Archive for: August, 2009

Where do new business concepts come from?

How did Apple come up with the idea of the iPod and later iPhone? How did Google come up with a way make money from their search engine?

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While there are enough books that can tell you the story of how it happened, they won’t tell you what happened inside the minds of the people or individual who came up with the idea.

While I was pondering this question I also to gauge people’s opinion, here’s the best answer I got:

New business concepts come from people. Those who have the ambition and where with all to discuss open topic issues with others, those who are willing to step outside the box of comfort and ask questions, research and try to think as if they are in the other persons shoes. Putting yourself “out there” and being focused at the same time while trying to figure out how your idea can benefit from your thoughts.

So where do new business concepts come from?

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The profound insight doesn’t come out of any strategic planning process nor does it come from some brainstorming session, it comes from a mix of individual desire, curiosity, ambition and need. But there also needs to be some foresight, a sense of where things might go.

Key Takeaway:

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New business concepts come out of a mix of unexpected problems, novel experiences, random conversations and newly discovered facts. The fact is .


Where do you think new business concepts come from?

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Must read books for entrepreneurs


Are you looking for some new reading material that can help you be a better entrepreneur?

A few days ago venture capitalist Fred Wilson posted a few books he thinks upcoming entrepreneurs should read, from over 150 comments came more suggestions and a list of must read books for entrepreneurs was born.

You should know that these are not pure business books but a combination of novels and fiction books with great stories.

Weekend innovation tip: Have a point of view about the future

How often do you either read or have an insightful conversation that makes you think and question your assumptions about the future? No often I’ll assume.

Why is this?

Because more people have a chance to express their ideas to the world but most of it is worthless blabber!

Don’t get me wrong, the fact millions of people can communicate their ideas through a blog, Twitter, Facebook and such is great for society. The problem is that there is a lot of repetition and old ideas get amplified.

The only thing different is the name of the person who said it and how the message was packaged.

Repeating the same stuff is easy because there’s no real thinking involved and blending in easier that standing out.

The fact is most people stand for nothing more than more of the same!

The quest of any innovator is to stand out from the crowd and the way to do that is to have your own point of view of the future. A unique of view of how things could be better or different (we definitely know the future is going to be different) is like a light in the fog, it points the way to a clear view.

Any individual who has a well developed point of view about an opportunity is like a beacon pointing to the sky that attracts people to his ideas.

To start building our point of view we can start by asking ourselves some questions about what might the future hold:

  • What is changing in the world?
  • What does it mean for others?
  • What does it mean for us?
  • What do we want to happen?
  • What opportunities do these changes make possible?
  • What do we have to do to play a role?
  • What new business concepts could exploit these changes?
  • What do we do next?

Innovation is what distinguishes between a leader and a follower. If you can’t create a sense of future, no one can follow you.

109 more excuses for not innovating

negative thinking

“The greatest difficulty in the world is not for people to accept new ideas, but to make them forget about old ideas.”

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~John Maynard Keynes, Economist

Everyone loves lists! After reading the I thought I’d look for some more excuses (there’s always more excuses!) and guess what?

I found a list of idea stoppers dating back to 1956 of a General Electric document found in the Bureau of Ships’ code 109 on Value Engineering. Here’s the link to the pdf.

What’s incredible is this list is over 50 years old and yet we still hear or say many of these idea stoppers on a daily basis. Imagine what we could achieve if we could eliminate the negative thinking that permeates all areas of our life.

Here then are 109 idea stoppers for negative thinkers:

  1. I agree but
  2. We have tried that too but
  3. We did it this way
  4. Procedure won’t permit
  5. It won’t work
  6. It’s not in the budget
  7. Where does the money come from?
  8. You can’t do that
  9. You should know better
  10. Who thought of that?
  11. I think it stinks
  12. Costs too much
  13. I can’t give you the money to go ahead without further cogitation
  14. Too big or too small for us
  15. We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work
  16. We’re not ready for that
  17. We don’t do things that way
  18. We have the best system already
  19. Everybody does it this way
  20. NO
  21. NO, NO
  22. NO, NO, NO
  23. It’s policy
  24. Too academic in it’s approach
  25. Not timely
  26. It’s a gimmick
  27. Not for us
  28. Too hard to administer
  29. Not profitable
  30. NO good
  31. Plain stupid
  32. Nuts
  33. Screwy
  34. Impractical
  35. Idea too radical
  36. Too complicated
  37. It isn’t progressive
  38. Too theoretical
  39. Too difficult
  40. That is unsound
  41. Not feasible
  42. Impossible
  43. The production department won’t accept it
  44. The field will think we’re ling haired
  45. Personnel aren’t ready for this
  46. Engineering can’t do it
  47. The “X” won’t approve it
  48. The “X” is different
  49. The men won’t go for it
  50. The “X” won’t stand for it
  51. The new men won’t understand
  52. The old men won’t use it
  53. You’ll never be able to sell that to management
  54. Boss won’t like it
  55. Can’t see it
  56. Too much trouble to get started
  57. Doesn’t conform to our policy
  58. We don’t have the manpower
  59. Who is doing it?
  60. Takes too much time
  61. Too much work
  62. It’s never been done before, let’s not risk our neck
  63. It won’t apply to our problem
  64. Don’t move too fast
  65. It’s new
  66. It will not set a precedent
  67. We don’t want to do this now
  68. The “X” can’t build it
  69. It’s too much trouble
  70. We have too many projects now
  71. Not enough background
  72. Why can’t we do it another way
  73. Not convincing
  74. Stretches the imagination too much Batman Forever movie download
  75. Against good judgment
  76. Why something new now
  77. We know all this
  78. Haven’t we got something just as good now?

