March 17, 2010

Book Short: Gladwell Lite

Book Short:  Gladwell Lite What the Dog Saw, And Other Adventures (book, Kindle) is Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book.  Unlike his three other books, which I quite enjoyed: The Tipping Point (about how trends and social movements start and spread) Blink (about how the mind makes judgments) Outliers: The Story of Success (about how talents are genetic, situational, and cultivated) this was not a complete book, but rather a compendium of his New Yorker articles loosely grouped into three themes. If you love Gladwell and don’t read The New Yorker, it’s not a bad read. He’s a fantastic writer, and his vignettes are interesting.  There are many “hmmm” moments as we learn why ketchup always tastes the same but mustard doesn’t; why Ron Popeil is a great salesman of kitchen gadgets; or why the inventor of the birth control pill thought the Pope would endorse it.  But it falls far short of his three books, which go deep into topics and leave a much more lasting impression/impact.


January 26, 2010

Context is King

Context is King A small post with a good point.  I noticed in The Economist this week something that struck me.  They posted a correction to a prior article.  Publications do that all the time, but this particular correction was placed on a page in the same section of the magazine in which the error appeared a couple weeks before.  Most print publications tend to bury their corrections in the front or the back where they never get seen.  But this one was right in the middle of the magazine, saying “we made a mistake – right here.”  Noteworthy to […]


November 16, 2009

Book Short: Sloppy Sequel

Book Short:  Sloppy Sequel SuperFreakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the original Freakonomics, either.  I always find the results of “naturally controlled experiments” and taking a data-driven view of the world to be very refreshing.  And as much as I like the social scientist versions of these kinds of books like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Blink (book; blog post), there’s usually something about reading something data driven written by a professional quant jock that’s more reassuring. That’s where SuperFreakonomics fell down a bit for me.  Paul […]


October 22, 2009

If this madness all ended tomorrow, I would do…almost nothing

If this madness all ended tomorrow, I would do…almost nothing (This post originally appeared on FindYourNerve on October 21) I don’t know what you call the last 12 months of global macroeconomic meltdown.  I’ve taken to calling it the Great Repression.  In part because it’s somewhere in between a Recession and a Depression, in part because it’s certainly repressed the wants and needs of startups and growth companies the world over.  And it makes for good cocktail party chatter. Someone asked me a question the other day, which started off with “Now that the recession is over…”  I can’t even […]


July 23, 2009

A David Allen nightmare

IMG_3029.JPG Originally uploaded by heif A David Allen nightmare The comments on Flickr are almost as funny as the picture, but for those of you who can’t see the detail, I believe this is Esther Dyson peering over an inbox that has almost 4.3 billion emails in it.


July 9, 2009

Opening Night

Opening Night My brother Michael, internet marketer by day and a writer by night, had his first play produced last night off-Broadway at the Manhattan Repertory Theater’s SummerFest.  The play is a romantic comedy called Fallout, and it’s my favorite thing he’s written of about 8-10 works I’ve read over the years, both screen and stage plays.  This is the first time I’ve ever had a bit of a “behind the scenes” look at an Opening Night, and it was fun to be a part of it.  When I think about entrepreneurial pursuits in business, I’m not sure this even […]


June 18, 2009

The Passion of the Specialist

The Passion of the Specialist I remember once talking to my friend Cella when she was between jobs.  She said she was working out 9 hours a week, which I found stunning at the time.  I try very hard to get 3 hours a week in, and I am usually successful, but it's not without sacrificing sleep and being deliberate about my schedule.  So 9 felt luxurious, but appropriate for someone between jobs. With that as a frame of reference, I have heard lots of definitions or embodiments of the word "commitment" before, but I ran across another one the […]


May 27, 2009

Book Short: Entrepreneurs in Government

Book Short:  Entrepreneurs in Government Leadership and Innovation:  Entrepreneurs in Government, edited by a professor I had at Princeton, Jim Doig, is an interesting series of mini-biographies of second- and third-tier government officials, mostly from the 1930s through the 1970s.  The book’s thesis is that some of the most interesting movers and shakers in the public arena (not elected officials) have a lot of the same core skills as private sector entrepreneurs. The thesis is borne out by the book, and the examples are interesting, if for no other reason than they are about a series of highly influential people […]


May 18, 2009

A Network of Teams, Not an Integrated System

A Network of Teams, Not an Integrated System We were in and out of the hospital a lot back in March/April for the last few weeks with one of our kids (she’s ok now).  One of us was with her 24 hours a day for the 10-11 days she was hospitalized, with lots of down time, which gave me lots of time to observe health care in action.  While she ultimately got very good care at a very good hospital, it was incredibly clear to me that the hospital functioned as a network of teams, not as an integrated system. […]


May 4, 2009

The Party's Over?

The Party's Over? American party politics have had a few major realignments over the 220 years since we adopted our Constitution.  I took a class on this in school, but that was a long time ago, and I'll never remember all the details.  What I do remember is that they're somewhat chaotic.  And that they typically take several election cycles to take root. I think we're in the middle of one now.  Arlen Specter's decision to become a Democrat is a particularly poignant example of it, though the fact that something like only 25% of the country now identifies with […]


February 11, 2009

Please, Let There Be Another Explanation

Please, Let There Be Another Explanation One of the things I was most excited about with an Obama presidency was that it finally seemed as if we had a real leader in the hot seat.  Someone who might actually be able to run an effective government instead of a bureaucracy paralyzed by partisanship.  I still have this hope. But I also hope what we’re seeing around the stimulus bill is not what we’re in for the next four years.  What I’m seeing is a complete absence of leadership around the problem.  Seems to me, taking lessons from the corporate world, […]