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Re-Winding. A Collection of Videos.

Half a dozen videos of my most popular talks and interviews which many folks have found helpful are now collected in a single place

1.A Ten Minute Overview Of Marketing  in a Transformative Age

This is an opening keynote at a Video Everywhere Conference in New York City in  November 2015 which was popular both for the content and the lack of any notes or slides….

2. How to connect with people in a data driven, content filled age

An Interview in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2015 which explains how companies should rethink a lot of assumptions including how they think about data and content and even marketing. Click the link below  the picture for the video


 How To Connect With Customers In a Content and Data Driven Age

3. Six Key Trends Driving the Future of Marketing

A short talk at Yale School of Management in New Haven in August of 2014 including how the future of marketing is really about outsourcing market to the customer!

4.Why Agencies are like Cockroaches and will not go the way of Dinosaurs but will transform ourselves like we always have

A pep talk to the Industry at the 4A’s in New Orleans in 2013 on how not to let change get one down

5. Change and the Future. A  TEDx Talk at the University of Chicago

What are the key trends driving Change and how should people and companies adapt. A talk in June 2013 at TEDx University of Chicago

6. How To Build A Personal Brand

In todays networked world it is key that everyone focus on building a Brand by understanding their niche, their story and their voice

Davos 2016: Leading in a Transformational Era



The official theme of Davos 2016 is “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” in recognition of the range of upheavals that have begun and are anticipated driven by technological advances from robotics, genetic design, 3-D printing, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and the exponential power of connected mobile devices. A free download of the book “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” is available here

The Four Key Discussions

At the end of four days of listening to panels, attending breakfasts and dinners with businessmen, government officials, social workers, artists and scientists,  technology was only one of four key discussions.  The four big themes were

  1. China: Christine Lagarde’ of the IMF  framed China’s economic challenge as how to manage three transitions in its economy from a)export to import, b) infrastructure to consumer consumption lead and c) high growth to mid growth. The decline in oil and commodity prices, currency wars and softness in emerging markets (with the exception of India which remained a shining star at Davos) were all seen as originating in China.  In addition to the economic challenges, China faces a demographic challenge of an aging population , an environmental situation which is leading to significant health issues and hundreds of millions online who are insisting on change. While the range of expectations on hard landing to soft landing, big yuan depreciation to slight yuan depreciation and adjustment to environmental and demographic change ranged dramatically the general belief was that China would be alright if its leadership maintained the faith of its key internal constituencies and did a better job communicating its intentions and its numbers could be trusted.
  2. Immigration: Globally there are 240 million immigrants and while historically immigration has been a net positive and shows no sign of slowing it has become a huge issue due to lack of economic growth creating angry unemployed youth and resentful “natives”. The recent floods of displaced refugees (there are 60 million displaced people) whose numbers are increasing exponentially due to the troubles in the Middle East and Africa which is overwhelming Europe’s sense of self and its open borders policies (Schengen). As we have seen with  the different styles of a Donald Trump (who was a big topic at Davos too and increasingly seen as a likely Republican nominee) to Angela Merkel, the quality of leadership will matter to adapt to this new reality which is transforming societies everywhere.
  3. Inequality Schism: Globally  just 62 people have as much wealth as the bottom 3,700,000,000 (3.7 billion) and the top 1% control more wealth than the remaining 99 percent. These trends of concentrations have been growing due to a combination of government actions biased towards capital, the network economic effects of technology companies, slow growth and the ability to replace carbon based life forms with silicon based digital computers. In addition to economic inequality the inequality of opportunities and pay between men and women, caucasian and colored, connected (half the world is connected to modern science and another half lacks electricity or water or internet).  The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that the top quarter of society increasing  regaining trust with business and other leaders while the bottom 75% are losing trust. Society is now questioning its leadership all over the world who are seen as short term, selfish with narrow goals  who are forgetting we are living in a multi-stakeholder world.  As someone on a panel noted ” we have rulers not leaders”
  4. Impact of Technology: Many CEOs are fearful of technology  with the CEO of KPMG noting that 1 in 3 CEO’s see their business being highly disrupted by outside competitors in the next thousand days . Some folks were gloomy wondering if a combination of locked in network effects ( Google, Tencent, Facebook, Amazon) and AI/Robotics/Chips would lead to even further radical inequality and mass unemployment.  But overall mood was that we were about to have some of the most amazing technological advances if applied correctly could transform society and create 100 trillion dollars of new economic benefit within a few years!  And most consumers see huge benefits to a digital society.  These benefits would not just be in more wages and better lifestyles but better health, more immersive and empathetic story telling, wider distribution of culture and much more. The question is how will business, government, society leaders understand and adapt technology to its goals. Technology is not bad or good but it can be used for good or bad goals.

