Sunday, June 06, 2010

How to create intelligent measurements for the emerging face of marketing

Christine Morrison on Social Marketing at Turbotax « Dachis Group Collaboratory.

I like the "love revenue" part. Good motivation for you to figure out how to categorize the value and impact of social marketing in your firm.

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Andrea Miller: How to Date an Indian (Advice for the Non-Indian)

Which leads to point number two. Indian people tend to be really good looking.

I hope my wife agrees with Andrea Miller ;-). In either case, this article will put a smile on your face.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beyond the obvious : what else can we learn from Apple about good product management

Don’t get me wrong: If Apple’s products were not shining examples of hardware and software design, no amount of marketing, education and evangelism would help sell them. But the reverse is also true. The greatest products in the world don’t get anywhere without telling a good story. The ability for Apple to tell that story and then allow consumers to get hands-on experience with products has become a powerful combination that’s allowed Apple to succeed where others have failed miserably.

I am a big fan of being able to tell a story that connects your customers with the wonders of the product you have built. I firmly believe that this does not have to be restricted to retail or consumer software, it is sorely needed in enterprise software :). If you can do something about this, START NOW! the business world will thank you.

On a side note, Altimeter Group is a rocking collection of post 2.0 analysts such as Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang. Check them out.

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True delight - when folks do things with your product you did not even dream of

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Exclusive: Seagate confirms 3TB drive |

After a few weeks of rumours, Seagate’s senior product manager Barbara Craig has confirmed to Thinq that “we are announcing a 3TB drive later this year,” but the move to 3TB of storage space apparently involves a lot more work than simply upping the areal density.

That is pretty wicked. Think about it, a 3TB drive is ~385 DVD length movies in your hard drive. That is a LOT of hard drive.

How will this change our current reality, our current constraints? If you can contain the entire contents of a couple academic research libraries on your hard drive what does that change? What can you now do that you could not do earlier? What "law of physics" can you now change?

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Autonomy | Purpose | Mastery ---- How to Motivate People: Skip the Bonus and Give Them a Real Project | Fast Company

Just watch the freaking thing!! it is awesome :-)

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Demographic trends in the US: Women marrying men with less education, income -

If dating is a numbers game, then single ladies should consider this: A Pew Research Center report this year noted a surge in women between the ages of 30 and 44 making more money than their husbands. Women made more money than men in 22 percent of married couples surveyed in 2007, compared with 4 percent in 1970. While men make more money overall and hold more management positions, women are making greater gains

"The supply of men has changed," said D'Vera Cohn, senior writer at the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends project. "The pool of college educated men isn't growing as rapidly as it is for women."

There is also a gender shift in the realm of education. Women represent nearly 60 percent of students holding advanced degrees in areas such as medicine, law, business and graduate programs, the U.S. Census reported in April.

CNN has an article on marital preferences. Honestly, not very useful to me. All the women cited in this article are in their mid to late thirties or forties, make of that what you will.

What is more intriguing to me is the stat that says 60% of students holding advanced degrees are women. It would be valuable to trend this over time to ensure this is a moving trend that is not cyclical or serendipitous but indeed consistent. I am curious about what are the men doing instead? Assuming the division has moved from 50-50 to 60-40. What are the 10% of the men who used to pursue advanced degrees doing instead?

My specific interest is in seeing if there is a rise in entrepreneurship that correlates with this decline in advanced degrees? Gary Hoover ( has been expounding on the value of understanding demographic trends in uncovering opportunities for a while now.

What trends are you noticing?

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Are you ready to face the financial world?

If you earn money and have savings you have to deal with the financial world, you don't have a choice. I know it sounds unfair but that is truth, with that reality let us examine the big picture.

We are innovating in finance faster than in any other field of science. It is not clear yet if we can sustain the pace of innovation without taking massive risks or causing heart attacks to the market. Neither is there a definitive answer to "is this level of financial innovation driven leveraging good for the world as a whole or is it just extremely lucrative for the traders who take risks with other people's money?". You can always come up with a "jaw dropping CAGR" or a "makes me wanna throw up CAGR" depending on the time period you pick.

