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Archive for December, 2013

A Labor of Love

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The video only lasts 5 minutes 26 seconds in which you’ll see 253 video snippets.

Now that’s a true labor of love—as are all five previous Best of Web.

Have a safe, wonderful New Year’s Eve!

YouTube credit: Luc Bergeron

Self-censorship Not Allowed

Monday, December 30th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyntiry/3992988737/

There is a major push by many news and media sites to bring back at least a modicum of civility by eliminating comment anonymity.

The general feeling is that the ability to remain anonymous encourages a general nastiness that is unlikely to happen if we had to take responsibility for our actions.

In other words, when your real identity is attached to our actions you are more likely to show some self-restraint.

While many prominent sites are encouraging (forcing?) people to take a second look before hitting enter and practice a bit of self-censorship, Facebook is taking the opposite tack.

Unfortunately, the code in your browser that powers Facebook still knows what you typed—even if you decide not to publish it.* It turns out that the things you explicitly choose not to share aren’t entirely private.

While people are freaking out over NSA collecting phone numbers and the FBI being able to turn on their computer’s webcam, most don’t seem to consider Facebook a threat.

People surveilled through their computers’ cameras aren’t choosing to share video of themselves, just as people who self-censor on Facebook aren’t choosing to share their thoughts. The difference is that the FBI needs a warrant but Facebook can proceed without permission from anyone.

Facebook much prefers you to do a continual, uncensored brain dump, whether civil or hate-filled, truth or lies, it doesn’t matter as long as you post it.

Das and Kramer [Facebook researchers] argue that self-censorship can be bad because it withholds valuable information. If someone chooses not to post, they claim, “[Facebook] loses value from the lack of content generation.”

And in case you are wondering how Facebook loses value remember that the ads you see are based on what you post.

In the age of Facebook, “let it all hang out” has taken on a whole new meaning.

Flickr image credit: Carolyn Tiry

If the Shoe Fits: How to Create a Truly Open Culture

Friday, December 27th, 2013

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mI probably sound cynical, but I do get tired of listening to founders talk about the openness, honesty and authenticity of their culture even as they go to great lengths to protect their salary and stock grant information, hiring criteria and customer interaction information.

Discussing salaries and/or stock grants is grounds for termination in many companies

Google is notorious for killing blogs on Blogger with no warning and no explanation except that they violated the TOS, but offering no specific information as to what the violation was or responding to the blog owner’s queries.

If you choose to talk the openness approach, then you should read up on a CEO who truly walks it.

In a post on Buffer’s Open blog, CEO Joel Gascoigne reveals his salary along with the salary of every single employee in the company, and includes the formula the company uses to get to each one.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: are You Talent-Blind

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

No matter the job market, founders go on and on about the lack of the right talent for their needs.

I, on the other hand, and others like me, keep saying that attitude is more important than skills.

Want proof?

OK, answer this question.

If you were a basketball coach would you want a one-handed player?

No?

Boy, is that a bad assumption-based decision.

Kind of like assuming that skills are age or school-based.

YouTube credit: ScoutsFocus.com

Your Christmas Present

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevepj2009/3332690891/

Yesterday I promised you a special Christmas present.

One that requires no batteries, is self-powered, recharges automatically and never gets old.

It’s a mindful gift and one that is good for your health.

It might even help you stick to that new workout routine you planned to start in January.

It’s sex.

And no more relying on anecdotal evidence regarding its benefits.

Clinical studies have proven that sex provides healthy exercise.

…sex qualified as “moderate exercise,” a 6-MET activity for men and 5.6-MET activity for women. That’s the equivalent, according to various estimates, of playing doubles tennis or walking uphill.

Best of all, it’s a gift that keeps on giving all year round.

Flickr image credit: Stephen Jones

Ducks in a Row: “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hokyumgrl/6325038418/

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a story about what would have happened if the main character hadn’t been born.

Hollywood released it nearly 70 years ago and it has become a Christmas tradition for millions.

Amazingly, Hollywood has left it alone; no prequel, no sequel, no colorizing and no remake.

Will wonders never cease?

But what would happen if Clarence (the ghost) provided a similar experience for a Boomer woman?

Maybe something like this…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Be sure to drop by tomorrow; I have a very special Christmas present for you.

Flickr image credit: Mickey Thurman

Do You Know…?

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rusty_clark/6455450621/

Way back in 1710 a philosopher named Berkeley posed a question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Berkeley never answered it, but since then the question has been pondered, debated and formed the basis of millions of late-night, bottle-of-wine discussions.