Tectonic Trio Transformations creating a Crisis of Leadership

We are living in a transformational era driven by the Tectonic Trio of globalization, demographic and technological shifts which is changing society with great force ( masses of people undergoing accelerated change). The potential for great positive change will depend on all of us learning to lead our organizations, our communities and ourselves.

The future is uncertain and uncertainty is crippling leadership. Truth is the future has always been uncertain but right now the pace of change is making one question ones very model and self confidence. The challenge is relevance and whether todays ways of working are relevant in the future.

As Marc Benioff the CEO of Salesforce yelled ” we do not have a technological crisis we have a leadership crisis”

Thus the real key theme from Davos: Leadership in a Transformational Era.

Seven Ways to become a Transformational Leader

Across the conference I kept my eyes and ears wide open for how the best leaders or thinkers had learnt or were doing to ensure an optimistic outcome from this transformative age. I went to cultural panels, health panels, business forecast panels, panels on the future of religion and to ones with government leaders convening and between meetings read the WEF blogs and reports published at the forum. Here are some key learnings

1.Be hopeful/optimistic: In reality, globally the world is much better today than 20 years ago. Over a billion people have come out of poverty around the world. Radical breakthroughs have given people “god like power” of mobile phones and search engines. We have voices and connections due to social networks and more advanced and better health care. While racism, wars, inequality, slave like work conditions remain widespread there has been considerable progress made. As someone said ” I am not afraid of the world but I am afraid of the news”. More people have more access to services and each other than ever before and increased empowerment and connectivity has always led to significant gains in societal and business wealth.

The World Economic Forum completed a land mark global survey on Digital Media and Society and its Implications in a Hyper Connected Age  which indicates that significant majorities feel more empowered, more connected, more productive and have more access to learning. The only significant but a huge concern regards control of privacy and identity in a big data age. Should we own, monetize and control our own data? This is an issue we will be soon discussing but even data well used is hugely enabling.

People do not follow pessimists or stay in companies with tyrannical, scared, inward looking leaders. Hope matters, and realistic pragmatic future based growth plans make people hopeful. Technology is going to allow for major new ways to innovate, service and benefit people across every industry. A hundred trillion dollar opportunity said some at Davos.

2 .Think Longer Term: Some of the biggest challenges we face is because leaders are focussing on the urgent versus the important. Growth which is a challenge requires investment and innovation which takes time. Culture, talent growth, impact of acquistions and change management does not happen overnight with edicts and vision statements but is an iterative process of years. True leaders do not do only what the numbers tell them to do but think higher and feel deeper. If you manage by the numbers one of the new AI robots is poised to replace you since they can compute faster than you can. Mark Benioff wondered whether Governments should not have a Minister or Ministry  for the Future so they could prepare their societies for tomorrow and not just today. Many company leaders are so busy putting out Client and Market crises that the future melts away in the heat of the present…

Technology and Transformation are long term sustained investments and initiatives and press releases on partnerships and deals or hiring a digital officer or two is worth a hill of beans. The key is how to remain relevant, lead the change and transform.

3. Manage & Constantly Communicate with Multiple Stakeholders: We are living in an interconnected and networked world and leadership will be balancing between multiple constituencies. In business, a new word of quadruple bottom line which measures not just how a company is doing for it stock holders but also the environment, its community and its employees. Often these run at cross purposes but simplistic thinking of maximizing shareholder returns for business despite short term pressure of financial markets is an era that is passing. A key is to identify key stakeholders, communicate with them on setting goals and then measure and adapt based on performance. Constant communication is a key otherwise others hijack the narrative.

4. Build a Collaborative and Creative Mindset:  The lines between industries is being dissolved due to the acidity of digital technology which does not recognize analog or industry borders. Consumers expect quick access with minimal friction. Clients expect seamless and fast deliveries and punish balkanized firms whose inner dysfunctions lead to heat but little light. Superior performance at competitive prices on unrealistic timelines is now the digital reality and only highly networked and collaborative leaders and companies will thrive.

This often requires creative new ideas, new ways of telling stories, new ways of developing and delivering products and services. Creativity and Innovation become critical.

5. Question your organization design and skills: The future does not fit in the containers of the past and most current successful organizations have been optimized for yesterday. If you were to launch a competitor to yourself today what would it look like. It is unlikely to look the way your firm or school or business does. Re-inventing their structures and investing in talent and skills.

6. Earn Trust through Purpose, Authenticity and Empathy: Key themes again and again were the best firms, the best governments, the best leaders spoke to and delivered to a higher purpose, were authentic in their behaviors and listened, felt and understood others in an empathetic way . Millennials in particular are looking for purpose driven companies. They compare notes constantly and inauthenticity is a huge fail.  They want their point of view and their hopes and dreams to be understood. This is not just true for millennials but for all people. One of the most admired recent leaders is Pope Francis who embodies Purpose, Authenticity and Trust. The key is to be genuine. People ask is my leader, is my company the real thing?

