Category Archives: videos

Go out there and manage your brand!

Yesterday, I attended a networking event.  The main lesson from this event was to pursue your passions, be excellent at it, and be full of energy and tie this with your strengths and be able to use this to help others. This lesson can be applied to an individual who is interested in building their personal brand, or to a business that is interested in developing their brand.  I came across this motivational talk by Gary Vaynerchuk some time ago.  I think he has a great message of pursuing your passions and stop doing things that you do not enjoy.  If you for even a second do not believe in what you are doing, get out, now.  He said “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask what do you want to do for the rest of your life, and pursue that.”  With these passions and patience, one can find a way to monetize it.

It is extremely important to build brand equity in yourself and in your business, too.  Finding methods to leverage one’s brand equity can be accomplished through a variety of social networks such as Facebook, Jaiku, LinkedIn, MySpace, Technorati, Twitter, etc.  Whenever, there is a social utility out there, take advantage of it.  You can be accessible anyhow, anywhere, anytime and as often as you can. Interactivity with customers is extremely important.  Building personal and company brand equity can be accomplished through conversation amongst the web users and spreading this message around.

The essence of this talk is that there is no substitute for hard work.  When people are coasting, that is the opportune time to work diligently to surpass the competition.  Gary at one point responded to 700 to 1000 emails a day, as a trailblazer in leveraging social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) to interact with customers.  Listening to customers is effective, but caring about them is much better.  Reading customers concerns, suggestions, ideas is listening, but responding to emails, interacting with customers through social media is caring about them.  Legacy is greater than currency.  Whatever output occurs, ensure it upholds one’s legacy.  This solidifies either one’s personal brand or business brand, and it will enable future positive returns on investment.  The best way to succeed is to be transparent, and your legacy is all you have.

I have written about the importance of social media in business here and here.  As individuals and businesses are increasingly using these tools, it is imperative to be apart of this.  Adapt or be left behind.  I agree with Gary’s assertions that passion, hard work, patience are keys to success.  The lessons from this inspirational talk were very similar to the networking workshop I had attended yesterday.

Design is in the details

Yesterday, I had posted about a video from Charles Leadbetter about how users through crowdsourcing and open-innovation are contributing innovation of products/services through collaborative and interactive channels.  Today’s discussion is about design, and how the users are able to design products/services that do not necessarily need to solve big issues but may solve smaller ones, which are very important.

This talk was from Paul Bennett, creative director of IDEO.  He has given multiple examples throughout this talk about solving tiny solutions that delivered impact from hospitals to Ikea’s children storage unit to water pumps in Kenya. 

In the case of the hospital in Minnesota, solving tiny solutions was able to deliver a big impact.  The hospital was interested in the ameliorating the patients’ experience.  When IDEO investigated the users’ experiences, the changes that needed to be made were not big systemic ones, but smaller ones. Some ideas included attaching mirrors to the gurneys, to enable the patients’ to see the nurse or doctor when they were being transported around.  They involved hospital staff in their input to make the patient’s experience more enriching. A nurse suggested installing a whiteboard in the patient’s room so that notes, drawings, messages from the doctor/nurses/family/friends can be showcased and brighten an otherwise mundane room.  

Other examples of design innovations that incorporated thinking small and delivered a big impact came from the inventor of velcro.  He was walking through a field and was covered with burrs and that became his inspiration for velcro.

View objects peripherally to find opportunity. For example, notice on the street when there is a yellow line, people inadvertently follow it without any instructions.  Another example is if people put their empty cups (garbage) in one place, everyone else puts there cups there too.  Companies should pay attention to how people come up with their own design experiences and adapt their designs to improve this experience.

Start from scratch, the mind should be fresh. Throw out any pre-conceived notions.  When Ikea had to design a children’s bookcase, the designer understood that the idea of storage to children was quite different than grown-ups, children play on top and below big objects.  The designer was able to design a storage unit underneath tables, where children can place their toys. 

Pick battles big enough to matter, but small enough to win. For example, in Kenya, IDEO was sought to design a water pump that can be used by villagers.  It had to be compact enough to fit on a bicycle.  This pump had to be cost effective.  It incorporated both effective form and function mechanisms to enhance the lives of the villagers.

