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Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review: For Immediate Release

This is a business book focused on the Public Relations industry; an industry that considers anything in a book as old news. Wait…this is old news in the new world order, driven by social media, by the time information is on the TV news it is old news; making anything in print positively ancient. Ronn Torossian is a veteran of the PR industry and the founder and CEO of 5WPR one of the more aggressive agencies in the PR marketplace.

What does all of this mean for a book review? Well you have to consider the environment Ronn is writing about prior to making a judgment about the book he has written. This book is not a “how to”, as in after reading this book you could perform the PR function and expect to be competitive. This is a book to understand what goes into PR and if you have a significant role in a major corporation, are “Public Figure” or “Brand” then this will help you to understand what a PR agency can do for you; from shaping your imaging to helping you through a crisis. Is this book for everybody? No.

I am a regular reader of Ronn’s blog so when he published this book, I looked forward to the opportunity to obtain a copy and read it. Ronn is good at what he does and that is Public Relations. My conclusion on this book, if you are in the market for a PR agency read the book. If you are not sure if you should be in the market for a PR agency read the book. If you are neither then don’t read the book.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Marc Goodman's View on the Technology Arms Race

There is a flip side to the awesome technology innovations that we use to make our lives easier. Criminals and terrorists can use these same technologies to execute their evil goals. Marc Goodman gave frightening TED talk about this very subject. In a little over 19 minutes he outlines how a small number of criminals can hold entire cities hostage (Mumbai) or steal the information of 77 million people (Sony PlayStation). But Marc does not stop there, he explains how criminals can now leverage:

Drones to fly C4 explosives into buildings
3D printers can print guns and ammunition cartridges
DNA and yeast can create synthetic drugs
A BIO virus can customized target individuals for assassination

It is Marc’s job to make us aware of the dangers lurking in the technology we use. He does a very good job of spreading fear. However, Marc does give us some hope in the methods we can use to combat these potential criminal through crowd sourcing.

I recommend the watching the video below:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Anytime you get a book with 1,000+ reviews and its average number of stars is 4.5 it must me good and must create a loyalty among the readers. I can say this book had that effect on me and everyone I had the pleasure of recommending it to. 

What this book really does well is what it doesn't do. This book does not fit the "popcorn", "beach" reads of summer, yet brings the pleasure of a beach read. Patrick Rothfuss does such a good job of description you can vanish into the world that Kvothe occupies. Many easy read books are predictable in how they turn out so much so that you know the end well before you get there, The Name of the Wind is not one of these books. This book gives you reason to continue reading. I look at it almost like a more adult form of Harry Potter or the Hunger Games (both of which I am a fan). 

The magic and the university have a real feeling to them, the magic appears to be almost "knowledge" in an era when the majority of the population was illiterate. I found it believable in the context of the story. I especially liked the reality of the mistakes Kvothe makes from his impulsive and often selfish behavior along with the results of these mistakes. Patrick Rothfuss gives us a hero with faults and I believe that is what drives the story. A main character who is heroic to the point of cockiness This cockiness is the root of his mistakes and his mistakes create considerable difficulties for him. Thus the story is able to unfold in multiple pages that hold your interest to the point you cannot put the book down until you reach the end; only to grab for the second book because you just cannot get enough of the story of Kvothe. 

Highly recommend this book, I really wish the third book would come out soon.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Presentation on Structure

I spent the weekend completing a presentation for my Toastmasters club later this week and wanted to share it with you. It is also my first use of Slideshare which is an excellent site that falls under the Social Media label. Check out the presentation and let me know your feedback.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Improve your focus, give your brain a break

Have you ever found yourself in the difficult position of having to complete a task yet found the task to be less than exciting and wondering if there was some way to get through the challenge with your sanity still in tact. Often in work situations we are responsible for tasks and actions that are needed to be completed but these tasks are not fun.

One of the approaches that I have found when working on focus has been to use a 20 minute rule. This is a unique motivator I found while in college when I had to study for exams. The basic idea is to allow yourself to get into the groove and leverage your mind's ability to remain intensely focused for short periods of time. I have heard of studies that have found that our minds will start to wander after as short a time as 20 minutes (I couldn't find any specific one so I can just tell from my personal experience)

What I do is set a timer, I have a countdown watch that is set to 20 minutes. I turnoff the phones, blackberries, and email alerts; to effectively get into your groove you will have to be certain that there is no interruptions so that you can train your mind that it is okay to be focused. I have a small note pad nearby in the event something pops into my mind, that will need to be addressed but is not what I am focusing on, so that I can write it down to address later. Then I set the timer and am focused for the 20 minutes straight.

When the alarm goes off I stop what I am doing right then and there and move away from the project and reward myself for the focus time. The key is to reward yourself. I recommend do a little physical exercise and get your blood moving like take a short walk get outside for a brief moment. I keep the break to no longer than 5 or 10 minutes so that I can get back to focus on the task at hand.

After doing this for awhile I found I can focus and get into a flow quickly and the ability to complete my task lists improved noticeably.

Try it out for yourself and let me know how it works.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Everyone is an outsourcer

I am an advocate of the outsourcing model. That does not mean I believe companies should send all of their jobs to another country. Rather companies should focus on their expertise not on "all the other stuff." If you look at outsourcing they way the typical middle class family does you would see that they have been outsourcing for some time. So much is outsourced that many people no longer what they are doing as outsourcing. Here are some examples of family outsourcing:

  • Daycare or after school care
  • Tax preparation services
  • Dry cleaning
  • Gardening
  • House painting
  • Plumbing
  • Growing food
  • Dining out or buy ready made meals
  • Clothing (do you make your own?)
  • Entertainment (movies, TV, sports)

This is not sending jobs overseas, rather it is freeing up time for higher value activities (ones you would rather be doing instead of these)

All of these things are forms of outsourcing and yes some of them are done overseas but a vast majority are local. Why do we outsource so much of our family work? Some would say because both partners are working and don't have time for these activities. I would argue that both partners are choosing to focus on higher value skills and outsourcing the items that can be performed with better expertise or for lower cost by someone else.

This is the most basic of arguments for the outsourcing model. What is your business and how does your business make money. Doing taxes is not about making money unless your are a tax accountant. Writing computer software is not about making money unless you are a computer software developer.

Most organizations need to be focused on product innovation not on how to complete their tax return, find the best office space, or the bookkeeping. When a company is small much of these activities are outsourced; what changes as an organization grows that requires these activities to be done in house? What activities are you as an individual still doing that should be sourced elsewhere to free up your time?

Sunday, April 26, 2009