7. Grow yourself: A key struggle among all constituencies was remaining relevant in changing times. The challenge was often personal. Could they learn new skills or appreciate new models. Could they re-invent themselves? Some of the ways leaders were growing themselves that seemed to work were

a) Going on learning tours: These tended to not just be to Silicon Valley but could be to consumers, new competitors or other travels that would create a sense of disorientation and therefore questioning of the status quo.

b) Finding reverse mentors: Get younger folks to mentor them on different topics, create junior boards that presented to the real boards and go to lunch/drinks with folks many levels outside of the corporate headquarters confines to get the real scoop.

c) Learning to communicate better particular using newer platforms: In an always on world blogs, social media, online video channels,  and “all hands” meetings are the new way forward rather than long memos, press releases and corporate message massaging. The problem with these new forms is one has to do it oneself or be deeply involved  and not have some one do it for you ( authenticity matters) and there is always talk back (not always nicely and respectfully). But in a battlefield of narratives the leaderships voice cannot be intermittent or delivered by carrier pigeon.

d) Stepping outside themselves: Oddly ,the busier and more harried the best leaders should be what was clear is that they did more than work. Two common additional goals were giving back via charities or causes or education and the other was a deep involvement in some form or art, literature or culture. This stepping outside seems to have made them more authentic, purposeful and empathetic but also synch to a more longer and harmonic time spans.

So if we are to truly leverage the data driven, silicon based, digital possibilities it is us emotionally complex, carbon based, analog lifeforms who will have to make it happen.

A harmony. An alchemy of technology and creativity. Of silicon and of carbon.

Davos as usual was incredible and illuminating and is a place for dialog and interacting which both makes one feel smaller and leave bigger.

You can experience it increasingly virtually here


Change Management. Six Lessons.


Originally published on LinkedIn…

1. Change Sucks: To anybody who says change is good there is only one human answer. “Things are fine thank you and if you want to change go ahead my friend!”

Lets get real and recognize that change is venturing into the unknown. Change is going up a learning curve. Change is difficult. Change is not good but rather it is necessary. The more you want things to stay the same you have to change.

2. The future does not fit in the containers of the past: Most organizations have been structured to optimize the past. They have developed processes and measurement that ensure that yesterday is brought to a fine shine while tomorrow slips away. The importance of re-thinking organizational structure is key. Is your company one that can respond or is it only an instigator and distributor? Is your firm agile enough to partially or wholly re-invent it self or is it a Groundhog day solution repeating a worn out mantra in a new day?

3. The world may be digital but people are analog: Every theory is easy but people get in the way. We seem to forget that while computers are silicon based digital computing things, humans are carbon based analog feeling things. To change they need not just facts but meaning, stories, emotions and inspiration. True change leadership incorporates, understands and leverages the human reality.

4. If you want to see changed behavior, change the incentives: The biggest learning from the book by Steven Levitt called Freakonomics was that the best way to predict behavior was to understand incentives. So many leaders wax poetic about change but do not change the incentives. People will do what they are rewarded for and if you want tomorrow but incentivize or measure yesterday your organization will be humming a Carpenter tune…”yesterday once more” again and again.

5. The only way a company changes is by changing peoples mindsets or changing the people…. and companies find it is easier to change the people: While strategy, acquisitions and investment in new technologies and innovations that can create competitive advantages are critical, the rubber hits the road with the quality and mindset of the talent. Successful organizations find a way to upgrade, attract, retain and inspire people to change. Unfortunately, many people do not change and sooner or later the business realities overcome them and they find themselves out of a job. Do not resist the force of change. Align with it.

6. Success requires perpetual re-invention and forgetting some of yesterday guidelines. Today the successful individuals are in perpetual beta. It is imperative to learn new skills and question silly thinking. For instance if scale mattered how did a 40 person Instagram have a higher valuation than Kodak? Is it speed or the lack of speed that kills? In an age of access does ownership really matter? And surely when you barely have time to have relationships with your loved one do you want to have a relationship with a brand like say “Tylenol” or do you want to just have your headache go away?

Ten Career Lessons


Often when asked for career advice from students coming out of school or individuals early in their own careers here is what I share.

A. The First Decade

1. Find the least sucky job you can: Early on in your career your initial assignments being those of the starter variety will be filled with a certain rote drudgery as you being the lowest of the low will be delegated work that no one wants to do themselves.

