Saturday, December 29, 2007

Blog, Vlog, Glog

As I was browsing Techcrunch today, there was an article on a new company called Glogster where you can create a vanity poster on the web without downloading any software.

First, I disagree with Arrington's review of Glogster where he says it's like Geocities in a bad way. I mean, it's true that when we had Geocities, it didn't really create a lot of traffic--it was a bunch of people trying out how to use the internet. But I think it's great because it's a nice place to create mini works of art and who knows? Maybe you can get some mini celebs who are really great artists or just like playing around with design. I suppose we are in an era of super production, where everything is made to increase productivity and efficiency, but I don't think it's such a bad thing to have a goofy creative outlet to test out your ideas and have them hyperlinked.

Glogster is a vanity product. After the world-conscious Millenial Generation, comes the vain "me first" Generation Me. It may just well be a pull market product where the consumers will shape the product capabilities.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blood Diamonds for Christmas Anyone?

I saw Blood Diamonds on my Netflix last night and Leo DiCaprio did a phenomenal job of picking up a South African accent but moreover choosing to do this film is commendable. I'm going to start obsessing over this film with all the inane details since I can watch the short documentaries that came with the DVD.

After seeing this movie, it really hit me that a lot of people could be dying because of greed, craziness, and vanity. I don't think there are many people who could purchase such things with conscious knowledge of the conflicts that occur. Worse, it's hard for us to discern between a conflict diamond and a hard-earned one. It's a classic case of market demand and supply with a good dose of Maslow's hiearchy theory mixed in. I mean, we are talking about basic needs like hunger and survival and higher needs like vanity and peer recognition. It is insane.

Africa is one of the most frustrating continents in the world psychologically, socially and economically. I feel sorry for the children who are kidnapped and taught to kill.

Better buy local techie gifts for the holidays. iPod is good, because who doesn't like music? or better yet, get a Creative Zen or one of those $40 USB mp3 players. Screw status--look what it did to African children.

The Creative Zens are are most likely better priced on peripheral products and they will have FM radio which iPod does not. My 3rd generation Nano has a fragile screen according to CNet and the most annoying thing about it is that mp3 cases are overpriced. 1st and 2nd gen nano cases now cost about 5 dollars. I'm not a big fan of Apple's pricing strategy...not sure about other companies but Apple does not really show love to their biggest fans, the early adopters.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Let's Get Together and It'll Be All Right

Whether born-and-raised or adopted, NorCal-ites have to make social connections with all kinds of people because it’s intrinsic to having a productive life here. We may do our networking in jeans, but it’s business as usual in a geekified, non-conventional way. That's what I love about this place. People here really know their stuff.

I have a couple of friends out on the job hunt and the ones who have trouble are reluctant to tap the hidden job market or unaware that it exists. Mostly recent college graduates (grad and undergrad) the conversation usually goes like this:

Me: "Try joining a club or going to an event."
Objection: “I’m not that kind of person who likes to make small talk”
Me: "Yeah, it can be hard to do."

And I do understand this sentiment it's easy for people to stay in their comfort zones and I'm certainly no expert when it comes to being a socialite. The way I think about it though is that it is no less frightening than the various times I had to start a new school as a "corporate brat" moving from country to country. I'm an extroverted introvert, so my homebody self is not accustomed to crowds. Even so, I’ve earned the reputation of being the crowd cheerleader, because I like to get people together and watch the sparks fly.

The moral of the story is if there are so-called "monsters in the closet", if you go and meet them, they could turn out to be your advocates in life and you’ll root for those who inspire you as well.

