Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sink or Swim

When I was a child I had a fear of swimming. I felt that it was physically impossible for me to stay afloat in any large body of water - that struggling, sinking, and drowning were inevitable.

This fear might have stemmed from having two close encounters with such a fate - once due to the undercurrents of Long Island beaches, the second time due to an oddly shaped pool. Sinking seemed to want me.

After many years of trying and failing, at the age of thirteen, I finally learned how to swim. But it wasn't in the ocean or in a pool - I learned how to overcome my fear in a river. It just took a little change in order for me to swim.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Let Down Conan O'Brien

I like Conan O'Brien. I really do. But I just couldn't watch him every night. Maybe once or twice a week...but not every night. I fall smack-dab in the middle of this group - I find the man funny and entertaining, but he's just a small part of my much larger media-drenched existence.

What I will miss about his Tonight Show is the comforting consistency of a light and fluffy, nightly broadcast. That's why Jay Leno was successful, he gave this comfort to those who weren't as media-drenched as my generation is - to those who would tune in 3 or 4 times a week.

I believe Conan will be much more successful on cable - particularly on a channel like HBO - where advertising pressure and viewership quotas are less important, where the quality of the entertainment draws viewers to purchase subscriptions, and where comforting consistency could be an important component of a larger entertainment portfolio.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Human Bottleneck

In the world of alcoholic beverages, the bottleneck is the narrowest point of a bottle. It slows the flow of liquid. In the world of business and management, the bottleneck represents the narrowest point of a particular process. It slows the progress of development and thus constrains the whole process to its own limited capacities.

In manufacturing, the bottleneck can be a machine. In traffic, the bottleneck is a stalled car, an accident, or a construction zone. In the world of creativity and intellectual creation, the bottleneck is usually a person or a group of people.

Although potentially time-consuming and resource-intensive, upgrading a machine or clearing an accident is usually pretty straight-forward. Dealing with the human bottleneck isn't. Emotions make even broaching the subject tricky. Fixing the human bottleneck takes a lot more than just good project management - it takes a bit of friendliness, a good deal of empathy, and a touch of the Iron Fist approach.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Mobile Upgrade

I've had my old BlackBerry mobile phone for nearly three years. Due to a lack of time and patience, I've been putting off an upgrade for quite a few months. But as the keyboard loses its responsiveness and the screen dies a slowly dimming death, I will be forced to make the upgrade decision within weeks.

Three years ago, this decision was pretty simple. If I wanted to send and receive emails, surf the mobile web (kinda), and make phone calls, the BlackBerry had nearly no competition - it was essentially the only real "smartphone." Today, hundreds of phones fit this description. Some have tactile keyboards, some have touchscreens, and some have both. Most have some sort of digital application marketplace - where I can buy cool, downloadable programs and games. Nearly all are reasonably priced.

Within a few short years, the smartphone is nearly a universal device. Manufacturers have realized the potential for this next generation of devices. This rapid flood of new phones has surely made my decision more difficult - and I have the feeling that I'm not the only one.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

0 for 1

Sports comparisons, analogies, and metaphors are often used to symbolize the ins-and-outs of business - e.g. the home run, the slam dunk, the batting average, home-field advantage, winning percentage etc. For many, sports is the ultimate representation of the real world, in particular for the world of commerce.

Although themes from sports do often work for representing reality, one fundamental concept is treated very differently in business - the concept of failure. An basketball player that misses 60% of his three-pointers is considered a resounding success. A baseball player who doesn't hit the ball 70% of the time is considered to be pretty good.

A management consultant or marketer who experiences such failure would be considered...a failure. So let's not get carried away with with using sports as the ultimate symbol, because if we did, we'd be living in a much more mediocre world.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Coming Home

There is no better feeling than coming home. After a long trip, arriving to see the familiar locale of one's abode creates comfort, relief, and happiness. Coming home gives the mind seamless freedom and releases an inner compartment of untapped creativity. Hopefully being home will allow for more blog posts.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Rout Moment

Tonight I watched my beloved New York Knicks completely destroy the Indiana Pacers. The final score was 132-89 - a high-scoring and very lopsided basketball result. The Knicks have been terrible for nearly a decade, so such results have been very rare. It was refreshing to enjoy a basketball game from beginning to end with very little fear or anxiety.

But unfortunately, in the NBA regular season, each team plays 82 games - so in the grand scheme of things this result is fairly insignificant. It could signify a larger trend for the Knicks or it could be an ephemeral fluke. Compared to the average life, one game is comparable to one moment. But this was one awesome rout moment.

It's often difficult to enjoy every game, every moment. But rout moments are special - they represent overcoming challenges, defeating fear, and reaching personal fulfilment. Rout moments must be fully savored. This holiday season brought a lot of rout moments for me - for these I am extremely thankful.