Do not delude yourself that in your early years that you are going to find “your purpose”, “your passion” or “your identity”. Nope. You have found yourself a job in a competitive landscape and you will be learning valuable lessons on showing up even if you do not feel like coming to work to do stuff “beneath you” , how to deal with a spectrum of characters and personalities, how to present and write, and what it feels like to being bossed around.

These elementary skills will turn out to be essential in that communication skills, empathy and discipline will carry you far and be your friends forever even if you constantly change industries or the world changes around you.

Unreal expectations must be controlled in the early years or you will be seen as a sniffling blow hard in need of attitude adjustment.

2. The Trend is your Friend: If you are fortunate to be able to pick between jobs or find demand for your skills that allow you to choose between opportunities in a company do not select the higher paying one but the one that is aligned with the future. Shakespeare wrote “we must take the current when it serves. Or lose our ventures” which in modern vernacular is “go with the flow my friend”. A majority of career success is to be aligned with trends and industries that are rising and even mediocre players can succeed in an unstoppable tide. Aligning with a trend and particularly aligning early is critical because not only will the force be with you but your skills will be in demand as the area grows and if you have joined early you will be experienced and become well known in the field.

3.Plan and make decisions over a long horizon: Most people coming out of school and early in their careers will work for nearly 50 years. With life expectancies nearing the mid eighties, social security being pushed back and health holding out till the seventies it is unlikely that you will be parked on a beach in your mid fifties. Maybe in your mid sixties or later. Thus do not make job or career decisions with three to five month horizons but  three to five year horizons. Try to give each company  or assignment or adventure at least three years and if it is an industry or company at least five. Your decision making will be better, your skills will mature and you will take daily and weekly gyrations in perspective.

4. Even the best jobs are only good seventy percent of the time: If you have a great job you will find yourself wondering three days out ten you what you are doing, why you are doing it and if you are any good. The reasons for this are three fold. First. do recognize that you are being paid for what you do and the more you are paid often the harder the job is and the problems and troubles you must deal with. Often the challenges or the situations or the people you have to deal with require you to steel yourself with a drink or more. Second, if you have a great job it is one that is growing you and sometimes throws you challenges that require you to build new muscles and do new things. Learning is never easy and if you are growing there will be days that the pain will feel more like a signal that you dislike your job rather than you are building new expertise. The best jobs have flow which is a combination of competence and challenge and sometimes the challenge can be quite daunting. Finally, we are all living in a time of great change,  chaos and velocity which is filled with uncertainty . The most relevant and most transformative industries are in the eye of the storm and this can make a day at work feel like a day in the high speed spin cycle of a laundry machine.

5. Compete against yourself rather than with others: The trick is not to try to better than every one else which is neither possible nor attainable for long or with everybody who is doing the grading. Rather it is to be better every day than you were yesterday. Perpetual improvement by learning from those you admire and respect or expertise you appreciate is not only fulfilling but one that you can control free of petty politics or pissing of people that you will need to work with. Oddly it is more competitive than external competition because you can win externally often by bamboozling and sleigh of hand but you cannot really fool yourself. Get better because in it there is reward.

The Middle Years

6. Who you work for is critical so choose your boss well:  Once you get past the first decade of your career and you have learnt essential skills including how to keep learning, built an early reputation and if lucky aligned with a growing trend, the key to success is to find and hold on to the right boss. Over the next decade or two who you work for will be the determining factor in your success more than anything else you do. The middle years are really about being given new opportunities to learn and grow and linking with someone who is both growing themselves and is mentoring your own growth. A successful boss increases their remit and thus makes new opportunities for you, but also ensures that they have your back while being very upfront and straightforward with you face to face. They challenge you but cover for you when necessary. Find one or more of these and hold on tight. It makes all the difference and every successful leader has been fortunate to have someone who mentored, challenged and looked after them.

7. Find Fit: In your middle career you should begin to specialize. You now know what you enjoy and are passionate about. You also know where you have comparative advantage. And you can see where there are growing and declining opportunities. Continuously adapt your job and find ways to start doing more and more things at the intersection of passion, comparative advantage and market demand. Today, more than ever before it is experts who love their jobs that are happiest and successful. Stop thinking that everyone can or should be a CEO. And for a lot of people the CEO job makes zero sense. Stop doing and pursuing things just because other people think they are cool jobs. Stop living in other peoples mind and start living in your  own life. It is only then that autonomy, purpose and mastery come together and you fit your role and your role fits you.

8. Build a  Personal Brand: As you get to the last third of your career it is very crucial to enter it with a stellar reputation. As Jeff Bezos said a brand is what they say about you when you are not in the room. In addition to being generous and working with integrity which are key to being a successful brand it is important to be well positioned niche (what are you world class at or what is your special expertise?), have a distinct and clear voice (who are you and what do you stand for) and have a story (why should people believe you). Here is an exercise on how to build a personal brand

The Later Years

9. Unlearn. Transform. Re-Invent: A quarter of  century or three decades into work still leave a decade or more of career ahead and this is where things can get really dangerous or interesting.