Why we are online

Things that could have proliferated the internet in web 2.0 in no particular order:

  • Laptops and increased storage
  • Cheaper DSL lines
  • Better telecomm networks
  • Antisocial teenagers avoiding contact with parents and reaching out to friends through the internet
  • Social networks online starting with Friendster and proliferated by Facebook
  • All the free services that the internet offers to consumers
  • EBay
  • Stanford start-ups
  • Grandfather Semiconductor companies like National, Intel and Agilent--the foundation of Silicon Valley
  • Let's not forget that there used to be a ton of fruit farms and YOU PICK farms that are most likely replaced by business parks now
  • Laziness and procrastination: internet is entertainment
  • Outsourcing
  • Immigration of Indian and then Chinese software developers
  • Search engines like Google, Altavista, Yahoo! among others which made information more accessible
  • HTML: ability to have your own website in web 1.0 and then hating that it takes so long to create a website plus WYSIWYG free services made crappy websites so now log on to Facebook and you don't need to learn or write code

    What else?

  • Wednesday, December 12, 2007


    Well, I'm still trying to figure out this whole blogging thing and it is lacking momentum at the moment. I think people do try to look at my blog from the links posted on my emails but my two challenges are always thinking of good content to write about and then getting viewers or "listeners" to come and comment. Chris Brogan wrote a good article about this which really suggests that the way we read newspapers and stuff is changing. So here's the article on Marketing Profs.

    Social Media Starter Kit: The Tools You Need

    by Chris Brogan
    December 11, 2007

    Work of any kind requires an understanding of the appropriate tools for the job, and social media is no different. You can't pitch hay with a shovel, and you can't dig a ditch with a pitchfork.

    Here are some serving suggestions for a set of social media tools. The actual applications will change, over time, because technology tends to do that. But the basic functions should evolve a little more slowly.


    In social media, as in life, listening is twice as important as speaking. Online, the tool for listening is a news reader. This type of software allows you to understand the conversation going on out there, and the best of them permits you to do a little more understanding of what you're "hearing."
    Article continues below

    I recommend Google Reader. It's easy to use, has ways to roll through information quickly, supports the import and export of OPML (simply, the bundle of all the feeds you've selected to follow), and has some powerful sharing features that make it more compelling to me than other readers.

    What should you listen to? It depends on how you're intending to use the tool; but, if you're part of a company in a certain space, here's a way to think of it:

    * Build an ego search. Use tools like Technorati and Google Blog Search to build a search on your company's name, your products' names, key employees' names, etc.
    * Build the same for your competitors.
    * Find blogs about your specific space or industry and subscribe to a handful of them. (Easier to add tons and subtract a few than think you're getting the best and be missing something better).
    * Find a few tangential categories. If you're in software, subscribe to an art or marketing blog. If you're in marketing and PR, subscribe to an economy blog.
    * Add in a few hobbies. This should help you use this reader more frequently. (Don't overdo it, kids.)

    There are several advanced listening tools that take the data you receive and help you make better sense of it. As of this posting, I'm partial to Radian6 because it's flexible and allows a somewhat deeper dive on the information gathered. There are many tools in the advanced category, but I'll save that for some other time.


    Blogs and podcasts and videoblogs and Twitter and dozens and dozens of other tools exist for speaking. It's almost too much to tell you about all the various platforms, because I could deliver hundreds and hundreds of things for you to check out. Most of you probably already use something that you're comfortable with, and that you prefer.

    Instead, let's just talk about some ways to "improve" the quality of your speaking—that is, some ideas on how your voice can be better heard:

    * Use FeedBurner to improve your RSS feed. No built-in RSS feed has as many features and enhancements as FeedBurner provides. Bring your existing blog feed to FeedBurner, make a new feed there, do all the little tweaks and add-ons that they suggest, and then promote THAT feed as your subscription mechanism to your media, no matter what form your media takes.
    * Use Facebook and MySpace and other social networks to point people towards your primary media. Use these services to tap into audiences that might not find your work otherwise. Seek out like-minded people who are making similar media, and share attention with them (that is, give them attention and offer your media as something they might like, as well).
    * Make sure your email signature and your business card have your URL to your media. This is about reaching the people with your conversation.
    * Make sure your site and all your media points back to you, so folks know who you are, where you are, how to reach you, and what you are all about.