I believe that being able to think and feel from the user’s perspective is paramount to designing user-friendly products/services.  This certainly extends to so many different facets in life including communicating with people.  Much too often, the message and body language can be disparaging and derisive to the intended audience, and by empathizing with the intended audience, communication becomes much easier.

Innovation from users/consumers

Who invented the mountain bike?  A big bike company? No, it was invented by a group of bicycle users (consumers) that were frustrated with the existing road bikes.  Charles Leadbetter speaks about how ordinary people, rather than large companies can innovate in this video.   

Mr. Leadbetter mentioned that often consumers are ahead of the producers in developing innovations because: 1) There is much uncertainty that exists when radical innovations affect many people.  There is a greater need for innovation for this uncertainty, and consumers/users are quicker and more adept to identify and find methods to deal with this uncertainty. 2) Users are the source of big disruptive innovations.  Large companies rely too much on past success. I had posted earlier, this will create the downfall for many big companies.  His example of rap music clearly illustrates that form of music would have been difficult as an invention by large companies.  3) Many of the users are passionate about their product/service and are willing to work on developing new innovative product/service during their leisure time and completing this to a high standard.  These people possibly feel bored at work, and focus their energy on their passion.  

As I had posted earlier here and here, there is a battle between open-source innovation (usually crowd-sourced, grassroots) versus closed-source innovation (traditionally large companies). Many of the large companies have tried to stifle the open-source innovators that engage in interactive and collaborative activities.  Mr. Leadbetter thinks that an emerging trend will dissolve the differences between closed-source and open-source innovation, as it will no longer be clearly defined. For example, as I had posted earlier about the use of developer tools on existing websites such as Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, where the users are able to develop their own tools and widgets with resources and platforms such as a developers’ kits (API) that are provided from these sites.

This video corroborates the findings in my posting about the eight emerging trends for businesses.  Crowdsourcing and collaboration are all future trends in innovation.  It turns users into producers, and consumers into designers. Being able to have a mix between the traditional and emerging sources of innovation enables a structure to be in place, but also dynamic in identifying and designing products/services to improve the lives of the consumer.

Mobile Phones in people’s lives

Noted researcher for design for Nokia Phones, Jan Chipchase, has traveled around the world using various research methods such as focus groups and ethnography to observe how people use their mobile phones.  I had posted in earlier posts here and here regarding the demographics, psychographics and some design issues of the mobile phone as well as its prominence as the next big media, and in so displacing the internet.  However, all my earlier postings related to mobile phone use in North America. 

In one of Mr. Chipchase’s trips, he visited Uganda, and the usage of the mobile phones is quite different than in North America.  As Uganda can be considered as a third-world country, its banking infrastructure is quite rudimentary compared to North America.  Since banks and ATMs are sparsely scattered, obtaining money is a cumbersome process.  Through grassroots innovation, a connection between the exchange of telephone cards with cash was forged.  Suppose one wanted to send some money from a major center like Kampala to a someone living in a village.  That person would buy a telephone card, call a person in the village that has a mobile phone (who acts as both a phone operator and a bank in some instances), and exchanges the telephone card number.  Of course, by obtaining the telephone card number, the person with the mobile phone can make more telephone calls.  This person would take 10-20% commission as an intermediary, and give the remaining cash (from bartering the telephone card number) to the intended person.  

It is certainly interesting how the mobile phone can be used differently than here in North America.  In the end, universally, the mobile phone transcends space and time.  It transcends space by the ability for the user to make a telephone call, and it transcends time by the ability of the user to receive/send text/voice messages at their convenience.  

In my opinion, with the emergence of the mobile phone as the next medium,  as well as the emergence of grassroots innovation, the possibilities to bring about positive change in people and their communities is endless.

Are you a conservative or a liberal?

As this is the election season, both those words can be loaded.  Social liberals are stereotypically casted as people that like to embrace new experiences, changes, and are open to new ideas.  Social conservatives are stereotypically people that like to keep traditions.

Psychologist Jonathan Haight, from the University of Virginia, explores the psychology behind these two groups.  In his research, he examines five moral areas:  fairness/reciprocity; harm/care; in-group/loyalty; authority/respect; and purity/sanctity.  

Fairness is about ensuring people all of all backgrounds have fair justice opportune to them. Harm is ensuring the weak and oppressed are protected.  Loyalty is ensuring that no matter the conditions, there is utmost loyalty among groups. Authority ensures there is societal semblance to societal norms and that deviant behaviors are discouraged.  Finally, for purity, it is to ensure that society maintains a certain level of decency.

