Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts made in December, 2013

Fully Unfinished Business

By on Dec 30, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

The original title of this post was Nasty, Messy, Murky, and Looming.  Maybe I should have stuck with that!  As we turn the corner on 2013, a number of problematic, complex issues stand out for me as squirmy uncomfortable and lazily unresolved.  The four I note below all make headlines regularly, but I am not seeing nearly enough being done to address the core causes.  Perhaps there is not enough worry about the impact.  There should be.  Have a look at the list and see how closely this lines up with your own deep concerns: Inequality:  I believe completely in our capitalist economy.  For the long haul.  For the benefit of everyone, not a detached few.  Late this year, President Obama made his case for the necessity of economic mobility as the backbone of democracy.  The key to addressing further bifurcation into 1% and a 99% has to be rooted in education — brilliant, inspired teachers opening the minds of young citizens, encouraged by their families to thrive, with sound reason to believe in the American dream.  Our middle class has to be strong for our economy to be strong, which means we need to have new enterprises with promising jobs, and trained minds ready to tackle those jobs and over time build careers.  In a recent Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, Richard Riordan and Eli Broad made the point that “It Isn’t a Sin to be Rich,” yet at the same time they called for compassion among the wealthy to reinvest their resources in helping others.  I think we’d be wise not to further politicize the notion of polarization — if we want to build a lasting marketplace of goods and services, we all need to share in its creation as well as its consumption. Privacy: This is an awful, hypocritical mess.  For most of this year our federal government declared that the NSA was not out of line parsing metadata.  Late in the year a consortium of Silicon Valley titans sent a letter to the President and Congress highlighting “the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide.”  Many of these are the same companies perfecting advertising products that digital marketers use to better target consumers, which of course...

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Brands in Memoriam 2013

By on Dec 9, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made a spectacular impact recently when he went on 60 Minutes the day before Cyber Monday and gave us a glimpse at the future — a fleet of small delivery drones he branded Prime Air.  It was a bold statement, and whether intended or not an incomparable public relations move that got much of the nation talking about his online retail company at precisely the most important time of year for consumer purchasing. Yet I might be in the minority thinking that was not the most interesting thing Bezos talked about on television and in the zillions of video clips that got sent around the digital world in the days that followed.  What I latched onto in the Bezos appearance was this little exchange with Charlie Rose: Jeff Bezos: Companies have short life spans, Charlie. And Amazon will be disrupted one day. Charlie Rose: And you worry about that? Jeff Bezos: I don’t worry about it ’cause I know it’s inevitable. Companies come and go. And the companies that are, you know, the shiniest and most important of any era, you wait a few decades and they’re gone. Charlie Rose: And your job is to make sure that you delay that date? Jeff Bezos: I would love for it to be after I’m dead. Well, if Jeff Bezos who is currently sitting on top of the business world knows that sooner or later his company is toast, I think that is about as telling a tale of creative destruction as I can imagine!  With that, here is this year’s short list of additions to the brand graveyard: Blockbuster: Aptly named for its status as the big bust of this year, Blockbuster is a sad loss for me.  Harken back to the early days of video home rental and there were thousands of mom and pop stores in neighborhood strip malls.  It seemed inevitable that these shops would fall victim to industry consolidation to achieve buying power and scale where margins were thin, and Blockbuster came to rule the day.  My experience of Blockbuster was that it somehow held onto that mom and pop feel of a local video store, and at least where we rented...

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