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January 24 2016

How to Launch Your Digital Platform

Zillow’s approach typifies a three-step process for launching an advertising-supported platform: 

(1) Collect data from public sources, and organize it to create a useful service that attracts consumers. 

(2) Encourage users to submit improved data directly to the platform. 

(3) Charge companies for preferred ad placement. 

Even Google’s widely used search engine is grounded in this approach. Initially, the company collected page contents by scraper; then it accepted structured data feeds from sites; and now it charges advertisers billions of dollars to appear adjacent to search results. It’s a proven path to success—one that overcomes the mobilization barriers that initially challenge so many platforms.

January 15 2016

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Northern Planner: The Rules

The only point of any strategic set up (and try showing the creative, the plan, or the content idea etc first and then show how you got there) is to help the client understand why you’re recommending what you are recommending. Take the time to write less, they like value being added, you should be giving them insight they haven’t considered, or reframing the brief in an inspirational way, but mostly, when they have 20 agencies, research partners and God knows what else, whatever agency you’re in, it’s more about helping them see the wood for the trees and compressing the hurricane of information they’re flailing in, down to one clear task, or three clear principles. No one is sitting there thinking ‘I can’t wait to see the strategy’ they want to see the work/the plan/the content etc. That goes for a strategic presentation too, they don’t want chart after chart, they want you to get to a proposition/organising thought/task for communications quickly - that’s the 'work’ too. It’s all about the work. Anyone who says otherwise is either and brandbabbler (as Ad Contrarian would say) or someone who charges a lot for process, rather than ideas and results.

Death of Peach: An eerie echo of Meerkat's collapse

“Not being able to capitalize on wide exposure is the illest of omens.

How is it possible that hollow messaging app hype runs so spectacularly out of control so regularly? And with so little real examination of the download performance of these apps? One explanation is that most people who cover the app industry have no clue about market fundamentals. Many reporters don’t comprehend that getting a million users counts for nothing in the app game. Many don’t know that having a high retention number for a very narrow core group of users is meaningless. Many don’t grasp that if an extraordinarily hyped app never hits the top 100 download chart (Meerkat) or only cracks the top 100 for 10 hours (Peach), this constitutes an enormously meaningful (and quite dreadful) signal.

There are no comebacks in the app industry. If an app performs weakly despite heavy marketing or media support, the app is dead. It cannot be revived. Real app vendors know this and kill weakly performing apps early and often. There are no second chapters in this biz. Meerkat was dead three weeks after it launched and Peach is dead four days after its debut. Peach’s download chart performance is spectacularly atrocious for a product that hit No. 1 on New York’s Twitter trending topics on Friday night. The only question is when the carcass will start to stink – and whether the company can bag $14 million before it does.

It’s not hard to see why Peach is not catching on. The app is derivative, presentation of content is awkward and interactions between users are weirdly cramped. If you post a gif, other users will only see the word gif on your stream. They must click to actually see what you posted. Actual dialogue between users is made as difficult as possible.”

The Mind of a Salesperson: How Human Nature Can Muddle Sales Forecasting

With one of the highest-pressure jobs on the planet, salespeople are under uniquely intense stress to succeed in order to meet these needs. So they sometimes resort to behaviors that can throw off accurate sales estimates. The six most common ones are:

“Happy ears”: It’s easy to do in life – you hear what you want to hear, not necessarily what the speaker was really saying. When a salesperson misreads a prospect’s true intent, it can distort his or her assessment on the amount and close date of a deal.

Sandbagging: This is so prevalent in the sales world that the term is in the Urban Dictionary: “In corporate sales: when reps report a much lower deal opportunity than actually exists.” Why would someone do this? It could be an under-promising/over-delivering technique to make the rep look like a hero. Another reason could be that if the deal doesn’t go through, the rep doesn’t look as bad. Still another could be to overachieve on a quota and receive a higher bonus. Whatever the reason, sandbagging is sales forecasting poison.

Fear of the boss: Everybody wants to make the boss happy, and is scared of the career consequences when the opposite occurs. So salespeople may exaggerate the status and amount of deals out of a sense of career self-preservation.

Peer pressure: No one likes to look bad in front of his or her peers. A salesperson may inflate estimates simply out of bravado or showmanship out of a sense of competition with other salespeople.

