Category Archives: progress

The Same People

Do you constantly hang out with the same people?

The concept of Dunbar’s number is an interesting one. Recently, I have seen more discussion on it and how it relates to social connections.

In short, Dunbar suggests there’s an upper limit to the amount of relationships we can maintain. That number, for the record, is 150.

You can read much more about Dubnbar’s number at Wikipedia.

Mashable wrote about how it relates to Facebook.

Jacob Morgan wrote an interesting piece on how Dunbar’s number is irrelevant and the importance of weak ties.

Chris Brogan talks about beating Dunbar’s number.

Personally, I think it’s all very interesting, but since I’m not a Ph.D., I’m not going to add any scientific arguments to the fray. I’m going to bring it down a level.

If you always go to the same networking events, switch it up. Try some new ones. Meet some new people. Your current network won’t (really) exclude you and you’ll probably meet some new people and learn some new ideas.

If you have a big social network, go out of your way to meet some of them in person or “IRL” (In Real Life – a popular abbreviation on twitter). Often, some of the real-life contacts can introduce you to other real-life contacts.

I have a list of people I want to meet this year, in real life. Some are people I’ve connected with online, others I haven’t. Others are a handshake or two away. It’s an aggressive list but I’m confident I can get it done. To do so, I’ll have to pass on some networking events that are frequented by current friends. In the end, I think they’ll forgive me.

While I find Dunbar’s number interesting, I’m not particularly concerned about managing my 150. I’d much rather venture out and meet some remarkable new people.

My Three Words for 2010

Taking a cue from the forever brilliant Chris Brogan and his post today, below are my three words for 2010.

My 3 Words – Revere, Ship, Daily

My Three Words for 2010

Revere – I am not using the traditional definition of revere here, but rather a reference to Paul Revere, the revolutionary who successfully warned an entire region that the British were coming. In Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book, The Tipping Point, he illustrates why Paul Revere was successful in his famous ride (the message tipped and spread), while William Dawes, a different man trying to accomplish the same goal, was not successful.

From Gladwell’s The Tipping Point:

Paul Revere’s ride is perhaps the most famous historical example of a word-of-mouth epidemic. A piece of extraordinary news traveled a long distance in a very short time, mobilizing an entire region to arms …
At the same time that Revere began his ride north and west of Boston, a fellow revolutionary — a tanner by the name of William Dawes — set out on the same urgent errand, working his way to Lexington via the towns west of Boston. He was carrying the identical message, through just as many towns over just as many miles as Paul Revere. But Dawes’s ride didn’t set the countryside afire. The local militia leaders weren’t altered. In fact, so few men from one of the main towns he rode through — Waltham — fought the following day that some subsequent historians concluded that it must have been a strongly pro-British community. It wasn’t. The people of Waltham just didn’t find out the British were coming until it was too late. If it were only the news itself that mattered in a word-of-mouth epidemic, Dawes would now be as famous as Paul Revere. He isn’t. So why did Revere succeed where Dawes failed?
The answer is that the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. Revere’s news tipped and Dawes’s didn’t because of the differences between the two men.
[Revere] was gregarious and intensely social. He was a fisherman and a hunter, a cardplayer and a theatre-lover, a frequenter of pubs and a successful businessman. He was active in the local Masonic Lodge and was a member of several select social clubs. He was also a doer, a man blessed — as David Hackett Fischer recounts in his brilliant book Paul Revere’s Ride — with “an uncanny genius for being at the center of events.”
It is not surprising, then, that when the British army began its secret campaign in 1774 to root out and destroy the stores of arms and ammunition held by the fledgling revolutionary movement, Revere became a kind of unofficial clearing house for the anti-British forces. He knew everybody. He was the logical one to go to if you were a stable boy on the afternoon of April 18th, 1775, and overheard two British officers talking about how there would be hell to pay on the following afternoon. Nor is it surprising that when Revere set out for Lexington that night, he would have known just how to spread the news as far and wide as possible. When he saw people on the roads, he was so naturally and irrepressibly social he would have stopped and told them. When he came upon a town, he would have known exactly whose door to knock on, who the local militia leader was, who the key players in town were. He had met most of them before. And they knew and respected him as well.
But William Dawes? Fischer finds it inconceivable that Dawes could have ridden all seventeen miles to Lexington and not spoken to anyone along the way. But he clearly had none of the social gifts of Revere, because there is almost no record of anyone who remembers him that night. “Along Paul Revere’s northern route, the town leaders and company captains instantly triggered the alarm,” Fischer writes. “On the southerly circuit of William Dawes, this did not happen until later. In at least one town it did not happen at all. Dawes did not awaken the town fathers or militia commanders in the towns of Roxbury, Brookline, Watertown or Waltham.”
Why? Because Roxbury, Brookline, Watertown and Waltham were not Boston. And Dawes was in all likelihood a man with a normal social circle, which means that — like most of us — once he left his hometown he probably wouldn’t have known whose door to knock on. Only one small community along Dawes’s ride appeared to get the message, a few farmers in a neighborhood called Waltham Farms. But alerting just those few houses wasn’t enough to “tip” the alarm.
Word-of-mouth epidemics are the work of Connectors. William Dawes was just an ordinary man.

