Archive for the “business” Category

Google buying Dodgeball and the window of indie-hood

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Chris Messina wrotea great post about Google’s purchase of Dodgeball which is a cell-phone-connect-up-with-your-pals-in-a-serendipitous-way-in-the-real-world kind of system.

Chris writes about who owns log ins to sites and your id information.

What I’m wondering about is the fact that I signed up for Dodgeball a few months ago and already it’s been bought. The time between cool things are being made, released and bought is getter smaller and smaller. It reminds me of how you can now see a fashion trend in the Castro or Bayview and it will make it to Mervyn’s in Indiana in a matter of months. It used to take ages for shit like suede construction boots to filter up to fashionistas from the queers and then back down to middle America.

Meryl Streep’s character delivers a great and hilarious monologue in The Devil Wear’s Prada that captures the top-down part of ths influencer cycle in The Devil Wears Prada. But this bit of writing misses the whole cycle.

Much of the fashion looks like this: mid-western fashion in 70s>discarded to 2nd-hand clothing shops>re-contextualized and brought out to queer or urban punk land by poor kids in urban centres on the coast>picked up on by stylists>Milan+ Paris for a week>back to high end stores like Barney’s in NY>knocked off and sold at Mervyn’s in Indiana.

I’m still thinking on the tech cycle. Any ideas?

You change just one letter of business

Monday, October 16th, 2006

and it becomes pussiness.

Well ok, two letters.

inspiring web work: Songbird

Friday, October 13th, 2006

My pal Rob Lord’s company. What a great name—Pioneers of the Inevitable. What a beautiful site and application and work process and core idea. With killer t-shirts to boot. The whole thing makes me want to bake cupcakes and dance around.

Phenomenal life lesson: whatever is happening (even if it’s as big as the web) you can always draw a bigger frame around it.

Check out more of designer J Koshi’s stuff.

Google! Youtube deal! 2000 flashback.

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

This is an excerpt from my book-in-progress An Honest Living which tracks my search for meaning through work. This Google/Youtube deal reminds me of a moment in the heat of the coke frenzy of the dot com boom. I am sure that the deal is inspiring startup CEOs everyone to create a Powerpoint slide of delusional correlations like the one I discuss below. There are 250 Video start-ups revising their pitches as I write this based on this logic. “They do video..we do video. They’re worth 1.6 BN, We’re worth at least 390 MN!” Perhaps attention-needy blondes everywhere should be revising their own pitches too: “Paris does slutty…I do slutty. My valuation just went up over 1000%!” Tip of the mental hat to AAN.

My girlfriend is a tech reporter. That’s the other group where there are lots of women. These guys love to talk about themselves and it seems like they didn’t have any contact with women till they were adults. Put a reasonably attractive, intelligent woman in front of them and they’ll tell them anything. I spend my time at the conference with the writers. I enjoy them more than everyone else. They get to say what they really think. I have to be excited! about! ! whenever! I ! talk! to! anyone! to convince! them! that! they! should! know! us!

CEO! wants me to just call up the studio where I used to work and do a deal with them. He wants me to do this with everyone I’ve ever had a relationship with. I don’t want to do this unless we have something real to offer in exchange: a real deal. I learned this first year law school: the difference between a gift and a contract. Of course you only need a peppercorn worth of value to make it a legally binding contract, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a peppercorn for potential partners. I don’t want to suck people in and then have them resent the hell out of the deal. I understand why I’m the 4th business development person in a couple of years. I resist the scorched earth policy on my Rolodex. I’ve been at enough companies to know this won’t be my last job and I don’t want to ruin my reputation on it.

But promise of value is a peppercorn. I just don’t understand that yet. Business is changing right before my eyes. I meet S, one of my girlfriend’s friends who has a new start-up. He’s convinced 8 friends to work on it for next to nothing. They Believe in it. He used to date her before I did and so it feels a little tense. I ask him about his business as a way to bond. He is an engineer and he’s building tools to create online communities. Boy that sounds vague to me.

“How are you planning to market it?” I challenge him.

“We’re counting on a lot of word of mouth.”

I am dumbfounded. I think he’s naive as hell. No marketing plan? Community as a business? We’ve all been doing that online in the web scene but how is that a business? Where ‘s the business model? S later sells his business to Excite for millions.

At work the next day, CEO! shows a few of us the presentation he is taking to potential investors. He lists public Internet companies and the number of page views they are receiving (that’s the number of times people are viewing a web page at their sites). He also lists the number of their “members” and besides each, their valuation. As if a company is worth some dollar amount based on the number of times someone looks at their site! Below these other companies he lists ! and it’s number of page views and then its valuation. It is a crazy number. It is a crazy slide. I cannot believe my eyeballs.

That’s what he’s basing all this on: the number of “eyeballs’ that looked at something made at ! even though we have no ad salesperson, zero ads and can’t even account for the number of page views we do have to our partners (something I’m supposed to deliver). He thinks we’re worth that arbitrary amount of money. What happened to making money? I miss the days when I stacked shelves with real things to buy that people really want. I imagine a conversation with my Uncle Jack about all of this. We have nothing on the shelves. We are slipping everything to the back of the stack. There is no chocolate bar in front. Nothing to buy or hold in your hand. Market share. Eyeballs.

