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The “Gratitude 365″ Project

January 28th, 2010 by admin 3 comments »

Here’s something that borders on “creative” and spiritual (a good fit for me, given who I am).

During 2010, I’ve undertaken a hybrid between my personal life goals and study in the use of Twitter, twogging and other social media.

Typically at the start of any given year, I take a long stare at my life “mission” statement and basic values – which I’ve honed over many years and adjust slightly as life passes by…and then create goals for the coming year that relate to each area/role in my life:  teacher, catalyst, investor/entrepreneur, father, husband, musician.

Twogging on my Mind

This year, I was reading Twitter Power by Joel Comm  (http://www.twitter.com/joelcomm) and was actively thinking about the many new and innovative uses of Twitter.  Companies using it for tracking customers, individuals using to create their personal brands;  start-ups using it to create a “voice” online.  While I see the merit in all these things, it also seemed to me that Twitter could be an interesting way to personally journal one’s life.  What happens when you flash backward at the end of the year and could visually capture all the items you’ve Tweeted (or as I like to say Twogged – see my previous piece on this) ?

So, I decided not to create goals for each area of my life this year, but to replace this with ONE GOAL for the year – a goal that would help set a perspective for all the TASKS that I do anyhow and put everything in perspective.

Challenging myself to use technology more

Here’s the challenge I’ve given myself:  I call it Gratitude 365 ….each day I’m using technology to remind myself what I’m grateful for in my life.  I’m using ping.fm to broadcast one gratitude per day, and it is sending out to Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn, Ning, WordPress and Twitter.  One thought broadcast to many channels.  And, sometimes it’s a silly personal thing that others may or may not want to hear about. Sometimes I am able to link the gratitude back to this blog or to the area of Innovation, Creativity and Entrerpreneurship.

For example, today’s Gratitude:    #Grateful (28) for highly #innovative branding and healthy food at one of my favorite eating establishments in the Bay Area –> link to this post. This allows me to Twog – blog about something of interest in the creative realm, but tie it to something I”m grateful for in the personal realm.

You can follow along VISUALLY here on my Picasa page.

Or you can go to my Twitter feed to see the Tweets related to gratitude since Jan 1, 2010.

What have I learned so far?

So far, only a month into the process, I am finding several fun things:

1)  I’m finding plenty to be grateful for: I am waking up thinking about things to be grateful for; I am spending time in meetings looking around and noticing others around me that I feel grateful for; I am arriving home at night and noticing things I’m grateful for; and I realized that each birthday of a valued friend, relative and companion in life is a chance to acknowledge my gratitude.

2) My lens has changed: overally, it seems like my life “lens” has shifted to looking at things that matter more in my life.  It’s easier to remind myself when I’m focused on something “worrisome” rather than positive and also easier to see the good in other people.

3) I‘m focusing less on complaining :about things I’m IN-grateful for, and spending more time focused on the positives. This is making me a bit more pleasant for those around me.

4) I’m marking my gratitudes with hash # marks in Twitter, so am making friends with others that care about life gratitude and have received lots of great compliments from friends/family who are following along.

At the end of the year, I think it will be great to see the entire year captured in a Slide Show on Picasa – so I can look back and see what I’ve been grateful for and keep my eye on the ball. I’m also considering using FastPencil to create a image/photo book when I’m done with this.

After all, we only live once and it might as well be enjoyable.  This is a good way for me to thank God for all that I have and at the same time to learn about the latest innovations in online social media.

Wish me luck – this could be a lo-o-o-o-ng, but grateful year !

Innovation and Creativity at the University

January 7th, 2010 by admin 6 comments »

In 2009, I was given the opportunity to create and teach a new course at UC Berkeley’s “Management of Technology” group, serving both master-degree candidates in Engineering as well as MBAs at the Haas School.  All in all we had 46 students in the class. The class is called ICE –“Innovation, Creativity & The Entrepreneur.”

