Built to Level Up

Larry Page spoke the other day at the Fortune Global Forum Event. His talk was about “Alphabet”.  Alphabet is a holding company – and that sounds pretty boring, right? Well, perhaps not.

Alphabet is the company that Larry Page wants to be dedicated to building things for the future – things that have great value added.

Under Page’s purview, Alphabet subsidiaries control the world’s largest search engine (Google), a smart home manufacturer (Nest), a self-driving car project, an internet balloon project, and a venture capital arm. And that’s just the beginning.

Very cool. Al Wenger wrote about how capital constraints are giving way to attention constraints. This example provides us with a glimpse of what this looks like. Th pitch is about the lure of the mission rather than the potential return to investors.


May I Network With You?

From HBR

Business conferences can be boring affairs, where few meaningful, lasting connections are made. But, if you approach your own networking with creativity and enthusiasm, it doesn’t have to be that way.

BTW, I agree. I think that The Barefoot Contessa said it best – she will fire people who are not fun. After all, she can teach folks how to slice a sandwich but not how to be fun to be with.

Finding a Market Niche

Technology offers lots of opportunities for us to help each other in new ways. But where do these ideas come from? One way to think of it is to look for the most inefficient markets  that exist. Markets that charge huge premiums for just “so so” value added.

Want an example? Handicapped people in wheelchairs face huge problems when they travel. One of those problems is finding transport that accommodates their wheelchairs. A start up in Paris is addressing that problem with a car sharing idea (Uber for handicapped people9.


Re-Thinking Clubs

There was a time when the more sophisticated life style revolved around memberships in clubs. The memberships were prized as they gave one the possibility of connecting with those whom you wanted to be accepted by. One’s club was not just a place. It was the centerpiece of a lifestyle.

London, in particular, has a rich club history. These days, clubs are less dominant. They do not sit at the center of one’s social life. And yet, we still think about them and have them.Country clubs, for example, are a modern incarnation of the old men’s club.

And we use the idea of a “club” in ways that suit us. For example, one might join a “buying club”. I am particularly interested in buying clubs. The reason is that they offer an opportunity to take advantage of buying in bulk without having to actually do it. As a member you get samples and can buy more if the sample pleases. If not, wait for the next offer. And if the club is prestigious, you get at least some of the caché that one would have gotten by belonging to a men’s club.

Wine buying clubs are a nice example. From LA Times

Once a month, you get two or more interesting bottles to drink now — or stash in the closet for drinking later. If you opt for delivery, no driving is involved. And no agonized minutes at a wine shop or the grocery trying to pick out something — anything — new and different.

But wine is not the only product where belonging to a club could please.Any product that is

  • relatively expensive
  • used regularly

and that requires some knowledge to make great purchases would be a candidate for a buying club. If you look around your home, you might notice quite a few. Here is my initial list

  • olive oil – and other oils and vinegar
  • cooking utensils
  • certain foods
  • liquors – gins, vodkas, whiskeys etc
  • towels and bed linens
  • art
  • flowers

It will be interesting to see if we find more buying clubs pop up to make home life more unique and fun.

Using the Wiki

Wiki’s were hot a while back, but I do not hear that much about using them these days. Too bad! The wiki concept brings two critical aspects of collaborative learning together. The first is dynamic exchange. When one creates a wiki entry, it is an invitation for upgrade. This anchors the conversation — something few platforms do. The second is accountability for quality. A person creating a wiki entry knows that it will be place din the public domain and used (rather than just consumed and forgotten).

Here is an example of how wikis can be used in education.

Selling Routine Building

It is pretty much old news by now that one gets more creative by being more active. That is, creativity flows from activity – not the other way around. So I fyou want to be more creative, you need to become more active. Pretty simple.

Well, not quite that simple. Being more active is more difficult than it appears. Don’t believe me? Just for fun, keep track of your activity levels during th day and evening.  That includes tracking when you were focused and doing something and when you were resting. What do you see?  Most of us tend to zone out for at least part of the day. And most of us do not create a healthy balance between engaging in work and resting.

This is normal. And we can do better than normal by building routines. Those routines help us to structure periods of the day where we need to be active. Are there any tools that can help us? Sure. Here is a link to one that I am trying out.

One routine worth thinking about — work in ten minute spurts. Don’t allow yourself to go beyond that limit. Set a goal for what you will achieve in ten minutes and stop. Every ten minutes stop and rest.