating losses in consumer sales due to Consent Decree, J&J acted quickly and responsibly to recall products. Now that these products are starting to return to the shelves, they are finding that the Brand Loyalty has survived, in no small part due to the ethical actions taken to protect their customers, which they put first. When you are against the ropes at a moral fork in the road, there is a lot to gain from taking the highroad.
A few weeks ago I attended the World Innovation Forum at the regal New York City Center, a two-day immersive look at what it means to build a culture of innovation, hearing from a broad range of speakers, across countless disciplines. From the experience, I came back to my work and personal life refreshed and invigorated, as is true of most conferences. I think what makes this experience truly unique is that unlike other conferences, Innovation is not an industry specific thing, and yet has become so widely desirable in so many facets of life. I found insights from this experience that I hope to carry across the broad spectrum of my creative endeavors, both personal and professional, and here, I plan to share them with you.
Michael Martin – From a Marketing Strategy to a Global Movement
Michael Martin, General Manager of the Five Fingered shoes (you know, the “toe shoes”), shared his journey building a product that was doomed to fail according to virtually every conceivable measure of potential future success.
The company’s big break was actually deep in it’s history, when it sold the first rubber soled shoe, going on to supply the US military with all of its footwear. They had proven they could innovate once, why not again? As anyone in a large successful company can attest, it is a lot harder to innovate in a proven, successful market than it is at the start of a company when you have nothing to lose.
As if putting Mauro’s theory into practice, they relied heavily on their loyal customers to advertise their product for them. They have a website where their customers have made three minute videos about what Five Fingers means to them. Suddenly, this confusing, unwanted product has evolved into the 2010 “Item of the Year” in the Plus awards for design excellence. All of this is possible because they had the courage to stand by their idea, because of their experience with a young, unproven product. The courage to accept early failure as part of the road to future success is instrumental to building a culture of innovation.
Nothing is quite as poisonous as the words, “you can’t do it.” Those words are more caustic than tar, more debilitating than any disease, and have destroyed thousands of dreams. It’s not the words themselves; it’s just a sentence, an opinion, right? It’s when the public ridicule of your resolve raises to critical mass, and becomes the mantra of the gloomy cloud of people that have already given up hope on their own dreams, and threatens to drown you out completely, that it becomes dangerous. They start to convince you that, “maybe you can’t,” and it becomes clear that the emphasis on what we can’t do stifles our ability to “do the impossible.”
David Blaine doesn’t listen to these voices, even when the global scientific community insists that something isn’t possible. His insistence on pushing the boundaries on what’s possible can teach us a valuable lesson. Sometimes, conventional wisdom isn’t true. Sometimes, failing firsthand is better than believing you are doomed to fail at the start. More on that after the break, but first, David Blaine, soft spoken and humble, tells the story of how he learned how to hold his breath for 17 minutes.http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng/id/741
No U.S. Bank Is Safe
If the picture doesn’t send the message, let me spell it out for you. All of the banks in that picture have reported Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks from the hacktivist group Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters. The group claims that its second phase of distributed-denial-of-service attacks has affected nine banks since Dec. 11, and it warns that more attacks are on the way. The group will continue to target U.S. institutions until a YouTube movie trailer believed by the group to be anti-Islamic is removed from the Internet.
Normally, this sounds to me like another half baked conspiracy theory, but the number of stories are starting to add up, and this story is gaining more and more steam. Continue reading
It’s Time for a Change
I’ve been depressed about my mobile situation. I have the original DROID X, and it is acting like a senior citizen with dementia. It forgets it has a camera, a microphone, and needs to be rebooted twice a day. I have loved my android experience until last month, to be completely honest. I bought the phone in March of 2011, and I have really come to think of my phone as an extension of myself. That said, with carrier concerns, and the degrading performance, it is time for a new phone for me. But what phone to get? Continue reading
What is Modern Leadership?
An entire section of TEDxJNJ’s 12/12/12 event was dedicated to leadership. We had speakers talk about their experiences growing as leaders. One was the leader of a large organization, one was a coworker and colleague of mine. Leadership occurs at all levels, yet “some people got it, some people don’t.” At least, that’s what it feels like, right? What is changing about leadership today? What’s working, and what’s not?
On December 18th, an employee resource group for the Millennial generation hosted the first of many “Bring Your Own Discussion (BYOD)” Lunch and Learns at work. With J&J working on implementing its BYOD strategy in 2013, the topic was, fittingly, Bring Your Own Device.
Millennials are often labeled as inseparable from their technology. Several leading industry studies and articles believe that this new generation will demand BYOD programs, and challenge traditional work environments to change the way we work to meet this need.
BYOD means different things to different people, and the key to keeping afloat in the BYOD discussion is understanding what problem you are trying to solve. Interestingly enough, different generations have different expectations for this BYOD program. All are valid, but which will we tackle? Continue reading