I am personally very grateful for the opportunity to teach this particular course.  First of all, I am interested at this point in giving something back to others – and this class represented the ULTIMATE way to give something back to the younger generation – this is the future generation of innovative leaders.  And, Creativity is a life-long passion of mine.  Lastly, the results of the class were extremely rewarding (read on, below).

Why a Class on Creativity/Innovation AND Entrepreneurship?

While colleges & corporations all over the world are stressing Innovation, and even Berkeley itself has several leaders in the field of innovation, such as Professor Sara Beckman and Professor Henry Chesbrough, I researched ENTREPRENEURIAL Innovation in 2008.  We do have a very excellent Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation here at the Haas School – the emphasis is on hands-on student learning for future entrepreneurs.  I teach New Venture Finance each spring from within this Center.  Several classes within Lester Center integrate ideas on creativity and innovation into their curriculum.

Outside of Berkeley, I could find very little in this area – few cases,  very few articles, few courses taught on the subject (Harvard Business School had a course of this nature in the late 1980’s, taught by professor, John Kao), and the last book I could find on the topic of Innovation and Entrepreneurship was a book by that very name by Peter Drucker in 1985. (If I’ve missed something in my research, my apologies – I’d LOVE to learn about it).

Plenty out there on Innovation and Corporations, but little on entrepreneurship…maybe entrepreneurs are EXPECTED to be innovative…but of course they are not  necessarily, in reality.

Topics on Creativity

The class basically covered these topics on Creativity & Innovation:

  • Definitions of Creativity & Innovation in the working world
  • Company Environment – how physical space, values, beliefs & culture affect innovation
  • Leadership – how to enhance or kill Creativity in the entrepreneurial environment (see my previous post on this topic)
  • Measuring Group and Individual Creativity
  • The Creative Problem Solving Process
  • Management of Global Creativity
  • Creativity in Design
  • Innovations in Product Development
  • Innovations in Marketing (see my previous posts on this topic)
  • HR , Company Culture and Innovation (see my previous posts on this topic)
  • How business models affect innovation

Speakers really enhanced the class !

At UC Berkeley, we are very fortunate to be closeto  the Silicon Valley (and I’m fortunate to know a lot of people!)  During the 15 week class we had a variety of excellent speakers parade through the halls of the Haas School on their way to our classroom.  I am highly indebted and grateful to the following seasoned professionals for their time and great presentations:

New cases developed for this class

As luck would have it, I had superb support from Anne Marxer who is a MBA candidate at Haas and did a great job as my Teaching Assistant.  We also were very fortunate to get 4 special case studies done – Case studies were also superbly written by Jenny Herbert Creek (on Netflix’s Cultural innovations) and Rekha Ravindra (on Reply’s business model innovations) – thanks ladies!

Professor Linda Hill, a long-time mentor and well-know professor/administrator at Harvard Business School, co-collaborated with me on a case on Digital Chocolate, which was nicely written by HBS West Executive Director Alison Wagonfeld.  The case is available world-wide now through the HBS Publishing – see: http://hbr.org/product/digital-chocolate/an/410049-PDF-ENG?N=4294958507%2520516161

Getting Innovative

Of course, no classroom on innovation or creativity would make sense unless we tried to be a little innovative ourselves. I surprised myself by managing to come up with at least 4 innovation in this classroom, that the students seem to enjoy.  Some of the  approaches were bit out of the ordinary and took advantage of existing technologies:

  • Classroom Innovation #1: the Virtual case – With expert videographer and Cal grad Suzanne Lamar, I created four unique cases and tested them out on the class – each case was filmed at the company and then presented on the web in snippets (each no more than 2 minutes long, a total of 6-8 per company).  Students were asked to write down answers to questions on each clip, in addition to reading a short case study on the company.  The result: students seem to retain more of the learning, and internalized the material, plus had more fun.  For great examples of this, see:  http://www.haykin.net/learning/index.html
  • Classroom Innovation #2: unique use of Wiki – I asked all 50 students in the class to each come up with 2 examples of Marketing Innovation (from anywhere in world) off the ‘Net and enter their findings in a wiki which was organized by marketing topic. The result was so rich and useful for a 2 hour class – but in reality we created enough material for the basis of an ENTIRE COURSE on Marketing Innovation.  During my lecture, I shared a framework on marketing with the class, then stitched together examples they had all posted – in real time and using video, audio, etc.  We had an amazing time.
  • Classroom Innovation #3: unique use of Online forums - we used this as a classroom tool to allow better participation by students.  Some students were shy by nature and said less in class.  I created a discussion forum online that only the class could see and comment on.  Those students who were quiet in class had a chance to “speak up” and many of them left comments all semester long.  Plus the students interacted (debated, complimented, compared) with each other in these forums.  The forums also provided great feedback for me from the students on class tools, speakers, etc.
  • Classroom Innovation #4:  the Personal Innovation Plan – one final brainchild I had for this class was called the “PIP” (personal innovation plan). During the 15 weeks of class, I asked each student to keep a Personal Journal of what they were learning, their thoughts and ideas.  Then,  I asked each student to  come up with a full person plan of how they would put the class into action in their own lives – using what they had learned all semester.   About half the class presented their PIPs to me, and the other half delivered physical PIPs.

Here are some examples of the amazing plans that the students presented, some of them were WORKS OF ART:

  • A colorful desk calendar that provides photos, quotes, memorable learnings from class for each month of 2010
  • A live multi-media website the integrates all the course material, assignments, personal journals
  • A desktop full-scale model of House in the movie “Up!” from  Pixar containing a hidden journal and go-forward plan
  • A magazine interview revealing personal findings and learnings
  • An amazing short story about a Bunny (who was in fact the student in disguise)
  • Interpretation of a few weeks of dreams and how they fit into the creative process
  • A Powerpoint slide show of images/photos along with orginal music
  • A comic-strip representing all that was learned in class
  • Original Music demonstrating several aspects of the class

Through this approach, and innovations during the semester, I felt that I got the privilege of getting to know the 46 students in my class more intimately than most other professors at US institutions.

If you have any questions about this class, I’d love to hear from you at Haykin@haas.berkeley.edu, or leave your comment at bottom of this blog!

Hey, what’s the Big Idea?

January 5th, 2010 by admin 3 comments »

How many times have you read a good book and thought to yourself “That’s a good idea, I should apply that to my own life“….but invariably you did NOT apply it to your life because you had no specific way to do so, or you forgot, or you were just too lazy to do so?

Big Ideas in Short Bites

Brian Johnson probably had these thoughts too, but he decided to do something about it…so he’s spent the past 18 months (much of it in Bali – SWEET!) reading his selection of the Top 101 books of all time in philosophy, self-help, business/leadership, and spirituality…and created short compendium notes (think: “cliff notes with actionable items”) of the best-loved books of all time.

Want to apply principles of Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Mihaly Csikszentmihayi or Don Miguel Ruiz to your life? Then go get the overviews at PhilosophersNotes , sign up — and gobble up great learnings in short bites.  Brian’s made if available in written, audio and (sometimes) video versions. He’s entertaining and genuinely a nice guy :)

How Creative is this really?

For those of us who suffer from CNG (a.k.a. “Cliff Notes Guilt” as in: “I really should have read the whole book for class but I used cliff notes to get me over hump”), the question you are probably asking is “So… where is the creativity or innovation here”?

I think Brian is onto something very creative – see  this video on his latest project called “LIFE 101″

He has begun to map out the storyboard for a future book/series that will mesh together the great ideas contained in the first 101 books he’s read and reviewed.  This seems to be a creative idea that perhaps others have thought of, but has any one single (other than a book reviewer) actually chosen, read, digested, analyzed, and re-formulated the top 101 philosophy books? That seems useful to me.

See Brian’s blog for more on this…

From “Creativity to Innovation”

If Brian is able to create a Mash-up of the top 101 books, what is the result? Is it possible he will create new connections and intersections (see my past post on Intersectional Creativity and Mashups) that others have not seen before.  Yes, probable. The exciting thing is that by having created a forum in Philosophers Notes where others can view and take action on these books, I think he’s actually using today’s technology in a very innovative way – to turn Ideas and Creativity into actionable results.