Unfortunately saying "I am going to take my ball and go home" is no longer an option :-(. You can put your money under your bed and sooner or later inflation will wipe you out. You can put your money in safe investments such as pension funds or index averaged mutual funds but you have no way of knowing how much risk exposure they have since you don't know who the managers of these funds are working with to put the capital to good use. I DON'T HAVE THE ANSWER for you, but I hope to get you to start thinking for yourself in case you have been avoiding it. This post was inspired by Mark Cuban's latest blog post, more on that below.

Mark Cuban (his tactics as a NBA team owner aside) wrote a provocative blog post title "what business is wall street in". The timing is clearly influenced by the crazy market plunge and snap back from earlier this week.
It makes for an extremely interesting and thoughtful question for us imo. Is Wall Street playing its part in the large macro economic theater or is it a case of the tail wagging the dog. I highly encourage reading through the post and the comments, mainly for self education if not anything else :-). 
One of the key points for me from this post:
Regulators have got to start to recognize that traders are not investors and vice versa and treat them differently. Different regulations. Different tax structure.  Different oversight. Individual investors and the funds that just invest in stocks and bonds are not going to crash the market.  Big traders who are always leveraging up and maximizing the number of trades/hacks they make will always put the system at risk.  We need to recognize that they do not serve much of a purpose other than to add substantial risk to the global economy.  That their stated value add of liquidity does not compensate the US and World Economy nearly enough for the risk of collapse they introduce into the system.
What jumps out for you? 

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Moneyball does it again

Dallas Braden
Dallas Braden  #51  SP

2010 STATS

Michael Lewis wrote a wonderful tome laying out the adventures of Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta as they create a credible ball club out of Oakland A's using the slimmest of payrolls.
Dallas Braden is the latest example of the fact that this still works. He pitched the 19th ever perfect game in major league history. The beauty of it all; he was recruited in the 24th round and his payroll for 2010 is $420,000. I highly recommend the book if you want to get more into the A's school of thought.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Warning: Macroeconomic ignorance will lead to exploitation by your elders

Vaggelis Gettos, 24, is just as alarmed at the burden being heaped on the young by austerity measures expected to be announced today, and has pledged to resist them in more protests this week against what he sees as a plot to impoverish Greece.

“We will live much worse than our parents,” he said. “Why should we be made to pay for their mistakes?”

The question of who was to blame and who should pay for the greatest crisis to afflict the single currency was a subject of heated debate, particularly after a leading credit rating agency put the cradle of civilisation in the same category as Azerbaijan by reducing its government bonds to “junk” status.

Economists regard the bloated civil service with its jobs for life and generous pensions as a cancer consuming the country’s resources. The older generation, the experts grimly concur, turned the state into a giant cash machine to be plundered at will.

Today the party is over, however, and that makes some experts optimistic: Greece now has no choice but to implement much-needed reforms that will bring swift results. “It’s like a dentist putting a child in braces,” said one observer. “It’s not nice, but necessary for growth in the right direction.”

I love the irony here. Mr Veggelis Gettos is justifiably worked up and says "why should we be made to pay for their mistakes". Good question Mr Gettos but here is the problem, if you don't, that leaves us with two other options.

a. You are passing the buck on to your children who can ask the same question. or
b. You are making it the rest of the world's problem (i.e. the Germans and the IMF) and they contrary to your parents did not retire at 45 with the world's best benefits.

So let us try this once again Mr Gettos, if this is not your problem, whose problem is it then? I know now is not the time, but I would seriously recommend picking up a book on macroeconomics sooner rather than later. Try or>

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Pop Quiz - Do you know the most influential women in technology?

Last year, our list of the Most Influential Women in Technology raised plenty of eyebrows, ire, and fist pumps of joy — depending on the reader. And we’ve no doubt this list will follow suit.