If you have been successful you are  being set up for a fall because without you knowing it the Industry you grew up in is being transformed and there are new technologies and approaches that make what you learned obsolete and just when you think you have arrived you have to unlearn what made you successful.  Now you have to start learning and changing and making mistakes that you long thought you no longer have to do since you are a leader and not a rookie. You are too cool and too senior to actually make a fool of yourself but if you do not want to become as irrelevant as you fear privately  you will have to change.. Now all this talk about “change is good”that you have been stating to your teams has to be applied to yourself and you begin to realize that change actually sucks since you have to learn and trip and re-grow.

The really successful folks in the last third of the career are students and learners again and if they have built a brand and have worked with integrity and helped others along the way, a swarm of people come to help them adjust. They reverse mentor, form a trampoline and ensure that you do not fail since they recall the days you helped them.

10. Build a portfolio career and start giving back aggressively : Anyone successful in addition to working hard and playing the long game has been helped immensely by other people and of course been blessed with luck. They have been given chances and now is the time to give those chances back.

In addition it is time to build a portfolio career that expands from a job to one that includes a job, consulting, advising and giving back. Sooner or later the job will end but meaningful and purposeful work will continue. Successful older people end up being consultants part of the time and serve in advisory roles on boards or as mentors and they start teaching and helping non- profits. The folks who have ended their jobs most gracefully began these alternate streams during their last decade at work by volunteering, by teaching classes by mentoring and advising younger folks. This way they have a new road ahead when their full time job ends and because they do they move on gracefully into a new phase.

Five Lessons From The World Economic Forum Davos 2015


A summary of Davos is really not possible given that there are many simultaneous public sessions as well as private by invitation gatherings spread over four dawn to midnight days. All that one can do is summarize the Davos that an individual experienced somewhat broadened by other participants takeaways.

1. A Point of View Depends On Ones Perspective

 The reality of how different speakers and panelists saw the world was highly dependent on the world they were experiencing.

The Europeans were at the center of the discussion but the most unsure of their institutions and their future given the recent ECB tightening, the surge in the Swiss Franc and weakness in the Euro, real worries about deflation spiraling out of control and doubts on whether they had the leadership who would carry out the fiscal and structural reforms necessary to put their economies back on track and the worry of homegrown terrorism.

Two statistics that were shared from the stage illustrate the challenges facing Europe and the need for significant structural reform 1) the continent has 9 percent of the Worlds’ population, 25 percent of the worlds GDP but 50 percent of its pension liabilities. 2) At todays Euro exchange rate with all the various work and pension rules a European employee costs a multi national firm twice that of an equivalent American worker for the same job.

The Asians were surprisingly quiet. The Prime Minister of China came to assure everyone that while their economy was slowing they were hoping that entrepreneurial innovation and more investment in business versus infrastructure would turn things around. The Chinese were eager to prove to the Western leaders who believe China is hard to do business in as a foreign firm and the growth story for their firms are over that it is not true. Interestingly the Chinese themselves are moving their investments outside the USA with more Chinese direct investment outside of China than foreign direct investment in China. The real star from China was Jack Ma of Alibaba who in addition to his great humility has a focused vision of enabling small business and building a marketplace of 2 billion increasingly global but connected to China and Asia. Many businessmen accompanied the Finance Minister of India and while there i was new found enthusiasm for the country given the new government it was surprisingly not mentioned in many economic conversations. So much so that after one of the panels a prominent Indian businessman went up to the stage at the end of the session on global economics and plaintively said…”You forgot to talk about India”.

If there was a belle of the ball it was the USA. The strength of the economy from growth to strong dollar to innovation was called out again and again. The US felt like it was the new emerging market. The Europeans were particularly concerned about their lost decade on innovative technology noting that they had failed to develop a Google, Facebook, Tencent or Alibaba. The Americans noted how hard it is to start a business in Europe and the work and labor rules.

Latin America was as far as I could tell were somewhat missing in action while the Africans were beginning to emerge. One of the best lines on perspectives was “first we get the news and then much later we get perspective”. An African entrepreneur noted that Africa was not an Ebola infested continent because only 3 of 54 countries had Ebola and one of them had controlled it on its own. Here was a continent with a billion people, 75% under 25 years old, 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and more advanced mobile payments than the west which was painted in a headline. The key challenges in Africa remain the balkanization of the continent into 54 countries where people and goods find it hard to move and lack of skills.

Davos teaches one to be aware that what one sees depends on where one stands and where one comes from.