While there’s still no answer to Berkeley’s question, I have a 21st Century variation to ask you.

If a moment of your life doesn’t result in a picture did it happen?

It seems that many people respond “no.”

Think about it.

stock.xchng image credit: Rusty Clark

If the Shoe Fits: Third-party Innovation

Friday, December 20th, 2013

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_m

Not trying to insult you, but do you truly innovate or are you basically a third-party idea extension?

There are thousands of start-ups on these sites and in press releases, most with some level of funding, that are variations on Uber, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Tinder, Snapchat, Craigslist, Airbnb, Pinterest and a “for” for any other half-successful start-up out there.

Silicon Valley and its clones are following in Hollywood’s footsteps as it continues its sequels, prequels and remakes.

It’s not that some of them won’t succeed and even turn into significant businesses.

And some actually do address real pain (as opposed to inconvenience), but that doesn’t make them truly innovative.

While you have to sell your “innovation” to investors and include it in your vision to excite your employees, at least be honest when you are alone with yourself.

Honest as to its originality and honest regarding the need.

I seriously doubt that providing yet another way to have meaningless sex compares with creating jobs out of poop.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: 5 Keys When Branding Your Startup

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

matthew weeksOpportunities to publicize your startup through talks and interviews can be golden if you remember these basics.

  1. Create a set of no more than five sound bytes, i.e., brief, core points to make in all of your talks and interviews No matter what happens, be sure you get those four or five key points into the conversation and stick to them.
  1. It’s normal for the constant repetition of those points to become boring for you, but it’s imperative that you control the narrative and the discussion so that you can deliver your key points. You will survive boring.  
  1. The biggest mistake CEOs and founders make in these cases is to go in and “wing it.”  You need to use these opportunities in a carefully planned way and deliver your four to five key points every time.  That’s how PR and branding work…. boring repetition and strict discipline to stay on point, no matter what the venue or specific question asked.
  1. Just as critical is to access an advisor with experience delivering a consistent brand message, who will coach you, help you write your key bullet points and messages and practice with you to polish your delivery.
  1. If you create a founder’s video be sure to make it simple and informal. If it’s for a crowdfunding effort edgier and more “amateur” (less slick and professional) will resonate better. People will donate because they are swept up by the story and the emotion and the idea behind the deal.  Not the facts of the product or the “benefit” in a logical sense. It must be personal and emotional. Try using a camera phone, such as a high end Nokia, iPhone or Samsung, and it will be great—edgy enough to have good credibility and authenticity.

 And while these five points sound easy and simple, the discipline to follow-through on them is not.

Matt Weeks is Currently VP & General Manger, Ecosystem at Planet Soho, the industry’s leading cloud-based business management platform for micro-business customers and creatives; co-founder and investor in WorkersCount and Advisor/Mentor at ZOOMPesa Systems & Technology: The Mobile & Online Money Transfer Service with a Heart and a contributor here when he can make time.

Irrelevant Hiring Criteria.

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ragesoss/2159596182/

Over the years hundreds of bosses have explained to me why top colleges and high GPAs were critical to hiring the best people.

They explained why hiring only from top schools assured top candidates.

They enlightened me as to the importance of high GPAs in their hiring decisions.

What they never did was convince me.

They blustered when I told them neither had much value when evaluating candidates.

And they got downright irate when I added that whatever value they did have dropped 20% a year, since much (most?) of what they learned was rendered irrelevant in the next five years.

Actually, the value probably drops faster now, since the world has sped up a lot since I said that.

If you find yourself disputing this and still putting your faith in ‘brand-name’ schools and high GPAs I suggest you pay close attention to Harvard’s grade inflation.

“It’s really indefensible,” Harvey C. Mansfield, a faculty member for more than five decades, said in a telephone interview. (…) “I thought the most prevalent grade was an A-minus, which is bad enough,” when I asked the question [about the most frequently given grade], it was worse.”

But even Mansfield goes along with it.

Mansfield described how, in recent years, he himself has taken to giving students two grades: one that shows up on their transcript and one he believes they actually deserve.

“I didn’t want my students to be punished by being the only ones to suffer for getting an accurate grade,” he said, adding that administrators must take the lead in curbing the trend.

While I agree grade inflation isn’t limited to Harvard, I’m willing to bet it’s more prevalent at brand-name schools.

Hopefully, the next time you find yourself dazzled by a combination of school and GPA, you’ll remember Professor Mansfield and take both with a pound or two of salt.

Flickr image credit: Sage Ross

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