Tag Archives: Business & Finance

Mark Zuckerberg: Is it time for Facebook’s boy genius to go?

Today’s LA Times asks a good question: Is Mark Zuckerberg in over his hoodie as Facebook CEO?

Business writers Walter Hamilton and Jessica Guynn dig into an issue that I suspect some of us have seen before, and it’s remarkable that the clamor over Zuck specifically hasn’t been louder for some time.

Should Mark Zuckerberg, the social media visionary but neophyte corporate manager, step aside as CEO to let a more seasoned executive run the multibillion-dollar company? Continue reading Mark Zuckerberg: Is it time for Facebook’s boy genius to go?

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Wake Forest students and alumni are correct in challenging university commencement speaker selection

Some recent graduates of my alma mater, Wake Forest University, are up in arms over this year’s commencement speaker, former DISH Network chairman Charlie Ergen. They penned what struck me as a thoughtful, well-considered letter to university president Dr. Nathan Hatch, in which they chastised him for a pattern of pandering to business interests to the exclusion of those who have made their marks in other fields.

The May 23 letter, published in the May 29 issues of the Old Gold & Black, takes a passing shot at Ergen’s speech (“riddled with clichés and reductive statements, as well as addressed primarily to his graduating daughter, rather than the class of a thousand newly-minted alumni”), but quickly moves on to the substance of their objection. Noting that the last three commencement speakers have hailed from the business world, the alums write that: Continue reading Wake Forest students and alumni are correct in challenging university commencement speaker selection

The letter that Steve Jobs ought to write to Apple customers

Tricky Dick. Slick Willie. Toyota. Now … Apple? What the heck is so hard about the truth, especially when it’s clear that we live in a world where it gets harder and harder to lie and get away with it by the day.

I may have mentioned my friend John Cavanaugh’s biz site, The Tap Tap Tap. John is too busy to blog as much as I’d like, but for fans of quality over quantity it’s one of the best things out there, mainly because while the subjects are ostensibly business, advertising and brand related, he’s really making much broader points that apply to the non-business portions of life. Continue reading The letter that Steve Jobs ought to write to Apple customers

Andre Agassi: What a rich man’s discontent can teach us all about living an authentic life

They say money can’t buy happiness. The same also goes for celebrity, and even the status that accompanies being among the best in the world at your profession. We’ve had ample demonstration of this in recent days.

Robert Enke, the goaltender for Hannover 96 (who currently hover in the middle of the German Bundesliga standings) and a potential member of next year’s German World Cup team, died the other day. His death was apparently a suicide.

“At 1825 (1725GMT) he was run over by a regional express train running between Hamburg and Bremen,” said police spokesman Stefan Wittke. “The train was travelling at the speed of 160-kph.”The player’s friend and consultant Joerg Neblung told reporters: “I can confirm this is a case of suicide. He took his own life just before six (pm).

Enke lost a child in 2006 and has left behind a wife and eight month-old daughter. Continue reading Andre Agassi: What a rich man’s discontent can teach us all about living an authentic life

Black swans, butterfly effects, terrorist detectors and marketing research: we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do

Prediction is a big, big business these days, and even those of us who aren’t explicitly in the prediction business probably do all we can to make sense of the future. For example:

Business and social media: American companies growing up, sort of

Ever since the Internet began gaining popular awareness in the mid-1990s, the topic of how businesses can productively use various new media technologies has been a subject of ongoing interest. Along the way we’ve had a series of innovations to consider: first it was the Net, and the current tool of the moment is Twitter. In between we had, in no particular order, Facebook (not that Facebook has gone away, of course), CRM, mobile (SMS, smart phones, apps), blogging, RSS and aggregation, Digg (and Reddit and StumbleUpon and Current and Yahoo! Buzz and Technorati and Del.icio.us and seemingly thousands more), targeted e-mail, YouTube, SEO, SEM, online PR and, well, you get the idea.

We certainly hear examples of businesses getting it right with new media, but in truth these cases represent a painfully small minority. Continue reading Business and social media: American companies growing up, sort of

Fear is the organization killer

Once upon a time the business world was dominated by hierarchical organizations that derived both their structures and mechanistic management philosophies from military thinking that traces its lineage through Frederic the Great all the way back, literally, to the Roman legions. And by “once upon a time,” of course, I mean “at this very minute.”

The truth is that way too many American companies today act as though their employees are some combination of robot and peasant foot soldier. (Hopefully we’re not talking about the company you work for, but I imagine we’ve all been there at some point – I know I have and so have most of the people I know.) Continue reading Fear is the organization killer

Business: Trapped in meeting hell? Three things to think about

Hate meetings? Who doesn’t?

Not that it isn’t important to get the right people together in a room to talk about important issues, but let’s face it, in most organizations (and by “most” I mean “virtually all”) the average meeting probably lasts longer than it needs to. When it does drag on too long, productivity takes a hit and we all wind up spending more time to accomplish less.

So when I saw a link earlier today billing itself as The Key to Shorter, Better Meetings, I clicked. And I’m glad I did. In that piece, Tony Tjan boils meetings down quite nicely: Continue reading Business: Trapped in meeting hell? Three things to think about

Business: when goals attack!

We can probably agree that it’s good to have goals. In business, especially, it’s good to know where you’re going and to have some mechanisms that help you chart and evaluate your progress.

Increasingly, though, we’re presented with more and more evidence suggesting that our goal-setting can easily go awry, and with dramatically counter-productive results. If you’ve read Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s outstanding Freakonomics you probably recall their investigation of teacher-fueled cheating on standardized tests, for instance. While most of would agree in principle that our educational system should adhere to the highest standards possible, it’s clear that something went badly wrong in that system. If you know any teachers, you may also have heard (in tones ranging from quiet exasperation to unbridled rage) how goal-setting is failing in other places, as well, and for many of the same reasons. Continue reading Business: when goals attack!

In business, desperate times call for measured thinking

As the poet Robert Burns put it, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley.” The common military iteration of the sentiment says that no plan, however well devised, survives contact with the enemy. And former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson explained, in the least poetic fashion possible, that everybody’s got a plan until you bust him in the mouth.

There’s a lesson in here for businesses, even those that aren’t involved in actual combat: Nothing wreaks havoc with strategic planning quite like hard times. We’ve all got a plan, a vision, a dream, but these plans have to navigate whatever reality throws at us, and the more adverse the conditions the harder it is to stick to the course. Continue reading In business, desperate times call for measured thinking