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Showing posts from November, 2005

Want a high-paying job? Avoid Mississippi

Americans have been migrating south and west for decades, but it appears they’ve been leaving some high-paying jobs behind.

While there are many pockets of wealth in the South and West, the states with the highest wage earners line the East Coast, according to Census data released Tuesday.
Read more here.

Dave Pollard on the Plight of the Creative Class

Look at the people picked for promotions, for leadership training, for the corner office jobs, the people who are highest-paid and most appreciated in almost every large organization, and you'll find they come from the uncreative positions [i.e. sales, cost management, risk management]. Look at the consultants they're bringing in, and you'll find they, too, are in the [left-brain] professions. Look at the people who are least fulfilled by their jobs, those who feel underpaid and under-appreciated and feel they have nowhere to go in their organizations, and you'll find them mostly in the [right-brain] positions. And look at the ranks of the unemployed and you'll find them, too, disproportionately in the [right-brain] professions...

It's not the fault of big business that they aren't creative. They are dinosaurs of the industrial era, when hierarchy was king and success was a matter of leverage -- 100 low-paid drones doing what they're told, working hard, …

Business Owners... Your Next Move...

Last week, Google released Google Base, to which newspaper ad salesmen said, "Uh oh," and most of the world said, "Huh?"

But as this article from the Times says, Google Base has the immediate potential to put a huge damper on Yellow Page advertising as well.

Frankly, I think a lot of this talk is about what the world will look like in ten years. While the technology is here now, it will take at least that long for the average merchant to figure it out.

That being said, if you sell something local - anything - and you aren't planning on getting on Google Base now, you're missing a great - and free - opportunity.

Bigger Budgets For CI

In a study that covered eight countries and the Asia-Pacific region, The Global Intelligence Alliance, a global network of more than 50 competitive intelligence (CI) and business research companies, reports that:

87% of the interviewed companies systematically collected and analyzed information about their external operating environments.
62% of the companies perceived top management as the most important user group of information gathered by CI.
71% of in-house intelligence activities were conducted in a centralized unit.
64% of the researched companies already used a CI technology tool, and an additional 9% were planning to get one.
The intelligence data, collected primarily for strategic purposes, is showing up on executive agendas and is garnering larger budget shares.

Interesting release, though in the US we seem to have more of a trend for decentralization, which isn't necessarily good, mind you. It just seems that in the US Product Managers want to take the fastest line to a …

On Pricing

Pricing is a very effective signaling device, no doubt about it. People (and businesses) assume that good stuff is worth more. People pay for stuff on eBay for stuff based on the velocity of the auction instead of the innate value of the item. Real estate brokers warn you that a house that doesn't sell right away is hard to sell because people look at a house that's been on the market for a few months differently. All irrational and all based on signaling.

The reason that lousy movies cost the same as blockbuster movies, though, doesn't have to do with signalling. (the fear is that people won't go to cheap movies because the cheap price will tell them it is a lousy movie). Of course, this isn't what happens with DVD sales. They sell plenty of really cheap DVDs that you never heard of... for a lot less than the new Star Wars Movie. No, the pricing of movies has to do with industry traditions and being stuck. It's just too hard to get everything in alignment and f…

We're Number Seven, We're Number Seven! (In Mortgage Closing Costs)

Let's hear it for Pennsylvania, the state with the 7th highest average closing costs in the Union.
To view the complete list, click here.

Why Your Business Needs a Blog.

The entrepreneurial predilection for networking is well known. Weblogs or blogs represent an emerging trend in networking, acting as highly efficient media for small business owners to obtain and give advice about products and services. A recent survey of small business owners by Warrillow & Co. uncovered that Web-centric entrepreneurs are twice as likely (at 20%) to be reading blogs than the general adult population. As a group, these entrepreneurial bloggers represent over 700,000 small businesses.

The research also revealed that small business bloggers are almost twice as likely as non-bloggers to be regularly discussing business issues (such as suppliers) amongst each other, and much more likely to be running companies with more than 40% revenue growth in the last year. This attractive sub-segment can frequently be found both online and offline – 86% visit your Web store and 57% regularly read industry journals.

For more, go here.

What Makes Warren Buffett Special?

Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and insurance executive, was in his office here this summer when he received a faxed letter about a company he'd never heard of.
The letter was from an adviser to Forest River Inc., an Elkhart, Ind., recreational vehicle maker. He proposed that Mr. Buffett buy the company for $800 million.
Mr. Buffett liked what he saw: The company had a big market share and little debt.
The next day, Mr. Buffett offered to buy Forest River and to let its founder, Peter Liegl, continue running it. He sealed the deal, at an undisclosed price, in a 20-minute meeting one week later. As the meeting wrapped up, Mr. Buffett told Mr. Liegl not to expect to hear from him more than once a year. Says Mr. Liegl: "It was easier to sell my business than to renew my driver's license."
Read more here.

Why Your Realtor Probably Isn't Rich

If house prices double, then agents make twice as much. Sell a house for $500,000 and keep $15,000; sell the same house for $1 million and keep $30,000. The agents are Levi Strauss without the copper rivets.

There is just one problem with this—a principle that economists term the "zero-profit condition." In a business with free entry, new participants will keep entering until no money remains. And becoming a real-estate agent is almost free....

