Moving to One.

This blog has moved here.

The reasons were many and a long time coming, but mainly because :

We are all many things.
In my career, I've been a designer, illustrator, copywriter, creative director, author, strategist, brand guru, production designer, organizer, marketer, entrepreneur, serial founder, futurist and more...

We also have many thoughts.
My interests span from pop culture to geopolitics, the social media to nanotechnology, microfinance to clean energy, western literature to eastern philosophy and a host of new things I stumble upon everyday...

I needed to simplify.

So as far as blogging goes, I'm moving my three blogs to what I've really been focused on all along: Our Brighter Future

As far as my work, I still contribute to my startup projects, but my focus is solely about What's Next and how to get there.

I hope to see you soon at the new site simply called: RayPodder

Many thanks in advance for your support and attention :)


Venture Communism?

This video from the Fortune 2018 conference panel raises some interesting insights that may actually shape the Internet businesses and experiences to come.

The key takeaway for me was the discrepancy between the short term thinking of those who control the money against the long term value equation the connected commercial landscape enabled by the Internet actually IS.

I've written about my systemic approach to brands, experiences, business models and more here many times, so I won't bore you with another reiteration of the same concepts, however, I want to ask just one question that may set the context:

If the world is truly becoming an interconnected and interdependent ecosystem virtually just as it is physically, how long will traditional power structure paradigms (governments, VCs, companies) actually benefit by trying to control it?

BTW, Here's an interesting take from Bill Gates on a related matter.

Is a Mass Innovation Future Closer Than We Think?

Within the last couple of days of the iPhone launch and the Google Android platform's contests a little earlier, it's not that difficult to imagine that what can be dreamed of today is actually closer than its projection.

As I'd illustrated in an earlier post here, and on the GrowAhead blog the missing components of a vision at the time of conception evolve at a more rapid rate (like the availability of multi-touch surfaces or nanomaterials) once the purpose driven meme is set loose to a imaginative and connected audience. In other words, when we can collectively imagine a need like finding the cool spots recommended by our friends, the means to do just that happen much faster than in the singular incomplete imagination of the original visionary.

Understanding the real constraints of political, social and technological execution limitations that can't match the boundlessness of imaginations, the discussion is about not visions for next month, but rather projections that are years away. If you buy my theory though, I think that timeframe is shorter yet, when you factor in collective visions that self-correct the assumptions over singular ones (such as these video examples that have been shared on a public forum like YouTube).

Anyway, that's my take on it, and here's another perspective (see video below). What do you think?

Do You Know What You Suck At?

It's very easy to confuse the need to persevere against the odds vs. when you really should quit. These guys from Boogie Nights illustrate the point beautifully. Enjoy!

What's Your Motivation OS?

Tony Robbins masterfully repackages Maslow's Hierarchy / Vedic Chakra based perspective that's definitely worth the 20min time investment.

Can Personal Branding Titles Hurt Your Personal Brand?

I've read a lot of Tom Peters and understand the concept of standing out from the crowd, but whenever someone claims that they are a "Visionary Entrepreneur", "Media Maverick" or a "Disruptive Innovator", my 1st reaction is not one of curiosity, but rather, what is it they actually do, and why is this person so full of themselves?

Mind you, I didn't come to this way of thinking without a few personal branding exercises of my own. A designer by training, futurist by thought, inventive and entrepreneurial by nature I also struggled with what to call myself to stand out from the crowd. I'm sure I appeared no less pompous and delusional when I've called myself "Meaning Architect", "Visioneer" or "Revolutionist"....the last one I was particularly fond of since I work with startups I really believe can lead to revolutionary change :(

I think what's missing here is that these personal branding titles are like the taglines from your favorite brands that you'll never remember even if your life depended on them! It the common delusion that you define your brand, and not your audience.

Think about it. Seth Godin calls himself a "Change Agent", but when you think of Seth (for those of you who dig his blog like me), you mostly remember that is a prolific and insightful marketing thinker who is one of the most popular blogger/business authors online. In other words, "Change Agent" is an exercise for Seth himself, but the fact that he's a blogger is a derivative of my (and yours) specific experience with his "brand".

