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Current Affairs

Book Short: Two New Ones from Veteran Writers

Book Short:  Two New Ones from Veteran Writers I’m feeling very New York this week.  I just read both Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, and Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America, by Tom Friedman.  Both are great, and if you like the respective authors’ prior works, are must reads. In Outliers, Gladwell’s simple premise is that talents are both carefully cultivated and subject to accidents of fate as much as they are genetic.  I guess that’s not such a brilliant premise when you look at it like that.  But as with his other two books, The Tipping Point (about how trends and social movements start and…

Projection

Projection A few years ago, I wrote about how smiling and nodding or waving at strangers while running was a fun way to start the day and that once in a while, someone actually smiled back.  My not-so-revolutionary discovery was that people are generally in their own cocoons and not particularly receptive to a friendly gesture, but that when they are, they're completely receptive and quite friendly in return. In the last couple of days, I've rediscovered that principle with a twist.  As I get myself used to a new routine of train commuting and working out in a big New York Sports Club gym, I'm seeing people in cocoons all over the place again.  And I've started being more…

Delicious Irony

Delicious Irony   Great coverage in The Washington Post of an ironic aspect to the auto industry's poverty plea for a government bail-out this week.   The three execs from GM, Ford, and Chrysler each took a separate private jet from Detroit to DC for the Congressional hearings for the occasion.    I'm not a fan of Congressional hearing grandstanding and think most members of congress are asses when they do things like this, but not this time.  These guys had it coming and clearly don't have a clue about symbolism (either the importance of it or the art of it).    The details are rich.  Read them here.  Thanks to my colleague Stephanie Miller for pointing this one out. …

Why Do I Have to Be Frisked to Go to an NFL Game?

Why Do I Have to Be Frisked to Go to an NFL Game?   I am freaked out about terrorism as much as the next person, but our obsession with security has gone too far.  Some of the airport-related security is dumb enough — I can’t hijack a plane with my shampoo any more — but at least there’s some logic to the general premise.   But the major pat-down I got last weekend when I went to see the Chargers beat the Chiefs was just silly.  It certainly didn’t make me feel more secure sitting in the stadium.  It wouldn’t have even occurred to me to feel insecure in the first place.    The experience reminded me of all…

Lessons from the Election

Lessons from the Election There will be so many of these posts flying around the web today and in the coming weeks, but there’s at least one lesson from yesterday’s election that really struck me in the context of business leadership:  the importance of authenticity. Obama won — and McCain lost — for many reasons.  But I think one of the main ones is that McCain didn’t run as McCain.  The number of Democrats and Independents who I heard say things like “I would have voted for the McCain who ran in 2000,” or Hillary supporters who said they’d never vote for Obama against McCain and then did, was huge. McCain is a maverick.  There’s no doubt about that.  But…

Managing in a Downturn

Managing in a Downturn I spoke at a NextNY event last night along with several others, including fellow entrepreneur David Kidder from Clickable and angel investor Roger Enhrenberg about this fine topic (Roger wrote a great post on it here) and thought I’d share a few of the key points made by all of us for anyone trying to figure out what to do tactically now that Sequoia has told us to be afraid, very afraid. Hope is Not a Strategy:  Your business is not immune. It will do what everyone else’s will. Struggle to hit its numbers. Struggle to collect bills. Lose customers. There is no reason to hope you’ll be different. Get Into the Jet Stream:  Develop your…

What is the News, These Days?

What is the News, These Days? I’ve about had it with the news about the financial mess these days. It’s not the news about what’s happening that bugs me — that’s at least mildly useful. It’s the pundits’ explanation of what’s driving the news that’s driving me nuts. It’s hard to see how these headlines and lead sentences are even remotely accurate. It’s not as if all global traders and investors operate on a common set of guidelines, or even have access to all the same information at the same time. Yet we are now told day in, day out, that the market is doing well “because the government finally approved the bailout.” Or the market is doing poorly “because…

It's Not Having What You Want, It's Wanting What You've Got

It’s Not Having What You Want, It’s Wanting What You’ve Got I’ve always thought that line (the title of this post) was one of Sheryl Crowe’s better lyrics. And there’s nothing like moving houses to bring it to life. We are pretty minimalist to begin with, or at least the size of our apartment had constrained our ability to be anything more. And we cleaned out and threw away a bunch of things before we moved. Now that we’re almost done unpacking, and we have several empty or nearly empty rooms in our much larger house, the lyric resonates. I’m sure we’ll ultimately fill up those empty rooms, at least a little bit. That’s what everyone says happens when you…

Closure

Closure This past weekend was a weekend of closure for me. As I prepare to leave the city after almost 17 years and the apartment I’ve lived in for almost 15, we had my two original roommates from this apartment in town for the weekend with their families for a bit of a farewell party. Times certainly have changed – from three single guys to three families and 7, almost 8 kids between us. Sitting around and noting that all three couples had either gotten engaged or first started dating within the confines of Apartment 35B, then saying goodbye as everyone left the apartment for the last time, was a little surreal. But overall, having everyone around was great fun…

Spooky

Spooky Note: Jonathan is a colleague of mine in our Authentic Response research business. [Me] Hey, I heard you moved back to New York (from Boston) [Jonathan] Yeah, the travel was getting to be too much. Plus, a buddy of mine was looking for a roommate [Me] Where’s the place? [Jonathan] Murray Hill [Me] Oh – I lived there years ago. Where? [Jonathan] Near 2nd and 34th [Me] What building? [Jonathan] It’s a small walk-up – you wouldn’t know it – 633 Second Avenue [Me] NO WAY. I used to live there. Which floor? [Jonathan] Third [Me] Yup – that was my old apartment – from 15 years ago! What a weird, weird, weird, thing.

7 Years On

7 Years On My last September 11 as a New York City resident. I walked down to the World Trade Center site this morning as I have each of the last six 9/11s and rang The Bell of the Unforgotten, which is the New York City Fire Department’s port-a-memorial that they bring out for the day. As a long-time member of the lower Manhattan community, the day always bring out a lot of reflection for me. Seeing the memorial flood lights on tonight will do the same and bookend the day. The main thing I was thinking about this morning was why there’s been nothing really built yet on the site. World Trade Center 7 (which is actually adjacent to…