 2Organizations Are Struggling Between the Past and the Future

Two driving forces of globalization and digitization are challenging every organization whether it is public or private. These institutions were built for a slower moving, top down, western centric, analog reality and now have to deal with a fast moving, multi-polar, start-up and digital mindset. As someone asked would the EU be designed, as it is if it were designed today?

During a conversation between the recent or current heads of Intelligence Agencies (yes MI6 and stuff) they bemoaned how difficult things had become for intelligence services noting that five years ago they did not have to deal with a) extremists from inside their own countries, b) cyber warfare, c) Snowden revelations and d) having to get judges to not agree to wire taps but to unleash algorithms on large swaths of data.

The CEO of Dow and Old Mutual at a Bain Breakfast noted the key reason for their recent success was over the past few years changing their organizations via investment in talent and bringing in new blood and building externally driven, customer focused, team oriented cultures. The CEO of Dow has says it is critical that everyone understand the strategy of his firm and behave in a way called ACT now where the A stands for Aim High, C stands for Customer first and T stands for its Their business (make decisions like its your business). The CEO of Dow had such trouble changing the mindset of his management that he changed his management. Between 2005 and today 195 of the top 200 managers are new! If companies cannot change people’s mindsets they will change the people. Thus key to re-invent and learn and grow and adapt to new circumstances.

The world seems to be moving at two realities. The world of the future and the world of the established organization and government that is built on the learning of the past and generating less and less value today. You could feel the angst about this two-speed world when the author of the Second Machine Age described government and organizational dynamics as a struggle “between those who seek to preserve the past from the future and those who seek to protect the future from the past”.

 3. Trust—if one can build it– will be a new competitive advantage.

 Edelman released their latest Trust Barometer for 2015 which can be found here:

( .

There is a clear breakdown of trust between people and the organizations of every sort whether it is corporations; NGO’s or governments are trusted by less than 50% of the people. The only stars are intelligence agencies that are despite the Snowden revelations seen positively by 70 percent of folks.

One of the industries that surprisingly are losing trust is the technology industry. There seems to be anger, which I picked up in Davos by the non-technology companies against the technology firms which is also picked up in the Edelman survey. In fact the leader of a Silicon Valley company was heard wondering aloud as to why his eco-friendly free busses shipping his employees from SF to Campus.

The issue seems to be we are forgetting that its people we are dealing with. People who resent how fast technology is upending their lives and their jobs. People who see their job replaced by a machine and hear about tech folks talking about seceding from the United States. Edelman noted that Silicon Valley has a growing PR problem.

This needs to be fixed because in many ways technology is truly liberating and providing amazing new opportunities. The digital divide that people worried about is not true and in fact mobile phones, networks and other technology is letting David take on Goliath. It is opening up information and education and health care for billions.

However as the CEO of Manpower noted there is a real and growing mismatch of skills between the skills the skills the future is looking for and the skills that people have today especially in the developed world where what technology is a two edged sword where it brings and takes away relative to the emerging world where it is a catalyst and enabler.

In a connected world where inter operability will be key Trust will be critical. As noted during a breakfast I attended “Who will I trust with my data?” or even “Who will I trust with the keys to the Internet?” Was surprised to hear that before the US allowed ICANN to become a global organization the Chinese had created a new root to the Internet and were threatening to make the world two Internets! When Skype does not connect with Facetime, When Facebook and Google glower at each other. When institutions are old and new are questioned its time to build trust!

 4. Uncertainty has always existed but so many things are now certain.

 Many of the super stars of Finance and Industry noted how none of them predicted that oil would be half the price of six months ago or that deflation would be a huge issue in the Western World or predicted an ISIS or the amazing recent strength of the US.

When businessmen say they do not want to invest because of uncertainty you have to wonder which dream world they are living in. Life by definition is uncertain. Till someone arrives representing future time at Davos we pretty much are guessing and extrapolating trends.

However as I finished five days at Davos these things seemed certain if one takes a longer term (five to ten year view)

a. The world will become more multi-polar versus Western Centric. Today 88 percent of the world’s population is in Africa, Asia and Latin America and with the exception of the US all the top ten growing economies. They are embracing free markets of a sort, enabling technology, empowering women who have been underutilized and embracing science to enhance food, energy and medical requirements. Melinda Gates noted that in the past 25 years half of the worlds population had been lifted from poverty and now in the next 15 years another half will be.

b. The world will grow old outside of Africa and India. In 2014 there were 650 million people over 65. By 2050 that number will be 2 billion. Faster than digital growth is old people growth. Older demographics if extrapolated will see Japan become a third smaller in fifty years and 2/3 smaller by 2150.

c. Organizations, Institutions and Laws will need to be redesigned to a world where individuals walk around with supercomputers in their pockets. This year’s iPhone6 carries 650 times the processing power of a 1995 Pentium. In India the number of smart phones will go up from less than 20 million at the beginning of last year to 250 million at the end of this year. These are not phones but highly connected computing and connected devices that will change society and industry but also government and financial institutions. We are focusing too much on Facebook and Google or Alibaba and not enough on the seismic change billions of connected highly empowered people within the next few years will bring about.

