Tag Archives: Bill Gates

Are The Humanities a Soon-To-Be-Dead Discipline? Not According To Steve Jobs

From the New York TimesCareer Counselor: Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

At an event unveiling new Apple products, Mr. Jobs said: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.”

Bill Gates does not agree.

Put me down in the Steve Jobs column.

You can read the “debate,” with eight voices weighing in, here.


You might enjoy this earlier post of mine:  The Parable of the Calligraphy Class – Profound Insight from the Life Story of Steve Jobs.





About Facebook & LinkedIn – a Little More Insight into these Modern Marvels

Confession time.  I’m still pretty (very!) uncertain about how to take advantage of Facebook and LinkedIn.  I’m still learning how to actually use Twitter.  And I have friends, a son, a brother, who try to tell me how to do things with my computer, and I just have great trouble “getting it.”  It’s so embarrassing!

By the way, I speak regularly to residents at retirement communities on Current Events, and I try to help them learn about this brave new world.  And it really is almost like the blind leading the blind.  They think I am some kind of modern marvel because I have a blog – and my brother and son think I am some kind of Luddite…  (though they are very kind about it).

Well, enough introduction.  Here are two articles worth checking out:  one about Facebook, the other about LinkedIn.  They haven’t helped me use these two sites more effectively, but they have helped me understand their potential a little more.

Mark Zuckerberg at a conference in San Francisco (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

In the New York Times’ Zuckerberg: Non-Evil Non-Genius? by Robert Wright, we learn again the good fortune of being really quick to understand, and the absolute necessity of being in the right place at the right time.  Here are some excerpts:

Now communities would be defined not at all by geography — by the bounds of a campus — but only by the mutual-consent links that don’t seem to have been part of Zuckerberg’s original vision.

In retrospect, I think there was something uniquely powerful about this path — building islands of dominance at elite universities, spreading to less elite universities, then linking the islands and finally abandoning geography altogether as the organizing principle. I think this path gave Facebook a momentum that helped it dislodge the pre-existing social networks Friendster and MySpace. And it’s fairly clear that the path wasn’t planned.

My own view of technological history is that this is often the way big leaps happen. The people we call visionaries and geniuses, like Bill Gates, typically weren’t any more prescient than some of their rivals. They were mainly just in the right place at the right time.

Sure, they were really smart, and they had some other key features. Gates and Zuckerberg shared an instinct that helped them exploit network externalities: they were always willing to sacrifice short-term profit in exchange for growing market share.

And, of course, both of them played hardball. I’m not aware of any tactical deceptions Gates perpetrated that were as egregious as Zuckerberg’s duping of the Winklevosses, but none of Gates’s competitors ever confused him with Mr. Rogers.

It’s certainly possible, as Sorkin suggests, to be an evil genius. But the much more common condition is to be not quite evil and not quite a genius. When your co-star is positive network externalities, that’s plenty.

And in The Social Network That Gets Down to Business by Miguel Helft, we learn of one businesswoman who is learning how to use LinkedIn to grow her business.  Here are some brief excerpts:

Joanna Wiseberg began Red Scarf Equestrian, which makes stylish handbags and other luxury goods for horse lovers, two years ago, just as the economy plunged into recession. “My business is a niche within a niche…

Her tool was LinkedIn, the social network for business professionals that is often perceived as a workaday cousin to the social butterfly of Facebook. But as Ms. Wiseberg discovered, LinkedIn is actually more than just a place for job seekers to post a résumé. “I wouldn’t be here without LinkedIn,” she said.

For any company in the social networking business, it is not easy living in the shadow of Facebook and Twitter. With 500 million users connecting with friends, trading photos, videos and articles, or whiling the time away on social games, Facebook has pretty much locked up the field. For its part, Twitter has carved a solid niche for those interested in broadcasting their thoughts 140 characters at a time.

But with its unabashed utilitarian bent, LinkedIn has built a presence in social media. Anyone with a career, a business or ambitions to climb the corporate ladder can network with 75 million people who use it, in large part, to find jobs or to recruit candidates for jobs.