I am a Connector by nature but in 2010, I want to up my game, meet more new people, introduce other people, earn trust, build bridges and create value. In short, I want to emulate what Paul Revere did long before his famous ride and become the type of Connector he was.

This will help me personally and it will also help me build and scale my new media consulting firm, Tribes Win.


Ship

Don't wait for perfect, just ship

I spent six months in 2009 learning more than I thought possible from one of my heroes, Seth Godin. The most important thing I learned was the importance of “shipping”.

Seth has had many successes in his prolific career but before those many successes, he had many failures. Seth’s failures paved the way for his successes. He just kept shipping (including over 3,000 blog posts over the last ten years) and eventually the projects he shipped became more and more successful. The

From when we are young, it is drilled into our head (in our education system, at home and at work) that failure is terrible and something to be avoided at all costs. Seth taught us that failing is OK and shipping is what matters.

In addition to building Tribes Win, I have a few important projects I’m working on in 2010, including fear.less, an online magazine that I’m launching with Ishita Gupta, Carpe Defect, a new blog, e-book and book that I’m writing and a new type of social game that I am developing.

I will ship these projects in 2010.

Daily

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ferrantraite

This is a simple reminder of improving daily in two specific categories:

    Daily Sense – Post here on DailySense.com at least once every day in 2010.
    Health – Eat healthier and workout in 2010.

I have tied each of these words to a more specific set of SMART goals with dates and specific measurements of success.

Chris Brogan inspired me. Hopefully I can amplify his inspiration. Give this some thought and consider sharing your three words here or back on Chris’ original post.

Revere. Ship. Daily.

The Space Above

Storage Unit

Having moved five times in the last six years, I’m no stranger to temporary storage units. They’re all pretty similar. You pay a monthly fee and get access to a small space to store your belongings.

When you purchase a storage unit, they are always quoted in width x depth. A 10′ x 10′ space might cost $120 / month or a 5′ x 10′ space might be $80 / month.

Here’s a little secret. The value is in the space above.

The height of the storage unit determines how much you can store. A 5′ x 10′ unit with high ceilings can store as much as a 10′ x 10′ with low ceilings. Now I always pack my items in sturdy, stackable containers.

Think about your own business or relationships. Is there ‘space above’ that you’re not utilizing?

On that long drive, instead of listening to the music, you could listen to a great audio book or catch up with that relative or old colleague you’ve been meaning to call.

On that plane ride, instead of watching the in-flight movie, you could write the business plan for your new idea or draft the first chapter to that book you’ve been meaning to write.

At home, instead of watching House reruns, you could start a blog for yourself or with your child.

Space above is everywhere. Look for it and use it.

[photo credit: merfam]

Book Drips – What NASA didn’t tell you

RocketMen Cover

Think your project is difficult?

Think your boss is demanding?

Think the deadlines you’ve been given are unrealistic?

Imagine working for NASA 41 years ago and John F. Kennedy telling you to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to earth.

Most of the 40th anniversary coverage has focused on the success and wonder of the historic event, and rightfully so, but in a new and thrilling book, Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, author Craig Nelson outlines the full story, the good and the bad, of the space and missile race.

Some nuggets you may not have known: (directly from Rocket Men)

– The thirty-story-high Apollo 11-Saturn V spaceship had over 6 million parts, which meant that under NASA’s rigorous instance of 99.9% reliability, as many as 6,000 could fail.

– The nearly 1 million spectators who began gathering at Cape Kennedy for launch on July 16th, 1969, were kept at least 3.5 miles away from the pad because, in an explosion, hundred-pound chunks of shrapnel would be hurled in a 3-mile radius with 4/5 the power of an atomic bomb.

– When President Kennedy proposed a moon landing within a decade as the most effective way to take the lead in the space race after the shocking Soviet achievements of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin’s first manned orbit, even NASA’s most zealous engineers were aghast.

– The astronauts’ final breakfast on earth was steak and eggs. Why? Low in fiber and low in waste.

– The lunar samples brought back to earth by the Apollo missions revealed the moon’s origins.

