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2014-10-27 20.18.32Children’s books have changed a lot over the years. I guess so has so much of the media aimed at kids. I was reading a classic, CURIOUS GEORGE to my two-year old last night, I came across this one picture of George relaxing after a hard day smoking a pipe. Ok, this was written during the MAD MEN era. But I still found it rather funny, Then I started thinking of other cartoons that were from my childhood that were doing inappropriate things.

I thought about the HAMM’S BEAR and baseball…

FRED FLINTSTONE smoking….

PETER PAN and the insulting “indian dance…

The list goes on and on.

 

2014-07-30 23.33.51Every so often it is time to clean out the books on my nightstand. Each of the following are titles that I am either currently reading, browsing or have finished. I enjoyed each one but for different reasons. This is a circumstance that physical books are better than ebooks. I can pile them up and grab what I want. Sureit can be done via digital too, but I like the “feel” of the physical.

 

 

 

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1) FLATLAND – (Edwin A. Abbott – Shambhala Pocket Classics) – A book that was originally written in the late 1800s. The world is two-dimensional and then a 3D character enters. The “disruption” of the current society scares people and the react with anger. In addition to the wonderful and timeless fable, I enjoy the format this book is in. It is part of Shambhala’s Pocket Classic series and the small trim size is perfect for traveling and collecting.

 

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2) BEAT THE DEALER (Edward O. Thorp – Vintage) — This is a book that is a MUST read for anyone who plays or wants to play blackjack. Thorp is the creator of the basic strategy and county cards that is used by all who actually try to win at 21. Thorp is a math genius and figured out how to beat the casinos. The book is 50 years old. The strategy is still as relavent as it was 1/2 a century ago and the history of Thorp’s process is still spot on. But the book cold use a revision. I feel it could be updated, reported and be a best-seller again. This one is worth re-invensting (if even the ebook only).

 

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3) CHOPPER (Mark Brandon Read – John Blake Publishing) — I was given this book by a friend in Australia. I had never heard of this guy until I received the book. He was a criminal and a killer — but had a fascinating story. The book was delivered by the Book Depository. This company is amazing in that they deliver physical books throughout the world and do so efficiently and reasonable on their prices. A threat to Amazon’s dominance – so that is why they were sold to the Seattle-based on-line giant a few years ago.

 

 

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4) WRITING DOWN THE BONES (Natalie Goldberg – Shambhala) — This is another great book. If you want to be more creative (and everyone should), then this is one of those primers that you should read. I write notes throughout my book, draw ideas and just generally use the book as a “notebook.” I have tried to do that is ebooks and just doesn’t work. My drawings and notes in the physical book are far superior than writing notes by computer onto an ebook.

 

 

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5) FIERCE PATRIOT (Robert L. O’Connell — Random House) — The subtitle is “The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman.” I have read numerous books on Sherman and the U.S. Civil War, but this one added to my understanding. Sherman was one of the heroes of the North and one of the key people in the winning of the War. He was border-line crazy and could have easily been lost to history. It does show how fate can be a fine-line and how a few events can change the course of history. Another fact, when Sherman was marching through the South, he had an advantage because he had surveyed the entire area earlier in his career. He had a photographic memory and knew the terrain and landscape better than anyone.

 

00259589-481019_6006) HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES (Mark Stein — Smithsonian Books) — When I first saw this book, I immediately bought it. I thought to myself, “this is a great idea, I can’t believe it has not been done before.” I didn’t read this book in sequence (although the author suggests doing so). But I have read it enough times that I understood it all. Again, just like so much about history, many states shapes ended up that way by a quirk of fate. Some because someone just asked or even there was enough money to influence Congress. It also illustrates that the “firm borders” many think are set is stone are all relatively recent and are not sacred. They can be changed again and again if desired.

 

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7) THE ROLLING STONES : ITS ONLY ROCK AND ROLL : SONG BY SONG (Steve Appleford — Schirmer Books) — I am a huge Stones fans. This is a good book for providing the back story to their songs. I enjoyed the book and still refer back to it from time to time. It isn’t as good as Steve Turner’s A HARD DAY’S WRITE about the Beatles’ songs. But it is still a wonderful resource. I have probably read twenty books on the Rolling Stones and have many more to go. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need.”