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  79. Why should we change now?
  80. The thinking is purely on the surface, get some depth to it
  81. We don’t need it

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  82. Let’s wait and see later
  83. Don’t be ridiculous
  84. That’s not our responsibility
  85. We don’t have time for that
  86. It will make present equipment obsolete
  87. We don’t have enough volume
  88. It’s not practical for operating people
  89. It’s too hard to maintain
  90. We’ve never done it before
  91. Not permitted by specifications
  92. That will take two years to test
  93. Our competitor didn’t do it that way
  94. Not in accordance with standard plans
  95. Let’s shelve it for the time being
  96. Let’s form a committee
  97. It won’t work here
  98. It’s not standard
  99. Cost doesn’t matter
  100. What about the directive?
  101. It won’t stand shock
  102. We can’t be sure
  103. We don’t have the ceiling
  104. Why change it. It works!
  105. We haven’t tested it yet
  106. I don’t care how long it has been used
  107. How do we know it will work?
  108. I’m too busy to decide now
  109. We don’t have enough facts

An attempt to discover my social media workflow

the conversation prism

The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas

I’m writing this at the request of my friend Jaime Valdovino who is just starting to get his head around this whole ‘social media stuff’ and asked me if I could provide some suggestions on how he could use social media tools more efficiently.


How do we keep up with so much information? We don’t.

The problem with trying to keep up is we instinctively think we have to be in all places so we don’t miss an opportunity. The truth is we have to accept we can’t be everywhere and we shouldn’t try. So what’s the solution? Be strategic.

Apply the 80/20 rule by asking yourself “what’s important for me?” and whatever tool answers that question, invest your time in it. For e.g. You may want to drive paid traffic to your website,  so you can use someone like Traffic masters. There really isn’t a secret formula out there on how to make these tools work for you, it’s more of creating your own formula to satisfy your needs and evolving it as you go.

Here then are the tools I use to keep up:

* I found this great example of a social media flow framework (with graphics) that resembles my own that’s very useful.


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  • Twhirl (to be replaced by Seesmic Desktop). I use it as my default Twitter client because it’s more light than Tweetdeck. I also like it because it has Friendfeed integration and because you can manage multiple Twitter accounts.
  • Evernote

    . it’s the bedrock of my formula. You can take notes, clip information, pictures, audio, documents.

  • Feedly. Google Reader on steroids, it has Twitter and Friendfeed integration. An added bonus is you can share stuff from any page through the mini bar that sits at the bottom right corner of Firefox.
  • Alltop. Google reader alternative for lite users. If consuming information in Google reader overwhelms you, come over to Alltop. Guy Kawazaki does a great job of adding new content and it’s always easy to find new stuff because of it categorized nature.
  • Popurls. The original aggregator has popular information from all over the web.
  • YouTube. I Don’t really post any content to YouTube but do favorite lots of videos.
  • Digg. I Don’t actively participate here anymore, I use it more to search for edgy stuff such as the most digged content.
  • Newsletters. there are some newsletters worth reading that help you make sense of things.

  • Delicious. Have been using since it was created, it’s really become a habit.
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  • Stumbleupon. very powerful tool, if used correctly can deliver tons of targeted traffic and more importantly it’s sustainable.
  • Twitterfeed. Pushes your blog/wesbites feeds to your Twitter account automatically.
  • Posterous. Just recently started using this when I got the Palm Pre, I found it’s a good tool to post thoughts. Can see myself using this one more as a thinking man’s notebook more than anything else. Stay tuned…

  • ShareThis. easily share anything from Firefox, I use to share through email.
  • Shareaholic. swiss army sharing tool, great integration with every service you can imagine.

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  • Linkedin.
  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.

  • BackType. great tool to find, follow and share comments.
  • Friendfeed. best real-time search engine and an added bonus is you can save your searches.
  • Tweetscan. Still valuable, much better than Twitter’s search engine.
  • Tweetmeme

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    . Tweet search engine, most popular links on Twitter.

  • Oneriot. real-time web search engine.
  • Twitter search. see what’s happening now on Twitter.

Kill Theory

As far as URL shorteners go I use, it gives me traffic details as well as letting me schedule posts. But what’s different about it is it’s integrated into Stumbleupon so you get the added benefit that your posts are automatically stumbled.