– NASA designers had neglected to place a handle on the Eagle’s outside door, which meant that Armstrong and Aldrin had to make sure to leave it open while they walked on the Moon.

– When Neil Armstrong was asked by a reporter what one extra item he would take with him, his dry humor shone through. “More fuel.”

These and more amazing details are revealed in Rocket Men as Craig Nelson takes the reader inside the journey that changed the world. I highly recommend this book to not only space geeks and history buffs but anyone who wants a deeper look into the story behind the first Moon landing.

[Disclosures: I know the author Craig Nelson well and consider him a good friend. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link.]

Confusing motion for progress

The noted French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabre, studied processionary caterpillars in great detail. This caterpillar is special is its instinct to follow in perfect lock step behind the caterpillar in front of it. A unique characteristic, it can also be deadly.

Video here.

Processionary Caterpillars

Zig Ziglar tells the story of an experiment Fabre coordinated, placing a number of processionary caterpillars around the rim of a flowerpot, each caterpillar’s head touching the caterpillar behind it.

Then Fabre placed the caterpillars’ favorite food in the center of the circle. The caterpillars followed each other for seven days, eventually dying of exhaustion and starvation, unable to divert their course to their favorite food only inches away.

They did something humans doe everyday. They confused motion for progress.

Motion: Ordering fitness DVDs and buying new workout clothes.
Progress: Finishing the program, losing the weight and convincing a friend to join you for Round 2.

Motion: Registering a domain name you’ve wanted.
Progress: Starting a blog and dripping interesting content often enough to get your 1,000th subscriber or your 100th die hard fan.

Motion: Buying a cookbook.
Progress: Hosting a dinner party for ten friends once a month.

Motion: Brainstorming a new and innovative project at work.
Progress: Taking the third project live and planning the fourth.

Motion: Organizing all your notebooks, pens and software, telling yourself you’re finally going to write that book.
Progress: Finishing Chapter 2.

Motion: Listening to the Rosetta Stone CD’s.
Progress: Moving to Italy for six months and learning the culture and the language.

Motion: Registering a twitter account for your organization.
Progress: Executing a comprehensive social media strategy, listening to, connecting with and engaging your customers.

I, Pencil

Pencil5

My friend Dan passes along the great essay “I, Pencil”, originally published in 1958 by Leonard E. Read (the founder and president of the Federation for Economic Education).

(Compared to my typical posts, this is a longer read but an important one.)

I agree with Dan’s assessments:

1) it is quite simply one of the greatest things ever written on any subject.

2) It highlights my faith in the natural tendency of individuals to unknowingly self-organize for mutual benefit.

3) It makes it completely apparent that central planning could never hold a candle to the organizational power of millions of individuals acting solely for their self betterment.

In the words of a subsequent president of the FEE Donald Boudreaux:

“No newcomer to economics who reads “I, Pencil” can fail to have a simplistic belief in the superiority of central planning or regulation deeply shaken. If I could choose one essay or book that everyone in the world would read, I would unhesitatingly choose “I, Pencil.” Among these readers, simplistic notions about the economy would be permanently transformed into a new and vastly more subtle—and correct—understanding.”

Some comments on the piece from Milton Friedman included at the end.

I, Pencil
My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read

I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that’s too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye—there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Innumerable Antecedents

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill’s power!

Don’t overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation.

Once in the pencil factory—$4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine—each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop—a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this “wood-clinched” sandwich.

My “lead” itself—it contains no lead at all—is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth—and the harbor pilots.

The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow—animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions—as from a sausage grinder-cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats.

My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made a beautiful yellow involve the skills of more persons than one can enumerate!

Observe the labeling. That’s a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black?

My bit of metal—the ferrule—is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of nature. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain.

Then there’s my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as “the plug,” the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called “factice” is what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rape-seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and the pigment which gives “the plug” its color is cadmium sulfide.

No One Knows

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?

Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn’t a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field—paraffin being a by-product of petroleum.

Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.

No Master Mind

There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.

It has been said that “only God can make a tree.” Why do we agree with this? Isn’t it because we realize that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable!

I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies—millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human master-minding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

The above is what I meant when writing, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand—that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive masterminding—then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people—in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity—the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental “master-minding.”

Testimony Galore

If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore; it’s all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things. Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person’s home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one’s range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard—halfway around the
world—for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society’s legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

Leonard E. Read (1898-1983) founded FEE in 1946 and served as its president until his death.

From Milton Friedman:

Leonard Read’s delightful story, “I, Pencil,” has become a classic, and deservedly so. I know of no other piece of literature that so succinctly, persuasively, and effectively illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smith’s invisible hand—the possibility of cooperation without coercion—and Friedrich Hayek’s emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system in communicating information that “will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do.”

