Friday, June 29, 2007

In other words, we're all just wildebeests...

Duncan Watts reported in the New York Times:
The long-run success of a song depends so sensitively on the decisions of a few early-arriving individuals, whose choices are subsequently amplified and eventually locked in... what people like depends on what they think other people like... a result that has implications not only for our understanding of best-seller lists but for business and politics as well.
This fellow is a professor of sociology at Columbia University, who thinks he's discovered something new. Most entrepreneurs will look at this like native Americans greeting Christopher Columbus.

At the end of the day, we live with this self-deception that we are rational creatures, when in reality there is only a thin layer of civilization on the cortex of our brains very easily overwritten by hormones. Much more often than we're willing to admit, we're all just wildebeests stampeding on an African plain.

Most great entrepreneurs not only know that, they know how to profit from it. Lewis Grizzard, a southern comic who was polular when I was in college, used to end each performance with the thought:
If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Myths of Innovation

Guy Kawasaki has a very interesting interview with Scott Berkun, author of a recently released book called The Myths of Innovation. Here are some of the highlights for me.

"A killer for many would-be geniuses is they have to spend way more time persuading and convincing others as they do inventing, and they don’t have the skills or emotional endurance for it."

No wonder I'm exhausted :)

"The problem is most schools and organizations train us out of the habits [of creativity]."

That reminded me of Sir Ken Robinson's observation that, "we’re now running educational systems where mistakes are the worst things you can make. The result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacity." And Bill Gates who said, "America’s high schools are obsolete... – even when they’re working exactly as designed – [they] cannot teach our kids what they need to know today."

"If [I was] a venture capitalist, ...I’d invest in people more than ideas or business plans—though those are important of course. A great entrepreneur who won’t give up and will keep growing and learning is gold. It’s a tiny percentage of entrepreneurs who have any real success the first few times out—3M, Ford, Flickr were all second or third efforts."


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Watch the end of poverty

A fascinating discussion of poverty, and an even more fascinating use of technology to describe it.

We especially like addictive painkillers!

Kevin Fong of the Mayfield venture capital fund used to say:
We divide business plans into three categories: candy, vitamins, and painkillers. We throw away the candy. We look at vitamins. We really like painkillers. We especially like addictive painkillers!
Lifted from Academic VC

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Caveat innovator

And let it be noted that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to set up as the leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

A novel intersection

New innovations emerge at the intersection of technical disciplines that never intersected before. Or a new innovation — a breakthrough innovation — occurs where you apply a technology to a market where it’s never been applied before. The principle is that breakthrough innovations rarely occur within a technical discipline or within a market, but almost always where you create a novel intersection between markets.

Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard University, Interview in
That's easy to say, but what's really challenging is creating forums, like InnoVenture, where lots of novel intersections can occur.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Younger siblings just accept their fate in life!

The New York Times recently reported what many of us already knew: Study Says Eldest Children Have Higher I.Q.s
The eldest children in families tend to develop slightly higher I.Q.s than their younger siblings, researchers are reporting... Researchers have long had evidence that first-borns tend to be more dutiful and cautious than their siblings, early in life and later... The new findings, which is to appear in the journal Science on Friday... found that eldest children scored about three points higher on I.Q. tests than their closest sibling.
All you younger siblings just need to accept reality and get on with life :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Now this is a serious announcement :)

No visit to Clemson is complete without a peach milkshake from the ‘55 Exchange! Back in the old days, they just called it ag sales, but the milkshakes were just as good.

Clemson ice cream sales shop extends summer hours

CLEMSON — The ‘55 Exchange, retail sales shop for Clemson University's famous ice cream, is extending its hours to better accommodate alumni, visitors, new students, families and students on campus during the summer. The extended hours, through July, are 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday and 1–6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.The ’55 Exchange is on campus in the Hendrix Student Center, at the corner of Cherry and McMillan roads.

A gift from Clemson's Class of 1955, the Exchange is a student-run retail operation that sells and serves Clemson’s world-famous ice cream and blue cheese. All revenues generated through the retail center go to support the university's students and academic programs.One popular feature of the ice cream shop is the Tiger Slab, where customers can customize their ice cream flavor, mixing Clemson ice cream and an assortment of ingredients.

Why not to do a startup

Courtesy of the Gnoso Blog, here's a post by Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, about “Why not to do a startup.”

The one that resonates most clearly with my experience:
In a startup, absolutely nothing happens unless you make it happen.
What else resonates is:
You get told no -- a lot.
Of course, once you are successful, it is amazing the number of people who will remember being around when "we" started.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Wikipedia is about as accurate on science as the Encyclopedia Britannica

Much of academia views Wikipedia as the dark side. I think this is because the model of knowledge creation it represents is so discontinuous to the the way the academy operates today.