Network as if LinkedIn were a big industry trade show. Search for people you know and invite them to be part of your network. Regular users of LinkedIn say a common mistake that newcomers make is to limit their network. So how many is enough?

There are no absolutes, but Krista Canfield, a LinkedIn spokeswoman, says that 35 connections appears to be the minimum to make the viral properties of social networks truly useful. (As in any network, you don’t want to include people who could drag down your reputation. LinkedIn lets you deflect unwanted invitations with the Archive button so no one knows they have been rejected by you.)

“I had to go global, because the market in Canada is too small,” Ms. Wiseberg said. “I’m getting there.”

A few observations:

#1 – Learning to use the tools of this new social network connected world is almost a necessity, especially for the independent consultant, self-employed world so many of us live and work in. We almost have to take the time to figure it out.

#2 – The tools make it easier for us, all the time. My blog is automatically updated on my LinkedIn page.  This really helps me.  At the bottom of every blog post are all of these buttons (I don’t even understand what each of them links to/how people use them…).  I practically always use the “tweet” button, putting each blog post on Twitter.  Others use some of the other buttons.  (I hope you will to).  In other words, the sites keep finding ways to help non-experts, like me.

#3 – The younger folks beat us baby boomers on all of these.
A while back, we had a wonderful session on LinkedIn as a bonus program after a First Friday Book Synopsis.  I tried to describe the session to my son – and he had this glazed over look in his eyes.  His attitude was, “who needs a session on how to do this?”  I had to explain to him that his old dad needed such a session.  He was perplexed.
In other words, the college students who use Facebook (of course, they all do!) don’t ever read anything about how to use Facebook, don’t take seminars on how to use Facebook…  they just use Facebook.  And, they get it, and understand its value.  Me?…not so much.
So, the younger you are, the easier it is to use all of the tools in the brave new world.  For folks my age, it is constantly a challenge.

Anyway, read these two articles.  If you are a baby boomer, they will help you understand, and maybe spur you on a little to tackle using these tools more energetically.  If you are my son’s age, you’ve quit reading this blog post long ago…

From Roger Staubach to Title IX Babies – Athletic Endeavor Really Can Lead to Business Success

Roger Staubach: Super Bowl Winner in Football -- Super Bowl winner in Business (Real Estate)

Legendary is not a strong enough word.  Here in Dallas, whatever punch the word “legendary” carries, it is not enough to describe the name Roger Staubach.  The winner of two Super Bowls for the Dallas Cowboys, Roger Staubach is simply the man.  And his success on the field carried over into a vast Real Estate success.  When I moved to Dallas in 1987, it seemed that the name Roger Staubach was always staring at me from one corner or another.

We have always known that athletic contests build some kind of inner something that carries over into life in ways that are almost too numerous to mention, or even fully grasp.  Now researchers are trying to find those ways.

And it is true for women as well as men.  In a fascinating article on the Daily Beast, Female Jocks Rule the World by Danielle Friedman, we learn quite a bit about this.  Here are a number of excerpts.  (I will follow with a few observations of my own).

Athletic women make more money and hold more upper-management positions than those who shun sports—and their numbers are growing. Danielle Friedman on why it pays to play.

But the young entrepreneurs have undoubtedly carried lessons from their days as varsity athletes into the boardroom, attributing many of their managerial skills to their sporty pasts.

“Our coach always had us write our goals on the back of our hands to be constantly reminded of them, to give one example,” says Jenny Carter Fleiss, who was captain of her track team in Riverdale, New York. “Today, I still keep a list of my personal goals posted right in front of me—and encourage everyone else at Rent the Runway to do this—as a constant reminder of the bigger-picture things we’re working on.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, Carter Fleiss and Hyman are in good company. Former high school and college athletes of all abilities hold positions of power in an array of arenas, from Sarah Palin (basketball) to Ellen DeGeneres (tennis). Eight-two percent of executive businesswomen played organized sports after elementary school, according to a 2002 study by mutual fund company Oppenheimer, and evidence suggests that figure will likely rise over the next few decades, as more post-Title IX babies enter the workforce.