We used Leonard’s story in our television show, “Free to Choose,” and in the accompanying book of the same title to illustrate “the power of the market” (the title of both the first segment of the TV show and of chapter one of the book). We summarized the story and then went on to say:

“None of the thousands of persons involved in producing the pencil performed his task because he wanted a pencil. Some among them never saw a pencil and would not know what it is for. Each saw his work as a way to get the goods and services he wanted—goods and services we produced in order to get the pencil we wanted. Every time we go to the store and buy a pencil, we are exchanging a little bit of our services for the infinitesimal amount of services that each of the thousands contributed toward producing the pencil.

“It is even more astounding that the pencil was ever produced. No one sitting in a central office gave orders to these thousands of people. No military police enforced the orders that were not given. These people live in many lands, speak different languages, practice different religions, may even hate one another—yet none of these differences prevented them from cooperating to produce a pencil. How did it happen? Adam Smith gave us the answer two hundred years ago.”

“I, Pencil” is a typical Leonard Read product: imaginative, simple yet subtle, breathing the love of freedom that imbued everything Leonard wrote or did. As in the rest of his work, he was not trying to tell people what to do or how to conduct themselves. He was simply trying to enhance individuals’ understanding of themselves and of the system they live in.

That was his basic credo and one that he stuck to consistently during his long period of service to the public—not public service in the sense of government service. Whatever the pressure, he stuck to his guns, refusing to compromise his principles. That was why he was so effective in keeping alive, in the early days, and then spreading the basic idea that human freedom required private property, free competition, and severely limited government.

Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American economist, statistician and public intellectual, and a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

The bookstore of the future

EmptyBookshelves

Imagine walking into your favorite neighborhood bookstore in a few years.

Except there are no books.

Behind the counter is a single, helpful employee.

In the center of the store is what looks like an oversized copy machine. A magic machine that can create a brand-new, library quality paperback of any title. Even those that have been out of print for years.

A 300 page book, printed, with a perfect cover, in under 4 minutes.

Amazon has dominated online book sales (and will for the foreseeable future).

The Kindle will dominate digital book (and magazine, and newspaper) delivery. (That’s Amazon 2, everyone else – 0 if you’re scoring at home.)

The Espresso Book Machine or EBM for short will fill the remaining gap, reversing publishing’s existing business model from:


print > ship > sell
to:
sell > print

From the On Demand Books website:

Supply is matched with demand at point of sale for the first time in the history of publishing, eliminating returns and giving life to “long tail” titles. No book need ever be out of print again.

Publishers enjoy: Higher profit margins, greater unit sales, no more returns, monetized backlist, reduced inventories.

Retailers enjoy: Higher sales per square foot, faster inventory turnover, more customer traffic, no more out-of-stocks, no more supply chain costs, freed-up shelf space for faster moving, higher-margin inventory.

Libraries/Universities enjoy: Enhanced academic experience for students, more books available to patrons, new forms of revenue, the ability to print digital collections and perfect facsimiles of rare books.

The bookstore of the future isn’t in the future at all. It’s already here.

Venerable bookstores like the Tattered Cover in Denver will still exist but will cater to hardcovers, special editions and as hubs where tribes join to read & discuss books.

Maybe over an espresso.

The pace of possible

What’s possible?

In-flight movies

iphone3gs_video

Apple just released the 3Gs, an iPhone where you can take a video, edit that video and post it to YouTube, all in less than 2 minutes (I timed myself). My friend Jon immediately viewed it from 30,000 feet on his Virgin America flight.

Unbelievable.

Every newspaper, book and blog in your briefcase or purse

amazon-kindle-books

The Amazon Kindle magically fits 10,000 newspapers, magazines, books and blogs right in your purse or briefcase (you can even get DailySense on the Kindle).

The pace of possible isn’t just limited to technology…

A comfortable thong

Gale Epstein and Lida Orzeck invented Hanky Panky, a comfortable thong (sorry, no picture or personal testimonial on this one but check the reviews).

If this is all possible today, what will be possible in a year?

Two years?

Five years?

Will you be ready?

Magic moments

magic-moment

Snapping the perfect photograph.

Getting on Oprah.

The right article in the right magazine in the right industry at the right time.

The unexpected presentation that wows everyone at the conference and has them buzzing for weeks.

The right licensing deal with the right partner.

The perfect product launch (getting on Oprah might be easier).

The right investment at the right time from just the right investor.

The YouTube video that makes you a household name. Overnight.