Looking forward to Master Brian’s results in the coming year!

Do youTwog?

December 28th, 2009 by admin No comments »

As an LMG (Lifetime Marketing Guy), it’s hard to ignore social media these days.  Many years ago, many of my peers started using LinkedIn; next  we succombed to Facebook – today, most professionals I deal with (in the Silicon Valley) are on both these networks, and several specialized ones as well (such as Gaia if into spirituality, MySpace if into music, Tripit if into travel, etc).

Social Media Evolution

Among my more adventurous venture capital, entrepreneurial and professorial friends, the next step was tackling Blogging.  Several of my friends became pioneers in this area (although for some of them, this has gone from “wired” to “tired”).  In Evolution Of Man2009, the latest hot thing has been Twitter.  Monitoring and interacting on Facebook, LinkedIn or one’s blog are no longer enough for keeping up with the steady pulse of the ‘Net.  The problem is that these are essentially Asynchoronous (I can check every so often, but not all the time). The Real-time ‘Net – which twists and turns every hour of the day. Thus in 2008-2009 Twitter has become the “next big thing”.  This is active and requires a whole new way of thinking.

Passive Participation Will Not build My Brand

As a marketer today, you might study the 100 million blogs already out there, the vice-grip that Google has on most of the Internet and conclude that it has become much tougher these days to become noticed and gain momentum in social media.  Assuming I am  not already a rock star, famous author, or Tony Robbins in the “real world”, I basically have to work hard to get noticed on the ‘Net today. And, I have to build this notoriety one Tweet or one Blog entry at a time.  It isn’t enough to Blog anymore, nor is it enough to jump into the river of Tweets.  Passive participation in all of this will not do much to build my pesonal brand on the ‘Net.   It’s now necessary to “Twog”.

I Twog, Therefore I Am

What is Twogging?  According to previous definitions, it used to mean “the World of God” or “the world of Golf”.  Twogging is my name for a combination of blogging and twittering. A creative intersection, or mash-up (see my previous blog post on Intersectional Creativity), if you will.

Actually, Twogging is much more. With current technologies, one can not only blog (asynchronously) but one might also Twitter (real-time). And, if one is tweeting, then one might as well also pull in feeds from LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook – and publish tweets out to all these popular sites simultaneously. Thus, write one thing, and you essentially go out over 5 or more channels of communication to your audience.  Twogging.

The Art of the Twog

I suspect that marketeers in the coming year are going to get very good at Twogging.  They will find ways of using incentives, posting questions, auto-answering real-time requests, and other means for engaging the audience … all in a CLOSED LOOP system that allows them to pull customers/followers from Twitter and send them to a blog, pull blog readers and send them to Twitter, pull LinkedIn/Facebook contacts and send them to either.

Managing all this has been an artform professed by “marketing consultants” who understand the power of “integrated marketing”…but  I suspect we’ll see a lot more social media management sites and software available in the coming years…dashboards that allow one to Orchestrate all this.  Some of the leaders in this area today are:

- TweetDeck – originally developed as a desktop client platform for managing tweets, I think this company will find it is inappropriately branded as it moves forward -  it allows one to manage feeds/comments from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook simultaneously and will likely grow into a Dashboard of sorts for both real-time and asynchronous communications

- Twhirl – another desktop client that runs off Adobe Aire – and integrates FriendFeed, Twitter and likely more in the future.

- Squidoo, About.com – although these companies has been around for several years, they could be well-positioned for Twogging if they realized that they could enable their users to live in both an ansynchronous and real-time world. At present, neither of these sites capture the components of real-time updates, micro-blogging or tweets.

Finally, the Big Boys (Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn) have an opportunity to become the dashboard of choice if they adopt and “open standards” approach to things and allow users on their systems to create the “My Yahoo” of the social media world.  Google’s purchase of Blogger in 2003, its success with iGoogle (as a home/starting page for so many ‘Net users), its promotion of the OpenSocial API standards and its 2009 launch of FriendConnect, all place it as the center of Twogging.