“There’s a whole lot of anecdotal evidence that disparities between women and men in the workplace are caused by a lack of athletic training and experience,” says Kathryn Kolbert, director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College. “We’d now like to do the research to prove it.”

In addition to gaining valuable skills, women who played (or passionately follow, for that matter) sports gain unique access to “boys” networks that they’d otherwise be excluded from, experts say. Also compelling: The Oppenheimer study found that one in six adult women identify themselves as athletic—but the figure rises to almost half of women who make more than $75,000.

Stevenson found that ramping up girls’ participation in sports had a direct effect on their education and employment, explaining about 20 percent of the increase in education and about 40 percent of the rise in employment for women ages 25 to 34,

“It’s not just that the people who are going to do well in life play sports, but that sports help people do better in life,” Stevenson told Parker-Pope. “While I only show this for girls, it’s reasonable to believe it’s true for boys as well.”

…evidence suggests that participating in an organized sport can benefit nearly all women, deeply instilling lessons from the value of practice to teamwork, says Kolbert. It provides participants with a peer group, and a feeling of inclusion. And perhaps most importantly, it helps cultivate resilience.

My observations:
I was a tennis player.  (The operative word is “was”).  I was ranked fairly high in Texas my Senior year in high school, had a great, great experience on my tennis teams, both in high school and in college, and my college degree was substantially paid for by my tennis scholarship.  I was good – not anywhere near great (I could not challenge the best – and in my years, the best was Trinity University), but good.

To this day, when I run into an old tennis buddy or opponent, my heart beats faster, and the conversation just starts flying.

In my years studying business success, the wisdom of a good coach or athlete seems to lift the level of the thought and conversation.  On this blog, the single most viewed article we’ve ever had (fueled somewhat by his death) was about John Wooden – simply the greatest coach who ever lived.  (Here’s the article: Wisdom from Coach Wooden: “A coach is someone who can give correction without creating resentment”).  And blog posts about Peyton Manning, Coach Bear Bryant, Tony Dungy, John Madden, all have brought more than the average number of page views than articles about the other mere mortals in business seem to generate.

And in one area of business endeavor, the illustrations just seem to come in an avalanche:  the 10,000 hour rule, and the need for deliberate practice, is simply best explained by athletic discipline success stories (though music stories, dance stories, and many others, could certainly make the point in powerful ways also).  Though Malcolm Gladwell includes stories of Bill Gates and the Beatles in his discussion of the 10,000 hour rule in Outliers, he begins it with stories of Canadian Junior Hockey and international junior soccer competition.

And if you want to understand the impact of, the power of, work ethic and discipline and the need for constant improvement, you may as well just bow down to the legendary practices of such athletes as Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice and Peyton Manning and Nolan Ryan and…

And if you want the best cautionary tales, just check into stories of athletes who could have been great, but lacked those qualities that could have kept them on the path to such greatness.  (For one such cautionary tale, just consider the tale of one-game-wonder Clint Longley, the “mad bomber.”  A great quarterback that never was…)

The article I quoted above offers a lot to help us understand the power of such athletic undergirdings to business success.  But here’s something else to throw in the mix.  When I read about deliberate practice, the place/role of a good coach, the 10,000 hour rule, I do look back on my athletic successes, but my athletic failures and disappointments are what I really remember.  And in remembering those, I feel somewhat driven to do better at this chapter of my life.  Maybe the challenge of athletic disappointment drives us to do better at doing better later in life.

I guess all of this is my way of saying that I am not surprised at the evidence that athletic endeavor — practice, teamwork, competition, the role of a good coach — all help lead to success later in life.

And for women to rise as fast as they have after the adoption of Title IX — well, let’s just say we shouldn’t be surprised.

What is the 10,000 Hour Rule? – a 2 minute video from Randy Mayeux

This is possibly the first in a series.  Ultimately, I plan to post the videos together on a separate site.

Yes, the production values are low.  They are made on iMovie on my iMac.  I am not an expert!

My intention is keep each video about 2 minutes in length (this one is 2:02).  It is intended to be a a simple, quick definiton of a key business concept.

Please let me know what you think.  And, let me know what other concepts you would like me to tackle.