    Social networks abound. By the time this is posted, there will probably be another dozen launched. A week from now, there will be a new 100.

    Here are some thoughts about social networks, how you might use them for your social media experience, and a few that I like.

    * Twitter—Twitter is simple, and yet complex. You get 140 characters to say what you're doing, or, if you use it a little differently, to tell people what has your attention. Twitter is a great place to meet people, to build digital relationships and to add value to conversations. It's my current favorite social network.
    * Facebook—The benefit of Facebook is that it's a place with millions of active users and has had a powerful growth curve in the last several months: In other words, if you don't already have a huge audience, Facebook is a good place to find people who might like what you're doing. It's also gaining ground as a place businesses are investigating.
    * LinkedIn—It's a place for building an equivalent to your resume or CV, and that means it's another place to encourage people to interact with your media. List yourself as the publisher of a blog, or a media maker, as one of your "current jobs." Show people how to find your media there as well.
    * MySpace is appropriate if you have a youth element to your project, if you're in the music or entertaining space, and/or shouldn't be scoffed at, given that the user base of MySpace still far and away dwarfs other services. I have an out-of-date account there, and probably should listen to my own advice and tidy mine up.
    * Ning—Ning is a great white-label social network opportunity, allowing you to create a place for your audience should you already have a decent audience. It's modular, offers RSS for all the various pieces, integrates well with third-party applications, and can be branded nicely with your existing properties. Several large media companies are using Ning.
    * Other social networks. There are many other networks with great pocket communities for various interests. Flickr has built community around photo sharing. Digg has built a strong community around tech news. Seesmic is growing as "Twitter for video." And there are many more.

    Rich Media

    For content creation beyond blogging, I will touch briefly on some applications that I use to create media. There are tons of things that make this tricky to just touch on. PC vs. Mac. Price point. Your ultimate goal. Here's what I'll say is a good starter pack for making audio and video podcasts, for PC and Mac:

    * Audio—in both cases, I recommend Audacity. It's free, open source, and works on several platforms. For Macs, Garageband is good, too. I haven't found the analog on PC. Other solutions without hardware could be Utterz, Talkshoe, and BlogTalkRadio; each has its advantages and opportunities. Back in the day, I recommended Odeo, too. Still a good company, but I haven't touched the product in about a year.
    * Video—I use plain old iMovie, which comes with a Mac. You can use Windows Movie Maker on a PC with similar levels of skill. Beyond that, most folks swear by FinalCut Pro. I recommend FinalCut Express unless you're an amazing filmmaker and really want to make a new classic.
    * Audio hosting—for audio and for free, there are a few choices out there. You can use your blog's storage and bandwidth, and if you're a WordPress user I'd recommend PodPress. Some folks take advantage of Ourmedia's free hosting (but it can be slow). If you want to pay a few bucks, I believe LibSyn is one of the better outfits in town.
    * Video hosting—there are many more choices here, each with advantages and challenges that I won't talk about in this post. You already know about YouTube, but really read the terms of service to understand whether that's a good choice for you. I strongly recommend, and then beyond that there are tons of great services like Vimeo, Viddler, Revver, and tons and tons more.
    * Live video—Another new player in the works is live video. There are opportunities to build interesting and compelling opportunities with live video. Services like Ustream, BlogTV, and Paltalk offer different experiences in this world.

    Beyond these four segments, I have a few more tools I'd like to recommend, in case you're not aware or have other suggestions for me:
    * Firefox is my browser of choice. I like the power that the various add-ons bring to my Web-browsing experience. Other people swear by Flock as the social media browser of choice. You could try both and decide.
    * Miro is a free, open source Internet TV and video player. It's got some really great features and allows you to discover great video content.
    *—social bookmarking has two benefits over using your browser's bookmark system. You can get to it anywhere you have the Internet, and, second, you can discover new things from friends.
    * Meebo—Web-based IM aggregator application, allows you to be logged in to various instant messaging clients. App versions include Adium and Trillian.