Guessing: Rather than admit he or she simply doesn’t know how a deal will turn out, a salesperson takes a random stab. Unfortunately, the guesses then become part of the forecasting “official record.”

Over-reaching: Sales reps are highly optimistic and bullish by nature. That’s a good thing. But this quality can lead to over-optimism, where a salesperson unintentionally overstates a deal’s prospects in the forecast.


January 11 2016

Summon Your Tesla from Your Phone

“Using Summon, once you arrive home and exit Model S or Model X, you can prompt it to do the rest: open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down. In the morning, you wake up, walk out the front door, and summon your car. It will open the garage door and come to greet you. More broadly, Summon also eliminates the burden of having to squeeze in and out of tight parking spots. Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synch with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.”

January 10 2016

For Republicans, Mounting Fears of Lasting Split - The New York Times

“The issues animating grass-roots voters — opposition to immigration, worries about wages and discomfort with America’s fast-changing demographics — are diverging from and at times colliding with the Republican establishment’s interests in free trade, lower taxes, less regulation and openness to immigration.
The fractures could help a Democrat win the White House if Republicans do not ultimately find ways to unite, as one candidate, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, warned last week.”

December 25 2015

December 01 2015

A lot of strategists (and CEOs) think that their job is to conceive a strategy and then hand it off to the underlings to execute. They might concede that delegation matters, but usually as a matter of execution more than strategy.

Reid disagrees. He once told me, “Whoever is actually immersed in the actual execution of a strategy should always think of ways to tweak the strategy for the better.” It’s a litmus test for talent: How do you know if you have A-players on your project team? You know it if they don’t just accept the strategy you hand them. They should suggest modifications to the plan based on their closeness to the details. And as they execute, they should continue to tweak the strategy, and you (the owner) should not feel a need to micromanage or second guess—if you do, you’ve got the wrong person.

Ben Casnocha - Lessons from Reid Hoffman

November 23 2015

If you look at how people spend time on all computing platforms, whether it’s phones or desktops before that, about 40% is spent on some kind of communications and media. Over the long term, when [Oculus] becomes a more mature platform, I would bet that it’s going to be that same 40% of the time spent doing social interactions and things like that. And that’s what we know. That’s what we can do.
Mark Zuckerberg

November 11 2015

November 10 2015

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November 03 2015

Answer to What is Tim Cook like? - Quora

“Tim Cook regularly talks about privacy in the context of civil rights. The government is attempting to force Apple to make all of its devices completely transparent to domestic surveillance. Tim Cook has taken a very strong stand against that. In doing so, he has put himself at risk of antagonizing Washington and various constituencies of militant nationalists.

Of course in part he does this because he wants to make Apple products as good as they can be, but he has spoken much louder on this issue than I think his title demanded. He has even alluded to the romantic legalese that the Supreme Court used when they built privacy into the constitution.

I think that this points to a facet of Tim Cook which is deeply principled, ideological, and political in a way which he would prefer was not part of his public persona, although he mentioned that he keeps framed photos of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy on his desk in his coming out essay on Bloomberg, which maybe gives us a sense of direction in terms of his political persuasion.”

3 Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions

So how can we handle decisions of all kinds more efficiently? 

The first method is to use habits as a way to reduce routine decision fatigue. The idea is that if you build a habit —for example: always eat salad for lunch — then you avoid the decision entirely and you can save your decision-making energy for other things.

That works for predictable and routine decisions. But what about unpredictable ones?

The second method is to use if/then thinking to routinize unpredictable choices. For example, let’s say someone constantly interrupts me and I’m not sure how to respond. My if/then rule might be: if the person interrupts me two times in a conversation, then I will say something.

These two techniques — habits and if/then — can help streamline many typical, routine choices we face in our lives.

What we haven’t solved for are the larger more strategic decisions that aren’t habitual and can’t be predicted.

The third decision-making method: use a timer

If the issues on the table have been reasonably vetted, the choices are equally attractive, and there is still no clear answer, then admit that there is no clearly identifiable right way to go and just decide.

It helps if you can make the decision smaller, with minimal investment, to test it. But if you can’t, then just make the decision. The time you save by not deliberating pointlessly will pay massive dividends in productivity.

Peter Bregman, HBR

October 30 2015

October 25 2015

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