Here’s a detailed analysis of URL shorteners.

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Making sense is more important

You can keep up with all the information you want but if you can’t extract insight from it you’ll be standing in the same place. One of the keys to being efficient is setting goals, my goal is to gain insight out of the information I consume (blog posts, articles, comments, discussions, etc) from different sources and so that drives my behavior; Friendfeed and Evernote make that really easy.

A while back I wrote about how I use Evernote to keep me organized, although the formula has evolved it still helps me make sense of information.

Anything I clip with Evernote’s web clipper is sent to the ToRead notebook which I come back to later in the day (usually at night) and read through the notes, highlight what’s important, add some thoughts and send it to the WeeklyNotes notebook.

At the end of the week I discuss these notes with my team to trigger ideas, if any insights come out of it they are stored in our Socialtext wiki.

I encourage you to create a group in Friendfeed, invite colleagues or friends and start adding stuff you find to it. This will become sort of like an intranet for your team to discuss on your findings, at the end of the week you can come back to the important items and discuss them at your team meeting to trigger ideas. This is more efficient than sharing links with colleagues through email.


The easiest way to add link to a group is using the Friendfeed bookmarklet which is included with shareaholic.

The Other End of the Line move friendfeed bookmarklet

Even more effective is the fact that all of these tools are easily accessible in Firefox by installing the individual plugins.

Feedly mini toolbar viewable in the bottom right corner in Firefox gives you the capability to quickly share stuff to Google Reader, Friendfeed and Twitter.


Firefox toolbar with easy access to delicious, evernote, sharethis, shareaholic, stumbleupon and feedly.


Information clipped from Firefox to Evernote goes to the ToRead notebook where I can easily filter to help me make sense of it.

Jaime I hope you find this helpful and thanks for suggesting I write this, writing down this process has been a very interesting experience to say the least. I will keep refining this and will come up with something less complicated!

Readers, what tactics do you use to keep up? Fire away in the comments!

Genius is born from thousands of failures

I’m a big fan of

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, that is to test as many ideas possible faster than the next guy. Whenever I propose this to a client I get the “we don’t want to do tests, we want to get things done” “It’s time consuming” “we already know what they want/think” blabber. Bla!

Testing new ideas gives you valuable insight that you might not get by planning a picture perfect approach, often times the unexpected shows itself and that new insight becomes the key to your new idea. This is nothing new but today is as important as ever.

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As the saying goes “testing is better than guessing”.

Embracing change isn’t easy, the problem is our society is ingrained with the mind set of always being right because being right makes you look smart and therefore everyone else will speak your gospel.

While always being right sounds great, you’re only right in the minds of people who have the same beliefs as you do and in a world that’s always changing what you thought today will be mostly irrelevant tomorrow.

The rise of social media has only helped to expose this phenomenon as we struggle to keep up with change as more interactions between people mean more change and therefore more unpredictability.

It’s important to understand that we need to learn as fast as the world is changing, we can’t stop learning. This is hard to do, but testing new ideas has never been easier and cheap.

And as the world embraces social media, tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed make it easy to experiment. Never in history has a single person had access to as much information and as many people than today in real-time.

If you’ve been thinking that experimentation is time consuming and unpredictable, you really have no choice anymore, technology has made testing ideas cheap and more importantly the feedback is faster.

Embrace it and make it your own.

Key takeaway: The price of failure is much lower now, so your willingness to try new things should be much higher. If you’re a small business this is even more important because someone else is testing new ideas faster than you are and you’re well on your way to irrelevancy.

is here to stay, ignore it at your own peril!

What are you waiting for?

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Don’t out compete your rivals, change the rules of the game

On his way to becoming the greatest military genius to set foot on Earth, Napoleon Bonaparte broke the rules on how military campaigns were waged. From a young age he was always overlooked, to get the respect of his peers he understood he had to fight differently. In doing so he went on to rewrite the rules of military history.

Just like Napoleon we too can learn to fight ‘differently’ than our opponents, because doing so is the only way you’ll ever stand out in a world full of ‘me too thinking’.

Here are a few ways that can help you to start thinking about how to change the game in your industry:

  • Do what others are unwilling to do. Established companies have a strong incentive to maintain the status quo, it’s to their advantage to keep doing ‘what’s working’. Don’t compete on their terms, do what they’re unwilling to do and define your own rules.
  • Look where your competition is not. Go out to the fringe, where’s things are changing. Stepping out of the mainstream is the only place where you’ll get unconventional insights. What’s happening in another part of the world that you could adopt and adapt in your environment?
  • Challenge industry orthodoxies. Time and again, the strategy innovations that radically change customer expectations, competitive rules and industry structures come from questioning beliefs that everyone else has taken for granted. What drives success in your industry? Could you imagine alternative ways of doing things?
  • Collaborate. Innovations that matter arise from cross-boundary perspectives.