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Why Newton isn't always right

    Newton's law states that anything that is put into motion stays in motion (unless something else prevents it from being so).

    I know, marketing is not physics but there is a word we use a lot in viral marketing called "momentum" which is supposed to keep the ball moving, as they say, on a product's development and enhance the buyer's desire to purchase your product over others.

    For B2B marketers, this tends to be quite the challenge because business organizations, more than individuals, tend to prefer the products they already have over new products. It's more complicated for IT managers to implement a new system and train people on how to use it than it is to stick with the status quo.

    We often hear about products catching fire and gaining popularity. Some recent products of note is the iPhone and well, the ever pervasive Facebook where the inherent notion is getting your friends to join. Someone I spoke to today pointed out to me that it is indeed true with B2C products, but B2B has its own challenges.

    I think that this is where PR can play a larger role to create so much credibility and reputation around a product that if your competitors are using the applications, then you better get on the bandwagon.

    More on Enterprise applications and why this is a different market than B2C internet culture: Of COURSE enterprise software should be sexy

    Tuesday, December 4, 2007

    Communication, a Media Invasion

    I was talking with some of my colleagues from the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association (SVAMA) yesterday and we were speculating on social media and how this arena is changing traditional media. Michael was saying that it's actually not true that current media replaces old media--it just gets re-innovated. Radios didn't get replaced by Walkmans, and even though we don't use the old tapes format anymore, we don't listen to music any differently than we did after Walkman. And books haven't gotten replaced by things like the Kindle or Sony e-Reader and so far, it doesn't seem like they will. It's almost impossible to have a true "paperless office" even with cool tools made by Google Apps and Zoho but one thing that remains true is that innovation is constant and changing.

    I'm no expert, but some good conclusions came out of our group conversation, but I keep noticing some of the same themes. The group I was speaking with were fairly knowledagable about social media. But in general, a lot of marketers aren't sure how social media works and there a lot of fear surrounding blogs, social networks and such to use them as a marketing tool. I think we just need to get back to basics and remember some marketing 101: who is your target market and will the tools you want to use serve your business/marketing objectives?

    Of course, it's easier said than done, so feel free to post your thoughts on social media approaches and/or the latest trends in technology innovation that you see.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Time and ROI

    I was in a cafe today, where the people watching was good, and a guy from the East coast was going on about business relationships, how to cultivate them and how it's different on the West Coast. I didn't catch most of what he said, and just tuned in to Pandora radio shortly after, but there was a snippet in his conversation that I could identify: A lot of business can be developed through conversations and building relationships--Californians don't do enough of that here in California because they only care about making a profit.

    I don't know if what he says is true about Californians and relationship building. Maybe we don't want to lose our "coolness factor" by acting too interested but from an economic perspective, it looks business is important here and many people are benefiting from the opportunities made possible through start-ups and more mature companies. If it wasn't important here, then a number of the best 100 businesses to work for wouldn't be here. The question is, is it true what he says about Californians? Do we take the time to cultivate our relationships for mutual business benefit and show good will towards others?

    How much time do you spend in your relationships for mutual benefit and staying dynamic versus trying to solicit immediate profit via hard sales? Is relationship ROI always a measurable number like how many people you are connected to on LinkedIn or is it more actionable where you see a few quality business relationships bring you steady business and more opportunities?

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    First Movers: Strive through the narrow gate

    Early last week, announced the release of the Kindle, the latest device for e-books, thus taking over the market space once occupied by the Sony Reader, which I've seen a couple of times at Borders in Palo Alto.

    It's hard to say just which e-reader is going to win out in the battle, but it's not the first time that Sony has come out with a "first-mover" product to be later taken over by competitors with better resources and positioning.

    Also true for the Blu-ray, which is in fierce battle now with the HD-DVD. The last I heard, Blu-ray was in the lead and then HD-DVD was winning, mostly measured by number of units sold. Does anyone know where this is now? There is a fair amount of noise around this subject.