So as the question is "Can personal branding titles hurt your brand?", maybe the real question is have your built one based on real experiences with an audience first? Calling yourself something cool without proving yourself worthy of the expectation is no different than any other hype (i.e, the annoying infomercial guy above).

....and as to what do I call myself? Well, I hope I can build a reputable enough brand for myself so that you, my readers, friends and colleagues can offer some suggestions :)

What Drives Three?

Ancient concepts of three interdependent components contributing to the well being of the whole, like the third eye depicted in the mask above have remained integral to many cultures over the ages for a reason. The rational explanation may be that it is easy for humans to process three interrelated things such as father-mother-child for the nuclear family or CEO-CMO-COO for the global business, but maybe it goes a bit deeper than that...

After a recent conversation with a friend about the three components that keep a business going (Distribution-Development-Operations), it suddenly occurred to me that maybe there is a deeper truth here that applies to all the three-pronged dynamics in the universe.

The obvious examples of the minimum requirements of legs on a stool, spokes on wheel, etc. are a given. They are about the structural rules which even translates to everything from writing to persuasion to choice architecture. The "a-ha" wasn't really that, it was the nature of the relationship which hold the three together that is most fascinating.

Within every architectural case there is a:

-Driver: Something that inspires the need
-Developer: Something that answers the need by creating
-Derivative: Something that is produced as a result needing to be managed in order for the cycle to continue

In most business paradigms, the "Driver" equals creating and delivering the market, i.e., sales and marketing..., The "Developer" equals the development of the product and/or service, i.e. R&D, engineering, design, architecture, etc... and the "Derivative" is the management challenges of a growing organization, i.e. operations.

The realization that the other two cannot exist without the "Driver" is crucial in understanding how all three pronged systems work. It's very easy to get distracted and spend energy on the "Developer" (trying to make the product perfect) or the "Derivative" (designing the most efficient operation management system) while losing focus on what drives them.

This is universal regardless of context, and definitely not limited to business. Here are some other examples:

1. Family: Providing, Nurturing, Prioritizing
2. Learning: Stimulus, Knowledge, Recall
3. Relevance: Need, Choice, Context

See what I'm getting at? What do you think?

Building Your Dream Team?

1. Don't Lie

2. Choose What Matters

I've always been a big fan of Dee Hock's philosophy on associates and have blogged about it often like this post. However compelling choosing by that priority may be philosophically (integrity, motivation, etc.), in practical terms the best results seem to happen when you recognize someone's true talent and help them succeed.

3. Respect

Designing 3.0?

Ever since Tim Brown dropped the Design as Strategy meme, the business world has been waking up to what we designers knew all along: Good design=Good business. While why it is more important than ever can be looked at from many perspectives, the fact that it actually IS is a no-brainer.

We are more and more likely to focus on its importance living more and more immersed in VirtuReality, so what does that mean for Design Thinkers and Design Professionals? More importantly, what does that mean for organizations who needs the knowledge capital of design to create its competitive advantage?

Being a designer at my core, I've seen my own career mature through the following transition first hand, and this is what I've observed:

Design 1.0: Attention
In the mass communication era, the primary advantage of design was grabbing attention. Visual aesthetics defined design, and designers were introduced into the mix after the strategic heavy lifting was already managed. Design set trends that influenced visual sensibilities of particular eras. Think about the iconography of the 20th century, like 20's Art Deco, 40's Hollywood, 50's Kitsch, 60's Flower Power, 70's Disco, and 80's Nagel prints and Miami Vice, 90's Hip Hop, etc...

Design 2.0: Interaction
In the post Cluetrain era of the connection economy, we realized how taking human usability factors into account can disrupt markets like the iPod did. Suddenly, interaction drove the design and measuring everything from web traffic to prescription labels mattered. Design is no longer just about looks, it's about engaging people.

Design 3.0: Integration
As heatmaps, sentiment analytics and even the design of the building blocks become second nature in considering design solutions, the real question becomes about design's relevance to the ecosystem. Design becomes more than just the front end "skinning" of the thought product or service, but rather part of the thought process to arrive at creating itself. Will your idea consider business model, brand and competitive strategy with design considerations at the onset, or will it do it after the fact. Can you really afford post-strategy design? Probably not.