 5. There is so much to learn, to do and to look forward to…

 I will end with half a dozen seemingly random statements or facts that made my list of further study to mine insights. Imagine how many incredible thoughts and facts I missed at Davos since I could only be in one place at a time and probably missed all the most elite closed confabs. Here goes:

 a. Bitcoin and Bitchain are likely to revolutionize money. It is likely to become the currency of the Internet since it addresses the lack of trust in financial institutions, speaks to the need of the unbanked and leverages network technology. It’s in the early innings and too much focus on the roller coasting price. With that being said I would recommend everyone buy a bit coin (its now about 240 dollars as I write this) and begin to understand it. In the US, Coinbase is an ideal wallet. The book to read on this topic is The Age of Cryptocurrency by Vigna and Casey two Wall Street Journal Financial Journalists.

 bThree key words, Awareness, Authority, and Oversight will be needed to regain and build trust. Authority. Oversight. Are people aware of how their data is being used and what the laws are. Is there someone who gives authority to lawmakers or data companies on how data is used and oversight is there a way we can see how are data is being used if by a private company or is there an oversight government authority that watches those who process our data.

 c. Women will be the economic engine of the future: In a panel on “Equality through Parity” it became clear that women not only are the portals through which life arrives but are the portals to economic uplift in the emerging world (and who most foundation like the Gates Foundation focuses) and to superior growth all over the world (including Japan) as they are treated fairly in the workforce. As the Prime Minister of Norway noted we do not need to build an economic case for why Women should be treated equal, its just the right thing to do.

 d. The workplace of today is increasingly obsolete and non-productive: A Bain Study found that technology is making meetings easy to schedule today versus the past and the cc: address line expands unnecessary email to such an extent that the individual at work spends 20 hours in meetings and 10 hours on email and 8 hours doing everything else. In addition junior supervisors generate 1.3 Full Time Equivalents of Work and senior supervisors generate 4.3 Full Time Equivalents of Work. Organizations and work needs to be modernized.

 e. The world is making us more connected and more disconnected: We sit in a room connecting with others outside the room while not talking to those who are across the table. We connect to worlds outside our communities but not to what is going on outside our windows. Maybe a bit of Analog is good since we people are carbon based life forms enabled with silicon objects and not silicon based life forms carrying around carbon based flatulence emitting flesh.

f. The future is arriving faster than we can imagine: The rate of progress and change is heating up. Its just not mobility and computing but robotics and communication and much more. Cars now drive better than humans and will soon drive 10 times better than humans. Nano and bio technology will make science fiction reality and all this will happen in the next decade if not sooner. Hold on tightly to your mobile devices!


Analog Feelings From a Carbon-Based Life Form Amidst a Digital Sea of Silicon Objects

Under a Cloud by Albert Ryder

Yesterday (Tuesday, January 6, 2015) I spent six hours walking the North, South and Central Exhibit halls of the Consumer Electronics Show. While overwhelming, it was also inspiring and thought provoking.

My short summary of the technology is that things are getting larger, thinner, faster, clearer, cheaper and more connected, while everybody is lusting after or leaking into everybody else’s business.

Besides the technology I focused on how I felt on the floor, since in the end the technology should be in the service of people and their hopes and dreams.

My three big takeaways are

1. Optimism: Despite constant concerns about the economy or the state of the world, things are actually getting better. And technology is absolutely magical in making it so. More and more people can afford some of the most mind-blowing technologies that let us discover more, entertain more, express more, learn more, be more productive in finding a job, doing our job, and saving more. For a cost of less than $250 a month, a family can have a 50 inch state-of-the-art television, a tablet, a powerful home computer, a couple of smart phones, a decent internet connection, and access to streaming movies via Netflix and music via Spotify. And the power and connections of Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and much more. Globally, smarter and cheaper phones are providing opportunities for both a better life and people revolution. We all have “God like” power.

2. We must find ways to overcome complexity and offset regret: Many of us remember the days when we would buy computers only to find that the same computer cost half as much a year later. Now that is happening to more and more things we buy. While walking around and thinking whether I should buy a 4 K TV, I came across a Sharp 8K TV! And my thought was: let’s wait! Increasingly, as more things get obsolete faster or cheaper faster, companies may want to think about enabling access rather than ownership. Leases not just for cars but for almost everything.