I was woefully ignorant of the people or the organizations as I went through the list compiled by Time to learn.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shame on you GM - Lies, Damn Lies and Accounting Lies

In short, GM is using government money to pay back government money to get more government money. And at a 2% lower interest rate at that. This is a nifty scheme to refinance GM's government debt--not pay it back!

GM boasts that, because it is doing so well, it is paying the $6.7 billion five years ahead of schedule since it was not due until 2015. So will there be an accelerated payback of the rest of the $49.6 billion investment? No. That goal has been pushed back, as it turns out.

In order to recover that investment, the government has to sell its equity. It plans to do that only when GM becomes a publicly traded company once again. GM was hoping to turn a profit by the end of 2010 and float an initial public offering this winter. However, GM Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell, when queried about that timeline a few days ago, demurred. The offering will be made, he said, "when the markets and the company are ready."

(Take that, taxpayers!)

The reality is that there is no certainty that GM will ever be able to make taxpayers whole. Some analysts such as Center for Automotive Research's Sean McAlinden and Global Insight's George Magliano believe that it will--eventually. McAlinden maintains that this will happen when the company's market capitalization touches $60 billion. (At GM's peak in 2000, this level was only $57 billion.) This is a challenging but not an impossible goal--provided the economy does not dip into another recession, he maintains. Magliano too maintains that the company will be able to pay back taxpayers if the industry is able to ramp up annual vehicle sales from the expected 10.8 million this year to 17 million in 2014 and GM captures 20% of these sales.

The General Accountability Office, on the other hand, remains deeply pessimistic. It concluded in a December report (which a more recent April report has said nothing to contradict, despite media spin to the contrary) that: "The Treasury is unlikely to recover the entirety of its investment in Chrysler or GM, given that the companies' values would have to grow substantially more than they have in the past."

GM's CEO is on TV commercials claiming GM paid back the loan 5 years ahead of schedule. One might be led to conclude from this that the company has managed an amazing come back and turn around, well the truth it turns out is very different.

I am all for GM building a positive public image but please have the decency to speak the truth. If nothing else, the past couple years should have taught you a small dose of humility

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Trust your instincts with embracing "innovations" in consumer software

A fairly obvious search for “from card” this morning returned 127 results that included full credit card numbers.

This story is a good example of releasing consumer software without any serious research or understanding of the cultural ramifications and side effects. Companies are learning/developing their business models on the back of the early adopters, and in some case burning them pretty badly in the process. This is nothing new but the pace is frighteningly faster compared to 10 years back.

My conservative recommendation would be for all current users of to destroy the credit card tied to and order a replacement. Blippy will find a way to learn from this of course, maybe they will buy a lifelock subscription for all of their current users (lifelock.. that is a whole another blog post).

My biggest take away is to trust your instincts, it is an expensive way to live life if you are an early adopter in all categories. Pick your passion/poison and restrict your risk exposure to those areas. Hopefully none of you signed up for just because it is cool. If you are curious about the disruptions and changes to personal finances and business models, then by all means go for it. The rest of us should wait for this mistakes to play themselves out before taking the next step.

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The unending giver that is google voice

This was Google's transcription of a message that was left for me. FYI, the speaker did not leave the message in English: "Hey about this or not. Yeah, it would be cool too much. Bye."

Ah, the beauty of software :-)

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This is not your high school Apple Computers anymore

Two million phones in a country of half a billion cellphone owners may not sound like a lot, but according to Huberty, the addressable iPhone market in China (which she defines as people with with an annual income over $20,000 and an average cellphone bill of $22 per month) is about 50 million. If she's right, Apple may have captured 4% of it in the space of six months.

Most of the analysts seem to believe that Apple is still under priced at this point. That is the power, the myth and the complete market disruption that "China" brings to the table.

Dr John Doggett gave an excellent speech recently summarizing what the BRIC nations mean to the global market over the next 15-20 years. Absolutely worth a read. Btw, in case you are not grasping the significance: China alone is expected to have over 500 million middle class citizens by 2025. That is an unprecedented event in the world history. One way or the other we will all feel the tidal wave. Oh, and India will add another few 100 million to this number.

