My Career as a Series of dog eared cards.

October 15, 2007

There is one card missing from somewhere between VIBE and MP3 Impact I had a card from a Company called ElectricVillage. I for the life of me cant find any of those cards but this is more or less a complete listing of every company I’ve worked for in my adult life.


New Products GroupThe sheer intellectual horse power of the New Products Group was scary. The way its squandered even more so. The trick to innovation and new products is to push down responsibility as far into the organization as possible and then get out of the way! Corporate managers, the really smart former consultants brought in to keep the lights on and iterate on what someone else created, are poorly suited to giving up control or getting out of the way.

MP3 ImpactAfter a couple of years trying to figure out my consulting niche (I worked on projects from financial services to rap websites) I decided I was better at thinking about how to use technology, then I was building it myself. Through the editorial voice of the newsletter I could (and often did) talk to, and about, anything or anyone in the industry. It was also one of the few times I could openly call major music company executives “clueless” and get quoted rather then fired.

Addictive MediaWhen I left VIBE to do independent consulting in NYC people thought I was crazy. Turns out they were partially correct. I actually thought I would work less being on my own then working for someone else. The business treated me well enough to do it relatively seriously for 6 years. If you want to do anything urban and Internet related let me know I’ve probably got the business plans for all the urban music sites, conceived prior to 2003, on CD somewhere.

VIBE Magazine This was a dream job. Before I got the gig I knew nothing about VIBE Magazine but my sister convinced me to talk to them. Chan Suh, of fame, gave me a gig and Keith Clinkscales got me started building online businesses. Worked with a bunch of Internet old timers like Omar Waso, Bo Kemp, E. David Ellington, Kyle Shannon and a gang of others. This is back in the Pathfinder, go-go Internet, days when I was too young to get the import of being the money making Internet guy in weekly meetings with Walter Isaacson and Jim Kinsella.

Multiple Media Marketing GroupRonald David Jackson was running a print marketing business and doing pretty well when he saw change coming. I wanted to do more on Internet related work and convinced (perhaps begged?) him to hire me to help fashion a Internet strategy for his clients. I was young and had a lot to learn.

Princeton ReviewAfter college I had a degree and little else. I worked for TPR to make some cash while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Besides doing general layout and other graphic design work I taught SAT and GRE courses. The most important thing I learned while working here was Jimi Hendrix was not just for rebellious prep school kids. I had never listened to a Jimi album and I gotta tell ya that it was a life changing experience.

tsdcard.jpg Right before starting college I spent the summer as a Kirby salesman in NYC. That basically means I went door-to-door in New York City selling a $1,300 vacuum cleaner. I did alright and stuck with it for the whole summer, until I started college. This was my next job after that. I started while still in school and basically did any tech related project my fellow students were willing to pay me for.

Bain: 75% of Companies Face Extinction. “Innovation” and entrepreneurship cant help…

June 22, 2007

book.gifBain, the KGB of consulting companies and breeding ground for presidential hopefuls, announced the results of a 10 year study on business which essentially said companies wont be able to buy or create a solution to their impending doom. Needless to say it was a bit of a downer. The study, book advertisement, announcement was a teaser for Chris Zook’s (a consultant with Cialis model looks) latest corporate page turner called Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth. I havent read the book yet (hope its at the library) but the line below really jumped out at me:

The study reveals that by contrast, common paths that many companies pursue when their business gets in trouble – such as leaping to new hot markets, pursuing “big bang” transforming mergers, or launching broad-based innovation programs – solved the fundamental growth and survival issue only about 10% of the time.

So basically, “innovation” is not gonna save these firms, nor is trying to be more entrepreneurial and Web 2.0 savvy. According to Zook the only thing thats gonna keep’em going is if they figure out how to sell more of the same old stuff to new people or new stuff to the same old people. As someone who works in what might be called an “innovation program” and an advocate on the transformative powers of an entrepreneurial approach, this isnt a message I want to have widely promoted. Thanks goodness the book is not on a best sellers list so its almost guaranteed that no one in the executive suites of corporate America will read it. Still gotta figure out how to get it off of 800-ceo-read. If you work in an innovation group and find yourself confronted by Zook reading managers refer them to any work by Jane Linder and send them this article as a good antidote.

Media Exec’s: Start-ups and User Generated Content Are Eating our Lunch

April 18, 2007

Came across a great post on the Future of News blog, about a survey conducted by close talkers over at Accenture consulting. The annual survey, entitled Beyond the Hype: How Content and Technology Are Redefining Media, is given to “110 of the worlds most influential media executives”. Of the many interesting tidbits in the report the thing that has the press abuzz is that more then 57% of the exec’s believed that user generated content was one of the biggest challenges to their business. Another was their inability to adapt to the changing environments in which they found themselves. To quote the report:

Although large companies will be well-positioned here (having the depth of resources and financial framework needed), smaller more dynamic businesses may be the ones to watch.

You can read the full Accenture article here or you can check out the summary on the Acccenture site.

Porn Industry Bigger Then Music Industry (Supprised?)

January 8, 2007

What would you rather do, pay a few bucks to watch a hot independent sex worker play with her naughty parts? Or would you rather pay $15 but to hear a manufactured sex worker sing about playing with hers? Well, according to a two reports that came out last week, many Americans frequently indulge in the former and are increasingly foregoing the later.

Yes that’s right folks the porn industry, at just under $13 billion, is officially bigger then the music industry which according to the RIAA’s most optimistic estimates is probably closer to a mere $11 billion dollars. Variety delivered the bad news to the music industry and AVN gave the good tidings to the folks in adult entertainment last week.

Adult entertainment is an industry faced with rampant copyright infringement, innovative competition in every area of its business, tremendous public pressure and fierce governmental oversight. Despite all this, porn continues to embraced the Internet, experiement with new products, focus on serving paying customers (while outpacing the rippers), and so they have thrived… Perhaps there is an obvious lesson in this that the music industry can hire a bunch of really smart consultants to analyze into obscurity.

5 Questions That Kill Innovation: A How-to Guide

July 12, 2006

innovation  - Cartoon image for proofing use only, unauthorised reproduction prohibited.Despite all the press attention, academic philosophizing and consultant ramblings, Innovation is a bitch. Its a capricious, messy, disruptive practice whose outcome is unclear in the best circumstances. Sure, its standard fare in mission statements and press releases but smart managers know there are plenty of good reasons to delay or even destroy some eager beavers efforts at “innovation” within your company. Chief among these is to maintain your place in the corporate pecking order and a close second would be to ensure that your not “innovated” out of your familiar/comfortable routine by some acronym spewing upstart. There are many other reasons you might want to kill innovation within your firm, this post wont delve into the why of killing innovation as much as it seeks to address the how of killing innovation. Read the rest of this entry »

4 Lessons from the Symphony

February 23, 2006

The other night I went to listen to some music with a friend. I was billed as an interesting fusion of Bach and Latin music called The Passion According to Mark. After the show, I found myself at the post-performance reception drinking very strong Mango Martini’s and wolfing down crackers after every sip to keep for getting sloshed. While making cocktail chit-chat, about what I did and where I was from with other party goers in varying stages of boredom and inebriation, I struck up a conversation with a consultant from BCG . This was an affable fellow, for a consultant, no steely stares or close talking and the moment I mentioned I had worked around the music his energy level amped way up.

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