People that were socially liberal generally had high care and fairness moral scores, and these two scores were even higher than the socially conservatives.  Despite the slightly lower care and fairness scores, the socially conservatives placed a very high emphasis on the authority, loyalty and purity moral scores, and placed these values significantly higher than social liberals.

Looking at cross countries and cultures, this is true for most around the world.  In the Eastern Asian cultures, there is less variance in the authority, loyalty and purity moral scores among socially liberal and conservatives versus North American and European scores.

Certainly this explains the voting patterns among socially liberals and socially conservatives and the differences in ideologies for the various political parties and their supporters.  I was hoping a third group would be studied, the Libertarians.  There seems to be a rise in this third group, as evidenced by the strong Ron Paul supporters.

The web in 5000 days

The web has been in existence for less than 5000 days according to this video is from Kevin Kelly, executive editor at Wired Magazine.  He posed a rhetorical question that if people were to look introspectively 10 years ago, whether anyone would have predicted the emergence and pervasiveness of the internet.  Therefore, the first lesson of the web is people “Have to get better in believing the impossible.”

With the emergence of convergence in technologies (IPTV, Mobile phones, etc.), he likens all these devices to be one giant machine that uses 5% of the world’s electricity with no downtime.  The complexity of this giant machine is similar to the human brain, except every two years, the brain does not double its power.  In the next 5000 days. this machine will go through change in its embodiment, restructuring and codependency.  As posted in an earlier posts here, here, here and here mobile phones and other devices with screens are on the cusp of convergence.  Many computer applications that were exclusively in the realm of the computer hard drive now have presence on the web. More can be read about this in an earlier post.  Mr. Kelly predicts everything will become web-based.  Products such as shoes (e.g. Nike ID+) already come embedded with computer chips, where data can be transferred to/from the product to the internet. Combining all the various devices and the reliance on the web, this machine now becomes the embodiment of the human.  It now has the eyes, ears, speech and touch like the human.

In the beginning, the web was linked from machine to machine through packets of shared data. Today, the web is linked from page to page.  People link to/from various pages constantly.  To navigate around the web involves clicking on various links from one page to another.  Currently, this system is currently undergoing change, and the web will become linked by data (idea to idea).  An example of this change is there are a plethora of social networking sites, and for each new site the user wishes to join, he/she needs to identify his/her group of friends.  Wouldn’t be better that whenever the user goes anywhere on the web,  there is no need to ask for his/her friends again? This new trend of the web being restructured and linked by data is being implemented.  Artificial intelligence like the Google search engine is becoming increasingly sophisticated and smarter, which facilitates this movement towards this technology.  For additional reading, I had posted about this earlier

Total personalization in this world will require total transparency.  Due to content on demand, and the a search-based web, finding information or content that fits the users’ interests and needs, will require the user to divulge more personal information.  Examples include: http://www.last.fm which plays music that is personalized to the taste of the user.  I had posted about this phenomenon in earlier posts here and here.

As mankind has been dependent on the alphabet, the web will only be next. Mr. Kelly gave an example that sometimes, he does not need to remember information, he simply uses google to search it. As increasingly more applications are being web-based (web is now being more ubiquitous), the tendency to be co-dependent on this will occur.

Mr. Kelly espouses the idea that every object in the world will be somehow linked to the web.  This will occur not in the next 5000 days, but at a much later time.  Imagine sitting on a plane, and the physical book that you are reading is linked to the web.  Other items can include: your seatbelt, seat, pillow, blanket, magazines, tray, TV set all are linked to the web.

This giant machine that is the sum of all things in the world and its operating system is the web, will influence people’s daily lives constantly.  With the changes in the embodiment, restructuring and codependency of the web, people will become part of this giant machine.

I can see this trend happening as information that was once proprietary and had a monetary value attached to it is now free and easily searchable.  Imagine having an all-encompassing worldwide library with no borders bounded by state or federal lines, and all of the world’s combined books, journals and other materials were easily accessible?  The web has become this worldwide library.  In the past, if someone moved to a new environment, it was difficult to meet new people and make new friends, right?  Now, people can easily use the internet to search for special interests groups that fit their lifestyle and interests.  They can join this groups and meet these new people.