9 Responses to Forbes’ 9 Reasons to not marry a career women

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Forbes‘ article. Sadly, the slideshow has been taken down.

  1. It’s getting tougher to outsource well-being.
  2. Why write about your feelings when you can cite economic theory?
  3. Increased demand and illegible personal ads make it harder than ever to get hot illiterate chicks.
  4. Author Michael Noer now gets coveted cable talk show guest slot opposite Maureen Dowd
  5. Isn’t it cool that a male editor of a business magazine has now argued publicly that happiness is really the most important thing?
  6. One less guy I have to compete with for Angelina Jolie.
  7. Why create sustainable work and lives when we can have so much more fun fighting over what little time we have together now?
  8. Forbes offers GPS mate-tracker with every subscription renewal.
  9. Hey, if you guys are done with that marriage thing, mind passing it over here?

OSM wiki is up

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

It’s barely begun, but here it is.

Let me translate for non-geeks: this is a place for people to collaborate and share ideas and stories and jokes and anything else you want about making business a human place that serves people and not itself.

Maybe you melt a corporation, from the inside.
It could end up being good for business. Who do you trust?

Caring is the new “competitive advantage”

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

So why is caring the new “competitive advantage” ? (which is now an outdated phrase since it implies needing to beat someone else in order to do well).

  1. You can’t fake it.
  2. It comes from an honest place.
  3. If you truly care about what you’re doing, then you can keep on doing it. It becomes humanly sustainable.
  4. It’s the thing that is the opposite of what “corporate” now culturally means.
  5. It’s what is working about all the “web 2.0” or live web businesses and media vs corporate media.
  6. It’s what works about working governments.
  7. It is linked with our empathy and vulnerability. That’s the channel that allows energy and ideas and action to flow quickly between people and entities.
  8. It’s what makes things relevant and sometimes viral.
  9. In the exploding number of media options, it stands out and cannot be manufactured by formula.
  10. Your caring is unique to you (or the group of people making up your company) and it cannot be duplicated but can be joined.

It is hilarious to watch people used to coming top down (Michael Eisner was rumoured to be at SXSW, taking notes. try to take the form of the change without the genuine caring underneath. That means vulnerability and self-awareness. Chevy tried a “write-your-own-ad” campaign recently (can’t you hear the pitch meeting? “It’s very Internet, very grassroots”) only to find out that the grassroots had things to tell em they didn’t want to hear. The result? Hilarious ads. Why? They’re true. Chevy can listen to the truth and respond (ie change) or put just keep trying to perfume the pig. I think it’s gonna be the latter judging by this NYT piece. Do we want the story we tell ourselves or our actual story? Just ask frustrated advertisers, branders and designers all hired to do the former. Comedians tell the latter .
Here is my belated SXSW wrap-up. I had a fabulous time, as I always do. I’d hoped to post much earlier, but it took me a while to get my media online and to get over my desire to have everything thought out perfectly before I started blogging.

I did my first Open Source Management panel at SXSW, which is the beginning of my offering to help business get more honest and human. The core idea behind Open Source Management (OSM) forums is that if business started to apply some things it likes about its code (inclusive, open, transparent) to its human interactions, people would be happier and business would be more honest and therefore more sustainable and productive over the long haul. The goal is for people to be vulnerable with one another. But given how scary and that word seems to some business folks, I’m using OSM too. An acronym! That must be practical!

Systems eventually fail when they serve themselves and not people. It’s people who make these systems in the first place. We forget ourselves in our disenfranchisement and become resigned to the idea (not reality) that there’s nothing we can do. Then corporations seem to be evil blobs that showed up from outerspace and took over the commerce of the world, rather than an extension of what we accept.

A good starting place is people talking and listening to each other. The Cluetrain Manifesto is great in theory but how do business people really get vulnerable enough to be open and listen? How do you bring people together and tell the truth? Comedy. I decided to apply some of my performance techniques to a business meeting and that’s how OSM was born.

I ran the panel like a talk show, although I ended up on the floor for much of it since I couldn’t walk out of the range of my table of panelists without giving off crazy mic feedback. The irreverence only helped and though it was the last session of SXSW the audience jumped in immediately with tons of great ideas for our volunteer first client Ruckus Wireless. It was so great to see business without the bs, and to see just how much incredible brain power there is in a random room. Ok. it wasn’t completely random. But at any company there are lots of smart, competent people who would probably be able to help their management solve lots of problems if they were listened to and given genuine input. And creativity is impossible without fun. (Though most companies will say “can you please just Fed Ex in part of your left brain, leave the messy rest of you at home. Now, be creative and passionate!”)

I learned a lot from the audience and will keep adapting the technique. Many thanks to the audience and my panel, Jerry Michalski, Mark Glaser, Cathy Brooks , Giovanni Rodriguez and David Callisch. Listen to the podcast, post your ideas below.

Here’s how to be a caring, open company:my interview with flickr’s George Oates.