DoYouTwog3 copy

I myself am Twogging as I post this…both building a following on Twitter, updating my friends on Facebook and LinkedIn AND continuing to place useful posts on my blog site that will continue to build my persona on the ‘Net…

Technorati ID:  HRWX3KB46RVV

“Intersectional” creativity & Mash-ups

December 22nd, 2009 by admin 7 comments »

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun… Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-14)

One of my students at UC Berkeley (thanks, Vikram!) pointed out in his Final paper (“personal innovation plan”) the similarities between mashups and “intersectional” creativity.

What is Truly Intersectional?

“Intersectional” creativity is that which occurs at the intersection of several cultures, realms, or even business departments. Frans Johansson, in his book The Medici Effect, presents some strong arguments as to how many great “inventions” and new ideas of our generation come out of this confluence/intersection/convergence/collision of pre-existing ideas.   This, as opposed to a “directional” innovation that is born out of evolution.

Some examples of intersectional creativity:

The intersection between 2 cultures: Trip Hawkin’s (founder of EA) company Digital Chocolate combines a team in Scandinavia (Finland to be exact) with a team in India, a team in Spain, team in Mexico and a team in San Mateo, CA, to create award-winning social games.

The intersection between Realms of knowledge: an Architect in Zimbabwe,  borrowed ideas from desert-living termites (who keep their hills at constant temperature throughout the day, despite several changes in the weather) to design and build a cost-effective, energy-efficient apartment building that stays cool without the use of air conditioning (source: The Medici Effect)

- The intersection between company departments: Pixar is well known for what CEO Ed Catmut describes as the “Collaboration Culture” (see my previous blog on Pixar).  Departments in creative, technology and business fields must work closely together to ensure success of the company’s films.  The result: 10 out of 10 major films of this company have been huge hits by industry standards – no other company in the entertainment industry has this record.

Of Mashups and Men

We’ve seen a crop of new Mashups over the past  few years based on Web 2.0 technologies – some (not all) of which I would term “creative.” For practical purposes, I refer to a Mashup as an application that integrates the best of one or more web services/applications to form something new (and hopefully useful).

One might argue that  the biggest example is Twitter.  The Twitter team came from a history of web 2.0 mash-ups, namely Odeo.  Odeo was originally a pod-casting company, but like most p-casting companies, it fell to the way-side because the usefulness of p-casting requires ubiquitous hardware and a change in basic consumer behavior.  However, the Twitter team discovered that internal mashup between instant messaging technologies and short blogs (or status updates like Facebook) could provide a real-time link between team members. This “intersectional” discovery came from the need for internal members of the Odeo team to communicate with one another. It then became clear that it might be productized.

Google Maps & Earth are another great examples of  mashups.  Google was already mashing geographical data (satellite and terrain) with street/address coordinates  before the company acquired KeyHole Software.   Now Google is adding StreetViews to maps and geo data for even more detail.  And, Google Earth takes its original mash-up between available satellite data from around the world and geographical interface to a new level by allowing 3rd parties to add models of specific buildings and entire cities around the globe.  Other companies are racing to be the first to map INTERIORS of each building (mashup of architectural data and building coordinates).

Thousands of Mashup examples

And of course, there are thousands of other mashups developed by small and large developers that have not yet gained the visibility of Twitter or Google Earth.  Here are a few examples:

  • musical mashups in which video and audio from various sources is mashed together, like the mixes from MashupTown
  • video mashups combining sound, video and images from various sources, like this quite popular one of George Bush and Tony Blair
  • e-commerce mashups such as
  • location-based services, that use GPS or mapping information to identify or meeting up with near-by friends, such as Loopt
  • “augmented reality” mashups that overlay real-life data on top of virtual visual data, such as the newest application from Yelp that overlays its data on top of Google Maps/Earth data

An interesting, but not complete, directory of web 2.0 mashups is found at WebMashup.com and many application-oriented mashups at The Programmableweb.com