While this post may seem self-serving, my honest intent is not that. I truly think that the quality of our thinking will directly affect the quality of life we all enjoy. Design is no longer for "designers", it is a Whole New Mindset for all of us to design the future we want for ourselves. Thoughts?

Media Like Water?

Gerd has got a cool take on it. Hope you dig it too :)

What's the Worst That Can Happen?

Brilliant logic for choosing wisely. The Nudgers will surely agree :)

People or Organizations?

When I hear stories of people being empowered with the same resources as manufacturers minus the red tape, it's tempting to think of individualized democracy. But as Doug Rushkoff explains in this video above, its not really so. I concur. What about you?

Is Your Brand Ready to Reinvent Its Business Model?

Untitled from MGvandenBroek on Vimeo.

Very cool perspective from one of my favorite business thinkers. His thoughts more clearly define in a modern context what I was thinking here back in 2004 (pdf).

Make Money and/or Change the World?

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David Heinemeir Hansson of 37 Signals makes a great case for entrepreneurial practicality in the video above. A case for common sense that seems to elude majority of the 2.0 bubble hopefuls that are still chasing YouTube acquisition like stardom that come by as often as winning the lottery.

He has some great points and the video is a must watch. It's a reality check that all who chase the next gold mine should pay attention to. If you don't cover the basics (i.e. a business model that can actually sustain you), than you can't build anything...

While I love his no-nonsense rant fueled by an obvious ego, I still have to question whether it applies to everyone.

Can you really change the world by DHH's logic? For example, if you were in the alternate transportation business like Shai, reinventing the mobile internet like Anand or running against the grain of a broken legacy system like Barack?

I think there's a fundamental difference between thriving in a system (like capitalism) and trying to change the game rules of the system itself. Shai is changing the business model, Anand is changing the carrier model, and Barack changed the fundraising model.

The lesson is here is to not be tempted to apply a one-size fits all common wisdom. Understanding the context of where it applies is just as, if not more important. Can you really change the world? It depends how you approach the change from a systemic perspective. What do you think?

TADD: What Are We Really Seeking?

TADD (Technological Attention Deficit Disorder) as coined by Jay here is all too familiar. Some say its a psychological disorder, but all I know is that my daily RSS feed diet can be pretty bloating. Like most next tech enthusiasts (OK, geeks:), knowing what's happening now can be an all consuming obsession if I let it. But how much do I really get from scanning 1000+ feeds a day, plus social streams from my network, and not to mention magazines, videos, TV, podcasts and more besides confusion?

Of course, I've asked the signal to noise question both publicly and to myself, and I do understand the value of discovering a curated gem from one of my trusted peers over the overwhelming number of PR posts on the tech blogs.

I've also unplugged (mostly by arm twisting from my wife) for many days at a time to discover either that I'd not really missed much, or feel that I'm completely out of the loop. But should the fear of not knowing really be a motivator?

Until there's possibly a better way to to receive more relevant (curated), easily digestible info; the real question may just fundamentally be in why I was seeking that knowledge in the first place? In other words, in a world where attention is scarce what is the most efficient means of spending it?

Instead of looking for more technical means like Feedhub or SocialThing to reign in the beast, maybe the filter should 1st and foremost be driven by our main purpose. What is it that I/we are trying to achieve by voraciously devouring information?

-Are we looking for inspiration to create, or sizing up the competition?

-Are we looking to challenge our thinking or validate an existing point of view?

-Are we seeking knowledge or ammunition?

The deeper answer may reveal more about us than we might realize. Kurzweilian or Bell's theories of memory enhancements not withstanding, it may be a good idea nonetheless to consider purpose over practice :)

Is Packing Your Company with "Experience" Too Much to Bear?

Over the years I've been very fortunate to be involved with innovative people who create companies from just ideas to market leadership. I've also seen missteps, misconceptions and more from companies and their competition regarding how they are "supposed" to behave once funding, talent and advisers come into the mix.

At the early stages, ideas flow freely and execution is much quicker and more efficient for no other reason but survivability. However, as their efforts are recognized by revenue streams and/or the investor community, the stuff that made them great starts to get replaced by the stuff that plagues legacy organizations they were invented to disrupt in the first place.