Exciting times if you are an entrepreneur ->

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The cold hard facts of making "smart" managerial decisions

In his latest report, there are some truly spine-chilling first-person accounts of factory life. And it is a life. Workers are billeted, 14 to a dorm, in the compound. If they don't supply their own mattresses and bedclothes, they sleep on plywood boards. They are permitted three days off each month. The air-conditioning is only turned on when foreigners visit the factory, and when the workers meet their targets, the management immediately raises them.

Worth a read. Good reminder that some one some where is always losing margins when prices drop.

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Science shows that marriage and blisters are tightly connected

The results were remarkable. After the blistering sessions in which couples argued, their wounds took, on average, a full day longer to heal than after the sessions in which the couples discussed something pleasant. Among couples who exhibited especially high levels of hostility while bickering, the wounds took a full two days longer to heal than those of couples who had showed less animosity while fighting.

I enjoy reading about these studies. We can now scientifically show that if you significant other has a blister, you can control their recovery time by controlling your animosity knob.

There is more of course, about 5 pages worth, Read the article if you want to explore it.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Quote to remember from the Boston Marathon record setter

I am going to buy some cows," Cheruiyot said.

I love this. This man runs a freaking marathon in under 2hrs 6mins and reminds people that he is a farmer by the day :-).

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reason #124 - Why I love my neighborhood

We woke up this morning missing a chicken. She's a big black hen who's likely somewhere around --- and -------. If you see her please call us and we'll retrieve her. Thanks!

This is a real email from our neighborhood mailing list. I love living in the heart of Austin and seeing emails like this.

Btw, the chicken is safely back at home now.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Joss Whedon to direct 'The Avengers'?: Existence of God no longer in doubt

I think Robert Downey Jr is going to own the screen. Hope this turns out to be "awesome"! :) Now all that is left is for an epic "Justice League" production to happen.

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Leverage - small changes with big results

The scientist said the variety was one of the major achievements in the field of rice research and added that if they could manage to promote the rice across the country, it would help save fuel and consequently the environment as well.

"Promotion of such rice would save fuel, time, and above all it would help maintain a cleaner environment. It would be very useful for the poor in general, who find it difficult to afford firewood, coal or cooking gas," he said.

This has the potential to be a huge lever, it remains to be seen if the market will accept it or reject it.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ten Ways To Be Your Own Boss

Do you call yourself an good manager?

The good news is that none of this is the way things have to be. The one-sided, boss-dominated performance review needs to be replaced by a straight-talking relationship where the focus is on results, not personality, and where the boss is held accountable for the success of the subordinate (instead of just using the performance review to blame the subordinate for any problems they're having).

The WSJ article by Samuel A. Culbert brings some straight talk into one the most common activity in corporate America. Performance review's ubiquity as a management practice is its biggest resistance against change but also the biggest reason to try and change it.

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Law of unintended consequences

There is an ugly new word for this mass slaughter: gendercide.

Thanks to a state policy which has limited many families to one child since 1979, combined with an ancient and ruthless prejudice in favour of sons, the world's new superpower is beginning the century of its supremacy with an alarming surplus of males.

Lots of interesting questions. What went wrong here? Is anything wrong? Is it just perception, maybe we have never before seen public policy enforced publicly on a country this large.
The comments also point to some inherent western biases, etc.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Book Smart != Street Smart.

It is in no way a substitute for real management experience and that’s where it can be harmful — when the holder of the MBA thinks they know how to manage, because they have an MBA.

wise words.

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The battle is being fought at multiple fronts

Dimon fully understands – although he can’t concede in public – the private advantages (i.e., to him and his colleagues) of a big bank getting bigger.  Being too big to fail – and having cheaper access to funding as a result – may seem unfair, unreasonable, and dangerous to you and me.  But to Jamie Dimon, it’s a business model – and he is only doing his job, which is to make money for his shareholders (and for himself and his colleagues).