In addition to regret (did I buy the right thing at the right time at the right price), there are just too many choices. And in this Internet of Things mania the possibilities to confuse will grow. The ability to link things together so they are easy, solve a need and deliver value will be key. Which is why I believe the first platform for scaling the Internet of Things will be automobiles. Automobile companies package bundles and all of the stuff works in tandem. The home is a long way off since there is a riot of offerings that are discrete, unconnected and just goddamn ugly.

3. Connectivity is a double-edged sword: Everything is getting connected, from large objects like televisions and automobiles to smaller objects like pedometers and watches. Humans like interaction, but we will soon reach the stage of more than occasionally wanting to be disconnected. It was only when I left the panels, meetings, and gatherings and put down the phone and just walked around either the show or between the hotels that I could think and actually be me. Otherwise I was finding myself in the flow of the status quo. It is important to recognize that our minds are being both enriched but also colonized by connectivity. If I am constantly connected and interacting with you and your thoughts what will happen to “me”? Man is both a social animal but also a solitary one. Robert Frost noted that ” Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference “.

(Painting is “Under a Cloud” by Albert Ryder from collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City)

Three Takeaways From TED Global 2014


Last week I was fortunate to attend TED Global in Rio De Janeiro Brazil which was titled South! While I have been lucky to attend many of the original TED’s in Long Beach (and now Vancouver), but this was my first time to participate at TED global which this year had 1000 attendees.

A key difference between the two TED’s are threefold. a) The profile of the attendees and speakers, b)the topics being discussed and c) underlying themes with TED Global participants being 1) far more global versus American, 2) the topics being more close to todays reality than tomorrows possibilities and c) the underlying themes being about empowerment of every day people and humanity versus self actualization.

Both TED’s are awesome and if you ever get the chance to go and can afford it I would highly recommend. You can of course experience it at the 10 TEDx events every day all over the world or be among the millions who watch the talks at TED.Com.

Here were my three

1) Mobile combined with cloud computing is the single biggest enabler of all time: We have always been told about mobile in the hands of billions of people will change society but every prediction is probably not revolutionary or optimistic enough since it has not foreseen what these mobile devices can become when combined with cloud computing and data driven algorithms. We saw a combination of incredible low cost medical  solutions from early cancer detection to the potential to  identify ingredients in any food by simply scanning it and much more.

We saw how electricity was being provided and home improvement facilitated by mobile payment systems. How governments were being held to account by the ability to photograph and share their behavior. How culture was being enhanced and captured for posterity by individuals with nothing but a phone on their pocket linking to a cloud and open source movements.

You cannot but be greatly optimistic about what people will do to improve society and humanity at a scale that is unprecedented.

2) Openness  and accessibility will have the greatest impact:  Despite being someone who uses both the Android and iOS operating systems I have been a tilted Apple fan . It is clear I may have underestimated how the open nature of Android which brings with it lots of clunkiness will actually be the operating system for the world ( or something like it since no one can predict what surprises may come) and Apple while being highly profitable and newsworthy will likely be a gated system for people who are rich and fashionable enough to be in a gated community.

Apple may control the fashionistas and the press but Cupertino is going to have to really find ways to be even more open (maybe even licensing out iOS to low cost manufactures) than their recent efforts if they want to be a part of the rest of the world. Amazing that the company that brought  forth the computer for the rest of us and the smart phone that changed the world may find itself as the mobile system for the elite in a world despite their trailblazing.

Why? Because as more and more people all over the world see their phone as the next most critical thing to their family members  the real innovation that is taking place is not “native advertising”, “swiss watch replacements”  and ” wonderful to hold and behold” but how mobile technology can lift millions out of poverty, dictatorship and sickness. Its time for Apple to “Think Different” once more.

All of us who work in organizations and governments will be more “open” in our mindsets on how we partner, how we organize and how we move forward in a world of platforms, blurring lines between countries and skills and much more.

3) Technology itself is not good or bad but it enables people to be leverage goodness or badness: Clearly technology by empowering more people than ever before, I believe will create far more opportunities for a better life for billions in the future.

But there is a dark side including the loss of privacy and inability of the current systems of government to adapt to the increasingly mobile data driven tech world. Glen Greenwald the journalist was one of the few big names known in the West to speak since he lives in Rio. Along with quite a few others he explained how critical privacy is to all of us. Two statements he made stood out. First is that we are only ourselves when we are not being watched and second, even Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg who have questioned the importance of privacy go out of their way (including Mark buying up all his neighbors homes) to remain private.

Also sometimes we mistake the ease of starting a movement with actually achieving its goals (notice how many movements today start with a tweet but end with a thud) and could technology be a pacifier and a distractor that makes us lose the plot as to what is important ?

The future does not fit in the mindsets or containers of the past.

Am optimistic that things will be much better than ever.