Archive for September, 2011

Pink Floyd Shines New Light on Dark Side

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find time. Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines. Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way. The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say.

Who knew when the architects of Pink Floyd wrote those lines for the song, “Time” in 1973, they would be so prophetic in their nostalgia some 38 years later. It is in that spirit of celebrating the past that the group is opening up the faults with a series of remastered and previously unreleased product in the coming days and months, including two new editions of its album masterpiece, “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Also culled from old tapes are 1972 live recordings of the band trying out “Dark Side” material as well as a 1974 concert with the album played in its entirety – an approach popular in more recent years as evidenced by Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” LP tour and Pink Floyd’s complete live performance of “The Wall” as recently as last May.

Considering the record’s success – 45 million copies sold and a record 741 weeks on the charts (1973-1988) – is it marketing genius or merely a ‘no brainer’? As a longtime fan, I would argue it is both. In a YouTube era where anyone can post their own ‘take’ on artists and their music (i.e. bootlegged concert audio and video) when a legendary band such as Pink Floyd in essence ‘tells its own story’ with material unavailable anywhere else, it truly stands out from the clutter as something special.

I’ll see you on the Dark Side of the Moon.

A Blast From The Ancient Media Past Of… 2007

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

While beginning some initial digging for a presentation a client asked me to give in October, I found my notes from a similar presentation I gave in October 2007 – just four years ago.

The topic was basically “What Has Changed In The Media?” In the presentation, I talked about the now obvious trends that newspaper circulations and local TV news ratings were down, the Web was rising as a source of information and that, because of staff cuts, hard news received unprecedented priority over even “human interest” stories. I recommended that the audience build relationships with media outlets so they can help you help them use new media platforms to tell stories.

All that I included is still fundamentally true, but to realize how much has changed in just four years, think about what wasn’t included in the presentation. There was nothing on Social Media – Facebook was still largely for college students and Twitter was still months away from its mainstream takeoff. That also means there were no self-proclaimed “Social Media Gurus” (aaaah… the good old days). Keep in mind, those self-billed “experts” were all doing something else just four years ago. Those who are actually doing well with Social Media now were probably communicating over other platforms, with sound fundamentals that are now being applied in multiple ways.

There was nothing in the presentation about Smartphones – the iPhone was still something of a curiosity – just four months old and running on the EDGE network. There was nothing about streaming content, as pre-iPad and pre-broadband mobile networks, it was really just YouTube. Never mind the economic impact felt by traditional media – hastening even more cuts – with the financial collapse of 2008 and the auto bankruptcies in 2009.

Yes, it’s certainly time to update this presentation. And when I do, I’m going to keep it in a place where in October 2015, it will be easy to see how much changes in another four years.

Reexamining Generational Motivation In The Workplace

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Last time, fresh from Las Vegas and the Interactive Manufacturing Experience (imX), an event and summit on the present and future of manufacturing presented in part by client SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers), I relayed keynote speaker and global futurist Jim Carroll’s thoughts on world-class innovators. How they think. What sets them apart.

Continuing in that vein, Carroll spent much of his discussion focusing on “the new workforce.” In high-tech manufacturing the need for attracting and preparing a trained next generation is among the greatest challenges facing the industry. The key, he says, for any field, is adaptation to  new way of thinking – theirs.

“Years ago, young people used to ask me, ‘What do you do,’ referring to my line of work. Today they ask me, ‘What do you like to do,’ meaning, beyond my career.” To that end, Carroll talks about world-class innovators focusing on flexibility of structure – considering that traditional work protocols (i.e. inflexible 9 to 5 work schedules and typical annual reward systems ) are not always desirable to today’s work/life balance-minded professionals living just as much in the ‘here and now.’

To underscore his point, Carroll relayed a few eye-opening statistics from recently college-graduated young professionals:

• 50% believe being self-employed is more secure than a full-time job

• 67% indicate they are already thinking about their next job on their first day of a new job

• The majority feel 2-5 years in any one place is a long-term ‘career’

It is a mindset, Jim Carroll says, that is mirrored by the speed of today’s development cycles (i.e. today’s iPod used components not available four years ago, while, 80% of the sales of a new video game come in its first four days of release). The next generational way of thinking is even more understandable when one considers this astounding fact: On average, by the time a college student graduates with a four-year degree, everything they will have learned in their first year will be obsolete.

Are You A World Class Innovator?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

During the past week serving client SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) at the imX (Interactive Manufacturing Experience) in Las Vegas, I had the good fortune to listen to Day 3 keynote speaker and global futurist Jim Carroll who discussed what world class innovators do that others don’t to take advantage of future opportunities (including those in the business world).

Such innovators, he says:

*Put things into perspective – avoiding “doomsday scenarios” that get in the way of thinking and decision making. Instead they focus on opportunity with a realistic few of what’s really going on in the world.