What the popular press captures most often is the man on the street battle. It is gritty, real, has political theater and drama written all over it. That is your tactical battle front. Unemployment rates, mortgage collapses, etc.

There is a behind the scenes battle happening which is more of a strategic battle. Simon Johnson (excerpted above) is one of the players in this war. This i s a war over sophisticated business models that are so complicated that only a handful of people understand them to debate them meaningfully. The scary part though is that these models can have devastating consequences.

I recommend you keep up with this blog if you want to stay informed.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

20 words to live by

If you spend your days avoiding failure by doing not much worth criticizing, you'll never have a shot at success.

Seth Godin is very good at taking the obvious and making us see the non obvious trapped within. Read the rest of this post (link below text) for the full effect.

The best part, once you have read it ask yourself what is stopping me from living like this?

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There is always someone else bigger/faster/smarter/stronger

A 13-year-old California boy plans to try to climb Mount Everest in a quest to reach the summits of the highest peaks on all seven continents.

My favourite line in this article is his mothers, "She said her son is taking two months of homework to Nepal so he can keep up with school." If your son has climbed five of the tallest peaks in the world, I don't think his primary driver in life is the U.S public school curriculum.

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

NYC - Put This on Billboards - Droopy Pants Can Kill

Facebook goes "desi"

Social media was invented for Indians, says Sree Sreenivasan, a digital media professor at Columbia and co-founder of SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association. "They take to it naturally and with great passion. It allows them to do two things they love: Tell everyone what they are doing; and stick their noses into other people's business.

Almost all of this article is based on opinions and anecdotes. But i can tell you from personal experience that the "stick their noses into other people's business" part is very true.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sound wisdom from NYTimes

Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.

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How legends are made

As an angel investor, he’s famous for cutting a $100,000 check to Google’s founders even before they had chosen their now-famous name. In an e-mail, Bechtolsheim confirmed that the check has netted him more than $1 billion.

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Big Phrase for the day - "Human capital spillover"

Human capital spillovers can explain the overly strong metropolitan area relationship between skills and unemployment. If skilled co-workers make your company more productive, then your company will have fewer layoffs. If skilled entrepreneurs find opportunity in stormy times, then their hiring may keep unemployment rates down.

Education does indeed matter. Dr Edward L. Glaeser has a blog post that empirically proves that what your parents told you often is not just an old wives tale but a fact. Education is indeed the best tool to fight tough times.

Just to be clear, statistical models can lead us to strong correlations using regression equations such as the one mentioned in the blog post. You can and will find contradictions to this pattern. That is one of the biggest challenges of human life, a statistical model that can bring hope to hundreds of thousands might indeed also ring the death bell for hundreds who fall on the tails of the model. Pure reason cannot answer the "what if" questions in those cases, you need something more than that.

p.s doc, this post is dedicated to you :-)

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

7 truisms I perceive as a product manager (from: Carsonified)

30 March 2010

The topic is “10 Golden Principles for Building Successful Web Applications”.

1. Speed

2. Instant Utility

4. Less is More

6. Make it Personal

7. RESTful

9. Clean

10. Playful

carsonified has a great interview with Fred Wilson (click on the title to go to the actual post). It includes a video that is ~30 mins long and the full transcript of the talk.

I picked 7 of the 10 that are in my opinion are true as golden principles for all software products, web or not. If I had to narrow it down to just two, I would pick number 2 (Instant Utility) and number 10 (Playful). Instant Utility to me is at the heart of solving the problem and putting the customer first. It also fits well with the lean methodology. Playful to me is the intangible that brings a personality to your product and makes it sticky. It does not have to be restricted to software - Dyson, BMW, the new Ford Focus are all examples of products that understand this quality. It goes without saying that Apple gets this and Microsoft does not (unless this is true).

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when just "stuff" no longer does it for you.

Four-door Veyron, anyone?