With all these new agents swarming onto the scene, the price they charge may remain constant, but the number of houses each sells will not. The zero-profit condition predicts that, in locales where housing prices rise, the number of agents will also rise, and acquiring new clients will become that much more difficult. The occasional star agent will always make a bundle. But the theory suggests that the average agent won't make much more in places where house prices have risen than in places where they haven't.

For a very cool ec…

Monarch Search... Not a Bad Start

On their website, they say:

Monarch Search™ is powerful research software that provides a set of powerful and highly customizable features to handle the most common web site mining tasks: creating site maps and offline copies, searching sites for pages containing specified keywords, comparing content and search results with history of previous results, downloading selected contents, and requesting automated alerts about changes, to name a few.

I've downloaded the software and took it for a relatively complex spin around the block. For me, it was buggier than a bayou lake in August, but I like the idea, I like the format and I like the possibilities. This one has real potential.

Coming Soon: Some Very, Very, Bad Books...

I'm surprised it's taken this long for the Internet to spawn the first collaborative novel.

Who Says the Government Can't Make Money?

Most people don't know that the coolest spy-worthy software companies receive venture funding from a company called In-Q-Tel, which is basically a venture capital group in charge of finding nifty technology for the CIA.

It seems In-Q-Tel recently unloaded more than $5 Million dollars of Google stock, which they'd received when Google bought one of the companies they were backing.

Writely

I'm experimenting with Writely, a new service that lets you share and upload documents to many places. This post, for instance, wasn't created in Blogger, but in Writely!

Not As Stretched As We Think We Are?

New research sponsored by Ditech.com shows that one homeowner in four has already paid off the mortgage. The vast majority of the rest also plan to do so within specific time frames, the Ditech-commissioned survey found.

In fact, the poll (which questioned a statistically accurate sample of U.S. homeowners) discovered that most households take a relatively sober approach to mortgages.

For example, 38 percent of those surveyed have already paid off more than half of their home’s original financing (first mortgage and any second mortgage and/or home-equity line).

Only 4 percent of respondents had no plan or expectations to ever pay off their home loans.

The poll also found mortgage levels are far lower than you might have expected.

For instance, figures show that just 12 percent of respondents currently owe more than $150,000 on their homes.

Another 19 percent are on the hook for $75,000-$150,000, while 30 percent have less than $75,000 outstanding.

Even in California, just 30 percent o…

On The Good Ole Days

My expectations have been raised to this ridiculous level by technology running amok through my heretofore-bucolic existence. I used to be a laid-back guy. Now I'm impatient. I chafe. I get irritable when my gratification isn't instantaneous. And it isn't just me. The whole world is bitchier these days.

I'm old enough to remember when waiting a few days for a letter to arrive was standard operating procedure, even in the bare-knuckles business world. I recall a time without answering machines, when you just had to keep calling back on your rotary phone until someone picked up. (Which had the unintended benefit of allowing you to reconsider whether the original call was even worth making in the first place.) The world moved at a more leisurely pace and, humanistically speaking, we were all the better for it.

Just because technology makes it possible for us to work 10 times faster than we used to doesn't mean we should do it. The body may be able to withstand the strai…

On Being Innovative

Who should be responsible for innovation inside of a large corporation? Why?Horst Schulze: No one. Innovation should be encouraged by leadership and should occur in a spontaneous fashion – in an open and empowered environment – from all levels of the organization. Obviously, there must be proper evaluation by top management to ensure effective implementation.
What is the most important thing that needs to happen before innovation inside a company can occur? Horst Schulze: There must be an environment that encourages trust at all levels. Employees must be able to speak up and cannot be afraid to provide their input.For more, go here.

Getting the MAX

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You have 100 competitors in an industry that is self-described as a commodity. You use the same tactics your competition does, because if you change your pricing or fundamentally alter your marketing outreach, you get punished in terms of sales or profits.

You can't reinvent yourself and your organization until you deal with the fear of point C, and that's hard to do without talking about it. I think the benefit of the Local Max curve is that it makes it easy for you and your team to have the conversation.

Don't miss this one.

Today's Reason to Fear For Your Money...

A presidential tax reform panel would simplify your taxes by rewarding savings, dumping some deductions and limiting others -- like mortgage interest. Here's what's dead already and what ideas may have some traction.

All That's Left for Google to Do Is To Have Open Houses...

From the NYT:

Among the many projects being developed and debated inside Google is a real estate service, according to a person who has attended meetings on the proposal. The concept, the person said, would be to improve the capabilities of its satellite imaging, maps and local search and combine them with property listings.

For more, go here.

Pennies From Heaven?

Amazon wants to pay you - and I'm using the term quite loosely - to do the things computers can't do.

Today's Quote to Ponder...

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it." (Computers, Communications and the Public Interest, pages 40-41, Martin Greenberger, ed., The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.)

This post goes on in detail and it's all stuff for serious thinking thinking, but I just keep coming back to what Jerry Seinfeld says:

There is no such thing as an attention span. There is only the quality of what you are viewing. This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have infinite attention if you are entertaining them.

And The Winner Is....

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Booz Allen Hamilton has announced the winners of this year's Leading Innovations Competition.While this contest seems like a lame attempt at PR (it appears you have to work for Booz Allen Hamilton to enter?), nevertheless there are some great ideas in this competition. My favorite was this runner-up.