There's a guy who now documents the most insignificant of requirements. There's another person who takes copious notes at every meeting. There's more people who spend hours debating the effectiveness of blue vs. green while being completely removed from the strategic objectives relevant to the marketplace. Why?

The reason is as simple as the cheesy plot lines of predictable Hollywood blockbusters. There's money and reputations at stake now and most of the energy is spent managing that over the "survivability" instinct that propelled them to this point.

The new hires come from big companies with impressive track records only to repeat their legacy which was often born out of a different set of circumstances than their current situation. The advisory board is formed less for real advice, and more to "attach" themselves to a potential notch on their portfolio belt. Management egos move from humility (which made them wise earlier) to hubris (which makes them believe they're right regardless of the market reality).

Sound familiar?

It's easy enough to point to the ideal M.O. from Dee Hock which I've written and spoken about before, but that idealism doesn't get you the dollars the way the game is currently played. Of course, money is never the motivation for people wanting to create positive change through innovation, but money, amongst other things are the sad reality.

Instead of frustration, maybe the thing to look at who you invite to the party organizationally, and how do you enforce the criteria. The details are beyond the scope of a blog post, but maybe the simplest way to see this is by asking these three questions:

1. What's this person's real talent (over what their credentials say)?
2. What is their typical response to challenges (motivation and character)?
3. Is the answer to Q1 complimentary, and is the answer to Q2 a cultural fit?

Experience can be valuable, but the real question is: Experienced at WHAT exactly?

Should The Next Breakthrough Innovations Be Demystified?

In business and in life it seems that I repeatedly run across three main types of people:

1. Those who create
2. Those who manage
3. Those who invest

Arguably, we all possess some parts of each category of talent, but ultimately one of these areas take over both professionally and personally.

From Nanotech, Genomics, Biotech, Robotics, Cleantech, and even the real discussions around Web 3.0 range from the conceptual to the executionally conceptual to many shades in-between...

Guess what? Those who invest obviously don't give a shit about what it means and how its done.

All the people pondering what it could mean are in category 1 (myself included), and until Zopa and Fundable-like things reinvent the financial capital industry (wishful thinking:), they have to beg the category 3 people to fund their projects.

What about category 2? Well, we bring them in once the category 3 people opened up their wallets. More about that rant in my post here.

So should the next breakthrough innovations be demystified?

Of course, but where's the fun(ding) in that?

Aggregating Towards Signal or Noise?

The hyper-connected users like me have been promised some new toys to make our lives simpler lately.

From Yahoo's OneConnect to PageOnce, Alltop, Twine, SignOn are all promising simplicity by aggregation.

Being an avid user of tools like iGoogle, Google Reader, and even a little app called Orgoo I'd helped design, I like the idea of being able to manage all my connections from one place. But are they really simplifying the info overload my attention span is bombarded with everyday?

Bringing all my news items, social streams, identities, contacts and more together can be a cool thing. But does that really help us understand the insights that drive our decisions, enable us to trust each other, help one another or be productive in society and the marketplace?

I'm not so sure.

More in one place is still MORE than ever to deal with. Growing Bacn on my startpage aside, the real questions about why we do what we do seem to go unanswered. Do we trust by volume of ratings or by people whose opinion we value? Do we act based on past behavior, or our present understanding of the context?

These are just some of the fundamentals we may want to revisit before investing energy in next killer "aggregator" app? What do you think?

Do You Know A Michael Scott?

If you don't know a Michael Scott, you might be a Michael Scott. If you're in a company run by a Michael Scott, get out. Unless career suicide is your type of thing.

Is the Noise Really the Signal?

Sure we need inspiration, not aggregation, but how does that inspiration manifest itself?

Reducing the noise through recommendations is evolving into a significant discussion.

Maybe the way to think about it is how we see clear signals from other complex systems, i.e. nature. Take weather for example: a cloudy day is a simple signal for what to anticipate from a lot of complex activity. The Ambient Devices guys got a good head start capitalizing on this idea, how about you?

© 2006 GROW |