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Experiential teaching of finance/economics

Planet Money Tracks Its Very Own Toxic Asset : NPR
We bought one of those things that no one wanted, one of those things that almost brought down the global economy: our very own toxic asset.

This should be a group project for a senior finance/economic course at all major universities. The best kind of learning is experiential learning. Great job planet money!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Please tell me this is a typo

The working poor and uninsured earning up to $88,000 a year get subsidies on a sliding scale so that they can afford to buy coverage;

I am sorry but since when is earning $88,000/yr qualify one for "working poor"? Is this a typo? If one earns 88K/yr.. why would one not be able to afford coverage?

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Driving using your rear-view mirror is harmful to health

Hancock is telling clients that bond funds very rarely outperform equities over a decade, as they did in the 10 years ending in March 2009, and have never done so in consecutive 10- year periods.

Businessweek has an article that discusses the "past performance" based decision making behavior of an average investor. Of course naming Bill Gross in the caption helps with the popularity.

On a related note, I am completely fascinated by these topic because I am starting to actually understand them. Thanks goes to the accounting, economics and finance professors at the McCombs school of business.

The march 2010 investment outlook column by Bill Gross is a great primer to understanding macro-economics and finance ( Isn't it ironic that we struggle in the US at a micro level to convince companies that leverage is good (why isn't microsoft taking more debt?) BUT at the macro level we are deep doo-doo because of extreme leverage as a nation.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Do a CEO's words reflect a company's attitude?

Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, took some stabs at competitor SAP (NYSE: SAP). "Every quarter we grab huge chunks of market share from SAP," he commented. "SAP's most recent quarter was the best quarter of their year, only down 15%, while Oracle's application sales were up 21%. But SAP is well ahead of us in the number of CEOs for this year, announcing their third and fourth, while we only had one."

If so SAP is in serious trouble because Oracle seems to be having a ton of fun beating the $#%# of SAP. They don't seem like they want to stop anytime soon.

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The Startup's Rules of Speed - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review

entrepreneurship requires different disciplines than manufacturing. Applying lean thinking to entrepreneurship requires a new definition of progress, one that is focused on measuring learning rather than measuring objects. The day-to-day process that startups build should also attempt to maximize speed of learning.

If it is on HBR then is it "mainstream"? I hope not, that would be sort of a tragedy. Not that I am against McKinMoney, Bane and other "strategic" consulting outfits get rich by coming out with a new methodology. I just hope there can be some real grass roots passion based entrepreneurship completed before "lean entrepreneurship" is turned into flow chart with 30 documents and 6 months of analysis.

If you want to dig more into this; read this succinct and very well written post by Scott Porad ( If you live in Austin, I would also highly encourage you to join the meetup group Ash Maurya has created ( Great group of people.

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My alma matter is starting to kick some serious butt!

The above is a series of videos created by the fine folks at McCombs. I love this format and the structure. It gets to the heart of why business school hold on to a cheap way for them to keep justifying their value - the lingo. By removing the magic of "lingo" :-) b-schools will be forced to focus on change of thinking type education instead of look at the all the new words i just taught you education.

I am also a BIG BIG fan of the form of animation you see here. If you are seriously interested in this, I recommend by Dan Roam.

I am extremely impressed by the quality of the faculty and the content of the syllabus so far. Btw, both Dr Brandl and Dr Leeds are teaching executive MBA courses. Two great reasons to consider an executive MBA @ UT ;-)

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Time to reconnect

I have been under water for way too long, I had to come back up for air. A lot has happened since my last post. The decision to pursue executive MBA at UT’s McCombs school of business has been incredibly rewarding so far (no hyperbole). My wife and I are excited about our family growing – our daughter will join us in late June. My company Initiate systems recently got acquired by IBM. Congratulations to all of us and the management at Initiate.

I still have another year of school left (not to mention the toughest 6 week period of my second semester coming up). So the posts will be sporadic but they will start appearing. Hope all is well with the good people out there. Happy 2010!

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