 

imagesIt has been over six weeks since my last post. I have always tried to put up something at least 2x a month and my original goal was 4x a month. I generally have kept to that schedule. Some of the time it is a short post and just to get a thought conveyed. Some of the time it is a longer post that has depth. I have even taken to drawing and then making a post based on that.

I also blog for Digital Book World. I generally put more polished posts there – I will write and rewrite many of those 5-6 times. Since it is a site that gets considerably more traffic than mine, I want to make sure it is free of error (or at least as much as possible).

So this post is just one that I am pushing forward on. I guess I could say I have “blog writers block.” I have been unable to put something down. The funny thing is I have written some ideas down and noted that I will turn them into a post. But I just never converted.

This is a post about nothing.

This is a post about the block.

This is a post to just have a post.

Some of the time, the best way to get unstuck is to write about being stuck.

A blank screen is actually filled with something — but nothing.

 

I have been consulting for five fulfilling years. I started 38enso after I left the corporate world in Feb 2009. enso_twitter-225x300

When I started consulting, Amazon’s Kindle was a year old and eBooks were just starting to make a dent in the industry. B&N Nook was viewed as a real challenger to Amazon. Apple had not even released the first iPad. The retail eBook market was just starting out.

Today, five years later, Amazon is still in charge but they have evolved every year. Apple is a solid second place although they are still a long ways away. B&N Nook continues to drop in sales and many wonder what is next for them.

I started consulting as many publishers had just started (or not at all) into the digital realm. Many knew they had to set up a workflow, but were not sure of what the next steps were.

I also was able to experience first hand the controversies regarding ebooks and public libraries. Overdrive has been in the space longer than anyone and was the leader then and still is. Although 3M and Baker & Taylor Axis 360 have entered the space.

I also was able to help 6-7 start-ups to enter the publishing world. In addition to consulting for that group, I also probably spoke with 30+ companies. The disruption of the industry opened up an entire new revenue stream and opportunities for new companies. Most will not make it, but the ones that do have and will be part of the new way to sell and market books (print and eBooks).

I am lucky in that I was consulting during a time of great change. The change and the uncertain future opens up opportunities for a need for outside expertise. I was able to absorb a lot of new ways of doing things, hear a lot of new ideas and be completely outside the bubble but still understand the impact.

I am now putting my consulting company on hold.

I have accepted a full-time position with Highlights/Boyds Mills Press – the book division of Highlights for Children. The time is right to go back to a publisher. Highlights is a wonderful company with a strong brand and major upside. I am excited to be working for them.

CREATIVITY, INC.

02.28.2014, Comments Off, Books, by .

CREATIVITY, INC. — I finished reading this book last week. images

It will be a Classic. It is the story of Pixar.

The subtitle is “Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration.” That is a mouthful.

The book is Ed Catmull‘s story. Catmull co-founded Pixar with John Lasseter. Add in 26 years with Steve Jobs and how Pixar grew from a small money-losing segment of George Lucas’ empire to taking over Disney Animation is a true fairly tale.

The writer is Amy Wallace. She did a great job. Wallace has written for over 20 major magazines. She recently did a piece in NY Times Magazine on Baz Luhrmann That was an insight into brilliance too.

This is a business management book. It is about how to manage a successful company but still retain the creative spark. How do you become corporate and bottom-line driven. but also remain fresh, new and relevant?

The book will appeal to so many segments:

    • Pixar
    • Animation
    • Disney
    • Steve Jobs
    • Tech
    • Business
    • Leadership
    • Movies
    • Zen
    • Toy Story
    • Transitions
    • Growth

I have been tweeting as I have been reading. I probably sent 40 tweets over the past few weeks. I don’t have a lot of followers (<1,000), but I still like tweeting and feel it effective. What has been so cool is the co-author, @msamywallace has been kind enough to re-tweet me on numerous occasions. Thank you Amy.

