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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. — 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

 

 

 

imagesI just finished reading LEAGUE OF DENIAL : The NFL, Concussions, and The Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. It was published by Crown Archetype (part of Penguin-RH; division of Bertelsmann). The book was edited by Mauro DiPreta. The agent is Scott Waxman.

I want to rave about this wonderful book.

This book is an indictment of the executives that ran the National Football League and especially former commissioner Paul Tagliabue. They systematically covered-up, ignored and stonewalled anyone who had researched and had proof that former players were prone to severe brain damage from playing football. The evidence is overwhelming that football (played the way it was with devastating head to head hits) causes players to literally lose their minds.

The NFL knew this and for almost two decades stopped anyone who tried to bring it up. Slate aptly compares the NFL actions to Big Tobacco. They created their own board, hid the truth and finally had to come clean.

The book also tells the story of Mike Webster, one of the great centers of all-time. He was a key player on the 4-time SuperBowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers (74-75-78-79). “Iron Mike” was one of the toughest to play the game. He was smart and a team leader. But after his playing days ended, he changed. He ended up broke and homeless. A shell of himself. He had lost his mind from hundreds of hits to the head. He had to fight the NFL for years to just get some disability payments. He got about $600 a month. He died at 50.

The NFL is the richest sports league in the entire world. They generated over $9-billion in revenue last year and Forbes states they could hit $25-billion by 2027. The NFL is a juggernaut in many ways. Their TV deal is enormous, their merchandising is huge and the ratings continue to rise. The SuperBowl is the single biggest sporting event in the world. I am a fan. I watch most Sundays, some Mondays and occasionally on Thursdays.

imagesA PBS Frontline documentary was made from the book. It premiered last month (OCT 2013). Although it was widely touted and reviewed, I have not seen it yet. I actually “read the book, before the movie.” Their website has this amazing interview outtake with Oakland Raiders HOF center Jim Otto – another one of the toughest. Otto says, “we were gladiators. We played until we could no longer go on.” Otto’s mind is sharp at 75. He took a pounding and is beat up physically, but he is resilient and lucid. Otto wonders why no one helped Webster.

Although the NFL was horrible and covered up a lot, it wasn’t all the owners fault. The players wanted to play. Sure there was pressure from the powerful head coach and fear of losing one’s job to motivate. It is a tough sport for tough people. A violent game for men who want to beat one another up.

62485There is progress with new commissioner Roger Goodell. There was a settlement of $765-million. The NFL settled a few weeks before the documentary ran and the book released. A lot of money. Some say it’s enough. I don’t. But it’s a good start. The NFL will eventually pay for more. The game is violent and should come up with a way to help pay for the wounded warriors. Many of these players didn’t get the million dollar contracts and had to continue working. Webster’s initial salary was $16,000. The modern players make millions and can more afford it. But still, some type of overall plan would benefit everyone.

There is plenty of money to take care of them.

Plus it’s just the right thing to do.

 

 

MLB-vector-logos-636x480Bloomberg just came out with their valuations for every Major League Baseball team. Check it out, the interactive graphic is really cool and fun to play with. There really are not any surprises to the rankings, but it is fascinating to see the various differences from top to bottom.

These rankings are different from the ones that Forbes presents because Bloomberg has added in the value of sports networks. I believe that is a smart addition. In today’s world, owning the media and controlling ability to broadcast the teams everywhere is key.

The TOP 5:

  • 1) New York Yankees ($3.3 billion): Of course, they are the top dogs. One of the most valuable teams in all of sports in the entire world.
  • 2) Los Angeles Dodgers ($2.1 billion): They don’t get credit for a “regional sports TV deal” but are still #2. But over a BILLION less than the top.
  • 3) Boston Red Sox ($2.1 billion): Gate, concessions and merchandising all keep Boston near the top. Success on the field has helped.
  • 4) New York Mets ($2.0 billion): Although the Mets suck, the team is still worth a lot. The media deals are very good and the NY market huge.
  • 5) Chicago Cubs ($1.3 billion): Another big drop from the 4th place Mets. Cubs continue to hold value although the team never wins.