From the trends I’m seeing in major media and on the Net, It’s time for caring. Very exciting! Come out of the closet humans, come out! Your caring will not harm but support your livelihood.
Other SXSW goodies

Here is video from the “early beta” of my new show The Law Project, which I did at The Vortex Rep, along with a night of Cookie.

Open Source Management

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Here’s the panel I ran as a talk show at SXSW with our courageous first “client” an IPTV start-up named Ruckus Wirelss and Giovanni Rodriguez from their PR firm Eastwick. Ruckus shared it’s business problem: trying to initiate grassroots support for IPTV service (something thier hardware enables) but that US telcos are amazingly slow in delivering (unlike other nations). The audience was amazing. Full of smarts they shared and insight about what Ruckus needed to do. Many said they’d gladly hack the box if Ruckus was willing to give out a few. I felt like the host of business game show Match Game with a hilarious panel of experts.

It was a fun start to my quest to share what I’ve learned performing to help business get honest and human.

These forums are great for a general audience (business translation: customer service), early adopters (business translation: focus group) or internally (business translation: strategy or innovation / ideation meetings). It’s a way to bring the fun kind of performance to business.

The only way to get sustainable grassroots support is through listening. The only way to get creativity is through fun and thus an environment and ethos that allows people to be their whole selves.

Audience reactions?
“insane but useful”


Listen to the podcast of the panel.

Open Source Management : Walking the Walk

What would happen if a company was forthright and open about the challenges it faces? Why are companies embracing open-ness when it comes to their software, but not their own operation and decision-making process?

Corporations fear the authenticity and vulnerability that would build trust with their customers and better products and services. And vulnerability is necessary for connection, intimacy, trust and real conversation.

Blogs, wikis, the Web and other tech goodies have given us the means for exchange, and the impetus for integration within company fiefdoms but not necessarily the human skills for creating a space that allows us to genuinely exchange information, rather than just talk at each other.

So, how do you gets comfortable being vulnerable? How does a company come to believe this matters? By experiencing it and its results.

In this panel executed as performance/ talk show, we’ll explore and show what happens if a company is willing to have a real, vulnerable “blog” or conversation with customers, blogging experts and regular folks. Heather Gold brings her interactive performance skills to the corporate conversation with guests Jerry Michalski, blogger Mark Glaser, PR veteran Cathy Brooks and you the audience.

Next OSM Forum: June 15th 3rd Thursday with Socialtext at the gathering of Silicon Valley PR Community – Palo Alto. Sponsored by Eastwick PR.

Posted in business | 51 Comments »

Didn’t I Just Say That?

Thursday, December 6th, 2001

Dedicated to every woman who’s had her ideas repeated at work as though she were invisible (special thanks to Adam Powell).

MP3  Didn’t I Just Say That? (MP3)

Business Bondage

Sunday, July 1st, 2001

I was one of the 1.5 million watching the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade this weekend. As I watched the S/M contingent, I couldn’t help but think of my friend–let’s call him Mark–who just took his first hard core sales job. After an enthusiastic courtship and productive two weeks, his boss has decided that he needs to wear something around his neck.

Mark knows that once you put on a tie, you’re a “suit.” Your entire self gets identified by the clothes. It’s an ironic combination suit and tie. The suit is there to make you powerful, but then the tie cuts it with vulnerability. Think about it: anyone could just grab it and strangle you at any moment. In case you thought you were free, there’s this reminder about who you belong to around your neck all the time.

Mark prides himself on his sharp appearance, and has made a point of investing in a nice wardrobe to maintain it. If he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it well. He’s raised so much money in his career, he can even tell you what the different VCs wear. They all have different styles but none of them include ties. All of his fundraising and development work was done without one.

If you were wearing full tech regalia: teva sandals, shorts and a penguin t-shirt, would a tie build your trust? As for me and the wardrobe issue, I’ve pretty much planned my entire career around avoiding wearing hose, so I understand the aversion to something that feels restrictive.

Under the new tie edict, Mark faces the problem of the three-way business relationship: him, customer and boss. How do you serve all three?

Mark’s job is to deal with the outside world, listen understand what they want, and then bring that news back home to their company. You’d think that pleasing the customer would be the first order of his job. But then what do you do when the boss (a/k/a “manager”) wants something else? Who’s your daddy?

Unlike the Parade contingent, Daddy–I mean the boss–didn’t make clear to Mark that he was in for this kind of relationship when they first met. Interviewing and all the early dates went smoothly and expectations were set. It’s the oldest recruiting tactic in the book. Get someone who’s task-oriented excited about the task, and knee deep in work flow, and then assert domination.

The boss isn’t boosting sales, making the business run better or trying to keep his customers happy. How shall we say it? He’s just……, getting off.

It makes me think about the guys in the Parade with their leather paraphenalia. Maybe it’s time for Mark’s boss to come clean and come out of his own closet. I’m sure he’ll be surprised to find he has lots of company in the world of business bondage.

If Mark’s boss were to get honest about why he wants Mark to wear the tie, I have an idea that might keep them happy and the relationship humming. Mark can simply wear it under his suit, and it can be their little secret together.

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