    I'm definitely not making any eye-opening comments here but I dare say that Sony has had to struggle really hard to keep their brand on the forefront, which confirms that first-mover advantage doesn't always mean that you've won the game.

    Even though Sony revolutionized the music market with the Walkman roughly about 20 years ago Apple came and trumped them with the trendy, life-style icon, the iPod and didn't just stop there.

    It just seems that whenever Sony comes up with something, no matter which market, somebody else always seems to come up with something better.

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Lucky - Albertson's struggle

    Last night, I went to my neighborhood Albertson's grocery store to get myself an after-dinner treat to find that the store was closed, and they were changing the Albertson's banner to Lucky's.

    I know that legal issues are at stake here, and people's pride is also at stake, but it's really annoying to me as a consumer to be in the middle of a legal struggle.

    OK so this is an old issue, but if a company is intelligent, are they going to spend a ton of time and money on licensing issues and spend a lot of money putting up new signs across Northern California just get the "Lucky" brand out there again. I mean, it has been a little less than 10 years since Lucky was originally popular.

    Oh well, it's not me spending the money.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Why Green is More Important

    Green vs. Green. Which is better? Being rich or being environmentally-sound? This is the new dilemma of our century.

    This morning I was listening to NPR and an interesting issue came up: if we keep going at the rate that we are going, heating up the ozone and causing global warming, some frozen areas on the Earth (I forgot what they are called) will melt, thus causing over 50 feet of water to be added to the Earth's surface. This is akin to over-flowing your bath tub with water, but with more serious results. A lot of cities are located near coastlines and our cities could be under water.

    I have a fear of drowning. So to be a little bit naive, I would say I prefer to be alive than to be dead and rich.

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    What's Your Net Impact?

    My 5 every-day environmental guilt trips:

    1. Buying groceries: Plastic bags can add about 13 cents to your bill, and depending on how often you buy groceries, this can add up. Plus, it creates waste & carbon emissions every time you recycle.
    2. Individual-sized anything: Plastic water bottles (the ones that come in a huge carton with about 16 or 20 bottles per pack) or paper coffee cups. Bottom line: bring lunch and your own thermos to your fave cafe.
    3. Transportation: The cost of gas prices + lack of advertising to inform commuters how to take the train!
    4. Garbage: Landfills are basically holes sealed off with something to prevent toxic waste from seeping into our ground water. Every time I take the trash out, I get paranoid that I could be poisoning people by adding to the wreckage.
    5. Unnecessary air conditioning/heating: Carbon emissions & waste of energy. Blankets are cosier for cold days and windows do wonders for creating more air circulation.
    Green News:
    The Economist, June 14th 2007

    A who's who of technology firms launched an industry initiative to reduce computer energy consumption. The campaign, which is being led by Google and Intel, commits makers of PCs and servers to higher efficiency standards.

    Europe pumped out fewer greenhouse gases in 2005, according to new data from the European Environment Agency. Emissions from the European Union's 27 member states dropped by 0.7% compared with a year earlier. Finland, Germany and the Netherlands contributed most to the drop.

    Monday, March 26, 2007

    Social Business Enterprises

    Have you ever thought about starting your own business? What about a business that addresses global social issues that are happening right now in the world?

    Here's something to think about:

    I cannot emphasize enough how little people think about opportunities outside of their own comfort zone. Everyone, including myself, is guilty of pursuing the "American dream" but we do not realize that there are children who are continuously under the threat of terrorism today. The shock is immense and perhaps very easy for us, in the comfort of our own homes and offices to simply forget and move on with our daily lives.

    But what if we moved beyond this comfort level and push ourselves just a little bit to think of solutions? Of course we have our own problems with American soldiers in Iraq, civil problems, national problems and so forth. But if you were to go look on this website, you might find something that will motivate you to act just as much as I was to write this posting.

    In my own childhood, I, like any other child, had the right to curiosity, play and innocence. Truly, I would not want other children to be denied the same right.

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    Creativity & Innovation

    Recently, I took a workshop called "Creativity & Innovation."