You don’t get many magic moments in the life of your business, although some people put themselves in position for way more than others. That old saying, “the harder I work, the luckier I get” is more true than not. Magic moments don’t follow Steve Jobs around. He creates them.

Sometimes, magic moments aren’t so obvious. Will you recognize your magic moment when it happens? Will you be prepared?

Most importantly, what are you doing today to increase the likelihood of it happening?

Generation Lap

grown_up_digital_bookcover

Parents, if you can’t understand how your kid can jump from Facebook to instant messaging to texting, all while doing their homework, watch this.

Parents with young children, watch this.

Kids (anyone under 35), if your parents don’t seem to get you, the digital you, watch this with them. Help explain it to them.

Educators, watch this. Think about how you can use this knowledge in the classroom.

Everyone else, watch this anyway. We can all learn a lot from Don Tapscott.

Last chance at Tribes!

Seth’s TED Talk is now live. You can visit the TED site or watch it below.

The hardcover of Tribes is available on Amazon.

A long Squidoo lens, including lots of information and more videos and slides, is here.

You can download a FREE mp3 of Seth himself reading the entire thing right here.

OK. It’s not really your last chance. Everything above will likely be available…well, forever. But knowing Seth, he’s cooking up even more quality. Another topic that will require a good portion of your brain.

So finish up Tribes. Read the book. Watch the video. Listen to the .mp3. Pass it along to a friend.

Learn Tribes. Lead one. But make room.

More genius is coming.

seth-at-ted

The timing is never right

I was talking to a good friend and he said he was “very close” to starting his blog, getting more involved in Twitter and really developing his personal brand online. “As soon as I get some downtime”, he said.

Unfortunately, the downtime never comes.

When was the last time you crossed off the last item on your to-do list?

Have you been putting something off? Starting that addition to the house? Quitting your job to freelance? Writing the great American novel? Starting a blog? Taking dance lessons? Learning Chinese?

As Tim Ferris says,

“the stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up all the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct course along the way.”

Get started failing


Testing used to be expensive. If your product was a failure, you ended up with a warehouse of unused, unwanted widgets and a sizable capital loss.

In 1987, if you had a brainchild to sell a set of ten hilarious new T-shirts, you had to produce a large enough run to pay for the screens. If you were wrong, your friends and family were flush with unsold shirts and your wallet was empty. Now, companies like CafePress allow you to start selling with no inventory and zero money down (and no risk of a sub-prime T-shirt crisis).

If nobody likes your T-shirt, change it and try again.

In 1988, if you wanted to start a magazine, you needed at least $10,000 and connections in the magazine publishing industry. Today, with sites like OpenZine, you can have your first issue live in less than an hour. For free.

If you don’t get any readers, change it and try again.

Get started. Get done. Measure results. Fail fast. Fail often.

The cost of changing the screen is almost zero.

Everything is amazing. Nobody is happy.

As comedian Louis CK elucidates brilliantly and humorously on Conan O’Brien, everything is amazing and nobody is happy.

iPhoneMobile phones can stream video content, provide GPS directions or identify a song on the radio but we complain if it hangs for even ten seconds.

Planes can get us from New York to Los Angeles (or Dublin) in 6 hours but we complain if we have to sit on the runway for 30 minutes.

We complain every time the price of a stamp increases, yet you can reliably mail a letter from Seattle to Miami in a few days for 42 cents.

Anyone who has an opinion and a computer can have their message heard by thousands of people, literally for free. And that computer? It used to cost $1000. Now the laptop version only costs $250.

Yes, there are challenges. Yes, the economy is in the tank. But it is an amazing time in our history and it’s time we stop complaining, start focusing on the positive and leverage the advances in technology to cause positive change.

Feel free to print this post and mail it to all of your closest friends for only 42 cents.

Not an opportunity. An obligation.

Last month, I went with my friend to visit a man who is in the hospital with multiple sclerosis. We talked with him for a while, we helped him setup speed-dial for his family in his hospital phone and we helped him setup a new GMail account because he had forgotten the password to his Hotmail account.

He was so happy and grateful to have visitors, even for an hour. Mentally, he was still very sharp but the MS had debilitated his body and his speech. I sat there wondering what things he wanted to accomplish that he never got the chance to.

hospital

As we walked out of the hospital, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Guilty that I could walk out of the hospital. The guilt quickly turned to a sense of obligation to do something great because there are so many people that don’t have the chance.

What we all have isn’t just a chance. We all have a responsibility to do something great. We all need to change the world in our own ways. We’re all blessed with enough intelligence and drive. Plenty of people are willing to teach us the skills and techniques. We have no excuse not to succeed.

What we all have is not an opportunity. It’s an obligation.