The academic indictment of Wikipedia is that it is unreliable. There generally isn't any evidence cited. Academics just dismiss Wikipedia because, as reported in a article from BBC News, "it is based on wikis, open-source software which lets anyone fiddle with a web page, anyone reading a subject entry can disagree, edit, add, delete, or replace the entry." The fact that people outside the academy can add knowledge really bothers academics.

Well, here's some evidence to illuminate this debate.

The British journal Nature examined a range of scientific entries on both works of reference [Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica] and found few differences in accuracy...

Nature conducted a peer review of scientific entries on Wikipedia and the well-established Encyclopedia Britannica.

The reviewers were asked to check for errors, but were not told about the source of the information.

"Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopedia," reported Nature.

"But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively."
Another issue raised by academics is that students shouldn't rely on any one source for their research. That's true, but it is as true for Britannica as it is for Wikipedia.

My guess, though, is the facts won't get in the way of teachers banning Wikipedia as a resources for their students.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Immigrants Outpacing Native-born Americans in Entrepreneurial Activity

When John Sibley Butler from IC2 in Austin spoke at InnoVenture 2006, he discussed how entrepreneurs are often people outside the power structure who do what they do because they have to. In particular, he noted how many entreprenuerial companies were started by immigrants.

The latest assessment of entrepreneurial activity by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation provides startling numbers for yet another year. The study found that an average of 465,000 people created new businesses each month in 2006. Asians, Latinos and immigrants far outpaced native-born Americans in entrepreneurial activity. African Americans experienced a decline. The report also contains data on activity at the state level. The five states with the highest rates of entrepreneurial activity included three of the Southern Growth states: Montana, Mississippi, Georgia, Oklahoma and Maine. See the report and data sets at

Monday, June 11, 2007

Very intersting way to present a very complex topic, the US Budget

This is a very interesting and powerful way to present a complex topic, the US budget.

Click on any part of the poster, and it will resolved to greater and greater detail.

Sourced from:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

How wealth is created in Plato's City

Click the navigation to advance the slides in the presentation.

SC Technical College System and New Carolina Tie Workforce Development to Clusters

SC Technical College System and New Carolina Tie Workforce Development to Clusters
New Report Outlines Roadmap for South Carolina’s Future Workforce

SC Technical College System and New Carolina-South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness recently released Developing South Carolina’s Workforce: A Roadmap for the Future (Roadmap for the Future),which outlines the findings of the first comprehensive discussion tying workforce development to economic clusters in South Carolina.

The report can be downloaded at the New Carolina website.

Roadmap for the Future reports recommendations from participants in a research project initiated by the Southern Growth Policies Board, and presented by the SC Technical College System and New Carolina.

Southern Growth’s goal is to define practical recommendations to build workforces that efficiently support southern states’ economic initiatives. The SC Technical College System and New Carolina built on that mission by hosting Panel Discussions and Community Forums around the state that focused on identifying both general and specific economic cluster workforce needs, and providing recommendations for future development. Key themes outlined by participants from the Statewide Policy Dialogue and the six Panel Discussions and Community Forums ranged from:

· the need to develop comprehensive statewide workforce solutions

· concerns about the consistent need for funding innovative initiatives

· a sense that the involvement of the entire educational continuum – pre-K through 16 – is critical

· a sense of the increasing need for “soft skill” development in general workforce training—e.g., problem solving, critical thinking, communication, working as a team, etc.

· the importance of continued dialogue. The SCTCS and New Carolina are exploring ways to develop a structured method of collecting community feedback on a more regular basis.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I love people who have the courage to think different

What's most fun to me is seeing this fellow approach something common place in a novel way. Changing our paradigms of how things are supposed to work is easy to say and incredibly difficult to do.

Andy Mckee Amazing Guitar Player - Watch more free videos

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pelzer SC is in the Lead in Top 10 Greenest Cities

I was recently contacted about spreading the word about a contest to identify America's Greenest City. Below is what I received. I was intrigued that Pelzer, SC was in the lead. If you don't know where Pelzer is, it's a nice town in Upstate SC, but don't blink when you drive through of you'll miss it.

I'm as intrigued with the social networking aspects of this contest as I am with the specific contest itself - especially that the contest organizers could motivate folks in a small town like Pelzer to band together to win this contest. Or on second thought, perhaps it is because Pelzer is a small town that people are banding together to win a contest like this. There probably is a social networking lesson there.

Anyway, log in, have fun, and help Pelzer win!

Pelzer, SC is one of the top contenders in Yahoo’s Green City Challenge. Cities across the country are competing for the fleet of hybrid taxis -- the more residents of Pelzer use Yahoo! Be a Better Planet (, the better your chance of having the hybrid taxis or $250,000 for an environmental project for the city.

There’s only a week left in the challenge, but Pelzer is currently in first place -- and definitely has a chance to win. I was hoping you might be interested in rallying your local readers to try to win the challenge, along with fostering some South Carolina pride, and bettering our planet!