The BOTTOM 5:

  • 30) Tampa Bay Rays ($0.53 billion): Tampa is worth 1/7th of the Yankees. Remarkable that the team has been winning for the past few years.
  • 29) Kansas City Royals ($0.54 billion): The Royals are owned by former Wal-Mart executive. Cheap. This is an example of not investing in the team.
  • 28) Cleveland Indians ($0.57 billion): Get rid of the “smiling Indian logo.” Small market with no media revenues.
  • 27) Colorado Rockies ($0.58 billion): Attendance is pretty good at #10, but again no media properties hamper the valuation.
  • 26) Oakland Athletics ($0.59 billion): Same story as the others. No media. No fans. No concessions. No money. But they win.

The major differences between the most valuable and the least comes down to the media packages. The TV, radio, etc. rights are a function of the size of the audience. The three largest markets, NY, LA and CHI have the most valuable teams. BOS has such a strong regional appeal (all of New England) and “Red Sox Nation” throughout the USA. Plus, Boston has won three World Series in 10 years.

TB, KC, CLE, DEN and OAK are all small markets. Although none of these teams has won a World Series, most of them have been competitive. So, the size of their markets totally restricts their ability to have franchises worth more. Also, none of these teams has a “regional sports network.” That is a huge difference.

Some comps:

  • The Yankees made $932-million from their regional sports network. That alone is more than the total value of 18 of the 30 teams.
  • The Yankees paid $97-million into the revenue share pool. The Royals received $36-million from the pool. Socialism?
  • The Yankees made $265-million from the gate receipts alone. The six bottom teams (TB, KC, CLE, OAK, PIT, SD) all made less than $40-million.
  • The Yankees are still over $1-billion higher than the second place Dodgers.

My favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals are in the middle at #15 and $0.85-billion). Although they were #2 in attendance and have a successful franchise and tradition, the lack of a media outlet and regional sports network brings their value down.

Own the media.

The value will follow.

 

Thinking-in-New-Boxes-by-Luc-de-BrabandereOne of the books I am currently reading is titled THINKING IN NEW BOXES – A New Paradigm for Business Creativity. The book is written by Luc de Brabandere and Alan Ivy of the Boston Consulting Group. It is edited by Random House executive Will Murphy.

Like all business books, it has it’s usual take-aways, graphs, tables, catchy phrases and lists. Also like many business books, the authors are consultants or “thought-leaders” who travel the world espousing their wisdom. This book is no different than the usual business tome — but I am enjoying it quite a bit.

I read a lot of business books. I find most of them interesting and there is usually something to be learned. No doubt, many are repetitive phrases and all contain similar lessons. But then, there really isn’t anything new to management and getting your employees to be creative. The key is to establish an attitude that allows for creativity. To view it with fresh eyes and a ‘”beginner’s brain.”

SJ_paperback__1_I never read a business book from front-to-back. I always skip around. I may read the last chapter first or the index. I also like to write in the books. These are both reasons why I seldom buy business eBooks. I much prefer the paper form. It is ideal for writing notes and for flipping around. I have found that digital just doesn’t deliver the same experience. So, I may read a business biography (STEVE JOBS by Isaacson) in digital form but not management or policy books.

For THINKING IN NEW BOXES, I found a wealth of information reading the first page of the Glossary.

Some notes on how this book has and will help me:

  • The Theory of the Box
    • The Box is a Mental Model
      • Concepts
      • Stereotypes
      • Categories
      • Ideas
      • Frameworks
      • Paradigms
    • Need to break out of the old “mental model.”
    • New Way to Think
      • Organize Facts
      • Connect the Links
      • Use the Information to Create Patterns
      • Repeat
    • The Power of the New Box
      • Baggage-free
      • Risk-taking
      • Fact-based
      • Psychology involved
  • PERCEPTION = REALITY
  • 26-31-34-42-44-46-64-67-82-06-11

IMG_3343

I don’t expect this outline to mean much by itself. But having read enough of the book, it does make sense. It helps me to review projects in a new manner and to explore beyond the obvious. I link this thinking to Edward de Bono’s classic work LATERAL THINKING.

Looking forward to reading more.Unknown