The front of the book has a letter from editor Andy Ward. His email was on the page so i figured I would ping him and mention how much I enjoyed the book and especially the afterword. The afterword is 18-pages about Steve Jobs (The Steve We Knew). It is a great counter-balance to Isaacson’s authorized biography. I loved Isaacson, but would very much like to see more about Jobs from Catmull’s perspective. Andy mentioned there was more… Hopefully they will release (short ebook?). There is also a very helpful appendix titled Starting Points. It has 33 comments and thoughts for “managing a creative culture.”

Who published the book? From the title page:

Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint of

The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC,

a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

That is a mouthful.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

Goes on sale 4.18.14

 

Google just surpassed Exxon-Mobil to become the second most valuable company in the world. Only Apple is worth more.

I hadn’t given it much thought. But it is a significant day. It is the shift from the former owners of the global economy (energy and big oil) to the new ones (information). It’s not the final shift, but a big one.IMG_3042

The fourth biggest is Microsoft and the fifth GE.

I use Google every day, hours a day.

Google email

Google maps

Google restaurant guide …(Zagat!)

I Google this and I Google that…

Google has a roadmap to the “on-line life pattern” for most everyone. They know everywhere you have been and store it on some cloud out there – forever. All searchable.

That’s why they are so valuable.

I like to read business histories. But have not read a lot on Google. Then I was stumbling through some old hardcover books, looking to see what to give to the library. I came across two books on Google.

I had meant to read about Google but never did because the company was growing so fast; I felt the hardcover was out of date immediately. Google was growing too quickly.

But now I am going to read these books as history. They are nine and six years old. They look like good reads. Maybe by understanding more of the history (without the knowledge of how the company would continue), will be able to understand the past.

“Don’t Be Evil.”

photo-2I am entering my sixth year of consulting. When I started, I just figured I would “do a few projects” while I was looking for full-time work. But one gig lead to another. Then as I was talking to people, new contacts would develop. So, each meeting would generally spur on a few others.

I have meet hundreds of new people during the past six years. Some I have ended up doing projects, others long-term gigs, some continue to discuss possibilities and others are just people to know.

What I do know is timing is of the essence. A project can not be forced. It needs to be done when the client is ready to focus on it.

But one of the key pieces of success as a consultant is to “keep the pipeline full.”

Every potential project has it’s own timeline:

Phases of consulting:

1) Discovery – Who is out there? What are they doing that is interesting?

2) Meet and Network – Get out and talk to people. Understand what they do. No project in mind, but just learning about the industry.

3) Fill the Need – If there is a way to add-value, great. Work to figure out a mutually beneficial deal. If not, wait until the right time (if ever).

4) Stay in Touch – Don’t harass, but keep thinking about their business. Watch the industry, as opportunities arise, remind them.

5) Always Finish – Many clients have come back to me and done multiple gigs. Some it is a one-time project. But always go for closure.

Some of the gigs go from “discovery” to project in a few weeks after the initial meeting, others may take two years or more. So, it is a constant flow of meetings and follow-up. All having different degrees of time.

I try to have at least 50 different possibilities at any single time, although I can only do 4-5 projects at a time. Many of these possibilities may never materialize as a gig. But that’s ok. I enjoy the meeting of new people and the expansion of understanding.

 

 

IMG_0859So it is the end of the year. Time for everyone to have their ‘best-of’ and ‘predictions for’ posts. I am no different. But I also want to state upfront that I reserve the right to change my mind at any time as new information presents itself.

See, it isn’t about being right and have no mistakes. It is about having a position and then as the industry unfolds, shift those opinions to help see what is next.

Each of these “predictions” are things to consider and plan for in 2014. Some are continuations of things already happening. Some are extensions. Some are pivoted from others.