*Aren’t afraid to think boldly – exploring and putting forth ideas that may be ahead of their time but are founded in solid, creative thinking.

*Reframe the concept of innovation – constantly challenging themselves by asking how you can run your organization better, grow the business and transform the business.

• Challenge and redefine the concept of process – always aiming for agility and adaptability in the marketplace.

Next time: Carroll’s perspectives on structure and the next generation of professionals in the workforce.

On GameDay, TV Still Rules

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I’m really sick of self-proclaimed 140 character “experts” telling us the traditional media is “dead.” One of many examples to the contrary is my visit to Ann Arbor, Michigan on Saturday morning.

The University of Michigan Campus was transformed into an outdoor live TV studio as the barnstorming mega pre-game show (and cultural phenomenon) “ESPN College GameDay” broadcast live the morning of the Michigan-Notre Dame football game. My elementary school-age daughter had been asking for years if she could be in the audience if GameDay ever came to Ann Arbor (yes, we’re related – no DNA test required). So, we woke up early and headed that way with the hopes of maybe getting close to the action. Because we arrived just as the weather cleared, we ended up in the front row on the side of the set, next to students, some of whom arrived at 2am and waited, in pouring rain, for the 9am-Noon broadcast.

In time, the crowd grew to thousands, all there to be a part of the iconic broadcast. The average age in the crowd was probably 20 – all part of the Social Media generation, the kids who grew up online. But, being a part of a national TV broadcast was still a “big deal” to them. Of course, most of them were tweeting and Facebooking as the show went along (I was too). But GameDay’s ratings and the celebrity status of its hosts prove that, even for Millenials, no medium says “big event” like television.

Speaking of the hosts, as a broadcaster at my core, I got a real kick out of watching them in action. More impressive was veteran host Chris Fowler, who, remarkably, anchors a fast-paced show without a Teleprompter. He does use index cards, but moderates the shows debates, moves from segment to segment and even provides knowledge of his own, all unscripted. He seems to really enjoy his role and had some fun interacting with the crowd during commercial breaks.

When we got home from Ann Arbor, we went straight to the DVR. Less than a minute into the recorded show, we pressed “pause.” There we were – on TV. Even for my daughter, who has only known a multi-platform world, seeing herself on a national TV show was a one-of-a-kind thrill.

Music To (and For) Our Ears

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

When was the last time you bought a CD, downloaded a song or listened to music radio? If you can’t recall one or more of those dates, it may be time to try something new that might just rekindle your interest in radio and songs new and old.

The September issue of Popular Mechanics features their choices for the latest in audio streaming services where, for a small monthly subscription price, you can gain access to virtually millions of tunes. Among the most cost effective are: Rdio, with a web access to 8.5 million songs in their catalog and fee of $4.99 a month ($9.99 for web apps); and Mog, same price with a database of 11 million songs to keep even the most ardent audiophile occupied. And, at just a buck more a month (and another million songs available to boot), former song stealer Napster is now legit.

And while on-demand music apps top the download charts, many are now opting, via smartphone and tablets, for a new range of online options to listen to analog radio. Those worth checking out include Tunein, which features thousands of live, local radio station broadcasts worldwide (and the ability to record Tivo-style); and WunderRadio, offering historical broadcasts and even police scanner traffic.

It’s delectable ear candy packaged in an array of colorful new wrappings that are all worth at least a taste if not long term savoring.

Hoffa Reminds Us That The World Could Be Watching

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

There has never been a more challenging time to be a public speaker. In an age of instant criticism for just about anything via Social Media, instant video editing and sharing on YouTube and instant proportion blowing on Scream TV (aka “Cable News”), never before have public speakers put their reputations in their own hands simply by appearing behind a microphone. It’s not just a political phenomenon anymore.

We’re quoted on the front page of the Detroit Free Press on the controversy resulting from Teamsters union General President James P. Hoffa’s speech as part of a Labor Day rally in Detroit featuring President Obama. Hoffa, as usual, spoke his mind with some bombastic language and it because immediate fodder for political pundits. Some outlets and websites even isolated some comments, out of context, to create potentially compelling debate on an otherwise quiet holiday.

Before you criticize Hoffa for his choice of words, keep one important piece of context in mind. For him, this speech was “on message.” He has never been one to hold back or tailor remarks for particular audiences. In 2007, as the business-laden Mackinac Policy Conference, I heard Hoffa, as a dinner speaker, give the same stump pro-union speech he would give anywhere, to anyone. That’s his style. That’s his brand.

In this current environment, it’s important to remember that no matter who you are or where you’re speaking, to borrow a line from a once-political context, the world could be watching. If you don’t like the reaction, you have the same two choices that Jim Hoffa faced yesterday – backpedal and apologize or stand by your words.