    Companies tend to choose people who are similar to them and who think like them. We largely dislike conflict and challenge and think that it is unproductive and slows down the business process.

    In groups where we've challenged and argued with each other, while simultaneously respecting each other's opinions, I gained new colleagues that I could respect and value. And whom respect and value me.

    Creativity is the child's mind, or in Buddha's terms, the "monkey mind." This is the mind that thinks without censorship. Innovation is creativity translated into action.

    I found that this can be a very powerful tool when people are able to combine the "whole company brain." Apple, Inc. is a famous example of this. If Apple hadn't gone beyond computers and hadn't created the iPod today, Apple wouldn't be the status symbol that it is today.

    Google is another example. It revolutionized search. It gave us word document sharing, satellite-style mapping and the ability to apply Google search on our own websites.

    Now, this is the product of putting many "monkey minds" to work.

    Friday, February 2, 2007


    The world of business is not without politics.

    As a young and amateur businessperson, the subject of communicating, politicking and ethics hasn't become intuitive yet. When I say that it hasn't become intuitive, I mean that it is still easy to see the world through rose-colored glasses.

    My definition of "politicking" is this: when people start to do things that others are not aware about and make decisions for their own benefit. So basically, there isn't honesty and there isn't accountability for one's actions.

    In Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep points out to her assistant that she had to step on some people to get to where she was. Is this really the truth about business? Economically, we talk a lot about how we do things to ensure that everyone receives value in what they invest in. Ideally, business should be about fair exchange.

    I do believe that it is possible to do business honestly. The question is when do you know where the line is between honest and dishonest "business-doing"?

    There have been several situations involving Enron, Apple, and other companies where issues that initially seem very small become huge issues of miscommunication, mismanagement or what have you.

    One of the books that I read on communications emphasized that all members of an organization maintain open and honest communication with each other. In one situation, two partners in a business had such bad relations with each other that it was ruining the company. The consultant comes in and improves their business relationship and the company is saved.

    Sounds ideal, right? The truth is that it is not so easy to do, it takes time, and the truth is that miscommunications happen very easily even with all good intentions involved.

    These are just some initial thoughts and my hope is they will become more well-informed thoughts as I start to pay more attention to these sorts of issues.

    Sunday, January 14, 2007

    On Excess, Efficiency & the Environment

    It is true what Starbucks says about itself: it is not about the coffee, it is about the people. While this makes a very good business model, and it creates loyal customers and loyal employees (not to mention that Starbucks doesn't show any signs of stopping expansion), it is also a business that creates a great deal of excess and waste.

    Many companies create products that people buy because they feel it is worth it to them, but the seller usually creates wasteful by-products. Starbucks is a famous example, because of the number of paper cups it hands out every day. According to NPR in 2005, over 150 billion cups are discarded every year.

    The question that I have about Starbucks is why all the paper cups? It takes a lot of energy, limited resources, and money to create a paper cup. When I went to Montreal, Canada, I noticed that coffees are automatically served in glasses and mugs
    first before they are served in a paper cup.

    On a similar note, in regards to plastic, Ireland recently posed a tax of 15 cents per plastic bag in grocery stores. The implication behind this initiative is that people must pay a tangible cost to compensate for highly limited natural resources.

    The bottom line is: Companies, governments and organizations have to change the way they do business. We see that it is possible in other countries, so why not in the US? While many companies claim that they are "socially responsible," it seems that they should not just change the way they produce their products, but they must change the model of the company.

    Of course, organizational behavior theory teaches us that this is not so easy to do, because often times, the secret success of a business is embedded in the company culture that has developed. (Think Toyota and competitors' difficulty in imitating Toyota standards).

    Even so, many Americans live under the illusion of being rich. We are a nation of debt but contrary to economic law, we continue to spend money. We cannot continue to think that our resources are unlimited. A serious cultural change must be made. Companies need to change their approach towards business to consider the limitations of other resources besides money.