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The Patagonia Story

February 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, speaking at UCSB in 2008 on the company’s history, environmentalism and corporate responsibility. It starts off a little slow, so you can jump up to 17:40 to get into the meat of the presentation.

Want to read some more?

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Why Creativity Is So Important To Running A Successful Business

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

From a recent Tucker Max post:

“It’s funny, most people think that business decisions are business decisions, when actually, they are marketing decisions. Look at this Quora thread about the smartest business move. Read through it, and you’ll realize that the vast majority are creative marketing decisions, not straight business decisions. That’s something that people don’t understand about business–the “business” parts of business are usually pretty easy. Accounting, finance, payroll, that shit can be done by a monkey.

The hard part is sales, marketing, design–the creative parts. The parts where you have to interact with people and convince them to do or buy something. That’s very hard, and most people don’t really realize that is a creative issue, not a “business” one. The start-ups I work with all know this and understand this, and use me for insights or ideas in this area.”

FULL ARTICLE “New York Magazine on my Angel Investing” – Tucker Max

 

Fortune – World’s Most Admired Companies 2013

The top 3 are all tech companies:

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. Amazon.com

See the full list here: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/most-admired/2013/list/?iid=wma_sp_full

 

 

David vs. Goliath: Small vs. Big Agencies at Social Media Week LA

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Earlier this week I attended a panel held at HUGE LA for Social Media Week called “David vs. Goliath: How Do Big Agencies and Small Agencies Stack Up In The New Gig Economy?” Panelists included industry people who have worked on both sides of the fence.

The general consensus seemed to be that larger companies can be riddled with extra layers and bureaucracy that make it difficult for them to react quickly, although bigger agencies do have a greater amount of resources to draw from as well as name recognition.

On the other hand, small agencies were seen as more nimble and tend to adopt a startup mentality (functioning with small teams, giving employees the ability to make autonomous decisions, etc.).

One area where I think we could have probed further was whether or not companies should focus on growing or staying small. I know – it might sound counterintuitive: shouldn’t every company try to get as big as Wal-mart?

Not necessarily. One panelist mentioned “running lean” – an idea repeated a lot in the startup community, where you only hire and add staff when you absolutely need to to satisfy demand for your product or service.

In a recent Fast Company article, 37Signals founder and CEO Jason Fried warned about the growth approach he sees occurring with many tech startups who staff too quickly. Instead, he offered a different set of metrics to evaluate success:

  • Are you profitable?
  • Are you building something great?
  • Are you taking care of your people?
  • Are you treating your customers well?

Yes, of course, there are a lot of other important things to take into consideration, but this is a simplified, focused and long-term approach to running a successful business that I think more and more companies are going to adopt. See the Coudal Partners story as an example of one company who scaled down and found success. At the end of the day, I think the ideal size of a company is as small as possible. This could mean 3 employees or 30,000 as long as being big, in and of itself, isn’t the main objective.

If you’re interested in reading more about this topic, I suggest “Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big” and “Eating The Big Fish: How Challengers Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders.”

UPDATE: I forgot to add this new post from Paul Graham, “Startup = Growth,” which is absolutely excellent.

Building a Creative Environment

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Everyone knows about Google’s 20% Time, but it wasn’t until I read this interview with Big Spaceship founder Michael Lebovitz that I found out that they had a similar policy in place:

We did a thing this summer called I.P. (intellectual property) Fridays. You take the traditional corporate summer Friday where everybody’s supposed to be allowed to leave at 2 p.m., but everybody has to work anyway so they can’t and they just feel miffed. So we get a big lunch for everybody and at 2 p.m. on Friday, we close to client work and spend from 2 to 7 working on our own internal projects. And the ideas for those come from anywhere in the company.

We have a little form with a few simple questions on our internal blog, and then a few of us vet the ideas. We want them to be simple, because we want small things that we can act on quickly. So we’ve got all this stuff out in the world that we created for ourselves, and people get excited about that.

This is exciting news, since I already knew agencies like Anomaly and BBH are devoting time to develop I.P. of their own. I’d like to see more companies — not just ad agencies, integrate this kind of approach into their business models.

LINKS:

Hey, Rock Stars: Take Your Show Someplace Else” – NYTimes.com

3M’s 15% Program – via PSFK

Categories: BUSINESS

The Advertising Formula

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Advertising has gotten so formulaic that it’s easy to make fun of it – just look at the examples I’ve gathered over the last few weeks. Let’s hope for bigger and better things in 2011.

1. An Open Letter to All of Advertising and Marketing

2. Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising

Pink Ponies: A Case Study

Truth in Advertising

Case Study #241: The Sistine Chapel

Business Guys on Business Trips on Tumblr

Categories: BUSINESS Tags:

The Problem(s) With Big Business

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

If you haven’t seen “The Corporation,” you should. This documentary does a great job of highlighting a lot of the problems caused by big business in America.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying I’m against big corporations, capitalism or making a profit. The problem is that a lot of companies ( Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, etc.) focus on profit so single-mindedly that they act with complete disregard for how their actions impact society. This is both a difficult and highly complicated situation – can a company focus on creating shareholder value AND consumer value simultaneously?

So it was a real coincidence that I came across this interview on Influx Insights with Account Planner Ashley Alsup and this quote:

“I think corporate America is much more broken than it realizes. Not because it’s so behind on ideas, because it’s not. The ideas are there, they just can’t get made. Mostly because American corporations are not structured around creating great products and bringing them to marker in a speedy, transparent way. They’re structured around a story told for Wall St. The sheer number of business units, layers and competing roles prohibits real leadership, the ability to make decisions and get things done. But it gives the impression of a mighty ship.

As a result, privately-owned companies are the engines of innovation and ideas because that’s where the purity of purpose is. They tend to produce superior products that come from a personal mission, love and insight. They have a closer relationship with their consumers and tend to tell the truth more often and behave in a transparent and responsible way. If we want to change the larger corporate culture, we have work on both ends of the market. We have to help smaller companies become the biggest threats they can be. And we have to help corporate clients regain the purity of purpose, make good decisions, agree to behave differently. But you can’t have one without the other. Because people rarely change unless they are incentivized to. We have to work together to alter the incentive.”

The key takeaway is that there’s a lot large organizations can learn from smaller ones. The challenge is figuring out how to incorporate small biz behavior within a a large company’s business model.

LINKS:

Read the full interview: “Meet the Makers – Speaker Interview – Ashley Alsup

Ashley Alsup on Twitter

The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption and the Control of Our Food Supply on Fast Company

Categories: BUSINESS
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