Starting in 1984, TEDTalks began as a conference to bring together people from the three worlds of (T)echnology, (E)ntertainment and (D)esign—as it has grown, the scope of the annual conference has broadened.
Now, the current TedTalks, held in Long Beach, Calif., bring together some of the most fascinating thinkers in the world, and challenge them to “give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes)”! Talk about choosing each word carefully! These talks also garner an audience of more than a thousand, and take place over 4 days with 50 speakers.
The TED Web site provides the public with some of the best talks from the year, and more than 200 talks are available in the archive. I can only begin to think about how useful this could be in strategy meeting, team-building sessions, leadership workshops … you name it, I’m sure there is some insight (whether it be a 5-minute excerpt or full 18 minutes) you could share with your co-workers to inspire them.
Now, these talks are not just your standard issue keynote speeches. You may recall a story that got a bit of news in early February about Bill Gates TEDTalk. Yes, he did release mosquitoes into the crowd—but it was a jar, not a “swarm” that so many news outlets have reported. Gates said: “Malaria is spread by mosquitoes … I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” Now, these pesky bugs were not carrying Malaria, but Gates made his point.
Take some time to figure out where the TEDTalks can fit into your leadership practices—I can assure you they will. But if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, then I highly suggest our Leadership collection.
We all want to be that valuable employee. The one who gives smart presentations. The one who always has practical advice and a solid hold on corporate strategy. The employee that climbs the ladder to success—not by stepping on other people, but because he or she is truly an asset to the company. We all want to be that person.
But how? When time and money are as tight as they are today, how can someone position him- or herself to essentially become the “super employee”? Simple: Become a shortcut.
According to Scott G. Halford [http://www.beashortcut.com/the-author/], author of Be A Shortcut: The Secret Fast Track to Business Success, “Shortcuts are individuals and companies that function like lifelines to the people and organizations that most depend on them. They are available when needed, they humbly perform tasks without complaint, they are masters of their own specific skill, and they always present a positive attitude.”
If you’re interested in more about what Halford has to say, check out the following interview conducted by Voice America Business’s Dr. Relly Nadler. On the program, Halford discusses his insight into the human experience, as well as leadership development, the leaders who have influenced him the most, and so on. You can also visit Halford’s company’s Web site, where you can find more information about him and his success practices. Or if you are interested in finding more leadership titles to your collection, be sure to look at our Leadership Collection.
I try to avoid fast food as much as possible, but sometimes you’re just stuck with it. Aside from the fact that many of the menu items pack a heavy caloric and fatty punch to anyone’s mid-sections, fast food is just not the same as good home cooking, or even a nice night out at a classy restaurant. And it’s not supposed to be. It’s fast. It’s convenient. It’s what you eat when you pull off the highway to hit up the rest stop and fulfill your lunchtime hunger pains as you take a road trip. It is what it is.
Nevertheless, if fast food wasn’t doing something right, it wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar business in the U.S. There wouldn’t be a McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, Wendy’s, Arby’s, and whatever other regional chain all within a 5-mile radius of you (that is, if you live in a city or the suburbs…it’s a different story for rural folks). And the biggest of them all is McDonald’s—a name and brand that has become synonymous with fast food.
Enter Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald’s: The 7 Leadership Principles that Drive Break Out Success by industry insider Paul Facella. Facella joined the McDonald’s team behind the counter at the age of 16 and worked his way up to regional vice president of the New York region, creating ties with founder Ray Kroc, multiple former CEOs, and McDonald’s current CEO, Jim Skinner. Now he operates a consulting firm, Inside Management in New York.
Facella offers readers an intimate inside look into the fast food giant, including its culture, core principles, and leadership strategies. If you’re interested in seeing how McDonald’s does it, then this may be the book for you.
We know it for the little bouncing orange ball and the tag line “We, the savers.” ING Direct’s popularity has grown over the past 13 years, with more than 20 million customers spread throughout nine different countries. EM+C magazine covered the online bank in its January cover story, which detailed ING Direct’s attention to viral and social marketing.
Based in Wilmington, DE, the branchless bank’s mission is “To help Main Street, USA, build wealth by providing high-quality, low-cost, easy-to-use and reliable savings, investment and lending services.” Sounds like a perfect fit for most people during these trying economic times. Do you bank with ING Direct?
If you don’t, but want to learn more about the bank—that is, more than what you can read about it on it’s company Web site or its Wikipedia article—then perhaps you should pick up a copy of The Orange Code: How ING Direct Succeeded by Being a Rebel with a Cause by Arkadi Kuhlmann, ING Direct’s founder, and Bruce Philp, the branding consultant responsible for helping make the online bank a household name. The authors give readers an inside look into the popular bank and brand, and show how their out of the box business strategy and leadership grew ING Direct into the financial leader that it is today.
I’m happy to add that you’ll be seeing a summary of this book down the road. Be sure to stop by and check it out!
Simon & Schuster recently published a book entitled Creative Capitalism, which was edited by Michael Kinsley and includes conversations between Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and many economists, journalists and executives, in response to the speech that Bill Gates gave at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
While this in itself is newsworthy, the real story may be the process by which the book was published. Instead of interviewing top economic thinkers or soliciting papers from these thought-leaders, Kinsley constructed an online conversation in a blog. He published Bill Gates’ speech and solicited comments from him and Warren Buffet, and then invited economists and others to weigh in through the blog.
The result was a blog site filled with conversations and dialogue between knowledgeable economists and executives. Although this is not a new idea –– take Wikipedia as one example –– soliciting the thoughts of top minds on this important issue in an open forum is a stellar example of the power of the growing social side of the Internet.
Back to the subject of the blog –– Bill Gates made the point that businesses need to put their creative energies toward finding ways to both grow and provide wealth, and help the needy of the world at the same time. Other terms that have been used for this concept include “social entrepreneurship” and “philanthro-capitalism.”
While this concept is enticing, its critics are quick to point out the flaws through the online conversation. The blog site has been re-opened, and I would recommend that you spend some time there to take in the breadth of opinions that it offers.
Most likely, you learned it in history class – how Henry Ford launched the automobile industry. But Hayagreeva Rao has a different explanation. It was actually automobile enthusiasts that drove the popularity of the automobile and provided a market for Ford once he developed his mass-production techniques.
These automobile buffs helped the cause by staging reliability races to counter the public’s concerns about safety, and lobbied for licensing and road-use laws to deal with the issue of cars and horses on the same roads.
This is just one example of activists that can make or break innovation, as described in Rao’s book Market Rebels. Other examples include the micro-brewing movement and the integration of French cooking into modern cuisine. Rao contends that two forces are needed to make innovation successful, a “hot cause” and “cool mobilization.”
A hot cause is an issue that can build emotion around it, like the auto enthusiasts that were excited about driving. Cool mobilization is when a larger audience is engaged and mobilized around the issue, as happened when car clubs were able to gain wide acceptance of the safety and potential of owning an automobile. By the time Ford began mass-producing the Model T, the public was excited and ready for a reasonably priced car. His innovations were successful because the market was primed.
So the question for the rest of us in the business world is how can we ignite and mobilize a market around our innovations. There is much potential for this activism in social media, although Rao doesn’t mention the Web as a potential source of mobilization. There is also much emotion around environmental issues, which can be mobilized around strong products. Wanted: Market Rebels!