  1. Ebook sales will continue to rise at a double-digit rate. There are still many publishers that are converting backlist books.
  2. Amazon will continue to be the King Pin. But there are dents in the armor and challenges ahead.
  3. Now that the DOJ lawsuits are over and corporate publisher margins are better, look for consolidation.
  4. Children’s books in digital will increase considerrably as a % of sales. Much of this will be driven by dedicated tablets.
  5. B&N will shirk and close 10-15% of their stores. They will remain the biggest and most important book-chain in the nation.
  6. The numbers bandied about in the industry will continue to contradict as each estimate is made will less than full information.
  7. Pricing will continue to be managed and used as the primary ebook sales tool.
  8. New models will gain market share in the consumer eBook market. A form of “modified subscription” platforms will lead the change.
  9. The library ebook market will continue to be more experimental than consumer. Libraries will gain marketshare.
  10. Many “self-published” authors will create “independent publishers” and publish a list of books curated from other self-pubbed authors.
  11. Publishing will continue to shed jobs as profits remain high. The industry shifts as digital doesn’t need as many people to publish titles.
  12. Stephen King will have a #1 best-seller.
  13. Apple iBooks will overtake B&N Nook as the #2 ebook retailer.
  14. In an internet world of unlimited supply, brand names will continue to be important.

UnknownThe BCS is coming to an end after 16 years. Although many college football fans want to complain, their track record of having the top two teams in college football play for the championship worked. It was far better than the previous system of using polls and allowing teams to claim #1 even if they didn’t play anyone of note in the bowl game.

No doubt, the transfer to a four team playoff from a two team one will be better. But it will also cause controversy because someone will be #5 and excluded. In college hoops, the tournament has been expanded to 68 teams and some complain then! So, no matter what, a school will feel left out.

I don’t think it should be expanded beyond the top four teams. This gives the regular season a lot of importance. This way if a team loses a game, they might not be in the running for #1. That is fine. This is college football and perfection is expected.

In the 16 years of the BCS, there have been 15 different teams from six different conferences and one independent (Notre Dame in 2013). The SEC has won the most with nine championships and possibly a tenth if Auburn wins. One year, two SEC teams played in the game. Alabama won the National Championship but didn’t even win their own conference.

Florida State and Oklahoma have each played in four championship games and Alabama, LSU and Ohio State three each.

College football has gone through so many recent changes. The conferences are all mixed up and some “super-conferences” are forming. RIght now the majors are expanding, SEC (14); ACC (14); Pac12 (12); Big10 (12) and Big12 (10). Yes, the Big10 has 12 teams and the Big12 has 10 teams. My guess is soon each of these conferences will have 16 teams in two divisions with a playoff. This might be the “preliminary” rounds. Take these five conferences and add in a single wildcard from the rest and that gives six potential teams. From that two will get eliminated but there will be four left.

This is a debate that will rage forever.

But the BCS brought sanity to a system that was formally built on random opinions, favoritism and not on the field.

It is progress….

I think.

Lateral ThinkingEdward deBono coined the phrase “lateral thinking” in 1967 and wrote the book, LATERAL THINKING (Harper & Row, US) in 1970. Basically it is about a way to reason and look at situations from different points of view. I am sure there are many complex facets to this. But I generally find a single piece of it and apply my own perspective.

I have referenced and read bits of the book for years. I like the way it focuses me and helps exercise my brain.

Last week, I randomly opened the book to page 193, chapter 18 : “Random stimulation.”

I read two pages.

My understanding and spin on these two pages (this is a review of only two pages of a book).

Generating exposure to new stimuli through the following four ways:

  1. Random Inputs (RI) - must be accepting to everything. Who knows where the next inspiration comes from? Don’t miss the opportunity by being closed minded. Keep an open mind.
  2. Other’s Ideas (OI) – even those diametrically against. Many times the best solutions come from a hybrid of two opposites.
  3. Different Fields (DF) - everything is related. The task is to discover and understand the relationships. Once that happens, new solutions can be applied to old and new problems.
  4. Physical Exposure (PE) - get out of the house. See and small and touch different things. Browse. Anywhere, anytime.

IMG_3442Then once any/all of the above are done, just observe and let things happen. Don’t try to force the issue too much. Let go of controlling that time and open your mind. I generally have the issue or problem in the back of my mind. So that I am aware of what might be helpful. But it is a struggle to try to maintain a blank mind. But it helps.

Many paths can lead to the same solution.

It is important to move forward.

When blocked, it is necessary to re-view the pressure, and come up with a new path.

The results will be achieved and creative solutions will be learned along the way.IMG_3441