A Quote For The Day – Bill Gates & Chad Holliday On Innovation

Bill Gates

These paragraphs come from Energy sector poised for innovation — with the right spark by Bill Gates and Chad Holliday, (Washington Post, Friday, April 23, 2010)

This country runs on innovation. The American success story — from Ben Franklin’s bifocals to Thomas Edison’s light bulb to Henry Ford’s assembly line to today’s advanced microprocessors — is all about inventing our future. The companies we ran, Microsoft and DuPont, were successful because they invested deeply in new technologies and new ideas.

But our country is neglecting a field central to our national prospect and security: energy. Although the information technology and pharmaceutical industries spend 5 to 15 percent of their revenue on research and development each year, U.S. companies’ spending on energy R&D has averaged only about one-quarter of 1 percent of revenue over the past 15 years.

And despite talk about the need for “21st-century” energy sources, federal spending on clean energy research — less than $3 billion — is also relatively small. Compare that with roughly $30 billion that the U.S. government annually spends on health research and $80 billion on defense research and development.

The core force of innovation — vision, experimentation and wise investments — has led to thousands of breakthroughs that benefit us all. A serious commitment to innovation can be transformative, as we saw with the effort to replace chlorofluorocarbons two decades ago. We need the same serious commitment in the energy sector to developing the original American energy supply: innovation.

(Bill Gates is chairman of Microsoft Corp. Chad Holliday was chairman and chief executive of DuPont from 1998 to 2009).

Chad Holliday

The full article is worth reading.

Malcolm Gladwell is #2 on the list of the Business Top 50 Thinkers

CK Prahalad -- #1 on the list

CK Prahalad -- #1 on the list

I’ve just become aware of the current listing of the Thinkers 50 (The definitive listing of the world’s top 50 business thinkers), which lists the most influential business thinkers by ranked order of importance and influence, based on 10 measures:

The Measures:

1. Originality of Ideas:  Are the ideas and examples used by the thinker original?
2. Practicality of Ideas:  Have the ideas promoted by the thinker been implemented in organizations? And, has the implementation been successful?
3. Presentation Style:  How proficient is the thinker at presenting his/her ideas orally?
4. Written Communication:  How proficient is the thinker at presenting his/her ideas in writing?
5. Loyalty of Followers:  How committed are the thinker’s disciples to spreading the message and putting it to work?
6. Business Sense:  Do they practice what they preach in their own business?
7. International Outlook:  How international are they in outlook and thinking?
8. Rigor of Research:  How well researched are their books and presentations?
9. Impact of Ideas:  Have their ideas had an impact on the way people manage or think about management?
10. Guru Factor:  The clincher: are they, for better or worse, guru material by your definition and expectation?

It is an impressive list, and one that I think most of our readers will agree with.  Among the authors in the top 20 that we have chosen for presentations at the First Friday Book Synopsis are:

Malcolm Gladwell -- #2 on the list

Malcolm Gladwell -- #2 on the list

Malcolm Gladwell (#2), W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgnew (#5), Bill Gates (#7), Gary Hamel (#10), Ram Charan (#13), Marshall Goldsmith (# 14), Jim Collins (#17), Tom Peters (#19), and Jack Welch (#20).

The #1 Thinker is CK Prahalad, the author of the book:  The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid:  Eradicating Poverty through Profits.  This book is one that I am aware of, but have not read and presented.

For a brief slideshow of the top 15, go to the Huffington Post article The Top 15 Business Thinkers: Thinkers 50.  For the complete list of the 50, click here to go the web site for the Thinkers 50.  You will find a video interview with CK Prahalad, and profiles of all of the rest on the list.

(By the way, check out the post by our blogging team member Bob Morris:  Q#147:  Who were the most influential business thinkers in the 20th century?)

You can order our synopses for many of these books, with audio + handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com – including all three of Gladwell’s books, The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgnew’s Blue Ocean Strategy, Charan’s Execution (and other titles), and Collins’ Good to Great (and soon, Collins How the Mighty Fall – we have presented it, and it will be available on the web site soon) — plus other titles by some of these leading business thinkers.